Many years after Pere Ubu and his work as a pilot, one of the world's most unique synth players, Allen Ravenstine, releases an album of composed works, 18 discrete hybrid miniature sound worlds that blend acoustic, real-world and synthetic sounds in unorthodox ways that elusively twist conventional approaches with unexpected elements and narrative twists.
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Label: Recommended Records
Catalog ID: RERVAR2
Squidco Product Code: 26239
Recorded in New York, New York, by the artist, and at Grant Avenue Studio, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, by Andrew MacPhail.
Allen Ravenstine-composer, performer
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1. Sentimental Duet 1:32
2. Waiting For The Bomb 3:01
3. The Ladies In The Garden 3:38
4. Bombay Tar 3:17
5. If Only There Was More Time 3:11
6. In The Ether 3:25
7. Tin Wallah 3:16
8. Day Shift 3:11
9. The 537 To White Plains 3:35
10. Save Our Ship 4:20
11. Out Late 9:39
12. Waiting 1:40
13. Spirits 4:20
14. Insomnia 3:10
15. Bump In The Night 3:29
16. Shoot This Dog 4:14
17. Venus Calling 2:57
18. Short Wave 3:59
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"Eccentricity in music is tricky in that it's difficult to embrace it in moderation. There's risk of having it come off as either overly (and gratingly) deliberate, or teetering over the precipice into full-blown novelty. Pere Ubu co-founder Allen Ravenstine's Waiting For The Bomb is one of these rare exceptions where peculiarity, nuance and genuine warmth align in such a way that it's perched right on that edge and all the more evocative because of it.
One of the album's most striking and disorienting attributes is its wide and volatile sound palette. Structured episodically, its eighteen vignettes jump between discrete sonic worlds. Dense clusters of raw sci-fi synth noise sit up against soundtracky miniatures while elsewhere, placid ambience emerges from stiff computer funk. Yet as one surrenders to the strange lurching quality of the journey, the uneasiness it produces somehow becomes grounding.
Given Ravenstine's post-punk pedigree, it's unsurprising that this defiant sense of malaise and contradiction isn't just a byproduct of his playful genre tourism. It's actually a key unifying element that even lurks on the periphery of the album's most serene or seemingly innocuous moments. You can hear it in the way that the plasticky squareness of his sample-library orchestrations chafe against live brass and percussion on "Spirits". The prickly synthesizer on "Venus Calling" creeps like toxic fumes through a genteel jazz arrangement. On "Insomnia" Joe Sorbara's rapid drum kit scatterings punctuate a lugubrious throbbing bed of sound, yet as the ersatz fanfares begin to protrude you're not quite sure whether to be terrified or to laugh--or do both.
The record's accompanying notes mention Ravenstine's childhood, steeped in second-hand Cold War paranoia. Waiting for the Bomb seems to embody that tension perfectly -- a young, unbridled imagination haunted by both the grave threat, and perverse futuristic allure of total annihilation."-Nick Storring
"Allen and I worked for several years together in the second coming of Pere Ubu before we both decided to quit at around the same time. I carried on playing - and running this label [ReR Megacorp]; Allen became a commercial airline pilot and designed simulator stress tests for other airline pilots. Now retirement has brought him back to music and modular synthesis and - in this unusual recording - he arrives at a hybrid musical form that is more or less without precedent: discursive, digressive and disrupted by generic and emotional shifts; a music in which real-world sounds and real-world instruments occasionally argue with - or complement - the electronic current; there's agon here - and narrative. Narrative. Narrative. Narrative. For a largely abstract and instrumental recording, that's a real achievement. These pieces - and the interactions between them - cumulatively capture an historical moment - allusively and elusively, out of the corner of their eyes - and, I dare to say, that's not just an achievement, it's a great achievement."-Chris Cutler
• Show Bio for Allen Ravenstine
"Allen Ravenstine (born May 9, 1950) is an American keyboard player, most recognized for his work in the experimental rock group Pere Ubu. In 1991, he quit music to become a commercial airline pilot.
Allen Ravenstine was born on May 9, 1950. He had much exposure to music at a young age, his interest derived from his mother playing Sergei Rachmaninoff and other classical music and his father's interest in jazz and percussion records. He played the trombone in grade school but quickly lost interest. Ravenstine's first real experience as an artist came in 1971 after abandoning his college pursuits. He met visual artist Bob Bensick, who was experimenting with sending distortion into oscillators and out to a stereo system. Eventually, they discovered a way to attach lights and have them work in conjunction with the sounds being produced and decided to stage art shows. The act was short lived as Ravenstine moved out of the area and lost contact with Bensick. Soon after, Ravenstine purchased his first synthesizer, an ElectroComp EML 200, and began associating with the garage band Rocket from the Tombs and recording their performances.
Ravenstine owned the apartment building called "The Plaza", which served as home and gathering place for the developing art and music scene in Cleveland in the early 70s.
Ravenstine first worked with Pere Ubu in 1975 after being asked to contribute to the band's recording of "30 Seconds Over Tokyo". However, he was discouraged by the thought of having to perform live shows and opted to discontinue his involvement with the band. After watching Pere Ubu perform at a few venues, Ravenstine changed his mind and returned as a full-time member of the band, replacing keyboardist Dave Taylor. He continued his work with Pere Ubu until 1989 with the release of Cloudland, when he decided to leave the group and pursue his own interests.
Ravenstine obtained a pilot's license after Ubu's initial breakup, and after leaving the band permanently, worked as a flight instructor and charter pilot. He also completed a novel which was never published. Ravenstine largely avoided musical activity of any kind after leaving Pere Ubu, once making a guest appearance at a Red Krayola show in Los Angeles in 2004. In 2012, an invitation to contribute to "I Dream of Wires: The Modular Synthesizer Documentary" led to the recording of an impromptu duo performance on the EML-101 and 200 synthesizers, with current Ubu synthesist Robert Wheeler. Culled from this were a pair of albums and singles, entitled City Desk/Farm Report, which were self-released in 2013. On June 29, 2018, he released a solo album entitled Waiting for the Bomb on Recommended Records.
In reviewing Dub Housing, critic John Dougan writes, "Ravenstine, who may be one of the all-time great synth players colors the sound with ominous whooshes of distortions, blips, and blurbs that sound like a sped-up Pong game." "-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Ravenstine)
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