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Random Touch - 2005 - "The Elegance of Falling"

(48 min, 'Roadnoise')

TRACK LIST:                             
1.  Evidence of Ignition 3:04
2.  Retrofitting the Dream 3:36
3.  Soundtrack to a Thought 7:05
4.  Configuring an Exit 3:19
5.  The Softness of Moments 5:15
6.  What Passions Rise 4:12
7.  Playing in the Dirt 2:13
8.  Before a Flickering Flame 6:30
9.  In an Elegant Arc 3:05
10. The Dark & the Hidden 2:08
11. Sideshow Avatar 3:04
12. These Frictions Propel 4:22


Christopher Brown - drums
James Day - keyboards
Scott Hamil - guitars

Prolusion. "The Elegance of Falling" is the sixth album by RANDOM TOUCH from the American state of Illinois, following "Unautomate" (1999), "Places We Go" (2001: 2CD), "Hammering On Moonlight" (2002), "A Parade of Dusty Hobos" (2003) and "The You Tomorrow" (2004: CD+DVD). The men always considered visuals an important part of their creation, so apart from a discography, they also have a filmography, whose output, though, rarely coincide with their studio releases.

Analysis. Although much more materially minded then their previous effort, the new Random Touch album still steers far from earthly humans' traditional concepts, above all those of mood. The music has a strong transcendental feel to it, like probably everything created in an altered state of mind, whether such a state is reached by the use of specific meditations or alcohol, etc. Most of the non-faint-hearted of those having the implied experience will hardly lose their way in the queer multi-dimensional world of "The Elegance of Falling" and might get a lot of pleasure from the album. Those always looking for discovery, hoping to find a resonance with the music at any rate, should be rewarded as well. Otherwise you may stop reading the review. All twelve of the instrumental compositions were created impromptu: just on the spur of the moment, but there is absolutely nothing in common between Random Touch's approach and Jazz. In other words, while the music is totally improvised, it doesn't have an improvisational sense, at least in its traditional concept. Besides, the album rather often achieves a sense of musical logic, associated with traditionally composed music. While moving through these unusual corridors of a bowed space even for the first time, you will find them organically structured, just being labyrinthine in construction. Harmonies are strong on several tracks, but I'll begin with Retrofitting the Dream and Soundtrack to a Thought, following one another right after the first track, because both of them, in addition, are the only compositions suiting the emotional spectrum that is accessible to us, average earthly humans. The slow, ghostly sounding synthesizer passages like waves expostulate the edgy guitar solos, the contrasting drums paving their own way in these dark, mysterious, otherworldly urbanistic landscapes. As everywhere on the album, the music is ever changing and is never cacophonous. No pointless effects and noises on this recording, even though some industrial-like motifs, laced with the primary storylines, can be found in places. Soundtrack to a Thought could really be a fine soundtrack, but exclusively for a serious sci-fi or philosophic movie. The next three tracks: Configuring an Exit, The Softness of Moments and What Passions Rise also appear to be rather cohesive structurally, but the mood is totally unrecognizable, though it's a wonderful mood, I must tell you. With fast, clearly purposeful synthesizer and piano passages weaving intricate, yet, immediately comprehensible web structures around the constantly shifting drum patterns, the latter composition sounds distinctly passionate indeed, despite the fact that the mood as such is beyond recognition. Amazing. The transparent Before a Flickering Flame is in many ways similar, though in this case I am able to find at least a relative term to describe the emotional component - fragility! Playing in the Dirt is of a mixed character, with a fine balance between harmony and eclecticism. The other five compositions (all gathered at the album's poles): Evidence of Ignition, In an Elegant Arc, The Dark & the Hidden, Sideshow Avatar and These Frictions Propel each seem to be highly improvisational in nature, and yet, as mentioned, have nothing to do with Jazz. Despite the said matter however, as well as its seeming contradiction with what I am going to say now, the following mention is topical. Some Jazz-Fusion performers at times also don't avoid such a method in the creation of an eclectically turbulent, kind of unearthly atmosphere, particularly Allan Holdsworth, on his "Metal Fatigue" album of 1985. The music of Random Touch is a paradoxical world, where everything is possible, even a logical combination of polar contradictions.

Conclusion. "The Elegance of Falling" is what I understand as Experimental Avant-garde Rock in the best meaning of the concept. On the other hand, I believe Random Touch has nothing to prove, just being three zero-space navigators (read: highly atypical artists) in search of their own ways of creation, which lie extremely far from the beaten musical paths. Recommended to those both broad-minded and adventurous, with a strong thirst for brave musical experiments.

VM: February 6, 2006

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