CD Shorts

Reviewed this week: Blues Control, Charles Bestor, Rangda

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blues Control
Valley Tangents

(Drag City)

Though only six tracks long, Blues Control is an expansive foray through multiple genres. Opener "Love's a Rondo" is five minutes of piano and bass figures interspersed with distorted electric guitar. "Iron Pigs" begins with a simple drum beat shrouded in alien sound effects and synth samples. The shortest cut, "Walking Robin," includes a drum loop that remains in the background, while keyboard and guitar take turns soloing. Interestingly, the band's recorded output is at odds with its live shows. Instead of branching out and experimenting on stage, the group remains focused on its signature stream of piano chords and drum machine-augmented sound collages. The patient listener will find much to appreciate with repeated spins, and some may find hard it to believe that such sounds were recorded in the confines of a home studio in Pennsylvania. —Michael Cimaomo


Charles Bestor
The Sound of Time


Charles Bestor's new album The Sound of Time is an explorative electronic odyssey. Combining elements of percussion with space age sounds, vocals and Bestor's trumpet, the album weaves a thesis out of sometimes discordant threads. "Pathways From the Dream Spell Series" blends electronic elements into a story of sound, while trumpet elements in "Concerto Piccolo for trumpet and electronics, Preludium" and the concerto's "Fantasia" sometimes produce a rude awakening. "Into the Labyrinth" and "The Unfound Door" play with words and poetry and psychedelic sounds. It sometimes feels as though Bestor is trying to disorient the listener to bring him or her to a place of transcendence. Bestor creates a highly intellectual and deep, ambient listening experience. —Kathleen Broadhurst


Formerly Extinct

(Drag City)

The opening strains of Rangda's Formerly Extinct consist of equal parts minor key, near-psychedelic guitar wandering and an undercurrent of foreboding percussive noisemaking. Rangda (also the name of a particularly nasty Balinese demon queen), is the new project combining noise bigshots Sir Richard Bishop, Ben Chasny and Chris Corsano. At times, Bishop's instrumental projects indulge a wandering, loose guitar style that conjures a mood, but only possesses something resembling a narrative arc over a long haul. Once he and his compadres settle into a groove, they often ride it until the horse falls over. That's not always true, however, and this album mostly visits far more dynamic places—the sounds of "Plugged Nickel" are rhythmically engaging, even frenetic, and the song ends up in quite different territory than where it began. "Night Porter" is a particularly unhinged, fuzz-drenched escapade that keeps its drama high throughout. —James Heflin




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