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Licensing Music on The Sonic Frontier

Richard Pinhas & Yoshida Tatsuya - (France/Japan)

Forget The Kills and The Black Keys, if you’re looking for a rock duo with a sound as big as the cosmos, try guitarist Richard Pinhas and drummer Yoshida Tatsuya. The revered bad-grandads of the French and Japanese experimental scenes have discographies stretching back decades, but Welcome In The Void is their first joint venture. A broiling mix of space-rock, electronic-rock and progressive-rock with a splash of noise, it shatters all expectations. With just two looped guitars, a drum kit and electronics, the duo create a soundscape of both galactic proportion and infinite detail, its immensity humanized by Pinhas' filigreed, often melody-driven playing. If you could hear the images captured by the Hubble telescope, they might sound like this. Think Wagner to the power of ten with a beat. Or Hawkwind with nuance.

Now entering his fifth decade as a recording artist, Pinhas’ career has been one of unbroken risk-taking and innovation. After a couple of 1972 singles under the name Schizo, he formed the pioneering electronic-rock group Heldon, with whom he recorded seven albums from 1974 – 1979, along with another five under his own name or with other line-ups. Most musicians tend to move away from the margins as they get older, but Pinhas – who as a student at the Sorbonne was on the Paris barricades in May 1968, and whose first album with Heldon was titled Electronique Guerilla - edges ever closer. He has recently found stimulus in post-industrial music and has collaborated memorably with such noise auteurs as Japan’s Masami Akita a.k.a. Merzbow and Keiji Heino, and the Detroit, Michigan trio Wolf Eyes.

Pinhas has a devoted following in Japan; his Heldon and solo music have been released in Japanese boxed sets, and he’s toured that country several times in the past decade, playing with many of its best-known experimental musicians. Ten years Pinhas’ junior, Tatsuya has been a beacon on Japan’s experimental- and progressive-rock scenes since the early 1980s, with groups including Ruins, Koenji Hyakkei, Korekyojinn, Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O., Zeni Geva, Samla Mammas Manna and Painkiller. With accuracy, he has been called “the undisputed master drummer of the Japanese underground.” Tatsuya and Pinhas met on one of Pinhas’ first Japanese tours; after playing in a support band and joining Pinhas for an encore, Tatsuya and Pinhas made plans over dinner for future projects.

Teaming up for their first duo studio recording, Pinhas and Tatsuya push each others' creative limits to make something that even for the experimental master Pinhas, is a new experience: a single, 64-minute, all-instrumental track consisting solely of guitar, percussion and electronics. The spontaneity, intensity, and sheer force of the music created by the duo is a marvel.

Welcome In the Void is the second album of the ‘Devolution Trilogy’, which started with Desolation Row [Cuneiform 2013],” says Pinhas. “It is about the historical-political effect of machines and neo-liberalism, and their attempts to put people back into slavery. It is a cry to revolt against slavery. The trilogy is concerned with the devolution of mankind, of civilization, capitalism's devolution, and mainly the devolution of human/biological faculties – and how all this is related to the rise of machines.” Asked about the album’s title, Pinhas says that Welcome In the Void refers to "a kind of journey, not more into the being but into the Void - the nothingness that is now the "center" or the absence-of-center of our societies."

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