One of the main reasons behind my respect for Cuneiform is their educational role for young and not-so-young admirers of everything genuinely progressive (in the strictest acceptation of the adjective). Let me put this into perspective. Generally speaking, both the enthusiastic fan and the sick-minded collector are doomed to suffer from the much feared “record and/or data accumulation syndrome”. This disease manifests its symptoms when the number of owned releases is so high that A) there’s no more available space in the house and/or the hard disks, and B) the sheer massiveness of the gathered materials prevents the victim from effectively apprehending the basics, ultimately privileging things that should belong to the “secondary” category while overlooking sizable chunks of the serious stuff.
The foreword is required to roughly explain this writer’s experience with Richard Pinhas’ production, to which he arrived inexcusably and ignorantly late despite decades of contacts with innumerable artists and genres. In 1978, when this album came out, this 14-year old semi-recluse was fairly aware of Henry Cow and a certified King Crimson zealot but nevertheless kept wasting money purchasing utter garbage such as Genesis’ …And Then There Were Three…, still hopeful in the band’s ability to recapture ancient glories (O Ant Phillips, where art thou?) that would not come back. But Pinhas? Never heard of him (Italy being Italy, pre-internet era… lame excuses, I know).
Incidentally, to this day I appreciate several bits of (a-hem) Mike Oldfield’s Incantations, also out in that year.
Now, if you listen to Chronolyse in 2016 it still sounds current and relevant. It is, without question, a minor minimalist/electronic milestone of sorts, well beyond an abundant handful of theoretical “can’t miss” LPs from the same area revisited and (often inexplicably) hyped in recent times by the “alternative” press (don’t make me write titles again). The historical and social contexts related to Pinhas’ creative light of that period were unique, yet an attentive analysis of the music’s entrancing character and sense of timelessness suggests that the succulent fruits of albums like, say, 2002’s Event And Repetitions or 2014’s Tikkun are just the obvious consequence of a vision that was already at an advanced stage in the second half of the 70s.
A work that hasn’t lost its forward-looking traits in almost four decades, replete with meaning, passion and real knowledge, gifting us with that extra measure of internal balance needed to survive amidst the mundane rubbish. In extreme synthesis: give me a whole afternoon of “Paul Atreïdes” over the entire doom scene of nowadays any fucking time.