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Friday, December 2, 2016

Tony Conrad/Faust "Outside the Dream Syndicate" (Caroline Records)

One of the remarkable albums that I own, is Tony Conrad and the German band Faust’s “Outside the Dream Syndicate.” Two separate pieces on the vinyl edition, a side one and a side two.  Both around 26 minutes long, and basically a long drone with a hypnotic drum and bass beat.

It’s a beautiful work as well as a great ‘groove’ music.  Tony Conrad was a composer, musician, filmmaker, video artist, and a man of great wit and charm.  His film “The Flicker” is the iconic minimalist work that still holds up on repeated viewings.  Like his film, Conrad took his aesthetics to sound/music, where he joined up with a young John Cale, LaMonte Young, Angus MacLise, and Marian Zazeela, in a music collective called “Theater of Eternal Music (pretty good description of their sound) better known sometimes as “The Dream Syndicate” (not to be confused to the 70s guitar-orientated band).

“Outside The Dream Syndicate” is very music that takes one to another plane or level.  Psychedelic of course, but also very level headed in its execution of sound, beat, and for me it is like a wave hitting the beach and then pulling back into the ocean.  Which makes it sound like a ‘new age’ ambient recording, but far from it.  It’s demanding music that one has to pay attention to.   Side one “"From the Side of Man and Womankind” is very structured, it is like holding energy in a tea cup and you got your hand covering the top.  You want to contain it in a small tight space.   Side two, "From the Side of the Machine, ” is more expansive and flowing.  There is more instrumentation on this track - specifically an electronic keyboard that backs Conrad’s violin, as a foundation, and the drums and bass adds a certain weightlessness.  A superb work, and clearly a classic album.