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              [pe145]Pet The Tiger
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              [pe144]Ashtray Navigations & Anla Courtis
              Protozoic Rock Express
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              Terza Rima

              Ashtray Navigations & Anla Courtis - Protozoic Rock Express
              CD (Leeds, UK / Buenos Aires)

              -Part I
              -Part II
              -Part III

              Phil Todd: acoustic guitar, oscillators, moog sampled harmonium,& casio sampler
              Anla Courtis: electric guitar, organ, hawk-bells, e-bow & found metals

              (Chattanooga Pulse) While most musicians measure time with beats, for the duo of Phil Todd梜nown as the main force behind the prolific Ashtray Navigations梐nd Anla Courtis (known as a member of Reynols), their complicated, collaborative drones have their own subtle rhythms that slowly form crests and dips; it抯 more like the breathing patterns of whales instead of the hummingbird抯 heartbeat of, say, pop music. The new album Protozoic Rock Express was compiled from recordings made between 2004 and 2010 in Leeds (U.K.) and Buenos Aires, Argentina, which are the respective homes of Ashtray Navigations and Courtis. The gentle unraveling and slow reveals provide a soundtrack for strange meditations and also aural Rorschach inkblot test mind-movies; armchair psychologists doing self-analysis can likely amuse themselves by trying to understand why these sounds inspire the personal, fabricated visions that they do. For example, the 22-minute 揚art III?uses tones that resemble the rising and falling pitches of disaster sirens, like those that provide warnings for tsunamis and tornadoes. Interestingly, when these tones are overlaid, they create tension, but there抯 enough space to zoom in on individual tones, which have their own odd tranquility to them. Atop the drones are some lightly popping sounds梕xploding transformers, miles away?梔istorted guitars, ominous rumbling and synthetic non-human yells that evolve into screams. Just a few peaks emerge within the long piece, like when the tone pitches climb to their highest notes (an old musical trick for representing an emotional peak) or when there are quicker variations in tones. On 揚art I? there抯 a blurry sound-fog, made with drones or vibrating pieces of metal, with a few sharp details that sparkle梩inny tinkles, squeaks or shakes of hand-held percussion條ike potentially salvageable shards, temporarily illuminated in a giant landfill trash heap being manipulated by bulldozers. 揚art II?could be a bizarro universe raga, with what sounds like harmonium drones along with string and oscillator drones, with a slow envelope effect being just one driver for its atypical cycles. Things happen on both a micro and macro level, and regarding the album抯 immersive experience and potential psychological mirror, your results may and should vary wildly. - Ernie Paik

              (Babysue) Truly far out stuff that'll make you feel like you're taking a trip to another universe and beyond. Divided into three sections, Protozoic Rock Express will certainly take you to places you've not been before. Ashtray Navigations is Phil Todd, a man who's been involved in the undercurrents of music since the 1990s. Todd plays acoustic guitar, oscillators, moog, sampled harmonium, and casio sampler. Working with him on this album is Anla Courtis, who plays electric guitar, organ, hawk-bells, e-bow, and found metals. The list of instruments utilized in these recordings does not really give a good indication of the overall sound. These compositions have a great big huge sound. They're hypnotic. They're drone-like. And in many ways, they're kinda overwhelming. We hear tons of experimental and progressive bands, but we've never heard one that's quite like this. Traditional melodies and song structures are irrelevant here, as the overall sound is what's important. Recorded in Leeds (UK) and Buenos Aires (Argentina) between 2004 and 2010, this is a total excursion into non-commercial sound manipulation. Most listeners will either be turned off or confused by this music. Todd and Courtis are playing for a very select group of people, those who welcome and embrace sounds that are unfamiliar and strange. Some folks that tread into this sort of territory come up with sound that is odd, but not listenable. Express is amazingly listener-friendly and just goes to show that it's the manner in which you do things that matters most. For a totally tripped out experience, you won't do much better than this. Provocative. Wild. And amazing. Recommended. Top pick. - LMNOP

              (Vital Weekly) I抦 going to assume that, if you抮e reading this, you already know who these giants are. But just in case you抳e lived in a cave without Wi-Fi for twenty years: Ashtray Navigations is the long-running 揵and?name of the singular Phil Todd, a living goddamned treasure whose music from the early 90s all the way until today, a hundreds-strong catalogue that shows no sign of slowing down or running on empty, is worth as much of your time as you can spare. Argentinian guitarist Alan Courtis was a member of psych/rock/noise/drone/conceptual-art/??? band Reynols, but for more than a decade he抯 become a super-prolific serial collaborator. In fact, Courtis has worked with such an impressively disparate group of musicians (a few examples to prove my point: Andy Bolus, V/Vm, Masami Kawaguchi, Richard Francis, Ralf Wehowsky, Usurper, Tom Dimuzio, Alan Jones, Pain Jerk, PBK?see what I mean?) that it抯 nigh impossible to predict what his next recording might sound like. And so we have 揚rotozoic Rock Express? a Marvel Team-Up of molten drone that is just as fabulously gooey as you want it to be. The credits state that it was recorded in both Leeds and Buenos Aires over a period of six years, implying a long-distance and long-term collaboration, but you could抳e fooled me if instead, you抎 told me it was recorded live in a cathedral somewhere, or as a single take in the courtyard of a disused European castle, I抎 believe it; or in a dark cavern below the surface of the Earth (or perhaps on a Siberian Earth Curve). Todd and Courtis?mind-meld is rather perfect. However, the 搑ock?part of the title seems to have vanished under immense gravitational pressure the players will into being, apparently taking the 揺xpress?part with it. This album is time-stoppingly slow; it doesn抰 搑ock?so much as it establishes cranial space and commences delivering serious delta waves. The first untitled track sets the tone with a thick layer of molasses. Some drums and cymbals can be heard in the background, giving a faint hint of forwarding motion?but then the music takes on raga-like inner-space-psychedelic moods that explode in thick clouds of narcotic reverie. When the second track ended, I glanced up to see how much time had passed and was shocked to find that the whole thing was just 11 minutes long. What? Not an hour and a half?! Ah, but the last track is a 22-minute behemoth is immense beyond what came before it, volleys of feedback sent above the clouds as every vacuum cleaner on the planet is switched on at the same moment by the people below. In short, this is a monumental album, better than the sum of its (quite excellent independently) parts. Never mind the inaccuracy of 2/3 of the title; this is not rock and it抯 the opposite of express?but 損rotozoic? Sure. These 40+ minutes could be a re-enactment of the music made before humans existed. - Howard Stelzer

              (Lost In a Sea of Sound)The pressure is heavy on Protozoic Rock Express. A sonic current steadily pushing through the subsurface, and within the intensity, clarity and detail escape like air breathing from volcanic vents. A dark droning composition filled experienced aural stitching. Life pulled from the darkness then placed like breadcrumbs along the path. Two artists across an ocean, their patience and care over multiple years produces a heavyweight masterpiece. Three tracks on Protozoic Rock Express divided into forty five minutes. Phil Todd is the force behind Ashtray Navigations, playing acoustic guitar, oscillators, moog sampled harmonium & casio sampler. Anla Courtis plays electric guitar, organ, hawk-bells e-bow & found metals. Together these duo creates a fantastic sonic landscape. The severity of these sounds in perfect balance with the aural facets lifting above the depths. The beauty of Protozoic Rock Express is it's ability to provide contemplative meditation, but never sinking so deep as to drown thoughts with the music itself. - Robot Rattle

              (Xactionmusic) Whenever writing new reviews, I always try and jot down a few notes to remember my initial reaction and expand on those ideas, but very rarely do I come across something so wonderfully disorganized, so chaotically meditative (if that even makes sense), that it抯 almost impossible to stop listening ?but here I go. Protozoic Rock Express is, so far, one of my favorite dark-ambient albums ?as this release, from Ashtray Navigations and Alan Courtis, must have been born from some industrial junkyard, where corroding machinery and dilapidated tonal structures captivate the dark-industrial soundscape; ravaging through mechanical empires with virulence. The label which released this, Public Eyesore, so far has a comparably small discography but some of the greatest artists to come from any experimental label, and Ashtray Navigations and Alan Courtis are exemplary. Released in 3 parts, each composition perfectly connects with the deconstruction of its preceding environment; constantly pushing its designs rather than looping them, which is always refreshing as most artists try and construct something conventional; which only fall into the hands of mediocrity. Part I is a fantastic display of dynamically treated sounds and discordant screeching timbre resonating into pits of thick distortion. Suddenly, towards about 8 minutes or so, we start to hear warm, deep tones echoing from either a cello or viola, I don抰 have very good ears for that sort of thing, but it perfectly flows into the next 慞art;?as the clatter of metallic death rings through the valley of dying circuitry. The dirty electronics and minimalist aspirations of Part II benefit from its simplicity; emerging and sub-emerging from below and above while adding dimensions of organic and cello-like instrumentation ?on top of monotonous vibrating tones. Faint, high-pitched sounds echo through the spaces of despair while bright chimes cascade through the industrial cinema ?as tonal modulations of sonic cadence venture through this intriguing world. I thoroughly enjoyed each moment Protozoic Rock Express had to offer and highly recommend this to anyone a fan of dark-ambient and industrial rolled into one. - Sutter Greaves

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