March 2, 2012

Electronic Art Ensemble – Inquietude (1982)

A real dollar-bin gem right here from New York’s own late-period academic musique-concretins Electronic Art Ensemble, about whom the internet seems to have almost nothing to say. While the rest of Downtown 81′s coked-up teen gang was detuning guitars and screaming themselves hoarse, EAE was content to twiddle, fiddle, wow and flutter their way towards pointillistic synth-filled oblivion (Their LP’s liner notes penned by the late St. Moog himself). A truly bizarre mix of grainy signal processing, chunky guitar lines, tape freakery, horrible-sounding drum machines, and the occasional moment of transgressive electronic scree that makes the whole trip worthwhile.

On the whole, the LP embodies a sort of MEV meets the Residents vibe, deadly serious wailing sonorities one moment, and goofy chopped-up voice blurt the next. An uneven but engaging ride, the sustained tension and head-boggling synth shenanigans of the album’s final 2 tracks are the redeeming highlights, while the perplexing unevenness and general goofball posing of the rhythm-based tracks like “Sentences” and “Inquietude 1″ are still worth a listen for sheer incongruity. A testament and tribute to the NON-STANDARD canon.

PS and disclaimer: this digitized recording is marinated in crackly surface noise. It only really serves to amplify the air of raw confusion that’s already omnipresent throughout.


January 23, 2012

Carl Weingarten & Walter Whitney

Dreaming In Colors Front Cover
Dreaming In Colors Back Cover

A hidden gem of late-era predigital ambience, I found this LP residing calmly in the Jazz bins at Jerry’s, where it had most likely sat for the bulk of its existence (as evidenced by its faded $3 price tag). The sounds within are an epic chill-out mix of prime Fripp & Eno subliminal guitar float and mid-stride Tangerine Dream theatricality.

 The album is a series of concise, soundtrack-style sketches, consisting mostly of glacial pads and Froesean aquatic fluttering with overdriven, infinite sustain guitar work. Hard not to hear the influence of the Frippertronics mindset, but devoid of the pensive arc-building of sidelong tracks that limits that style. The stoic veil is occasionally pierced by borderline shredding, from morose legatos to what could only be described as “subtly ecstatic” climaxes. All the while, berlin-school arpeggios bubble through the flight path (this is 1985, after all).

Released on the obscure Multiphase records from St. Louis (the roster consisting mostly of CW & WW themselves), this LP represents a niche of a niche of artists who’s world is ripe for re-exploration.

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