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Monday, 23 August 2010

Burning Star Core - 'Operator Dead, Post Abandoned' (No Quarter)

It's another big statement, a la Very Heart of the World or Challenger, except miniscule in it's CD format. A shame too, cause these are the huge sprawling sounds of a band, which by definition makes things somewhat less calculated than Yeh's intensely-focused collage solos. It's the massive thunderous group sound, perhaps the definitive recording of the Yeh/Tremaine/Beatty/Shiflet quartet that was most active around 2005-2006 (when this was recorded). Tremaine is the reason this record pulses so hard, and Burning Star Core has curiously chosen to stack the thick cards at the front of the deck. 'When the Tripods Came' maximises the swing elegance, a tip of the hat to swampy early 70s fusion records but fractured through the electro/flourescence of mid-00s murk. Because of this rhythm, everything breathes though it's all gelling together. Yeh's violin and the electronics of Beatty and Shiflet occasionally take punches at each other, but it billows into a grand breath more often than not. The title track comes second, another quarter-hour-plus, and it maintains a military snare rocket rail throughout. It rages and storms, but instead of petering out, it transforms, seamlessly, into the shimmer-shoegaze of 'Me & My Arrow' (not the Harry Nilsson tune). This is one of Burning Star Core's most transcendentally beautiful tracks, particularly because it doesn't play things safe. There's a backwards, retarded bumping that sucks out the bassline role from the inside-out, and trap drums are audibly present but more like gestures and afterthoughts. This could be total bliss-out but there's always that sense of unease and danger there - a delicate tension that makes this such a perfect short track (7 and a half minutes, only short in comparison to the first 35 minutes, I know). It ends on a tape splice, or whatever our digital equivalent is, and then a moment to breathe, reflect, pause - but then suddenly 'The Emergency Networks are Taking Over', based around an ascending modal loop, with thick string pads, and a floundering rhythmic logic. It builds to an erupting conclusion, which is a coda of its own on a track that is already a coda. And then another tape splice, or maybe it's just aural abandonment. Operator Dead, Post Abandoned is a demanding listen in a discography of demanding listens, though it's fluid enough - it's just the relentless energy and thickness of space that makes it such.

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