[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Date Index][Thread Index][Author Index]

A negative review for 2002

Hi all,

Just to show some evidence of fairness and that I am just 
as likely to deflate my own party balloon as blow it up. I 
thought it might be instructive to share a recent negative 
review my CD has gotten. I've passed along a few of the 
positive ones from time to time (as I have been pretty 
darned pleased to get them) and thought I'd distribute 
this one as well. It's really quite funny in it's own way. And
besides, even bad publicity is still publicity -- or so they say.

Anyway, I have a question for everybody at the bottom of 
all of this (should you get there). I'm also including a 
"translation" of another review I got from a publication 
in Lithuania a while back.



If Terminator 2's evil robot played Morricone-styled guitar to 
the accompaniment of loops of questionable tonality, it'd 
sound like Ted Killian. Despite the lofty philosophical 
statement that graces the sleeve of Flux Aeterna (adorned 
with mathematical symbols, natch), this is an album that 
wants only to stand in front of an amp stack and wail, 
albeit in a slightly mechanical, dystopian way.

The tunes on this disc are all vaguely soundtrackesque. 
For some reason, I was put in mind of the Cronenberg 
flick Videodrome while listening; the whole idea of a 
disintegrating future, of some kind of technological 
breakdown is communicated in these tunes so 
successfully that it's difficult to believe that there isn't 
a piece of film that goes with them. "Leaving Medford" 
is an edgy, angry piece of work, leaving no doubt in the 
listener's mind that the future's fucked, and Ted's here 
with his newscasting guitar to tell you all about it. 
"Cauterant Baptism", on the other hand, uses the 
depressive tone to rock out: it begins with some loose 
space-cowboy noodling, then turns into a late-Bowie 
toned behemoth, with a stomping bassline and searing 
guitar that threaten to rip off your ears. Not as truly 
astringent as other guitar-wielding noiseniks, Killian 
seems to always keep some sense of the tune inside 
his world-o'-shred. While this makes you crave more 
spark in his playing --occasionally, it can sound more 
like he's practicing for the real deal more than experiencing 
it -- it's satisfying to have something to hold on to amid the 
sonic excursions.

The propensity for albums like Flux Aeterna to devolve into 
nothing more than shredwank isn't entirely sidestepped 
here -- there are a couple of moments when one imagines 
that Ted's giving Steve Vai a run for his gurning-while-fretboard-
whizzing money -- but thankfully, these instances of cringe 
aren't too long-lived when they occur. The weakness with 
ambient/experimental guitar tunes is that they can fall 
into the "Hey! I've played that in my bedroom before!" trap. 
Whether this is a welcome familiarity in the world of 
anonymous rock, or merely annoying when you've forked 
over money for the disc, is a personal call, but let's just say 
that if it's the latter, you might want to give this disc a miss. 
That said, it's a strong album -- there are some good ideas 
here -- but just don't be surprised if you find yourself digging 
out your guitar and an EBow after giving it a spin.

Luke Martin, http://www.splendidezine.com



A few months ago I got a review from a Lithuanian print
magazine called "Tango" and asked the list if anybody new 
a translator. Well, I finally got a translation on my own from an 
online outfit. I am still not sure the translation is quite right 
because it sounds so darned academic, but here goes...



Linas, Tango Magazine, Lithuania, October, 2001

I did not manage to find any additional information on this 
musician, so material received previously from pfMENTUM 
is the only context in which it is possible to present this 
musician and his new work. pfMENTUM is a small record 
label based in California and specializing in modern 
experimental and extemporaneous music. Tango has 
reviewed records of this firm before. From the small 
amount of given works, it is possible to make conclusions 
and suppose that this work, “Flux Aeterna,” fits into a frame 
of aesthetics introduced by this publisher on other occasions. 
Like the previous records, it is issued in unique and unusual 
packing (even in a box), like the musical concepts it contains, 
along with the cryptic motto: "Change equals hope. Hope 
equals change." 

It's obvious, that Ted Killian is a musician who has grown 
and matured under the influence of the school of effects 
(guitar of the seventies and eighties) especially from the 
peripheral aesthetic point of view of repetitive minimalism, 
plus an extensive musical heritage -- without which musical 
(not only guitars) thinking and interpretation would be 
impossible -- in electro/acoustic music and urbanized blues. 
But, such a generalized set of references certainly doesn't 
explain anything to us. Listening to the given work, I cannot 
escape being reminded of one persistent idea: It is clear 
that not one popular band has survived the speeding 
50-year long evolution of the electric guitar. 

Nonetheless, it is natural that different crumbs of this history 
can be found in the vocabulary of any musician who knows 
it from experience rather than from second hand. Among 
these fashionable musicians we can also rank Ted Killian -- 
who's music is vigorous and mysterious with wide and 
multi-channeled overlappings designed around electronic 
musical effects. Here one can reference such luminaries as 
Frank Zappa, Carlos Santana, Robert Fripp and Glenn Branca. 

There is distortion, overloaded "phasing", different from the 
electronic effects approaches that which the former bluesmen 
have passed on to us, and their aesthetic marks (also well 
known: progressive chords and dynamism). Add "Fripertonic" 
overlappings of sounds and feedback, a minimized figure of 
a rhythm and "ostinatic" motifs and you have a formula for the 
next plan. All this is easily read, without claims and is a result 
of "converging" music with original Ted Killian characteristics 
and an exacting feeling of the form --all-in-all, worthy of note -- 
and I actually recommend listening to this modern guitar music.



So, here are two reviews -- one more or less negative and one 
more or less positive --and neither one of these guys really 
seems to understand what he's listening too -- or at least neither 
one really seems to understand what caused the music to be 
made in the first place (me). Did I make a mistake in being rather
stingy on the liner notes? Should I have said more? Not that it really
matters -- the CD is still something I'm pretty proud of. I continue
to be astonished that it has gotten any attention at all. 

Given the recent thread concerning the idea that we might
(or might not) take some time to explain ourselves and our
techniques and/or concepts to an audience before a performance
how does one go about handling liner notes? The press kit that 
went out with my CD had more info about the label pfMENTUM
than about me. Was that a mistake? It's not the reviewer's fault
that I'm a somewhat unknown entity. But I'm also neither a wannabe
bedroom shredmeister nor an academically trained composer/
musical philosopher. Both are way off from my point of view...
and pretty substantially to boot. Is this sort of thing unavoidable?

Anywho, thanks for your time.

Ted Killian