Richard Pinhas - Reverse (Bureau B)

French electronic pioneer returns with beautiful, sprawling new set

Released Jan 27th, 2017 via Bureau B / By Erick Mertz
Richard Pinhas - Reverse (Bureau B) As an electronic composer and studio impresario, Richard Pinhas should rightly be counted as one of the world’s most ecstatic musical innovators.

Since the 1970’s Pinhas has spearheaded a brand of progressive rock (either as the head of proto-electro rock band Heldon, or in his solo costume) that have led some to call him a father figure in industrial rock, France’s version of Tangerine Dream. Pinhas’ catalog is absolutely massive, his collaborations too many to count and his new album, Reverse a curious departure that spirals down all too familiar roads.

On the current album, Pinhas is not as progressive rock oriented as his classic albums. This is a first side road. I do not feel the hands of Robert Fripp’s all over Reverse like they were most recently on 2010’s Metal Crystal. The discordant spastic and science fiction space grime metal that Japanese artist Merzbow contributed to 2008’s Keio Line, their first album together is absent as well. Yet, both of these influences have found their way onto Reverse’s four-track sequence, each titled some variation of “Dronz”.

It’s difficult to call the Dronz cycle a restrained collection of music, but ranging between seven and sixteen minutes in length, they are far shorter than Pinhas’ sprawling songs. On Metal Crystal, he draws his more traditionally structured guitar jams out to over twenty-eight minutes, songs like “Bi-Polarity (Gold)” and “Depression (Loukoum)” full of fat baselines and riffs that would make any jam band proud. On Reverse however, Pinhas has embraced where progressive rock and heavy metal meet naturally, in the exploration of drone that is far more atmospheric than it is song focused.

The first track, “Dronz 1 – Ketter” is diffuse from the outset, a lot of fractured lines ending in Gaussian convergences. On the second, “Dronz 2 – End” the percussion leads, a heavy bass drum groove underlying a delightfully dystopian warble and crash. To call Reverse “abstract” is fair, and that in the hands of an artist like Pinhas, becomes one of the selling points. The tightest track, “Dronz 3 – Nefesh” conforms to something like a rock song form, only splayed out at fourteen moments of rapidly disintegrating instrumentation. His anchor is his percussion, giving this song a really vital, live feel. It takes the art of album making almost beyond the studio recording.

Just like the best of Pinhas’ catalog, Reverse comes across as a bit of a self-referential Rorschach test. Whether you hear a sprawling heavy music experiment, anti rock statement or a disembodied album suite, it is a beautiful thing to behold.