Five years in the making, The Abrasion Ensemble "Music for the same 500 People" debut CD on Beta Lactam Ring Records. Originally released with slightly different material in 1999 (in a limited edition of 50 copies with hand painted covers by Rick Reed that are now collectors items) is a classic 'Texas' take on European free improv. Fans of the genre may be surprised that such a music would take root in Austin or anywhere else in Texas for that matter. But here it is: Raw but restrained , powerful yet delicate. In a review of his first release on Thurston Moore's 'Center Of The Ass Run' LP, ND magazine says Reed's guitar is" like the sound of levitating farm machinery". Recorded live at various times over the years, Reed is joined here with such fine guest collaborators as David Nuss of New York's No Neck Blues Band, Tom Carter of the Texas based group Charalambides and Shawn McMillen of Ash Castles on the Ghost Coast. As well as a roster of other incredible musicians and noise artist's from Austin's under- underground. The music on the disc ranges from the more chaotic improv (think maybe AMM, Organum or morphogenesis) to milder, flowing improves (think maybe Organum). Just some of the instruments used on this cd: prepared guitar, drums, broken electronics, sine generators, car muffler, effect pedals, to name a few. Rick Reed was recently immortalized in the AMM cd title: "Before driving to the chapel we took coffee with Rick and Jennifer Reed" first 100 come with a bonus disk of material.
The self-effacing title is an elaboration of a quote from the No Neck Blues Band's David Nuss, who stated that the first cd-r from the Abrasion Ensemble was "music for the same 50 people." Now the Abrasion Ensemble is thinking really big with that album's proper release with a run of 500 copies. Masterminded by Texas free-noise improvisationalist Rick Reed, the Abrasion Ensemble has a revolving door policy that has seen Mr. Nuss as well as members of Charalambides, Ash Castles on the Ghost Coast, and Brekekek koax koax passing through the Abrasion Ensemble. Reed describes the work of the Abrasion Ensemble as "pretty much anchored in waters that Organum or AMM would fish in as well." The Organum comparisons are definitely hard to hear, but AMM is right on the money, with overamplified cable buzz, mottled guitar haze, and playful pipe fightin' percussive textures.-Aquarius Records
It was either blasphemy or genius; it's often hard to differentiate. An amplified wire running across the church's ceiling. Gutted guitars laid flat on tables, cables and coils protruding every which way. Flickering scenes of abstraction projected onto a backdrop. Mysterious glowing boxes and antennae, conjuring sounds that were at once unearthly and wholly natural, like the ebb and flow of the Earth's biosphere. Such was "Intersect3" in early April at Ceremony Hall, a decommissioned chapel across from Hancock Center in Hyde Park that has been home base in recent years to local adventurous music. And this may have been its most adventurous performance yet, a rare gathering of some of Austin's most talented experimental musicians. Most of the evening's performers regularly produce music in their living rooms and for friends, often recording albums that are distributed nationally and internationally. What they don't normally do is come out of the woodwork to perform here in town, and for that reason alone, the craftsmanship of the evening's performance was surprisingly smooth . "All of that seemed to come out fully formed, didn't it?" muses Rick Reed, one of the evening's performers. Reed's performance consisted of sound sculptures using shortwave radio and sine wave generators to tap into the electromagnetic spectrum, an enthralling accompaniment to his abstract film pieces. The evening's other local performers, Jeff Filla, jgrzinich, Thom Grzinich, and Brekekekexkoaxkoax, performed equally engrossing pieces involving live electronics, film projection, bowed strings, and nontraditional piano playing. Together with the similarly focused Charalambides and noisier improvisational troupes such as Primordial Undermind, Curse of Blefescu, Iron Kite, Autodidact, and the Aurora Plastics Company, these performers comprise a staunchly adventurous avant-garde underbelly to the Austin music scene, even as they fail to find a place within the nightclub paradigm. Rick Reed, for his part, has been in Austin for over 20 years, and all the while there's been a small cadre of experimental musicians blurring the lines between noise and music, abstraction and composition. Reed's Fear and Tension Corporation produced progressive and industrial electronic music throughout the Eighties in the shadow of Raul's punk and New Wave. In the Nineties, he formed the free-noise Abrasion Ensemble and began co-hosting KOOP's otherworldly Sunday night show Commercial Suicide. Reed had a compilation released by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore on his Ecstatic Peace label, and is now working on a split record with Keith Rowe of legendary English improv group AMM for the formerly Austin-based avant-repertory Beta-Lactam Ring Records. Reed disbanded the Abrasion Ensemble last year to focus on the more tranquil aspects of sound, but his enthusiasm for sonic exploration remains. "There's always been a subculture of a lot of this stuff," Reed says. "But it seems as though there's now a larger audience for it. I don't know if maybe the Internet has allowed more access to information, but as far as the sound, the time has come for it."