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REPEAT

This Heat

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Like Can and Faust before them, This Heat had their own studio, and when not on the road they rehearsed and recorded constantly. Following their split, nothing was released for over a decade until Repeat came out. Anybody expecting Deceit part 2 was in for a rude awakening; Repeat consists of just 2 lengthy instrumental pieces, both drawing on their fascination with the possibilities of using tapes and tape loops as part of the process of composing and performing.

The title track will sound familiar to owners of the first album as it is based on 24 Track Loop, and another version of this piece appeared on the Recommended Records sampler as Pool. This is the more readily accessible of the pieces on this album, in that it is recognisably played on guitar, keyboards and drums (with occasional other instruments for good measure). The original performances are electronically treated, sped up, slowed down, organised in to new sequences and generally bent into interesting new shapes. There are saome production techniques borrowed from dub reggae used here, as well as definite points of similarity with some of Can and Faust's more out-there extended pieces. This also gives a good insight into the working methods used on This Heat and Deceit; the piece periodically folds back on itself, returns to the starting point and heads off in a new direction, a technique which was often used in the backing tracks of their more song focussed material to create subtle shifts of perspective.

Metal uses similar techniques, but to a radically different end. Musical instruments per se are largely absent, and the piece is built around recordings of the band 'playing' some abandoned metal sculptures outside their studio, along with scrap metal and various other non musical objects. According to the booklet in the box set, this piece was mostly assembled by Gareth Williams at around the time of Deceit, but was then set aside until the early 90s when it was reworked along with Repeat. The sound is a kind of urban gamelan that recalls tape loop experiments by 60s avant garde composers like Steve Reich and Angus MacAlise. It's a near ambient piece, highly atmospheric but at the same time slightly unsettling. The beat never falls exactly where you expect it, and odd sounds niggle away on the fringes of the mix. Hypnotic and highly effective.

There were precedents for Repeat - Test Card, the drone which introduced their debut album, and Graphic/Varispeed on the b side of Health and Efficiency (a version of which is included in the box set reissue of this CD) - but extended instrumental pieces like these are to be found nowhere else in their back catalogue. It's a powerful and highly effective album, but not particularly representative of their other releases. Strongly recommended to established fans of the band; newcomers should start with This Heat or Deceit.

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Send comments to Syzygy (BETA) | Report this review (#84007)
Posted Monday, July 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
2 stars Released in the mid-90's, this is a recording that dates of the debut album, even if it is more related to the second release of theirs. Just three lengthy tracks that will remind you more early Tangerine Dream (Zeit) or early Kraftwerk, rather than Faust's completely mad oeuvre. The title track is not yet recorded in their home studio, but next year's Metal is and the last Varispeed are and you can hear it; Obviously the trio was more at ease in their own wall, but this does not make their music anymore fascinating (I feel like saying interesting, but fear my friend Chris's wrath), even if the historical and experimental value of such a record made it a necessary release. If the first track is extremely atmospheric and a bit spacey (featuring mostly wind instruments from Charles Bullen, a self-confessed non-musician), the second one is extremely percussive (featuring metal percussions) being the realm of Charles Hayward, while the third (previously available on a 12" EP) goes back to a spacey sound and drones evolving way too slowly to hold much interest, unless the 15 mins were condensed into 4.

All three tracks are relatively uneventful, with terrible lengths and do not hold IMHO any of the fascinating aspects of those early 70's German groups. This album like all This Heat album is for RIO confirmed fans and this one is only for This Heat unconditionals. So I have a hard times recommending this to anyone else.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#113089)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink

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