Dusted Reviews

Dax Pierson & Robert Horton - Pablo Feldman Sun Riley

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Dax Pierson & Robert Horton

Album: Pablo Feldman Sun Riley

Label: AA / Nosordo

Review date: Mar. 9, 2007

The title alone is a pretty epic name-drop, considering the scenes that Dax Pierson and Robert Horton run in - the former, a member of Oakland’s anticon collective and keyboardist for Subtle and 13&God; the latter, a prolific Bay Area punk-turned-dronemaster. Paying homage to Morton Feldman, Pablo Augustus, Sun Ra and Terry Riley involves a lot more, of course, than attempting to rep the salient features of each composer. Ultimately, the album is a successful play-through because Pierson and Horton avoid the twin hazards of over-literalism and biographical naturalism. It’s fair to say that Pablo Feldman Sun Riley is a sort of pre-emptive strike against the canonization and codification of those composers. In their attempt to locate the potent strangeness of even the most familiar aspects of these avant-garde avatars’ music, Horton and Pierson remind us that these composers remain a lot more mercurial than we take them to be.

In keeping with Sun Ra’s dictum, the album traffics not in volume but in space. Album opener “Winterlong” sets the pace for the album. Evolving at a deliberate, aquatic whirr, it consists, like most of Pablo Feldman Sun Riley, primarily of Horton building up a dense, silty drone whose serene, fierce momentum is offset by reedy strokes from Pierson’s melodica.

The aural focus on drone color and the linear quality of the melodica make sense considering the project’s genesis: Horton was selling albums by Pablo and Feldman at Berkeley’s Amoeba records, and he and Pierson struck up a conversation. Riley and Sun Ra, according to the press release, crept in during the recording sessions, less as an overt point of reference than as a spectral presence. Though the album draws on a substantial array of instrumentation and some heavy-duty collaborators to call up these ghosts (Subtle lends their remix skills to “Spring Drive Along the Boundaries of Nothingness” while Alexander Court provides cello and Lon Huber throws down gut-rumbling vox on several tracks), the basic sonic template of the album is consistent throughout. Recorded between 2001 and 2005, it has a remarkably firm texture, with nothing feeling extraneous or laden with too many effects.

Yet, despite and perhaps because of the sense of purpose it manifests, the album can sometimes feel hermetically sealed, like a conversation between two of your buddies that’s happening across your face. “Spring Drive” is probably the album’s strongest if least characteristic track. The voices that stutter and hiccup across the track’s pocked surface feel refreshingly like the moment in the reading group when the people that haven’t done their reading start to chime in.

In the final analysis, the album’s inward intensity is a greater asset than flaw. There’s nothing seminal about this collaboration, and that’s exactly how I imagine the four subjects would have wanted it.

By Brandon Bussolini

Read More

View all articles by Brandon Bussolini

Find out more about AA / Nosordo

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.