Richard Pinhas


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In this double-CD package, Richard Pinhas consolidates his position as the reigning master of mesmerizing, trance/ambient guitar while also pushing further into the hybrid rock/jazz territory which he began exploring in his previous 2004 release, Tranzition. In his early experiments with tape loops, Pinhas acknowledged a major debt to Robert Fripp, but the French guitarist displays a wide range of strategies on this recording, which include but are certainly not limited to the basic but effective "Frippertronics" concept of mixing a delayed audio signal back into newly generated material. More often than not, the initial looped and delayed guitar riffs serve merely as points of departure, to which Pinhas gradually combines additional textures, timbres, vocal samples and other instruments (sometimes almost subliminally), creating huge edifices of sound that in several cases generate the momentum of a runaway locomotive but are just as likely to drift serenely in a shimmering alternate reality. Over half of the 12 pieces on the two CDs are more than ten minutes in length, which allows them to unfold in an organic and sometimes almost hallucinogenic fashion -- the stuff of disquieting dreams if not nightmares. Pinhas' longstanding interest in science fiction strongly asserts itself in tracks such as "Shaddai Blues," where the combination of eerie guitar drones and the insistent, metallic thrashing of machinery creates a soundscape at once hypnotic and chillingly bleak. Another piece, "Metatron(ic) Rock," uses the propulsive talents of drummer Antoine Paganotti and rocks as hard as anything Pinhas ever did with his great '70s prog rock band Heldon. This track re-creates and refreshes the very best of vintage space rock; it could hold its own with the heaviest, trippiest material in the Pink Floyd catalog. However, Paganotti's drumming is much freer and more improvisational elsewhere, and several tracks even go beyond jazz fusion and into a kind of avant-jazz where Paganotti plays Rashied Ali to Pinhas' Coltrane, thrashing and crashing on the drumkit while Pinhas spins long, abstract lines, both searing and serene, using several different guitar treatments. And in the majestic, three-part "Tikkun," the inspired combination of low and high frequency drones, loops, murmured narrative and pounding, scattershot percussion creates music with a truly epic sweep, hinting at ancient rituals and the marshaling of immense cosmic forces. If you're looking for one Pinhas CD that showcases all aspects of his mature musical vision, this is it. And it's a beauty.

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