Review: John Collins McCormick – One Bone in the Arm (Pan y Rosas Discos, Sep 24)

Unfortunately, many areas of experimental art, and specifically music, suffer from a lack of universality. Sound art, electroacoustic improvisation, and avant-garde composition are often viewed as more formal and academic than other genres, and as such do not reach the wide audience that they should. The two times I’ve seen John Collins McCormick perform, he has completely defied those trends: the first time, he constructed and manipulated a live installation using tape segments, a modified speaker, and ping pong balls, and the second time he played duo microphone feedback improvisations as Comment. This approach to acoustic art, further exemplified on McCormick’s new album One Bone in the Arm, removes any intimidation and mysticism, reminding us that ultimately, it’s just sound. One Bone in the Arm is full of clatters, squeaks, drones, bounces, ticks, and much more, with the unprocessed recordings following natural progressions. It’s a unique skill to be able to command dynamics with only non-musical objects, but these tracks are just as, if not more, enrapturing than anything more conventional. The low fidelity and hints of audience chatter introduce an intimacy but don’t compromise the sounds. This is really great stuff, and with a price of exactly zero dollars there’s no excuse not to hear it.