Wind and Wire Magazine, 1997
This feature on the music of A Produce originally
appeared in the Crystal Lake publication (France), 1996|
(Translation from the original French by Thomas Ronkin)
The first thing that strikes one with A Produce's recent releases, is the packaging of his CDs! We find here a deliberate attempt to provide a different look to the discs, to place them is a cushiony crib that does not resemble the rest of the industrial output and in which the booklets explain, track by track, the origins of each song, their meanings and their differences when a same title is offered with different mixes.
But we don't listen to the booklets and, once the initial attraction is over, we must listen to the music. And there, we're not disappointed. Because, behind that unassuming pseudonym hides a character with a strong personality.
At first, one might be tempted to associate him with Harold Budd. But this comparison no longer holds true when one comes to the more rhythmic elements of his work or some parts that resemble so-called progressive music, especially with his latest release, Inscape and Landscape. One could also compare him to Robert Fripp due to the presence of long and fluid guitar riffs. But these recordings are more diversified than those of the Crimson King...
Perhaps then, there can be no comparison. Yes, there has to be one because A Produce yields a synthesis of many components found in new music, to which he adds his own specific signature with the result that, suddenly, his music, so filled with references, no longer resembles anyone else's.
A Smooth Surface (1994) is a 40 minute extended-play single CD. It contains a similarly-named track which immediately places it in the ambient movement in true meaning of the term, i.e., according to Brian Eno. This minimal composition lasting 25 minutes could have been done by Brian himself, and yet, by listening carefully, we realize that Eno never attained such a degree of simplicity. Deliberately so, because many things could have been added on to "A Smooth Surface" which seems somewhat barren, but therein may reside its charm, because it does not take the logic of ambient to its extreme, neither in the Eno nor in the Budd meaning, and retains an apparent minimalism which would have been easy not to respect, but where the intention of the music could have meandered or been lost...
The two other tracks of this CD offer different versions of titles featured on subsequent albums but, in this instance, mixes and treatments are very important and the variations create different pieces in each case. These two tracks are melodious and atmospheric and this CD is really a timeless success, wrapped in a splendid Sahara blue and gold box.
Land of a Thousand Trances (1994) is also packaged in luminous desert graphics... The music invites us on a voyage with a treated guitar intro a la Robert Fripp, but after that track, we settle into a soft and hypnotic trance illuminated with electronic sounds devoid of easy cliches. Ruben Garcia (incidentally a collaborator of Harold Budd) joins the fun and the beat invites us to an inner and physical whirling dance. With "Heart of the Dunes" the comparison to the Steve Roach of Structures from Silence is inevitable, but here the landscape is not as austere. Berlin-school sequences give a retro feeling to "The Dreaming Room" but long-stretched sounds save the track from the banality into which it could have become bogged. Reverb piano, bells or imaginary gongs float over the relentless bass of "The Wall of Dali" and "It Comes in Waves." Here, the sound is very personal.
White Sands (1995) is a compilation of tracks featured on previous albums and of remixes of Land of a Thousand Trances, giving us an opportunity to discover that A Produce issued The Clearing (1988), and Reflect Like a Mirror, Respond Like an Echo (1992) and that may be the first album to purchase to discover the many sides of this secretive character. We discover his taste for insistent "trances" ("Tunnels"), to which may be added progressive phrasing ("Owachomo"), for ambient music ("October 1st" and a remixed and shortened version of "A Smooth Surface" and a remix of "Heart of the Dunes"), for non-Western imports, such as gamelan timbres inspired by the Steve Reich of "Native Pulse," for melancholy and dark synths ("Dragon's Breath") or scintillating and glistening harps ("Opening"), for pianos or timbres close to the vibraphone in "Clear Pools", or simple melo- dies in "The Clearing." Unheard tracks and remixes live side-by- side, indifferently of their period of creation, and the trip is very agreeable.
Inscape and Landscape (1996) has a more modern sound in the digital meaning of the word. Giving up some of his personal originality for a new accessibility and various tonal discoveries, A Produce thickens his arrangements without making them complex and energizes this release (in which Robert Rich is involved) which is, furthermore, brighter. The CD is more homogeneous than the previous ones and its genesis probably explains why: it was completed over a shorter period of time. Flutish synthesizers tones have the lion's share ("Balkan Flute," Flutter Flute"...). Melodic patches are traversed with breath sounds and rainsticks, moroccan instruments or balinese timbres to resume the light "trance" of the previous albums ("First Glimpse," "The Hidden Observer")... As on Land of a Thousand Trances, the synthesizers take on strange names like "Wavestation Hassell Air," Fripp VS Room" or "Budd EP"... The intimate and expressive electric guitar of "The Golden Needle," played by Scott Fraser, is superb and the sounds that insinuate themselves throughout the meanderings of the compositions are, generally, very streamlined yet very present ("Choir of the Industry")... The CD ends with a long, minimalist piece, "Dwell 2", which organizes synthetic timbres of "infinite bells," drones, breaths and treatments for an excessively ambient and "immobile" piece which lacks somewhat in creativity.
A Produce find his place among artists who believe their role is to act as the intermediaries between the inner spaces that motivate human beings and the outer spaces, natural or invented which deserve to be described artistically. He offers to the listener contemplation and reflection and tries to act as the interface dealing with the contradictions of the world in which we live, a world where the observation of the exterior has a tendency to give way to the image that people are trying to give us of it and where the inner space certainly has great difficulty asserting itself in the hustle and bustle of daily life. For that reason, his music is neither revolutionary nor excessively experimental and yet it does include innovative components. It is neither aseptic, but it has a seductive side that is difficult to resist. In short, one could say that it this this the kind of music that brings progress because it wins you over without depriving you of your consciousness and capacity to reflect.
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