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Random Touch

Through the Lens of the Other Dimension

Review by Gary Hill

Random Touch never fail to change things up from disc to disc. Sure, the spirit of experimentation and many of the musical soundscapes are similar, but no two albums from this group sound alike. There are some very cool pieces on show here. I’m not sure if this is their most accessible or best (they are hard to compare side by side), but it’s definitely cool. It will appeal to fans of RIO and other sonic oddities.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Awake at Dawn

The very first sounds heard seem like they could lead to a Yes-like progression, but it drops back to something more like early King Crimson. This grows in an odd, but rather balladic fashion with piano leading the way. It works to something rather like ambient space music. From there weird voices and other things are brought in, creating a strange, alien sounding landscape. Still, as odd as it is, it’s compelling. They take us back to more melodic territory later in an almost jazz-like arrangement. Then it turns dark and dissonant.

In the Center of the Dancing Marionette
A considerably noisier piece, there is much more percussion prominence here. There is a little bit more melody near the end of the cut.
Corresponding with Emily
Somewhat more melodic, this is a cool piece of music. It’s still very odd, but also quite intriguing. 
On Public Private Property
Mix Gong with a spoken word Hawkwind piece and it would sound similar to this. It works out to a driving movement later that still seems to merge those two acts’ sounds. 
Opening the Box
Noisy and somewhat random, this is both more rocking and more melodic than some of the other music. Still, they take us in some strange directions, too. In fact, much of the later portions of the cut are in keeping with RIO
Morning Rain
Coming in much more melodic and gentle, a lot of the early portions of this are built on acoustic guitar. 
Orange Hair Beware
A more melodic cut, this has a very jazz-like element to it. It’s quite a short piece of music and does include some spacey/psychedelic noise, too. 
On Account of Spells
Not only do I love the title of this piece, I’m also crazy about the number itself. This is weird, with sound effects and other elements serving as sort of an ambient backdrop for a distorted spoken monologue. I’d say that this is another that seems to combine Gong and Hawkwind. It might well be my favorite cut from this group ever.
Embedding the Beat
This can be summed up pretty well by saying that it’s very weird, but also somehow captivating. I like this one, despite the fact that it’s dissonant, non-linear and strange (or perhaps because of it). 
Flashlights on the Stairs
More percussive in nature, this starts out quite tentatively and builds into some seriously randomized weirdness. It’s a bit too strange for me, although, it might make a cool soundtrack to some “Twilight Zone” like science fiction.
Engagement
Although, in some ways this is every bit as strange and random as the last one, there is more melody here and that makes this work better. It would definitely still do well as science fiction soundtrack music. It’s also definitely random and close to RIO music. 
Millions of Acres
Combining similar sounds to the last couple tracks with a spoken/shouted vocal line, this is odd, but rather punk-like and cool. I think comparisons to The Talking Heads, but taken to a very weird extreme, would be appropriate. You might also think of Discipline era King Crimson. Frank Zappa might also come up as a reference.
Burglars on Tiptoe
This is basically a percussion solo, although some of that percussion is tuned percussion. There are some parts that remind me a bit of Frank Zappa at times. 
Memory Safari
Although this starts fairly random and weird, it gets rather melodic near the end. 
Urgent Desires
In many ways this is the closest to traditional prog rock on the whole disc. There are some definite fusion sections, but many of the layers on this call to mind ELP and Rick Wakeman and such. It’s a killer piece of music and one of the highlights of the set. 
The Well Oiled Mobius Strip
The random RIO sort of stylings that make up the majority of the disc are still present, but in many ways I’m reminded of early Pink Floyd here. This is quite an ambient piece, but it’s not extremely quite at the same time. It moves to some spacey oddities later in quite a cool segment.

 

 
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