Three decades of activity behind him and Chris Cutler had yet to release a solo album. Well, now it's done and the result is aptly titled Solo. Of course, this is not your run-of-the-mill drums record. Cutler uses his electrified drum kit, an assortment of drums, cymbals, and objects equipped with microphone cells or contact mics ran through an array of pedal effects into a mixer. Delay, reverb, reverse playback, pitch controllers, and flangers play a part as important as the drummer's actual drumming. The resulting music mesmerizes by its textures and sounds, very remote from anything percussive. Solo culls recordings from live performances that took place in Europe and the U.S. between August 2000 and May 2002. There are three main pieces (split into a number of seguing tracks) and two shorter excerpts that provide interludes. The focus of the album does not rest on the performance itself but on the listening experience. Some have been edited and "North Car Roulette" is actually made of two separate concerts. The idea was to provide an easygoing hour of music without a single dull moment. Mission accomplished. "Signal 66" begins with some drum-hitting and scraping, instantly augmented by the electronics. The shock is immediate but at the same time listeners who were expecting more conventional drumming have something to cling to. This piece is as close as you will get to a drums solo and there is a lot happening. The other tracks get closer to a form of ambient electronics (not electronica, mind you) or even electro-acoustic improv without losing their edge. "A Walk Through Nancy," recorded at the Musique Action festival, includes a field recording Cutler made earlier that day and used as a backdrop for the performance. This album goes beyond expectations to reaffirm father of Rock-In-Opposition's status as a first-rate experimentalist.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture