Burning Star Core, the project of Ohio-based violinist Spencer Yeh, achieved a unique balance of droning ambience, musique concrete and psychedelic freak-out,
a standard first set by
the two 16-minute meditations of the mini-album
A Brighter Summer Day (Thin Wrist, 2002).
The EP Amelia (2003) contains the eleven-minute
The Point Of Departure Is Not To Return that begins with a simple
synthesizer melody repeated over and over again but slowly builds up a
polyphonic swarm of mirror images.
The EP Amplified Body Sound (2003) contains the ten-minute
The Act Of Sitting With One's Own Ass, an
almost comic take on electronic music with cartoonish metamorphoses and
funny manipulations of voices.
The mini-album Inside the Shadow (2005 - Hospital, 2010) contains three
of their best pieces, in particular the
nine-minute drone sonata Inside the Shadow, whose timbre keep moving
and shifting until it hatching all sorts of percussive turbulence.
The Very Heart Of The World (Thin Wrist, 2005) experimented with percussion instruments, notably in the 14-minute Come Back Through Me.
The mini-album Everyday World Of Bodies (Ultra Eczema, 2006) was scored for voice, electronics and found objects.
The first side
(Shoot Me Out The Sky, Swimsuit 2006,
Beneath 2 World)
indulges in amateurish musique concrete, mixing
electronic sounds, natural sounds and human voice.
The second side is even more childish and naive, except that, out of the blue,
it delivers the
piano vignette In Love With A Promise, that could be
by the Penguin Cafè Orchestra.
Three Sisters Who Share An Eye (No Fun, 2006), containing just two
15-minute improvisations, was the most extreme of the early works.
The double-disc Mes Soldats Stupides '96 - '04 (Cenotaph, 2005) collects rarities.
Hototogisu + Burning Star Core (2006) contains five noise improvisations,
in particular #2, which is 14 minutes of free-form strumming and droning.
Operator Dead Post Abandoned (No Quarter, 2007) inaugurated a quartet with Yeh on violin and electronics, Trevor Tremaine on percussion, Mike Shiflet on computer and Robert Beatty on electronics; and the music attained a loud and transcendental fusion of free-jazz, acid-rock and digital soundsculpting over spastic percussive frenzy.
The abrasive rhythmic pattern that opens the 19-minute
When The Tripods Came (one of the great glorious electroacoustic
symphonies of the time) sounds like an amplified distorted ticking clock,
like a remix of Pink Floyd's Time. It quickly escalates into an
industrial bacchanal with electronics and guitars that blurt out like
free-jazz horns, its metronomy pierced by stormy drones for a breathtaking
The 17-minute Operator Dead Post Abandoned opens with a
dense chaotic whirlwind of drones and drumming, and doesn't get any more
linear or friendly. The cacophonous avalanche somehow coalesces into a
breeze of melodic galactic glissandoes.
Me & My Arrow is a hypnotic ear-piercing nightmare and slowly grows
into a sort of paralyzed raga when the percussion set a tempo.
The thundering fanfare The Emergency Networks Are Taking Over is nine
minutes of wall of drumming with layers of manic distortion.
Blood Lightning (No Fun, 2007),
boasting an unusually "clean" sound,
eleven-minute The Universe Is Designed To Break Your Heart, which is
basically two pieces in one: first pulsing melodramatic droning minimalism,
then atonal free-form electroacoustic music.
The ten-cassette box-set
Ghosts Of Niagara (2008) documents collaborations between
Burning Star Core and Prurient,
notably the apocalyptic five-minute wall of noise of
Challenger (Hospital Productions, 2008) marked a return to solo electronic/computer performances, and this time incorporating field recordings. It also marked a new stance by Yeh, one that belonged more with the high-brow avantgarde than with the droning crowd. The result approximated both the cosmic music of the 1970s and the most progressive of Eno's ambient works.
Papercuts Theater (No Quarter, 2010) documents live performances from
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