[21 January 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Painter Joseph Mallord William Turner is the point of fascination for Burkhard Stangl’s Unfinished: For William Turner, Painter. JMW Turner left behind a series of unfinished works when he died in 1851. Upon seeing these unfinished paintings at a show, guitarist/electronic musician Stangl felt moved to ... finish them? No, that’s not it. He was “stunned by the power of the stillness of the work”, prompting him to make music that attempted to reflect the same sense of stillness. And if Stangl did not succeed in replicating Turner’s stillness, he has still managed to make a very captivating album for Touch in its own right.
The first track alone could be an album, stretching longer than 33 minutes. But as far as avant-gardists go, Burkhard Stangl relies on conventional guitar playing a great deal. It’s when these suspended chords and tremolo sustains ring out that the listener begins to grasp that unfinished stillness that teaches us to not be so afraid of space.