Television Power Electric

Television Power Electric

Television Power Electric

Gentle Giant

Gentle Giant records describes their catalog as being “exquisite and difficult.” That’s truth in advertising if I ever heard it. This CD by Television Power Electric would seem difficult and scattered to those not familiar with the idiom, but exquisite to those who are.

The material for this “retroactively composed” piece was gathered over two days. During these days, 9 musicians gathered to improvise on various pieces of electronics. These include laptop, sampler, turntables, a keyboard, and various other boxes with lots of wires sticking out of them. This material was then mixed and rearranged by Aaron Carter and Brent Gutzeit of the band Chicago band TV Pow.>/FONT>

One could see this as a sort of Bitches’ Brew for the 21st century. On that epochal recording, Miles Davis and Teo Macero edited and mixed tapes they had of musicians improvising on their own. They created a landmark album whose power is still felt today. In the same way, Gutzeit and Carter collaged the improvisations of their peers to make a piece of music that is much greater than the sum of its parts. Indeed, the parts are hardly recognizable here. Occasionally I can pick out Otomo Yoshihide’s turntables, but the identities of the rest of the sounds remain unknown. The mixed is very subtle, nuanced and far quieter than 9 people improvising on electronics at the same time would suggest. It’s like looking under a microscope at a bit of pond water. Various translucent or colorful creatures float around sliding about each other, gently congregating around a bit of leaf or some sediment. Occasionally, something big and hairy comes along (the track “ORTF”) comes along and clears the scene, but soon after the creature leaves, the microbes reappear. Like the pond water, this CD can be quite beautiful, with its soft, rounded tones and slow burning textures. This CD comes with a bonus video for the track “brown (was the color of her dress) and blue smoke.” It’s a nice, abstract piece, with footage of the musicians at work. It played on my computer, so compatibility problems shouldn’t be an issue.

Gentle Giant Records, 3510 W. Wrightwood, Chicago, IL 60647; http://www.gentlegiantrecords.com/

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