chris cutler and thomas dimuzio

rer megacorp

2002 CD


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“...filled with unheard sounds and textures.” (4 stars) — All Music Guide

“...a true masterpiece which takes the intriguing premise of Quake to a wholly unprecedented new level.” (5 stars) — Prog Archives

“A very fine disc that leaves lots and lots to hear and will grow everytime hearing.” — Vital Weekly

“One of the top 100 albums of 2002.” — LA Weekly

All Music Guide

Three years after Quake, Chris Cutler and Thomas Dimuzio came back with a second serving of confusing electrified percussion and sampling. If anything, this album goes even further in blurring distinctions between the two protagonists' contributions, between acoustic and electronic, between real-time performance and post-production. Dust consists of two highly demanding 20-minute pieces that have been over-subdivides in pure Cutler fashion. “Requiem" is pure live action from a concert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, late 2000. Dimuzio uses samples of an elemental/drone nature (wind, growling tectonic sounds), plus he samples and processes the sounds produced by the percussionist, himself playing his trademark electric drums (a drum kit equipped with microphones routed through effects and a mixer). The resulting music is a captivating chunk of maximalist electroacoustics, filled with unheard sounds and textures — Cutler's Solo CD with an extra layer of interaction. The origins of “Universal Decoding Machine" are found in a French studio on July 21, 2002. Using a similar set-up, Cutler and Dimuzio improvised while EM Thomas walked in and outside the studio wearing a binaural microphone set. His (her?) input was transmitted to engineer Bob Drake who processed and fed it back to the musicians through loudspeakers. Later, Dimuzio added overdubs, shaped and remixed the whole piece into its final form. It feels less spontaneous, much closer to electroacoustic composition, with an episode of noisy techno thrown in to destabilize the listener (and it works). Dimuzio is known for the depth of his sonic assemblages and Dust makes no exception. After going through this album, if you feel 41 minutes is too short a duration, maybe you need to listen again and pay closer attention. (4 stars) —François Couture

Prog Archives

The second Cutler/Dimuzio collaborative album is a true masterpiece which takes the intriguing premise of Quake to a wholly unprecedented new level. Using only Cutler's electric drum kit, some electronics and a sampler (used to process Cutler's drums in real time as well as an instrument in its own right), the two musicians conjure one of those rare albums that sails through caverns measureless to man. Although nominally divided into 19 tracks, the album consists of two long improvisations, one live in New Mexico and the other a studio piece recorded in France.
Requiem is the live improvisation that takes up the first half of the album, tracks 1 - 6. This picks up where Quake left off, and the result is utterly beguiling; it's almost impossible to discern any of the normal features of music - melody, rhythm or even recognisable instrumental sounds - but it's a piece that grabs the attention and doesn't let go. The two performers establish a remarkable tension that persists for the duration of the piece, never resolved but contantly evolving. For an abstract piece of electronica it's also unexpectedly moving, and it serves as a remarkable requiem (although to who or what it is dedicated is unclear). For most of the piece there are no readily identifiable drum sounds, and even when they do emerge they are not played in a conventionally rhythmic style. As much as they are musicians, Cutler and Dimuzio are careful and attentive listeners: to the world around them, to their immediate environment and to each other. The results of their painstaking approach reach their zenith on this 21 minute piece, which reveals more of itself on every listening.

The second half of the album, Universal Decoding Machine, is the result of a very different process. This was recorded in a studio in France, with EM Thomas wandering around outside with a binaural microphone feeding in natural sounds to be treated, and engineer Bob Drake modifying the sound at the mixing desk. The piece was subsequently treated and reassembled post production by Dimuzio, creating an interesting contrast with the sponatnaeity and intimacy of the first half. Cutler's drums are sometimes clearly audible, and he even strikes up a relatively conventional backbeat on track 13, which is actually quite shocking when first heard. The sounds of birdsong, flowing water and other natural sounds create a sense of space and light that is the mirror image of Requiem's feel of enclosed underground spaces.

Dust is anything but easy listening and is far closer to contemporary electroacoustic avant garde music than it is to rock, but it is a work with a human heart beating at its core and which is not as dry and emotionally detached as a lot of contemporary classical music. It's an intensely rewarding 41 minutes of music for those who are prepared to listen to it as carefully as Cutler and Dimuzio did to each other while creating it. Essential. —Syzygy

Vital Weekly

This is the their second collaborative work, after 'Quake' (see Vital Weekly 195). I am, I must admit, a great fan of Dimuzio's work (more to review next week probably) and never much of Cutler's work, but that might still be just me and my ignorance. Like 'Quake' this new work was captured in concert, two of them. One in front of a live audience and one inside the studio, and that one of course has overdubs. Not that it's really to say the difference between the two. Both artists employ micro tonalism, each in their own way. It results in densely layered music, in which it's hard to recognize the sampling of Dimuzio versus the drumming of Cutler. Percussive sounds float by, but wether they are the result of drumming or processing it's hard to tell. The whole improvisational aspect is both very much present, but at the same time it's also so far away, just because of the denseness of the recordings. That makes this into quite a captivating recording. New elements seem to come from nothing and they disappear as suddenly as they arrived on the scene. Overall the first piece, which is titled 'Requiem' (6 parts) is more dark and has certainly those edges that belong to a requiem. The other piece, which was expanded with studio techniques has no real theme, and is more complex, as well as obscured sound elements. A very fine disc that leaves lots and lots to hear and will grow everytime hearing. —Frans de Waard

LA Weekly


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