Receptor Sight - Undogmamind

Year of Release: 2002
Label: self-released
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:01:00

It's been a while since I indulged my taste for ambient, atmospheric musics - a la Tangerine Dream, Steve Roach, Robert Rich, etc., etc. And so, when I first heard the debut from Receptor Sight, I was pleasantly surprised (I had not yet read the bio that accompanied the disc), since so much of what I've playing these days has ranged from progressive rock to progressive metal. If done right, music like this enfolds you in its embrace and carries you along on a journey that is both calm and turbulent, dark and light, lulling and energizing. And that this Northern Californian duo uses no synthesizers or computers to create the music, is actually quite a bit different from where those artists are today. In the bio, the brothers Roffeld - Greg and Steve - note that on this release they play everything from "salad bowls, Tibetan bells, tape machines and controlled feedback to [?] drums, percussion and guitar?" Steve goes on to write in the bio/press sheet, "All sounds are slammed onto analog tape with free-form experimentation and no rules. Then everything is mixed spontaneously, as if the mix itself was a song."

Each piece on Undogmamind moves through several movements, such that trying to say any one piece is this or that is futile. For every section with mid-tempo percussion, there's another where it's almost frenetic - though not in a metal sense. The music shifts from atmospheric to what we might call tribal, which is just an imprecise way of suggesting warm, rhythmic percussion made not only on analog drums, but more than likely by human hands slapping against the tightly drawn skin. And saying tribal, well, does one mean Native American? African? The clansmen of Scotland, perhaps? Or should we just use the "cop out" of "ethnic"? Or "third world." If anything, Receptor's Sight music is a mix of both (sorry, no Celtic here). I've mentioned Steve Roach and Robert Rich above, but along another track, we can also mention Djam Karet, especially where the first track "Levitation" is concerned. "Levitation" starts the album off and reminds me in an abstract way of Djam Karet. Silvery, jangly percussion, deep bass, and ringing guitar are at the forefront enjoying a mid-tempo, almost hypnotic rhythm of the drums. Though, like a Djam Karet piece, that only describes part of it. There is a section at about the 11-minute mark has a feel of "instrumentalists waiting for something to happen or some guidance," they're noodling about waiting for the last of their number to get his/her act together so they can play. Of course, then the bassist shows his irritation by plucking deep, angry notes - like a fist slamming into a palm. By fifteen minutes in, the band slowly start up again. At 17 minutes in, percussion picks up the pace while (possibly) a didgeridoo moans mournfully.

The percussion that opens "Alobar's Journey" reminds me of that brief bit that opens Blondie's "Heart Of Glass," which, interestingly enough, describes the sound itself - as if one is drumming on glass. Within short order, we can hear where Alobar's journey has been - Australia, India and the Middle East, the forests and jungles where peoples unspoiled by the modern world still reside, maybe even into the "heart of darkness" itself (oh, just a thought that came to mind at one point, a flash of a boat floating up a river, jungle either side, danger lurking from the shores - yes, I know that's a scene from Apocalypse Now (and, more or less, Conrad's Heart Of Darkness).

"Collapse Of The Wave Function" begins like that little bit at the end of "Penny Lane" where, out of howling tones and frenetic percussion you hear "cranberry sauce" (or "I buried Paul," for you conspiracy theorists). Only, take that moment, before the voice appears and stretch it out and apply a little contrast. A few minutes later, it is almost like the silence of night, were you can hear the distant drone of noise (the blood in your ears, maybe) but nothing's distinct (or, heard another way, like something grinding against a spinning stone). This shifts again to light drumming, sparse chiming percussion and subtle guitar.

The intro to "Lucid Entry" is raw and intimate - like you are right up tight next to the acoustic guitar, watching each string vibrate as it is plucked. That doesn't last for long, as we find ourselves at a seaside town, frigid and abandoned, just the clanging sound of a lone church bell ("for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee"). Under this, you can hear the wheezy, howling wind. I'm guessing the band envisioned the SF Bay, but I see more Nova Scotia. Though the music livens up, with percussion and delicate, chiming steel stringed guitar, the cawing of seagulls suggests (or what sounds like seagulls) that the only signs of life are those very birds. But, as with the other pieces, there are also moments where it is extremely subtle, even more so than where it started out, where ambient becomes the descriptive word.

There are so many moments that I thought were great, some rhythmic drum pattern I found to be, well, cool (I especially liked the first part of "Levitation.") It's not specifically mentioned on the site, CD, or bio, but I sure detect, too, the sound of a digeridoo, which seems now to be almost expected in this style of music. And yet, it doesn't feel like the token appearance. The production on this album is very warm, comfortable. The pieces are long, and in some sections, perhaps a little overlong (as mentioned specifically above with "Levitiation"). Overall, though, it is a good CD, and sure to appeal to fans of electronic music and the instrumental rock excursions of Djam Karet.

Levitation (20:13) / Collapse Of The Wave Function (12:35) / Alobar's Journey (9:20) / Lucid Entry (16:33)

Steve Roffeld and Greg Roffeld

Undogmamind (2002)

Genre: Ambient

Origin US

Added: June 1st 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 815
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]