Richard Barlow visual art
Portfolio Events About Exhibitions Press Contact
Arts Writing Music Theater mnartists.org
News
The Arctic Circle
MORE
CV
 
   
press
reviews
 
   

 

Take Acre: Cut from a Cloud

2013 /ptolemaic terrascope / Byphil mcmullen
"Take Acre make improvised music using drums, bass and various types of guitar; on their new album "Cut From A Cloud" four longish tracks take the listener on an improv post-rock journey. Each track was recorded during basement rehearsal sessions, and while this could be seen as lesser material (who'd want to listen to rehearsals?) the music has been prepared well enough to make an interesting trip. The sound echoes Pink Floyd crossing the boundary between '69 and '70, but with hints of jazz and more along the way. Dual guitars seem oppositional, but they complement one another well. The outstanding track is 'Harlem Renaissance Festival,' where the full band sound, emotive guitar solos and oodles of rolling bass make a tasty jam. 'There Is No Eurasia' is also good, with its bowed guitar and pattering, Mason-esque drums. An intriguing listen."


Take Acre: s/t


2011 /emusic / ByDave Summer
"The opening notes of Take Acre’s debut album seem not to intrigue the ear so much as corral it. Bursts of electric guitar notes repeat in tight cycles right up front. Meanwhile, the warped luster of lap steel flirts with the ears just below the surface of the tune. Drums and bass walk in nonchalantly from either side. The volume rises. The song’s tempo increases, giving the impression of a tight space getting tighter until all that’s left is the listener in the center of it all. This is a pattern that repeats throughout.

Consisting of electric guitar, lap steel, bass and drums, Take Acre falls into the category of instrumental post-rock that savors the embrace of repetition, and adopting change only as reflected through intensity, not pitch. It’s an approach easy to warm to, but one that can lead to boredom in the absence of an unusual ingredient or two. Exhibit A: lap steel, the inclusion of which adds bright edges to the quartet’s lush waves of sound. Take Acre’s meticulous treatment of the melody is a pleasant thing to experience on its own, but juxtaposed against the wild aeronautics of a lap steel knocks the album up a notch for enjoyability.

Fans of Explosions in the Sky and Dirty Three should gravitate toward this. By way of introduction, Take Acre has made a promising opening statement.."

 

2011 / foxy digitalis / By andrew Murdock livingston
"Very strong instrumental post-rock.   Kind of what you expect from instrumental post-rock, jazzy, atmospheric, a litany of instruments popping up and roots in krautrock.  Very Popul Vuh even, with the cello (I think) being a very strong portion of the band, adding some additional dimension to an already steady song.

I wouldn’t call it cinematic, but it’s solid and enjoying to listen to.  It would be interesting to see them live, to see what happens in a new environment.."


2011 / Ptolemaic Terrascope / By phil mcmullen
"Opening with the fragile sound of a misty dawn, the self-titled debut from Take Acre is a wonderful sprawl through ambience, texture and melody, the seven tracks displaying jazz tendencies and a post-rock haze, the four musicians sparking off each other to great effect. Cinematic in feel, the opening track “Burned grove” is a beautiful beginning, with some excellent drumming from Davu Seru really opening the music up for the other players. On “The Great Man is on a Happy Odyssey”, the mood is slow and smoky, a late-night bar feel pervading the shimmering grooves. Warmer in its intent, “Town Square” benefits from some precise Bass playing courtesy of Charles Gillet, the precision allowing the lap-steel of Jason Childs to resonate with delight. With more than a hint of Television in its sound, to my ears anyway, “The Bathers” is another glorious tune, whilst “A Wood Pity” offers an ocean of possibilities, the relatively simple rhythms allowing the guitar work of Rich Barlow to take centre stage. Finally, the hypnotic pulse of “There is Pretty Distance” builds and builds, the tension sustained until the final blend of notes and feedback herald the end of an excellent LP, that will be played on a regular basis around here."


2011 / reviler / By adam bubolz
"Instrumental rock is a tricky game. As the post-rock scene of the late 90s expanded, bands continued to try and outdo each other in a game of quieter moments leading into larger and larger crescendos. While I admit to being a sucker for this formula, there’s a lot to be said about a band who knows how to restrain themselves.

Take Acre is a Minneapolis band made up of long time members of the improv music and arts community of the Twin Cities.  Among its members, guitarist Rich Barlow is the co-curator of the annual Heliotrope Festival, lap steel player Jaron Childs has performed with Low and Milo Fine, while the other members Charles Gillett and Davu Seru both perform with different improv groups around the city.

The first thing that becomes apparent about Take Acre is one thing: restraint. The obvious thing as previously mentioned in  the post-rock scene is going big. Slow parts lead to big crescendos. The pattern repeats. Take Acre take a different approach, resulting in a much more slow burning approach . “Burned Grove” sets the tone for the album pretty well, a free jazzy opening hits a groove after a minute with steady drumming providing a solid backdrop for guitar noodling and lap steel providing an interesting interplay. The band keeps the vibe going throughout the record, from the loose “The Great Man Is On A Happy Odyssey” to the hazy “There Is A Pretty Distance”. Take Acre remains in control for the entire length of the record. Grooves and melodies play out over the course of the songs, never resorting to a cheap epic crescendo that you might expect. Saru’s jazzy drumming helps propel the band throughout the record, keeping busy but always anchoring the band.

The whole band are veteran players and it shows throughout the course of the album. Things flow naturally between all the players and things never reach any dull points. I hope we hear a lot more from this band in the future."



Take Acre: Believers (soundtrack)

2010 /synching ship / ByMike Hallenbeck
"Very much enjoying Believers, the new album from Take Acre. Brings to mind Tom Verlaine's solo work, or Set Fire to Flames. A sprawling album that covers a lot of ground, from melodic to droney to some skittery free improv material, but always very intimate and respectful of negative space. Fairly basic rock instrumentation without much in the way of effects or studio trickery; the treat is to hear the musicians listening and responding in real time. Great stuff. ."

 


Barlow/Petersen/Wivinus: The Transparent World


2001 / Evening of light / By o.s.
"The music on The Transparent World is instrumental, largely improvised, completely acoustic, and quite experimental in nature. A wide range of instruments and playing styles is used, including 6 and 12 string guitars, mandolin, zither, percussion, piano, and exotic stuff like 'rattletrap' and 'freeman's monostring'. The result of this an excellent album of moody, evocative acoustic music.
In a way, many parts of the album sound distinctly 'American', and in a very positive way. The opening track, "Buried Under Crows", immediately makes this clear. The slide guitar gives the track a musical colour that for a non-American like myself is typical for the wild natural areas of the States. The song could come straight from the prairies, though not in a way as cliché as that sounds. This kind of feeling returns often on the album, and I envision a musical journey through desolate plains, murky bayous, frontier railroad towns, and so forth, but all in a deeper, different way than most cultural commonplaces. Barlow, Petersen and Wivinus not only depict these landscapes, but also the ghostly and mythical layers beyond. Though the musical connection is not always strong, one can consider this music as a sort of American counterpart to what Xenis Emputae Travelling Band is for Britain.
Of course, all this interpretation is highly personal, and might not reflect what others feel with this kind of music. Sticking more to aural facts, it's safe to say that these are ten original, complicated and gripping tracks, sometimes calm (yet brooding), sometimes more intense, but always strong, dreamy, evocative. The album can also be compared to more recent projects like A Broken Consort and The Juniper Meadows (though for more elaborate than the latter), but it also predates them, making this an important album from the beginning of the decade. It's a shame this has been it so far, and I hope a follow up will appear some time. Until then, this is an excellent album that no one into freefolk and experimental acoustics can afford to miss."


2001 / The Vinyl junkie / By jeff penczak
"From the opening "Buried Under Crows," a shamanic summoning of the spirits as the world dervishes out of their bowed, slide, 6-, and 12-strings, this guitar summit between Minneapolis superstar axemen, Rich Barlow (The Pins), Erik Wivinus (Gentle Tasaday, Skye Klad, Salamander), and Jesse Petersen (Viaticum) illustrates the diversity of the criminally ignored Twin Cities indie scene. The public's attention seems to have been diverted away from the Land of 10,000 Lakes ever since the artist formerly known as talented disappeared in a purple haze. Let's hope these three releases help thaw the reception generally afforded anything from up here that doesn't have a placemat associated with it.

But, I digress. The ominously suspenseful "An Unmasked Trail" frightens as it entices the listener down dark passageways and, as the title suggests, off the beaten path and sounds like Charalambides having a go at one of Bernard Herrmann's Hitchcock's scores. Barlow's unusual instrumentation of ocarina, slide mandolin(!), and harmonium adds to the overall unsettling effect. The trio bring all their toys to "That Night" and "Creation Myth": e-bow, slide and bowed mandolin, tuning pipes, train and penny whistles, bowed (and backwards) cymbals, rattletraps, freeman monostrings, bagpipes, not to mention the usual assortment of forwards, backwards, and bowed guitars to sustain the vibe of haunted hayrides, Blair witch hunts, and other assorted bumps in the night. The resulting psychedelic stew hangs in the air like the residue from the explosions of a thousand setting suns, giving birth to colors and visions usually reserved for the sensory deprived.

This certainly isn't music to tiptoe through the tulips by - perhaps poncing through the poppies is more like it. This is the soundtrack to delusions, hallucinations, and wayward imaginings combining the claustrophobic mindfuck of The Shining with the hallucinogenic mindgames of The Blair Witch Project. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the closing "Retribution," which brings us back to the Batcave to update the Gothic horror of Specimen's "Dead Man's Auto Chop" (complete with butcher shop fx) and create the ultimate All Hallow's Eve that your neighborhood won't soon forget.

Fans of more modern wyrd- smiths like Tower Recordings, P.G. Six Organs of Admittance, Charalambides, In Gowan Ring, and Stone Breath (whose Timothy Renner released this), should welcome a trip over to The Transparent World with open hearts."


2001 / ptolemaic terrascope / By tony dale
"Rich Barlow will be known to Terrascope readers as leader of the Minneapolis psychedelic pop outfit The Pins. Jesse Petersen is a mainstay of the Minnesotan avant-garde scene, and is known for improvised guitar-wrangling of the Derek Bailey school. Erik Wivinus is member of space-rock powerhouses Salamander and Skye Klad, as well as scratching some acid-folk itches with Gentle Tasaday and on stage with Stone Breath. Some years back a tiny number of folks were privileged to hear a promising self-titled CD-R conjointly released by nano-labels Stick it to the Man and Asymmetry, and now they have returned with this more formal offering. While their debut was very much of the Elysian Plains of Noise variety of sound-sculpting, ‘The Transparent World’ is an altogether more considered work; imbued with highly permutable and predominantly acoustic instrumental arrangements which paradoxically contain a sweep and variety of texture that was absent from that debut. ‘The Transparent World’ creates a beautiful and foreboding sonic frontier on an ensemble of vibrating string machinery from guitars to dulcimers to mandolins to piano to something called a Freeman Monostring, as well as many other noise-making things, which are played upside down and inside out by virtue of being tuned, bowed, plucked, hit with hammers and distressed electro-magnetically with E-bows. Pick of the tracks for my money are the almost familiar folk-blues opener ‘Buried Under Crows’, the creaking bone-cart of ‘Last Night’[sic], and the monastic meditations of ‘Creation Myth’. ‘The Transparent World’ looks inwards into the mind’s dusty corners and outwards to post-apocalyptic western landscapes, and is one of the 2002’s most singularly beautiful releases. If not for the absence of vocals, it would certainly be feted alongside recent releases by Six Organs of Admittance, P.G. Six, Joshua and the Iditarod. As it is, it quietly and hypelessly sleeps, invisibly awaiting your discovery."


2001 / the broken face / By mats gustafsson
"If the self-titled debut from this Minneapolis-based trio was promising, their new album The Transparent World is a full-throttle voyage into the most rewarding realms of experimental folk music. Every little detail is even better this time out, the sound, the songs, the playing and most importantly the general atmosphere that these ten otherworldly tracks generate. Six Organs of Admittance comes to mind as much as Pelt when this stumbling and stoned collection of improvised free-folk carefully moves over leaf covered forest floors, just as if to make sure that they all arrived safely after their annual journey from the top of the trees to the ground. The resulting music is beautiful, strange, and playful as it meanders through plucking guitar passages, creepy drones, loop trickery, sustained guitar and banjo bowing and various exotic sound explorations. Many tracks are worth a special note, but not many include the tension of "Death's Door" which will probably guide you through your next nightmare if you choose to listen to it as many times I have. The piano stomping along with the corrosive string massage exhales subtle mania; born of sadness and loneliness so finding the following web of avant-pluckings slightly lighter and up-beat is quite relieving to tell you the truth. But then we get exotic drone transcendentalism in "That Night" which is ethereal and gritty at the same time but most of all a nightmare soundtrack if there ever was one. This trio of already well-known (Salamander, Gentle Tasaday, The Pins, solo and much more) underground musicians have crafted what seems like ultimate pieces of dark folk music for the drone generation."

 


Molloy - s/t

2001 / the broken face / By mats gustafsson
"Molloy is an interesting side trip from Minneapolis’ Rich Barlow (from the Pins and Barlow/Petersen/Wivinus) and performance artist/playwright John O’Donoghue. The album was issued in a limited edition of 100 copies, and if there is any justice in this world it won’t be long until it is all sold out. On “Naif” we find airy synth waves and sharp percussion/drum programs meeting with piano, casio and voices, forming a strongly cinematic sound that mainly flows over the mellow part of the sonic spectra but occasionally moves into heavier sound collages. “Nine” is the first thing to really catch my attention with its whispering mantra-like vocals that persistently keep repeating the same words over an ocean of soothing electronics and ceremonial piano. “St. Monica/Wildlife” is an epic installment of dark, almost industrial rhythms and floating dronescapes that folds in and out, builds in and out over the course of its almost ten minutes. “Hotel Devachan” sounds like Bedhead is back together for another one of those aural correspondences with Macha, while the sad “Year Zero” is an ocean-deep instrumental that sounds like a requiem for someone close. One of the downright scariest things I’ve heard in quite a while comes in the claustrophobic “Agora.” You can tell that these recordings were made quickly, applying a strong improvisational vibe which makes this an ominous drone pulse stew I’ll be happy to revisit every now and then."

 

The Pins - reviews
eleanor
RADAR
ALL THE NIGHT SKY

do you know the secret trousers?
cassettes

Barlow/Petersen/Wivinus - reviews
s/t