richard pinhas biography
Composer, guitarist and electronics innovator Richard Pinhas is recognized as one of France's major experimental musicians. A pivotal figure in the international development of electronic rock music, Pinhas' stature in France is analogous to Tangerine Dream's in Germany: the father figure of an entire musical movement. The pioneering, aggressive music produced by his band Heldon during the 1970s, fusing electronics, guitar and rock, heralded the industrial and techno to come and remains today vital and unsurpassed. The 'Father' of electronic music in France is also recognized as a world-class guitarist whose "diabolical guitar work" (Progression) earns comparisons with Robert Fripp.
Pinhas received a degree in guitar at 17, and a PhD in philosophy from the Sorbonne, studying under philosopher Gilles Deleuze and writing on time and science fiction. He taught philosophy before abandoning an academic career for Heldon, his 3rd band, whose name derived from Normal Spinrad's writing. Over the course of his subsequent musical career, Pinhas' ongoing philosophical studies and interest in science fiction have fired, infused, and continually renewed his music.
Heldon released 7 groundbreaking, critically acclaimed albums between 1974-78. Simultaneous with his Heldon work, Pinhas released 5 solo albums between 1976 and 1982. All of the Heldon and Pinhas recordings from this period have been reissued by Cuneiform, in a major Heldon/Pinhas CD reissue project that the US label began in 1991. Critics have lauded these 20-year old recordings, remarking that Heldon's "trailblazing electronic pathways have rarely been eclipsed even today" (i/e).
Pinhas returned to music with a vengeance in the 1990s after spending much of the 1980s away. Beginning with DWW (1992) on Cuneiform, his numerous 90s releases included projects with Peter Frohmader (Fossil Culture Cuneiform 1999), John Livengood, Scanner, Pascal Comelade, and others, as well as solo works. He also resumed performing.
During the '90s, Pinhas began developing a system of electronic processing to use in performing live solo guitar concerts. Experimenting with tape loops and infinite delays, he expanded, transformed and even transcended the "Frippertronics" technique Fripp used in his work with Eno, and "developed a set of personal parameters that stand on their own legs, his looping strata giving birth to interlocking patterns, chordal waves and even harmonic movements..." [Touching Extremes].
Pinhas also began experimenting in the late 90s with projects using spoken word, first used in his work with Heldon. Spoken by prominent 20th C. visionaries and futurists, including the philosopher Deleuze, science fiction writers Spinrad and Philip K. Dick, and French novelists Maurice Dantec and Chloe Delaume, the words - either taped or live/ real time, in English or French - add another layer of sound, texture and conceptual meaning to Pinhas' rich soundfields.
In 1998, Pinhas formed an on-going project, Schizotrope, with noted cyber-punk author Maurice Dantec that fused guitar, electronics and spoken word from texts by Dantec and Deleuze. Spinrad also played a role. Schizotrope toured and released three CDs, including a live recording on Cuneiform, The Life and Death of Marie Zorn, (2000) which Carbon 14 called: "A totally unique and personal approach to "electronica;"... a veritable deluge of sounds... triumphant music."
In 1999, Pinhas released his first solo CD based solely on guitar and processing systems, De L'Un Et Du Multiple (Spalax). In 2002, Cuneiform released his 2nd, Event and Repetition to widespread acclaim. Critics praised it as one of Pinhas' very best works, a sophisticated and mature manifestation of his experiments with electronically processed guitar and unique interpretation of Frippertronics. In the words of Touching Extremes, "Absolutely deep and rich, this record is a diamond." The BBC described it as "Music that is in flux and stasis at the same time, with an almost sculptural presence, stuffed with overtones and rich textures." The All Music Guide, however, summarized Event and Repetition the best: "...a sporadic but constant thread in Pinhas' music has been his experimentation with guitar feedback, loops and effects boxes, even in the early days of Heldon...Event and Repetitions may well signal the full realization of Pinhas' long-time vision. The drifting, hypnotic patterns of the five pieces on this CD... have a shimmering beauty and depth that seems to suggest a destination at the end of a long journey - and perhaps the beginning of a new journey." - Bill Tilland, All Music Guide
Dsolation Row finds things coming full-circle for guitarist/electronics pioneer, Richard Pinhas. In a career spanning more than 40 years, pathfinder Pinhas has remained continually innovative, pioneering groundbreaking developments in electronic rock and industrial music and influencing generations of musicians. In a major recent creative surge, he has released numerous recordings over the past several years in collaboration with noise and experimental musicians, breaking further sonic ground. Desolation Row finds Pinhas collaborating with those he has directly or indirectly inspired and influenced, with the results in a class by themselves.
On the album, he is in the company of some of Europe's cutting-edge performers in the frequently-overlapping spheres of free improvisation, jazz, progressive rock and noise - Oren Ambarchi, Lasse Marhaug, Etienne Jaumet, Noel Akchote, Eric Borelva, and his son, Duncan Nilsson - engaging in a series of six distinct works which stimulate and push all concerned through and beyond their comfort zones. This is a work that stands both with and apart from the respective oeuvres of its principals. The continually evolving Pinhas reaches ever newer artistic vistas - and draws attention to Europe's sociological, political, and economic turmoil on Desolation Row.
Desolation Row contains some of the elements we know and love from Pinhas-dense, subtly shifting banks of sonic bliss; sustained guitar tones, textures alternately dreamlike and nightmarish, and well-nigh elemental, pulsating rhythms. Far from being an "elder statesman," this shows that Richard Pinhas is still in the thick of things, continually reinventing his musical conceptions and recognizing no conventional constraints.