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10 June 2010

Burning Star Core - 'The Very Heart of the World' (Thin Wrist)

Now it's 2004 and we're up to Thin Wrist #G, so things have progressed. These recordings showcase the various band lineups of Burning Star Core, apart from the beautiful opening track, 'Benjamin'. This bit of solo elegy is both minimal and eclectic, focused around a dim drone but accented continuously with the most delicate of grace notes. 'Nyarlathtotep' is the vocal warrior Yeh has become, accentuated with Jeremy Lesniak's percussion. There's an earthy feel to this, with hollow wood block textures that remind me of indigenous Australian music, yet fluid and far-out in the western anti-tradition. When the electronics break in to steal the focus it's a lovely bit of Flavor Flav'ing. 'Catapults' is a 5 minute sample of the Lexington, KY-based backing back featuring Trevor Tremaine, Burning Star Core mainstay Robert Beatty, Sara O'Keefe and Jim McIntyre. Yeh is drumming in a lumbering, traintrack manner, also providing one of two organs which provide the harmonic centre. Clarinet, guitars and percussion run free over this, and while this is once again a snapshot of eternal music, it doesn't leave me desiring change. Especially cause side B's 'Come Back Through Me' is an epic bit of psychedelic sound construction, built around a fairly tonal droneriff. This is the trio lineup with Beatty and Tremaine, and Yeh dabbling about in various different contexts. Beatty's electronics twirl into the darkness, and the riff, while rudimentary, keeps things grounded. Tremaine has shown his jazzhands in the past, but in this case he doesn't lose sight of the ur-pulse (yet still manages to explore and support the others). I've always felt this was the "definitive" Burning Star Core release, though I need to review the more recent release (and hang on readers, cause we will) -- it's split evenly between several different sides of Yeh's output, and shows his interactions with others while never completely giving up the director's chair. This is maybe a bit less 'noisy' than some Burning Star Core can be, but there's a celebration of precision and freedom that sets this apart from it's contemporaries. And as a document of Midwestern experimentalism, you can rank this with the other masters of the geographic region.

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