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Glenn Dickson - Wider Than the Sky Itself (self-released)

4 July 2022

Clarinetist Glenn Dickson usually plays jazz and klezmer as leader of the bands Naftule’s Dream and Shirim. As one might expect, however, from a musician who often records for maverick player and composer John Zorn’s label Tzadik, Dickson has an experimental streak, which leads to Wider Than the Sky, his first solo album. During the pandemic the clarinetist developed a new artistic vision, centered on blowing his horn while manipulating electronics live, and it’s that aesthetic he documents here. Using sparse production with plenty of white space, Dickson loops clarinet drones over which he plays minimalist melodies, often influenced by Middle Eastern scales. And that’s it – no dance remixes, no avant-garde noodling, no bop or swing. Dickson essentially meditates through his instrument, creating an hour of sacred ambience that seems to be setting a table for a meeting between the corporeal and spirit worlds.. There’s some dissonance in “Pursuing Winds” that’s bent on making it unsettling rather than contemplative, but otherwise Dickson’s aim seems to be putting the listener into a trance state. Whether you find that meditative or maddening depends on your perspective and on how much stress you carry in these modern times.