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Heretic — Drugging for M
(Cuneiform Rune 3376, 1997/2023, DL)

Drugging for M Cover art

Heretic this time features main man Hiro Kawahara on guitars, synths and sundries, along with Robbin Lloyd on electronic percussion, and newcomers Masahiro Noda on electric guitar and Kohzi Ishii on Chapman Stick, the latter two borrowed from the Crimson / Pinhas influenced band Interface (see review of their demo in issue #12). Unlike the previous album, Yayoi Dream, which was more electronic-based and floated along through numerous dreamlike sequences, Drugging for M is a more energetic and rock-based exploration, high tension and aggressive, not unlike the later work of Heldon, but perhaps more concise and composed, and certainly less open ended. Drugging is in fact one long track of 34 minutes, though in reality it consists of several sections which alternate between the pulsating driving rock based style and more ambient breathers that sound a bit more avant and improvised. An extended period of Fripp-like soloing begins around the twelve-minute mark, carrying on against a backdrop of swirling synths and droning Stick and guitar textures, eventually bursting into some of the most tense and over-the-top moments on the disc, hailing back to earlier works like the classic "Fail Safe Error" from Heretic's second album. Also included is an expansive CD ROM track (both Mac and Win95 compatible) featuring much of the stuff that was on the last disc that didn't quite work right. Now all those links are fixed, and a lot more has been added. An excellent album overall, fans of 70s Crimson, Heldon, and similarly inclined folks should put this one at the top of their list.

by Peter Thelen, Published 1998-02-01

Like Spacious Mind on downers, Drugging for M features a ridiculously extended 34-minute track of hypnotic synth effects and spacy guitar noodling. One can at least compliment this album on its atmosphere, as it creates a consistently ominous and mysterious psychedelic morass that even the least susceptible listener might feel unable to escape from. Unfortunately, there is little else in the way of musical substance to justify the length of this piece. The beginning of the track swells up through a foreboding mixture of effects before a plaintive lead guitar enters, doodling aimlessly over some subdued synth textures. Later, amateurish electronic drums that don't always keep a steady beat try to provide some momentum, but their awkwardness only distracts one from the vapid two-chord vamp they are accompanying. As the shaky jam recedes, a collage of unsettling synth effects fades off into nothingness, closing the piece. Long on psychedelic ambience but short on anything that would hold a sober listener's interest for more than a minute or two, Drugging for M is best left to the psychedelic die-hards.

by Rob Walker, Published 1998-02-01

While only containing one track (the first track is multimedia CD-ROM for Mac/Win95), Drugging for M is certainly something to get excited about. It's not hard to see why these guys are often dubbed the Japanese Heldon. Led by Hiro Kawahara, the music evolves from ambient electronica into searing mind-bending guitar soundscapes and then back again. The anarchistic element and subtle beauty of the music indeed owes much to Heldon, but Heretic don't come off sounding like a copy band at all. Even though Djam Karet and Heldon freaks will find those e-bowed electric guitar lines hauntingly familiar, they still sound great and work well within the context of this musical framework. Kawahara is joined by another guitarist, an electronic percussionist, and a Stick player. The most obvious complaint with Drugging for M is that a single 35-minute track of music just isn't enough, especially when it's as good as this. It's impossible not to want more of this. Highly recommended to Heldon fans, and fans of heavy modern electronica.

by Dan Casey, Published 1998-02-01

Filed under: New releases, Issue 14, 2023 releases, 1997 recordings

Related artist(s): Heretic / Hiro Kawahara

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