Info The sincerest form of derivation 
"Derivative"
by Remora
Gears of Sand (Gears of Sand 049)
"Every Prince"
"All Our Times Have Come"
"What Did You See There?"

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fn issue October 2011
'N-Plants' - Biosphere
'Sky Snails' - The Electric Golem
'Echo Park' - Willamette
'Gramophone Transmissions' - Broken Harbour
'Negative Space' - Blue Sausage Infant
'Home Patterning' - compilation
'Polychromatic Integers' - Richard Lainhart
'Generate Records' - compilation
'Sung In Broken Symmetry' - Aquarelle



Ever since Robert Fripp plugged his guitar into Brian Eno's discrete music looping machines, guitarists have been exploring the possibilities of performing solo but making an awful lot of noise. Fripp has improved Eno's original setup to create massive, epic soundscapes, abstract and symphonic all at once, a practice he has maintained along with his various group efforts to the present day. Manuel Göttsching pioneered another track, combining single lines and motoric rhythms to create deep trancelike music, piling up harmonies for an endless groove. More than a quarter century on, guitar loops are far from exhausted. And so we find Remora combining Göttsching's harmonic lines with Fripp's soundscapes, adding a healthy dose of neo-Appalachian primitivism with an homage to an extremely diverse set of pop, soul, and punk, to arrive at his latest release, Derivative.

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Remora's album title refers to a pattern he uses for each track — the opening loop is lifted from somebody else's song. The press material cites artists as diverse as Joy Division, Blue Öyster Cult, and Pere Ubu, but in general one would have to be a pretty astute listener to recognize specific sources, happily provided on the back cover. Remora performs entirely on guitar, with many of the tracks sounding similar to his earlier release Ambient Drones. With ample use of distortion and fuzz boxes, Remora leans toward a wall-of-sound approach, but tethered to the harmonic underpinnings of the original material. The opening track, Every Prince, based on a descending four-bar setup nominally based on the opening lick of a Hefner song but familiar to every guitarist, layers shimmering brilliant harmonies, retaining a nostalgic flavor as the original loop colors the entire track. Some of the songs are fairly short, such as Death Planes, which presents a brief, wistful fragment superimposed with a sustained melodic loop. The longer tracks like What Did You See There?, based on Joy Division's Wilderness, slows the original material and splinters it, leaving the original lick submerged as his new harmonies spin out noisy implications into a continually developing commentary.

For all of its insider references, Derivative is a guitar ambient album with a more aggressive edge than other drone guitar groups like Stars of the Lid or Mirror. The pace is generally slower than the models from which his pieces are derived, with only a couple of tracks pulsing faster than a quarter note. Remora retains enough skronk to remove any artificial polish and give the work the immediacy of a laid-back live performance in his living room, but enough melodicism to prevent the work from becoming a noise fest.

Review by Caleb Deupree

 

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