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Tom Recchion - Proscenium - new reviews

on Sat, 09/08/2012 - 13:41

The Wire

(click to read the review in this image posted online)

Note: if someone has a proper scan or can transcribe the full review, that would be much appreciated.

"Tom Recchion has been making weird and wonderful sounds since the 1970s as one of the leading figures in the Los Angeles Free Music Society. In a constant rotation of projects and bands, he cranked out ear-damaging skree, zonked tape collages, anti-musical comedies, and all sorts of other illogical strategies for making fucked-up sound. Compared to pretty much everything he's done previously, Proscenium - his first record in nearly seven years - is downright sensible; and one that fits neatly alongside all of the other releases from Elevator Bath, a label which specializes in rarified dronemuzik and oblique ambience (e.g. Keith Berry, Matt Shoemaker, Rick Reed and even our own Jim Haynes). The album began as the musical accompaniment to Janie Geiser's play "Invisible Glass" itself an adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe short story, with Recchion attempting to craft a moody atmosphere that slowly creeps into the audience's unconsciousness. Strange melodies emerge through a shimmering hum at the onset of the record, sounding like an underwater version of Aphex Twins' Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Recchion smudges everything beyond recognition, although the thrumming of a piano does seem to peek from behind the veil of his aqueous mystery. Dense applications of reverb are common throughout, as is a strange echoing ripple that has a funhouse, helter-skelter vibe - probably the only commonality with anything from LAMFS! Whatever melodic phrases Recchion might have started out with have blurred into oceanic swells of nocturnal droning that by the end of side two morphs into an algae bloom of dread. The tracks on the seven inch are somewhat different from what's found on the lp, with a Dada-inspired splatter of haptic rhythms on one side; and a slow-crawling calliope slashed with sporadic gasps of noise on the other. While the seven inch follows Recchion anti-aesthetic through LAFMS, the ambient horror of the lp tracks are the true prize of the set. Think Basinski. Think Koner. Think Nurse With Wound. And, then you're getting close to where Recchion might be coming from."
"If attention-grabbing sounds are the quintessence of our living as sympathetic listeners, there are 67 minutes of legitimate bliss waiting for the 500 fortunate owners of this stunning limited edition, which contains four tracks on a LP, two on a 7-inch and a card to download a high-quality mp3 version of the album. The latter is what was used for the writeup, given the chance of listening without breaks and my ever-mounting hate for vinyl noise ruining the enthralment brought forth by superb electronica.
Proscenium takes its origin from a commission by filmmaker and puppeteer Janie Geiser: Recchion conceived these soundscapes for a play called Invisible Glass, defining them a “sound world for the viewer” centred around a set of shifting atmospheres.
“The Mesmerized Chair” and “Entrance Music No.2” comprise perhaps the work’s more introvert shades. Adjectives like “subaqueous” and “stifled” instantly spring to mind, the frequencies oscillating between “swelling” and “chubby”. Trying to understand the derivation of the acoustic materials becomes a case of pitiable anal-retentiveness, though one can get a vague impression of what will be revealed (so to speak) later on. Deliberate melodic movement and buried forms of life are detectable underneath the droning undercurrents and the malleable substances: those who utter “ambient” are going to be hit on the palms with a stick.
Then we have a sort of slow-as-molasses “orchestral” gradualness in the suggestively declining “Entrance Music No.1”, and an episode of disjointedly rambla-sampladelia in “Exit Music No.1”, whose vocal fragmentariness is enriched by those very typical crackles and pops I was willing to escape from at the beginning, and that here represent a fundamental ingredient instead. The additional shorter pieces “The Haunted Laboratory” and “Lean Your Eye Into The Picture” are not mere fillers. Both broaden and improve the sensation of misshapen otherworldliness and pregnant inscrutability transmitted by the entire program.
Tom Recchion’s universe is not made of easy smiles and low-budget Buddhas. But the strange creatures we seem to perceive as the real animators behind this accumulation of bubbling grief are so nice-looking that a friendship should not be difficult to start."
"Elevator Bath is one of those labels, like Helen Scarsdale for example, whose curatorial diligence I never fail to appreciate and to which I consistently find myself drawn. "Proscenium" marks Tom Recchion's first new solo output in six years (!) and is a subtle and immersive listening experience recommended for fans of Keith Berry, Christoph Heemann and Nurse with Wound. Recchion must be admired for his acute sense of pace and atmosphere. Indeed, the sonics contained on this album are every bit as refined as one would expect from a composer with such a distinguished and longstanding resume. Chiming, filtered tones and deep low end make up the majority of the palette here, coiling, ebbing and weaving in and out, augmented occasionally by lulling static and what sound like meticulously obfuscated field recordings. The closer, "Lean Your Eye Into the Picture," provides a stark contrast to the rest of the six pieces on the album, with stuttering, alien sounds forming a web of surreal sound collage. It's a beautiful and strange track and perhaps the album's strongest. Ultimately, "Proscenium" is indeed a focused and refined affair, and listeners fond of the aforementioned labels/artists would do well to give it a thorough listen."
"Today is my attempt to catch up on a few great releases that we’ve been sent and, for one reason or another, haven’t covered. Tom Recchion’s “Proscenium”, released by Elevator Bath, is a beautiful piece of ambient/drone that was originally created for Janie Geiser’s play, “Invisible Glass”. Recchion is a bona fide experimental music mainstay, co-creating the Los Angeles Free Music Society, among a myriad of other accolades.
"Sometime loop-maker & one of the founders of the freewheeling Los Angeles Free Music Society Recchion makes a drone that keeps fading away. Elusive rounded tones that wash creepily in & out of perceptibility."