JamSphere Review: “Bruce Cohen’s Four BC is ambient music that favors abstraction and improvisation.”

JamsSphereBruce Cohen is a founding member of the Philadelphia band, The Reds®, who’s first self-titled produced by David Kershenbaum, showed the band’s impressive blend of Rick Shaffer’s guitar, and Bruce Cohen’s keyboards.  The album was supported with live appearances with such diverse acts as The Police, Joe Jackson, Blondie, The Ramones, The Psychedelic Furs, and Public Image.  Cohen’s solo projects include musical scores for theatrical productions and his electronic album series “One BC”, “Two BC,” “Three BC,” and now the latest 2017 album – “Four BC.”

The liner explains that on this recording, Bruce Cohen returned to his ‘ambient electronic roots, with the slightly added twist of totally improvising every song to fit a self-imposed four minute time frame, with little to no overdubs, and no edits whatsoever.’

Douglas Rushkoff notes in his book that “ambient music isn’t a set of particular sounds one listens to but a space in which one breathes.”  In “Four BC” the layers and washes of sound and music can be focused on or ignored, lazily mind-surfed or instead analyzed.

Never a trite “sound collage”, a problem which plagues so many in this genre, this album has moods, textures and rhythms that lend well to repeat listening.  So you can dig deep or soar to the shore with this exceptional work.

Come equipped with a truly open mind because “Four BC” is easy to dismiss without one.  As improvised music, it shouldn’t be surprising that one needs to experiment in finding the appropriate setting and circumstances for realizing its potential.

It may be as simple as using headphones in darkness; for others, it may need to be experienced in nature during a particular time of year.  But the genius is in there waiting for you.  If you can’t be bothered to put in the effort, then listen anyway as you’ll still find plenty to enjoy in terms of rhythms and sounds. It just more accurate listening is so much more rewarding.

I am a devout listener of ambient/electronic music, and when I played through “Four BC” for the first time, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, because I was so used to the mundane commercial tracks of mainstream artists.  I became instantly attuned to the vibrant, melodic vibrations and flowing wave-forms, and ethereal pings that instilled the vastness of space that was all beautifully, subtly and tastefully filled.

Frequencies are substituted for real soundscaping, as the tracks here, are evocative and extremely pleasant to listen to.  This is music that favors abstraction and improvisation, yet everything sounds well-planned out and accessible enough to hold your attention.

On the album “Four BC,” Bruce Cohen offers us more than mere sonic manipulation.  He looks beyond synth manuals and realizes music that is an inextricable weave of sound engineering, solitary reflection and ambient aesthetics.  Consider the album’s tracks as various degrees of emotion, lingering, and then shifting to another state.  For me, the musical subtlety of “Four BC” is in the impression left, rather than the story told.

∎ Rick Jamm — JamSphere MAGAZINE

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Tarock Music Releases Bruce Cohen’s “FOUR BC” Album

fourbc_artworkTarock Music has released Bruce Cohen’s 2017 album.

On FOUR BC Cohen returns to his ambient electronic roots, with the slightly added twist of totally improvising every song to fit a self imposed four minute time frame, with little to no overdubs, and no edits whatsoever.

Listen/Buy/ Full Tracks HERE

Download a FREE mp3 of “Seen” on SoundCloud

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RockWired Voters Name Rick Shaffer November ARTIST OF THE MONTH

rockwiredartist-ofthemonthThe polls closed for RockWired’s November 2016 ARTIST OF THE MONTH campaign. Voters made their vote count and Rick Shaffer is RockWired’s 72nd ARTIST OF THE MONTH.

Back in 2011, guitarist Rick Shaffer perked our ears at RockWired with the release of his solo album “HIDDEN CHARMS” and it’s reliance on the very fuzzy, distorted guitar sounds that made Link Wray legendary, the swagger that made The Stones the big deal that they’ve been for fifty some odd years, and Shaffer’s purring vocals that recall Stooges-era Iggy Pop, and Velvet Underground-era Lou Reed. Trust us when we say that no charms were hidden on that album. It was all audible and the perfect antidote to much of the over-production that had come to typify a lot of rock music that year.

Hell, over-production still typifies much of the rock n roll that’s out there now and thank God for Shaffer’s album “OUTSIDE OF TIME.” Shaffer’s gritty rock ‘n roll approach is put to good use on material that speaks to life’s highs and lows (mostly lows) such as the stomping first single “Going Down Slow” accompanied by a mesmerizing music video.

∎October 31, 2016 — Brian Lush — RockWired.com

WATCH THE VIDEO ► http://www.tarockmusic.com/going_down_slow_video/

 

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“Going Down Slow” Gets Music Blogged

musicbloggedRick Shaffer is an artist with a truly distinctive approach to his vision and sound. This talented musician cleverly combines alternative music and country rock in order to create songs that hit the spot emotionally and technically.

The songs on Rick’s recently released album Outside Of Time demonstrate high quality musicianship and timeless song-writing wits, reminding me of the sound of seminal influencers including the likes of Neil Young, The Cramps or The Blasters, just to mention but a few.

The album’s lead single “Going Down Slow” does a great job of driving the album with a set of stunning rhythms and melodies. The song effortlessly goes between blues, rock and country. The aesthetics of the song have a truly 60s flavor, but the arrangement and the production value have a punch that is all modern and up-to-speed with the needs and want of today’s audience.

Rick is a charismatic performer whose style is refreshingly direct, iconic and versatile. Behind its thought-provoking enigmatic title, this album hides a refreshingly down-to-earth approach that goes back to the roots of Rick’s passion.

Ben Corke – Music Blogged

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“Rick Shaffer is back with more of his signature proto punk . . .”

CrossradarRick Shaffer is back with more of his signature proto punk, just as bristling and energetic as ever.

‘Killer Time’ kicks things off with swaggering vocals that race alongside the furious guitars which splutter along and give way to a solo that is curiously slurred and tight at the same time. ‘Going Down Slow’ paints the picture of devil-may-care driving down the road late at night, with flashes of British rock thrown into the mix. Rick Shaffer’s work continues to be exciting and engaging, on the one had looking back to the influences of early punk rock, while on the other always looking for new ways to communicate that punk aesthetic. ‘Your Charm’ takes a classic riff and redevelops it for its own purposes, like taking some old clothes and deconstructing them to be recreated in a new way. It’s all still the same fabric, but it’s sometimes time to be used differently. As a result, the tracks found on Outside Of Time have a feeling of familiarity while also offering the excitement that comes from engaging with new tunes.

Shaffer certainly sticks to a consistent model, and anyone who knows of his work is unlikely to be disappointed with this new selection of upbeat, swaggering tunes.

• Chris Marsh • August 24, 2016
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The Ministry Of Truth Reviews “Outside Of Time”

Chairman RalphAnd so, the clock rewinds, the minute hand takes a moment to reset itself, the second hand waits for an encore cue, and we renew our acquaintance once more with Rick Shaffer, former guitarist of those amped up ’80-s Philadelphia New Wave ravers, The Reds, who’s lately racked up an impressive streak of solo albums that shows no signs of letting up.

That’s certainly the case for his latest effort, Outside Of Time (Tarock Music), which maintains the standards that we’ve come to expect from him: high energy, stripped down garage-psych and punk, infused with flecks of old school R&B, and a little hill country blues, too, while he’s at it.  As usual, Shaffer carries the load (guitar, percussion, lead vocals), with a little bit of strategic assistance from Teddy Rixon (bass) and Russ Mitchell (drums, percussion).

If you’ve followed Shaffer’s work this far, you’ll know his albums start off with a houseshaking opening track, and “Killer Time” is no exception.  The track builds around a fuzz-laced riff, and a drum/tambourine track that just propels it right along, as Shaffer asks someone — a business partner, friend, or lover, we don’t know — to just drop the pretense, and deal with life’s hard truths, for a change (“Why are you waiting for things you can’t see?).  Then, in the middle, the song explodes into a truly paint-peeling, overdriven lead solo that provides an apt counterpart to its theme (a favored subject of previous Shaffer efforts).

This up-tempo approach and unapologetic mindset prevails on tracks like “One By One” (“Ask me once, but please don’t ask again, where I’m going, and mostly, where I’ve been”), and “Blowing My Mind” (“I ain’t changing, I ain’t changing my mind now”), on which Shaffer laces his lyrics with dark flecks of guitar fills. Like I’ve said before, and feel obliged to say again — if the Rolling Stones are serious about reclaiming their mojo, here’s where that mission should start.

“Going Down Slow,” on the other hand, is a shot of grungy blues energy that nods to simpler pleasures: in this case, cruising the cityscape, and listening to music, without worrying about where you’re going, what you need to do next, or whether you’ve got to be on time (“Going down, going down slow/don’t tell the things that I already know”).  It’s a fitting subject, considering the site of the album’s recording (Del Tone Studios, Detroit, MI).  The blues elements return in full force on the closing track, the aptly-titled “Hellbound Trip,” which will definitely give a glimpse of a hellhound’s pursuit.

Other highlights include “Show Me,” a shimmering, moody piece of psych-pop that (honestly) recalls the world-weary, “shrug my shoulders” resignation of the Music Machine’s twilight years.  As on the other songs, Shaffer leaves the listener to determine just who he’s taking to task here, though it’s definitely someone that he’s happy not to see anymore (“How many times/must I try to explain/Trouble coming down like a pouring rain”).

Other tracks show Shaffer in a more pop-oriented mood.  The biggest surprise here, and a hint at a direction to explore on future albums, if Shaffer chooses.  Notable snapshots include “Blowing My Mind,” “Your Charm,” whose guitar hook nods to T. Rex’s breakthrough (“Get It On”), and “Changing Anything,” which boasts an earnestly singalong chorus amid its underdog determination (“This ain’t changing anything, no this ain’t changing anything/No this ain’t changing anything I know”).

 In less adept hands, the sonic collisions that often occur here — the layered vocals, persistent leads, and strategically deployed guitar and percussion fills — would sound soggy and deadly. On Outside Of Time, they sound just right.  Ladies and gentlemen, may we present — Mr. Rick Shaffer, Philly guitar slinger, who’s bearing down on you with everything he knows — the one-man last gang in town, who hasn’t chased the trends.  With works of this caliber, he won’t feel the need.

Ralph Heibutzki

Chairman Ralph’s Ministry Of Truth       
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Tarock Music Releases Rick Shaffer Video ∎ GOING DOWN SLOW

RICK SHAFFER GOING DOWN SLOW (final).mp4 - Google DriveRick Shaffer and director, David N. Donihue struck up a friendship when filming the video, “One More Heartache,” for Shaffer’s 2012 album, Idiot Flats.  When Shaffer told Donihue he wrote “Going Down Slow” in Detroit while recording his latest album, Outside Of Time, because he was struck by how the economy caused crime in the Motor City to skyrocket out of control.  He was especially moved after meeting so many good people that were in desperate straits as a direct result of the nose diving economy, and a seemingly uncaring Government.  Shaffer wanted to evoke a story line that would convey the desolation of Detroit, so he enlisted Donihue to create the visual scenario for his lyrics.

Donihue, a fan of Shaffer’s timeless sound, readily agreed.  His vision materialized into a story line that follows Jack Clyde, a young, handsome, yet hard edged, man living in the turmoil of the wavering American economy.  When Jack impregnates his girlfriend just as the slumping job market leaves him with no prospects, he hastily decides to rob a liquor store.  When Jack’s actions leaves the mother of his child alone in the world, it becomes her turn to launch her own plan.

CREDITS: Director: David N. Donihue | Producer: Noubar Antonyan — SuperRadFilms.com | The Criminal: Arman Oganesyan | The Heroine: Kristin Vannieuwenhoven | The Prisoner: Noubar Antonyan | Still Photography: Theresa Marchione | ©2016 TarockMusic.com

WATCH THE VIDEO ON YouTube . . . https://youtu.be/Hvk44kOocp0

 

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