Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Rent Romus

CD Reviews
Date of Interview/Article:2/5/2002
Reviews by Rent Romus

Leavenworth, Terror Blues
Red Net imprint

Dan Hintz, "Cactus" - solo electric guitar

Leavenworth is a San Francisco duo, with Elvis on drums and Cactus on guitar encompassing free jazz/noise punk/terror blues. Leavenworth has also done a lot of sound collage and field recordings. A series of Leavenworth CDs are being released via Red Net Records, a San Francisco and experimental imprint run by Kaylee Coombs.

This raw set of electric underground exploration featuring eight guitar solo tracks is refreshing, uncompromising, and at times meditative. Dan Hintz a.k.a. "Cactus", is a raging cathartic guitarist and sure to be a joy for those who have an ear for hard core thrashing loops and full-bodied distortion. The project is a combination of seamless rhythmic loops and tasteful use of raw unadulterated real time effects, which to this reviewer was aptly, titled
Terror Blues. It embodies a dark edge of warm enriching improvisations utilizing space and time to create a strong power base of abstract blues. It's quite obvious that Cactus has spent a good time working with sound, distortion, and the creation of thematic ideas for this project. I recommend keeping track of Leavenworth as they have some more CDs coming out in the year to come!

Flux Aeterna
Ted Killian electric guitar/electronics
- pfMentum

Guitarists are a dime a dozen in the pop world, but when you go further out into exploration like Ted Killian, commonality is replaced with unique sound. Thus said, I was happy to receive this new CD from Ventura rebel label pfMentum. It's great to hear another voice in the world of experimental electric guitar done so well. Killian utilizes both his superb skills as a musician on electronics as well as guitar.

He interfaces the two seamlessly to create a powerful and unique voice to the known fair we've come to expect from other players such as Nels Cline. This CD has made it quite clear that rock is not dead it just got cloned and reconstructed before it's original was gutted by the music industry. Killian creates a full musical adventure with ten cuts of thematic tunes ranging from rhythmic scream sessions to all out grooves digging deep into the history of the guitar.

He even makes an interesting musical reference to a famous Jimi Hendrix performance one summer in the late sixties, and I would swear I hear some Sun Ra in there as well (though I may be tripping).

What I love about the improvised scene growing throughout the world is the abolishment of specific styles that continue to eat away at the artistic status quo. I'd say if you have an open ear to electric guitar exploration with appreciation for the hard core, you'd want to get this one. Flux Aeterna is another nail in the coffin of pop sensibilities, and I thank Mr. Killian for that.

Mirrors-Broken But No Dust -Balance Point Acoustics
Peter Kowald double bass
Damon Smith double bass

balance point acoustics

From the newest upstart D.I.Y. musician run label Balance Point Acoustics, comes Damon Smith, a blasting, bombastic bhrama bull of a bass player joining stellar forces with bass master and iconoclast Peter Kowald to produce a sonic gem of a recording. Normally, I would not have been into listening to a recording with only strings but the tonal concepts displayed here warrant a good hard listen. The
recordings took place both live at the now defunct Gallery 2310 and the studios of Miles Boisen. The interaction of the two massive double basses is to say the least, impressive. Massive walls of sound and textures bouncing and playing off each other like the rushing of a waterfall come to mind. Here on these dates the two are definitely in their element and firmly on the same page of surreal landscapes. They utilize the instruments to their fullest capability everywhere from percussive tonal slapping to elongated solemn bowing. The most amazing aspect is the music holds my attention by pulling in so many elements and
backgrounds that at every turn there is something new to experience. It is not a common happening when two individuals who live half way across the planet have such musical chemistry, but in this case it's quite clearly meant to be. To top off the listening experience the recording rewards those who have braved the entire project with some deep harmonic vocalizing which brings the project to full circle from its start.

The Space_Between
Philip Gelb | Pauline Oliverous | Dana Reason | Barre
Phillips - 482 Music

482 Music

Sun Ra said, "space is the place". And Pauline Oliveros along with The Space_Between live it to the fullest. The sensitivity and listening do justice to the Oliveros concept of "deep listening". The entire package and presentation from CD song titles to the music itself is a prime example of the level of professionalism that new music has to offer. The CD begins with an immense title "King Kong passes through the gates of Shaolin Temple and contemplates life" which sets up the listener for the music to come. I
can almost place myself seated in front of the group as if I am there when I listen. "After Long Life", Penguin", and "Do we deserve Dubya?" represent just some of the incredible empathetic sensitivity this group has to offer. Clearly this is high quality group improvisation. The combination of accordion, shakuhaci, piano, and bass fill up the CD with impressive orchestrated tonal sound scapes refreshing to the ear. In the words of Rotcod Zzaj, "a most
highly recommended recording".

Places to go - Spring Garden Music
Jack Wright, saxes

Spring Garden Music

Like the CD cover painted by Wright or the titles that read like a poem, the music presented is colorful and vibrant. One of the most difficult presentations non-chordal musician can make is a solo project. But Jack Wright is clearly one of the masters. His intensity shines clearly from his first foray of notes. Utilizing the horn not only in it's standard
way but melding and bending the sonic capability in every plausible direction. Each piece contains a new aspect of Wright's extensive history of performance. He uses the natural imperfections of the instrument to his advantage by presenting harmonic overlap with the acoustic tonality bending notes as far as he can reach while clearly thinking out the over all effect. To accent those bends and sharp turns he throws in a growl or yell here and there to complete the bouquet. There is a clear indication of patience in his playing that so many younger players hope for. This is a great recording representing the fullness of the saxophone.