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CD Feature/ (((Stereofect))): "PING"

img  Tobias

Even for the tiniest of labels nowadays, whether or not something could sell and cater to the needs of a specific target group has turned into the pivotal reason for releasing a record. Themis Pantelopoulos’ fledgling Triple Bath outfit take a different route, one which awards priority to the question of intrinsic value first and then throws the music out on the marketplace to test its economic potential. Keeping this in mind, “PING” is more than an album – it’s a mission statement.

It is also a rare case of absolute rapport between an artist and his record company. Steve Burr has seventeen years of experience as a composer and performer to his credit and yet this is a debut both for the freshly hatched label and himself (disregarding a full-length from the MP3.com heydays). This points to a certain disregard for the usual ego-pleasures of seeing your name on a silver disc as well as to a preference of the concert situation over the studio. Most importantly, though, it reveals a desire of walking the way on his own and avoiding cheap compromises. There are definitely none of those to be found on “PING”. A three-part real-time studio-improvisation, it is a testimony of absoluteness, of clarity about one’s aims and of the will to realize a vision at all cost. For an entire hour, tortured frequencies clash and collide, dark atmospheres condense into claustrophobic clouds and the occasional corroded rhythm peals itself from combustible craters of acid distortions. Burr’s methods are those of an industrial artist, condensing various layers of noise into inwardly intricate and outwardly raw walls of aural mayhem, but his pieces move with a certain grace. Underneath the terror, there is always a flimsy film of breathy drones and the music regularly disassembles and drops back to this sphere of comfort to stock up on energy for a fresh assault. While the opening twenty minutes grant the listener few moments of rest, Burr is pleasantly close to the atmospheric early days of his personal heroes Tangerine Dream in “Part 2”, which sees the symbiosis of software synthesis with analogue equipment come to full fruition in a concise display of swelling and decongesting bass tones. It is only in the finale, however, that the album really cools off, with the hum of a faraway amp being the only sound surce for minutes. It is here that “PING” goes from being a well-executed experiment to something unique and haunting.

Then again, these strangely beautiful last twenty-five minutes need the aggression and fire of the beginning to fully blossom. Burr could have retreated from his original idea, he could have mitigated earlier or added one or two melodies, but he sees this thing through until the end. Does that mean this goes straight into the face of target group marketing? Absolutely. Was it worth releasing? Even more so.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Triple Bath
Homepage: Steve Burr

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