barlow / petersen / wivinus
This is a “wiggly” masterpiece! These gentlemen take DIY to a completely different level. This is trance music for the coffee generation. The psychedelic structure is bottomless. Here we have all manner of strange things. Bits and pieces from the halls of eternity litter the landscape of this recording. Most notability it often sounds like fragments of the never delivered music that Jimmy Page did for Kenneth Angers’ Lucifer Rising. Brian Eno and Robert Fripp made some records like this, and so did the Doors, and Soft Machine. This is solid cosmic trip-out. What we have here is a little more than an hour of brain movie music that expands with a tumultuous torpor. This is the soundtrack to star travel. The music on this disc touches on many different quarters for its inspiration. Sometimes it sounds like The Velvet Underground, other times like LaMonte Young; Pink Floyd is never too far, either. This album is vaguely sinister with its resounding knells and haunting drones. This could be soothing to some, and annoyingly distracting to less adventurous listeners.
The Broken Face, Sweden
Barlow/Petersen/Wivinus is a fairly new improvisation unit from Minneapolis consisting of the Pins lead man Rich Barlow, guitar improvisationist Jesse Petersen and not the least the wonderful Salamander’s Erik Wivinus (also member of such notable outfits as Gentle Tasaday and Skye Klad). This is unquestionably a cosmic drone record but at the same time those washes of feedback include a forlorn mystique well worthy of any of those bloody fine Salamander records. This gives the whole thing a psychedelic energy with the electric guitars howling and groaning as much as they’re drifting like clouds that not quite can make up their mind if today is a day of rain or not. While Petersen and Barlow gradually build up spiraling clusters of guitar drone Wivinus quadrone (custom made acoustic instrument) expands the pieces into sonic mantras that ride right along the border to your most haunting dream-zone. This new trio attempts more than many established bands ever would risk. And they pull it off. This one only comes in an edition of 100 copies so what are you waiting for?
First of all, only 100 copies of this were pressed, so who knows if you can even still get one. Also, these are recordings from a rehearsal, which shows in the sound-quality, though the murky sound definitely works with the style of music anyway, so don't let that stop you from anything. There are ten tracks, all improvised by Rich Barlow (The Pins) on electric 12-string guitar and e-bow, Jesse Petersen on electric 6-string guitar and Erik Wivinus (Skye Klad/Salamander/Gentle Tasaday) on custom acoustic quadrone... whatever that is. No percussion, just long and slow guitar-psyche jams. Some band references can definitely be attributed to Mirza and SubArachnoid Space, though these guys rarely get as intense or noisy. Most of the pieces are low-key guitar meandering out of which arise some splendid lead-guitar melodies. The more rhythmic parts don't always hold my attention, but this album at the very least must be recommended for those definitely beautiful and inspiring lead-guitar moments previously mentioned.
The first stand-out of the longer pieces is "Rainstorm", which weaves numerous beautiful movements in one long, moody come-down session, perhaps the best track on the album. "Skirt the Deep" also keeps the surprises coming at a consistent pace. "Dervish" gets into some rare fast-ish riffing before coming to a fantastic smiling lead-melody, though perhaps this piece should have ended here. A main highlight of the album is the lead echo-wah lullaby that arises out of "River Godot" and some nice wind-down riffing towards the end, though perhaps some parts of this lengthy track could have been edited out to make it a stronger and more compact piece. But for sure, if my mind tends to wander, these tracks wake me back up often enough with something really great. And some of the shorter pieces are worthwhile as well. This is one of those albums that I wish I had several months to hang out with before having to lay down the definitive ink, as it's still landing new goosebumps on me this very second. If they're out of copies, have someone make you a copy or ask the group if they'd mind running a second pressing!
This is a sweet one, some of the tracks bringing to mind early Azuza Plane or an electrified Six Organs of Admittance (in the layering of the parts, if generally without Chasny's intricate fractal Basho-ism), except all AFAIK improvised live to cassette. Most of the tracks start out with one person or another feeling about for a riff, then each of the others slips in on top ... during the parts where they're all chording, "under the right conditions" I inevitably wind up with the old "slo-mo rose unfolding" mental imagery so endemic to people my age ;-) .... No one player's part seems particularly intricate -- sometimes just a wash of feedback or ebow at the bottom, a lot of the playing is chords rather than leads, or pinprick notes suspended in a matrix of sustain instead of a melody -- but when things come together, there's a bruised ascetic majesty hovering around it that would make it a fine soundtrack for, oh, driving across northern Utah at dawn (I know *just* where I'd want the sun to come up). Aside from earlier references, think: Savage Republic (Mk. II) or an early Grateful Dead "space" transition with three Weirs and no Garcia (um, yeah, that is a compliment, wanna make something of it?).
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