Gaudi – Magnetic [TrackList and Recording Artists follow] – RareNoise RNR080, 52:21 [6/30/17] ****:
A voyage into modern neo-dub.
When most DJs, producers or other musicians raid a label’s catalog for sounds, the result is often a remix album or some kind of mishmash hybrid. When electronica/dub reggae artist Gaudi was given the opportunity to dip into the RareNoise catalog, he had a different idea. The perspective of Gaudi’s 52-minute Magnetic is an affirmation of bass (six bassists contribute separately to eight tracks). Magnetic is an assemblage of tunes which combine sounds from previous RareNoise releases with a roster of musicians who recorded in the studio with Gaudi. The end-product is aligned with earlier Gaudi recordings, but the framework, attitude and quintessence is unique. The upshot is that Gaudi is one of this year’s best electronic-laced instrumental albums. Magnetic has been issued as a digital download, vinyl LP and CD. This review refers to the CD version.
Gaudi’s record starts with “30HZ Dub Prelude,” which contains 7:45 of bass, drums, trombone, guitar, wordless vocals, and keyboards which deliver a liquescent and slinky dub reggae excursion. The highlight is hearing bassist Colin Edwin (of prog rockers Porcupine Tree) create a hypnotic and fascinating bass riff which rides atop the other instruments. Matters get a bit more neoteric during nearly six-minute “Memories in My Pentagram,” where Masami Akita (AKA Merzbow) spices things up with glitchy electronics, Gaudi slips in an ethereal Theremin, and renowned percussionist Cyro Baptista (credits range from Laurie Anderson to John Zorn) switches to Jew’s harp (which provides an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western tone). Here, a characteristic reggae bass line is performed by Jamie Saft (who has also collaborated with Zorn, Baptista and Merzbow). On several pieces, Gaudi utilizes classical music verbiage for titles, although any classical music elements might be either buried or too esoteric for most listeners to deduce. No modern dub-reggae outing would be complete without iconic Bill Laswell, who contributes to the seven-minute “Nocturnal Sonata.” One of Laswell’s many associates, guitarist Buckethead, also supplies six-string noises to “Nocturnal Sonata.” The track’s production sways and sometimes looms close to a musical chasm, but Gaudi grounds the ever-escalating buildup with acoustic pianos (credited to both Gaudi and Mark Aanderud, whose résumé includes the Mars Volta). Laswell is also heard on the 7:34 “Electronic Impromptu in E-Flat Minor,” which has an overcast quality, gloomier than most other cuts. Gaudi uses some of the same “Nocturnal Sonata” personnel, except RareNoise co-founder Eraldo Bernocchi takes over on guitar, Lorenzo Feliciati shares bass duties with Laswell, and Steve Jansen (formerly of New Romantic band Japan) keeps the cadenced drum foundation. Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz’s mesmeric bass is at the forefront of “Opus 12, No. 7,” which has a moving groove until the end, when Gaudi layers digital programming, grand piano and keyboards into an unexpectedly beautiful conclusion. Bass legend Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, and many more) is on the fast-paced and rock-tinted “Modular Rondo,” which has a Krautrock bent (think early 1980’s Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk) and a modified motorik drum pattern.
Gaudi balances his influences and inspiration on the mind-expansive, nine-minute closer, “Epilogue Leitmotif,” a spacious opus steered by Laswell’s lithe bass, some intriguing quartet harmonics and thematic exchanges between Laswell, Gaudi (who again adds Theremin to his instrumental arsenal), Roger Eno’s acoustic piano and Jan Peter Schwalm’s atmospheric electronics and programming. While the overall repetitive nature of “Epilogue Leitmotif” may be too much for some, fans of Gaudi, Eno and Schwalm will no doubt welcome this cooperative concoction. Magnetic isn’t going to appeal to a wide audience, but those who like dub-reggae blended with electronica and smidgeons of rock should give Gaudi’s latest project some serious consideration.
30HZ Dub Prelude
Opus 12, No. 7
Memories in my Pentagram
Electronic Impromptu in E-Flat Minor
Die Ballade vom Frosch
(Gaudi – Minimoog, Korg keyboards, Fender Rhodes, programming, ARP 2600, guitar, piano, Theremin, vocal choir, drums; Coppé – voice (track 1); Brian Allen – trombone (track 1); Eraldo Bernocchi – guitar (tracks 1-2, 5), baritone guitar (track 7); Terje Evensen – electronic drums (track 2); Eric Mouquet – grand piano (track 2); Michele Cavallari – Fender Rhodes (track 3); Cyro Baptista – Jew’s harp (track 3); Masami Akita – noise electronics (tracks 3, 5); Buckethead – guitar noises (track 4); Martin Schulte – electronics, programming (track 4); Jan Peter Schwalm – electronics, programming (tracks 6, 8); bass – Colin Edwin (tracks 1, 7), Jamie Saft (track 3), Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (track 2), Bill Laswell (tracks 4-5, 8), Lorenzo Feliciati (track 5), Tony Levin (track 6); drums – Ted Parsons (track 1), Roberto Gualdi (track 2), Pat Mastelotto (tracks 3, 7), Hernan Hecht (track 4), Steve Jansen (track 5); Nikolaj Bjerre (track 6); piano – Mark Aanderud (track 4), Alessandro Gwis (track 5), Roger Eno (track 8); guitar – Pippo de Palma (track 6), Steve Norris (track 7), Eyal Maoz (track 7))