"this is the map, not the territory. the territory is when you stop listening. the territory is when you
turn it all off, and tune in. then the reality comes...."
"Black Sands" is a 3-disc retrospective of A Produce's work in the realm of trance/ambient space music over the past many years. Perhaps the distant cousin of "White Sands" (released in 1995), "Black Sands" covers far more ground that its predecessor. Constructed in line with the Jack Gariss quote above, each disc of "Black Sands" is a distinct section of Produce's creative development: Disc 1, "The Map"; Disc 2, "The Territory"; and Disc 3, "The Reality." Over the course of nearly three hours' running time, the listener will be able to trace the links and threads that have marked this artist's career and style. The 3-disc set is packaged in a unique, non-jewel case limited edition, accompanied by an extensive 16 page color booklet.
Over a third of the material is previously unreleased, including an entire live performance with guitarist Scott Fraser played at a club in Santa Monica called The Living Planet from several years ago. Other highlights include rare, hard to find tracks (from Produce's out of print first LP, "The Clearing" (1988), several previously unreleased tracks (two with Pierre Lambow, two with Ruben Garcia, and several solo tracks). There are several alternate versions as well, including "An Indian Surface," (1995), an update ethnic groove version of Produce's 1991 signature meditation theme, "A Smooth Surface." In total, 29 tracks are presented across the three disc set.
As Claude Chemin writes in the accompanying booklet notes:
"A Produce finds his place among artists who believe their role is to act as one of the intermediaries between the inner spaces that motivate human beings and the outer spaces, natural or invented, which deserve to be described artistically. He offers to the listener contemplation and reflection, and tries to act as the interface dealing with the contradictions of the world in which we live, a world where the observation of the exterior has a tendency to give way to the image that people are trying to give us the inner space which certainly has great difficulty asserting itself in the hustle and bustle of daily life. For that reason, his music is neither revolutionary nor excessively experimental, and yet it does include innovative components. It is neither aseptic, but it has a seductive side that is difficult to resist. In short, one could say that it is the kind of music that brings progress because it wins you over without depriving you of your consciousness and capacity to reflect."
Of the 29 tracks contained on this 3-CD set, a cross-section has been selected for soundclips listening. Take the trip, and enjoy!
Of special note is a new release from veteran space/ambient artist A Produce. His latest release is "Blacks Sands," a beautifully packaged and beautifully recorded 3 disk set that features the space/ambient styles he has been perfecting over the years. For some time now A Produce has been doing soundracks for what I would call twilight states - states between waking and dreaming. The music provides a context for processing emotional dissonances that surface as the wakeful mind loses interest in the business of managing the external environment. I think it's fairly unique music that is often deceptively
simple yet involving.
"Black Sands" is remarkable in many ways. Although it has been referred to as a "retrospective," it features quite a bit of previously unreleased material. I especially like the live performances with Scott Fraser on guitar and additional synths.
The drone has pervaded ambient music for a some time. The live performances that apear on Black Sands demonstrate some extraordinary possibilities for drones. Expansive spirals and cascading radiances pervade the dark ether.
There is nothing humdrum or repetitive about the proceedings. These peformances leave no doubt about the potential of space/ambient music as a genre. A Produce seems taken with them as well. "This concert was our best moment recorded at The Living Planet, a moment in time for which I will always be grateful." And we should be, too. Lovely stuff.
Another reviewer said that "Black Sands may be the most essential to own recording for 2005 if you are an ambient music fan." I agree.
In general, there are several pieces of mostly classical music that I have been going back to loyally for over thirty years, as they are part of my constitutional makeup, my self-definition. I expect that this disc set will be a part of my musical core for as long as I listen to music. This record is a stunning achievement, a new level of expressiveness and rawness and depth in AP's music, and of engaging seriousness. Exactly what I have been seeking. This is oh so rare, and so infinitely superior to what so many other musicians are producing. I truly hope this album becomes celebrated and praised by all who hear it and have an opportunity to spread the word. I certainly will. I am awed.
Whether minimalist ambient or cascading waves of electronic sounds, A Produce's music is distinct among this genre. I own hundred's of hours of electronic music and much of it blends together. However; there are only few ambient musicians where each song is uniquely distinct and memorable. A Produce is one of those unassuming artists who you just discover one day and now you have a new element to play with in your mind; and in my case, both my mind and my films.
One of my favorite pieces from Black Sands is "Rhyolite" recorded in collaboration with Ruben Garcia. Previously released on "The Other World" compilation from Hypnos Recordings, this track weaves a harmonious fabric in the space-time continuum. Recorded live, the interplay between Ruben and A Produce is like a delicate floating dance of both strength and beauty.
The music of A Produce helps me think in pictures; create a perspective for emotions, move and shift energy. Pronounced rhythms & beats, cascading ambient washes and shifting tones provide a landscape in one's mind. This brings to attention "Midnight Pond" also on Black Sands. It's a place that could be a pond, but it's not the pond in your back yard. It could be a pond in an advanced computer simulation from the future; or a pond on another planet in another galaxy. Maybe from your own appreciation, this soundscape is something completely different.
So for the casual listener or the multi-media artist, A Produce's sound-design is there for you to play with. Whether it's a rainy Saturday afternoon on the sofa, a dance through your garden, or, the production of a film, the musical artistry of A Produce, has created a gateway to your imagination and consciousness.
Have fun on the journey.
Barton E. Santello-Independent Filmmaker
He released an LP titled "The Clearing" way back in 1988. By virtue of this longevity and that he is still making superb and important music, he is more than entitled to releasing a career retrospective/overview at this point in time (in fact, he may even be a bit late, by the law of averages, in doing this). While other artists may have released more recordings (in number) or garnered wild accolades for a particular album, very few in this genre can match the consistent level of intelligence, quality, and imagination that goes into every A Produce release.
I first discovered A Produce through Lloyd Barde at Backroads Music who recommended I try his Land of a Thousand Trances back in 1995. I remember how cool I thought the artwork on the unusual cardboard sleeve was (this was before the digipack was all the rage as it is now). I placed the CD in my player and was promptly blown away after hearing the first two tracks ("The Far Shore" and the title cut), both of which, you lucky bastard, are included on disc two of this collection. I wondered (and still do to this day) how someone could manifest such startling talent in both drifting soundscapes and rhythmic groove-oriented trance pieces, without sounding derivative or redundant in either arena. Through the years AP has continued to surprise me with each release. "Black Sands" reminded me just how special this musician's gifts are, as well as showcasing the width and breadth of his musical range.
So, what's in store for you on this wonderful three-disc set? Well, obviously, you will hear some of the artist's signature tracks, such as the two mentioned above, as well as the title track to his 2001 Hypnos label release, Smile on the Void and also "Night Curve" from that same album. However, this is no mere "greatest hits" collection. There are alternate takes of previously released songs, plenty of never-seen-the-light-before music, and an entire live set from 1996 with guest artist Scott Fraser (on disc 3), which is the first live recording from A Produce and is bound to please all his fans immensely, as it contains both A Produce "staples" (e.g. "Heart of the Dunes") as well as a number of pieces never released before anywhere.
If you're not that familiar with this man's work, suffice it to say AP is one of the truly original "voices" in the ambient music genre. Sometimes he operates within a minimalist framework (such as the subtle reworking of "A Smooth Surface" hear titled "An Indian Surface"), painting with sparse electronic tones and reverb, or on "The Barrier" with its swirling ominous washes and keyboards and haunting chimes. At other times, he is joined by guest artists to go in markedly different directions, such as the stinging electric guitar leads of Scott Fraser, which soar and dip over AP's weaving organ chords on "The Golden Needle." On "Rousseau's Jungle" a wall of sound envelops you, drawing you into a nightscape of dimming light, deepening shadows, and palpable sensation of immense spaciousness. The artist's fondness for ethnic percussion can be heard in several places, e.g. on the fusionist piece "Farming in Arabia" on which he intermixes the ambient, electronica and world genres.
Further description of this recording's gems would lessen the surprise of what awaits you. You're about to enter a world that is filled with magic, both light and dark, a land where sensual trance rhythms flow into the wafting incense of indistinct melodies which hint of far away lands and journeys both inward and outward. With A Produce as your guide you will be left breathless, pleasantly dazed and thoroughly sated, as he takes you through dark forbidding terrain as well as serene pastoral lands lit by fading twilight. Consider "Black Sands" your passport and ticket for this excursion. Enjoy your trip!
Wind & Wire