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Sinistri - Free Pulse

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Artist: Sinistri

Album: Free Pulse

Label: Hapna

Review date: Mar. 27, 2005

There can be no doubting that Sinistri have a readily identifiable sound, as did their previous incarnation, Starfuckers. In many circles, the performer/composer imprint is key, and Sinistri have their market cornered. Their approach seeks, as expressed verbally on their website, to be egoless; they create a music, using electric, acoustic and "electroacoustic" instruments, that draws on funk, jazz, blues and contemporary classical composition. Time and traditional temporality are eschewed in favor of non-meter, ceaselessly faltering brushstroke and distorto-plucked rhythm whose timbral familiarity threatens, at any moment, to rehash the familiar; only vague invocations ensue, made even more ambiguous by the introduction of alien whoops, gurgles and shrieks from the electroacoustic nether regions. This is a music that thrives on changeless change, an aural manifestation of Joyce's archetypal "thousand-and-one stories all told of the same."

So why did Free Pulse bore me to tears? Why did music that look so rhetorically and multifariously tasty on paper leave me absolutely cold? I see two reasons. First, because individuality and form are so important to good music. Where would all of Sinistri's musical fodder be without the dialectical struggle between "the artist" and the historical constructs and formal procedures that mould, constrain and eventually necessitate his/her creativity? Even music of a more collective nature – the 1970s electric Miles Davis, AMM, JOMF or Sunburned Hand of the Man at their best – pays homage to genre, transcending it rather than engaging in simple deconstruction. In the best of all genre-hopping worlds, new forms are still created out of pre-existing traditions.

This is the second and more damning reason for Sinistri's failure. Far from egoless, the music is too reliant on genre to allow itself to create anything new. Its scope is too narrow, and the boredom of reasonless predictability sets in with surprising speed. Three threads of sound, which never merge with anything approaching meaningful symbiosis, wend their pointless and directionless ways through each absolutely interchangeable track. If one sound gains momentary prominence – the eternally bent notes and distorted guitar chords, electroslobber or the drums brushed and tapped ad nauseam – it doesn't last long, and we're back to square one.

No, this is not at all egoless music, and it is symptomatic of what happens when relativity, deconstruction and reference are placed in higher regard than the sadly outdated and outmoded notions of innovation, evolution and progress.

By Marc Medwin

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