Thrill Jockey Records Thrill 224

Part of the wave of European post-Jazz/post-electronic combos, Radian’s first CD in four years reinforces its commitment to forging a distinct style out of many sonic references – but doesn’t signal any radical changes.

Formed in Vienna in 1996, Radian’s three members are still as committed to exploiting computer-linked sound reorganization and record studio systemization as they are in replicating live impulses. But the end product sounds less live than premeditated.

Proponents of group interaction, no one’s contributions trump those of the other players here. Especially cognizant of this is drummer/vibist/computer manipulator Martin Brandlmayr, who also has similar experience as a member of Trapist, with guitarist Martin Siewert and bassist Joe Williamson, and Polwechsel with percussionist Burkhard Beins and bassist Werner Dafeldecker.

Atmospheric and throbbing in parts with washes of unaffiliated sound warps and computer-generated drones, Chimeric also bows to so-called improv rock, highlighting distorted, fortissimo guitar lines, unvarying drum pops and paradiddles, plus brief episodes of accelerating electronic distortions. With Trapist and Polwechsel wedded to free improv, it’s probably Nemeth’s interest in sound tracks which tips this CD’s sound more towards background color than individual expression.

Pieces such as “Feedback Mikro/City Lights”, which was partially recorded in sequence without cutting and re-mixing, suggests similar mesmerizing episodes by bands such as The Necks, especially when ringing guitar licks and echoing vibraphone rebounds are taken into consideration. Yet the accelerating timbres that follow a martial drum beat suggest effects sampling rather than experience summations. Similarly, psychedelic-referencing stretches and altered flanges on “Subcolors” are resolved with dulcimer-like scratches, a near monotonous drum beat, extended metal bar clanking and fuzzy guitar scratches.

Perhaps avoiding performing for a year and eschewing recording for four times that length of time wasn’t Radian’s best course of action. On the other hand fans of the trio and followers of avant-fusion music may be more impressed.

Acceptable within its limitations, Chimeric – and Radian – has the potential to be and do so much more.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Git Cut Noise 2. Feedback/Mikro/City Lights 3. Git Cut Derivat 4. Chimera 5. Kinetakt 6. Subcolors

Personnel: Stefan Nemeth (guitars and synthesizers); John Norman (bass and Martin Brandlmayr (drums, vibraphone, samples and editing)