Phill Niblock, Dedicated Avant-Gardist of Music and Film, Dies at 90

Phill Niblock, an influential New York composer and film and video artist who opened new sonic terrain with hauntingly minimalist works incorporating drones, microtones and instruments as diverse as bagpipes and hurdy-gurdies, often accompanied by his equally minimalist moving images, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 90.

His partner, Katherine Liberovskaya, said he died in a hospital of heart failure after years of cardiac procedures.

Mr. Niblock had no formal musical training. Nevertheless, he came to be hailed as a leading light in the world of experimental music, not only as an artist himself but also, beginning in the 1970s, as the director, with the choreographer Elaine Summers, of Experimental Intermedia, a foundation for dance, avant-garde music and other media. He served as the foundation’s sole director from 1985 until his death, and he was also the curator of the foundation’s record label, XI.

His loft on Centre Street in Lower Manhattan served as a performance space for the foundation. It was also a social nexus for boundary-pushing musicians and composers like John Cage, Arthur Russell, David Behrman and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

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