Monday, April 16, 2018

Allen Ravenstine's "Waiting for the Bomb"

Present at the creation of abrasive experimental rockers Pere Ubu, synthesizer whiz Allen Ravenstine spent 15 years and change with the band and related outfits (Red Krayola, David Thomas' Wooden Birds) before stepping out in the early '90s to take off on a career as an airline pilot. He was pulled back into music after performing with current Ubu synthesist Robert Wheeler during the filming of the 2014 documentary I Dream of Wires. Two collaborative CDs with Wheeler (Farm Report and City Desk, both released in 2013 by Blue Jet Corporation) were followed by a solo CD, The Pharaoh's Bee, released in 2015 on former Henry Cow/Ubu drummer Chris Cutler's Recommended Records label. Now, ReR plans to release Ravenstine's latest album, Waiting for the Bomb, in LP, CD, and digital formats on June 29.

Ravenstine cut basic tracks for Waiting for the Bomb using a Moog Theremini, Doepfler Dark Energy Korg MS 20, Rare Waves Grendel Grenadier drone synth, and a home computer, then had a piano-bass (doubling on trumpet)-drums trio overdub their traditional instrument sounds onto the soundscapes he'd created. The resultant 18 tracks seamlessly integrate the electronic and acoustic textures in a mind-movie soundtrack that includes ghostly ambience, classical orchestration, East Indian pop, and straight-ahead jazz, among other flavors. But is the movie sci-fi or noir? The answer, of course, is "Yes." The title alludes to the pervasive sense of dread Cold War babies experienced growing up, which has perhaps been replaced by something worse. (Does anybody else miss the illusion that the people calling the shots were rational actors?) Most evocative track (to these feedback-scorched ears) is the sustained foreboding of "Out Late." Fasten your seatbelts; Captain Ravenstine is in control...


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