Saturday, February 7, 2009

Thighpaulsandra - Chamber Music (2005)

Having had the distinct pleasure of seeing him perform live, I think I can safely say that Thighpaulsandra is the 21st century's answer to Sun Ra. Dressed in costumes so crazy that I doubt even people from Saturn would wear them, and employing a vast array of vintage synthesizers, it was a performance I'll not soon forget.

Thighpaulsandra rose to prominence as a member of Coil in that band's later years, and having heard his solo work, it's easy to hear his contributions to most of their later releases.

The music on this release sounds improvised, eschewing to a large extent any traditional notions of melody, harmony, or structure, but in reality it was painstakingly composed and rehearsed. While the instrumentation is primarily synth oriented, there are a few odds and ends such as xylophone and French horn that creep in from time to time, as well as some somber recitations in the artist's distinctive Welsh voice.

Since there are no melodic or rhythmic motifs to grab on to, the listener is forced to focus on sound for it's own sake, and the sounds Thighpaulsandra gets out of his synth can only be described with one word: weird. Sometimes one can detect similarities to early Tangerine Dream (though without the space rock vibe), but for the most part this music inhabits a world all its own. Over the course of four lengthy tracks, "Chamber Music" traverses a variety of musical terrain from manic to pastoral, giving the disc as a whole a nice flow and a satisfying conclusion.

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