Hand/Eye is pleased to announce the release of “The Transparent World” by the Minneapolis-based instrumental improv trio Barlow/Petersen/Wivinus. “The Transparent World” is effectively the group’s first proper release (aside from a live-to-cassette, self-titled CDR limited to 100 copies and released last year on Stick It To The Man/Asymmetry to good responses on both sides of the Atlantic), and contains ten tracks encompassing a wide range of mood, texture and instrumentation. Whereas their earlier disc explored the ether via electric guitars, feedback and the multitude of sounds that can be derived from a variety of effects pedals, “The Transparent World” finds the group working exclusively with acoustic instrumentation to achieve a sonic landscape that is at turns lush and austere, meditative and menacing. All tracks on the disc are improvised at their core and utilize a wide variety of instruments and techniques, creating many sounds not normally associated with “acoustic” recordings. Of course there are guitars (both six- and twelve-string), but often unusually tuned and occasionally bowed. Piano, dulcimer, mandolin (occasionally augmented by e-bow and slide) bowed cymbals, the Freeman Monostring (played with a ballpeen hammer) the “rattletrap,” bagpipe chanter and various other peripheral devices are all used to create a very singular and evocative whole.
Musically, the disc ranges across a wide variety of styles and influences, but still retains a unified vision and a cohesive sound. Any number of genres can be seen in fleeting glimpses throughout the recordings: menacing blues from the deepest edges of a swamp swimming with spirits and psychosis (as seen in the opening cut, “Buried Under Crows”), avant soundscapes conjuring images of a creaking old house with a will all its own and possible ill intent (the chillingly abrasive “That Night”), long and languid soundtracks toward the horizon at the end of a lengthy and perhaps lucid dream (as exemplified by the echoing piano-laden closing track, “Retribution”). This release rests somewhere between the experimental avant-garde, the darkest psychedelic folk music and the epic 360 degree horizons of pure drone/dream music. Fans of Third Ear Band, Makoto Kawabata’s “Inui” project, Six Organs of Admittance and select movie soundtracks will surely find something to appreciate here.
Rich Barlow is a prolific musician and acclaimed visual artist in the Minneapolis area. He has released several recordings (mostly under his own Stick It To The Man imprint) with his amazing Eno-influenced psychedelic pop group The Pins over most of the last decade to a good amount of critical acclaim. In addition to the Pins and B/P/W, he is half of the art/soundscape duo Molloy (also released by Stick It To The Man) and is actively involved in local fringe theater via his sound design/soundtrack work and his partnership in Flaneur Productions, whose efforts help bring much-needed exposure to the wealth of excellent experimental theater in the Minneapolis area.
Jesse Petersen is something of an institution in Minneapolis’ wide-ranging and sprawling avant garde scene, known for his jaw-dropping solo performances (as well as his involvement with the group Viaticum) which range from the quietly percussive to the most extreme redline noise imaginable. His extraordinary approach to the guitar and the sounds he manages to coax out of his instrument have caused many witnesses to simply stand and stare wide eyed and slack-jawed, earning him favorable comparisons to the likes of Derek Bailey, and Rudolph Grey. He has shared the stage with such groups as Sonic Youth and Kinski, and has also released a fantastic LP of guitar solos entitled “I Just Collided With A Tricky Shade Of Dark,” a united release between Jesse’s Asymmetry label and the well known underground labels SunShip and Freedom From.
Erik Wivinus is involved with several prominent Twin Cities psychedelic and Space Rock bands, notably Salamander and Gentle Tasaday (both of which have released several albums on the Australian label Camera Obscura to considerable critical acclaim in Italy, the UK, Belgium, Sweden, Japan, Brazil and the USA), as well as the heavy space rock group Skye Klad, whose high decibel sounds and visual onslaughts have garnered the group considerable notice both locally and internationally. Skye Klad is currently recording the followup to its debut CD from last year on Mutant Music, and their bombastic live reputation has led to opening slots for many prominent acts, including High Rise, Spectrum and The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Erik can also occasionally be seen sitting in on a live set with his friends in Stone Breath.