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Spacemusic Reviews

Category: Contemporary Instrumental

Kelly David: Meditation in Green

Meditation in Green

Meditation in Green

Kelly David: Meditation in Green
Released: 23 August 2019
www.spottedpeccary.com
www.kellydavid.com

Kelly David is exploring the Earth, and discovering that it is far bigger than he imagined. The release Meditation in Green (58’03”) allows us to project ourselves into his luxurious, long-view. Those open to the seduction of electronic drama and its beautiful symbolism will be substantially rewarded. Utilizing a variety of pristine field recordings, and layering them with gentle percussion and evocative synthesizer surfaces Kelly David produces passages of mystic bliss – where reverberant chords move like slow clouds on the horizon, and glowing tones flex and fade off into a buzz of jungle. From ethno-grooves to Forth World dreamscapes, the arc of this fantasy for synths, samplers and landscapes recedes and expands as the music flows across a leafy, watery and often intense sonic terrain. Some tracks add a ceremonial rhythmic propulsion, but we will recognize that most of Meditation in Green is pushing slowly through a dreamy, verdant realm. This work’s series of seven interludes build tension through minimal means, driving one to consider the larger questions of what it is to be alive. The listening experience is sensuous enough to become lost in, but so vivid that we might encounter ourselves somewhere along our travels. In its textured roar, wilderness sounds, ethereal atmospheres and thunder claps we find an escape from the broken world. The screens of our modern times offer so much to look at, from the trivial to the sublime. Yet, Meditation in Green proves to be a move vivid experience than any random feed could possibly offer. To give his perspective on the world and its ancient governing powers this artist’s vision reaches us through the act of listening, to be interpreted within the theater of our minds.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END17 October 2019

Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Tim Story: Lunz 3

Lunz 3

Lunz 3

Hans-Joachim Roedelius & Tim Story: Lunz 3
Released: 30 June 2019
www.curiousmusic.us
www.roedelius.com
www.timstory.com

Lunz 3 (69’23”) makes our collection of contemporary music one masterpiece richer. Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Tim Story do sound great on their own, but transcendent together. Through a unique intuition their collaboration leaves enough room not only for one another, but also for moments of tenderness and light. It is a dream team-up that is by turns searching enough to elicit some head-scratching, yet gutting enough to bring a listener to tears – sometimes in the span of a single composition. In the yawn of years since the issue of the original Lunz (2002) this duo has strived to become more worthy of their craft. Lunz 3, bathed in the autumnal light of time remembered, is partly a studio re-imagining of the earlier tracks, but to some extent a fresh new endeavor. Building on ideas and themes from the prior release, Roedelius and Story easily re-inhabit the gentle gravity of their Ambient Chamber Music. The musical gestures encountered here again feel straightforward and uncomplicated. By combining vague classical influences with weightless spacemusic, they conjure up a safe zone – an odd area where the notes may stay the same but their meaning is ever changing. With the pianos, cellos and violins engaging in lovely melodic substance, an ethereal sonic invention adds instruction-less puzzles. Bringing fragrance into the listener’s solitude an imaginative assortment of samples, gentle distortion and other detailed effects move these 18 key-centered pieces, by root progressions, each to their own perfect resolution. With wit and wisdom in every tone Roedelius and Story realize their quiet, hand-played works. Fundamental is the thought that people may be reached, that beauty can make a difference. Due to its expansive promise their music seems inexhaustible – as the musicians and their listeners are constantly seeking more from it. Lunz 3 opens a rare space for peace, thought and warmth. It is as powerfully effective as instrumental storytelling gets – flowing with the solemn, blissful insistence of life itself. From a slow chill and friendly sweetness, to the feeling of leaving Earth, or even the sense of coming home, for the duration of this album we get to live in a realm that we can make sense of.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END18 September 2019

Jeff Pearce: Skies and Stars

Skies and Stars

Skies and Stars

Jeff Pearce: Skies and Stars
Released: 13 September 2019
www.jeffpearcemusic.com

Jeff Pearce has a way of making unique experiences transferable. Skies and Stars (59’57”) is his dramatic reflection on the night sky, and possibly even the forces that have placed him there beneath it. Celebrating the first lights of evening onward his music widens the aperture on the heavens as it tightens its hold over our attention. With its three tracks of lush layered guitar orchestrations this album seems of an endless energy. Under a cavernous reverberation metal wires vibrate and bend, then breath and bloom into atmospheres, textures, and passages of interiority. Each silvery string on Pearce’s guitar has a story to tell… a different episode of time in which the listener and the music become the same through the seemingly endless decay and regeneration of all things in the Cosmos. This music gives few answers, preferring to dwell on the enigmatic. With its daunting intervals and shiny core, Skies and Stars is shrouded in a misty mystical digital signal processing. Through the clever use of loop pedals, long echoes and the splitting and shifting of sonics a dreamy cloud of harmony is realized – yet with always a few tones still lurking in a vast darkness. Trembling with emotion, the music conveys a timeless yearning. This musician seeks permanence, not transience – but the magic of each of his work’s many musical moments vanishes as soon as we pay them any notice. Fans of this style of Spacemusic will know that from there to here is never a straight line. In an era of fidgeting, Skies and Stars offers an arc of unbroken concentration. As the world seems about to slip and tip off its axis, Jeff Pearce is making music for whatever is beyond the horizon of this failing realm. Listening past its ample exploratory marvels, this album offers a kindness, a gentle warm familiarity, rendered into a beautiful keepsake.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END12 September 2019

Markus Reuter: Monde trilogy

Monde vol 1

Monde vol 1

Markus Reuter: the Monde trilogy
Released: May/June/July 2019
www.iapetus-media.com
www.markusreuter.com

Modern times are not conducive to delicacy, so Markus Reuter‘s Monde trilogy may seem an indulgence – too luxurious and attuned to the long-view of life to have much of a message. Yet, past its overt calm we may feel something urgent running beneath this music’s smooth surface. Each one of the three disc set’s 27 tracks feels newborn, yet somehow ghosts beckon from every piece. On the Monde trilogy Reuter reclaims those silvery strands from the neglect of New Age and Ambient Music, and weaves them into an atmosphere so sensuous that we may easily lose ourselves within, but of such potency that we may just as easily find our self once inside. The sedated, softly sonorous string sounds, derive their sonic bloom from a learned balance of intuition and restraint – which Reuter commands after decades of studio experimentation and concert execution. His realizations were made in real-time performances with an electric guitar, and the associated processing effects, under quiet listening conditions. In touch with streams of creativity powering his mind, by way of the currents of electricity running through his guitar, Reuter’s compositions are honed, but not overworked. He has designed a gorgeous palette of textures and tones, arranged in pastoral consonance – which makes for our constantly renewed aural interest. From a single point of charged spark, to an expanse of the ether, this music shines in the brilliance of its imaginative scope. Aligning with the values of good Spacemusic it bestows a mental state that runs counter to that of the world outside. So long as we remain open to the seduction of Monde‘s understated drama and beautiful natural sound, may we enter its eerie darkness, to return later… up through reassuring light.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END18 July 2019

Craig Padilla & Marvin Allen: Toward the Horizon

Toward the Horizon

Toward the Horizon

Craig Padilla & Marvin Allen: Toward the Horizon
Released: 22 February 2019
www.spottedpeccary.com
www.craingpadilla.com

Synthesist Craig Padilla and guitarist Marvin Allen are dreaming a different dream than most Spacemusic philosophers. Throughout the collaboration Toward the Horizon we may hear that which is lighting so brightly inside their heads. As messages fly, ideas flower and synapses snap through the web of electrical circuits across the brain, each mind comes to life in collective play. As so much is riding in every composition, this duo’s sound becomes emotionally all-encompassing. Along its six track route Toward the Horizon grows gradually wider and more personal, until this work has thoroughly expanded into our listening space. Small at first, each piece initially feels narrowly contained, but soon rushes passionately wider. In tightly controlled performance this music thickens, to convey the joy of living, but also shades of solitude and doubt. We hear Allen’s strummed chords climbing slowly above Padilla’s warm electronics, as steely echoing guitar plays against the pulse of gentle sequencer patterns. Dark tumultuous textures act as contrast against this album’s drifting strings, reverberant synths and buzzing synthetic chords. But further in, a rumbling soundmass advances beneath glissando guitar lines and grainy sweeping pads; while further out, slow flow zones oscillate in swarms of glittering points. On the horizon Padilla and Allen can see the future approaching, knowing that somewhere in this distance shines a better day. Toward the Horizon is an album by men of deep mind, two who use music to renew their sense of wonder – and play us into someplace just short of the hereafter, but far beyond tomorrow.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END4 July 2019

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

Forrest Fang: The Fata Morgana Dream

The Fata Morgana Dream

The Fata Morgana Dream

Forest Fang: The Fata Morgana Dream
Released: 28 January 2019
www.projekt.com
www.forrestfang.com

Has a lost tribe ever been discovered that was actually lost? Forrest Fang might be from one such clan. His release The Fata Morgana Dream (66’50”) feels from out of some unexplored quarter – and so as fresh and unexpected as life itself. Convinced we are wandering through a stranger’s dream this work creates a swirling blend of the real and the mythic. Content as ever to revel in his own designs, Fang shifts the music between realms – insisting as always on the amazing complexity of the world. As usual, multiple influences have been woven together with extraordinary artistry. Providing a sense of place, in the most abstract of geographic terms, the eight tracks of this album are themselves fascinating journeys through uncharted territory – with Fang as our brilliant traveling companion. A pleasant escape, The Fata Morgana Dream tracks the mind as it moves through it. Beneath the permeating reverb of its sustaining atmosphere are granular textures. Saturating drones penetrate our listening space, as acoustic instruments are picked, plunked, strummed and struck – yielding a rhythm deeper than that of any digital native. Soundtracks of a secret zone, the compositions build out and shimmer like a mirage on the horizon. All are varied meditations on what it is to be one kind of human. A rare treasure of an album, The Fata Morgana Dream deepens the mystery of the individual experience. In a masterful, tightly controlled performance Fang decorates our condition with music. Originality is a rare commodity in art, and works by this musician sound like no one else’s. Forrest Fang, it is far too easy to admire you.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END21 February 2019