DAX PIERSON & ROBERT HORTON
Title: Pablo Feldman Sun Riley
Format: CD (Digipack)
When a Stone Speaks
Piece of the Sun
Drive Along the Boundaries of Nothingness (remix of Subtle)
Living Room Music
Release date 06/11/06.
This unique collaboration was born out of a deep love of experimental music. Four of the forefathers of hypnotic, rolling waves of leftfield sounds and genre-bashing composition are honoured here: Augustus Pablo, Morton Feldman, Sun Ra and Terry Riley. Robert Horton and Dax Pierson, two fine musicians in their own right, have created not only a homage to this four bastions of modern music, they have also created their own voice within the boundaries they have set for themselves with this project.
We’ll let Robert Horton explain in his own words how he met how he came to meet Dax Pierson (of Subtle and 13&God) and how this special recording came to be:
"It was at Amoeba Music in Berkeley, California, one of the largest record stores in the world. I was trading in some CDs that I’d burned. Among them was an Augustus Pablo dub album and a CD of Morton Feldman’s later works. The Amoeba buyer was Dax Pierson. He commented on my choice of music. I said, "Bizarre as it many seem, I think Morton Feldman and Augustus Pablo have something in common in the way they use space in their music." Dax agreed, and from that moment we became friends. We began planning a collaboration that would bring together those elements.
As it turned out, Dax, like Augustus Pablo, played melodica. I wrote a graphic score for melodica, cello, voice, and pre-recorded khaen. I recorded the khaen tape and we set up a recording date. We invited two other musicians to play the graphic score with us - Dax’s friend Alex Cort, cellist, from Subtle, and Lon Huber, vocalist from The Attemptations. The piece evoked the Pablo Feldman part of Pablo Feldman Sun Riley.
At the next session, Dax and I improvised using feedback boot* and Dr. Sample. The ghosts of Sun Ra and Terry Riley (even though he’s still living) seemed to sit in with us. Thus the Sun Riley part of Pablo Feldman Sun Riley.
*"boot" is a four-stringed homemade
Founded the Appliances, part of SF’s first wave of punk bands in 1979. Played at the inaugural mayoral ball for Jello Biafra. ISM (archival recording out now on 23productions) also in 79 was one of the first SF noise bands playing a series of house shows. Robert formed Plateau Ensemble in 1983, a tribal noise drone group who played in the Bay Area until 1987 drawing members from the Jon Hassell Group, ROVA, KU KU KU, Glorious Din, Eternal Glands of Secretion, Gamelan Seka Jaya, etc. Through out the 80’s and 90’s Robert participated in the cassette revolution releasing tapes in Japan, Italy, Belgium, Britain, and the USA. During the mid 90s to 2004 Robert’s time was mostly in doing Anti- Racism Educational groups called the UNtraining. He continued to record but hoarded it all for himself. Lately the dam has broken with releases on Foxglove, JYRK, 267-lattajjaa, Celebrate Psi Phenomena, New American Folk Hero, Barl Fire, Spanish Magic, mymwly, Sloow Tapes, 23productions, Important, Digitalis, Students of Decay, Audiobot, Rural Faune, Miscegeny, Onomoto, Important and Outa.
Robert records under his own name, Egghatcher, and Future Ears. He is currently a member of Attemptations, Kyrgyz(with Tom Carter, Loren Chasse, and Christine Boepple), Mudsuckers (with Tom and D Yellow Swans), Oppen, Beautiful Friend, Infinite Article, Broken Mask (with Michael Shannon), Dream Years (with Honey Owens), Microblind Haverstman (with Hal Hughes), Sky City, and the duo with Tom Carter.
Dax is currently an active, yet non-touring, member of Subtle and 13&God. He was previously an active member of the touring edition of Themselves, The Why Because, Malcolm Mooney & The Tenth Planet, Winfred E. Eye and the Bart Davenport band. A longtime explorer/perpetrator of quality genre-hybrid music, currently resides in Oakland, California, where he has lived since 1996.
REVIEWS & MEDIA
The title alone is a pretty epic name-drop, considering the scenes that Dax Pierson and Robert Horton run in - the former, a member of Oakland's anticon collective and keyboardist for Subtle and 13&God; the latter, a prolific Bay Area punk-turned-dronemaster. Paying homage to Morton Feldman, Pablo Augustus, Sun Ra and Terry Riley involves a lot more, of course, than attempting to rep the salient features of each composer. Ultimately, the album is a successful play-through because Pierson and Horton avoid the twin hazards of over-literalism and biographical naturalism. It's fair to say that Pablo Feldman Sun Riley is a sort of pre-emptive strike against the canonization and codification of those composers. In their attempt to locate the potent strangeness of even the most familiar aspects of these avant-garde avatars' music, Horton and Pierson remind us that these composers remain a lot more mercurial than we take them to be.
In keeping with Sun Ra's dictum, the album traffics not in volume but in space. Album opener 'Winterlong' sets the pace for the album. Evolving at a deliberate, aquatic whirr, it consists, like most of Pablo Feldman Sun Riley, primarily of Horton building up a dense, silty drone whose serene, fierce momentum is offset by reedy strokes from Pierson's melodica.
The aural focus on drone color and the linear quality of the melodica make sense considering the project's genesis: Horton was selling albums by Pablo and Feldman at Berkeley's Amoeba records, and he and Pierson struck up a conversation. Riley and Sun Ra, according to the press release, crept in during the recording sessions, less as an overt point of reference than as a spectral presence. Though the album draws on a substantial array of instrumentation and some heavy-duty collaborators to call up these ghosts (Subtle lends their remix skills to 'Spring Drive Along the Boundaries of Nothingness' while Alexander Court provides cello and Lon Huber throws down gut-rumbling vox on several tracks), the basic sonic template of the album is consistent throughout. Recorded between 2001 and 2005, it has a remarkably firm texture, with nothing feeling extraneous or laden with too many effects.
Yet, despite and perhaps because of the sense of purpose it manifests, the album can sometimes feel hermetically sealed, like a conversation between two of your buddies that's happening across your face. 'Spring Drive' is probably the album's strongest if least characteristic track. The voices that stutter and hiccup across the track's pocked surface feel refreshingly like the moment in the reading group when the people that haven't done their reading start to chime in.
In the final analysis, the album's inward intensity is a greater asset than flaw. There's nothing seminal about this collaboration, and that's exactly how I imagine the four subjects would have wanted it.
- Brandon Bussolini, Dusted Magazine
I've been impressed by a lot of Robert Horton's work but I don't think there's a single album I've returned to as many times as this collaboration album with Dax Pierson. Like the title suggest Pablo Feldman Sun Riley (AA/Nosordo) pays tribute to Morton Feldman, Pablo Augustus, Sun Ra and Terry Riley and although that blend might seem a bit far-fetched each of these individuals shines through on these brilliant recordings. The dominant instrument here is unquestionably the melodica and top of that Horton spins drone webs delicate and subtle as a breeze or a whisper. The album has a strong meditative effect, and I have no problem what so ever seeing people falling asleep to this record, and I don't mean that as criticism in any way. On the contrary its darkly serene tones are destined to create some amazing dreams, and if there ever was a safe way into the unconscious, the sounds of Pablo Feldman Sun Riley might very well be the perfect choice.
Sur Pablo Feldman Sun Riley, un membre de Subtle (Dax Pierson) et un punk sur le joli retour (Robert Horton) adressent un hommage à quatre compositeurs de premier ordre, tous genres exigeants confondus : Augustus Pablo, Morton Feldman, Sun Ra et Terry Riley.
Entamant la construction d'un univers reconnaissant, mais aussi en train de se construire, Winterlong convoque un mélodica et un violoncelle déraillant, une voix grave fantasmant le râle d'une bête imaginaire et quelques silences. Sans cohérence évidente, le duo travaille ensuite à une composition répétitive changée bientôt en amas de drones sortis de guitares (When A Stone Speaks), puis à une pièce dont les premiers airs de baroque non aboutis disparaîtront au profit de boucles et d'interventions bruitistes (Winterworld Dub).
Sûrs de leur bon droit, Pierson et Horton continuent de multiplier les effets, et l'inspiration de ne pas faiblir: des field recordings choisis du Drive Along the Boundaries of Nothingness remixé par Subtle aux dérélictions électroniques de Piece of the Sun, des larsens minuscules infiltrés par quelques clics d'Offguard aux conspirations des guitares de Living Room Music, les charges sont nombreuses, et souvent prodigieuses.
Prétexte sensible et évocation permettant toutes les libertés, Pablo Feldman Sun Riley trahit sur toute sa longueur les influences profondes de Dax Pierson et Robert Horton : de celles qui refusent toute copie ; là, davantage, pour être sublimées.
Grisli - Dmute. www.dmute.net
Just when it seems there´s nothing new under the sun, along comes something old you never heard about before. Robert Horton´s career apparently started back in 1979 with San Fransisco´s Appliances and later ISM and The Plateu Ensemble. Having dipped out of performing publicly and releasing material through the later 1990s, he has reemerged with a slew of releases in the last two years, of which this bundle represents the latest batch.
Horton´s an improvising sound artist who works with recordings, homemade instruments such as 'boot', samplers, guitar, electronics and more. He has a deft touch as a producer, both in solo work and in collaboration, and the diversity of his output is united by his sensitivity to sound texture and ability to situate recorded sound in space.
But for the sheer meditative overload, the collaboration with Dax Pierson of the Anticon-associated group Subtle has got to be the kicker. Pierson plays melodica and the pieces follow a graphic score written by Horton with a view to, among other things, exploring the commonalities in attitude to sound and space as evidenced by the music of Morton Feldman and Augustus Pablo. The results are genuinely levitating and far from ersatz. Horton´s skills as an arranger and producer are to the fore as the pieces include not only the two core players, but guest vocalists, a cellist, on one track, the entirety of Subtle, without once sounding anything less than coherentand the product of a fiercely concentrated creative intelligence.
Bruce Russel, The Wire 275 - January 2007
Pablo Feldman Sun Riley came about rather serendipitously when Robert Horton met Dax Pierson (Subtle, 13&God) at Amoeba Music, a major record store in Berkeley, California where the two discovered a shared affection for Augustus Pablo and Morton Feldman. Naturally enough, the collaborative outgrowth of that encounter pays homage to those artists as well as Sun Ra and Terry Riley. The album's seven pieces (five in the ten minute or longer range) are explorative meditations that honour the four figures by not merely aping them in some crudely imitative form but by invoking them in spirit.
The remarkable opener 'Winterlong' is both mobile and static; it's the kind of spacious music-making where every note is, so the cliché goes, pregnant with meaning. Dominated by the slow interplay between Pierson's shuddering melodica, Horton's church organ-like khaen (a free-reed bamboo mouth-organ from Laos and Northeast Thailand), Alexander Kort's cello plucks and bowings, and occasional vocal growls by Lon Huber, the piece stops time for its full ten minutes and wholly arrests one's attention in the process (Horton describes the piece as representative of the "Pablo Feldman' part of the album). Though the range of instrumentation is as provocative as the music itself (bowed guitar, Dr. Sample SP-202, synthesizer, sine wave, tape guitar, and 'boot,' a four-stringed homemade device), the artists use that sonic potential to shape the material into multi-dimensional form. The material defies easy pigeonholing, but one could classify Pablo Feldman Sun Riley as experimental dronescaping of a particularly rich kind, especially when it ascends the mesmerizing peak of the penultimate "Offguard"; one might also describe it as a quintessential kranky recording that, in this case, happens to be issued on AA/Nosordo.
Textura (USA) www.textura.org
[4/5] Paisajes eléctricos de pasión y calma conforman este álbum que surge de la unión de los sellos AA y No Sordo. Apuesta irreductible por los sonidos más experimentales de la música electrónica.
Así nos llega el feliz encuentro de un perro viejo de la música moderna, Robert Horton ( que en los 80 formó parte de The Appliances y Plateau, postpunk y noise de primera generación ) con la sabia nueva de Dax Pierson ( miembro de Subtle y 13&God ). Una unión musical fruto de un encuentro casual en una tienda de discos de Berkeley, California; y de su amor por la música experimental de Augustus Pablo y Morton Feldman.
Juntos decidieron dar forma a este "Pablo Feldman Sun Riley" un homenaje a cuatro popes de la música moderna: Augustus Pablo, Morton Feldman, Sun Ra y Terry Riley. Un homenaje plasmado en 7 cortes donde las melódicas y los casiotone se dan la mano, donde las violas y los oboes se encuentran con las guitarras formando cúmulos de nubes sobrecargadas de electricidad estática. En una sinfonía hipnótica que nos remite tanto al primer ambient como al post-rock más minimal, y que conforma una apuesta arriesgada pero conseguida en el tímido paisaje de la electrónica actual.
Mau Mau Underground (ESP)www.maumaunderground.com
"A homage to our forefathers" är mottot för Dax Pierson och Robert Hortons skiva "Pablo Feldman Sun Riley" som släpps på det svensk-spanska bolaget Nosordo. Musiken kommer från två inspelningstillfällen där de parat ihop Augustus Pablo och Morton Feldman under det ena och Sun Ra och Terry Riley under det andra. Och ut kommer en mycket tilltalande musik som blickar bakåt men ändå befinner sig i nutid.
De tre inledande låtarna är inspirerade av Pablo/Feldman. Och i användandet av tystnad som musikaliskt verktyg är "Winterlong" den som mest påminner om Morton Feldman. Det är sparsmakat och tystnaden lyfter fram tonerna från framförallt melodica, synt och cello mycket distinkt samtidigt som tonerna formas meditativt och dronigt.
De följande två låtarna är tätare i sin struktur som vilar på en puls snarare än en rytm. Upprepade slingor av melodica och utdragna droner på 'When a Stone Speaks' gör att musiken får en klart minimalistisk prägel utan att för den skull träda in alltför mycket på Terry Rileys område. Dronerna på "Winterworld Dub" har en betydligt mer drömmande karaktär och Hortons inslag med gitarr är både passande och fina.
Länken mellan Sun Ra och Terry Riley finner Pierson och Horton i den kosmiska dimensionen i deras musik. Förutom "Offguard" som är en atmosfäriskt böljande och vackert utdragen komposition, är de andra tre låtarna mer disparata i sitt innehåll. Skiftande spaceljud på synt lägger grund i 'Piece of the Sun' , "Living Room Music" har en fragmentariskt experimentell ljudbild, om än med en utdragen ton i bakgrunden. "Drive along the Boundaries of Nothingness" är en spännande remix med inslag av fältinspelningar och suggestiva rytmer, utförd av gruppen Subtle som Dax Pierson spelar med.
Vad som egentligen är inspirerat av vad är inte förklarat. Och förutom i några av låtarna där det är uppenbart är det i flera fall inte självklart. Det gör inte mycket. Musiken står bra för sig själv och förutom den underbara "Winterlong" är det låtarna med droneinslag jag gillar mest. Idag när så mycket av den dronebaserade elektroniska musiken går i det mörkas tecken känns det välbehövligt att få en annan bild av tillvaron, om än med sorgsna inslag. Men sorg och skräck är två helt olika storheter.
Magnus Olsson, Soundofmusic.nu
The name Robert Horton popped up, for me at least, some where in the mid-eighties
when I got some compilation cassette with a beautiful saxophone piece, with organs
and drums by Plateau (if I all remember this well, since I don't recall which tape
it was). Horton was the main member of Plateau. Back then we were a bit in touch,
but not for the last fifteen years or so. From the mid 90s to 2004 he spent his time in
doing anti-racism educational groups called the Untraining, and maintaining to
record his music, without releasing any. Since then he has released a whole bunch of
stuff on a whole bunch of labels. Dax Pierson is new to me, but he is apparently a
member of Subtle and of 13&God. Together they recorded this work, which is a homage
to Augustus Pablo, Morton Feldman, Sun Ra and Terry Riley - each a big city in it's
own field. Dax plays melodica, just as Pablo, as well as Dr Sample and mono synth,
Horton plays boot feedback circuit, voice, computer, tape guitar, guitar and khaen
and receive help from various players on cello and vocals. The seven pieces here are
best described as drone music, but one of a more extraordinary kind. Sounds swirl
around from endless layers of melodica, gliding cello sounds and warped up
vocalizations. It's a kind of drone music that is closer to the traditional Indian
version (less the drums) then to the Mirror/Ora/Monos variations of this world, and
as such is much enjoyable. Great release!
FdW - Vital Weekly 548