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Spacemusic Reviews

K Markov: Soul Keeper

Soul Keeper

Soul Keeper

K Markov: Soul Keeper
Released: 13 June 2017
kmarkov.bandcamp.com

The music of K Markov continues to take the listener to new places. His release Soul Keeper (61’29”) seizes our ears and our imaginations. The virtues of lucidity, concision and unity exemplify the refreshing clarity of Markov’s imaginative thinking. At times graceful and consonant, at times angular and dissonant, Soul Keeper has a broad atmospheric range. As we are drawn into a musical experience of larger proportions we find that the impulse for this work is overtly electronic. Throwing off sparks in a superb heedlessness and wild ferocity an intricate geometry of sequencer patterns run like a secret engine. Cast in three pieces the rhythmic buoyancy and variation of Soul Keeper reflects the innate quality of Markov’s creative gift. Patterns of minimalist complexion cycle and vary notes, length and key, in the still driving force of this music’s mesmerizing pulse. Its abstract structures are more overtly coloristic and varied in their expressive range, while textures are diversified to fascinating degrees. In a slow burn of quiet energy a dark sonic mass rustles sleeping shadows, as this album generates heat against a cool cosmic background. Coherent synth lead lines thread through multiple intersections – where ideas, memories and emotions connect and reconnect in myriad combinations. Spookily vacant passages recede within heroic synthesizer themes. Under these building chords we find that a heart still beats. Ultimately, the greater feeling of weight and power on Soul Keeper resolves into a suitable concluding section – an ending hopeful yet credible. So many currents have contributed to this music. While technology and contemporary life hold their high positions, we find Markov himself as the immovable center. He is a planet builder. His music generates worlds where we cannot feel the decay of ours.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END19 October 2017

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Secondface: Transitions

Transitions

Transitions

Secondface: Transitions
Released: 10 June 2017
gterma.blogspot.com

Secondface, the music project by Frank V Jensen, portrays the excitement of being part of one’s own time. The release Transitions (74’30”) comes straight from the center of his nervous system. Across 12 solitary journeys for the mind, the person is the target of this work. So many details compete for our attention. In sluggish, swaggering grooves, and the swirling dramatic movement and brilliant color of horespowered beats, this music purrs, then revs – as the RPMs and BPMs whirl under an electric spirit. Noting its twists and turns as it progresses forward and at times changes course, Transitions deploys like a continuous undulating bolt of electricity. While one piece has the listener engaging with gigantic forces, another will leave us haunted and adrift. Accompanied by pulsing patterns, the low-end throbs under shimmering synthesized chords. When the tempo changes, varying energy levels stimulate thought and movement. But when the big beats drop in it seems like the celestial and terrestrial worlds are colliding. Breathy sustaining tones expand and brighten, while rhythms enter, build, drop out, and return – yet ever the more certain. As irresistible as these features are in a thoughtless dancehall, to the thinkers among us they reveal both the sensual reality and psychological intensity to be experienced on this sonic journey. It is thought that there is a normal everyday level, and then there is a quantum level where everything works differently. Listening to a beautiful piece of music is like falling under a spell – like entering a realm where magic may happen. This kind of music started out as modern but is now thought of as contemporary. Upon listening to Transitions we find that Jensen is awake to the outside world, and that his music consorts with it in a way that adds something to our concept of it.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END20 October 2017

Jeff Pearce: From the Darker Seasons

From the Darker Seasons

From the Darker Seasons

Jeff Pearce: From the Darker Seasons
Released: 22 September 2017
www.jeffpearcemusic.com

Emotions rise and fall, they come and go. It is only desire that is constant – and which is the substance of all great music. The work of Jeff Pearce feels the tug of this gravity. His album From the Darker Seasons (54’19”) forges yet another wonderful wordless connection with his audience. If it suffers from anything, it is that, in delivering its message, the music is almost too gorgeous for its own good. The eight pieces that make up From the Darker Seasons present Pearce the electric guitarist playing chords deliberately paced and picked and echoing out across great distances – caught forever in the hold of his compositional design. As trails of digital reverb hang in the air, atmospheric eddies at once diffuse, smooth and enrich the glowing textures around the defined notes. While these warm, heart-felt songs foretell the coming of shorter days, this album’s deep ambient zones provide their own frost wrought peace. Against a rush of darkness Pearce’s long tones address the bright starred face of lengthening nights. The expansion of excited steel strings through electronic processing produces a harmonically sustained movement – where the setting for such contemplative chords will seem numinous to our teeming, gleaning minds. Sounds emerge, then slide and glide toward and past one another in quiet transformation. Within these pieces, awareness is incremental. Drawing affirmation out of the renewing power of music, From the Darker Seasons readily throws off light. In a work of music there must be something more than what is refereed to as force. There must be distinction, and a rarity of feeling. Jeff Pearce is playing for this fragile cause.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 5 October 2017

Eyes Cast Down: The White Island

The White Island

The White Island

Eyes Cast Down: The White Island
Released: 1 October 2017
www.eyescastdown.com

Without words we would communicate by trading symbols. Recording as Eyes Cast Down, guitarist Greg Moorcroft produces music under this assumption. His album The White Island (65’13”) communicates to the listener, not just a substantial intellect, but also the many gray shades of mystery the human experience may touch. The musicianship found on The White Island goes beyond that of the virtuoso, and to a different kind of playing and composing. The addition of several layers of echo, reverb, pitch shifting, long and short delay lines and other forms of digital processing results in a confluence of processes, intuition and innovation. The idea of layering the sounds of a guitar by means of a long delay is about as old as our modern concept of Ambient Music. But Moorcroft aspires to more than he inherited. The White Island does represent his mastery of the equipment that loops, shifts, delays, flanges, filters and phases his plucked, rubbed and otherwise excited steel strings. However, his involvement with the music goes deeper than just a fascination with technology and technique. Consisting of six slow-motion cloud rider tracks, this album might help the mind reduce the taxing task of processing nonessential information. The pindrop performances were recorded essentially in real-time, and wanders from theme to theme in a free association of half-thoughts, lost memories and forgotten places. From smooth and swirling, to tempestuous and dark, the achieved atmosphere seems to be that of sustained calm and wonder – harmonic journeys without the usual conclusion. Characterized by the reiteration of extended phrases and weighted by unpredictable shifts in timbre, The White Island eventually settles into its own unique ambient area – where the ethereal and surreal meet as a cerebral force.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END28 September 2017

Chronotope Project: Ovum

Ovum

Ovum

Chronotope Project: Ovum
Released: 4 August 2017
www.spottedpeccary.com
www.chronotope-project.com

The intention of most Ambient Music is to serve the listener by not calling attention to itself. But Jeffrey Ericson Allen cannot help himself. The opening track of Ovum (50’56”), his excellent album of seven sonic, electro-acoustic journeys, confronts us blithely with the soft command, “Come along with me”. Recording under the name Chronotope Project, he offers a dual musical reality. Ovum engages, as soulful flute, cello and synth melodies enliven the mind and draws our thoughts along soft rows of ordered notes. Yet further in it entices us to chill in plush sonic reverie. But these are not rival systems competing for our attention. The swirling dramatic movement and vivid color of the glad active tracks compliment well the more elemental, simplified and somber pieces. Noting its twists and turns as it progresses forward and at times changes course this album may go wide as well as deep. In simplicity of form we feel a sense of stillness, and an underlying darkness. In a brighter realm, sparkling sequencer chimes echo and ring through a velvet void. Celestial lead lines arise, flutter and touch, only to recede back to the star system from whence they came. For a more gradual sense of discovery we extend down into slow motion dreamscapes of electronic motion and atmospheric textures. From minimal zones within which to find your own reality, to this work’s forthright production and engaging song-craft, we find these two realms are connected by an invisible line. In this arc of safety Ovum is a balm to our brittle substance. As with all good music, it is a portal to your better self.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END21 September 2017

Hotel Neon: Context

Context

Context

Hotel Neon: Context
Released: 1 May 2017
www.fluidaudio.co.uk
www.hotelneonmusic.com

Hotel Neon advances the liberation of the mind. This trio of dual guitars and one synth comes together to work out the proportions of large harmonic thinking. The title of their album Context (65’51”) provides the poetic backdrop for the introspective, reflective, and somewhat dark-hued tone and character of their work. Its nine brief tracks of slower than slow adagio-like character are the result of a group, part colorist and part constructionist, practicing exacting methods. Every note on Context appears always in the neighborhood of two other notes, in a harmonic function that elicits an arresting notice from anyone within earshot. This taming of the electric guitar is a quieter action, one where the long bowed bolt of sound originates in six vibrating steel strings. The use of various processing and effect devices shapes their raw guitar emanations into a delicate atmosphere. The elegant use of distortion, and other such aberrations normally ground out of a mix, lend a hand-made quality to Context. Metallic organ drones support floating textures of lithe rounded gray chords, as plaintive sliding tones loop and repeat in an echoing somber message. Never arriving anywhere, this Ambient Music restlessly searches for unnamed conclusions. The lighter airier works on Context answer the demand for a music that presents peaceful passages – enriched by pleasures in consonance and tone. In this sustaining dusky sweetness the mind of the listener may rest in repose, or engage in deciphering life’s mysteries. Yet, it is the imagining of threatening forces which gives this work its symphonic current. The very essential part of these realizations is their effect on the audience. There is an intimacy and a rawness to these performances that is riveting. While music which is difficult to comprehend is no longer automatically considered profound or advanced, Hotel Neon still takes the way of the thinker – knowing that some people will listen many levels down, for many minutes long.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END14 September 2017

Javi Canovas: One More Day, One Day Less

One More Day, One Day Less

One More Day, One Day Less

Javi Canovas: One More Day, One Day Less
Released: 19 April 2017
javicanovas.bandcamp.com

What of us carries into the future? Is there anything of it within us right now? Through his music, Javi Canovas searches forward and back, and inward. One More Day, One Day Less (65’01”) conveys the full force of living outside of time – in the enthralling space of the imagination. Penetrating, permeated with psychological intensity, this album draws the listener to the play and shades of their interior. Like a wave of electricity sweeping across the brain, One More Day, One Day Less captures the momentum of a moving storm. Swirling flurries of tones cycle and echo in precise, tightly arranged pulsations. In a painstaking technique of repetition and variation, the lines of synchronized sequencer notes twist and turn, rise and fall, lighten and darken, as they progresses forward, or at times changes course – further deepening the mystery. Yet, all the while these potent realizations remain heading steadily toward their destination. Surrounded by diagonals of darkness, patterns ring out in a light filled space. In this exaggerated scale the spiraling dramatic movement and brilliant electronic colors feel relentless, and exhilarating. The four tracks of One More Day, One Day Less show a capacity for slow and solemn rhythmic development, each climbing to a powerful climax. As one is drawn into a musical experience of larger proportions, we find this favorite form used to great effect. Lustrous chord banks, like towering walls of clouds, emerge to cushion the kaleidoscopic electronic advance. Each piece concludes in simplicity of form, with a sense of stillness, and the decent and deadly imposed order of unconsciousness. It may be that Canovas’ work is just an everyday trace of his pursuit of the now. But, life’s distractions are never permanent – and if everything is already in the past, then that is where most of our lives are. One More Day, One Day Less is an excellent reminder.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END7 September 2017