Stunning and legendary material from veteran art-experimentalist Duncan. Some of this stuff is so dark and spooky and inexplicably visceral that it's hard to listen to it without taking a break. These are the infamous John See Soundtracks, along with other performance pieces dating as far back as 1984. There is an excellent full-color booklet with it, explaining the works and their performance. Whats the most striking at first listen? That would be Duncan utlizing pronographic moans and heavy-breathing within ambient soundscapes. This is certainly sexy in a mysterious way, but then these sounds just become haunting, like voices of the dead, bodiless moans absently pretending satisfaction. Then they end up somewhere near the mechanical, not even human at all. Extended pieces take the sounds of sex further, with one using a very strange, almost beastial male-noise, effected and distorted and repeated until it becomes something else. As when you repeat a word over and over, it loses it's meaning. And all this is under thin sheets of tense ambient drones, so it really digs its way into you. But there are pieces that have no identification with the sexual as well... and these become the unbelievably heavy, powerful ascendencies of sound, increasing and building into frightening, violent walls. This is truly breakthrough material, up there with legendary albums such as Permafrost, I.O.S.'s Historical or Randy Grief's Alice In Wonderland, purely for it's absolute power and ability to create that tectonic movement within the listeners psyche. Do not miss this one.
Vince Harrigan, Manifold Records
It might be a known story: after moving from USA to Japan, John Duncan did some work in the Porn business. In a recent interview he states the pornography is a hidden side of society that is, at least in Japan, also quite schizophrenic. Pubic hair and sexual intercourse are not allowed to be seen.
This CD contains five soundtracks to various porn films and were originally released on a limited picture disc LP. The CD version also contains one extra piece - the soundtrack to the performance 'Move Forward'. As one can expect there are various sighs to be found here against backdrops of dark atmospheric music (to avoid the 'ambient-industrial' tag). In 'Breath Choir' the sighing towards the end gets more mechanical - maybe a resemblance of the mechanical affair the porn industry sometimes is? There is also 'Breathchoir Mix' and here the vocals sound like pigs screaming. Quite haunting! 'Inka' is a collage of delayed sounds with clicks and pops - I wish to see what scene belongs to this (the problem with soundtracks without the screen of course). 'Power Love' is one of the few rhythmical Duncan tracks I know off with some weird ethnical chanting. It is the sounding of energy that comes from having sex.
'Move Forward' is an archetype of Duncan's music: shortwave sounds being layered and processed to a great extent. Maybe from all the pieces on this CD, the only piece that can be thoroughly enjoyed without having experienced the performance or film that are also part of it.
Frans de Waard, VITAL