Richard Pinhas

Event and Repetitions

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Pinhas' playing, on both guitar and synthesizers, has always had a strange reserve to it, even when he was leader of the powerful, riff-oriented prog rock band Heldon in the mid- to late '70s. He never comfortably assumed the mantle of a rock god, even with his natural advantage of good looks and charisma. Instead, throughout his career he has always seemed more interested in science fiction, electronic music technology, and abstruse philosophical discourse than any kind of popular acclaim. (Pre-Heldon, Pinhas even taught philosophy for a time at the prestigious Sorbonne University in Paris.) After Heldon disbanded, Pinhas made a number of solo recordings in the 1980s and early '90s that were largely hit and miss mixtures of prog rock, misguided future pop, electronic minimalism, and a kind of primitive techno. Guitarist Robert Fripp was one of Pinhas' early heroes and a sporadic but constant thread in Pinhas' music has been his experimentation with guitar feedback, loops, and effects boxes, even in the early days of Heldon, as he tried to perfect his own version of Frippertronics. Well, it has been a long time coming, but Event and Repetitions may well signal the full realization of Pinhas' longtime vision. The drifting, hypnotic patterns of the five pieces on this CD (four of them eight or more minutes in length) have a shimmering beauty and depth that seems to suggest a destination at the end of a long journey -- and perhaps the beginning of a new journey. Although the CD cover proclaims that "all tracks were performed live on guitar direct to digital recorder," many of the background drones and even melody lines have such long sustains that they sound as if they are being played on a huge cathedral organ rather than an electric guitar. The mastery of technology here is not only impressive, but also completely organic. As in much of Fripp's best work, the pieces on the CD are never static and merely repetitive, but rather have a stately, almost glacially slow momentum to them, like the play of Northern Lights or the working of other immense cosmic forces. This music will no doubt be pigeonholed as ambient, or even new age (for whatever use that hopelessly overused term presently serves), but like all art that comes from the deeper parts of the psyche, Event and Repetitions really transcends classification.

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