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Sinister Heights by The Remote Viewers

Sinister Heights is the most recent collection of new sounds by the The Remote Viewers. The collection comes on two CDs each entitled Time Flats and Mirror Meanings, respectively. Time Flats contains musical environments that will be familiar to listeners of this avant garde jazz ensemble. The compositions of saxophonist David Petts provided this listener an ingenious soundtrack to a variety of mental images conjured while listening.

Two that stand out include the opening composition "Souls and Cities." This piece provides a stark almost cold soundscape of various saxophone textures played by Petts and collaborator Adrian Northover dynamically and timbrally contrasted with a velvety low and ethereal sounding flute played by Susan Lynch. The piece "Terminal City" conjures images of being overwhelmed in an unfamiliar environment. The textures of low pitched sustained electronic tones serve as a textural ostinato that contrasts with what may best be described as twisted and wrenched scraping sounds. All make for a delightfully horrific, sound sculpture. The concluding piece on the CD is the appropriately titled "Black Thoughts in a Black Mood." Again The Remote Viewers using both saxophone and electronic sounds construct an intriguing soundscape that incites one’s imagination with a delightfully provocative starkness of sound and mood. In contrast to the first CD Mirror Meanings takes a direction divergent from the ethereal sounds of Time Flats. The opening piece, "Spring Flood" begins with a driving bass line to which is added a chorus of saxophones playing back ground figurations for John Edwards’ evocative double bass. "Spring Flood" is quite a departure from what this listener has been exposed to before by The Remote Viewers and it is a welcome contrast that is quite fun listening when contrasted with the darker and more serious material of Time Flats. "No More Adventures, No More Perfect Moments," the third selection on Mirror Meanings confirms a more rhythmic orientation of Mirror Meanings.

The piece is very reminiscent of the work Miles Davis in the early 1970’s with funky rhythmic grooves providing a foundation for adventurous improvisation floating above in the saxophones. The Crowd Accuses is a tasty musical sorbet featuring percussion that shines with a variety of inventive textures and timbres. "And Then The Moors Came" is an interesting piece in that there is an apparent role reversal in that the saxophones are providing a "rhythm section" of consistent rhythm patterns while the drummer improvises freely. "Between Certainties" the final selection on Mirror Meanings returns to more familiar The Remote Viewers territory with another collage of various saxophone and electronic sounds in a sparse and ethereal background to other electronically generated or enhanced scraping and twisting sounds more in the foreground. With their past CD releases, The Remote Viewers have provided this listener with a welcome departure from a mainstream sound palette with thought provoking and cerebrally challenging pieces with which to encounter. Sinister Heights is no less a delightful challenge for the listener and will be welcomed by one seeking new and different sounds and listening adventures.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: The Remote Viewers
  • CD Title: Sinister Heights
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Self Produced
  • Tracks: CD 1 (Time Flats): Souls and Cities, Joe Narcissus and the The Girl, Sinister Heights, Fire Rhythm, Terminal City, villages Drowned By the Sea, Vixenville, An Absence of Wndows, Black Thoughts in a Black Mood CD 2 (Mirror Meanings): Spring Flood, Personal Hour, No More Adventures No More Perfect Moments, The Crowd Accuses, Headstone in Love, The Land Of The Blind, And then The Moors Came, The Faint Green of Ice, Between Certainties
  • Musicians: Adrian Northover (soprano and alto saxophones, electronics, mbira); David Petts (tenor saxophone, electronics); Susan Lynch (tenor saxophone, flute); John Edwards (double bass); Steve Noble (drums); Adam Bohman (amplified objects); Caroline Kraabel (alto saxophone); Dave Tucker (guitar, drum programming); Phil Marks (drums); Eardrum percussion ensemble; Darren Tate (electronics); Ken Butcher (baritone saxophone); Rachel Bartlett (alto saxophone); Rosa Lynch-Northover (xylophone)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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