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Album Review

This group of minimal electronica newcomers join elder statesman of the avant-garde Keith Rowe, a guitarist most recognized as a member of pioneering British improvisation group AMM. The abstractionist was creating music from noise and other sonic detritus as early as the mid-'60s and quite possibly before his collaborators on this album were born. The Austrian avant-garde/IDM label Mego's masthead Powerbook noise artist Pita and Fennesz join the Australian wing of abstract electronica — Oren Ambarchi and Pimmon — in a work in which they collectively assimilate their computers into an outstanding improvisation with the British "prepared" guitarist. While Keith Rowe's instrument may be from another era, his six strings are not lacking the sonic potential of the computer music era of his collaborators, not by any means. In fact, Afternoon Tea does not have the sound of an ad hoc free improvisation night as it apparently was. Inasmuch, the work of this quintet sounds strikingly familiar to the emphatic electro-acoustic music of the Ritornell label; hence it makes for one of the most compelling documents of both free improvisation and electronica.

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