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Burning Star Core - Mes Soldats Stupides 1996-2004

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Artist: Burning Star Core

Album: Mes Soldats Stupides 1996-2004

Label: Cenotaph

Review date: Jan. 3, 2006

Burning Star Core and the wizard behind its curtain, Cincinnati’s C. Spencer Yeh, are names appearing with increasing frequency on the pages of journals serving those in search of fresh psychedelic shapes. Desperate to elevate a chosen one above the endless hoards of anonymous cloaked noiseniks, they think they may have found their man. Yeh possesses enough talent to ride out the inevitable backlash against noise’s ‘everything but the kitchen sink through a delay’ brigade. Too diverse and individualistic to stagnate, even when approaching well trodden ground, Burning Star Core is also too smart to be next in a long line of novelty raspberry blowers.

Mes Soldats Stupides 1996-2004 collates tracks from the raft of out-of-print cassettes, CD-Rs and CDs released (many on his own Drone Disco imprint) during a decade of exploration along the fringes and intersections of rock, improv and noise. It begins with “I Wanna Make A Supersonic Woman Of You,” a series of white light transmissions to the sky, a synth-driven broadcast to life out there. After this smooth take off, things get a little more mangled but, for the most part, without total abandonment to the inaccessible dirge. While “White Swords in a Black Castle” appears to be a relentless monolith of brutal shredding, interred beneath, in the shallowest of graves, is a melody worthy of Christian Fennesz. Not all tracks on disc one work as well. “BxC LA” gets too heavily bogged down in its atonal quagmire of grime. Not even the emergence of a couple of ogres playing ping-pong is enough to prevent it from outstaying its welcome. But overall this first disc displays more consistency than its partner and more closely approximates BSC’s current sound.

While the second disc suffers from greater inconsistency and even the odd foray into the ludicrous (vocal workout “Live at Gameboy Compound” sounds like the blathering of a stray dog), some of the collections finest moments appear here. Yeh is principally known as a violist and it is when his Conrad-esque string flurries move to the fore, as on “Live In Oxford4.06.02” and a rehearsal excerpt from 2002, that the quality shifts up a gear or two. But it is 1998’s violin-less “Unfinished Guitar Solo” that is the finest cut. Commencing with an atypically restrained piano refrain, the tranquillity quickly becomes absorbed in an avalanche of white noise filth, the savage onslaught finally subsides and the piano continues to make itself heard, but seemingly bruised and battered by what has gone on before.

Clocking in at two and a half hours Mes Soldats Stupides 1996-2004 may seem a little overwhelming for the BSC virgin. My advice, select your favorite hour of material, burnt it up on your own CD-R and head for the heart of the sun.

By Spencer Grady

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