FAX e-mail list

Shop at iTunes





Privacy Policy

cover art
Cymatic Scan

 Cymatic Scan - PS 08/50
  Release Date: 11 July 1994
  Limitation: 1000

   Monochrome Existence      1.01.24

  all tracks written by Bill Laswell & Tetsu Inoue

This is an interesting debate, I discounted this one after scanning through on my cd player looking for the 'chunks' of music that never appeared. Thoroughly vexed I quickly traded the disc to some 'sucker' who loved Inoue (hope you are not on this list! but the story will soon become clear). Later I read Toop's book Exotica which talks about the recording session, as Noah says they basically 'tuned up' and Laswell realized that they had created a spontaneous moment worthy of laying on to cd. My most recent impressions have been coloured by this re-reading of the disc, the downward moving soft basslines and deep sub-bass need either careful attention or left as aural wallpaper. I would put this disc close alongside the ultra-minimal Live at Sel i/s/c, both have given listener satisfaction but I wouldn't pretend that they can serve as regular audio fare. My recipe for satisfaction: relax, this isn't going to pick up pace or throw any huge surprises. look out for the subtle guitar/bass changes that occur and the deepening of the atmospherics that increase as the piece moves on. Isolate yourself, when in a cerebral mood, in a rainy urban location. Open a bottle of red and breath in the microtonal atmospheres and act like one of the ambient cognoscenti!

(review by Rowland Atkinson)

I was disappointed with this CD. Basically it's monochrome ambient (the one track is called monochrome existence - guess I should have known) that does the opposite for me that 62 Eulengasse and Jet Chamber do - it bores me. rating: 4/10

(review by Michael Lekas)

Alas a rather short review for this one. More of a passing comment. I'm sure others will beg to differ, but this one never really did it for me. I remember reading somewhere that Tetsu and Bill went into the studio, Tetsu played around a bit just "tuning up", only to be told by our friend Bill after a while that they had already finished somewhat to his bemusement (and mine). Basically an hour of background noise, with the occasional bass note from Bill.

(review by Richard Hughes)

Deep rich minimal dark ambience. The basslines roll and rumble along like ocean waves - very nice. I like this deep and dark formula. This is also available on Subharmonic if you can't find the FAX release.

(review by Will-E)

This journey begins to take shape as the first tonal rumbles seep from the stereo. At once, a thin magic cloud of sound manifests itself and will not dissipate for the duration of the work. This wall of rumbling tone, an Inoue-inspired ambiguity of bass and subtle multi-notes will serve as the backdrop for this entire record. Slowly, as new elements begin to present themselves, images start to appear. Almost at once i am held (and not let go) by the image and mood of an underground complex, one whose name and location are completely unknown, forgotten, or changed. Perhaps once used as an extensive fallout shelter to protect humans from a radioactive war, this complex is now empty, crawling with abandoned ghosts. As we progress through this complex, we also pass through the walls. In this ghost-like state, we begin to experience the voice of the structure itself. The still-running generators, ventilation systems, and electric current all speak to us in a monotone. This complex also has lots of odd rooms, some which resemble caverns, feeble light casting up from within their depths, shifting brown-black layers of emotion show themselves to the ghosts. As the voice of the structure continues its tale, the spectral inhabitants make their voice heard. Subtle touches of Laswell bass and keyboard improv drift throughout the packed veils, interjecting the drama and ever-changing elements of a story. In addition to this ghostly tour, we are also able to envision the earth's surface above this complex, its minimal night-landscape is also apparent as the story unfolds. Lonely synths mutter and call to themselves, creating a lonely, windswept feel (underlaid with the constant sound-wall) which is a constant point of tension. Blinking towers and antennae reach into the night sky, long grasses wave with the night breeze, but not a sole being exists here. At one point midway through the work, it sounds as though the underground dwelling is doing its best to speak with its inhabitants in crippled language, relating loneliness, sadness, boredom; this is a static area where living energy has been forgotten. At some points during the tour, we reach points that contain a high concentration of energy. Here, the work gain its highest points of structure. The underwork swells and starts to illuminate, while diamond curtains of energy wash back and forth in a dramatic, magical effect; the darkness begins to become light, but is again quelled into the ever-still pool of this stagnant vibration. "Monochrome existence" is a fitting title for this work, the 'music' itself feels like the uncomfortable inability to sleep with a fever, time dragging out and magnifying terribly, but with this painful drifting comes astonishingly clear images, reason solidifying out of the flat murk. From Laswell and Inoue comes a mysterious, introspective, and patient work which must not be missed!

(review by Auraphage)

This album is too hard to describe in great detail - I don't have the words! But the music will paint it's own images...words like deep, dark, intricate, underground, cavernous, sweeping atmospherics... these may give some impressions in the right direction. I'd just like to echo Auraphage's comments that this is an excellent listening experience for fans of Laswell's darker and more mysterious pieces, and does seem to be primarily directed by Laswell rather then Inoue. Stark and lonely, and at times quite beautiful....this is to underground complexes what 'Psychonavigation' is to deepest space.

(review by AdAckBar1972)

And I had such high hopes for this one! Having heard _Organic Cloud_, I returned to the record store (if you can call it that any more) and picked up this one. Hmmm... we're back to the more improvisational mode on this one. It may be divided into six tracks, but it's all the same to me. If there's a trap door to a cobweb filled machine shop in that -20 freezer, this album was recorded there. Bill must have been fascinated by this sound that permeates the whole album-- sort of sounds like an asthmatic machine breathing into a megaphone. I wasn't. The album definitely has some good moments, and I like it more now that I've listened to it quite a few times. However, there simply aren't enough musical ideas to fill up an hour long track. Guitar feedback (well done I might add) is layered on top of the darker side of Inoue. Laswell's bass makes an appearance, but either as a rumble or solo -- no greasy dub basslines on this one, and they would have been out of place anyway. Again, this fits in nicely with some ambient industrial I own, but there are other disks I'd buy first.

(review by Steve Boyer)


back to top