Squint toward the horizon and you’ll notice the second or fourth or twentieth wave of avant/electronic rock pioneer Richard Pinhas’s career barreling toward you, clocking at like at least fifty knots, gathering foam and growing higher by the second on its path to obliterate your pathetic little body on the shore. Pinhas tore strings and opened minds in the mid-70s at the helm of French experimental ensemble Heldon — a project whose ahead-of-its-time catalog (synth programming + live drums + looped guitar improv?) has been revived out of hyper-rare-OOP limbo by way of Superior Viaduct’s reissue campaign. But the mind of present day Richard Pinhas — wizened by his subsequent decades of philosophizing, performing, and outright living — continues to expand in new directions alongside a growing network of acolytes-turned-collaborators.
After the surging gang warfare of last year’s Desolation Row, which found him spurring a crew of avant gurus into deep space synth improv, Pinhas toured internationally and linked up on bills with the likes of Wolf Eyes, Aaron Dilloway, Keiji Haino, and previous partner-in-crime Merzbow (scope this legend-studded lunch pic). For his two upcoming full-length albums on Cuneiform Records, Pinhas formed duos with two journeyman experimentalists from this new(er) generation of collaborators: Tatsuya Yoshida, and Oren Ambarchi. Each disc casts Pinhas’s chosen accomplice as the multi-instrumentalist foil to his extended guitar exploration — which flits from chiming ambience delivered straight from the “The Heavenly Music Corporation” to chaotic lead shred, all funneled into loops that wind through each jam’s overlapped vortexes. As a testament to their versatility as improvisers and their interdisciplinary live capabilities, both Yoshida and Ambarchi match Pinhas’s fire with maximalist performances on guitar, electronics, and drum kit. Never content to let their looped phrases or repeated riffs linger too long in the mix, Pinhas’s partners propel the extended sessions through disparate atmospheres and clear transitions, building into dramatic structures that organically decay and reform around the core of Pinhas’s six-string output.
Tatsuya Yoshida’s catalog with the continually inventive Japanese duo (sometimes solo [<-Seriously though… Wow]) project Ruins and the virtuosic opera prog-gasm known as Koenji Hyakkei casts him in a mastermind-behind-the-drum-kit role directly inspired by Christian Vander of Magma: leading each group through his metrically complex compositions while vocalizing melodies in the ecstatic nonsense language of Zeuhl. Just as Ruins and related projects couple Yoshida’s focus and performative discipline with his sense of abandon, the sessions with Richard Pinhas documented on the upcoming Welcome In The Void find him stretching out into passages of unrestrained electronic drift between his bruising drum beatdowns. Stream an excerpt from “PART TWO - CORE TRAX,” premiering below, for a taste of the duo’s live alchemy, propelled by manic snare rolls and a recursive haze of upper-register guitar texture.
Oren Ambachi has sketched out a singular vision of drone composition and performance through his modern-classic-laden solo catalog, and collaborations with the likes of Sunn 0))), Jim O’Rourke, and Merzbow, to name a few. On Tikkun, Ambarchi complements Pinhas’s cosmic delay trails with both his own searing guitar performance and the deep grooves of kraut-informed percussion we’ve come to love from his performances in Keiji Haino’s crushing power trios. The excerpt of “San Francisco T2V2” catches Ambarchi in a prickly distorted tone not far from 2012’s Raga Ooty LP, as his and Pinhas’s guitars bite and claw at each other in a cloud of layered tremolo picking. When Ambarchi gets behind the kit, the session blasts open into a molten rock rhythm, anchored by steady ride cymbal splashes and tom patterns, over which Pinhas ascends higher and higher into interstellar space.