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East / West

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Album Review

Of all Pinhas' solo releases, this is probably the one which has worn least well. Some listeners at the time accused Pinhas of selling out, but regardless of his motivation, it is true enough that the pieces on this release are generally shorter than the norm for Pinhas, and a few of them have vocals in English. Thematically, the recording attempts to represent various cities musically, e.g., Houston, Kyoto, Paris, New York, Paris, although only the New York and Houston pieces have vocals which relate them in any way to the actual cities. Five of the nine pieces on the CD are mellow electronic ambience and could be described as early new age. They were definitely ahead of the curve, but as more and more musicians began to explore the capabilities of synthesizers, this sort of drifting ambience soon became quite commonplace. The best pieces of this group are those which combine the rather anonymous electronic keyboards with Pinhas' more personalized and emotive electric guitar. The two vocal pieces are a departure for Pinhas, and not entirely successful. "New York-'West Side'" was released as a single, and apparently represents Pinhas' attempt to give his record company a hit. Unfortunately, it sounds like a stiff, declamatory reject from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. "Houston 69" (in two parts) includes Heldon personnel and is the only piece on the CD which captures the old Heldon energy, but it is marred by a rather silly repeated vocal refrain — "Houston 69, your wings are on fire, your tail is aflame, we are not to blame." The idea here is presumably to invoke some of the cosmic fear occasioned by an accident in space, inspired perhaps by David Bowie's "Space Oddity." Curiously enough, this piece prefigures the terrible Challenger mishap which took place in 1986, but the lyrics are too silly to encourage any legitimate sense of suspense or horror.


Born: May 7, 1951

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

French guitarist Richard Pinhas led the group Heldon from 1974-78, releasing seven albums with that group and six solo LPs, often featuring members of Heldon. Born in 1951, Pinhas earned a Ph.D. in philosophy at the Sorbonne and taught at that school. In 1972 he became a part of Schizo, a group whose music contained a great deal of electronics. After Schizo's demise, Pinhas formed Heldon, whose only constant was himself. Pinhas' solo work covered a lot of ground. His first solo LP, Rhizosphere, was...
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East / West, Richard Pinhas
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