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Biff Johnson
'Reading the Bones'

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Biff Johnson 'Reading the Bones'


1. Roadside Spectre 5:07 [Hi-Fi], [Lo-Fi]
2. Lost Caravan 7:20 [Hi-Fi], [Lo-Fi]
3. Bleached White 12:16 [Hi-Fi], [Lo-Fi]
4. Myth Continuity 4:12
5. Earth Extraction 8:58
6. Pre-History 8:24
7. Native Space 3:19
8. Sumgainala 4:55
9. The Other Side of What 12:00

In the tradition of Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana and other purveyors of ethno-ambience, Biff Johnson creates music that takes the listener on a journey to the outer reaches of inner space. On Reading The Bones, Johnson creates an audio prophecy of sonic, shamanic proportions. (Emusic.com)

HANNA SHAPERO: (Wind and Wire)
"Reading the Bones is the work of Biff Johnson, but Steve Roach added material and final production to this recording in his Timeroom Studio. As a result, this album sounds very much like Roach's music. The familiar Roach textures of floating synthesizer chords, rattles, rainsticks, distant roars, drumbeats and breathy flutes appear on Johnson's album. Even the track titles sound like Roach with their Southwestern atmosphere -- "Bleached White," "Pre-History," "Native Space" -- and the graphic design of the album, with its earthy textures (and barely readable text) could also be a Roach design.

The question is how is this different from Roach's work? Reading the Bones resembles not his current, more rock-like work but the softer, contemplative material he produced in the late '80s, especially Dreamtime Return or some of the "Lost Pieces." So, what has Biff Johnson added to Roach's mix? There is, in some of the pieces, a different choice of harmonies which tend more towards jazz, rather than the more abstract ambient of Roach. And some of the tracks are anchored by a string/electric bass, which adds a welcome tonal structure to a sound which can be formless at times.

At some points, Biff Johnson even veers towards space music along the lines of Serrie or Braheny. All the music on the album is soft and dreamlike, whether in a kind mood or an ominous one. The "kind" space can be found in cut 5, "Myth Continuity," with its sparkling space chords. The "ominous" mood is represented by the quietly mysterious "Earth Extraction" with its clinks of what sound like miners' picks in a desolate Arizona landscape.

Since I like Steve Roach's music, I also like "Reading the Bones" which is more or less an homage to him, including a direct reference to Roach's "The Other Side" in Johnson's piece, "The Other Side of What."

ROBERT AUGE
"I love it. Soft, floaty, unpercussive. You've got the sense and soul of it. That's a rare thing."

STEVE ROACH: (the Master)
"My cat loves this stuff."


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