reviewed by Jack Derricourt
the way upward and the way downward is one and the same – Heraclitus
The world is an echo box, filled with friends and rivals. At least, that’s how it seems to be, filtered through the sounds of Heraclitus Akimbo on this new cassette, A Part of My Inheritance. Known to oh so very many music lovers as the creator of the absolutely essential archived audio compendium Mechanical Forest Sound, Mr. Joe Strutt (heretofore referred to solely as Heraclitus Akimbo, Kim, or Bo) has produced a gorgeous offering. The cassette contains several maximalist pieces of wandering, daydreamy looped guitar and synth work, with a sprinkle of shorter intro and outro to set the story up, as it were.
And the story is greatly in the title. Heraclitus puts together the recordings with the help of: Realistic Concertmate-500, Boss Loop Station RC-2, Boss Super Chorus CH-1, Danelectro PB+J Delay, Danelectro Hash Browns Flanger, Buddha Machine II, Edirol R-09HR, and Audacity 2.1.0. It’s that loop station, as well as a very stellar country fried guitar, that make up the artist’s inheritance. What started as opening a box of his late father’s belongings becomes a gift to so many, a turning over of property by way of cassette tape and internet streams. The album is both an inspection and an expression, one that never feels anything but organic and lively.
The space is vast on the cassette. Each of the large, maximalist works stretches over half an hour. The three part “Variations + Variations (No Theme)” play out with cosmic clarity and slowness of pace — nothing tedious, just crystalline and deliberately sparse. The synths line out into the ether, making little dances as they go, the rhythms struggling to keep up beneath the heavy path of the melodic drift.
“Minor Variation” is a swift little thing, sitting under twenty minutes, featuring a much more juvenile, trebly cast of characters. The loops are never forced, and the production plays very little of its hand, giving all the more room for the mixture of sounds and the creation of different spaces to take centre stage. Nowhere is that more clear than on “No More Dancing In the Sun,” an ode to Russ Strutt, incorporating a sample of his guitar picking to send off a final round of loops and a hymnal of careening synth lines. There is a place for the music to play, out beyond the stars, and if there is no more dancing in the sun, there can certainly be said to exist the promise of dancing around its many brothers and sisters across the cosmos, provided that spheroid space music sounds anything as heavenly as Heraclitus Akimbo, that is.
The recordings are carefully prepared to place the listener in a state of reflection. There is nowhere else to hide, listening to the variations unfold. The greatest journey leads back to the self; and so these works take the listener out into the unknown before finally devolving to the simplest of musical elements: the plucked guitar twang of a father’s instrument. Simplicity can be joyous. The way up and the way down can be the same, and that’s as it should be.
Top Track: “Variations + Variations (No Theme)”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)