A Guide For Reason: I - VI
Faith Strange

A Guide For Reason: VII - VIII
Faith Strange

A Guide For Reason presents Mike Fazio operating under a guise other than his customary orchestramaxfieldparrish alias. Though the new material—by his own reckoning, “electronic aural sculpture” that's “abstract, exploratory & left-field”—hews more to the noise-&-post-industrial part of the sonic spectrum (think Coil, The Hafler Trio, et al.), it conceivably could have been issued under the orchestramaxfieldparrish moniker, simply because the recordings he's issued under the name are already so wide-ranging that it could have accommodated the A Guide For Reason tracks too, had he been so inclined to present them as such. No matter—the eight tracks presented on the limited-edition full-length (100 copies) and three-inch EP (50 copies) are an engrossing lot no matter the name under which they're issued, and it appears that the shift in focus to what for Fazio amounts to an even more personalized form of abstract expressionism has proven both cathartic and liberating for this always adventurous explorer. The full-length's content was shared initially with friends and like-minded artists only, but the decision was subsequently reached to make it available in a wider form, though not for reasons of commercial or personal gain but more to grant it a life of its own. No gear-related info is included, but the sounds on offer appear to include samples of varying kinds, field recordings, electronics, and a heavy dose of synthesizers, though for all we know Fazio might have used guitar to generate much of it and used treatments of one kind or another to effect the synthetic simulations.

While the opening track, “A Handful of Hours in a Split Second (The Events of an Ordinary Day Pass Like Strangers on The Street as We Are Busy at Work Engineering Tomorrowland),” careens into view with a daunting noise flourish, it immediately thereafter settles into a more even-tempered space. As a whole, the piece assumes the form of a constantly mutating travelogue that segues rapidly from one industrial-tinged episode to another until coming to rest in an extended intergalaxial rumination. The mood of “The Radiant Life” is anything but sunny, as the piece trudges along, dragging dungeon-styled clanks and muffled voices along with it as it does so. The album gravitates towards more overtly experimental territory during its second half. The focus on the connecting tracks “The Important Thing is to Never Stop Questioning” and “Time: The Solution to the Problem of There Being No Solutions” is on field recordings-based soundscaping that appears to draw upon natural elements (wind, rumble) and present them in heavily distorted form. By turns and sometimes simultaneously, “Out From Which Comes the Beginning” unspools as a whirring-and-clattering dronescape and ghostly hall-of-mirrors (until, that is, a breakbeats episode surfaces during its final innings, shifting the piece into another direction altogether).

Why issue the eight tracks on two separate discs? One reason may be that the full-length's tracks were recorded in June, 2009 whereas the EP's were laid down two years later ( the next installment is currently scheduled for fall 2011 release). The latter's opener, “The Indirect Communication,” initially suggests that the EP may be a bit more sedate than the full-length, but the electrically spiked track gradually grows noisier and hotter to the touch as its seventeen minutes unfolds. It's as much of a shape-shifter as the opening piece on the full-length, with “The Indirect Communication” touching down in multiple zones of ethereal abstraction before “One of These is True. This is True” completes the journey with a shimmering soundscape of beatific character. Fazio has stated in reference to the A Guide For Reason project, “This music has no purpose other than it exists,” but even if that were to be its sole purpose it would be more than enough, given that it affords us another opportunity to partake of his singular artistry.

May 2011