Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Alex Barnett - Section 4 [Pizza Night]

This is the fourth installment of the killer Section series by Chicago-based analog synth maestro Alex Barnett. The previous installment featured "Try Harder" a bad ass John Carpenter-ish jam of epic proportions, which is still the pinnacle of Barnett's work for me, though Section 4 is pretty solid all the way through.
"Bad Omens" comes to life like a re-animated body, a pulse first that gradually builds into the actions of an agitated malformed nervous system. The piece moves forward with scientific precision yet a woozy rage seems to bubble underneath. Halfway through Barnett flips the script, whipping out a speedy arpeggio and dueling counterpoint melody. It's a sizzling, banshee-like scree that pushes the piece over the top though. Slipping into dirge territory the ephemeral melody emerges again as an even eerier figure. Tough act to follow. "Day Dreams" finishes out the side. It works well in conjuction with "Bad Omens" because there is a certain wooziness as well as toughness. But overall, the piece comes off as brighter and simpler with an auto-panned synthesizer aura.
"Streams" wastes no time getting the next side moving. It emphasizes Barnett's playing more as there are no overdubs making for a nice introduction to the side. "Cavernous Places" really changes things up as it veers closer to noise territory. Percussive noises scrape around and writhe on the floor leading into "Foldover" and its zippy, percussive arpeggio over which Barnett tears into his oscillator. It is a simple piece, but the 3 or so components prove to hit the right marks, amounting collectively to an effective piece of work. The closer, "The Best Day of Your Life" features the same rough-edged synthesizers but is a little sweeter at heart. Glistening waves of keys chime in over a couple looped arpeggios.
This set of pieces feels a little looser, with Barnett often laying out a simple theme and then improvising and exploring the piece from there. He keeps the works tastefully short though so they never end up in meandering territory. That's characteristic of the series as a whole; one of the strengths of Sections is Barnett keeps each installment to 20 minutes so each new tape finds him probing the areas of synth composition a little more but in a manageable fashion. Every tape is considered rather than a series where artist says "here is everything I have been up to lately" and drops hours of material at your feet.
Check Pizza Night for copies or hit the distros.


Rob Gould said...

How in the hell can we get these other cassettes/mp3s?

Love PUSH and want moarrrrr!

Auxiliary Out said...

I feel your pain man. It's the dark-side of limited run releases. My advice is to either get crafty with Google and hope you dig up mp3s on a random blog somewhere or head to Alex's website (http://alex-barnett.blogspot.com/) there are some sounds there you can stream and you can try contacting him for any remaining copies or mp3s. Petitioning the labels to repress the tapes couldn't hurt either. Good luck!

Auxiliary Out said...

Rob, you can download/stream some tracks from the Section tapes here: http://soundcloud.com/alex-barnett