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Richard Pinhas (Heldon) May 2013 interview

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    Posted: May 29 2013 at 10:44
Richard Pinhas of HELDON was interviewed for the free Japanese magazine Metropolis this month.

Maybe some of you are interested so here it is:

Richard Pinhas
French avant-guitar god’s anti-neoliberal sonics
By Dan GrunebaumMay 21, 2013. From Metropolis Magazine,  Issue: 1000.

It isn’t easy being a guitar prophet. When Metropolis reaches Richard Pinhas, the storied French musician begs off the interview. He’s feeling rough, he says, after a concert with US noise rockers Wolf Eyes the previous weekend. Skip a day and Pinhas is in a better state. He’s at home in Paris watching a political documentary about the rise of China while practicing scales. Does the founder of groundbreaking ’70s French electronic rock band Heldon take a traditional approach to music study?
“There was no way to study guitar when I started in the ’60s,” he answers. “I started around 13, and became serious about playing guitar after seeing Hendrix—he was my main influence at the time.”

Perhaps because the electric guitar was still so fresh then, particularly in France, Pinhas developed an approach eschewing traditional song forms, a method that flowered with Heldon. “At that time you had to learn by yourself because there was no one to teach you,” he recalls in serviceable if heavily accented English. “I finally learned to read and write music when it was needed to be professional in the ’70s and ’80s. But it was not important for a guy of my era.”

Heldon’s extended, hypnotic jams provided the French answer to the ’70s work of fellow experimentalists such as Brian Eno and Robert Fripp. Albums like Electronique Guerilla have come to be seen as landmark works, and brought Pinhas’s music to a new generation of avant-garde music aficionados. “It’s strange that now Heldon is cataloged as noise or postrock,” he admits, “but I keep myself fresh playing with young musicians. Also, I have two sons in their 20s and 30s and they expose me to a lot of new stuff. In France you don’t have a distinction of generations, a guy in his 60s can play with a guy in his 20s.”

Pinhas’s new outing, Desolation Row, is a dark affair where 18-minute opuses surge and ebb on waves of electronic and guitar noise. He says it’s the first part of a trilogy about the effects of neoliberalism on Western countries. “It’s been a very sad time, and I tried to express this in music,” he explains. “Desolation Row is the first, the second will be Devolution, and the third will be The Fall. Every two months we are two times poorer—people sleeping in the streets—we are not used to this. It’s as if we’re living a science-fiction nightmare. You can see something destroying the people, destroying the cities—it’s like a cancer.”

Pinhas, who also holds a philosophy PhD, notes it’s typical for European musicians to express their political awareness in their music. This is perhaps less so the case in Japan—aside from musicians such as noise innovator and outspoken vegan Merzbow, with whom Pinhas will be touring Japan later this month.

“The intelligentsia, musicians, artists have been more politicized for centuries in the West,” he says, “but to be honest I don’t discuss politics with Japanese musicians. Generally they have bad English and are hard to understand. Also, we tour very quickly in Japan and prefer to talk music in the limited time we have. Some Japanese realize which system they are living under, but not in the mainstream.”

Despite his recent collaborations with Merzbow and Ruins’ Tatsuya Yoshida, who will also join the upcoming tour, Pinhas came to Japan late in life. “Japanese culture is very attractive for an old guy like me,” he says. “I suppose it’s the lack of ideology. I discovered Japan in my 40s, and your reaction is different. Japan has fantastic music, there are a lot of great bands making very different music from the USA and Europe—it’s another world.”


(this article was originally published here: )

Edited by King Only - May 29 2013 at 10:45
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote zravkapt Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 29 2013 at 19:37
Thanks for that!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote moshkito Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2013 at 12:55
This is nice, but something that most "progressive" folks will not understand or want to be next to their description of what "progressive" music is. But it shows, that a lot of these folks were experimenting just as much as anyone else, and in this case, he did not know music until later, which we know was also an issue for Bryan Eno.
And it clarifies a lot of the music better ... sometimes the sound of it was more important than a song, and it ripped all over the place, and Heldon is full of that ... but it was hard to do this with a commercial entity like King Crimson, and Robert kept the stuff he really enjoyed doing in any other album, BUT King Crimson, where his best work is NOT, for my tastes!
This was a very vital and experimental time, and you had to let the music live ... and not concern yourself with anything else ... today it is all about the DAW that is eating the creativity left and right ... just as soon as it enslaves you into a beat!
By comparison, today, there are no experiments, and the majority of "prog" bands are not innovators anymore, and in fact, they don't even know what the term means anymore!
There are exceptions ... and you can hear some of them now and then, and Djam Karet, has given both Robert and Richard a nice compliment and Richard has been a part of a project with this band as well!
In some ways, looking at folks like Richard, and Robert these days, and what they say, is like listening to Neil Young ... we don't bother paying attention anymore ... it doesn't mean anything to us anymore, and we don't care that his wife died .... etc ... etc ...
... none of the hits, none of the time ... now you know what the art is all about!
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