richard pinhas press

Inreview: Guitarist Richard Pinhas takes progressive approach to music
Website: Houston Chronicle
Writer: Andrew Dansby

He remembers a Led Zeppelin show in his native France, where 30,000 people showed up for a performance that fell 15 minutes short of four hours.

"Hundreds of people would run up on the stage and take a photo," he says, laughing. "Back then, nothing bad would happen. That, you could not do today."

While those purveyors of loud and sometimes psychedelic blues were early inspiration for Pinhas, the French artist has steered in a different direction over his 40-year career.

Pinhas fused his complicated guitar playing with electronics and keyboards in the '70s as part of the influential band Heldon, which ran parallel to other progressive acts such as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream.

Pinhas was a fascinating figure. While prog rock of the '70s looked to space for superficial inspiration, he was toting around a philosophy Ph.D. and finding inspiration in hard science-fiction by the likes of Philip K. Dick and Norman Spinrad. His band took its name from Spinrad's 1972 novel "The Iron Dream."

Like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, Heldon's impact on subsequent music - especially in the States - would be far greater than the renown they enjoyed during their short run from 1974 to 1978.

"To me, there was nothing strange about what we were doing," Pinhas says. "I had no fear: I love the guitar, playing the guitar, we were just trying to advance it into the future."

Pinhas made some solo recordings after Heldon's demise, but he dropped out of sight for most of the 1980s.

During the '90s, he sprung back with vigor, releasing numerous albums based around his experimental guitar playing and electronics. Over just the past 10 years, he's made more than a dozen albums, most recently "Process & Reality," an improvised piece with Japanese musicians Masami Akita on electronics and Tatsuya Yoshida on drums.

Despite being a prolific recording artist, Pinhas doesn't often get to the U.S. and has never performed in Texas in his four decade career, which makes his Friday show at 14 Pews a rare opportunity to see an avant-garde legend at work.

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