Starving Weirdos – B/P/M Series 1 (Vinyl)
Starving Weirdos are a collective that I keep reading about, and seeing on live line-ups that I can’t quite manage to get to. Recently I received an album via the ever-prolific Blackest Rainbow label. The duo of Brian Pyle and Merrick McKinlay have taken a side of vinyl each to rework the playing of pianist Darius Brottman. Long avant-garde piano solos are reworked in weird and wonderful ways that surprised and inspired my ears. The prepared piano is replaced with a post-production feel that remains fresh, even in its existence as a delayed response.
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Pyle takes side A and begins with spacious notes, which gong and drift with slight reverb. All sounds very live and resonant. There is an avant approach, that has thunderous and percussive tones at its heart, as an angular Cage dance piece has. The brooding atmosphere is quite exquisite, alluring and devilish in its seductive discomfort. The minimal approach is delivered with exquisite control, often drifting into minute details that transcend the microcosmic elements. The low notes resonate like a macabre Schoenberg miniature. The repetition has gradual subtleties that twist to an eerie march feeling like a hammer horror passage of peril. Growing tones reverberate over sharps and flats and odd melodies that twist probing sonics like unwanted fingers. Beyond halfway things enter a pulsing tranquillity of beautifully deep, low notes. Elongated tones run in electric streams beneath the gonging keys. A simple melody glistens with mourning breath, as tonal interplay weaves a delicate thread through lighter sounds that are spun off course with clumsy, heavy chords. A final lightness persists in starry lightness that twinkles beyond droning darkness.
McKinlay’s side is a striking off-key avant piano piece that has a forceful chord sequence accompanied by processed trickles of high-keyed notes that oscillate in and out of view. Fast scaling feels like a tormented Debussy reworking of his Etudes shorts. Some alien electronics filter in and out of view in warped contrast to the aforementioned piano solo. These then gather familiar shapes that deliver mid-range keys. The piano comes to the fore in a gallop of jovial energy, only to drift into Pluto-sized fragments. Suddenly light keys and electric waves ricochet in planes that never quite touch. There is a bizarre quantum effect that sits uncomfortably within its own space. The outcome of this is truly spellbinding and a thoroughly awesome listen. Heavy drones plume over distant, blistered piano, that rings like an old telephone amongst a power station din. The quick fingered keys play like locusts over hollering drones, both eerie and horror soundtrackesque in execution. Finally things quiet right down to minimal tones, blips, noises and the odd live piano passage. All ends to reveal a beautiful melody that is as mad as it is sweet. Subtle interference suggests McKinlay’s presence until all drifts to fractured silence. 8/10