Last I heard from this Japanese label was their release of Fennesz’s Live in Japan, something of a surprise addition to that artist’s catalogue, and one that offered both a glimpse at new developments in his too-familiar style, and a pleasantly indulgent rebuff against those critics ready to predict, or pounce on, a new masterpiece. On its latest release, Headz gives another digital guitar hero, Rafael Toral, a similar opportunity to avoid quick canonization and indulge some new ideas over the course of one disc-length track. On past records, Toral produced everything from ecstatic, shoegazing jams to multi-sectioned, epic-length textural explorations, often using the juxtaposition between his more intentionally rockist moments and the purer ambient passages to create an unique soundworld that embraces both with equal fervor. Harmonic Series 2 is a significant departure from the digestible, pop-length drones that filled Toral’s last record, Violence of Discovery and The Calm of Acceptance, though the switch to less-concise, more demanding composition is welcome. The 43-min. piece, for sinewave, guitar and analog electronics, marks the artist’s first use of the computer as autonomous musical instrument, its waveforms acting as the synthetic equivalent of a guitarist’s blending harmonic tones. Toral’s use of the sinewave lies far from the alienating compositions usually associated with such pure and relentless sounds, and while Harmonic Series does avoid the cosmic elegance that has characterized the artist’s work thus far, the piece remains surprisingly inviting. Weightless strands of e-bowed feedback and gently throbbing harmonic layers intertwine with the computer’s tones to create the most substantial portions of the composition, a fluid surface of constant dissolve and regeneration. Through a meticulous cycle of blends and pans, Toral reaches a powerful sonic density from the tight flux of three or four blank tones rather than a congestion or distortion of the stereo field. The gritty, psychedelic edge that touched Toral’s early work is totally absent; instead Harmonic Series seems to develop out of the resulting negative space, a lyric-less tone poem to the information age, full of haunting, passive currents. Parts of the piece even recall the warping effects in Coil’s Time Machines. The artwork tells it best: gone are the floating passenger jets that graced the covers of so many Toral recordings; here he offers only dark futurism, an empty sky stalked by silent electrical towers. Given the track’s length and the resistance of the pure tones to any recognizable or repeated dynamic, an overarching mood or directive within Harmonic Series is hard to locate. The steady flow and warm tonalities of the piece keep it inviting, but never to the rapturous extremes of the artist’s other long-form composition, Wave Field. It seems fitting, if a bit predictable or even overstated on such a sprawling release, that the artist’s embrace of new technology should lead his music towards more wayward, alien territories. Andrew Culler