Last 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 (/ˌsuːaɪ ˈdʒɛnərɪs/; 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)