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David Bagsby - Hallucinographs CD (album) cover


David Bagsby


Eclectic Prog

2.90 | 2 ratings

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3 stars David Bagsby's 2006 release of almost entirely improvised music (98 % according to him) is an intriguing and rather spectacular event. Bagsby seems to have the uncanny knack of knowing exactly when and how he should record himself, able to capture a moment and momentum that if underestimated, may be lost forever. But Hallucinographs is more than just worthy spontaneous invention. There is music here that feels finished as it is being laid down - rare nowadays even in jazz - connecting the more ethereal parts into a cohesive if unpredictable whole. It's an approach somewhat unfamiliar to the average prog fan and may be a challenge to appreciate, maybe even to hear. But since when has that scared proggies? It's the kind of record both exciting and maddening as parts you love arrive and just as quickly vanish without a trace, with new things to sample and then on to the next moment before you've digested the last. A dizzying experience, and well worth having. Bagsby writes: "It began as a techno album but ended up mutating into something else". Quite.

The CD is broken into four parts though they play more or less as one piece, the segues from one cut to the next barely discernible. A seasick electronic drum track welcomes us to this strange brew as it begins pulling us deeper into its fetid, befouled contents. Unwelcome things happen continuously as tempos suddenly rise or fall, bits of pre-chewed matter swirl in and out of tidepools of unknown liquids, and distant parts of music connect briefly only to fall away. As things progress, the uneasy feeling that we're on a most treacherous voyage begins to sink in. But it's too late, there's no going back. I doubt you'd find your way even if you tried, your long-dead corpse found months later by fishermen.

Dave Bagsby's main squeeze here is a Korg Modeling Synthesizer, though it is unclear whether he or it is in charge. All the better, as an instrument playing a musician is at least as interesting as the other way 'round. There are passages that almost sound as if Bagsby intentionally sabotages the music, causing things to spiral off into unknown quantities, eventually all finding their way back to the mutating fold. It is entertaining to say the least, and occasionally downright awesome. Frustrating at times, but awesome. An RP50 guitar processor adds a nice rock flavor to 11-minute 'Achy, Breaky Quark'. By the halfway point one's brain has pretty much shut down and is on cruise control, equally curious and terrified, just letting the undercurrents take us through the lower regions, past the lighted rocks, brilliant jellies and belching lifeforms. By 'Taken Out of Cortex' things start to clear a bit and we begin rising back up to the surface, but not before a parade of mechanical misfits, warbling quasars, and broken thoughts pass us by.

Bold, and quite an undertaking for both composer and listener. In certain ways this is one of Bagsby's greatest moments on record, and should only be played under the most calm conditions so as not to become forever lost in this enormous sea. Neat stuff.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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