The Abstractions | Novo Navigatio

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Rock: Psychedelic Jazz: Free Jazz Moods: Type: Experimental
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Novo Navigatio

by The Abstractions

2004 CD release of West Coast subtle, psychedelia-improv to experimental songs. sinking commentary on the disillusioned atmosphere of George W. Bush's America. "Sounds like Leonard Cohen deconstructed to some really nice abstract noise." --Vital Weekly
Genre: Rock: Psychedelic
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. Freedom from the Known
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1:13 $0.99
2. Our Gov. Schwarzenegger
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1:00 $0.99
3. Media & Money our deMOCKracy
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3:28 $0.99
4. Lament the fallen
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5. Take off leave now never come back
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6. Christian Bush
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7. Noise?What!
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8. Epiphany in bitter blue
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9. Bronze Tear Pass
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10. Take Yourself Seriously
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11. Red Dusk over Red Dawn
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12. The Routinization of Modern Life
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13. Baroque in black fugue
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14. Who killed Desiree Brown
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15. The moon, my visions
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16. of Phantasmagoric Supposition
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17. Voodoo in America?
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18. Deadly Silence
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19. Burn it down
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Novo Navigatio (New Journey) is the Abstractions' third release of innovative and cutting soundscapes. A walk through minimalist instrumentals to pointed, political poetry. Noise to a collective chaos of "vision music" that consists of a colorful orchestration of vocals, saxophones, guitars, percussion, strings, electronics and emotion. The Abstractions are all about serious musicianship and not. It is an open-hearted invitation and provocation.

The Abstractions:
Rent Romus - alto, soprano, c-melody saxophones,
flute, voice/vocals/zitherod, accordian
Ernesto Diaz-Infante - vocals, acoustic steelstring guitar,
4-track cassette portastudio, field recordings
Bob Marsh - cello, voice
Philip Everett - drums, percussion, autoharp, lyrics
Lance Grabmiller - laptop
Dina Emerson - vocals
Sandor Finta - vocals
Marina Lazzara - vocals, electric guitar
Alwyn Quebido - electric guitar
C.J. Reaven Borosque - noise pedals, prepared guitar
Matt Davignon - turntable, drums machine, cans
Marjorie Sturm - flute, lyrics
Ray Schaeffer - electric bass


Lyrics...

Media & Money our deMOCKracy// So absurd sad surreal/ Schwarzenegger is our governor/ where the fuck should we run for?/ Schwarzenegger is our governor/ mega-media-marketing stars get the pay-off once more/ Droned and drugged by TV celebrities/ Californians are pathetic in their warped reality/ great to see the Terminator terminated/ my very real bloodbath fantasy/ media and money, this is our democracy/ why argue? why expect integrity?/ He's got charisma, and so did Hitler/ The people have spoken.--M.Sturm

Christian Bush// Bush is a Christian/ didn't ya
know?/ He's got that good Christian glow/ With White
Christian American/ in the palm of his hand/ at his
command/ causing limitless bloodshed/ in other
lands/ Bush is a Christian/ didn't ya know?/ His
prayers are answered/ with no corporate foes/ Enron and
Exxon and he/ share the same priest/ Jesus'
simplicity/ isn't part of the current beat/ But they're
Christian/ We're all Christian/ We agree on
that/ We're Christian/ As long as they're Christian/ I
see where this is going... / Keep the church
nearby/ White America abides/ proper moral killing
resides/ Cause the Devil is NEVER inside/ Cause the
Devil is NEVER inside/ It's over there/ It's over
there/ It's over there.--M.Sturm

Take Yourself Seriously// I take myself seriously/ So
others take me seriously/ Seriously/ Take yourself
seriously/ This is serious/ Art is serious/ Life is
serious/ Success is serious/ Money is serious/ Craft is
serious/ Style is serious/ It's serious/ Very
serious/ I'm getting to where I'm going/ I'm getting to
where I'm going/ I'm almost there--M.Sturm

The Routinization of Modern Life// Monday and
Wednesday I teach/ Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday I
go to the gym/ This is my life, my life/ Tuesday and
Thursday and Friday I have band practice/ Sunday and
Monday and Thursday football/ This is my life, my
life--M.Sturm

Who killed Desiree Brown//Shifting softly into
silence/ slipsliding gracefully into the
night/ Exploited by shades of darkness/ she
fell-down-down-down/ Who killed Desiree Brown?/ Who put
Desiree/ Deep down in the ground/ Who broker her
heart?/ Who hurt her mind?/ Who left her all alone to
die?/ Who killed Desiree Brown?/ Desiree came
undone/ Living fast, dying young/ A life so filled with
ecstasy/ That's why it's such a mystery/ Who killed
Desiree Brown?/Stabbed her with a knife/choked the
breath of life/Sent her to an evil place/666 carved on
her face/ Who killed Desiree Brown?/ Don't come knockin
at her door/ No one lives there anymore/ Rumor says
She's hell bound and won't be saved/ Who killed Desiree
Brown?--Philip Everett

Credits
Recorded/mixed/mastered by Ray Schaeffer at
Nazmir Kelpcut Research Ranch, Richmond California 2003


Reviews


to write a review

Federico Marongiu, Music Extreme

This is a pure experimental release done by the masters of the style.
An incredible group of musicins full of talent and imagination get together on this album that has nineteen tracks of pure improvisation. Here we have musicians whose work we have reviewed before like Ernesto Diaz-Infante. Most of the nineteen compositions are short (less than two minutes) and they are designed as bursts of pure experimentation. And here you have many sounds that you can not believe that are coming from an instrument, and also experimentation with voices (that are choral works). There are from strange melodies here to sounds and noises. There is interesting experimentation with percussion (such as in track number four) and there are very atmospheric improvisations like the winds blowing in track 8. This is a pure experimental release done by the masters of the style.

Marco Carcasi, Kathodik

Semplicemente uno dei dischi piu belli dell'anno che si sta per concludere.
Tornano a farsi risentire gli Abstractions ad un anno di distanza dal precedente e bellissimo 'Ars Vivende' che ci aveva letteralmente fulminato con la sua complessa e sulfurea miscela che mescolava abilmente spettri free e massicce mareggiate noise riconducibili caratterialmente ai God piu titanici. Nel frattempo molte cose sono cambiate dalle loro parti (gli Usa), notevoli e tristi eventi hanno flagellato il mondo ed il sinistro Nuovo Ordine Mondiale sembra essere sempre piu un dato di fatto che la paranoia visionaria di un povero coglione (vero mr.Bush?).
La rielezione in carica del presidente uscente, la terribilmente Dickiana nomina a governatore del polpettone Schwarzenegger e sopratutto una strisciante (manco tanto) sensazione di ritorno al passato (buoni e cattivi, bianchi e neri, ricchi e poveri; comunque contrapposizione frontale e violenta in tutti i casi) sono condizioni che hanno notevolmente influenzato la nascita di questo 'Novo Navigatio'.
Rispetto ad 'Ars Vivende' si e perso in impatto frontale e spirito suicida, le atmosfere sono quasi sempre cupe e monoliticamente oppressive, ma dal furore cieco dell'esordio non siamo poi tanto distanti per spirito; mutano soltanto i tempi e l'ambientazione circostante poiche in quanto a peso specifico questo 'Novo Navigatio' sicuramente non gli e inferiore.
Sembra essersi accentuata una propensione verso la ballata urbana allucinata e trasfigurata che e cara ad Ernesto Diaz-Infante e maggiore spazio si e ritagliata la voce di Dina Emerson che volentieri ci conduce lungo percorsi prossimi a Dagmar Krause ed agli Slapp Happy come nella splendida Lament The Fallen che suscita anche parallelismi edificanti con Iva Bittova.
Nell'iniziale Freedom For The Known, nell'andamento e nelle scordature, si puo tracciare un'ipotetica linea retta che congiunge idealmente Bailey ai Blast senza pero perder di vista le innumerevoli influenze etniche presenti nella ritmica.
Media e mOney Our DeMOCKracy e Christian Bush sono farina del sacco dell'Infante che con qualche rumorino di fondo, una batteria strascicata ed una chitarra che non ne vuole proprio sapere tinteggia cupe dissertazioni non tra le piu rassicuranti.
Ma da un certo punto in poi gli Abstractions in qualche modo sembrano anche voler concedere una possibilta all'ottimismo ed a una certa giocosita che si manifesta piu o meno sotto forma di uno spirito corrosivo umoralmente prossimo al Beefheart piu cabarettistico.
Le evoluzioni leggiadre e cangianti di The Moon, My Vision, la malinconia combattiva di Voodoo In America? e di Deadly Silence svelano un lato assolutamente nascosto degli Abstractions rivelandosi quiete zone di calma meditativa dove riacquisire energie prima dell'assalto finale di Burn In Down che sfuria, brucia e da strada al silenzio.
Impro-dark?
Semplicemente uno dei dischi piu belli dell'anno che si sta per concludere.

Rui Eduardo Paes

E se e obvio que gosta de ouvir muitas coisas...
Diaz-Infante toca aquilo que gosta de ouvir. E se e obvio que gosta de ouvir muitas coisas - a sua formacao musical passou por todas elas -, o que encontramos nos seus discos a solo, ou naqueles em que e um dos co-responsaveis, e um "melting-pot" desses materiais. O estranho e que o conjunto faca sentido, quando tudo indicaria o contrario. O seu disco homonimo tem o protagonismo do seu primeiro instrumento, a guitarra acustica (sim, ha aqui elementos do novo "weird" folk e dos blues "finger-picked" ressuscitados por John Fahey), mas ele utiliza outros: piano (a que se dedicou mais em anos anteriores), acordeao, bateria, percussao varia, gira-discos, violino, baixo electrico, didgeridu, radio, microfones e gravador (para os "field recordings" que constantemente, ou quase, utiliza), combinando improvisacao livre, jazz, concretismos, rock, electroacustica, musica contemporânea e o mais que passo a passo conseguimos reconhecer (por exemplo, momentos que nos remetem inevitavelmente para alguem tao improvavel, ou nem tanto assim, como Leonard Cohen), apesar da sua visao subversora dos aspectos formais dessas familias da musica dos nossos dias e de outros que ainda se reflectem na maneira como a corrente arte dos sons vai sendo entendida. E temos ainda a voz, utilizada em bizarras cancones com um registo que nunca ultrapassa o nivel do murmurio, monocordicas e desconcertantes, lembrando o Harry Partch dos anos de vagabundo, mas com alcance politico e aproximando-o mesmo da tradicao da "protest song", regra geral com a America de George W. Bush como saco de treino pugilistico. Este tipo de utilizacao da voz parece mesmo ter feito escola, se ouvirmos outros albuns da Pax Recordings, como o recente , dos Roc, duo de rock ultra-lento e hiper-minimal cuja perspectiva do "spoken word" e tudo menos obvia. Ou como , o mais recente tomo do projecto Abstractions, que Ernesto Diaz-Infante partilha com o saxofonista Rent Romus e uma formacao de mais 11 musicos, entre os quais a sua mulher, a flautista e poeta (as letras sao todas de sua autoria) Marjorie Sturm, conhecida sobretudo como cineasta. Entre o pos-free jazz e a "noise music", com uma sensibilidade "bluesy" devedora a Captain Beefheart, o que aqui ouvimos so podia ter sido concebido e tocado por musicos da West Coast dos EUA, menos cerebrais (ou programaticos, se preferirem) que os da East Coast e menos comprometidos com correntes e esteticas (ou seja, menos agarrados aos modos como se convencionou que se deve tocar isto ou aquilo).

Jon Worley, Aiding & Abetting

sounds like Leonard Cohen deconstructed to some really nice abstract noise
The latest musings from Rent Romus and Ernesto Diaz-Infante (and a revolving cast of pals). Are these improvisations? Performance art? A whacked-out attempt at art songs? Probably all of the above. The only thing I know is that each songs pushes a different part of the envelope.

And so you can flit from a silly political discussion to something that sounds like Leonard Cohen deconstructed to some really nice abstract noise--with a cool vocal track, to boot. A fine mix of fare.

A sonic bouillabaisse, if you will. Romus and Diaz-Infante throw just about everything into the pot, and somehow it comes out as a nice, cohesive stew. Not for the faint of heart (or mind), but just the sort of musical adventure I like to take.

But then, I had a feeling I'd like this as soon as I opened the package. So maybe you can't take my word for it. For fans, though, this album just keeps on keepin' on. And that's a very good thing.

Pierre Durr, Revue & Corrigee

créant un environnement souven glauque...
La formation américaine, de plus en plus étoffée (treize collaborateurs dans ce dernier enregistrement) et dirigée par Rent Romus et Ernesto Diaz-Infante, continue sa double quete. Bien évidemment et avant tout, l'auditeur retiendra celle des structures sonores déroutantes et hybrides (musiques groove destructurées, rock lancinant, accents plus jazz, bruitages électroniques, improvisations hallucinées...) créant un environnement souven glauque, renforcé dans les parties vocales par un chant aux accents désillusionnés. Mas on ne saurait faire abstraction de l'engagement politique que véhicule justement THE ABSTRACTIONS: dénonciation de l'hypocrisie ("Money and Media our deMOCKracy") de la société américaine, des méthodes du gouverneur de la Californie, bref, des busheries de l'Amérique contemporaine.

Fabien, Liability Webzine

un paysage sonore inconnu mais pour le moins fascinant...
Le projet initié par Rent Romus et Enersto Diaz-Infante, baptisé par le poète/musicien/auteur C.J.Reaven Borosque, n’a rien d’ordinaire. Tout du moins il ne ressemble à rien de ce que l’on peut écouter aujourd’hui. Véritable OVNI brisant toutes les normes The Abstractions porte décidément bien son nom. Il apparaît assez difficile de cerner le cas The Abstractions dès le premier abord. N’ayant pas de directions bien définis cette formation aime cultiver une certaine idée du flou artistique ou vient se mêler différentes orientations musicales qui ont pour seul point commun leur côté abrupt, conceptuel voire expérimental. The Abstractions pourrait presque nous faire rappeler la grande époque de la no-wave tant leur conception jusqu’au-boutiste éclate au grand jour. D’ailleurs tout est « no » dans ce disque. On y ressent comme une forme de négation où vont se croiser ce qu’on pourrait appeler du no-folk, du no-jazz, du no-pop, du no-tout-ce-qu’on-veut…Mais en même temps « Novo Navigatio » se veut aussi comme un regard critique envers le pays d’origine de The Abstractions, les Etats Unis. Un regard que l’on devine pas très favorable à l’administration actuelle de la première puissance mondiale. Remarquez quand on compare A.Schwarzenneger à A.Hitler et que l’on fait passer Bush pour l’un des plus grand escroc de ce siècle on ne risque guère de se tromper. Même si The Abstractions a manifestement la dent dur contre ceux qui sont en train de plonger l’Amérique dans un conservatisme le plus extrémiste qu’il ait jamais connu, on ne peut s’empêcher de partager leur profonde inquiétude.

Sur le disque que dire de plus ? Même s’il apparaît comme des plus difficiles il n’en demeure pas moins qu’il reste intéressant à tous points de vues. « Novo Navigatio » est comme un disque à tiroir. Chaque morceau étant une nouvelle porte qui s’ouvre sur un paysage sonore inconnu mais pour le moins fascinant. C’est sans doute pour cela que disque est si déroutant parce que chaque morceau provoque immanquablement un sentiment différent et dont le but n’est certainement pas de vous caresser dans le bon sens du poil. Un disque qui peut se révéler dérangeant, certes, mais on ne pourra lui enlever cette qualité inventive qui est de se renouveler sur chaque titre et de ne jamais chercher la facilité sans être pour autant être l’incarnation d’un concept fumeux. Ce n’est déjà pas, vous en conviendrez, une mince affaire.

Rigo Dittmann, Bad Alchemy

lässt an Deutlichkeit nichts zu wünschen übrig...
Auch der zweite Streich von THE ABSTRACTIONS, für den die kalifornische Rasselbande wie schon bei Ars Vivende mit Novo Navigatio (PR 90275/EDT 4027) erneut einen lateinischen Titel wählte, lässt an Deutlichkeit nichts zu wünschen übrig. Die Stoßrichtung ist die selbe, "Our Gov. Schwarzenegger" und "Christian Bush", das Amerika der Hirnwäsche, der Medienzombies, der Heuchler und Geldraffer. "Droned and drugged by TV celebrities / Californians are pathetic in their warped reality ... / media and money, this is our democracy / why argue?" Der Sarkasmus in den Zeilen von Marjorie Sturm ist nicht bloß verbal aufgesetzt, er färbt die ganze Musik mit dem Schwarz des Autonomen Blocks, nur dass hier keine Steine oder Molotov Cocktails fliegen, sondern die Splitter, wenn Noise und Voodoo aneinander reiben. Rent Romus, Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Bob Marsh, Phil Everett, Lance Grabmiller, Alwyn Quebido, C.J. Reaven Borosque, Matt Davignon und Ray Schaeffer, d.h. die nie kollektiv, sondern jeweils gezielt eingesetzten Sounds von Saxophon, Gitarren, Cello, Laptop, Turntable, O-Ton, E-Bass, Drums und Percussion, dazu sporadisch die Stimmen von Dina Emerson, Sandor Finta und Marina Lazzara, daraus mischen The Abstractions eine Collage, die punkig nur in der Attitüde ist, nicht im Ohr. Statt gebellten und gekrähten 3-Akkord-Hits zerkratzt hier mulmig zerschrotete Undefinierbarkeit und gemurmelte Agitprop den glatten Konsens der selbstgefälligen Patrioten. Symbolisch zumindest. Denn die Angepinkelten oder genauer die, über die hier hinter vorgehaltener Hand gelästert wird, gingen an kryptischen Attacken auf ihr Home of the Brave wie "Epiphany in bitter blue", "Red Dusk over Red Dawn" oder "Deadly Silence" allenfalls kopfschüttelnd vorbei und würden höchstens bei "Burn it down" stutzig. Und hat der "Kindergarten Cop" wirklich das Charisma eines Hitler? Da verwischt der Frust doch etwas die Proportionen. Immerhin zeigt die Moritat "Who killed Desiree Brown" den schwarzen Humor, der ansonsten im Nebel der Abstraktion zwischen nicht Fisch nicht Fleisch herum tapert.

Christian Carey, Splendid Magazine

Novo Navigatio comes on very strong indeed...
Avant garde multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Ernesto Diaz-Infante and Rent Romus have carved out a niche as prolific, confrontational, and politically motivated recording artists. Novo Navigatio features Diaz-Infante, Romus and eleven other musicians. It resembles other Pax recordings in terms of the materials that it uses: a wide assortment of instruments, from autoharp to c-melody saxophone, are put through experimental contortions, and field recordings and spoken word excursions are added to the mix. However, while vitriolic anger at the current state of our country's political affairs is a frequent reference point for both Diaz-Infante and Romus, Novo Navigatio comes on very strong indeed -- chiefly due to some acerbically worded lyrics, penned by the group's flutist, Marjorie Sturm, and percussionist Philip Everett.

Back to back songs "Our Governor Schwarzenegger" and "Media & Money our deMOCKracy" make it very clear where The Abstractions stand on the results of the recall election. "So absurd sad surreal, Schwarzenegger is our governor, where the ____ should we run for?" is chanted in a resigned monotone over a pensive free jazz backdrop. "Christian Bush" has a similar arrangement -- the President is attacked regarding the hypocrisy of his professed religious beliefs in contrast with the Enron scandals and the Iraq War; its repeated refrain: "'Cause the Devil is never inside... it's over there". Unfortunately, while The Abstractions seem riled by the oversimplifed and judgemental nature of politicized religious statements, their own characterizations of "White America" and "White Christians" are similarly pat and simplistic.

The Abstractions make more interesting music when they get away from ranting. Vocal piece "Red Dusk over Red Dawn" simultaneously evokes electronic tone poems and avant-jazz, with spooky, Pierrot Lunaire-like sprechstimme to boot -- a very cool combination of sound-worlds. "Freedom from the Known" is another brief, saxophone-filled instrumental in which angular riffs crackle with enthusiasm. "Lament the Fallen" channels The Abstractions' political concerns into a more focused eloquence. It's a brief expanse of field recordings, sound effects and dissonant flurries, and it's humbling in its deftly played, economically rendered poignancy. Little gems like this justify enduring Novo Navigatio's few ill-advised tantrums.

Dolf Mulder, Vital Weekly

experimental music of a rare and interesting kind...
'Novo Navigatio' marks the third stage of the sonic explorations by The Abstractions. The name of this group makes their program explicit. They borrow from rock, improv, jazz, electroacustic music, soundmanipulation, etc. without repeating it. But it is evident that these guys are searching for new paths. It's their pleasure and drive to investigate that I like most. More then the results I must say. But maybe their approach will result in a new and convincing musical identity. All 19 pieces differ considerably from each other. It's hard to believe that this is one band actually. But maybe this isn't the case. The Abstractions came about as a project by saxophonist Rent Romus and singer-guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante. On their new cd The Abstractions are completed by some ten more musicians, like Bob Marsh (cello), Philip Everett (drums, percussion), Dina Emerson (vocals), Lance Grabmiller (laptop), a.o. But not all of them give acte de présence on all individual tracks, which explains partly the differences between the pieces. Parlty this is also explained by the great diversity of musical ideas and concepts that are explored. Sometimes condensed in a songstructure, sometimes in a soundcollage or pure noise. So each piece has it's own focus. Their approach is anarchistic and psychedelic, not formal or analytic. They create moods, textures and atmospheres. If their is any discipline, it is their choice to keep things short. Between 1 and 5 minutes ideas must
become concrete and their is no reason to repeat them endlessy. That's a good thing. What to say more? The Abstractions make a experimental music of a rare and interesting kind that is still growing.

Jackal Blaster Zine

Novo Navigatio is well worth checking out...
And finally, the new release from the Abstractions is out. Novo Navigatio once again joins Rent Romus, Diaz-Infante, Bob Marsh, and 10 other avant gardists in a wild shoot-out of found sounds and crumpled textures of noise. Most of the album is composed of improv musique concrete pieces, sound effects, and noise. A few other tracks are bizare spoken word commentaries on George Bush America with strange jazz weirdness in the background. The Abstractions are a fascinating ensemble of collective mindfuck jazz genius, and Novo Navigatio falls somewhere in between the voids of actual music and sheer lunatic weirdness passing for art. While it may not be as overly satisfying as 2002's Sonic Conspiricy, Novo Navigatio is well worth checking out and adding to your collection. Over and out.
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