Freak Scene #8

August 14, 2007

Freak Scene is a bounty of undulating waves of electronics and guitars courtesy of canon fodder and one New York newcomer.

Its been a few weeks since I touched upon the true “composers” so I’d like to start this column with a look at a recently issued piece from my all time favorite analog composer, Eliane Radigue. Radigue plays exclusively solo ARP keyboard. In the last few years, her work, which is always played in the long-form, was released on multiple disc sets on labels like XI and Table of the Elements. This new double disc entitled Jetsun Mila is perhaps my favorite work I’ve heard by her yet. True celestial heaven sent sweeping waves cascade and shimmer the entirety of these two extended pieces. Radigue here plays with a bit more movement, the sounds less monolithic that other recordings. Radigue is always just awe inspiring with a sense of purity innate in her tones. This is dream machine music. I can see Burroughs and Gysin cutting up texts and loading flicker light boxes while under the influence of heavy narcotics. With Radigue, weather you are a spiritualist like her, or a hedonist like me, it can work on both levels, as all universal music should do. As the pieces slowly unfold, a mantra is revealed and redemption is offered for those than can let the sounds filter into their blood. Once intoxicated by Radigue’s microscopic ray beams little else can calm the need.

It’s also been awhile since I checked in on my pals Magik Markers, who return with another CDR entitled The Real McCoy on drummer Pete Nolan’s Arbitrary Signs imprint. Seems like this disc is a mix of live recordings and scrapped studio sessions if I had to guess. The joy of the Markers is that of a completely improvised rock band and the excitement of never knowing what your gonna get. Do you have to put up with a lot of crap along the way? Well, sure and certainly on the CDR recordings. The live sounding stuff represented is pretty standard fare for the band, twisted guitars, free drums, and non-linear proclamations from singer/guitarist Elisa Ambrogio. Track four is a piano/guitar amp duo bummer jam which kinda rules. Track five is an accapella bad dream lull-a-bye from Ambrogio, which is kinda spooky. Then it’s back to the rock, first with some energy, then an extended ten-minute crawl through wah-pedal moaning spittle, which is kinda bummer. There’s definitely the hangover, or worse when you realize that you are drunk enough to know you will have to endure a painful tomorrow. But despite their low moments it’s when Abrogio is ON that everything comes together. She can have a vicious delivery that is mesmerizing as it is polarizing. Not that she fuckin cares what you think. But like most Markers’ releases there is revelation, attack, regret, boredom, feedback, hatred and truth. Just like real life and its pretty great even when it’s shitty.

Well I guess my composer kick ain’t quite done as the Elision Fields label recently reissued one of my all time favorite head albums, Terry Riley’s Reed Streams. Riley as you may know was an active participant for a short time of the legendary Theater of Eternal Music, along with folks like John Cale and Angus McClise, who went on to some band called the Velvet Underground. Riley went his own way with cut up tape loops of Soprano saxophone and prolonged repetitive tone scales represented in the first two selections on this disc. Killer stuff. Also included here is a terrific version of Riley’s famous “In C” piece performed by a high school band in Canada circa 1970. God damn, that is one cool ass high school! This version, (and believe me there are many, many versions out there) is fully rocked out with electric bass and guitar and bound to send your mind reeling back to a time when psychedelics were strong and responsibilities were nil. Riley you madman, ditch the digital synths and come back down to earth, we need more of this. Your children don’t know what they’re doing.

Are you into Kraut Rock? Do you already own Can’s Tago Mago, the first Neu! LP and Amon Duul II’s Yeti? Maybe you’ve got some Ash Ra Temple thrown in there too? Good, now you’re ready for Harmonia’s Musik Von Harmonia, which is a collabo between members of Cluster and Neu!. This one-off LP has been reissued again for the first time in about a decade and once again is worth the interest of you Kraftwerk or Daft Punk/LCD fans. Krautrock is known for its “motorik” rhythms and extended trance-like instrumental passages. Harmonia leans more to the future-driven electronic and less guitar driven aspects of the Krautrock spectrum. Alternately they switch between darker more pastoral tracks along with busy almost New Wave edge. It’s amazing to think how many advances these guys predated in 1976, truly future music made yesterday for today.


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Posted: August 14, 2007
Freak Scene #8