For whatever reason, the title to Aurelio Valle's debut solo CD, Acme Power Transmission, grinningly cross-indexed me to Wile E. Coyote and his perennial Acme Corp. doo-dads in those old Road Runner cartoons, here butted up alongside one of my fave Dark Wave bands, Terminal Power Company. As Bruised and Diffused opened, I knew I wasn't all that far off the mark. Nowhere near as dark and metallic as John Roome and Paul Aspel's TPC, the melancholy baseline is nonetheless in Acme, sieved through Talk Talk's 4AD-esque end of days: their Spirit of Eden period, where Mark Hollis and the band relinquished gloriously wrought dance days to jump off the cliff into a floating but laconic utopia. Where TPC was a duo, though, Valle tackles everything by himself and took five years to figure not only how to play drums and other instruments but also what not to play, an element oft lacking in so many bands who don't know when to stop.
This means the CD's stripped down, matrixed in a set of atmospherics as much Cold Wave and Gothic as rhythmic, techno-esque, or prog-mello…so what do we make of things when horns suddenly peal out in Superhawk? And then the grandeur of piano and synth mindful of Mike Pinder in Centuries? How about when Cowboy builds and almost tears your heart out in a swoony regret soon overtaken by its own inflowing glitchtronic static? Well, take into account that Aurelio headed the Factory Press and CALLA bands and has scored a few movies, and the story starts to unfold, but there are a few problems as well.
Acme is one of those discs oscillating hugely between heartstopping grandeur and sketchy outlines amid insufficient timbre, influenced by a welter of modern and classical modes but not always playing them against each other as complementarily as should be the case. At times, Valle's discretion in not going too far made him stop a tad too short, and the differentiation tends to be noticeable. What Acme really tells me is that the musician is standing on the precipice of his magnum statement…but isn't quite there yet, kinda like what Bill Nelson was doing on all that Cocteau label stuff that baffled Be-Bop Deluxe fans, pissed off progrockers, and delighted adherents of fragmented modes. What you'll find in this disc depends on how much you want of each aspect. It wouldn't hurt, either, if Aurelio worked on the vocals a bit more: sometimes they're Duncan Browne perfect, other times too wimpy.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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