First solo outing in 5 years from electronic guitar experimentalist Pinhas, here...
Peter Marsh 2002-11-20
For nearly 30 years French guitarist Richard Pinhas has been a rather shadowy figure on the art rock fringes (in itself a rather shadowy place, and in France maybe even more so). As leader of the band Heldon, Pinhas mapped out out a musical territory somewhere between the sequencer pulse of Kraftwerk and the intellectual heavy metal of King Crimson.
Named after a mythical land in a novel by sci fi writer Norman Spinrad, Heldon offered dystopian sci-fi prog informed by Pinhas' philosophical background (he was great mates with GIlles Deleuze) and political activism (an early Heldon single was issued in support of the German Red Army Faction), finally breaking up at the end of the 70s.
Post Heldon, Pinhas's solo work has often been conducted with an electric guitar and the kind of infinite tape delay system associated with Robert Fripp and his collaborations with Brian Eno, though recently (like Fripp) he has abandoned the hassles of tapeloops for a stack of shiny digital boxes. In a casual blindfold test 9 out of 10 progheads would probably swear that this album was the work of the Crimson King himself. (If Stars in their Eyes ever do an ambient art rock special, Richard's your man for the Fripp impersonation).
Though Pinhas adopts the same, pure fuzzed tone and a liking for big slides up and down the fretboard, closer listening reveals a more personal aesthetic at work. He generates billowing clouds of processed guitar which shift through different tonal centres, sometimes ambiguously, sometimes gently, sometimes suddenly. Improvised lines hover and swoop in the distance, but the guitarist avoids flash heroics, more concerned with maintaining the constant flow of notes into his angelic dronescape.
It's music that's in flux and stasis at the same time, with an almost sculptural presence, stuffed with overtones and rich textures. Played loud, it's almost too much, like having your head stuffed inside a recently struck church bell, but it's a deep, fulfilling listen at any volume. If Robert Fripp is still the chairman of The Heavenly Music Corporation, then Richard Pinhas is its C.E.O.
Like This? Try These:
King Crimson - Vroom Vroom
Stephan Wittwer - Streams
Jim O' Rourke - I'm Happy and I'm Singing and 1,2,3,4.