WTF?! Wednesdays: Rhys Chatham, “Bass Flute Study 21iv14 V02″ (2014)

Composer/guitarist/trumpet player Rhys Chatham is perhaps most well-known for his early guitar-based aggressions, particularly the sonic wall of sound that was “Drastic Classicism.” And though Chatham revisited that composition on last year’s Harmonie Du Soir, the album illustrated how there are multiple sides to Chatham’s work.

For a while now, Chatham has been posting various things he’s been working on to Soundcloud. This bass flute study leans more to his purely minimalist side, with the timbre of the flute reminding me of parts of Peter Gabriel’s Passion of the Christ work.

Listening with headphones, it’s interesting to trace the interplay between the left vs. right melodic fragments. It’s a shame that most folks would grimace at this kind of thing, hoping for some sort of familiar construct to latch onto. Chatham doesn’t provide us with that, instead he leaves us with this slow musical evolution. And couldn’t we use a little more evolution these days?

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to, and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at