Astral Social Club - Neon Pibroch [Important - 2007]
Neil Campbell's Astral Social Club project is both a continuation and a detour from the work that he has done with his group acts Vibrathedral Orchestra, Sunroof! and, going way back, the A Band. Campbell's one of those guys who releases boatloads of music each year, and always manages a couple of true gems, yet rarely puts out anything subpar. Neon Pibroch, which is dedicated to the memory of Textile Records founder Benoit Sonnette is one of those gems. It includes three tracks, each of which takes a different approach.
The disc opens with Tripel Foment, which starts off propelled by a thudding bass drum beat, before disintegrating into a hazy miasma of twitching loops. The permutations take place over an extended period, as they do for each of these tracks, which clock in at a minimum of eighteen minutes apiece. If you're familiar with Campbell's previous work, there are certainly elements that you will recognize, such as his feedback guitar loops, banks of effects, warped synths, ambient keyboards, occasional beats and electronic manipulation. As usual for Campbell, some of this music is intense, and almost over-active, but where some of his past work sometimes descended into excess for the sake of excess, Neon Pibroch is controlled and nicely balanced. If I had heard this in 2007, it undoubtedly would have made my Year's best list. Recommended. Erwin Michelfelder