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CD Shorts: Heldon

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Allez-Teia

(Superior Viaduct)

 

Guitarist Richard Pinhas has released a lot of albums, most of them solo, and several with bands. The prolific player is a widely known experimental musician in France, and his work from the early ’70s put him on the map as an innovator in electronic music. Pinhas is still busy recording and touring, but Superior Viaduct has gone back to the beginning of his career to re-release work from his band Heldon, which drew its name from a science fiction novel by Norman Spinrad.

You can sometimes tell Allez-Teia is the product of the ’70s, but that’s primarily thanks to some of its fuzzier guitar tones, old-school synth and a certain hard-to-pin-down quality of the recording. Those aspects aside, the sounds might as well hail from today, a rather remarkable (if impossible to predict) accomplishment.

The record starts with a contemplative homage to Robert Fripp, then takes a surprising turn—the second tune is entirely acoustic. Allez-Teia is his only album to include acoustic guitar, but Pinhas seems perfectly at ease, and is an accomplished player on that instrument as well as his more usual electric.

The album is an interesting voyage—hypnotic, looping guitar often gives way to massive walls of fuzz, but it sometimes leads to blooping analog synth (the album’s most dated moments), and ends with another well-played turn on acoustic guitar. Here Pinhas seems restless, an explorer without a clear destination, but one with whom the ride itself is worthwhile.

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