Richard Pinhas

Iceland

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    8
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Pinhas' song and CD titles, and even cover art, both as a solo artist and with Heldon indicate the strong influence of science fiction authors and titles. Pinhas has a strongly visual and literary imagination and while this recording is not exactly thematic, and not exactly science fiction either, it is inspired by a vision of ancient Northern kingdoms and rulers, with song titles such as "Iceland," "The Last Kings of Thule" and "Greenland." At its best, Iceland does in fact convey an icy desolate beauty with the three-part title piece perhaps most evocative. Here, Pinhas uses long, moody synthesizer lines in a manner that would be adopted and extended by ambient synthesizer artists such as Steve Roach four or five years later. An entire program in this style would have been most welcome, but the two-part "Last Kings" suffers from a plodding, predictable march rhythm and is musically uninteresting. Several other short fragments (one actually titled "Short Transition") are hardly worth the trouble, and even though "Greenland" utilizes services of Francois Auger on percussion and Jean-Philippe Goude on mini-Moog, its steady beat and cyclical melodic patterns are as much new-age soporific as they are mesmerizing. The last long drone piece "Wintermusic" raises the level substantially, but it is a reissue extra, recorded four years later in 1983. This piece is in one sense a throwback for Pinhas, sounding very much like a slice of Fripp/Eno ambience from much earlier in the '70s. However, it very well realized, and its timeless style insures that it has not really dated itself appreciably.

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