Review: Mike Weis – Sound Practice

coverOn Sound Practice, Weis allegedly adopts the Zen principle of the “unknowing mind”, interacting with his instruments with the naivety and absent prejudice of a first-time encounter. I feel this mindset most prominently when he taps each cymbal, gong and singing bowl in turn, marvelling at how even the slightest impact triggers an outpour of vaporised metal harmonic, all of which curdle like liquid spillages crawling outward to meet eachother. His approach is infectious. Once I observe the patience with which Weis allows his instruments to announce themselves, I find myself leaning deeper into construct of each sound; the overtones feel richer and more vivid, hanging in the air like gleaming, transient silhouettes of the instruments from which they originate. I’m equally compelled by the tape recordings that Weis weaves into the fabric of real-time instrument interaction (threads of the past posing as facets of the now), their shapes clipped by the constrictions of their playback method. Sounds are cherished with the care and inquisition of those that can never be fully understood. With every contact, Weis and I are enlightened all over again.

Of course, Sound Practice exists in the knowledge that this “unknowing mind” is idealistic. Ultimately, the record teeters back and forth between spotlessness and momentary dips into existing personal customs, like a meditator accepting the disciplinary lapses that cause thoughtlessness to chicane in and out of states of distraction. His interactions with drums often herald sudden bursts of remembering: thundering stampedes of conventional rhythm, erupting from a life habituated to the hypnotic power of a steady tempo, gradually swerving back toward a state of emptiness again. Invariably, Weis returns once more to a state of raw curiosity, stroking the surface of a solitary cymbal or drum skin until it sings, reduced from the visceral fury of a hundred sounds in quick succession to the infinite nuance of one. A fascinating, thoroughly meditative feedback loop of listening and performance.