Barry Cleveland. Hmmmm. I remember him from Larry Fast's old Audion label. Wasn't too impressed. Didn't he issue Mythos with the Emerald Web Goo Duo? He did. Kinda hinky, that, though not terribly bad. But wait a minute, Michael Manring's now playing bass with him? Whoa! That alone speaks volumes. And the disc's on MoonJune? Yeah, it is. Well, well, well, what have we here?
Hologramatron is far and away Cleveland's best gig, galaxies removed from the old days, much more in line with what David Cross (King Crimson) and John Paul Jones (Led Zepellin) have been doing in their solo gigs. Manring's on every cut save one, Robert Powell (not Utopia's Roger Powell, different cat) lays in a pedal steel that Peter Gabriel and Jackson Browne found such favor in, grabbing the guy on various releases, and who's this slinky hellcat Amy X. Neuberg? More, every sessioneer on the disc has an authority and misty crackle that makes a large portion of the oft doom-laden disc warp and dance with threnodic wistfulness. Layers and layers of ominous energies float and coruscate, wilding lines flit and glow, the entire affair brings back the halcyon era of Vitamin L and Mary Jane, nights given to opium dreams and cloudtripping. Cut right away to You'll Just Have to See it to Believe, dive into the swirling patterns and wormholes, and you'll find it hard not to replay the cut 10 times in a row.
Then there's the insistent bloodthump of Lake of Fire and Ms. Neuburg's snarling, sneering, scornful spitting of imprecations against the hell culture of this world, the predation of religions and politics. She encants an ode to cynicism and misanthropy that does this anarchist critic's cold stone heart more than a dollop of delight, Cleveland Fripping up right behind her to buzzline the atmosphere into another ring of Leviathan's lair. Further on, Artist General injects a chaotic Robert Calvert / Peter Hammill / Mick Farren vibe into the cauldron, abstracting essences into anti-corporate disrhythmia, walls falling, lasers slicing through matter and anti-matter.
Then Telstar rises—yep, the old 60s hit—and pastes a bit of Nash the Slash astride the juggernaut milieu, a hint of Henry Kaiser invading the veering, slurring, wobbling atmosphere. A good deal of what you'll think are keyboards on Hologramatron…aren't. Like Fareed Haque & Garaj Mahal (here), Cleveland's been employing the new Moog Guitar, not to mention the exotic GuitarViol, and painting in attackless drones and washes. Carl Weingarten was particularly adept in this mode, and Barry's picked it up rather nicely as well. A lot of people are going to be very happy with this CD, but there's one small aside: a singer Cleveland ain't. You'll see what I mean in Suicide Train.
The promo lit says this is avant-rock. It ain't, else the taint of Laurie Anderson, God help us, would be hovering somewhere over the horizon. Hologramatron is prog, and it's a thick, viscous, sidereal, and even funky slice of it, something very much needed as the mode struggles in a senescence that has been threatening to silence one of the most intelligent modes of music this drear planet has ever seen.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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