Chapel In The Pines by Eugene S. Robinson & Philippe Petit

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Eugene S. Robinson & Philippe Petit | Chapel In The Pines
Lumberton Trading Company (CD/DL)

Chapel In The Pines is the third album that Eugene S. Robinson & Philippe Petit have collaborated on as a duo in the past seven years, this one appears on Krakow-based imprint Lumberton Trading Company (via Fourth Dimension Records). The five tracks come housed in a digipak wth art designed by Amen. Religion, in a general sense, doesn’t play into electronic music too often, but when it does, like here, it can have a resounding impact.

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On Augur, the jangling guitar and effects (John 3:16; Petit), howls and layered vocals (Robinson and Percy Howard) make for strange partners. The record comes off like a baptism by fire, but far more cosmic, like seeing explosive floating visions. It’s electronic bluegrass with a Baptist edge that is off the rails. A fleeting pastiche, murmuring to itself at times. Further, Father plays with assorted chords and layers, the sound effects offer an upside down world where everything just falls out of pockets, off surfaces with a random jingle-jangle, a frolicking percussion – this is just as a breathy vocal sings of monsters, benediction, misdirection. The instruments are plucked and played with a jubilant sense of disorientation. The peculiar mix just continues to dive deeper into this late night spin where it’s as though Psychic TV meets Sun Ra in the Deep South with zero restrictions, and its armed to the teeth – but their weapon of choice here is the psyche.

Remember Me, You Three is an interlude of sorts. Robinson and Howard trade the lines back and forth: “Could you help an old altar boy, Father, who is down on his luck? We say to no one in particular, we say to no one who gives a fuck“. Given all the controversy at the Vatican these days, these words ring with an awkward edge indeed.

This leads to the vamped up Snake, that sounds like Jimi Hendrix being interviewed while on an acid trip. Petit is wielding caterpillar drum guitars here – and this is the first time I’ve heard of such a thing – literally + figuratively. The atmosphere is lurid, blotchy, slightly crude, but with a quasi out-there jazz flair that resonates as much as it resists.

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Finally, The Restored, the fifteen minute finale sort of rolls in. Quoting Swing Low (Sweet Chariot) the core here is sizzling electronic cosmic noise. The spoken word poetics abut the gliding synths in a performative slam/beat-style. This post-apocalyptic tale spins and separates pop culture from a belief system in flux is quite dark, crying out for salvation.

Holy Ghost In The Machine!

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