There's a new progressive art form still a-birthing and, for lack of a more comprehensive quill-point, it's been tentatively dubbed 'art damage' music, a sobriquet that tickles the fancy. Creedle's Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars may well have been a prototype, though the entire movement was influenced by Zappa, who was influenced by Varese. Somewhere in that vicinity, we find the subtle key to everything. While Fantomas and Mike Kenneally have been two of the foremost proponents and practitioners, the mode is a sub-genre undefined, and perhaps the strongest map to its foundation can be found in Marco Oppedisano's Mechanical Uprising, which locates the touchstone in musique concrete, a form a few critics, myself among them, suggest could be a good deal more fully explored—as Oppedisano has done—in order to determine why the struggling 'damage' branch has suffered as it has, and how and why the compositional elements have historically articulated themselves. Take into account the fact that Oppedisano studied under Charles Dodge and has tackled the work of Branca and Didkovsky, and a rather unique perspective develops.
At first, Uprising has strong affinities to John Wiggins' old and forgotten works during the DIY heyday of the 80s. Wiggins was an HBO sound engineer and clearly understood the value of definition, tone, and timbre in all he did, vastly more in line with the concrete vein than anything else. This understanding came via such masters as Morton Subotnick and the epochal Wild Bull, which Oppedisano is also more than familiar with. He, though, is no Wiggins but rather a well trained highly skilled guitarist and composer whose reach embraces not just the aforementioned Varese and Subotnick but also Cage, Crumb, Wuorinen, and the sadly forgotten register of Nonesuch avant-electro pioneers, gents and works still very much cherished by the knowing few.
The lion's share of voicing in Uprising lays in six and four strings, but processors, sampling, and the human voice are also included. Occasionally, gestures to recognizable forms, as in The Gatekeeper, not to mention generous sections of shred, are employed in order to dismantle them, fodder for the all-consuming incidentalist, clockwork, schizophrenic, nervous, and atmospheric milieux. Thus, where the forebears tended to exclude jazz, rock, and other modes, Marco ushers them back in, appetizer to soup to entree to nuts…and I do mean berserk, as more than a little of this will take your head off before heading into dark eerie waters and lonely spatial byways.
Thus, Mechanical Uprising is an important work, a singularity, and a tool through which others may come to understand the architecture of such musics more fully, as elusive and abstract as that process will be. On the other hand, if you're gonzo for brain-shattering sounds, hoo-boy, is this ever the ticket! Sit back, Herodatus, and let the cerebral wetworks melt out of your ears and into a blissful smile because this disc is a monster that will Godzilla every inch of crenellated grey matter 'neath follicle, scalp, and cranium. And when it's done, and your CD player's cooling off amid smoke and flames, you might want to saunter over to grab a dish of dessert: Oppedisano's collaboration with David Myers in Tesla at Coney Island (here), a far more sedate venture that nonetheless intrigues the ear. Lastly, should you wish to test the quality of the materials first, check out: http://www.marcooppedisano.bandcamp.com and http://www.davidleemyersmarcooppedisano.bandcamp.com.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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