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Glenn Astarita: Resonant Swamp Theory

Christopher Hoard By

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Music will never be the same after the dawn of MIDI-and most musicians understand that it was actually MIDI which gave birth to the Internet (well, it might have well have been). Now thousands if not millions of bedroom, garage, and living room studios can give rise to digital creativity, and musicians on a minimal budget can independently record, mix, produce, and master a CD. Thus, in this still dawning musical cyber age it's possible, formidable, and wonderful that musicians can realize their ideas, and with increasing ease, act as A&R, cover design, engineer, and marketing director without a relative in the business, a rich daddy with connections, or a lucky break. Hence from the backwater midi bayous, the arrival of Resonant Swamp Theory, the brainchild of keyboardist Glenn Robert Astarita on his home-brewed Random Atmosphere Records.

Ideas abound in the electronic concoction that is Meetings with Remarkable Men. RST's sound resides within the frame of digital synth land, and the drum machines/patches get the rhythmic patterns and ideas established as subtext for a twisting trail of ambient and thematic vignettes. This music recalls that of Zappa, Eno, and the more electronic fringe of early 70s London loft scene. Themes and rhythms coalesce, and often abruptly shift and meander through myriad tempos with sudden intensity and focus, then abrupt shifts again. If you're a die-hard Residents fan - the ambient humor and musical irony richly weaves a very familiar, sensibility. At times it's the whirling background score to lively puppet theater, or the ideal score to your favorite episode of Felix The Cat or Gumby. As often, RST fixates on unstructured improvisations which seem to wind on ponderously and halt.

Nonetheless, it's an impressive if too playful recording, featuring a "King Crimson Tribute," - a summarily whacked and outer limits version of "Talking Drum,' possibly not an improvement on the original, but a piece that launches into some engaging and original abstractions. RST describes the outing as, "a unique blend of prog-rock/ambient-electronica/world and latin rhythms." With a few good samplers, the sound could have been better orchestrated toward this end. The instrumental palate here was limited to a few synths or single workstation, and the textures chosen vary little from track to track. In terms of the percussion, we're subjected to consistent meetings with unremarkable machines, but if Astarita can find the means to upgrade and expand his technology, RST demonstrates a wealth of musical ideals and potential, such that it will evolve from a cartoon-like, bubbling cauldron of mixed influences into a more sentient and less searching swamp thing. More information about RST can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/Delta/2791 .


Title: Resonant Swamp Theory | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Random Atmosphere

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