beatsystem:em:t2297

cover beatsystem:em:t2297
(em:t - 1997)

Here's one that truly forces the listener to sit up and take notice! Sure, there are many moments of relaxed electronic ambience, but there are also several wildly distorted bursts of sonic chaos that literally demand attention. All aspects of this package are beautifully realized. What else would you expect from the illustrious em:t label?

Don't let the name mislead you... I thought "beatsystem"? Sounds like some cheesy one-pattern-drum-machine-techno-wannabe. That's not even remotely accurate. Derek Pierce, who has performed experimental dj sets and lectures throughout the 70's and 80's, is the deft sound constructionist behind this interesting release. Using samples and the CSound program, he is building previously unheard worlds.

The CD opens on one of those chaotic notes... the aptly-titled invade areas where nothing's definite takes a sample of John Cage's voice and utterly transmutes it into a wall of rapidly morphing alien chatter. The source is warped into a babbling crowd, to a painful (or ecstatic?) wail, to a darkly monstrous groan, and finally into a simmering electronic haze. The sharp clarity only adds to the surreal nature of this piece. (I feel a little bad revealing this much... I wish everyone could by as surprised as I was by this intro...)

In a much more laid-back phase, no more explores the American South via acoustic blues guitar, electric crickets, and a touch of gospel singing, all amidst a humming heat haze. I'd love to listen to a whole CD of this stuff...Swampy, in a very good way (and somewhat reminiscent of A Small, Good Thing's Slim Westerns)!

for pierre (in reference to musique concrete-ist pierre henry) is another gripping, albeit short, foray into altered sound, ripping through space and time, popping in and out of strange locales, closing with a blast of binaural fireworks. After which, John Cage's voice is again put through beatsystem's CSound wringer, though not to same degree as its previous hypermanipulations, with no jumping up and down/spooky action at a distance. The sample is intriguing, piquing my curiosity in Cage. These two are the shortest works, both running just over 3 minutes in length.

An algorithmic rhythm section adds a light drum-and-bass backdrop to there are 23 million..., which, through sample and traffic-hum, studies the U.K.'s motorcar situation. The occasional keyboard/piano outburst punctuates portions of this track. For stark minimalism, drone number one quietly and efficientley does its job. Slowly shifting tones and found sounds merge into a tranquil, yet somewhat edgy, interlude.

The Dali Lama and Tibetan bells appear in tibet. Here are the beats, intricately and delicately woven into an exotic fabric of electronics. The piece begins with energy, then drops out to almost-silence, before a brief, final resurgence. Saving the longest (9:30) for last, closely tuned drone begins its life as a humming reverberation, accented here and there with bells and other electronic tones. Sounding like a slow accordian at times, the piece is eventually overlaid with various woodwind- and xlyophone-like sounds. It would seem almost "classical" except for that distinct background buzz.

So much variety, and so artistically rendered, you've got to love at least part of this... or, like me, fully appreciate all of its experimental sounds and wonders. Both of my Thumbs are up for this rewarding ear-opener.
This review posted December 15, 1997

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