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 “SEEN” Video

fourbc_artworkTarock Music has released a video of Seen track 5 on Bruce Cohen’s new album, Four BC.  

All of the pencil sketches in the video are the work of Cuban artist Emilio Sanchez (1921 – 1999) from his private collection created from 1940 to 1999.  His full biography can be read at The Emilio Sanchez Foundation. 

View “SEEN” on YouTube ► https://youtu.be/SwCTUP-_kM8

And, download a FREE mp3 of “SEEN” on SoundCloud  https://soundcloud.com/tarockmusic/seen-bruce-cohen

 

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

ALBUM LINER NOTES

 

“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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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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“This is one of the better engineered garage rock records, with a sound that cuts like lasers.”

JamsSphere

I could repeat the words of dozens of reviewers and talk about how raw and visceral the performances here sound. But what amazes me about this record, by contrast, is how good it sounds. To talk about the musicianship of Rick Shaffer as a point of punk orthodoxy or Garage rock seems beside the point when you listen to Outside Of Time, the new album by Shaffer.

The guitars that dominate the entire album do not sound sludgy at all, despite the heavy reliance on good old fashioned fuzz, overdriven and psychedelic sounds. They bubble and sizzle like a sirloin in a skillet; the flares and trebles sound just right. The rhythm section is rock solid, and without it, this record would go nowhere fast. Rick Shaffer, likewise, knows exactly what he’s doing.

This is one of the better engineered garage rock records, with a sound that cuts like lasers. It is a remarkable performance regardless of who should get the credit. What we have here is an amazingly sharp, dense, harsh and muscular sonic attack. I don’t listen to a lot of new pseudo rock but I’d like to hear someone outdo these tracks for pure, sheer power.

The songs never drag; actually the whole album is remarkably well-paced. “Killer Time” kicks things off with a menacing prowl, “Going Down Slow” kicks things into high gear, “Blowing My Mind” hints at the craziness still to come, if you’re looking for a slow-burn, catch-your-breath centerpiece to the album, you won’t find it.

The closest you’ll come to slow burn, is “Final Surprise”, but that’s track 9, and it’s not slow either, just slower. Moreover, by this time Rick has kicked the breath out of you for 8 whole thumping tracks!

Once the madness kicks in with “Your Charm”, it’s like the afterburners have been lit and there’s no turning back for the rest of the album. Words don’t do it justice. Lyrically, I don’t know much about what is going on because I’m so stuck on the driving rhythms and gravelly vocal deliveries.

There may, or may not be, some mystery as to what exactly Mr. Shaffer is trying to say in each song, but the messages comes through in the various grunts, snarls and shouts that he cuts loose, adding another cataclysmic instrument to the already potent musical combo.

It is your sole duty to find and understand them. For Garage Rock or Proto-Punk lovers, this is essential stuff. Hell this recording could stand alongside the best of those classic releases by Husker Du and Interpol.

Overall, this is an incredibly powerful album and represents a real hybrid of the free- form acid drenched jamming from the latter sixties, whilst looking forward to punk, garage and alternative rock. Yet there is more –you’ll find traces of Blues and Americana roots music buried in beneath the electric turmoil.

If you pay careful attention, this happens with overt candor, precisely from “One On One”, through “Show Me”, “Final Surprise” and “Hellbound Trip” – truly a nice blend of pure rock experimentation and musical innovation. I doubt there is another album, recorded recently, that captures such a feeling of raw, energetic, rock n’ roll exhilaration such as “Outside Of Time”!

Rick Jamm — Jam Sphere Magazine

                                           OOT_OnSoundCloud

” There’s no time to sit back and slowly dip your toes into the sound of this album . . .”

StereoStickman

There’s no time to sit back and slowly dip your toes into the sound of this album – from the second you press play, you’re thrown full speed into the crash and chaos of distorted, riff heavy, melodically grunge-like rock music, and it’s a fantastic experience.

Killer Time is the perfect way to open a project such as this, the guitars and the drums and the leading vocal all sound intense, insane, and inescapably addictive. That hook is pretty sensational too, a real anthem of anthems, a great melody, a stunning rock voice, and a really unique and interesting concept behind the whole thing. The lyrics throughout this track are wonderfully unusual and reflectively poetic. They’re sometimes soaked in so much sound that it’s hard to pick them out first time around, but that only makes it all the more compelling – once you’ve shaken of the buzz of that punk-rock ambiance, you go back to dig deeper into the meaning, into the mind of the artist.

As you move on through Going Down Slow and Blowing My Mind, you fall further and further under the spell of this sound. Rick Shaffer’s eclectic musical past has led him to the point of writing and creating only the sharpest and deepest songs possible, so there’s no emptiness, no filler, only rock and roll – a little of that rock and blues (Going Down Slow particular), and a vast and varied array of thoughts and ideas. It’s great to hear the stories of experience, especially when it’s presented in such a skillful and well practiced manner.

The music has that greatness in quality whereby there is a lot here that sounds free; carefree, free to create, free flowing – yet there is also a lot of that effective structuring, playing, and song writing – suggesting again the sheer level of experience the artist has. The free spirit meets and collaborates with the wise owl, and it sounds brilliant. It sounds hugely modern, in fact – Blowing My Mind could well be an indie anthem for the youth of the summer.

Your Charm opens up with a stunning riff that will simply make you smile and make you move your body. It feels like a classic rock and roll hit at times, but you’ve never heard a voice quite like this, and you’re not familiar with this melody and these lyrics. It’s a huge song, it leaves a lasting impression after you’ve listened – definitely a great moment within the album.

Changing Anything is another one that launches it’s undeniably strong riff at you right from the start. The chord progression here and the notes used in the vocal melody have a noticeably uplifting sound to them, it creates an optimistic and hopeful vibe; it’s a track you can believe in, a track you can escape to, reflect on your own life, drift off into your mind a little, or just feel utterly happy for a while and enjoy the moment. The guitar solo work here is beautiful, so much character oozes out with every note and every bend.

Walls Of Heartache has a superbly funk-like vibe to it; that strikingly raw, rock and roll sound, that screams personality. It showcases a very thoughtful and inspired set of lyrics and melodies – the vocal choruses sound fantastic, really helping to bring the whole thing to the front of the stage; along with that classic Rick Shaffer guitar sound, which weaves it’s way around the wall of sound, with all the freedom and focus of an artist who has lived, and loves living.

One By One is the final point at which you’ll know for certain the sheer level of creativity and skill within the writing and the performances chosen for this project. Only the very best music has been selected and integrated here, and what’s more, the whole thing flows so naturally from one track to the next. This particular song has a dreamlike feeling to it, it has the effect of sealing the deal in a way – it’s easy to visualize a live show by now, and even to crave one. You want to be a part of the audience, enjoying this music being made in the moment, as the sun beats down on you and the crowd. It has that vintage festival feeling to it that hasn’t been heard in so long. And the great thing is, there is more than enough character and perspective to make all the writing and all the musicality so blatantly fresh; brand new, a new view of the world, a new and powerful voice.

Show Me is an interesting one, it’s a real moment of alternative sound in the project. It gives off a sort of darkness, a sadness, not so much in the lyrics – but in the chords chosen, and the emotion that comes through in that vocal. This is about as close to an acoustic track as the album gets, so you really feel up close and personal with the artist, which is a fantastic moment, and the music is beautiful – it just washes over you, allowing you to drift off and dream your own dreams as you listen. Really well written, performed and placed superbly within this collection of songs.

There’s a strangely cinematic sort of sound to Final Surprise, the album’s penultimate track. What I mean by this, is that it sounds like it should be the outro to some classic indie drama. It conjours up images in your mind as you listen, whilst at the same time reminding you slightly of those edgier days of music – provided by the likes of The Rolling Stones, and even Dylan; in his gravelly, thoroughly rocked up days. There’s a movie somewhere, perhaps in the making, waiting for so much of the music in this release.

Hellbound Trip brings things to a close with a beautifully soul kissing array of words, melodies, riffs, and overall end of the day, end of an era vibes. The voice sounds particularly bright in the mix here, almost like it’s a moment of intimacy from the artist, a real glimpse into the ideas and the emotion of the writer as he comes to the end of this particular trek. The track has an awesomely blues-like sound to it, that riff gets caught up in your mind, the guitar throughout sounds sensational, the thick and heavy beat just makes your heart pound and your body groove to the sound of the world in action. An almost peaceful and calming end to the album, yet still with so much of that swagger and style, that it’s likely to leave you aching to play the whole thing over again.

Find and follow the rock legend himself over on Twitter, and check out his Website to learn more about his immense musical journey so far. Grab the album over at CD Baby.

Download a FREE mp3 of “GOING DOWN SLOW” on SoundCloud