Bob Bellerue | Music of Liberation
Elevator Bath (2xLP/DL)
The double album set, Music of Liberation (edition of 250), was recorded in Portugal in 2016 and is dedicated to Bellerue’s friend and collaborator, Z’EV, who passed away during the final process of making the recording. Toneshift.net also acknowledges the incredible work of Stefan Joel Weisser (aka Z’EV; 1951-2017) with countless listening hours over the years and ongoing. The albums are broken into four long tracks, one per side, these are simply numbered 1 through 4.
The opening is a warbling, sparse meandering drone that swirls about like a small hive. Modulated screetchy feedback enters in and is subtly coaxed to balance its truth within the overall sound sculpt. Bellerue is an intense player who often has quite a bit of fun on stage, but here he’s at his most somber and intense. The higher tones begin to deteriorate as if being sifted into a fine dust, leaving other stones yet to be unturned. It sounds like a tiny crackle, like that of fireworks searing just below the mid-height wall of white noise. Growing feedback continues looming large, part one is a celebration of making a goddamn good industrial racket with a whole lotta reverb and a pool of sweat in its wake.
Part two opens with a more open tone buzzing peculiarly in mid-air shapes. What becomes a melody? Though he’s likely using pedals and knobs this comes off like a futuristic phaser-style organ that seems to relish its own reflection so much that it’s losing itself in the infinity pool. The sound wavers like a harmonica filtered through a windscreen, it’s got an anxious sensibility – for the times? Likely. A sudden fade into near silence is disconcerting, but not for long as the drone juts its head above the fray. Bellerue’s style has shifted into long-form acoustic storytelling. Though the story is set in an alternate universe where flying and falling are in constant flux. In other words, it’s a trip. When he adds a deep bass bellows you feel it, and it’s oddly a respite amid the higher shards being served. He’s gone low, and it just revs like a dubby, motorized small jet airliner. This is one really heavy (meaning weighty) record. It all ends in a foggy, murky mix of layers, exxxxhhhaaauuusssttt!
As we move to part three something emerges that feels more like he’s in a tribal village of sorts, though it’s hosting more abstract frequencies. It’s a more curious of the sides thusfar, especially with the additional prepared and manipulated cymbal. There’s a sweet slowness here. A post-industrial glimpse into an inordinately shifting social axis and the fates it allows. This is the artist’s passion play where mysterious percussion, within an atonal structure makes for a fiery fusion. It goes from a troglodyte blur to a fine purr in seconds and uses wisely the convex and concave nature of the void. It’s a subtle achievement in structuring noise with a dense presence.
Bellerue + Z’ev (2010, via YouTube)
On the flipside, the final of four, the wide blitz wall has its cracks and chips, it’s battered and yet the various emissions create a healing wash of more rounded chords. This is a very ‘post’ sound, as if we’ve arrived after the sonic n’ gritty action has occurred and we are left with fallout, detritus, and other random, blurry particles that cavort in deep reverb and other sound effects. These begin to permeate into a singular strand of drone with minimal tonal shifts from the dead center. The hum changes over time from the dazzle of industrial to unearthing the unconscious sound of ferment. Though the range throughout is voluminous and unpredictable, Bellerue always maintains a certain level of restraint, even in the harshest, disquieting passages. Liberating!