Friday, July 06, 2007

SPACEHEADS AND MAX EASTLEY: A Very Long Way From Anywhere Else (Bip-Hop Records)

SPACEHEADS AND MAX EASTLEY
A Very Long Way From Anywhere Else
BLEEP35
Bip Hop 2007
08 Tracks. 57mins21secs




Spaceheads | Bip Hop Records

The first collaboration between British sound artist Max Eastley and experimental duo Spaceheads dates back to 2001, with the album The Time Of The Ancient Astronaut, released on the ever-excellent French imprint Bip-Hop. Six years on, they reconvene for this second instalment of dense experimental music.

Eastley began to experiment with sound and machines in the late sixties, focusing particularly on natural elements such as wind and water, with great importance given to chance and accidents in his work. He has worked with various other experimental musicians, ranging from Brian Eno and David Toop to Peter Greenaway and Thomas Köner, and has exhibited his sound installations around the world.

Formed of Andy Diagram (trumpet) and Richard Harrison (electronics and drums), Spaceheads is an unconventional duo that evolves at the frontier of avant-garde jazz, noise and rock. The pair began working together in the late eighties in Manchester, first as part of various jazz formations then as a unit. They have since released a number of albums and performed all over the world.

When working with Spaceheads, Eastley plays a monochord instrument of his fabrication called the Arc. Combined with Spaceheads’ aural feast, Eastley’s sonic secretions create a tensed atmosphere that develops throughout the album, from the daunting owl calls of the opening The Chamber Of Statues and the spatial echoes of Every Thought Is Buried In Time to the intense layering of sounds that punctuates the title track. Diagram and Harrison appear to work around Eastley’s inputs, at times wrapping his eruptions in delicate swathes of electronics, at others in layers of dissonance. There is an intricate dialogue developing all throughout the record between Eastley and Spaceheads resulting in a series of dense soundscapes. While there is great intimacy in the exchanges, the scope of this record is rather ambitious, even for such an experimental record, with the trio often veering close to vast cinematic structures. It is therefore all the more impressive that they continue to pay extreme attention to even the minutest details of a piece.

The mood is generally subdued and introspective, with very few open rhythmic sequences to provide relief from the various sound assemblages, but the trio push into more dynamic terrains on Love Lends Wings To Our Desires and the twenty minute epic title track, on which Harrison plays a much more predominant role. The album concludes with the hectic Escape, which once again provides Harrison with fertile grounds on which to apply dense drums sequences.

The tracks featured on this album were recorded during two very different sessions. Four tracks were captured live on Frioul Island, off the coast of Marseille in the south of France, while the rest was recorded in a shed in the village of Brawby, North Yorkshire, the common link being the remote aspect of each location. The resulting recordings show surprising uniformity of tone and are a testament to how fruitful the collaboration between Eastley and Spaceheads is.

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