Bruce Gilbert

Ab Ovo

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Bruce Gilbert had long since left behind the quirky, angular punk of Wire by the time of Ab Ovo, but even by the standards of Wire's later, synth-heavy releases, it's still unusual. Ab Ovo is Gilbert's attempt at ambient, unstructured soundscapes, similar to the music Brian Eno made in the late '70s and early '80s, but substituting a modern techno feel. The 24-minute title track begins with metallic, atonal scrapes, and then meanders wildly from serrated noise to faint tones. The rest of the album is equally divergent, from the eerie, delicate "The Singing Pier" to the industrial trudge of "Emission Curve." It's true that Gilbert is not just rehashing past ambient glories here, since there are moments that incorporate rhythms and textures of modern industrial and electronic music, but there is still an uneasy feel of deja-vu hanging about this record. Frequently, it seems as if Gilbert is simply relying on avant-garde noise rather than attempting to shape it into something truly compelling. For all of the interesting music on Ab Ovo (and there's plenty), it never really coalesces into a truly unified, intriguing whole.

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