Nov 2, 2008

CIRCUITAL BREATHING

Rafael Toral - Space Solo 1 LP reissue, Taiga Records 2008

(Just a note before I dive in: the cover really is really the most Raster-Noton throwaway I've seen in a long time. Deep in sad, limp, Touch Records-territory. It's a real shame. The vinyl is either red or white, depending on how fast you run to the label site.)

Synthesizers: maligned by six-string knuckledraggers, sublimated by scores of creepy krauts & Euros, and occasionally made innarestin' by out-there jazzbos and the skin-tight-black-leather-wouldbe-punk set. That about cover it? You know, ya got yer haters, your Snowy Reds, your Klaus Schulzes, your Tod Dockstaders, your Sun Ras (well, one really), and yer Primitive Calculators. Everybody doesn't like them but nobody hates them. Right. So where's the next chapter?
The next chapter, as you might expect, nicked some pages from an earlier draft. The Sun Ra draft, thankfully. Rafael Toral's transformation from a gauzy, Fennesz-y, drinking white wine in your backyard with friends from Brussels-y, guitar-based droner to his present incarnation as a free-improv collaborator and mad scientist pricked my ears right quick. It'd take a technical mind to explain how Toral goes about feedin all manner of homemade plunder into his Doepfer modular synth, so I'll skip the procedural section of this talkie. Just know that, at his best, the man is like Kaoru Abe goin feet-first into a gravitationally completely collapsed star, if you know what I'm sayin. Sun Ra treated the Moog like it was a piano married to a protractor. Toral's movements, like the second on "Portable Amplifier," can feel as...how shuddaputit...peristaltic as Ra's but without the statement-ending blurts or woozy fizzles, leading to a strangely library-LP feel in the end. That is, it never threatens to lose itself, which might be my sole complaint about this record. This may also be due to the generally handheld feel and limited tonal vocab of Toral's source gadgetry.
I gotta say, it's a tricky path to snake, specially if'n you're makin it up as you go. Yet, somehow, there's some deftness, some historic sensibility detectable in these faint-yet-screechy grooves. Hell, if anything, it's a way more adventurous road than his last. Will appeal to fans of the Creel Pone aesthetic, the freakier end of 80s minimal synth mayhem, anyone down with scouring the BYG/Actuel back catalog, or folks than dug the bent-electronics parts of Chris Corsano's The Young Cricketer (I dug all of it). Minneapolis-based younguns Taiga Records'll probably cut you the best deal, if not Mimaroglu.

1 comment:

Geoffrey M. Golia said...

I'm left wondering if we should start a lit. mag. or website or something as a positive outlet for our writing ... I feel kind of moved to do that ... What'd you think?