Black Meteoric Star & Gavilan Russom

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Black Meteoric Star (2009), 7/10 (compilation)
Crystal Ark (2012), 5/10
The Xecond Xoming Of Black Meteoric Star (2016), 5/10
No More White Presidents (2017), 5/10
The Envoy (2019), 6/10
Secret Passage (2020), 6.5/10
Disco (2020), 4.5/10
NYC Beat Boxx (2021), 5/10
Trans Feminist Symphonic Music (2022), 6/10
Slabs Vol I (2022), 5/10

(Clicka qui per la versione Italiana)

New York's electronic musician Gavin Russom, who grew up in Rhode Island with Kelley Polar (real name Mike Kelley) and Blevin Blectum, and graduated in 1996 in music composition at Bard Conservatory under music theorist Benjamin Boretz, debuted under the moniker Paper Eyes with a series of cassettes: Wolf (1997), Komputer Musik (1997), Paper Eyes (1997) and The Sun Machine (1998).

In 2004 he moved to Berlin where he launched a career as a techno dj, documented by the 15-minute hypnotic funk jam Casual Friday (2004), credited to Black Leotard Front, and as a multimedia artist in collaboration with visual artist Delia Gonzalez (for example, the multimedia installation "For I Was like One Dead, like a Small Ghost, a Little Cold Air Wandering and Lost" of 2006). The two artists formed a duo, Delia & Gavin, releasing the single El Monte (2003), which unfolds slowly over 14 minutes as a Tangerine Dream-esque sequencer-dominated cosmic journey, and the lengthy cosmic-electronic suites of The Days Of Mars (2005), somewhere between Neu and Tangerine Dream, notably the frenzied and buzzing Relevee and the jackhammer-esque pounding Rise.

His techno career continued under the moniker Black Meteoric Star: Black Meteoric Star (2009) compiles new versions of his EPs. The original EPs, which were all recorded live to cassette tapes, include Death Tunnel, a straightfoward techno machine, the 16-minute World Eater, littered with ear-splitting distortion, the panzer-like Dominatron, which toys with reverb and delay effects, the 16-minute Brazilian-infected Anthem, the 22-minute techno monolith Dream Catcher (2009) and the 18-minute psychedelic funk jam Dawn (2009).

After returning from Berlin, Russom briefly joined LCD Soundsystem, contributing hand-crafted analog instruments and featuring on This Is Happening (2010).

After that experience, Russom launched two new projects, Knight Skyy, documented on the EP Das Kannst Du Dir Den Wind Schrieben (2012), and Crystal Ark, a collaboration with Viva Ruiz (whom he had met in Berlin) documented by the singles The City Never Sleeps (2010), a slab of sensual Giorgio Moroder-esque disco-music, and The Tangible Presence of he Miraculous (2010), 14 minutes of tribal Brazilian trance. Later, Crystal Ark added LCD Soundsystem members Matt Thornley (dj) and Tyler Pope (guitar) and backup vocalists Jaiko Suzuki and Sokhna Mabin, a new line-up documented by the hyper-syncopated single Touch (2011) and on the album Crystal Ark (2012), containing the new singles We Came To and Rain.

Influenced by both Chicago house music and Brazilian bata music, Gavin Russom also released the singles Night Sky (2011), 13 minutes of Afro-funk frenzy with shamanic vocals that evoke the Doors' Jim Morrison and guitar twang a` la Duane Eddy, and The Purge/ Enthroned (Entropy Trax, 2014) under his own name.

In 2017 the 43-year-old Russom performed publicly for the first time as a woman. In 2019 he changed sex and became Gavilan Rayna. She debuted with The Envoy (Ecstatic, 2019), an album that harks back to the atmosphere of industrial music of the late 1970s via a collaboration with Throbbing Gristle's legend Cosey Fanni Tutti (Kemmer) and a collaboration with avantgarde trombonist Peter Zummo (Discipline of Presence). Instead, the ten-minute highlight Winter sounds like a slow-motion piano-based remix of Pink Floyd's Time. Alas, much of the album feels naive and amateurish.

Secret Passage (Voluminous Arts, 2020) contains five abstract electronic compositions. The eleven-minute instrumental A Place For Us Among The Ruins is a grotesque dance of android fauna in an alien landscape, and Ghosts Wail In Us an eerie sound collage that at times evokes Jimi Hendrix-ian guitar glissandoes. These are the main courses. Fireworks, a piece of Zen-influenced spiritual ambient music, is tolerable, but Shotgun Hits With Boys Who Drum On Metal is a tedious extended ballad and Sarafina Calls Because The Police Are Beating People a trivial techno jam.

Trans-Verberation Cassette (2020) is devoted mostly to amateurish (and sometimes embarrassing) experiments in sound collage, but In the Service of Moving Out of Avoidance sounds like a ghostly remix of a romantic accordion song and the 20-minute Transverberation is an austere composition in the tradition of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Kontakte. She is obviously knowledgeable about the avantgarde of classical music.

Black Meteoric Star returned with The Xecond Xoming Of Black Meteoric Star (2016), No More White Presidents (2017), which was her soundtrack to her own one-hour film, the triple-LP Disco (2020) and NYC Beat Boxx (2021). The most ambitious release of this batch is Disco (2020), but is a mixed bag: the synth-pop ditty Muscle Machine is pure nostalgia, the 12-minute Disorienting Shapes is a rather monotonous piece of old-fashioned techno, the 19-minute Fluid Feline Forms litters the beat with childish sound effects, the 15-minute Whispers Between Worlds boasts a slightly more creative polyrhythm, the 15-minute I'm Unmelting is another stale take on techno, and closer Freaks Only seems recorded in a mental asylum (but it's probably the standout). It's quantity rather than quality.

Gavilan returned with the seventy-minute four-movement synth symphony Trans Feminist Symphonic Music (Longform Editions, 2022), 22 minutes of minimalist repetition of Steve Reich that dissolve into 20 minutes of floating organ drones, which morph into a pattern of bell-like tones, which abruptly turn into frenzied beats.

Slabs Vol I (Voluminous Arts, 2022) contains four noise compositions, with intriguing results in the brittle layer of Crevasse and the sound collage of Thorn Work, but generally a minor work.

(Copyright © 2022 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )