Greg Segal — Birds
(Phantom Airship none, 2016, CD)
Greg Segal — Energies Coarse and Fine
(Phantom Airship none, 2016, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2016-07-05
The master of surprise has a couple more releases for this year, both falling more or less in the experimental electronics realm. For the most part these certainly aren’t your typical electronic sounds, rife with pulses and rhythms, sequences and repetition. Rather, both of these are very explorative and outside the box, sometimes noisy, but never abrasive or unpleasant. Energies Coarse and Fine manages to integrate some conventional (non-electronic) instrumentation played unconventionally into the sonic mix across its four tracks, one of which breaks the ten minute mark, and two of which could fill out an entire side of an LP, leaving the five-plus minute “Branches” as the shortest, and even it meanders along a strange and dreamy continuum, with eerie Theremin melodies leading the way through rough patches of sonic brush. The four part “Metaviews” courses over some rugged sonic terrain with growling synths and mysterious processed sounds supporting some random melodic outbursts and bizarre textures. Overall, EC&F is more like a science fiction soundtrack experiment, standing well apart from most of the electronic music produced over the last forty or fifty years.
Birds is a different animal altogether, subtitled “a loose study of the oscine tract modeling synthesizer combined with musique concrete techniques” provides a fairly good idea what’s in store going into this single hour-long piece. Just don’t get the idea that this is some kind of demonstration record, even though Segal demonstrates the synthesizer’s capabilities well throughout (and he admits in the liners that he still has a lot to learn on this going forward so you can expect to hear it again at some point in the future). After a few minutes the bird demo fades away into the background and some outstanding experimental textures and other dreamy elements join the mix, providing a mysterious backdrop that grows and mutates for the remainder of the duration, giving a clear picture of the level of artistry that can be achieved with this setup. About twenty minutes in there is a point where the bird sounds stop completely, and what sounds remain (also produced by the oscine tract synth) are slowed down, processed heavily, and reversed providing a very dark and dreamlike soundscape, before easing back into the full spectrum. Overall, this is the far more ‘ambient’ of the two releases reviewed here, a piece that one could easily listen to for hours in repeat mode.
Related artist(s): Greg Segal
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more
Legendary Pink Dots - Seconds Late for the Brighton Line – 2010 marks the 30th anniversary of this band as well as a major change to their lineup. Long time band member Niels van Hoorn departed because of the demands of constant touring, reducing the band to... (2011) » Read more