Monday, December 17, 2007




Because it's Richard Pinhas' third solo album, Iceland. A moody, deep, synthy ambient record, very Klaus Schulze. Pinhas was the leader of the experimental french rock group Heldon, that made a number of seriously ill noisy sci-fi prog recordings in a drum/synth/guitar line-up. I bought their album Interface pretty much at random and solely based on the album cover. Which looks like this:

In other words, cover art which is daring you not to buy it based on sight alone. Now considering 'Iceland', let me first make a brief aesthetic point. Here's the real album cover:

And here is my proposed imaginary replacement album cover:
(Hint: It's an awesome whale skull)


And this is Pinhas himself, an image which makes it not difficult understand why he is regarded as one of fathers of French electronic music. I like that he sort of looks like he maybe just came from playing tennis and is now going to record a 37-minute analog odyssey to the moon.

Ominous synthesizer music has for me a deep architectural resonance. Specifically, it makes me think of buildings that are ugly. Whenever I run into such designs I can't help but be fascinated on behalf of mankind that such looming and unnatural constructions exist and that humans dwell in them on purpose. These buildings serve as really tangible indexes of how irretrievably far man is from nature. The kind of far, like when you are a child of an age independent enough to swim out from shore on your own, leaving your mother and father on the beach, only to suddenly realize that you have gone too far, beyond the invisible line where the simple tug of the waves will guide you back, and for a moment you are alone there in the water, motionless, unsure if you have enough strength to swim such a suddenly great distance, or whether it is really too late for you and you should turn the other way and head out into the open sea.

Here is the Bushwick Death Star, aka the Woodhull Medical Center, right on the Flushing Ave stop on the J.

And here, of course, many of you will recognize the Soviet-era TV tower in Prague's Zizkov neighborhood. And many of you will recognize the large black babies that sculptor David Cerny installed to appear to be scaling the beast, like immense, sentient parasites.

A close friend of mine made an observation regarding the course of history, being that "first the Russians make TV towers, and then the capitalists put revolving restaurants in them."

Another close friend, responding to my comment that there should be a soundtrack to the Zizkov tower, said "it should have screaming."

The Soviet architecture in Prague always made an impression on me, in part because of its impressive ugliness, and in part because the combined decentralized network of buildings which dotted the otherwise beautiful and romantic Slavic/Central European architectural topography seemed to be headed towards the future rather than the past. I had often the lurking, paranoid impression that every day there were more of these buildings rather than less, and that in their totality they were a trace of a Prague that never existed, that was yet to come, some parallel dimension full of looped screaming sounds and analog synthesizers.

Also once my friend and I were in Prague and we watched 'Scanners', and after the movie was over I stood up, hit my head on the door frame, fell over, and then my phone rang, giving me the distinct impression that the TV tower was sending signals into my brain.

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