Arp, More

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 09.17.13 in Reviews

There may be no synthesizer more chameleonic than the Arp, which has provided cosmic tones for Sun Ra, Stevie Wonder’s earthy funk, the monstrous stomp of “Frankenstein”, even the voice of R2D2. So it’s fitting that in naming his solo project Arp, Alexis Georgopoulos has himself shape-shifted with each album. As a member of Tussle, he played pliant dancepunk, while Arp’s first album In Light basked in the gentle kosmische tones of Popol Vuh and Tangerine Dream. His follow-up moved more toward dystopic drones and the drum machine-propelled songs of Cluster.

Ranging wildly, though never falling far from the ’70s

With More, Georgopoulos ranges wildly, though never far from the 1970s. Opener “High-Heeled Clouds,” with its buoyant upright piano line, could come right out of John Cale’s Paris 1919, while the gentle “Daphne & Chloe” with its “bah-bah”s serve as an elegant update of The Velvet’s “I Found a Reason.” Cribbing from the VU playbook is nothing new, but Arp also investigates those who did the same, like Bowie and Eno. “A Tiger in the Hall at Versailles” mixes wordless vocals, puttering drum machine and harpsichord like some strange “Heroes” outtake. And the catchy “Judy Nylon” namechecks Eno’s girlfriend and emulates the buzzing siren guitars and snare thwacks of “Camel in the Needle’s Eye.”

Arp is prudent to pull from resources besides glam, though. Tucked into the album’s corners are field recordings, audio collage, a smattering of doo-wop saxophone. And at the center is “Gravity” a six-minute exercise in minimalism dedicated to the mesmeric pianist/composer Charlemagne Palestine. Accruing overtones on piano, Georgopoulos layers strings and fuzzed guitar, the piece building to an ecstatic peak; he then strips it back to reveal the analog synthesizer at the heart of it all.