Experimental Audio Research

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Mesmerized, 7/10
Beyond The Pale, 6.5/10
Phenomena 256, 6/10
The Koner Experiment, 6.5/10
Millennium Music , 7/10
Data Rape , 5/10
Live At The Dream Palace , 6/10
Pestrepeller , 5/10
Living Sound , 5/10
Continuum , 6/10

Sonic Boom (Peter Kember) began a stubborn quest for the mystical qualities of sound. His first success was with Soul Kiss (1991), the second, ultra-ethereal album by Spectrum (1). Kember's second success came with Experimental Audio Research (2), or E.A.R., the experimental trio formed with God's Kevin Martin and My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, who produced at least two innovative recordings: the four cosmic-ambient suites of Mesmerized (1994) and the three futuristic concertos of Millennium Music (1998).
(Translation of my original Italian text by Maria Giusti)

Peter "Sonic Boom" Kember (Spacemen 3, Spectrum) is also protagontist with saxophone player Kevin Martin (God), guitarist Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), and drummer Eddie Provost (AMM), of E.A.R. (Experimental Audio Research).

Mesmerised (Sympathy, 1994) is a suggestive, cosmic-ambient experiment within the arc of four long suites. "DMT Symphony" is an electronic poem of drones and soundscapes in free movment that, in its search for visionary and dramatic effects, reminds us of Klaus Schulze's first affrescos. The 26 minutes of "Mesmerised 4901" (a deconstructed melody within an almost mantric pulsation la "Swastika Girls" by Fripp and Eno), "Guitar Feedback Manipulation" (a gloomy, vascillating drone la Gordon Mumma, generated, of course, by horrendous guitar mutations), and "California Nocturne" (a dense "cluster" of chords tapered to the pitch of bagpipes) are simple exercises in the analysis of sound, probably humbler than what the reviewer reads to you. The supergroup's music is a music of loops, contructed in a laboratory with clinical minutia, and then put in motion like gadget mechanics.

The follow-up Beyond the Pale (Big Cat, 1996), recorded in 1992, achieves even smoother and more abstract results, and places the group beside the more ingenious Macchiaioli of New Age music. The sinister atmosphere of "Beyond the Pale" (a spectral raga rent asunder by neurotic guitar riffs) and the sidereal winds of "In the Cold Light" (that grow in intensity until it softly carresses a symphony for sirens), two compositions each a quarter of an hour, will number among the most spectacular results of Boom's career. The threatening suspense of "Dusk" and the alien vortices of "The Circle Is Blue" abandon the metaphysical/spiritual level and instead plumb the neurosis and fears of homo industrialis. Kember has acquired a discreet ability in manipulating electronic sounds, and consequently the sound tends more and more towards a fusion of minimalism and kosmische muzik. On the other hand, the small impressionist affrescos ("The Calm Before", "The Calm Beyond") bear the mark of Shields.

Peter "Sonic Boom" Kember (Spacemen 3, Spectrum) e` anche protagonista con il sassofonista Kevin Martin (God), il chitarrista Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) e il percussionista Eddie Prevost (AMM), degli E.A.R. (Experimental Audio Research).

Mesmerized (Sympathy, 1994) e` un suggestivo esperimento cosmico-ambientale nell'arco di quattro lunghe suite. DMT Symphony e` un poema elettronico di droni e fasce sonore in libero movimento, che, nella sua ricerca di effetti visionari e drammatici, ricorda i primi affreschi di Klaus Schulze. I 26 minuti di Mesmerized 4901 (una melodia decostruita dentro una pulsazione quasi mantra, alla Swastika Girls di Fripp e Eno), la Guitar Feedback Manipulation (un tetro drone vacillante alla Gordon Mumma generato, appunto, da orrende mutazioni della chitarra) e il California Nocturne (un denso "cluster" di accordi affusolato nel timbro delle cornamuse) sono semplici esercizi di analisi del suono, forse molto piu` umili di quanto la critica vi legga. La musica del supergruppo e` una musica di loop, costruiti in laboratorio con minuzia clinica e poi messi in moto come congegni meccanici.

Il successivo Beyond The Pale (Big Cat, 1996), registrato nel 1992, ottiene risultati ancor piu` levigati e astratti e affianca il gruppo ai macchiaioli piu` ingegnosi della musica new age. L'atmosfera sinistra di Beyond The Pale (un raga spettrale squarciato da nevrotici riff di chitarra) e i venti siderali di In The Cold Light (che crescono d'intensita` fino a lambire un concerto per sirene), due composizioni di un quarto d'ora ciascuna, si annoverano fra i risultati piu` spettacolari della carriera di Boom. La minacciosa suspense di Dusk e i vortici alieni di The Circle Is Blue abbandonano il livello metafisico/spirituale e scandagliano invece le nevrosi e le paure dell'homo industrialis. Kember ha acquisito una discreta maestria nel manipolare suoni elettronici e di conseguenza il sound tende sempre piu` verso una fusione di minimalismo e musica cosmica. I piccoli affreschi impressionisti (The Calm Before, The Calm Beyond) portano invece il marchio di Shields.

Kember and Martin replaced Shields with guitarists Scott Riley and Pete Bain, added Eddie Prevost (bowed cymbal) and Tom Prentice (viola) and recorded an album, Phenomena 256 (3rd Stone, 1996), that showed further evolution of the E.A.R. sound towards kosmische muzik's black holes: the ghostly bubbling breezes of Spacestation (nine minutes), from which elf-like voices emerge, the fibrillating watercolors of As The Night Starts Closing In (ten minutes), the pastoral calm of Delta 6, disturbed by the wailing and meowing of saxophone and guitar. Phenomena 256 (14 minutes) achieves the most powerful tension, thanks to a loud and dark beginning and to a wavering pulsation.
Kember and Martin also toy with new techniques. Sub Aqua - Tidal - Lunar (ten minutes) is three compositions in one: a static drone in the left channel, a swirling in the center channel, a fuzz-like distortion in the right channel.
The eerie textures of Space Themes are composed using the letters of John Cage's last name (C, A, G, E) as the notes.
It is a courageous work, but it fails to create something that is truly innovative or that truly pushes the envelope.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Translation of my original Italian text by Maria Giusti)

The Koner Experiment (Revolver, 1997) likely constitutes the most radical result of Peter Kember, Kevin Martin, and Eddie Provost's research. Not only does electronica reign supreme, but it is the album that is more Thomas Kroner's (and of his collaborator Andy Mellwig) than of the renowned depositaries of the brand E.A.R. Kroner is a specialist in artificial rhythms, and this is music about pulsations. "1" functions as a manifesto, demonstrating how to transform industrial music into ambient music. The cadence of "2" is more abrasive, that of "3" almost resembles human breathing, that of "5" toys with the Doppler effect, "7" intones an improbable disco music, "8" flows around New Age, and so on until "10", which degerates into a wave of terrifying force. The method always consists of putting on track a cadence and making it slowly change. Each piece is caressed by subliminal massages of electronica. The album crowns Kroner's progressive simplification of sound.

Millenium Music (Atavistic, 1998) contains three long suites around twenty minutes each that continue and deepen the program of Mesmerised. Kember manages to meld the figure of the avant-guard pedant and the psychedelic freak in the gothic-futurist vision of "Delysid" (a collage of spectral sounds and cosmic frequency, alien sounds and apocalyptic drones, robot wailing and dissonant violins). Kember achieves credibility with a "creative" improvisation in "Digitana", a surreal symphony of sounds and pauses: the "concrete" composer Pierre Henry who plays with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the electronic composer Gordan Mumma who dialogues with jazz drummer Don Moye, and with a finale of electronic raspberries and distortions that seems like a duet between Morton Subotnik and Karlheinz Stockhausen. "The Enigma Code" is a cosmo-psychedelic romp in free-jazz version, an amoeba of of electronic squiggles that launch slowly towards orbits of distorted hisses accompanied by soft drumming. For all the pretensions of the awkward household experimenter, the album exhalts years of research and finds a post shoe-gaze equilibrium.

Data Rape (Spaceage, 1998) contains eight compositions for "circuit bending" created using some audio toys from the '70's. Like the preceding one, it seems more like anything an idea thrown out there that, for the generosity of the record label, found a place on an album.

The Koner Experiment (Revolver, 1997) costituisce forse il risultato piu` radicale delle ricerche di Peter Kember, Kevin Martin ed Eddie Prevost. Non solo l'elettronica regna sovrana, ma il disco e` forse piu` di Thomas Koner (e del suo collaboratore Andy Mellwig) che degli illustri depositari del marchio E.A.R. Koner e` uno specialista di ritmi artificiali e questa e` musica di pulsazioni. 1 funge da manifesto, dimostrando come si possa trasformare musica industriale in musica ambientale. La cadenza di 2 e` piu` abrasiva, quella di 3 sembra quasi un respiro umano, quella di 5 gioca con l'effetto Doppler, 7 intona una improbabile disco music, 8 lambisce la new age, e cosi` via fino a 10, che degenera in un'onda di spaventosa potenza. Il metodo consiste sempre nel mettere in pista una cadenza e farla mutare lentamente. Ciascun pezzo e` accarezzato da massaggi subliminali di elettronica. Il disco corona la progressiva semplificazione del sound di Kember.

Millennium Music (Atavistic, 1998) contiene tre lunghe suite di circa venti minuti ciascuna che continuano e approfondiscono il programma di Mesmerized. Kember riesce a fondere la figura del pedante dell'avanguardia e quella del freak psichedelico nella visione gotico-futurista di Delysid (un collage di rumori spettrali e frequenze cosmiche, versi alieni e droni apocalittici, vagiti di robot e violini dissonanti). Kember si conquista una credibilita` con l'improvvisazione "creativa" di Digitana, un surreale concerto di rumori e pause: il compositore "concreto" Pierre Henry che giochi con l'Art Ensemble of Chicago, il compositore elettronico Gordon Mumma che dialoghi con il batterista jazz Don Moye, e con un finale di pernacchie elettroniche e di distorsioni elettroniche che sembra un duetto fra Morton Subotnick e Karlheinza Stockhausen. The Enigma Coda e` una cavalcata cosmico-psichedelica in versione free-jazz, un'ameba di ghirigori elettronici che decolla lentamente verso orbite di sibili distorti accompagnata da un drumming sfumato. Pur con tutta la velleita` un po' goffa dello sperimentatore casalingo, il disco sublima anni di ricerche e trova un equilibrio post-shoegaze.

Data Rape (Spaceage, 1998) contiene otto composizioni per "circuit bending" create usando alcuni giocattoli audio degli anni '70. Come il precedente, sembra piu` che altro un'idea buttata li` che, per magnanimita` di una casa discografica, ha trovato posto su un disco.

Pestrepeller (Ochre, 1999) is titled to the band whose album Sonic Boom "borrowed" for his manic exercise of post-processing. Living Sound (Histrionic, 1999) is a 40-minute improvised jam with the band Jessamine.

Live At The Dream Palace (2000) contains two live performances: the 40-minute Modulo 2 and the 20-minute Song For A Seraphim.

Continuining Sonic Boom's progression towards musique concrete, the EP Vibrations (Rocket Girl, 2000) is possibly his most ambitious experiment of sound manipulation.

The progression culminates with Continuum (Space Age, 2002), a monolith of zen-like sonic structures.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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