“Object Holder” is Biota’s 12th release and as we celebrate the origins of Biota with the re-release of the Mnemonists “Horde” (see AAJ April 99’ review) it seems appropriate to shed some light on Biota’s latest release. Analogous to the music and era depicted on “Horde” which was recorded 20 years ago, “Object Holder” is a fascinating endeavor that illustrates the impetus and cutting edge strides this band has made since the early 1980’s.
Released in 1995 and recorded between 1992 and 1994, “Object Holder” contains 23 tracks that interweave, ultimately representing a series of dreamlike pieces as the musicians incorporate a vast array of acoustic, electronic and exotic instruments. Forever Einstein’s C.W. Vrtacek lends a helping hand on piano along with percussionist-composer Chris Cutler who handles percussion and electronics duties.
The press kit alludes to the music being that of “a half remembered dream”. Prior to reviewing this CD and reading the press release, this writer immediately conjured thoughts or impressions that parallel that notion.
Vocalist Susanne Lewis of the fine band “Thinking Plague” makes her debut with Biota on this release and supplies an angelic and multi-colored balance that rides on top of the textured yet highly abstract thematic developments and unusual rhythmic patterns. Unusual instrumentation such as Steve Scholbe’s use of a marxophone and rubab compliment the guitars, electronics, horns, accordion’s and pump organs. A hodgepodge of diverse instrumentation all add to the uniqueness of these pieces yet the blending, coloration and skillful implementation is what makes it all work. The music is dense yet prone to delve into ephemeral passages that catch the listener off guard.
Biota explore different diatonic and chromatic regions by fusing or meshing sounds of instruments that emit unorthodox voicings as the outcomes are frequently compelling and quite interesting. Overall, Biota provides enchanting dreamscapes supplanted by odd thematic developments that contain elements of elasticity and musical shaping which adhere to a formula that is unique to this band. Comparisons are tough. Biota has created a deeply personalized style that has evolved over many years and needless to say; the music is enticing and picturesque which coincides with the colorful CD artwork by the Mnemonists. “Object Holder” gets **** ½ out of 5 stars.
Distribution in the USA & Canada is by Cuneiform/Wayside at: http://members.aol.com/Cuneiform2/cuneiform.html