Amp
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Sirenes, 7/10
Astral Moon Beam Projections, 6.5/10
Passe`-Present , 7/10 (comp)
Perception , 6.5/10
Stenorette , 7/10
AMP Studio: Syzygy , 6/10
AMP Studio: Alien Registration Office , 6/10
Saint Cecilia Sinsemilla , 4/10
L'Amour Invisible , 6/10
Links:

Amp is the project of London-based musician Richard Walker, a project vaguely related to Bristol's psycho-ambient tribe of Flying Saucer Attack and Third Eye Foundation.

Walker recorded his first cassette under the monicker Amp, Green Sky Blue Tree (1992), with help from friends such as Dave Pearce of Flying Saucer Attack (originally with him in Secret Garden and in a multimedia project titled AMP Art Co). In 1994 Walker met French vocalist Karine Charff, a meeting that laid the foundations for a group.

Sirenes (Petrol, 1996) contains both "songs" and avantgarde pieces. The two songs quite different in nature, although the basic reference point is Flying Saucer Attack (and possibly Seefeel): the distorted whispered "shoegazing" melodies of Souvenir, versus the spoken-word recital of Merry Go Down floating in a whirlwind of electronic drones.
The more ambitious compositions attempt different strategies of soundsculpting, but they have in common the result: a chaotic ambience that is not quite relaxing chill music, but rather a claustrophobic and almost apocalyptic meditation on the post-industrial world. The instrumental Frieze harks back to the archetype of the British cosmic-psychedelic raga, Pink Floyd's Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun. The other hyper-psychedelic track (and the other standout), Soft Stone Soul, is a dilated lattice of organ-like and vocal fragments (think of Stockhausen's equivalent of a Gregorian chant). Rave Mantra is the fresco of a terrifying land, in which Scharff's voice appears to mumble senseless words while being engulfed in a boiling magma of senseless noises. Its counterpart is the brief piano sonata that closes the album, So Be It, a glimmer of hope in a broadly hostile universe.
The first venture into dance music, Mathilda's Shorts Wave, is perhaps the most un-emotional of all tracks: its protagonist is a frantic drum-machine set against a ghostly breeze of echoes. The second one, Eternity, boasts an equally hysterical beat, and even more syncopated, set against a wall of guitar noise a` la My Bloody Valentine.

The first album was preceded by the single Get There/ Remember (Linda's Strange Vacation, 1995) and was followed by an intense sequence of singles: Frise`/ Le Petit Chat (Wurlitzer Jukebox, 1996), Ombres (Enraptured, 1996), Beyond/ Lutin (Wulitzer Jukebox, 1996), later collected on Passe`-Present (Enraptured, 1998).

Amp e` il progetto del londinese Richard Walker, vagamente affiliato alla tribu` psico-ambientale di Bristol (Flying Saucer Attack, Third Eye Foundation).

Walker registra la prima cassetta degli Amp, Green Sky Blue Tree (1992), praticamente da solo, con l'aiuto di Dave Pearce dei Flying Saucer Attack (che aveva fatto gavetta con lui nei Secret Garden e nel progetto multimediale AMP Art Co) e pochi altri amici. E` l'incontro con la cantante francese Karine Charff, nel 1994, a gettare le basi per un vero gruppo musicale.

Su Sirenes (Petrol, 1996), che fa seguito al singolo Get There/ Remember (Linda's Strange Vacation, 1995), le influenze sembrano essere soprattutto Flying Saucer Attack, Seefeel e Main. Le melodie di Frieze e Souvenir sono immerse in un caos ambientale di accordi, ma le romanze pianistiche November e So Be It e il salmo orientale di Soft Stone Soul sono ancora canzoni. Perdu, Eternity e Rave Mantra spingono agli estremi la ricerca sul suono.

Al primo album fece seguito una nutrita frotta di singoli: Frise`/ Le Petit Chat (Wurlitzer Jukebox, 1996), Ombres (Enraptured, 1996), Beyond/ Lutin (Wulitzer Jukebox, 1996) riassunti in seguito su Passe`-Present (Enraptured, 1998).

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Per Astral Moon Beam Projections (Kranky, 1997) al suo fianco sono ora la cantante Karine Charff e il batterista Gareth Mitchell (anche nei Philosopher's Stone). La musica e` cambiata rispetto al primo album, e` progredita (o regredita) a un livello maggiore di astrazione e dilatazione, lasciandosi alle spalle le ballate spaziali un po' naif degli esordi. L'influenza della scuola post-psichedelica e post-ambientale texana (e forse anche dell'avanguardia neozelandese, Dead C e Gate su tutti) e` molto forte. I brani sono lunghi ed eterei, privi di struttura e di ritmo.
Lo schema dei loro brani sembra sempre lo stesso, ma in realta` varia in continuazione. I gorgheggi fiabeschi della ragazza fluttuano sugli undici minuti di riverberi e caos di Onehopesinuncertainty, e a tutti sono venuti subito in mente i primi Sonic Youth, i maelstrom di chitarra di Lee Ranaldo accoppiati ai vagiti subconsci di Kim Gordon. Il canto e` invece fuso con gli altri strumenti nelle evoluzioni subacquee di Lightdripglow. Il drone di Transmigration, che comprende un aereo in picchiata, s'inalbera in un crescendo raga. Le musiche che Walker ha nel sangue (My Bloody Valentine e Cocteau Twins) vengono a galla in Stellata, che fa le stesse cose degli altri brani ma comprimendole in uno spazio (e tempo) piu` limitato.
Walker mette a dura prova la pazienza dell'ascoltatore per circa settantacinque minuti (forse ne bastavano la meta`), ma bisogna riconoscergli del talento nell'orchestrare queste mini-sinfonie cacofoniche.

Walker ha poi registrato da solo (a nome AMP Studio) il singolo Colorful Clouds For Acoustics (Darla, 1997), l'EP Heart And Soul Dissolve (Darla, 1997), e il singolo Misstype Dolittle (Earworm, 1997).

The double EP Perception (Darla, 1997), almost totally improvised, is made of four extended pieces for a total of 88 minutes. While the self-indulgent pieces do not achieve the nirvana of the major works, they do show a more languid and placid attitude towards ambient music. (Translation by Walter Consonni/ Tradotto da Walter Consonni)

Il doppio EP Perception (Darla, 1997), quasi completamente improvvisato, e` composto da quattro lunghi brani per un totale di 88 minuti. Anche se i pezzi, autoindulgenti, non conseguono il nirvana dei lavori maggiori, tuttavia mostrano una piu` languida e serena attritudine verso la musica ambientale.

On Stenorette (Kranky, 1998) Walker proves that he knows how to learn from his past mistakes. Abandoning the long, self-indulging swoons of recent outings, Walker returns to the format of brief, structured tracks. In other words, this is a collection of songs, some "sung" by the piano and some sung by Karine Charff. The piano leaves a strong mark on the music, thanks to melancholy patterns that are reminiscent of Brian Eno's Music For Airports (particularly in the eerie Just Ice) and invent a rarified form of lounge balladry (the dejected atmosphere of Songe). The syncopated and ethereal synth-pop of Tomorrow relies on a rich tapestry of piano notes.
On the other hand, while Robert Hapmson helps fill the (production) blanks with his sampled guitar loops. Walker and Hampson concoct dramatic effects that give the music a much more intense and almost manic feeling. Outlier is sheer violence, emerging in the form of metallic distortions from a bubbling magma of electronic noises. Tango Non displays the driving, savage fury of Suicide and Stooges coupled with an insistent riff a` la Led Zeppelin.
The Nico-esque lament of You Are Here is set against an almost symphonic backdrop that even borrows ideas from Pink Floyd (the Welcome To The Machine-like wall of vibrating noise, a helicopter sample, a martial rhythm).
Zoe is the most experimental piece: loud distorted guitar and keyboard utter melodies that are juxtaposed with a sample of disconnected vocals over a dub-like industrial rhythm.
Sunflower, that adapts Cocteau Twins' dream-pop to Walker's hypnotic guitar shuffle, sounds like pop music compared with the rest.
Stenorette has a heart and a mind, whereas Astral... only had a (very long) name. This marks a return to form for an artist who is easily prey to fashionable sounds, but who displays true talent when challenged by new ideas.
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A.M.P. Studio is the solo project of Richard Walker. Syzygy (Ochre, 1998) offered a bizarre mixture of ambient and psychedelic music, and the two suites of the mini-album Lost/ Found (Fourth Dimension, 1999), also known as Unconscious Country, steered towards avantgarde music, but Alien Registration Office (Ochre, 2000) returns to the rock song format, albeit with a German twist (Can and Faust). Walker is experimenting with loops, drones and samples in a childish manner, and only occasionally finds an intriguing combination.

Recorded in 1999 during their European tour, Amp's Saint Cecilia Sinsemilla (Space Age, 2001) recycles some tracks of Stenorette and adds a few new songs.

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Amp's L'Amour Invisible (Space Age, 2002) does not break any new ground, but offers the usual dose of classy, dreamy trip-hop. The reformed Amp (Richard Walker, Karine Charff, Olivier Gauthier, Jan Zert) is quite a different ensemble than it used to be, much more eclectic (running the gamut from the poppy Curious Smile to the experimental Glasshouse Jam) and specializing in surreal ambience (Junkyard Blues).

The triple-CD All Of Yesterday Tomorrow (Rroopp, 2007) collects singles, compilation tracks and rarities.

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