Richard Pinhas ‎– Reverse

bb249_cover_rgbLast months vinyl from ‘That Special Record’ lay un-played for several weeks due to other commitments, which have left me unable to play very much of anything really, until there was a break in the clouds last week and there  was a shower of vinyl, not a downpour, but at least it was something. This was the first album I played, again, I was pretty much in the dark about it but after a bit of interweb research I was enlightened somewhat.

Pinhas was a member of ‘Heldon,’ a French electronic rock band created in 1974. The name of the band having been taken from the 1972 novel, ‘The Iron Dream’, by Norman Spinrad. Prior to that Pinhas was a member of the band ‘Schizo’, but both bands were led for the most part by Pinhas, who also released a host of albums under his own name.

Influenced by the work of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, the music of Richard Pinhas and Heldon is sui generis and innovative and has in its turn greatly influenced the field of electronic rock.

I had to look up sui generis as I had no idea what it meant, apparently this is the definition:

Sui generis (/ˌs ˈɛnərɪs/Latin: [ˈsʊ.iː ˈɡɛnɛrɪs]) is a Latin phrase, meaning “of its (his, her, or their) own kind; in a class by itself; unique”. In the creative arts, where an artistic work goes beyond conventional genre boundaries.

So now I know. If you head over to the Bureau B website, there’s a nice press kit you can download should you be of a mind to, it’s here. Where they also share some snippets of the tracks so you can get an idea what it sounds like.

So what do I think of it? How do I feel my subscription to ‘That Special Record’ performed this month? Well, I think it’s bloody brilliant actually. It is not, as suggested, a series of 4 drones, it is much more than that and it is far too complex and interesting to be just called a drone. It is a fusion of different, interesting ideas into a new whole with elements of prog, kosmiche (Krautrock) and post-rock among the points of reference. It feels, at times, urgent and alive, with the percussion lifting the whole thing from a very interesting noise to something that is more tangible, more easily grasped, and the drums have a great live feel about them. The line up for this album, along with Pinhas is Arthur Narcy (drums), Florian Tatar (bass), Masami Akita (analog synths, recorded in Tokyo), son Duncan Nilson-Pinhas (digital synths), and William Winant (percussion, recorded in Oakland, CA, USA). At times they somehow manage to sound like an Orchestra so full is the sound.

Now this sort of thing, like many of the albums I like to listen to, isn’t for everybody, but there are times when taking a moment to just listen, to lose yourself in a vast landscape of sound, can bring you to a place you weren’t expecting and which you may just like. With this album I find myself at times listening to the intricacies of the performance and at others allowing the whole thing to wash over me, and this is a good thing as, to me, it means that it works on more than one level.

It’s not just me telling you, my two or three regular readers, that this is good stuff, other people are as well:

“Ecstatic psych burnouts from French prog visionary and friends” 8/10, Uncut (UK)

“Maverick French guitarist turns negative headspace into a kosmische positive” ****, Mojo (UK)

“Reverse sounds like rock music echoed out into the stratosphere” 7.2, Pitchfork

“This is music that demands and deserves our attention.” (The Quietus)

To Rococo Rot – Instrument

Several years ago I bought a double CD of Electronic music, I can’t remember what it was called, it’s in a drawer somewhere at home, but it was a sort of origins compilation and on it was a track named ‘Cars’ by To Rococo Rot that I really liked, but I never explored any further. When I saw their last album (2014) in the record store for £8.00 it seemed to me that I had little choice but to buy it, so I did and I don’t regret it at all. Although I’ve only listened to the vinyl copy once, I have been listening to the album via Apple Music, probably 7 or 8 times by now. Carrying my turntable, amp and speakers around was difficult enough, then I had to find somewhere to plug it in, so my phone has to suffice when I’m out and about. 

I’ve no idea why it was so cheap but, while it is quite different to ‘Cars’, which was around in 1999, it’s still very much the sort of thing that I like.

WIKI: To Rococo Rot is a Berlin-based trio who combine electronic and acoustic elements to create instrumental post-rock and electronic music. The group is composed of bass guitarist Stefan Schneider (ex-member of Düsseldorf-based group, Kreidler) and brothers Robert (guitar, electronics) and Ronald Lippok (drums, effects). Ronald Lippok has also gained praise for his work in Tarwater. The band’s name is a palindrome, as it can be spelled the same both forwards and backwards.

The group’s first album, To Rococo Rot, was released in 1996 in the form of an untitled picture disc. It was subsequently reissued on CD by Kitty Yo. The more widely distributed Veiculo, released by the UK independent label City Slang, appeared the following year. In 1997, the group recorded an to-rococo-rot-many-descriptions-instrumentalbum’s worth of material with the producer David Moufang. Following a move to Mute Records, the band released The Amateur View in 1999 and Music Is a Hungry Ghost in 2001, followed by the critically acclaimed Hotel Morgen in 2004. Speculation was released in March 2010, and their latest full-length album, Instrument, was released in July 2014.

I’d had ‘Cars’ on a few playlists so had heard it often but it’s been quite a while and ‘Instrument’has a much more polished feel about it, but is still quite experimental, at times seemingly created by randomly generating notes, although I am making this comparison based on one song vs an entire album.

It does have a feel of what Kosmische Musik (Krautrock) might have developed into, or perhaps just elements of that music and that is a positive as I’m rather fond of Kosmische Musik. It reminds me a little of ‘Fujiya & Miyagi’ at times, but a little more downtempo, less in your face. There are certainly passages where I can hear strong links to Can, which is also no bad thing. I will probably have to do a little more back catalogue investigating as I liked this album a lot.