Sunday, August 20, 2006


First off, a quick note of caution about the new Poor School CD-R, Dream for Mat - it's unbelievably awesome. I've blabbed about them enough already so I won't go into detail, but suffice to say that if you liked their others, or if you like vintage live Marble Sheep and the Run Down Sun's Children mixed with the rockier strains of the Dead C. and/or Valentines from Matahari-era Sun City Girls, I implore you to send the best $7 you ever spent to the Killer Tree compound...

Moving on...the prolific, brilliant Last Visible Dog label has just spewed forth another load of stellar releases, led by a massive live 3-CD set of walk-in drones by Birchville Cat Motel, rattling homemade Finnishisms from Keijo and morphing blare from his Free Players ensemble, eerie woods-noise from Eastern Fox Squirrels, and more. What's carved the deepest divots in my brain, though, is Book of Beyond, a resilient slab of spaced-out drones and whining noises from Glasgwegian sound-warrior Ben Reynolds. "Best"-known as a frequent participant in Phil Todd's tall-standing Ashtray Navigations, Reynolds has been pretty prolific on his own (he just had something on Digitalis a little bit ago, which I need badly), and a lot of his stuff has vascillated between and/or swirled together Fahey-inspired acoustic traveling and idea-heavy noise, but here he seems to have gone fully over to that second side, with 48 minutes worth of unerringly excellent results.

Some might dispute that unerring-ness claim, considering that Book of Beyond at times uses stock space sounds - whirring lasers, short-wave blips, ring-modulated oscillations - that can suggest a 60's planetarium score. Dive a little deeper, though, and you'll see/hear Reynolds wraps his galactic cliches inside so much probing, unique-sounding noise, drone, racket, and din that those previously-familiar moves are basically reinvented by their context. Besides, I'm doing him a disservice by focusing that much on the space angle - most of Book of Beyond is simply busy, inventive clouds of unheard noise, with the space stuff merely a nice bit of extra fodder for Reynold's sharp, demolishing blender.

Said blender spits out a transifixing array of fertile, constantly-growing noise: check "Remedy for the Sirs," whose combo of power electronics and free improv (thanks to inspired added clatter from Alex Nielsen) evokes HCI battling HoD, then melts into a windy tunnel of high drone; "In Yeek Stars", whose metallic, whistling chirps sound both like an gamelan-ish drone symphony and a beat-less version of early Excepter moan-fests; "We Three Theatre," which recalls the Neil Young Arc approach applied to the pre-concert tune-ups of 1000 orchestras; "Done Soggy (Constellation)," a mass of sparkling cycles and trashed percussion that reminds me of Bobby Beausoleil's Lucifer Rising peformed inside of an old car engine; and more. In fact, so much fucking more that I'm not even gonna post any of the above, but rather Book of Beyond's darkest, lowest track, "Heavy Mask," a solid chunk of rumbling noise and improv clutter that's been playing ping-pong in my brain all week.

BEN REYNOLDS - "Heavy Mask" from Book of Beyond


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