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Album Review

On Tranzition, Richard Pinhas continues with the hypnotically dense legato electric guitar drones that he had been featuring for the past several releases. But he also includes a drummer, Antoine Pagnotti, who improvises against Pinhas' slowly evolving dronescapes on the CD's opening track, "Dextro," and on three of the CD's other four tracks to a greater or lesser extent. This is an effective strategy, as it prevents the drones from becoming soporific. Pinhas' overlaid, looped textures are generally thick and distorted, and he continues his practice of excerpting spoken word passages and adding them to his sonic stew — on this recording integrating a passage from a 1977 talk given by noted sci-fi novelist Phillip K. Dick into "Moumoune Girl (A Song For)" (which, incidentally, contains no discernible melody), and including on "Aboulafia Blues" a fragment by Chloe Delaume (who is advertised elsewhere as a specialist in virtual realities). The purpose of these spoken passages remains largely obscure (words are intelligible only sporadically, and often seem prosaic rather than poetic), but after the listener lets go and stops trying to made perfect rational sense of them, the textures themselves make a positive contribution to the mix — or at worst, don't get in the way. The last piece on the CD, titled "Metatron (An Introduction To)," is nearly 25 minutes long, and if this is an only an introduction, the scale of the complete piece might well be mind-boggling. Initially, at least, "Metatron" deviates from the preferred heavy viscosity of Pinhas' normal guitar textures on this CD, displaying a much sharper and more crystalline sound more reminiscent of his solo work in the early '80s. But five minutes or so into the piece, Pinhas begins to add deeper drones, some of which are very convincing simulations of a cathedral organ (guitars, drums, and an occasional guest/ghost violin are the only instruments listed in the notes). Textures continue to build until they finally reach a point where the entire matrix of sound begins to float on a cushion of white noise resembling a gale force wind, or huge waves breaking on a remote shoreline — with various musical shards and shapes fighting to break through the thick layers of sound. Eventually, like some powerful but transitory force of nature, the music begins to recede. Pinhas has explored this general territory before, most recently on Schizotrope and Event and Repetitions, but it's what he seems to do best, and particularly on this last track, he demonstrates that he is capable of constructing some of the most formidable but exhilarating sonic edifices ever heard by mortal ears.


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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Tranzition, Richard Pinhas
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