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Richard Pinhas and Barry Cleveland: Mu

Having been thoroughly flummoxed by the simultaneously released industrial space rock drone of Process And Reality by Richard Pinhas, Tatsuya Yoshida and Masami Akita, I have to admit to having approached Mu with a sense of trepidation. Then reading the detail behind where the album takes its name from of... 'one day a troubled monk approached Joshu, a renowned Chinese Zen master, intending to ask him for guidance. A dog walked by and the monk asked Joshu, "Has that dog a Buddha Nature or not?" The monk had barely completed his question when Joshu shouted: "Mu!"' alluding to the nothingness from which this album came, hardly set my jangling nerves at ease.

However even with the same main protagonist, this pair of albums couldn't be more different. This time Pinhas has teamed up with multi-instrumentalising guitarist Barry Cleveland and brought on board bassist extraordinaire Michael Manring and percussionist Celso Alberti. The fruits of their labours is a dreamier, if still hard hitting selection of avant-garde world music that is presented through lush instrumental pieces that constantly move and sway with atmospheric mystery. Based round the 25 minute-plus of "I Wish I Could Talk In Technicolor" but aided by the just under ten minute movements of "Forgotten Man" and "Zen/Unzen", there's a real sense of being ushered into another world where the air is thick with sound, as it constantly swirls around your head. Manring's roaming bass is key in setting the scene for much of what goes on, while the colourful stabs of percussive power ground everything in a manner you hadn't quite expected. However it's the ever moving notes and sounds from Pinhas and Cleveland that keep the motion constant and pulls in your attention in an almost hypnotic fashion. Not to be outdone the album's shortest piece, "Parting Waves", proves possibly more enigmatic, its mournful centre filled with a real sense of sorrow and loss, although that in truth is a feature throughout.

With the talent on show it's no surprise that Mu is a deep, involved journey and one that will take you to a variety of destinations. There's joy to be found, but be warned that most of the album's stop-offs are driven by a bleak heart, the intrigue to be found only available through a sense of regret and possibly even fear at what we've become. It's engaging nonetheless.

Track Listing
1. Forgotten Man
2. I Wish I Could Talk In Technicolor
3. Zen/Unzen
4. Parting Waves

Added: November 6th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Richard Pinhas online
Hits: 1719
Language: english

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