Music for Memory by South Florida sound artist Roberto Carlos Lange is the fifth volume in Asthmatic Kitty’s Library Catalog Music Series, and like its predecessors, it reflects its title perhaps more than originally intended. Lange -- who has most recently collaborated with Guillermo Scott Herren on Savath & Savalas' La Llama -- relies deeply on methods like pause tape and overlapping broken-tape delays to create loops, grooves, and atmospheres. He usually creates sound in the moment and of the moment, with his recordings reflecting how that transpires. But Music for Memory is different -- on the 12 pieces on the CD (four more than on the LP version), Lange creates rich, lush textures of melodic and rhythmic loops that are multivalent and get inside the listener from the jump, but he uses them so repetitively that they become like mantras in the mind of the listener before he introduces something else. There may or may not be loads of rhythm tracks, but there are always lush, often elegant lyrical passages of assembled music that is orchestral in nature -- and often coming from old orchestral recordings. He has not only broken them down and utterly reframed and reshaped their harmonic aspects, but created entirely new compositions from them that use different ways of perceiving the harmonic moment, making this music for the body as well as the mind. For instance, an uptempo cut such as “Amazonian Pacific,” which opens the set, showcases bass drums and tom-toms that reverberate against one another, creating a melodic effect as synths play counterpoint in establishing a time signature and framework. But this is only an intro -- he creates a droning pause almost immediately and introduces a female vocal that offers a new melody line as a chant. Drums triple time and become machine gun-like in their repetition, but his other effects create such warmth and beauty around them that the listener is soothed despite the tribal nature of the tune. On the album’s centerpiece, “Love 1,” strings become the point of articulation as they shimmer and flow languidly under textural atmospheres and layers that evoke the actual process of memory, without bringing to mind anything nostalgic. The emotional tenderness and ache that memory evokes are all inherent in the music itself. The exact events are a bit fuzzy, but as the track moves through its ten-and-a-half-minute journey, it becomes clearer and more ornate, and creates a kind of desire in the listener. Lange’s offering in this series is a real triumph, and one that is so memorable that the listener will no doubt return to it again and again.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek