Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & Lopatin Borden, Ferraro, Godin, Halo & LopatinFRKWYS vol. 7
This five-piece collaboration was set up over the course of two years and in three very clearly defined parts. The first episode began at the end of 2009, when New York label Rvng Intl. (until then a hotspot of danceable post-punk), heard some truly great press on the electronic landscapes of underground artist Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never. They asked Lopatin to start working on the experimental and somewhat academic FRKWYS series. In a meeting with the people from Rvng, Lopatin expressed his fascination with certain forgotten musicians from the American ambient scene, particularly David Borden, a synthesiser player in the vein of other forgotten musicians (and now back in the picture thanks to the archaeological efforts of the hypnagogic generation) like Michael Stearns and Steve Roach. Artists who are generally unappreciated – perhaps due to their classification as new age (but not more than, for example, respected artists like Harold Budd). Borden was working in two very coordinated veins: the synthesiser as a way to make dense and absorbing sounds, and the glorification of nature. During that meeting, Lopatin made it clear he wanted to work with him. When they got in touch, Laurel Halo, James Ferraro and Sam Godin joined the group (this is the second stage) In the summer of 2010 they got together to improvise some long jams over a couple of days, at the Atlantic Sound Studios in Brooklyn, which resulted in this album.
“FRKWYS vol. 7” is an essential chapter for the current crop of ecstatic new age vindication. The advance party seems to be worn down a bit, now that we're starting to see the bottom of the source, the legacy of the German kosmische musicians. Consequentially, the five pieces on this vinyl (plus one extra on the CD) don't even have an interior rhythm - unlike the synth and sequencer odysseys, in the vein of Klaus Schulze or Ash Ra we can find on records by Emeralds and on Ferraro's “Last American Hero”. Rather, they're all atmosphere with distillation, an accumulation of layers of weightless textures - between new age, in the vein of Roach and Iasos and modern ambient, like Global Communication redefined it on the mythical “76:14”.
I suppose that the difference between good and bad lies in the underlying esoteric and mystic charge palpable on each record. “FRKWYS vol. 7” never sounds like an album oriented towards transcendental meditation, but as an improvisation exercise according to the laws of the academic avant-garde (though with a cotton-like result that seems to indicate a connection with giant natural spaces, like deserts and prairies, rather than with abstract ideas of the mind, without form or place in time). “Internet Gospel pt. 1” is possibly the track on which the synth master five-piece stretch the borders of their exercise the most, filtering (for example) ocarina and wind sounds (as if it were a documentary about the magnitude and beauty of the Grand Canyon). However, as a whole, that ambient becomes denser minute by minute - granular and uncomfortable -until “Twilight Pacific” arrives, the conclusion of over 40 minutes of linear miasma, thick and (even though that might not have been the objective) tremendously relaxing. Who would have known: after years of vicious attacks and mockery, with releases like this one, in 2011, new age returns with an air of cool.