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Alan Sondheim - Future Speed Future
CD (Providence, RI)


Improvisation - Alan Sondheim
Songs / voice - Azure Carter

(Disaster Amnesiac) Of one thing you can be certain with the worlds of art and music: there will always be a race against time. Creative people seem to be particularly afflicted by the mental horror of this race. Musicians and artists spend so much of their time unseen by anyone but those closest to them as they learn and hone and finesse their chosen crafts. Disaster Amnesiac mentions this because these dynamics are well to the fore on Alan Sondheim's newest CD, Future Speed Future. As I read the self-penned liner notes for the disc, I often get a feeling of sheer terror as Alan mentions the psychic and physical pain that arises from his method for the songs collected therein. In his own words, the "...[F]ast as possible improvisation/not repeating/shape-riding sonic worlds..." are sources of discomfort as he performs them. Thankfully for the listener, it's not so much raw pain as beauty that will be encountered from them. As his fingers do indeed skitter incredibly fast across the necks and bridges of acoustic guitars, sazs, oud, dutar and viola, one is treated to lovely micro-tonal phrases that fly around the perceptions like exotic butterflies or fast moving celluloid art. It always strikes Disaster Amnesiac that improvised music presents the listener not so much with songs to be sung along with but interior/exterior worlds that must be worked toward to be truly appreciated. Sondheim has spent decades working them in and out of his menagerie of stringed instruments, and on Future Speed Future he for the most part pushes the pedal to the metal, full speed ahead. Fingers fly across the frets and strings, and if one is paying attention, these acoustic sounds resonate in most delightful ways. Again, if one does the mental work, the aesthetic riches are there for the taking. Alan's long time partner Azure Carter provides a bit of counterpart with vocals and lyrics on three tracks, as her approach is much more measured. It's almost as she Azure is reminding Alan that it's alright to take a breath; meanwhile, Alan plows forward, and these contrasts are stunning. Sondheim will not rest, and let's just hope that he finds ways to cope with the pace that he's chosen. Back in June of 2018, Disaster Amnesiac got to spend a few delightful hours in Alan Sondheim's presence, and I left that encounter realizing that anyone who is interested in true Art and Creativity would benefit immensely from spending time with his straightforward and wide ranging insights. If one can't get out to his current home of Providence, one should grab a copy of Future Speed Future and start learning from him there. Can you keep up? - Mark Pino

(Babysue) For those who are not familiar with Alan Sondheim, before reading this review check out his website first (link above). This man's site is very very different from just about everything else out there...not only in terms of content, but also the extremely simple way the content is presented. According to different sources on the internet, Sondheim is a poet, critic, musician, artist, and theorist of cyberspace. Alan is one of those unique individuals on our planet who is operating on a plane so far above the rest of us that most folks (including us) can't even comprehend a lot of what he does. Whereas so many individuals in the world strive so hard to be unique and different, Sondheim really and truly is. When we began playing Future Speed Future, our first reaction was that we've never heard anyone play a guitar like this before. So we pulled up a video of Alan playing guitar and found out why. It's unlikely that anyone has EVER played guitar the way this man does. Instead of playing in a conventional sense, he attacks the guitar like he's using drills or sanders and just plows into the instrument. Those who aren't playing close attention might mistake his playing for random noise. But it's actually much more than that, because the notes aren't nearly as important as the way the instrument is being played. It's bizarre. It's experimental. And it's very very unusual. Vocalist Azure Carter joins on some of these tracks. And interestingly, those tracks are the ones that seem the most normal. But bear in mind that all of these tracks are anything but normal. Sondheim's liner notes are an integral part of the package, as he explains what he does. In all the years we've been writing about music, this man is easily one of the most unorthodox. Over 72 minutes of music here. Bizarre audio tracks include "Terz1," "Cura2," "Romeo3," "Longneckedsazlinger," and "Romeo2." This is definitely not for everyone. But those brave enough to experience this man's creative universe will be forever changed. Top pick. - Don W 7

(KFJC) Churning, shattering, rupturing, stuttering string improvisation as fast as possible with no repetition from Alan Sondheim on Public Eyesore. “I am riding the contour of what I am hearing And my fingers flailing about As if I wear(sic) under control.” He plays a diverse assortment of guitars, Arabic and Central Asian lutes and a viola. This is Sondheim’s 4th full-length in our library. Feat. vocal chants from Azure Carter on 4, 8, 12: “This is a prelude to a song/ Or is it an accompaniment to a song/ Or a prelude to …” - Louie Caliente

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