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foxy digitalis


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The Best Experimental Albums of 2015
by Brad Cohen
S. Victor Aaron’s Best of 2015 (Part 3 of 4, Avant Garde + Experimental)
The Free Jazz Collective

Two decades and seven offerings in White Out consistently manage to achieve the seemingly antithetical, to arrive at a place of genuine freedom and possibility by sheer belief and doggedness of approach…


On the album’s best pieces, the trio achieves three-dimensionality, percussion and keyboards and guitar melting in and out of one another to form abstruse landscapes with dancing horizons…


There’s a persistent exploration here, sometimes in small shifts, sometimes in larger mood swings. The seeking feels intentional, but without a clear objective beyond its own discoveries, and the approach pays off in its resultant surprises…

Dalston Sound

This is music teeming with detail. It seems easy enough, at first, to distinguish Cline’s harmonics and Surgal’s percussive drums and cymbals from the the nebulous swirl of electronics whipped up by Culbertson, but sounds bleed into one another like merging ink blots, increasing abrasion and obfuscation…

The Big Takeover

For a band that has been together for twenty years and collaborated with the likes of Jim O’Rourke and Thurston Moore, White Out possess more energy than a group of twenty-year-olds thinking that they’re onto something new. Wade into the haze and scramble your mind.

Avant Music News

Characteristic of this release the how they play together but apart, especially with percussion exhibiting a tangential relationship to the melodies, and these melodies only approaching melodicism. But this disconnection occurs in a natural and pleasing fashion. A highly compelling effort that puts the “free” back into free improv.

Something Else

White Out moves between melodicism and dissonance like as if no such boundary exists. That’s why such a brutally craggy number such as “Sirius Is Missing” can co-exist alongside the tender, tuneful “Soft Nameless Absolute,” where Culbertson’s synth gurgles provide the right atmospherics to keep the song engaging…

Live Reviews:

The Brooklyn Rail: The Thundersheet, the zither and the mousepad by David St.-Lascaux

Some clips:

“White Out claims a fertile territory somewhere between classic European-style free improv and contemporary U.S. noise.”


“Surgal is one of the under-recognised greats of free drumming, and Culbertson’s daring instrumental freefalling without a parachute is without peer.”

Bruce Russell/The Wire


The Wire February 2012
Online reviews (click link for full article)

Foxy Digitalis

A set of loose, twitchy improvisation from this New York duo, combining constant undulating rhythms, tumbling drum fills reminiscent of Corsano or Kotche but always responsive to the improvisation, and varied counterpoint, juggling everything from Fragment D‘s taut strings and amplifier processing, to the manipulated textures of Möbius Strip.


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A record that requires – nay, demands – your attention.

With Jim O’Rourke’s gurgling synths and Moore’s abused guitars swirling around the duo’s motley array of autoharps, analogue tricks and ghostly percussion, the four have created soundtrack that is part the hopeless burbling of a lost satellite and part the claustrophobia of mental collapse… That you actually feel compelled to make return visits to so disturbing a place is testament to White Out’s four-headed, magnetic mind…


Hardly an easy listen, and littered with blasts of volcanic white noise and tectonic washes of feedback, in several places all four nonetheless manage to establish a deep grove that somehow succeeds as both primal punk release and profoundly psychedelic stimulant. ..


What hits home is the sheer mobility of it all, the playing is never static or repetitive, always remaining fluid but never strays out of focus.


It’s a certain kind of layered chaos that does not rely on feedback’d violence to relay it’s message. With the warm tones of the two synths, the excellent manipulation of sounds that go from R2D2 squalls to soft reeds, the disc starts off sounding like the Arkestra on a particularly bent night. After about twelve minutes, Moore’s guitar really starts to dominate but his playing is still spare…


In fact it’s an incredible piece of art-rock improvisation that may well be more in tune with the experiences and beliefs of the players who have interpreted it so well. It is also loaded with feelings of loss and loneliness; it has an emotional heart, it has humanity; that one can relate to…


“Senso” was recorded in 2004 at the now defunct Lower East Side club Tonic, and it’s an excellent showcase of White Out’s strengths—dissonant chaos and rhythmic non sequiturs that evoke the angular modernism of the “Bitches Brew”-era Miles Davis groups…


White Out’s fourth release Senso roams the prickly, fractured landscapes of undiscovered planets in galaxies farther away than anyone could possibly imagine. In other words: it’s out there, man…


Featuring a pair of shows at NYC’s now defunct Tonic, this double-CD is loaded with mammoth clouds of feedback and spirals of synthesized static…


No Wave contemporary improvised jazz that’s challenging and rather enjoyable without really pulling up any new trees or opening any new wounds or doing any of those abrasive thing you kind of expect from things like this. Soothing noise that breathes with elegant restraint…



White Out with Jim O’Rourke and Thurston Moore

These live 2004 sets by improvising Manhattan duo Linn Culbertson and Tom Surgal, recorded at Tonic, capture the intoxication of White Out’s analogue synth/percussion minmeld. The results speak for themselves: this is top-shelf spliff from go to whoah.

Surgal’s percussive signature is instantly recognisable (even with a drawer of cutlery), taking the pulse of life into outer space in a way that evokes his free jazz idols without stooping to imitate. The dialogue with Culbertson’s library of untamed analogue textures is seamless and Heraclitean in its flow, yet they possess the refined sensibility and restraint necessary to allow enough room for their guests to well and truly ‘take it to the river’.

Thurston Moore is an accomplished guitar colourist, and in concert with Jim O’Rourke’s alchemical laptop skills, he keeps up White Out’s signature hectic momentum. Even though these two sets are the only times this quartet have played together, they move from high to low dynamic range with a beautiful flow, driving group interplay into territory only the most experienced improvisors can occupy.

Senso embodies an understanding of sound that we now take for granted, but which has in fact been created by these players as much as anyone. The idea that the liberating sprit of the free-est jazz and the out-est rock can be combined with the soundwork strategies of electroacoustics may be de rigeur in 2009, but it has seldom been better demonstrated than this.

Bruce Russell

Download a PDF of older press clips here.

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