Random Touch - "Alchemy"
(Token Boy Records 2007, TBR53872, CD/DVD)
From Aural Innovations #37 (September 2007)
Alchemy is the seventh album by Random Touch and the second CD+DVD combo they've released. Jeff has reviewed four previous Random Touch releases (see AI #'s 21, 28, & 33), and though I've heard them all this is the first I've really settled into for a dedicated review listen.
The CD opens with a mixture of ambience and orchestration, utilizing electronics, soundscapes, guitar and percussion. The diversity of elements in the piece is stunning, given the way the band have molded it all together into a seamlessly flowing work of sound art. A cursory listen would offer up a spacey but intense cinematic soundscape track. But under the headphones I can detect jazz and rock bits in the mix as well. The next track gets more overtly into rock and jazz territory, starting off as a quirky, electro dance piece, but then transitioning to a jazz piano segment that morphs into an avant-space-ambient-jazz-classical work.
Sounds all over the place, doesn't it? Well it's not. I'm quickly figuring out that Random Touch are craftsmen at the art of sound and creating an aural "experience". They don't compose so much as they use music and sound to create recordings in the way the painter uses a canvas. And what sets Random Touch apart is the near impossibility of classifying them. They blend traditional instrumentation, keyboards/electronics and sound with a real flair for bringing together disparate musical styles in the same piece. It's spacey, jazzy, rocking, ambient, orchestral and avant-garde… all at the same time. It's complex, yet highly accessible. I like how each element of a piece is easily detectable, rather than being efx'd into a dense whole, with guitar, piano and drums working in close cooperation with the pure sound components. Ditto for the musical styles Random Touch place on their palette. Jazz and classical orchestration collaborate harmoniously, and thrive beyond traditional expectations in the Random Touch creative environment. Everything is recognizable, yet the magic is in the way the band bring it all together.
Given the band's attention to the visual aspect of their work it's no surprise that this music is deeply image inducing, and can be truly psychedelic in its affect. Which brings me to the DVD, a document that more than aptly demonstrates how amenable the band's music is to the visual arts. For example, "Cyborgs of Unlimited Dementia" really comes alive as a music video, which features the band members as farmers dancing like alien controlled marionettes in some surrealistic cornfield. I really dig the catfish swimming in a pond in outer space on "The Alchemy of Turbulence". The films alone are dazzling, and combined with the music make for a captivating and often lysergic audio-visual experience. In short, this is some pretty trippy shit. The DVD also includes some studio jams and live performances. Just as I was thinking that I'd love to see the band perform live with the videos projected in background, it looks like that is indeed what they do. This is a beautiful package with a CD + 140 minutes DVD, and I see that they're selling them (and all their CDs) on their web site for only $8, which is a steal given the tremendous amount of work that obviously went into creating both the music and films. Check it out.
For more information you can visit the Random Touch web site at: http://www.randomtouch.com.
Email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz