Thursday, March 12, 2009
Chris Riggs - Dead in Michigan (Pizza Night CS)
Just got another batch in from Chris Riggs, half of Trauma and all of Holy Cheever Church--this time Chris is getting some attention via super good dude Sam Goldberg's Pizza Night label, which has been cranking out some beasts lately. This number sees Chris cutting down on the angles for a more oblique run through some desolated string landscapes and fried overtone zones.
The tape opens with what sounds like some bowed geetar, which hums and splays apart in a warm machination that more closely resembles some Alvin Lucier experiment than any typical guitar destruction. With the sproings of heating coils on top, the result is borderline avant-garde classicist--think LaMonte, Stockhausen, Cardew, or any of those fools--but it lacks the mass and overt sense of self-importance that those guys eminated. Keeping things this personal is to Chris' advantage, which isn't to say that the guy's not capable of producing an orchestra's worth of sound anyway. Whole scraping washes shift atop on another in a closely monitored but totally free atmosphere. Willing to stick with his approaches allows for Riggs to really explore each facet of his axe, and the textures he gets are like few guitarists I know. Sounds more like he's dragging a metal comb across the inside of an exhaust pipe with lysergic acid to aid the ride. Eventually it all disintegrates into idling motorcycle
The second side keeps the motorcycle effect but hastens it a bit, like the engine's about to turn over but can't. Almost sounds like some slowed down Motorhead bass line without anything else. Just the scratching of the pick and the rumble of the string. This sort of dissection is, again, where Riggs is served best by his patience. Allowing these snippets to unfold into their own sound worlds creates a feel like few others, and when the twangs of rubber band bounces enter, there is a momentum and energy present that's pretty tough to decipher but damn well undeniable. Like some computer synth just joined the mix, only it's clearly all done with physical strings bending and splaying against who knows what effects. Riggs demonstrates some real control without letting the work become controlled. Just wily stuff that is wholly singular and totally transfixing. Props to Sam too on the fold out cover art. The dead bird and inside set of black and white children's pictures sums up perfectly the numb play exhibited here. Awesome as usual from both parties.