Masayo Asahara

Saint Agnes Fountain

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Recorded in October 1974 and privately released at the time, Saint Agnes Fountain was given its first proper release 29 years after the fact. How this mad experimental, psychedelic orgy managed to drift under the radar of collectors is beyond comprehension. Composed by Masayo Asahara, this is a continuous 60-minute piece blending La Monte Young and Tony Conrad's conception of minimalism with the Krautrock movement's own interpretation of the word. Add a current of inspiration from early Soft Machine to throw the music completely off the minimalist bandwagon, and you'll get a (sketchy) idea of the forces at work. At its core, Saint Agnes Fountain consists of an organ chord held for an hour. Asahara sends it through an array of filters. And for the first 30 minutes, that's all there is, strongly suggesting the American minimalists (and actually more Angus MacLise than La Monte Young) and the Faust-Conrad Schnitzler axis. But at Index Three, bass (Michio Foschida) and drums (Robun Dantomi) come in, laying down a groove that picks up the pace in the fourth section. In the fifth, Asahara breaks into a heated organ solo, and then the link to the Canterbury Scene becomes obvious. Sax and trumpet come in and it sounds like Soft Machine circa Third jamming over thick tape loops. If there was an electric guitar in there, one could think of Magical Power Mako, or even Acid Mothers Temple -- except it doesn't need guitar: by then, the organ sounds like the wildest of guitar/electronics soundscape. There are a couple of overlong passages, but in general, the piece sucks the listener into its world and leaves little chance to get out. Highly recommended to fans of '70s experimental music.

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