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Half Control

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Album Review

Half Control documents a lost chapter in the history of Rhode Island's electronically altered post-punks Six Finger Satellite. In 1998, Six Finger Satellite released their fourth full-length album, Law of Ruins; showing a clear Krautrock influence, Law of Ruins found the band moving into a new direction, and while the group toured extensively behind it, it was a challenging effort that wasn't as popular with their audience as some of their previous work. In 1999, while Six Finger Satellite took a break from the road, bassist James Apt and guitarist John MacLean left the band, and founding members J. Ryan (vocals, synthesizer) and Rick Pelletier (drums) recruited Shawn Greenlee and Joel Kyack to replace them. Six Finger Satellite broke up in 2001 and Law of Ruins came to be seen as the group's final recorded statement, but as it happens, shortly before calling it quits, the Ryan/Pelletier/Greenlee/Kyack lineup began work on an album, and Half Control presents eight previously unreleased tracks (running about a half-hour) from this edition of the group. In some respects, the music on Half Control represents a step back from Law of Ruins; this music is less experimental and more straightforward, with a harder and more aggressive edge, more guitar, and a more traditional role for Ryan's keyboards (though they still maintain their slightly off-putting sci-fi tone). But if Half Control isn't as arty and ambitious as Law of Ruins, it rocks a lot harder, and for sheer physical impact, this is as strong as anything the band recorded after Severe Exposure. The songs are simple and cyclically constructed to build tension and momentum, and Ryan's fierce, intense vocals only add to the impact, with Kyack's guitar and the excellent rhythm section egging him on every step of the way. Half Control appears as J. Ryan and Rick Pelletier have once again reunited Six Finger Satellite and released an album of fresh material, and while this isn't quite the great lost 6FS session, it's a very good lost 6FS session, and the strength and precision of these performances make it clear this was a period in their career that deserved to be documented, however brief it may have been.


Formed: Providence, RI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Indie electro-rock futurists Six Finger Satellite formed in Rhode Island in 1992. Originally comprised of singer/keyboardist J. Ryan, guitarists John MacLean and Peter Phillips, bassist Chris Dixon, and drummer Rick Pelletier, the group soon issued their Sub Pop label debut EP Weapon, followed in 1993 by the full-length The Pigeon Is the Most Popular Bird. Both Phillips and Dixon were gone from the band by the time of 1994's Machine Cuisine 10", recorded exclusively with electronic instruments; bassist...
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Half Control, Six Finger Satellite
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