Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Robert Turman - Flux (first released 1981)

Multi-instrumentalist Robert Turman, originally from San Diego, began his recording career in a very different vein to this, his solo debut.  He'd been responsible, along with Boyd Rice, for the initial NON release Knife Ladder/Mode Of Infection, one of the first and most fearsome industrial artifacts to come out of the US.  This privately-released cassette appeared two years later, and couldn't have occupied a more strikingly different place on the sonic spectrum, consisting of barely-there, minimal ambient pieces based around kalimba (thumb piano) in its first half, regular piano thereafter.

Early listens to Flux left me a bit underwhelmed by how little was going on for long periods of time, and how uber-lo fi the recording was, but if you get into the right headspace for this it's utterly hypnotic.  Opening with a clunk and a clatter as the tape machines get going, the percussive tappings of the first 15 minutes create a nice, formless zen ambience, with the following track more minimal still, like a homebrew Brian Eno fan of not insignificant talent for melancholy atmosphere.

By the third piece (called Miao on the initial release; most subsequent editions gave no titles), a more rhythmic backdrop has been introduced, and a slow, stately Eastern-sounding melody rises from the massive fog of tape hiss.  The fourth, aka Slow Burning, gives the switch to regular piano, and plinks away for nearly 17 minutes with a knackered-sounding drum machine barely functioning in support.  If this feels a bit too enervating, the final two pieces are significantly shorter.  One to get lost in for sure.  Kudos to the Austrian label Spectrum Spools for this reissue (on CD and vinyl) in 2012.

Flux
alt. link (zippy)

4 comments:

  1. robert turman is easily the most important musician of the last thirty or forty years. he is still releasing amazing work that you should check out.

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  2. it took a couple of tries for me to get into this, too, but I just spent a lazy morning sick in bed and this sounds so good. Thank you for posting this!

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