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Richard Pinhas: Metatron

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For several decades, Richard Pinhas has remained a cogent talent in the realm of electronic music, from his treated guitar soundscapes to his more conventional outings which generate intense tuneage mixing rock and industrial genres.

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RICHARD PINHAS: Metatron (double CD on Cuneiform Records)

This release from 2006 offers 131 minutes of edgy ambience centered around guitar treatments.

Joining electronic legend and guitar virtuoso Pinhas are: Antoine Paganotti ( from Magma) on drums, Patrick Gauthier on minimoog, Alain Renaud on guitar, Chuck Oken Jr (from Djam Karet) on synth, Philipe Simon on violin, Didier Batard on bass, and Jerome Schmidt on laptop and loops.

Initially, treated guitar strains swarm like a growing crystal forest, the layers of pulsating threads merging with glutinous determination. Percussion rises to agitate this nest of guitar streams, rhythms gradually coalescing from chaos. Basstones creep into the miasma, along with hidden electronics. Throughout this gathering, the guitar effects adopt a vaguely traditional guitar sound (albeit force-fed through multitracking mutations until the notes overlap into a glimmering flow of glorious beauty), ultimately soaring to stratospheric heights in the form of tendrils of glistening vibrancy.

Subsequent tracks follow this template, blending cacophonic beats with sinuous guitar threads consisting of conventional guitar notes and tremendously altered strains that no longer resemble guitar chords in any manner. This mixture of ethereal (and often growling) looped guitar treatments with grinding guitar licks generates an entrancing tapestry that fuses rock and experimental elements into a throbbing new structure of futuristic design.

And then there are tracks (like "Moumoune and Mietz in the Sky with Diamonds") that cast off all abstract posture and forge ahead with wondrous modern rock-out fashion, in which the guitars achieve celestial clarity immersed in a horde of buzzing wasps, goaded on by coherent drumming of urgent locomotion.

In several passages, the percussives pursue less pounding quality, delving into a clattery mien that achieves a haunting demeanor not unlike a troop of puppets marching across the landscape. These tempos reverberate with great charm, boosted by the liquid resonance of Pinhas' treated guitars which seethe like a foundation of roiling vapors.

Vocal recitations are employed in a few tracks, culled from tapes of Philip K. Dick, William Burroughs, and Maurice Dantec.

These compositions vary, from soundscapes that strive to produce a dreamy effect to more structured pieces that utilize obscure conditions to accomplish undulating songs of astral beauty. Crafting the auspicious concept of "Metatron" (who is the angel employed by God to communicate with humanity), Pinhas strives to bridge mankind and heaven with music that often defies easy codification while tickling subconscious traces with tortured guitar riffs, strident percussion and spectral clouds of ephemeral resonance. Bliss runs tangential with blinding fury, tempered by a determination to mesmerize and captivate. Some pieces feature tantalizing hints of jazz buried in the vivid palpitations.

The first CD features a video (playable on QuickTime) shot by Alain Bellaiche from Pinhas' North American tour from 2004.

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