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David Maranha - Antarctica

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Artist: David Maranha

Album: Antarctica

Label: Roaratorio

Review date: Apr. 21, 2010

In pop music, originality only gets you so far. How many Green Day fans care that the Buzzcocks thought poppy punk up first? Did any of Japan’s young devotees sell their records, or even pour out their hair bleach, after hearing Roxy Music? Probably not. It means more in the avant garde arena, where the notion that you’re moving things forward is part of the appeal. If you’re going to work with someone else’s concept — say Keith Fullerton Whitman’s computer-enabled translation of Terry Riley’s time-lag accumulator methodology to the guitar — you’d better take the idea farther or at least update the technology. Sometimes one can claim squatter’s rights — it’s not like Captain Beefheart is ever going to reclaim his junkyard blues from Tom Waits — but what if the originator is still around? It’ll take anyone in the know about three seconds to know that David Maranha’s Antarctica owes a massive debt to Tony Conrad’s work with Faust, and while Conrad hasn’t worked with Faust in several years, they’re all still around.

There are differences. The bass-drums team of Jean-Hervé Peron and Zappi Diermaier plays faster and harder than Maranha’s rhythm section, and Conrad’s stranglehold on a bowed pitch is more monomaniacal than Maranha’s. But that just makes it sound like Antarctica is the near beer version of Conrad’s heavy brew, and that doesn’t quite seem fair. Because unoriginal although it might be, this LP sounds great. The keening violin nicely shorts out most higher thought, the buzzing organ evaporates the rest, and the music’s stolid trudge will lure your pulse into locked step. The textures are raw, the sound hypnotic, the effect nicely time-stopping. Is this music any less worthy for being an open homage?

By Bill Meyer

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