Full disclosure: Tom Nunn has been performing improvisational music on unique instruments of his own design since before I was born, and I’m in no way qualified to really comment on this stuff, since it would be fraudulent to make you believe I had heard of him before sometime last week.
But hey, this is a blog, right? So let’s toss journalism out the window, and press on– I’m absolutely loving Nunn’s “Identity”, a collection of solo improvisational works for instruments of his own design. I am especially enamored of the “Hybrid Mothics,” small, triangular, kalimba-like devices which delight me every time Nunn runs a comb across them. The sounds are deceivingly electronic washes of scattered modem yowlings as interpreted by cartoon motorbikes. From the sound of it, Nunn is picky about his combs, too– I bet he eschews the unbreakable variety for those older, hard plastic types prone to shattering.
Some straight-forward percussive work utilizing Nunn’s “Octatonic T-Rodimba” (a mounted field of angled rods struck and plucked) is interspersed among the wilder Mothic pieces. “Dreaminator,” the sole track featuring the “Crustacean” (which seems to consist of curved rods protruding from a balloon-supported metal plate) is filled with long shifts in tone; not unlike an alien rendering of Eno’s “Music for Airports.”
Aside from an obviously fun listening experience, this Edgetone release– Nunn’s second for the label– is highly inspiring. Far beyond the common “music from recycled materials?!” reaction, Nunn’s work will also illuminate the more jaded among us. For while many have created new and beautiful instruments, the ability to transcend their most basic function eludes even the most talented of builders. With “Identity,” Nunn finds himself among the virtuosi, genuinely able to speak with the remarkable voice of his creations.