Robert Turman: Beyond Painting

Robert Turman: Beyond Painting

For a while, Robert Turman's legacy in the genesis of American Noise was reduced to a dead hyperlink in the NON section of Boyd Rice's Wikipedia page. Turman is enjoying the type of revival typically sparked by obituaries. But when Spectrum Spools reissued Turman's Flux last year it was illuminated as a high watermark of 80's outre. Realistically though, it's Aaron Dilloway who is responsible for Turman's developing reputation. The two collaborated on the chilling Blizzard and have been gigging frequently, even backing Jandek early last year. In fact, Dilloway was supposed to reissue Flux on his own Hanson label before John Elliott did it justice on vinyl. At the very least, Turman will go down as the man to whom Dilloway dedicated Modern Jester's finest track.

Beyond Painting is a reissue too-- originally recorded in 1990, it was first issued on 100 CD-R’s in 2010. Such immediate re-release-- before the original has even sold out-- illustrates just how high Turman’s profile has risen. Fabrica is actually offering this vinyl simultaneously with a new cassette-- Macro-- as if to contextualize one within the other. The new work features a collage of techniques and timbres, but Beyond Painting is faithful to Turman's old habit of album-legnth aesthetic meditations. Consider how Way Down used violent Industrial to criticize Reagan’s military action-- cold and hot alike-- and how Flux's minimalistic loops and acoustic instrumentation crafted sound and mindspace opposite of all noise's means, but not ends.

This album’s unifying aesthetic is lush darkness, somehow never melancholy nor icy. The work’s unity is steeped in the fact that his synthesizers and loops mosey almost paceless. The shared musical theme of the first and last tracks, in fact, lend an overt cohesion. Not for nothing, the album also renders Turman’s body of work up until 1990 homogenous. For example, the bass in “Al-Qa’ida” deliberately recalls Way Down's drive and rhythm; “Reflux” abides faithfully by its title’s insinuations. This material was apparently the last batch Turman would record for a good while. It could have been his final work, period. Beyond Painting is such an eerily pat summation of his innovations and genius that you would think it was compiled by Dilloway or Elliott post-mortem. Perhaps consider this a noise conspiracy theory.

blog comments powered by Disqus