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Heldon -  Heldon IV: Agneta Nilsson CD (album) cover

HELDON IV: AGNETA NILSSON

Heldon

 

Progressive Electronic

3.80 | 37 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Heldon's fourth studio album can be a challenging experience, even for listeners not unfamiliar with the band's extreme musical agenda. But it was here that Richard Pinhas finally distilled the influences he always openly acknowledged (the minimalism of FRIPP & ENO; the synthesized frontiers of contemporary Krautrock) into something uniquely his own.

All but one of the album's five tracks are named 'Perspective', a necessary requirement for hearing the album without losing hold of your sanity. (The odd man out is the three-minute 'Bassong': a gently unplugged cleansing of the aesthetic palate before the side-long sonic nightmare of 'Perspective IV'.) Compared to other Heldon psychodramas it's a relatively subdued endeavor, at least over the first half of the album. But the uneasy quiet of Side One (in vinyl terms) does little to mask the undercurrent of menace lurking just beyond earshot, like a slowly burning fuse snaking toward the keg of TNT hidden on Side Two.

'Perspective I' lights the match with subtle authority, underneath a near-subliminal yet melodic fog of ominous synthesizers. And no Heldon album would be complete without a nod to the radical politics of the era, here reserved for 'Perspective III', subtitled 'Baader Meinhof Blues': an act of musical agitation built around some of the most distinctive guitar work yet heard from Pinhas, improvised over an urgent, aggressive sequencer pattern. The band's range is even better revealed in the episodic 'Perspective IV', filling all of Side Two on the original LP. Two of its three sub-sections borrow their titles from the previous Heldon album, 'It's Always Rock and Roll' (1975), but don't expect to hear any similarities between them.

Hardcore Heldonistas might remember the calm, aquatic guitars of the 1975 'Virgin Swedish Blues', suggesting a gentler variation of Fripp & Eno's 'Swastika Girls'. But for its encore appearance here (perhaps meant to counterbalance the earlier 'Baader Meinhof Blues') the track becomes a cathartic, one-chord blitzkrieg of furious jamming, finally allowing the rhythm section to slip its leash and go on a bloody rampage. The medley concludes with the hyperactive 'Psylocybine', taking its name, all-too appropriately, from the scientific term for psychedelic mushrooms, and ending with the abruptness of a severed lifeline.

The schizophrenic attack of the album's latter half is impressive, but the quieter opening tracks are no less confrontational, pioneering an ambient/industrial style years ahead of their time. It all adds up to the perfect adventure for intrepid fellow travelers willing to brave the outer limits of inner space electronica, well worth the effort needed to survive it from start to finish.

Neu!mann | 4/5 |

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