Don Falcone
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Quiet Celebration (2000), 6/10
Spaceship Eyes: Kamarupa , 6.5/10
Spaceship Eyes: Truth in the Eyes of a Spaceship , /10
Spirits Burning: New Worlds By Design , /10
Fireclan: Sunrise to Sunset (2004), /10

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Don Falcone, originally a poet performer from Pennsylvania but relocated in San Francisco at the beginning of the 1980s, was a member of Thessalonians, as well as the original Melting Euphoria.

In 1995 Falcone started a solo project called Spaceship Eyes. The line-up for Kamarupa (Noh Poetry, 1997) was Falcone (all keyboards), Gary Parra (percussion), Karen Anderson (percussion). The compositions feed on a concotion of acid-rock, progressive-rock, ambient and new age music. The texture is either dramatically layered or continuously changing. Storm Of Cleopatra's tribal effect is actually an accretion of percussions engaged in African polyrhithms, electronic gurgles a` la Gong, and a hypnotic funky riff in the vein of Byrne & Eno (which briefly mutates into a reggae hiccup). The longest track at ten minutes, Kamarupa is a symphonic poem set to a middle eastern tempo in a manner reminiscent of early Pink Floyd; which evolves into a surreal dance in a King Crimson vein, which, wrapped with slowly revolving drones, evolves into a majestic ceremonial coda. Crafted From Wood (nine minutes) is a sequence of variations on a zany leimotiv.
The interplay between electronics and percussions is daring. Granny Gurtn's Mysterious Space Needle (eight minutes) is a slow-motion avantgarde piece which would have shone on Pink Floyd's Ummagumma. Minimalism weds Buddhist drumming on Tribal Roots.
Falcone's keyboard lines have inherited the spookiness of Allen Ravenstine's synthesizers, the fresco-like quality of Klaus Schulze and the fluidity of jazz-rock. Several tracks sound like demonstrations of Falcone's technique: dadaistic vignettes such as Satori; experiments on rhythm such as March Madness , which weaves together a funky line and a dub line; post-modern essays such as Pegasus, which deconstructs a pastoral melody through sampling and scratching; fairy tales such as Chameleon Sighting, which has the dynamics of a film soundtrack.
The album is a marvelous display of post-psychedelic music in the age of electronica.

Truth in the Eyes of a Spaceship (Hypnotic, 1998), the second Spaceship Eyes album, featured ex-Hawkwind member Harvey Bainbridge, the dj Freaky Chakra, and other distinguished members of San Francisco's avantgarde. Falcone's ambition was to wed the worlds of electronica and progressive-rock with drum'n'bass.
The jazzy keyboard licks of Mind The Alien are a reminder of Falcone's talent, but, generally speaking, the tracks are orgies of sampling and scratching over more or less driving rhythms. Not much is left of Spaceship Eyes' original program. The most representative tracks here (Drum'n'Smoke, Dreaming Without The Right Side, Fresh Cheebahcabra) gallop at breakneck, dizzy tempos and layer mountains of creative noises. Falcone indulges, at best, in an art/science of timbres.
After so much drum'n'bass, the wildly energetic, tribal profusion of Roanoke and the raga mutation of The Great Yew Hedge come as a relief. The album represents a significant innovation in the drum'n'bass genre, but a regression from Kamarupa's genial potpourri.

In 1998 Falcone also started an ethno-ambient project, the all-instrumental Quiet Celebration (Gazul, 2000), that features Edward Huson on tabla, Ashley Adams on contrabass, John Purves on sax and flute. The album contains ten impressionistic pieces that straddle the border between futuristic electronica, Brian Eno's ambient vignettes and Jon Hassell's primitivism. The cross-pollination can be infectious: Salmon mixes jazzy sax, Middle-Eastern flute, African percussion and cosmic synth washes. Magenta integrates exotic and chamber elements while keeping them separate (the former mainly represented by percussion, the latter by strings and contrabass). Coal is a manic, cacophonous minimalist piece that has all instruments play a pattern, while Ivory is nocturnal jazz in a Middle-Eastern limbo.
The eight-minute percussion-less Amber is an evocative form of avantgarde: the mechanical patterns of the keyboards and the horns recall industrial and minimalist music, but dropped into a nebula of flute lines and assorted drones. Another highlight is Indigo, which again disposes of the percussion and sets the romantic soliloquy of a sax in a slow-motion maelstrom of electronic melodies. The element of psychosis is made explicit when a multitude of reverbed saxophone notes blend in the deforming mirror of Peru.
Falcone's electronic keyboards often play second fiddle to the contrabass and the horns. As these instruments carry the leitmotif, the electronics and the percussions sustain the tension.
This could well be Falcone's most impeccable recording. Each atmosphere is carefully crafted, and the multiform style never breaks down into discordant textures. On the contrary, each piece is a clockwork of metabolism. This is as organic as music can get.

In 1999 Falcone launched Grindlestone, with Doug Erickson; an ambient dub project named Reverbia, with Jerry Jeter; and a sample-based project, Alien Heat.

Falcone then resurrected Spirits Burning. Spirits Burning was one of his first San Francisco bands, for which Falcone played bass and keyboards. New Worlds By Design (Gazul, 1999) boasts a walhalla of alternative rock, including Daevid Allen of Gong, Malcolm Mooney of Can, Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, Thomas Grenas of Pressurehead,
The tracks are relatively shorter and are played at a much faster tempo. Some employ vocals. There is no unifying factor, just a quest for new sounds at the border between Falcone's old psychedelic world and the new world of ambient, techno and electronica.
Solar Campfires pushes drum'n'bass to its epileptic consequences, while the keyboards sustain mechanical patterns in the vein of industrial music and doodle in the vein of Morton Subotnick's electronic dadaism. By Design detonates the electronic fabric with a bluesy, hard-rock riff which develops into a full-fledged, dense and pounding, Hawkwind-style, space-rock suite.
The horror riff that propels Arcturus, the pow-wow dance of Triquetrium Delight, the techno torpedo of Avatar 444, not to mention Suicide-like trenodies and free-form noise suites, are the highlights of a diverse collection that, with a little more self-control, could have rivaled Brian Eno's Before And After Science for the digital generation. The futuristic drama and personal tour de force of The Ticking Of Science (13 minutes) recapitulates the album's anarchic, capricious approach. This is an unfocused work, a half-baked work of high art, an experiment that does not have a sense of direction, or possibly a mere collection of cues for future albums.

The new Spaceship Eyes' CD, Of Cosmic Repercussions (Hypnotic, 2000) will come out in October. Gazul Records and Noh Poetry Records will release Quiet Celebration on Sept 7. This Californian quartet consists of Don Falcone (synth, udu), Ashley Adams (contrabass), John Purves (woodwinds) and Edward Huson (tabla).

Reflections In A Radio Shower (Gazul, 2001), credited to Spirits Burning, includes contributions from Daevid Allen, Robert Calvert (posthumously), Don Xaliman (Melodic Energy Commission), members of ST 37, Mushroom, etc.

Fireclan is the trio of Don Falcone, Mychael Merritt and Luis Davila. Sunrise to Sunset (Noh Poetry, 2004) is an exercise in reinventing prog-rock for the post-ambient generation. It opens with a fluent space-rock number, Electric Sunrise, and closes with the hypnotic percussive jam of Acoustic Sunset. In between, it runs the gamut from the virulent minimalism of Sudden Mist to the melodramatic theme of Winds of Sorrow to the eerie soundscape of Faces in The Terrain. The longest track, Cliff of Fate, fuses these techniques and coins a kind of impressionistic drama, that delivers both the natural power and the psychological tension of the scene.

Weird Biscuit Teatime "DJDDAY" (Voiceprint, 2005)

Gothic Ships (Noh Poetry, 2006) is a collaboration with Steve Palmer.

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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