It is music that features two guitarists from the realms of Heldon and Lard Free’s Richard Pinhas and San Francisco/Bay Area guitarist Barry Cleveland. Now for me, I’m very new to their music. I’m also new to Pinhas’ music when I heard some of his music with Lard Free 11 years ago when my Mom got me the OOP (Out of Print) 4-CD box set released on the Rhino label entitled, Supernatural Fairy Tales: The Progressive Rock Era with a snarling and Jazz-Avant-Rock territory of Warinobaril. Cut to 2014 when I bought on Wayside Music, his collaboration with Australian multi-instrumentalist Oren Ambarchi entitled, Tikkun. And then I almost forgot about Pinhas.
Until now. Both he and Cleveland had performed together for several years in 2013 when Pinhas was doing his North American tour and played at some of the Bay Area shows with Barry. The two of them invited other musicians including Bass innovator Michael Manring and Brazilian drummer, Celso Alberti. And the four of them created a recording session that lasted four hours entitled on the Cuneiform label, Mu.
Now the word Mu is a Japanese word which means “nothingness”, but it is also the response of Zen’s most famous Koan, gesturing speaking of a deeper truth than rationalizing dualistic thinking that can obtain with a creative mindset. The album itself is a crossover between the genres of; Ambient, Jazz, World Music, Experimental, and Electronic. And they have created with not only the musical improve, but with pure form.
The dark opening of Forgotten Man begins with a swirling mysterious synthesized introduction. With multiple rhythmic textures and Cleveland’s programmed percussions, it feels very much like a Sci-Fi Film Noir as you can imagine of what the gentleman himself will think of his next suspicious move. There is the tension in the rhythm of the music, but also elements between Peter Gabriel and Tangerine Dream’s score to the films of Martin Scorsese’s 1986 controversial classic, The Last Temptation of Christ and William Friedkin’s 1977 film, Sorcerer.
I Wish I Could Talk In Technicolor is a 26-minute suite that takes the listener to these exotic locations as Manrig’s bass is taking you to those locations through his improvisations on the journey you are embarking. It then moves into a midsection with a trippy effect of the electronic background thanks to Alberti’s drum kit before heading back into space.
Cleveland’s shrieking effects of the bowing guitar and Pinhas nightmarish droning shows some reminiscing’s Brian Eno collaboration of the Berlin trilogy with Bowie and bits of Here Come the Warm Jets-era that comes to mind with some of the looping effects. Zen/Unzen sees Richard himself channeling the styles of the Frippertronics with a sonic-spacey craftsmanship as he takes the listener towards to the Abyss.
And then both Manrig and Alberti appear for an outstanding off-the-wall groove as more improvisations and mind-blowing drum work sees the four of them delve into a Space Jazz Rock adventure with a fusion global atmosphere. The closing track, Parting Waves is a somber finale. Here I can feel the vibrations of Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell-era with E-Bow Bass, 12-string guitar layers. And then ending with the sounds of waves, spoken dialogue, and gulls crying out in the background.
Pinhas, Cleveland, Manrig, and Alberti are a perfect collaboration when it to taking a spiritual voyage with Mu. With the electronics and experimental genre followed by Jazz and World Music, I hope that Barry and Richard can continue to do more in the near future for more adventures into the passages of time. If you love bands/artists like David Bowie, Stanley Clarke, Tangerine Dream, and Brian Eno, then dive into the voyages of Mu.