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(56 min, Quixote)
TRACK LIST: 1. Open I 3:49 2. One 6:47 3. Open II 2:14 4. Two 7:23 5. Open III 4:50 6. Three 4:23 7. Open IV 4:36 8. Four 10:44 9. Meanwhile 4:34 10. Shut 7:00 All tracks: by Glomb & Jaehne. Produced by by Glomb & Jaehne. LINEUP: Stefan Glomb - guitars, bass; programming Philipp Jaehne - organ, keyboards; looping Martin Lengsfeld - piano
Prolusion. "Free to Random" is the fourth official release by Germany's POOR GENETIC MATERIAL (PGM hereafter). However, there are only two new compositions on this CD. The other eight tracks were recorded in the '90s, when the band was a trio, i.e. before they engaged singer Philip Griffiths and drummer Ludwig Benedek and released their debut album, "Summerland". Related reviews: here, here and here.
Analysis. There is absolutely nothing in common between "Free to Random" and any of the other PGM recordings, at least those available to the general audience. (They also have two CD-R's, which were spread among fans only.) This is an album of purely instrumental music, lying far beyond the band's traditional style. The instrumental equipment includes piano, organ, synthesizers, electric guitar, bass and drums, though the latter are featured only on three tracks: One, Two and Meanwhile. Of course, it's not because of the use of drums, but anyway, these three are musically vastly different from the others. One was created with observance of all the principal rules of Minimalist music, much resembling Terry Riley's canonical "In C" in construction. The acoustic piano theme, developing within the set framework, runs all through the piece and serves as an axis, around which all of the other aforementioned instruments weave an intricate web of harmonic improvisations, creating quite a complex and polyphonic music with lots of subtle nuances. One of my favorite tracks here. The beginning of Two sounds somewhat like the swarm of bees droning in the state of meditation. These are 'frozen' guitar and synthesizer solos, the product of the 'looping technology', evoking vivid associations with Greg Segal's early experiments. Quite unexpectedly, the music soon transformed into a mellow symphonic Art-Rock with original memorable melodies. Nice stuff, but it would've been better had the piece been some shorter. Meanwhile is a refined authentic Jazz-Fusion, with acoustic guitar and piano taking the lead position in the arrangement. All of the other pieces fall into the category of Ambient, but while Four and Shut are traditional ambient music, all four of the parts of Open, and also Three, are notable for a really unique approach. No completely fixed themes, everything is in the state of constant movement. The music is founded on improvisations, and I can't tell you with certainty which of them were composed and which were done impromptu, though the latter were certainly used more often. Probably each of these five features also the light, at times barely perceptible, flavor of the music of Indo-China (large region in the Southeast Asia). Jazz Ambient? Maybe. Pretty unique stuff, in any event.
Conclusion. I am almost certain that most of the traditional PGM fans will be disappointed with this material. "Free to Random" is destined mainly to the category of music lovers, who relish such different genres as Ambient and Jazz-Fusion. Hopefully, it will find its listeners. As for me personally, while I can't say that the album fully suits my personal tastes, I am able to appreciate the novelties that it's abundant with, to say the least.
VM: Agst 20, 2005
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