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Richard Pinhas - Iceland CD (album) cover


Richard Pinhas

Progressive Electronic

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4 stars I heard this album referred to as "a musical ferocity" which is just about right! The 3-part title track has massive synth chords, played at different speeds & with sound effects creating a phenomenal, chilling atmosphere. "Thule" has wailing guitars against repetitive electronics, perhaps like King Crimson. "Greenland" has a beautiful melody quite out of character with the rest of the album. My copy of the CD (Spalax 14236) includes a live bonus track which is a 22 minute polymoog drone: interesting (well to hear once anyway). This album would appeal to anybody looking for a more extreme music experience.
Report this review (#50126)
Posted Wednesday, October 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Richard Pinhas has included a music with this album. Iceland, or the Land of Ice, music glacial cold, pure, beautiful, dangerous, elusive ... Iceland Part 1 offers a apporhce of galciers. Iceland Part 2 refers to the fear that low voltage will be unknown, in this cold world, the sounds are fabulous. The Last Kings of Thid is particularly successful sounds getting more and more worried, guitar Richard Pinhas is half a moitié aggressive beautiful and flat, creating a kind of anxiety that can not come because it is really has a comfortable listening to this beautiful album. Iceland Part 3, here we discover the beauty of the land of ice, blue and white dominates ... purity, ecology. Sign to remind us of the turbulent world of cities, a concept album works perfectly, the title is simple but indispensable. The Last Kings of Thule Part 2, fortunately there is a deuxème on this trip so interesting, the guitar takes its splendor. Short transition, is probably a kind of animal prowess, a presence, without danger. Greenland, and the Green Earth, see the grass here, a way, the melody is sublime, the fullness, well be assured. Wintermusic is a title which announces the extreme cold, extreme, what we feared the most, the fear, but the title is very soft, soothing, simply beautiful and carefree as the album is a cure for happiness has
Report this review (#230152)
Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is Richard Pinhas' third studio album recorded in 1979. Richard pretty much does it all here with electronics and guitar except for one track where guests Francois Auger and Jean- Philippe Goude add percussion, drums and mini-moog. There is a bonus 25 minute track that was recorded live in studio in 1983.

"Iceland (Part 1)" is a 1 minute intro track that features synths that pulse throughout. "Iceland (Part 2)" brings to mind that cold land that is surrounded by water. This is cold and dark and I feel like i'm adrift as synths beat and pulse while these haunting vocal-like sounds come in around 7 1/2 minutes. "The Last Kings Of Thule" features this synth line repeated over and over. Guitar comes in for a while playing over top. A cool rhythm to this one. "Iceland (Part 3)" is almost silent until sounds start to build around a minute. Waves of sound drift in and out while other sounds can be heard. The spacey sounds stop around 5 1/2 minutes but those creepy vocal-like sounds continue. Synths then proceed to come and go the rest of the way. "Indicatif Radio" is 1 minute of electronics(moog).

"The Last Kings Of Thule (Part 2)" has that pulsating synth like Part 1 as angular guitar melodies play over top. The guitar stops before 4 minutes as the beat continues. "Short Transition" is 35 seconds of moog. "Greenland" is the song with the two guests on it. I like this one. Lots of electronics that sweep, twitter and pulse. Another synth joins in before 5 minutes.This is much brighter and warmer than the other tracks. The bonus track "Wintermusic" is very much 25 minutes of drones that change ever so slightly throughout.

I feel like i'm being generous with the 4 star rating but then again i'm no expert in Electronic music. I like this album a lot though.

Report this review (#244409)
Posted Monday, October 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Iceland is a magnificant-haunted-majestic piece of art that can be considered among the most synthesized-ambient like albums from Richard Pinhas. It could perfectly been used as a soundtrack for an existential-post nuclear sci-fi movie. Despite the presence of dense layered electronic atmospheres the ambience and sound aesthetism is at thousand miles aways from tripped kosmische synth epics of the Berlin electronic school. For me it presents similar characteristics to Artemiev synthesised orchestral compositions for surreal-poetical movies such as The Stalker or Solaris. It also admits implicit (nnon conscious) references to Morricone, Carpenter and David Pritchard. Consequently it provides some tragic-dark melancholic pieces moving in a bleak-cold emptiness. The synthesised projections are stricly cinematic, deadly beautiful if not heartbreaking. This album can easily disconcerted fans of Heldon's propulsive rockin electronics but it will ravish those who want to dream on divine minimal astral electronic soundscapes. This one is to Richard Pinhas' music catalogue what Agneta Nilsson is to Heldon's: a wonderful-visceral chaosmic hymn to a lost humanity. A must have for those who want to discover the mysterious pearls of progressive electronic music. According to me this is the best offering from Pinhas in solo with Chronolyse.
Report this review (#244743)
Posted Thursday, October 15, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Often the music created by Richard Pinhas has a claustrophobic, menacing quality that could easily be described as 'uneasy listening'. Here there is a sense of space and distance that is most evocative and effective.

'Iceland', released in 1979, is a brooding, chilly work that seeps into the listener, perhaps bringing an involuntary shiver as well. The title piece is divided into three sections; a short introduction then the nine-and-a-half-minute Iceland (Part 2). The repetitive unintelligible voice-like sounds evoke that treated voice at the beginning of Pink Floyd's 'Careful with that axe, Eugene' but this disquieting whisper persists throughout the piece. Is it the ghostly voice of a long-dead Icelandic ruler? Certainly 'The Last Kinds of Thule' with its hammer-blow percussive sounds could be a funeral march from another world. 'Greenland', the only piece where collaborators Francois Auger and Jean-Phillipe Goude appear, is more familiar Pinhas territory; an eight minute analogue classic that is amongst his most satisfying work. Don't get me wrong, however. This is a fine album by a master of electronics and guitar wizard who deserves to be better known. In an alternative universe Pinhas was the keyboard maestro who married Charlotte Rampling and sold millions of albums.

PS. The bonus track, a 24 minute ambient electronic work from 1983 entitled 'Wintermusic', is an enjoyable and appropriate addition to the Cunieform CD release. RATING - Vision & Innovation: 25/30; Playing & Composition: 24/30; Listener Enjoyment: 25/30; X-Factor [Cover, Bonuses, Coolness, Reviewer bias] 8/10. Total: 84/100. -> 4 Stars.

Report this review (#247208)
Posted Friday, October 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Iceland sounds just as its name suggests: cold, icy and vast. On this album, Richard Pinhas creates beautiful, ambient atmospheres that could very well be the soundtrack to your favorite winter-land vacation.

The 18 minute, 3 part title-track is cold ambience at its best, featuring large waves of soothing synths that glide smoothly atop a simple, hypnotic beat.

The 2 part, 7 minute "The Last Kings of Thule" is tick-tocking madness with electronically manipulated experimental guitar playing that fades in and out of the soundscape.

"Greenland" sounds much like the title-track, but is a bit more lush and upbeat. Glistening cascades of glassy sequences fly through the soundscape dominated by a beautiful and repetitive synthesizer melody atop a steady beat.

Richard Pinhas is no doubt a great name in the world of progressive electronic music, and this is one of his absolute best albums. "Greenland" itself is worth the money.

Report this review (#439139)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This late '70s solo album by ambient synth pioneer Richard Pinhas may not be the coolest album hereabouts, but musically it's definitely one of the coldest: in terms of heat-loss reaching the absolute zero degree nadir of Progressive Electronics.

The best ambient music (as defined by ENO and others) is meant to be inseparable from its surrounding environment, and here's a perfect case in point. The inspiration for the album wasn't the tiny island nation in the North Atlantic, but a more general evocation of the light and space of higher latitudes, from Spitsbergen to Point Barrow by way of Siberia.

Part One of the divided title track sets the mood with a short series of chords hanging frozen in mid-air, setting up a shivering monotonic sequencer pattern overlaid like hoar frost with synth 'strings' and sound effects. Each note is so finely sustained that the actual warp of the master tape is audible, something I had always heard as a flaw in the vinyl until I upgraded to compact disc. Like the world it depicts the music is austere but beautiful, and seemingly untouched by human hands.

"The Last King of Thule" (the title references the mythical northernmost inhabited region of ancient Earth) reveals an altogether harsher landscape, with an urgent, almost industrial rhythm track and lots of atonal Fripp-like guitar soloing. A pair of shorter soundscapes (one of them a mere 35-second transition) won't provide you any relief from the chill, but a glorious exception to the album's arctic mood can be found in the final track, "Greenland": a wonder of simple yet hypnotic sequencers, real drumming (thank you François Auger), and lush orchestral synths, warm enough to melt the polar ice caps.

Even more impressive, and almost as long as the original LP, is the CD-only bonus "Wintermusic", a study in icy abstraction borrowing from the minimalism of FRIPP & ENO (two idols of Pinhas from early in his career). The length of the piece may look self- defeating, but give it time: there's a meditative calm at the heart of all the unending, overlapping drones, making a fitting extended epilogue to one of the more effective albums from the analog synth era.

Report this review (#877470)
Posted Monday, December 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars At once robotic and martial in technique, the very electronic 'Iceland' sits comfortably in the Pinhas discography. He sounds like a less commercial, slower and heavier Kraftwerk. Some of it sounds like it should have been the official soundtrack to John Carpenter's 'The Thing' from 1982. Frequently it sounds like something awful is going to happen... it's just that, it never really does.

At times it seems to lose focus - particularly on 'Iceland pt 3' which takes a step backwards on what is otherwise a good electronic progressive album. I don't give a monkeys though - it's full of big fat splodgy analogue keyboards which keeps me entertained throughout.

The Robert Fripp inspired 'Heldon' guitars pop up now and again leading you to believe you're listening to 'Agneta Nilsson' from '76. This however is far more electronically based.

Pinhas has a definite sound and style all of his own that I would recognise anywhere and therefore he'll always be in my good books.

'Greenland' is the undoubted highlight on this recording. A slowly paced but tunefully arpeggiated sequence of electronic splendour.

The 25 minute beatless 'Wintermusic' is where things take a turn for the worse. In the past you could choose which side of vinyl album to put on the turntable. This would have been side two on an old crackly vinyl recording. Now however it abruptly joins the first half of the album on this cd version. The problem is that this would have been far better as the intro track. Everything's back to front when you hear it on CD.

As a whole however, this album may be a bit repetitive to some listeners. I however, find it enjoyable nonetheless.

Report this review (#1005221)
Posted Thursday, July 25, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Cold" is an adjective which could often be ascribed to Richard Pinhas' music, whether you're talking about his solo electronic works or his band work with the likes of Heldon. A master of creating alienating, chilling atmospheres already, on Iceland he really takes that to the next level, producing a frosty masterpiece which will convince listeners that the dread fimbulwinter that precedes Ragnarok is upon them. CD rereleases tack on the 25 minute bonus track "Wintermusic", a rather dispensable Fripp & Eno-esque drone piece which fails to capture the raw intensity of the original album and can safely be skipped; it's the core Arctic blast of the original tracks which really stands out.
Report this review (#1915808)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2018 | Review Permalink

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