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Biota: Half a True Day

This work was developed over a 5 year period, weaving previously recorded parts with electronic reprocessing and contemporary studio performances working around, interpreting and adding to the pre-existing material. Biota's experimental visual and audio projects have been at the forefront of progressive and innovative musical ideas for over 2 decades, from their origins as the Mnemonists in 1980. Their musical travels have taken them into the realms of jazz, classical and folk music as well as being a leading exponent of modern musique concrete techniques. This particular collage is perhaps not one of their most interesting sonically, relying as it does on the repetition of particular sequences which are subjected to various physical and virtual embellishments.

Like other Biota projects, it has much colour to it, with a central role for the accordion as well as guitar and keyboard/electronics and percussion. Strings and flugelhorn beef up the acoustic side while a myriad of electronic processing (including a rare appearance on disk of a Clavioline, a forerunner of the synth) , some of it randomly generated, distorts and plays with the underlying framework. At times, the result is a chaotic, occasionally rambling, semblance of structure, exemplified by "Antimagnet", whilst at others the sounds will coagulate into a harmonised form with wispy ethereal sonic traces leading off into the void in a kind of dreamlike or psychedelic state. Occasionally, as in "Accidental Photograph", a simple acoustic guitar or accordion arrangement shines out. However there is no such thing a straight ahead 'song' on here, all parts of the work overlap and there is a constant shifting of textures, moods, motifs and instrumental mixes. There are a few delightful moments though such as the percussive stew of "Turn the Moon" which reminds me a little in the background of King Crimson's "Talking Drum" as it morphs into the following, vaguely apocalyptic pieces "Globemellow" and "Cloud chamber" with their discordant strings and doom-laden bass chords.

Some 17 contiguous tracks make up this 70 minute work which one must admit takes some listening to without losing the plot, particularly in the more minimalist electronic tracks such as "Winding Nth" or "Another name" or the long winded finale. The nicely designed CD booklet contains examples of some of the Mnemonists more remarkable pictorial work. Much as I admire Biota, overall I'm afraid I can't rate this a particularly moving listening experience.

Track Listing
1. Figure question
2. Pack and penny day
3. Hidden compartment
4. Angle of doubt
5. Proven within half half a true day
6. Accidental photograph
7. Winding Nth
8. Math across
9. Silent grove
10. Just now maybe
11. Another name
12. Turn the moon
13. Globemellow - left untold
14. Cloud Chamber
15. Where no-one knows
16. Antimagnet
17. Passerine

Added: March 4th 2008
Reviewer: Richard Barnes
Related Link: ReR USA
Hits: 1656
Language: english

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