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Spacemusic Reviews

Jim Ottaway: Beyond the Purple Sun

Beyond the Purple Sun

Beyond the Purple Sun

Jim Ottaway: Beyond the Purple Sun
Released: 10 April 2019
www.jimottaway.com

Because Jim Ottaway has spent so much time in an imaginary realm, we wonder how he is able to navigate through the real one? He operates in the large format of Spacemusic, so as to evoke expansive, epic ideas and subjects – time, history, the body, and existential concerns of the self. The CD Beyond the Purple Sun (57’14”) features seven tracks of beautifully drifting and transporting music – both restful to the intellect and comforting to the spirit. Harmonious and soft, each work is a singular flowing thought asking us to tune into the quieter frequencies. But being meditative does not mean Beyond the Purple Sun has to be vague. Its permeating atmosphere of stillness also conveys a unique ambiance of limitless emptiness. Yet it also conjures a few realizations from negative space and the idea of nothingness – as a reminder of the beginning of everything. These unpeopled spaces push the listener further toward the center of this aural universe. Twilight swaths of color hover just beneath a misty aura surrounding long electronic notes. Tones vibrate, arise and recede, but do not travel along a linear plane. As synth voices blur one into the other, forming sonic colors of striking beauty, Beyond the Purple Sun leads your thoughts to stillness and reverie. In overcoming the limitations of contemporary music, Ottaway tries his dreamy ideas. He has found that talking to dreams, and in this field one’s dreams may become real, is better than chasing them – and so we find that the force of his realizations comes from the truths we already know.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END18 April 2019

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Bernhard Wostheinrich

Elsewhere

Elsewhere

Bernhard Wostheinrich: Elsewhere
Released: 7 December 2018
www.iapetus-media.com
www.redundantrocker.com

Bernhard Wöstheinrich really puts the “extra” in extraterrestrial. Suspicions of his unearthly origins will be upheld upon listening to Elsewhere (68’44”), an album of Electronic Music that confirms his expanded ideas of the cosmos and infinite space. The classic works of the original Berlin-School have nothing to fear, as Wöstheinrich is more comfortable with self-expression than with translation. This wayward album will arouse the imagination of listeners, as it explores an aural space along contours which remain obscure. Sounds arise, vibrate, and recede, but do not travel along a linear plane. Conveying a unique ambiance the mood moves through a vast emptiness. The upper strings tremble over a thickening bass, then, with cold deliberate pressure, chase the harmonies into an upper atmosphere. With echoing patterns of sequencer notes, we are treated to a delightful acceleration in energy. Repeating motifs motor up, propelling us through distant starlit stretches – then reorder down into a languid drift. As the spacey lines meet, combine, and evaporate each of the four tracks move into a distinctive section of stillness. In tones edged in platinum Elsewhere rings of a far-ranging sonic intelligence – which is felt in its unrestrained directness of expression. By overcoming the limitations of contemporary music Bernhard Wöstheinrich better expresses his un-conforming ideas. Existing in stark contrast to the mainstream, Elsewhere communicates the harsh and heavy reason for staying awake in a world of the self-anesthetized.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END11 April 2019

d’Voxx: Telegraphe

Telegraphe

Telegraphe

d’Voxx: Télégraphe
Released: 15 March 2019
www.din.org.uk
www.dvoxx.com

Along with a great number of new sounds and sonics, the recent modular synthesizer movement has also generated some new terminology. One such entry into the technical jargon of this field is the phrase, composing with “on purpose notes”, or what many of us once thought of as the recognition of tonality – a most very basic aspect of contemporary music. While the works of d’Voxx (the duo of Nino Auricchio & Paul Borg) may be attributed to an elaborate matrix of electronic components, their CD Télégraphe (56’00”) is the full flame, and not just a flickering idea found in their technology. A knowing blend of strict strategizing and the acknowledgement of the necessity of a greater precision permeate Télégraphe. To convey the sweeping complexity of their ideas this duo arranges a music system so that they may wander easily through its structure. Like a letter within a word, each module plays a role subordinate to the composite whole. In pulsing, complicated spheres of energy emanating into the world around us, the pulse of this music comes, not so much from the rate of its LFO or clock divider, but from the entwined creativity of its collaborators. Stringing together nine realizations with field recordings of the urban underground each piece moves rapidly from audio art into a contemporary groove. The music’s heated circuitry yields an excitement and urgency of hot, real and sudden energy. Just as body-beat drums roll and crest dramatically beneath propulsive figures, strands of sequencer notes mix, shift and split in a twisting double helix of echoing electronic tones. Above this torrent rises consonant chords traversing the scales – exerting a serene, secure authority. The kinetic and moving head-music found on Télégraphe will appeal to those with an ear for rhythm – even as it gently swings back and forth between dynamism and contemplation. Auriccho & Borg have woven their themes and forms into a strikingly intricate whole. They have brought this music into the world so as to feel the satisfaction of being heard – and in doing so generate an intimacy to which we may often return.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END4 April 2019

Massergy: Fire Opal

Fire Opal

Fire Opal

Massergy: Fire Opal
Released: 22 March 2019
www.spottedpeccary.com

Most Spacemusic embraces a great range of variables, but for that of the soul. Eric Jensen‘s work as Massergy is an exception. Unusually uplifting, the seven works on his Fire Opal (70’13”) reveal themselves as delightful explorations into the sensation of sound. The mode of this album veers between narration and abstraction. Its allure, a graceful controlled calm, feels softened, then supplemented by moments of intriguing sonic drama. We listen to Fire Opal first with our ears, then again with our heart. The luminous austerity found in its unmoored passages culminate in a spacey synthesized symphony devoid of all gravity. Tones spread out in an ethereal atmosphere, then harden into forged, full-tensile strength. Notes climb slowly above warm electronics, as steely echo guitar plays against the icy pulse of gentle sequencer patterns. As contrast to this album’s expansive placid terrain Jensen adds dark tumultuous textures. With the mood bottoming out in dark timbre and questioning chords, the rumbling motion of a lower register penetrates our being – to remind us of a realm much larger than the one in which we live. In our cacophonous times, Massergy’s works are a counter programming. His music supports what is best about humanity, while challenging the worst. It asks only to be listened to on its own terms, in one’s own time. Fire Opal is an album that implores us to take it easy, and focus on our own healing.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END28 March 2019

K Markov: High Voltage

High Voltage

High Voltage

K Markov: High Voltage
Released: 1 February 2019
kmarkov.bandcamp.com

From a realm of sonic wonder comes High Voltage (49’02”) by K Markov. This release and its like are not a retreat from the world, but rather a re-imagining of what can be. Drawn in by a vivid imagination and high spirit, we find something cool, real and sudden. Each of the three tracks found on High Voltage have been designed to flow as a whole, gradually infusing our listening space with Markov’s sense of wonder at existence. The music is absorbed before we even know we have heard it. As thrilling contrasts move between the poles of chaos and order, the composer steps outside himself to dream up new realities. Upon the workings of some powerful engine sequencer patterns emerge and echo through the purple dusk of twilight into a perfect pitch dark night. Passing the control of known forces sputtering sparks heat the circuits of our brains while consonant synth melodies foretell the destination of dreams. With all reference points left behind we enter new space, guided only by a refined artistic sensibility. There is no one way to play this music, and so at each new outing we find new things about sound, mood, atmosphere and texture. Attracting the ear and stirring the mind we again find Spacemusic to be the only genre that can support a thousand ideas all in one performance. K Markov is a persistent and prolific composer, proof that music is an urgent calling. On High Voltage he touches the untamed forces of our internal lives, and weaves these themes into a striking album – to help us focus on our won truth. Such imaginative work shows people there are other ways to create and live, as it trains our thoughts. Markov’s condition is as with many who have come before him, as he stands in wonder at the unfailing stars.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 21 March 2019

Arjen Schat: Audionautic Research Program

Audionautic Research Program

Audionautic Research Program

Arjen Schat: Audionautic Research Program
Released: 1 March 2019
www.arjenschat.nl

The Spacemusic of Arjen Schat relates more to an age or an era than it does any particular aesthetic or movement. His work’s ever-changing destination is linked to the mood, talent and craft of the performer – who takes us with him on a journey to the creative center. Schat’s album Audionautic Research Program (72’29”) is a mind trip of well over an hour – across an improvised synthetic landscape of sustaining strings, interlocking tone patterns and ethereal effects. A wonderful tension is felt between the mechanistic sequencer blips cycling beneath an unfurling ribbon of synth lead melodies and the rush of sustaining chords. Exposing its elemental power, each of the two lengthy tracks on this release takes instant and utter possession of the listener. Sprawling, pulsing lines, running parallel to one another, are fantastically simple in their construction, but endlessly complex in effect. Cycling patterns motor and syncopate, and whirl by. In the magical motion of intricate, echoing notes we encounter a strange machine beauty. From the round and warm to something more thin and brittle, a range of melodic synthesizer expressions ride above the interplay of urgent, ever-evolving arpeggiated scales. A spirited energy of celestial harmonies, spiraling spacey effects and graceful synth-bourne melodies provide this music with a luxurious feel, even where it is most spare. Schat’s expressive analogue lead voices manage to bring focus and life to what is otherwise an exercise in repetitive mechanistic virtuosity. Working at a scale that is sure to dwarf the listener, his imaginative scoring and rapt intensity evokes limitless horizons. Audionautic Research Program wonderfully captures the spacefaring atmosphere and cosmic mystery expected from this style – but also acknowledges that the height of the Cosmic Music genre may have been set many years ago by its founders. Schat knows that it is up to him and his generation of Electronic Musicians to continue in the realm of the Berlin-School – in their exploration of this work’s breadth.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END14 March 2019

Erik Wollo: Infinite Moments

Infinite Moments

Infinite Moments

Erik Wøllo: Infinite Moments
Released: 4 January 2019
www.projekt.com
www.wollo.com

Often, music will reflect the state of the times in which it is being made. Fortunately for us, Erik Wøllo is making music not for our now, but for our future. The album Infinite Moments (57’32”) is a journey into Wøllo’s beliefs and perception of the world, and is powerful in ways that words cannot capture. Playing his electric guitar with an e-bow through a substantial amount of digital processing, he approaches these six sonic flights with a stable sense of serenity. In a masterful, tightly controlled performance his thick, spare, sometimes ominous approach conveys the joy of living, but also a few shades of solitude and isolation. Gone is the familiarity of the six-string tones. Bearing the drama of Wøllo’s slow melodies and embracing harmonies are his rounded, flexing sounds – which arrange themselves comfortably throughout the listening space. Breathing chords, friendly rather than foreboding, emerge, sustain and recede – drawn out in echoing waves of gentle tones. The explored realms pass between pastel cloud sunsets and the velvet cloak of night, to a place of private understandings. Charged with electrical nuance and the questioning nature of proper Ambient Music, Infinite Moments delivers the expected shivers. A completely meditative work, it is as if we are hearing the sound of the cosmos being filtered through 21st century technology. Wøllo observes the granular texture of reality, the severity of its miracles, and the range of its grace. For fans and novices of Spacemusic… Infinite Moments is a must.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END7 March 2019