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The Agro Drones of Hal McGee

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During the heyday of the indie cassette scene of the Eighties, Hal McGee was among those at the forefront who took refuge in the home studio, producing numerous tape releases of his own electronic music. With the advent of CD technology in the Nineties, McGee adapted to this format, and has continued to create electronic music that fuses drone sentiments with experimental sensibilities.

Many of McGee's releases exhibit a profound fascination for alien intervention, both historic and modern in manifestation.

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HAL McGEE: Deep Space Search Engine (CDR on HalTapes)

This CDR from 2002 features 67 minutes of experimental noise.

This music is basically atonal in structure, and quite intense. Its minimal melodic character captures the feel of a search through the interstellar ether.

Harsh squeals conspire with relentless drones, achieving a teeth-rattling pitch of frenzy that agitates without being hostile. It is an awakening intensity, the kind that shocks open the mind with its sonic assault, conveying a sense of quest that must forge through barren lands to find the prize. Electronic feathering embellishes this wall of sound, lending subtle finesse to the concrete composition. Some of the tracks consist of a keyboard drone that rarely varies.

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CHRIS PHINNEY & HAL McGEE: Ancient Astronauts (Homemade Alien Music Volume 2) (CDR on HalTapes)

This release from 1998 features 71 minutes of dark ambience.

This music possesses fleeting definition, as the relentless droning is flavored with a sense of anticipation. Electronic noise is sculpted to form liquid structures of astral consistency. Waves of harsh tones and squealing cycles unfold to generate tuneage that is gritty but strangely gentle.

A melodic sense is present, but only barely as the tracks generally consist of atonal structures compressed into an ambient flow. Passages display few eventful incidents as the sonic grind unfolds with a resolutely atmospheric demeanor. But this ambience carries little in the way of sedation, serving more to agitate the subconscious than relax the listener. The growling synthesizers achieve a constant tension that is lightly tinged with more synthetic noises. The overall effect is one of a never-ending slowburn.

This release comes with a 16 page B&W comicbook (sized 8.5x11) by artist Bob "X". The story involves a pair of extraterrestrial astronauts (Phinney and McGee from the planet Sono) who examine evidence that other aliens have visited the Earth before their arrival.

Reviews of the music of Chris Phinney (aka Mental Anguish) can be found here.

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CHRIS PHINNEY & HAL McGEE: Stranded on Earth (CDR on HalTapes)

This release offers 70 minutes of battling machine noise.

Electronic drones provide an edgy backdrop for hissing diodes and chittering computers. Atonal structure dominates here, as the sounds conspire to generate a territory of angry resonance. Duels between the various pitches flourish as each track chronicles this sonic struggle. The screams of one machine are countered by the squeals of another device, often creating rhythms as the combatants wrestle with each other.

There is an anguish to this tuneage, as if the machinery bemoan their state and long to be far from this blue planet.

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HAL McGEE & PHIL KLAMPE: Alien Progeny (Homemade Alien Music Volume 3) (CDR on HalTapes)

This release from 1998 offers 61 minutes of experimental electronics.

Sparse drones are peppered with mechanical clickings and vocal moanings, conjuring creepy experiments of a suspicious genetic nature. Sidereal distractions occur, but with little overall disruption to the minimal flow. Hints of melody emerge and vanish again, never really taking hold for more than brief elucidation.

The result of this concrete structure is disturbing, moody ambience culled from the dark side.

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BRIAN NORING & HAL McGEE: Blue Planet (CDR on HalTapes)

This release from 2002 features 68 minutes of harshly ambient electronic music.

Searing pitches conspire to evoke a sonic landscape that is surprisingly lush despite its apparent desolation. Utilizing minimal structure, the unearthly noises screech and weave to establish dire atmospherics, high altitude plummets and daring drifts of cosmic proportion. Drones of monstrous distinction swell slowly, growling and grinding to achieve passages devoid of active melody yet rich with dark illbience. Electric rotors whir amid this liquid fire, churning the flow into eddies of vicious sound punctuated by even more savage electronic expressions.

Aficionados of Stockhausen will enjoy this modern dose of aggressive ambience.

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