Larry Heard — Alien
ΞιΞ Stejně, jako mnohé z těch největších masterpieces v životě, album Alien bylo neplánované a zdá se, že je koncipováno náhodou. Jiný performer, "melodický" Myles Houston, měl bokem ve studiu nějaké zařízení, Heard si ho vyzkoušel a několik dnů si s ním hrál, až z toho vzešlo Alien. Tato náhodná událost vyústila v jedno z největších elektronických hudebních alb 90. let, to, které nevysvětlitelně bylo vydáno pouze na CD-ROMu a je nyní předělané a zpřístupněné na vinylu poprvé.
ΞιΞ Je otázkou, pro koho vlastně bylo původně album určeno. Pro sofistikovaný klub? Pro househeads, orientované na vyzrálý jazz? Fusion pro fúzní nadšence? Lidi, kteří chtějí relaxační verzi filmu Alien? Osmnáct let po vydání originálu zůstává album ve vlivném katalogu, celé je složeno na Korg O1 / W jakožto pracovní stanici, dále Roland D550 a Oberheim Matrix 1000. ΞιΞ Celkově lze říci, že jeden z nejdůležitějších elektronických hudebníků 20. století, by mohl tento žánr pozvednout. Jeho odkaz důkladně otevírá porozumění až při opakovaném poslechu: zůstává životaschopné, nadčasové, pozoruhodné dílo. ΞιΞ Největším triumfem na Alien je však "Micro Gravity" a The Dance of Planet X. Album jako celek předvádí neuvěřitelný hudební talent muže, jehož jméno teď nemůžu vynechat v jakéhokoli myslitelné síni Tais Awards Heroes, když mluvíme o hudebních inovátorech minulého století.
Born: May 31, 1960 in Chicago, IL
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Album release: 1996/2014
Record Label: Black Market International/MCA Records/Alleviated
01 Faint Object Detection 4:33
02 The Dance of Planet X 8:07
03 Micro-Gravity 10:15
04 Flight of the Comet 5:45
05 DNA-RNA 4:46
06 Galactic Travels Suite 11:13
07 Cosmology Myth 6:29
08 Two Journeys 12:09
09 The Beauty of Celeste (ft. Ché) 5:52
ι≡ι Executive Producer — René Gelston
ι≡ι Producer, Written-by, Engineer, Mixed by — Larry Heard
ι≡ι Engineer [Vocals] — Perkin Barnes
ι≡ι Vocals [Featuring] — Ché
ι≡ι Track 09 written by — Christopher Stackhouse
ι≡ι Vocals of The Beauty Of Celeste engineered by Perkin Barnes at 6/8 Studio, New York.
ι≡ι His groundbreaking work in the mid-1980s has seen often credited as the biggest single influence on contemporary dance.
Artist Biography by John Bush
•≈• He never sold as many records as some of the other Chicago house producers, but Larry Heard is arguably the best to come out of the scene, providing the crucial marriage between the warmth and communal feeling of disco with the energy and futurism of house music. His classic mid-'80s singles on Trax Records — as Larry Heard and Mr. Fingers, as well as Fingers Inc. with the addition of vocalists Ron Wilson and Robert Owens — set the template for every house-influenced producer to come later, and scores of dance artists have name-checked him as providing the best moments in house music's history. Unlike many of his Chicago house contemporaries, Heard's discography is quite large, with several albums released under each of his three major pseudonyms, plus several albums during the '90s recorded as by Larry Heard.
•≈• Born on Chicago's south side in 1960, Heard began buying records from an early age, and was influenced by his parents' jazz and gospel collection. Though he practiced on guitar and bass as a youth, he joined a friend's band playing drums after bluffing his way through an audition at the age of 17. Heard began practicing with fervor and became quite good, though he took a civil-service job as well to pay the bills. While playing with a variety of local bands during the late '70s and early '80s (including one with future house star Adonis on bass), Heard was introduced to many different types of synthesizers, and he gradually became more interested in playing keyboards than drums. Heard finally opted out of the band setup in 1984, bought a synthesizer/drum machine combo and began producing music. After a few days with the gear, he had recorded three tracks later recognized as serious pinnacles of Chicago house, among them "Mystery of Love," "Washing Machine," and "Can You Feel It." His lack of connections in the club scene made it difficult to get the tracks listened to, though Heard finally debuted on wax with a 1985 single for DJ International named "Donnie." Instead of being credited to Larry Heard however, the single appeared as "the It", and was co-written by street poet Harry Dennis. Later, on one of his infrequent trips into the club/party scene, Heard met up with Robert Owens. Owens was then working as a DJ, though he was (more importantly) an incredibly talented gospel-styled vocalist. •≈• Heard and Owens decided to form Fingers Inc., with the addition of Ron Wilson.
•≈• The nascent Chicago house scene was just about to explode with recording activity, and Heard released nearly a dozen singles during 1986-1987, for both Trax and DJ International. Fingers Inc. contributed Chicago classics like "Mystery of Love," "You're Mine," "Distant Planet," and "Bring Down the Walls," while Mr. Fingers dropped quite possibly the most sublime house single ever released, "Can You Feel It." (Though by no means a hard and fast rule, Fingers Inc. releases were usually vocal tracks, while Heard used the tag Mr. Fingers as his solo outlet.)
•≈• By the end of the '80s, Heard's name was being dropped by many in the new wave of British producers influenced by American house music. He continued recording in earnest, and released one of the first house full-lengths with the 1988 Fingers Inc. LP Another Side for Jack Trax Records. The following year, Jack Trax released Heard's original 1984 instrumental demos as the Mr. Fingers album Amnesia, even though he had never given consent to the album's issue. Despite its barely legal status, the LP showcased the first flowering of Heard's genius with several impeccable tracks. His large production role on the 1989 debut album by Lil' Louis (of "French Kiss" fame) was noticed by the major labels and by the beginning of the '90s, Heard was being offered contracts by several labels. He recorded additional material with Harry Dennis, though Dennis' continuing drug problems gave Heard a desire to strike out on his own.
•≈• After finally signing to MCA as a solo act in 1991, Heard issued his first major-label album one year later. Mr. Fingers' Introduction charted an intriguing balance between floor-filling garage house and several tracks of polished jazz-fusion; Heard's undying influence among DJs and producers alike made the album quite an international success. Though it graced the American dance charts as well, MCA attempted to interfere with the production of its follow-up, Back to Love, and later refused to release the album at all. It finally appeared in 1995 on Black Market Records, the label formed by Heard's friend and former manager Ren Galston.
•≈• By the time Back to Love was released, however, Heard had already recorded and released another album, his first as simply Larry Heard. The album Sceneries Not Songs, Vol. 1 (and its follow-up) both expanded on Heard's commitment to inner space rather than the dancefloor. He returned to a style more tied to traditional house with 1996's Alien and the following year's Dance 2000. In late 1997, Heard suddenly declared that he had quit recording to take a computer-programming job in Memphis. •≈• Despite his seeming retirement from music, two more albums of new tracks filtered out in 1998. Yet another, Genesis, followed in 1999. For the 2001 album Love's Arrival, Heard signed to the respected house label Trackmode, and its follow-up, 2003's Where Life Begins, also appeared on the label.
By Andy Beta; April 25, 2014; Score: 7.8
•≈• Dabbling in 1970s rock, R&B, and reggae when not holding down the throne in a Yes cover band, the Chicago-based drummer-for-hire Larry Heard must’ve caught director Ridley Scott’s Alien at his local Cineplex at some point in 1979. While the influence of that claustrophobic horror film about the dread of deepest space didn’t quite manifest itself doing nightly covers of “And You and I,” when Heard invested in new-fangled synthesizers and drum machines in the early '80s and struck out on his own, his love of sci-fi moved to the fore in his own music.
•≈• With tracks like “Distant Planet", “Mystery of Love", “Washing Machine", and “Can U Feel it", released under monikers like Mr. Fingers, Gherkin Jerks, Disco-D, The It, Blakk Society, Fingers, Inc., and more, Heard set the template for house, techno, deep house, and more for generations of electronic music producers — be they in Chicago or Detroit, or overseas in London and Berlin. Heard’s fundamental house music blueprints like Fingers, Inc.’s Another Side and Mr. Fingers’s Ammnesia are agonizingly long out of print, but slowly, portions of his back catalog are finally getting reissued. •≈• Last year brought about a reissue of his incredibly rare Gherkin Jerks’ EPs and now follows Alien, Heard’s third full-length under his own name, originally released in 1996.
•≈• While the two volumes of Heard’s Sceneries Not Songs, released in the early '90s, retained their deep house music underpinnings, with Alien, Heard ventured into unknown sonic terrain, fusing together styles that had long influenced him while largely jettisoning his telltale house beat. Wielding sci-fi soundtracks, slippery jazz fusion, progressive rock cues taken from personal favorites like Gentle Giant and Return to Forever, Heard ended up with an amalgam that in the hands of a lesser musician would be disastrous, if not tedious.
•≈• Alien is not quite a house album with its beats scrubbed off, nor is it exclusively a chill-out soundtrack, and this reissue asks the question of just who the album was originally intended for. The sophisticated club kid wanting bachelor loft music? Adult-oriented jazz for househeads? Fusion for fusion aficionados? People who want the relaxing ambient version of the film Alien? Eighteen years after its original release, it remains a singular entry in Heard’s influential catalog, with the man composing the entire album on a Korg O1/W workstation keyboard, a Roland d550 and Oberheim Matrix 1000.
•≈• Opener “Faint Object Detection” is the album’s most menacing and dramatic track, reveling in the peculiarly juxtaposed ominous and relaxing moods conjured by Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. The ten-minute “Micro-Gravity” is the first of three expansive, suite-like epics contained on the album that blatantly evoke Heard’s prog-rock fixation; the opening two minutes of the track are full of dread before a pinging melody arises, leading into an bossanova-eque middle section, buoyant and melodic before swerving back into darkness near the track's end. Another double-digit excursion, “Galactic Travels Suite”, moves from space age musing to New Age meditation to downtempo nod, carefully avoiding the sonic trappings of all three.
•≈• You could mistake other album tracks for lite-jazz, while elsewhere, there are abstract electronic musings that could get mistaken for something off of Oneohtrix Point Never’s latest album, last year's R Plus Seven. The album only feels dated on the hip-hop moves of closer “The Beauty of Celeste”. Overall, the fact that Heard, one of the most important electronic musicians of the 20th century, could step away from the genre he built his legacy on while exploring the outermost reaches remains a remarkable feat. A Red Bull Music Academy lecture esteemed Heard for “[putting] deepness into house music and [teaching] the machines some soul", but on Alien, Heard also sent house music into deepest, darkest space.
Richard Brophy, by Juno Plus on 13.05.2014 at 09:16am