Optigan Conservatory: Human Money (self-released, 2020)

April 8, 2022 at 7:29 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Optigan Conservatory: Human Money

This very sporadic collaboration between Fred Thomas and Frank Rotondo has released material every so often, but I was unaware of it until Human Money came out earlier this year. From the start, it makes an impression with rambling pianos which get fed through tapes, setting them in different sonic directions before letting them deteriorate. “Mourning Disappointing” adds some guest vibraphone and guitar, adding some melodic interference but otherwise sounding still and captured. “Elegy for Work” is another mesmerizing piano-based piece, surrounding the sparse notes with glowing echo and reverse effects, and transporting you to a snowy mountain peak for seven minutes. “Hands Are Clean” has stalking, tattering drum machines and haunted, far-away melodies. “Fanfare for Failure” gets us into that reverb-lost Harold Budd/Cocteau Twins zone, but with the dials twisted so that things short circuit and fall out of balance. “Single Use” returns to the sound of pianos which seem to be having out-of-body experiences, if that’s possible for musical instruments.

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