A veteran musician in the European avant-garde, Richard Pinhas has waged war both against listeners’ expectations and against what he calls the “teknofascist” establishment for over 40 years. He founded legendary experimental unit Heldon in early-70s France, breaking ground in the combination of rock instrumentation/performance with electronics and proto-noise synth squall (the $50 Heldon LP up on the wall at your local record store is worth every cent, even if it’s a bootleg — go get it). He honed his radical politics and personal philosophies in the late 60s under Gilles Deleuze’s tutelage, and it seems like none of his ire has drained over the years: his upcoming album Desolation Row, the first release under his own name since 2010’s Metal / Crystal, finds him “Morally outraged by the corporate greed that caused Europe’s (and America’s) 21st century economic collapse, shattering the public’s (the 99%) wellbeing and undermining democracy itself.”
Say what you will about the man’s political stance; his music is as mammoth and mind-altering as always. If his recent live outings with Merzbow demonstrated a desire to collaborate with the generations of musicians he’s influenced, the avant all-star cast Pinhas assembled for Desolation Row takes that desire to the next level. Hear Oren Ambarchi’s bass-drum kicks punctuate a mire of swirling electronic noise and modular synthesis whipped up by the likes of Lasse Marhaug and Etienne Jaumet. Pinhas’s looped guitar figures chime together and fold back on themselves all Frippertronics-style, before splintering off into peals of space-shredding distortion. “Circle” sidesteps the bloat and turpor of your average cosmic synth-rock session by blurring the line between the “electronic” and the “organic” elements of the huge ensemble, allowing a series of lead voices to swell and overtake the mix in long passages of gurgling hi-fi abstraction.
Desolation Row is available now from Cuneiform Records.