Music Reviews

Artist: Grindlestone (@)
Title: tone
Format: CD
Label: Noh Poetry Records (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
Grindlestone is a collaborative project between Douglas Erickson and Don Falcone. You may recall the name Don Falcone from the old San Francisco Silent Records label, and his involvement in projects such as Thessalonians and Spice Barons, and his solo project, Spaceship Eyes. Don heads a space-rock collective called Spirits Burning which has been around about a decade and includes such luminaries as Gong's Daevid Allen and members of Hawkwind. Erickson has attended Robert Fripp's Guitarcraft workshops, performed with a couple of California Guitar circles, and also Spaceship Eyes and Spirits Burning.

The music on 'tone' is kind of an ambient-electronic soundscape punctuated with bits of noise and sequenced noise, LFO manipulations, etc.. There are 9 tracks but although there is space between them they seem to flow together into a complete work or soundscape. Not to say that there isn't variation from track-to-track (there most certainly is), but there is an unworldly similarity throughout. Actually, a good deal of 'tone' is downright spooky, eerie, and sounds as if it could have been made by ghosts. In spite of Doug Erickson's guitar background, I didn't hear anything that resembled normal guitar. (If he is playing any, it's been processed out of recognition, maybe Frippertronically so.) There is not much in the way of rhythmic elements, keeping the music in the cosmic ambient realm. I suppose you could consider much of it dark too, although dark ambient seems to imply a certain malevolence which is not present throughout. While not entirely minimal, much of the album is based on drone tones and dronish soundscapes but there are elements introduced throughout the various pieces that remove it from the realm of minimalism. Some of the ambiences could even be considered 'Enoesque'. While much of the album is placid to some degree (at least not violent) there are exceptions such as the rumbling eruption that begins 'The Niche It Carves' where it sounds like some huge spaceship has just invaded the galaxy as if it was piloted by Lustmord.

Interestingly enough, this album was mastered by Robert Rich, a name you should be very familiar with. Overall, 'tone' is great stuff for enthusiasts of cosmic and dark ambience, and beatless space music.

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