PABLO'S EYE: Prepare for the Others to Follow (CD EP on Swim Records in UK, in USA contact Wire Mail Oder, PO Box 29133, Los Angeles, CA 90029-0133, USA).
Always the inventive lads, Pablo's Eye have produced a 32 minute EP that explores a central melody in various mixes, from 20 seconds to six minutes long, including a remix by Immersion (aka Colin Newman and Malka Spigel).
Sinuous percussion threads weave in a sea of ethnic instruments drenched in electronics. The main melody is quite uptempo and catchy. The things they do to it are entertaining and reasonably non-similar in sound--from jungle trip to ambient dub.
PABLO'S EYE: You Have a Yearning for Perfection (CD EP on Extreme Records, PO Box 147, Preston, 3072 Victoria, Australia).
Pablo's Eye has an offbeat way of throwing space, tribal, world, jazz and avant garde into a blender and ending up with a very weird and ever changing blur of sonic roots. You'll hear a mixture of percussion and pulsing keyboards punctuated by vocal fx and guitar in a spectral caldron of surreal rhythmic trance.
This 44 minute CD EP features three remixes of a track from Pablo's Eye's "You Love Chinese Food" album (another superb aural expression on Extreme Records) and two mixes of a very uptempo non-LP track.
Extremely tasty music--it's very highly recommended.
PABLO'S EYE: You Love Chinese Food (CD on Extreme Records, PO Box 147, Preston, 3072 Victoria, Australia).
This is quite an intriguing blend of new age and art rock producing a quirky ambience with soft electronics, delicate percussion (actually more pulse than percussion) and periodic distant vocal strains. Some almost normal pieces can be found on this CD, but the real emphasis is on pure atmospheric strangeness. There's an intensity to it all, but it's a pensive brooding power that seduces you while you think you're not listening. It's very compelling and inventive, often twisting a simple drone rhythm into a lightning storm of dense cybernetics. The music frequently gives the feeling of Steve Roach melded with Henry Kaiser in a dark Brussells back alley.
PAINKILLER: Execution Ground (double CD on Subharmonic Records in USA).
John Zorn, Bill Laswell and Mick Harris team up for this extremely deviant musical outing. Cacophonous jazz with a mean electro streak. Basically made up of percussion, sax, bass and weirdness, these pieces start out very disjointed but coalesce into highly hypnotic rhythms, only it's not steady enough to be hypnotic. The beat keeps changing, the unexpected keeps happening. Very intriguing are the results.
Then--out of nowhere--the second disc features long ambient mixes of two pieces from the first disc: one atmospherically calm and pulsing; the other atmospherically grinding and actually quite an intense listen.
PARADOX: The Yukki Dance (60 minute cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Avenue., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).
Hard-hitting agro rock...a mixture of grinding guitars and pounding drums and more guitars.
ANDY PARTRIDGE/HAROLD BUDD: Through the Hill (CD onAll Saints Records in UK).
Those of you expecting this to be a pop album (since Partridge is from XTC) are in for a big surprise. those of you who remember Partridge's solo album from 1980 ("Take Away/The Lure of Salvage") are also in for a surprise. This teaming with minimalist virtuoso Budd has got Partridge's classical senses working overtime to deliver a very pleasant passive aural landscape. Piano and soft keyboards dominate. The rest of the sounds are varied, but they remain secondary to the keyboard drift. I enjoyed it, but will admit it may be too undynamic for most.
PENGA: Music from the Beast (46 minute cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Avenue., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).
Mega-pulse electronics...long slowburns of gritty throbbing computers and chittering alien noises. Very dark, very moody.
PENGUIN CAFE ORCHESTRA: Concert Program (double CD on Zopf/Windham Hill Records in USA).
A total of almost 100 minutes, including a wide sampling of classic pieces from this band's 20 year career. Live (despite the absence of even the slightest hint of audience noise) and brilliant!
Soft acoustic guitar and violin usher you into a modern chamber music experience conjuring English drawing rooms and countryside estates with a jovial comfort and pleasant selection of melodies. Clarinet, cello, oboe, percussion, bass, harmonium, trombone and ukelele complete the sonic roster.
PERCEPTUAL OUTER DIMENSIONS: Euphonia (CD on Fifth Column Records, PO Box 787, Washington DC 200441).
There is nothing as wonderful and exciting as discovering an awesome new band just two weeks before the release of their new albuml Why, I've only just begun to play "The Journey to Planet Pod" to death and--suddenly--there's morel POD overdose! It only whew my ears for morel
The sound of Holmes D. Ives (aka POD) has grown since "The Journey'. The sonics are denser, crisper, glowing like a stellar nova. The music is still heavy-handed electronics with dark E-perc thunder. The prior influences have given way to the evolution of a distinctive style of industrial trance music. There's a very strong emphasis on dynamic melodies, with an electronic vivisection of grindingly weird noises and computer growls, peppered with some delicate sounds that cleverly season the dense sonic cloud. Add a periodic use of a heavenly choir fed through apparatus so that it almost loses its humanity, emerging as a sweet alien chant.
Highly recommended is puffing it lightly.
PERCEPTUAL OUTER DIMENSIONS: The Journey to Planet Pod (CD on Fifth Column Records, PO Box 787, Washington DC 200441).
Extremely energetic electronic music that walks a molecular line between trance and industrial with a sharp German flair to the synthetics. Various rhythmatics add a pep that does not spoil the intellectual charm. There's a particular crispness to the electronics that gives this music a vitally stylistic edge--one that I find immensely refreshing.
One could compare POD's sound to Front Line Assembly, or Chris & Cosey, or Delerium... but you'd only be scratching the surface.
The songs have an urgency that injects a cold cyclotronic shimmer to the seething core of synthis and E-percs.
PERFUME TREE: A Lifetime Away (CD on World Domination Records, PO Box 8097, Universal City Station, North Hollywood, CA 91618).
Imagine a more powerful Cocteau Twins, laced with a spacier Lush. That's a good starting point to get an idea of Perfume Tree's sound. Their darkly snappy melodies are almost folk rock doubling as atmospheric pop. There's a fair amount of particularly intense passages in which the instruments fuse into an attack wall of sound: grinding guitar, harmonious female vocals, crisp percussives, thunderous lizard bass and a bee's nest of seething samplers. The style of the songs are strong electro gothic with a tendency to swell with epic and frenzied electronics.
Very impressive. Highly recommended.
PHILHARMONIE: Nord (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
Intricate multilayered guitar instrumentals with Chapman stick and drums. Heavy on the european flair and purist sonic expression. A very tasty disc.
PHILHARMONIE: Rage (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO BOX 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907).
The fourth album by this French quartet of guitars, Chapman stick and drums is a killer that should not be ignored! Strong melodies kick out with dynamic and intricate guitar patterns--the guitars are actually more hyper than the slick speed percussion "Rage" is an appropriate title, the notes are fast, intense, twisted, urgent and powerfully angry.
If you're looking for an album that outfires the passion and sound of classic King Crimson, this is the only choice you have.
RICHARD PINHAS: Chronolyse (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
Pinhas puts down the guitar and goes electronic for his second solo release from 1977. (The exception being a 30 minute track with electronics, guitar, bass and drums.) Again, the outcome is typically intense with that distinctive Pinhas flair. Masterful sounds, rapid delivery, intricate structure hidden in cyclic assaults.
This time the music is an aural musing on Frank Herbert's "Dune", excellently interpretting the mood of the Bene Gesserit, Duncan Idaho and Paul Atreides.
Total time: 52 minutes.
RICHARD PINHAS: De l' Un et du Multiple (CD on Spalax Music in France).
A new release by Richard Pinhas is certain cause for joyous alarm. The man (and his Seventies band Heldon) cut the mold for intense electronic music, and after a decade of retirement, his return with the "DWW" album was exciting but tepid, while his followup "Cyborg Sally" album (with John Livengood) was an inspired explosion of the legendary power returned. So the prospect of a new Pinhas album makes me squirm in my eager seat with anticipation that is thick with curiosity--what will Pinhas produce this time?
Why--it's a solo live--in studio guitar album. There's live digital retracking going on, but there's no re-recording involved. Do not be hesitant, the description does not reflect this music's brilliance. The music is ethreal and ghostly but still heavily dramatic. You should not consider these to be "songs", they are more multilayered tonal structures of cold seething power. Pinhas' guitar mastery has often been compared to the powerful style of Robert Fripp, and this 74 minute album displays this feature with stunning results.
RICHARD PINHAS: DWW (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
Pinhas returned to the music field with an album of material recorded between 1983 and 1991. Intense structured, dynamic, pulsing heavy E-perc and wailing guitar--ail the things we waited ten years to hear again--all shimmering and primed for cerebral attack. Showing his roots splendidly too, with a 92 Iceland strike; a track entitled "Ubik"; and many of his old cohorts back to help him out--Gauthier Goude, Paganotti--even another striking (and just as stark) cover by Druillet.
Total time: 41 minutes.
RICHARD PINHAS: East/West (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
In 1980, Pinhas delivered a sampling of shorter pieces with more emphasis on the snappy uptempo mode. Pinhas' guitar and electronics are joined by bass, percussion, and other electronics for this outing into the realm of robot pop tunes, which includes a cover version of Bowie's "Sense of Doubt" and a collaboration with SF author Norman Spinrad (who also supplies voices for the track).
Other aspects of interest: a striking and stark Phillipe Druillet cover.
Total time: 38 minutes.
RICHARD PINHAS: Iceland (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
I've always viewed this as a concept album, a tribute to (as a track is so entitled) "The Last Kings of Thule." Many consider it to be Pinhas' solo pinnacle. Although still quite intense, the music is more structured to be a pulsating trance, fixing the listener with a clever riff and winding it in weaving circles. (And when it's not cyclic, it's a monstrous pulse that looms like a Herculean tidalwave.) The guitarwork is stunning and there's lots of percussion--natural and artifical.
This CD also contains a 25 minute previously unreleased bonus track, "Wintermusic" (recorded in 1983), which (despite its overt intensity) is probably the most ambient electronic piece Pinhas has ever done.
Total time: 61 minutes.
RICHARD PINHAS: L'Ethique (CD on Cunriform Records,
1981 still saw Pinhas channeling his music into tighter, short pieces with strong tempos, but still harsh sensibilities. The electronics are surging, lively with hooks and sneaky licks. The intensity is there, but it has been redirected now into a serious discipline, meshing all the instruments together in a slick mass.
This CD contains a 6 minute live piece as a bonus track. The piece originally comes from a rare double album collection: "Perspective Compilation: 76-82").
Total time: 52 minutes.
RICHARD PINHAS: Rhizosphere/Live Paris 1982 (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
"Rhizosphere" is Pinhas' first solo album from 1977 and it's all electronics (Moog 55 and ARP 2600 synthis to he exact), with a guest appearance by Francois Auger on drums on the title track. These intricate compositions are comprised of hyperactive pulsings and subterranean machinery--truly awesome work. The title track is one of electronic music's alltime classic pieces.
Filing out the CD is 37 minutes of previously unreleased live material from Paris in 1982. Accompanying Pinhas on stage are: Francois Auger. Clement Bailly, Patrick Gauthier, and Bernard Paganotti (from Magma). The music is typically gutsy, wholly satisfying, and totally brilliant.
Total time: 77 minutes.
RICHARD PINHAS & JOHN LIVENGOOD: Cyborg Sally (CD on Tangram Records in France).
In 1992, Richard Pinhas returned to the electronic music scene with his "DWW" album. It was vibrant and strong and alive with surly electronics. Well, with "Cyborg Sally", Pinhas is back with a ferocious electronic attack that is capable of knocking the wind out of a whale. Brilliant! Brazen! Brutal!
Pinhas' guitar is full of merciless firey sustain and cosmic intensity amidst a seething barbecue of electronics. The melodies drift as toothful masses in a viscous sonic fluid--electric and red. Oh, there's "traditional" guitar playing too, along with various percussions, bass and even some vocal effects (by SF author Norman Spinrad). But the real attraction here is the powerful display of dramatic instrumental electronic music with both European flair and classical taste.
RICHARD PINHAS & JOHN LIVENGOOD: The Cyborg Sally Single (CD EP on Amp Records, Box 387, London N22 6SF, UK).
Let's recall how the "Cyborg Sally" LP was unbelievably excellent: savage and spacey guitar and electronics. Well, this 19 minute EP features two versions of LP tracks and a ten minute live version of "Stand By". All round superb.
POLYGON WINDOW: Surfing on Sine Waves (CD on Warp Records in UK).
This electronic release is awesome--heavy accent on the sythn-perc and hyper-rapid BPMs. And PW's "Quoth" CD EP is a virtual cyberpunk Hawaiian tribal ritual.
PG is aka Richard D.James (Aphex Twin).
POP WILL EAT ITSELF: Amalgamation (CD on Nothing/Interscope Records in the USA).
I never got into this band while they were around in the 80s. Now they're back and I caught the song "Ich Bin Ein Auslander" on the radio and fell instantly in love with it, tramping around all Xmas morning chanting the lyrics and disturbing our houseguests. The music is violent, intense and out for blood. Good wake up stuff.
PORCUPINE TREE: On the Sunday of Life (CD on Delerium Records in UK).
This music begins in a very crude mode, almost like a garage version of Gong. Glissando guitar, bubbling synthis, snappy percussion. There are dreamy folkish vocals to some of the pieces, cosmic stuff out of the mouths of forlorn hippies By mid-CD it does pick up, getting into a power fusion thing that is quite tasty.
PORCUPINE TREE: The Sky Moves Sideways (CD on Delerium Records in UK).
This is by far the best of PT's releases. The songs are generally longer, allowing the sonic mesh more twists on the slowbuild road to ecstasy. The sound is still guitar dominated (Steve Wilson's guitar style is quite tasty with ntense wailings and sustain) with lots of soft spacy electronics. This time Barbieri seems to have joined the band and is prevalent on every track.
The USA release of this CD (sorry, not sure what label) features a rearrangement of the songs with some replacements.
PORCUPINE TREE: Up the Downstair (CD on Delerium Records in UK).
There's a mastery of instruments and slick composition on this CD that was only hinted at on the earlier "On the Sunday of Life" album. The peaks are sharper and more frequent. The guitar has moved from heavenly to stellar, and there's less vocals. The whole CD is tighter and tastier. Also note the guest presence on the title track of Richard Barbieri (ex-Japan).
DAVID PRESCOTT & AL MARGOLIS: Duets for Bass and Cello (60 minute cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Avenue., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).
Freeform dribbling up and down the frets of a bass, accompanied by intense bow scrapings across the strings of a cello. Classical avant garde noise.
PRESENT: Certitudes (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
This release reunites Roger Trigaux, Alain Rochette, Guy Segers, and Daniel Denis--members of the classic Belgian gothic prog ensemble Univers Zero, together again for the first time since 1979, and joined by Reginald Trigaux (son of Roger). The result is a definite maturation of the legend. The music on this 40 minute CD is enjoyably intense, dark and somber, comprising of intricate drumming, dramatic keyboards, soaring guitar, rumble bass, and lamenting vocals. Dense funereal march compositions cavort with a prog fusion that enlivens the darkness without illuminating it.
PRESENT: Live (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907-8427 USA).
History lesson: In 1974, Belgians Roger Trigaux and Daniel Denis cofounded Univers Zero, who spread their spooky marshland chamber gothic music over Europe to much acclaim. In 1979, Trigaux left to form Present and pursue a more hard rock oriented brand of brooding dark music. After a few wonderful albums, Present disbanded in the mid-Eighties...only to re-coalesce in the early Nineties, touring in late 1995 to produce the material on this splendid live recording.
Darkly metallic with jazz and classical influences, Present's sound is made up of a pair of duelling screech guitars, loglike percussion, haunting keyboards and sinuous bass. The vocals remind one of Magma sung in English. In fact, there's a certain Magma flair to the hard gothic rock music, with its rapidly changing time signatures and complex counterpoints. Raging and dynamic.
PRESSUREHED: Sudden Vertigo
(both CDS on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
I was uncommonly impressed by "The Eternal Sky" LP by Anubian Lights (a collab group made up of ex-Hawkwinders and members of Pressurehed), so my curiosity concerning Pressurehed's music was only natural.
"Infradrone" from 1992 is the first of the pair of Pressurehed albuma. It is deeply immersed in the Hawkwind sound and quite intriguing musically. Guitar, electronics and percussion mesh savagely with the vocals to produce 50 minutes of excellent space rock.
With their second album, "Sudden Vertigo" in 1993, Tommy Grenas and Len del Rio are joined by Dorian Shelley and Paul Fox for a 63 minute excursion into space rock. This time the Hawkwind sound is tinged with an edge of Chrome. Ah, but the band have filtered these influences through their own cunning fingers, giving the music its own particular spin, strangeness and charm. A thorough delight, from spacey trance to spooky rock, Pressurehed are a very cool listen.
PSYCHEDELIC WARRIORS: The White Zone (CD on Griffin Records in USA)
First clue: the PSYCHEDELIC WARRIORS are not who they appear to be.
The music is vivid and empowered like a thrashing cyclotron. Guitar heavy--heavy guitar, at that--with a tornado of electronics swirling in and out of a cloudbank of atmospheric keyboard. Urgent drums: attack rhythms.
Second clue: The PSYCHEDELIC WARRIORS feature appearances by: Lord Charles, Lysurgic Duke and Dr. Technical.
Sans vocals ("instrumental" just sounds too pleasant), the music is real powerhouse rock: intense, driving, and--remember--guitar heavy. There are spooky trance pieces thrown in serving as bridges between the glistening asteroid rock.
Guitar rock...savage electronics... intense trance...what to call this...?
Let's call it HAWKWIND! For the PSYCHEDELICWARRIORS are Dave Brock, Alan Davey, and Paul Chadwick (aka HAWKWIND). Ahal The puzzle isn't complete yet, but it's together enough for us to make out the general picture. Another brilliant surprise redirection for Hawkwind--a return to intensity and guitar dominated space rock, intersecting with a tasty compositional arc of brilliance.
To complete the puzzle fully, you must get this album and experience the Psychedelic Warriors' mastery of time and space and sonic vibrations.
STEPHEN PURCELL: Seeing Eye (46 minute cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Avenue., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).
Two long ambient electronic pieces...side A is soft and drifting electronics, not unlike very early Tangerine Dream, while side B adds a pulsating guitar presence of delicate nature to the synthi landscape, creating a sound not heard since the Ash Ra Tempel albums of the early Seventies.
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