Exposé Online banner

Xen — Xen
(Esotericity Music ESTCD2, 1995, CD)

by Henry Schneider, 2016-07-07:

Xen Cover art

Xen, the debut CD, contains the best selections from their three previously released cassettes. Xen the band is the duo of David Bagsby, avant garde Okie musician extraordinaire, and Kurt Rongey. On Xen the CD David tweaked up the output and fidelity of each of the eleven tracks thus greatly enhancing the music over the original tape releases. Unlike David’s experimental electronic side, Xen is his foray into the neo-classical and progressive realms. Bagsby’s keyboard and Hammond organ riffs, as on "Crime or Miracle" and "Nightly Food to the Street Lamps," closely resemble Keith Emerson but tend to be more chaotic. Xen’s use of sampled bells, female choir, and orchestra, along with a thundering bass on more than one track pays homage to Peter Frohmader. This is highbrow music composed and played by two highly creative musicians. Xen would be a welcome addition to your progressive music library.


by Mike Ezzo, 1996-08-01:

A serious music approach to electronic-based rock that doesn't take itself so seriously is a welcome change in just about anyone's book. Besides, someone has to take over where Zappa left off. But while Xen's music is of a different ethos than that master's Synclavier work, it does seem to take that kind of sinister delight in the humanly impossible. Xen is the solo project of David Bagsby and this is his first release on CD. The collection contains new works, plus pieces culled from his past oeuvre, heretofore available only on cassette. Bagsby is an experimenter in computer music, just intonation, and mathematically-derived systems of composition, most of which reveal themselves in the course of this CD. The works of Xenakis or Boulez might be good reference points. The album was inspired largely by Max Ernst's collage novel The Hundred / Headless Women; and it doesn't take much imagination to draw a corollary between the two. Listen to him splice and dice with obtuse counterpoint on "Unresolved Games"; or how about the bell sounds and fragmented textures which make "Crime or Miracle" come across like an amorphous android gamelan? Certainly Xen can join the ranks of Futurism, or Surrealism. Even the stone of musique concrète is not left unturned: "Landscape Changes Three Times" shows some purely atmospheric, wafting sonic mutations. The more rhythmic tracks could benefit from the kinetic thrust of an acoustic drummer. But this is a luxury usually forgone in favor of precision of performance. The confines of this genre are so limitless that the listener sometimes pleads for a constraining force to keep it from going too far astray. What David has done is to use time as a restraint: except for "Demi-Fecund Ram," everything here clocks in under five minutes, and most are nearer the three-minute mark. And as "outré" as this music gets at times, it never loses sight of the nuts-and-bolts foundations of musical strucure, compositional gesture, and motive development. Just don't expect hummable tunes and toe-tapping rhythms! All in all, something tells me that Xen might get a fairer shake from the academic music community, than what my limited knowledge can offer.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 10 , 1995 releases

Related artist(s): David Bagsby / Xen, Kurt Rongey

More info

Latest news

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

(Tom Newman) - Variations on a Rhythm of Mike Oldfield - David Bedford – This is a four track EP, and is basically a Tom Newman album. It's confusing, I know. This is some of that stuff you know Oldfield and Co. did for laughs (when perhaps beer and worse entered the...  (1998) » Read more

Laren d'Or - War of Angels – The same veiled (an under-promoted!) Hungarian label that is teasing us with Talizman, and After Crying, now goes to the other side for a symphonic keyboard recording by Laren d'Or. A solo project?...  (1999) » Read more

Trio Fattoruso - Trio Fattoruso – It makes perfect sense that Uruguay would not be just another blip on the radar of finesse jazz and rock players. Brothers Jorge and Hugo Fattoruso have been playing various Latin and jazz styles for...  (2006) » Read more

Stone Breath - A Silver Thread to Weave the Seasons – Picture if you will that it is harvest time in the heart of Appalachia. Leaves are blowing, acorns are falling, pumpkins are ripening, and all manner of woodland critters are scurrying about. That...  (2008) » Read more

Cast - Beyond Reality – Can a band really improve exponentially? Cast proves that it may just be possible. I found it hard to believe that they could do much better than their last album, Endless Signs, but their latest...  (1997) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues