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Spacemusic Reviews

Category: IDM

Various Artists: Polarity

Polarity

Polarity

Various Artists: Polarity
Released: 31 May 2017
www.ultimae.com

Somewhere sacred between the musician and the audience is the DJ. Deciphering the secrets of a unique treasury, these types often vanish within our listening experience. Anyone can simply string together a number of decent songs, but a higher meaning may come from the expert pacing and placing of each track in just the right spot (with those of this craft finding the rush of mixing their first time every time). The anthology Polarity includes 26 tracks by a considered range of various artists across two compact discs. Arnaud Galoppe (also known as Focal) has been commissioned with blending these works into two distinctive extended moods. While Polarity is an excellently produced album throughout, fans of STAR’S END may be attracted to the disc labeled “Ambient Side” (a bit more than the equally well produced “Techno Side” CD). Galoppe, our sonic celebrant, excellently intertwines the stories of each of the two discs’ 13 artists and tracks. Spacing is the very groundwork of design, and this producer demonstrates his ability to build interesting environments – by bridging and binding opposing energies in the magical interplay between time, memory and imagination. A reduced narrative content simulates arrested motion, as a mystical dark light seems to hover over certain passages. In the surrounding zones where shadows become an essential part of the plan, Polarity further subverts dominant codes of music. Like underground explosions, distant rumbling foretells of a pulsing activity within. Hair-raising bass drops seem to harness the energy of electricity, as the mood changes just when we want it to. When synthesized modulations thicken the air, an easing harmony soon emerges out of the density. The methodical movement between light and dark, hot and cool terrain is impressive and effective. From the power of empty space, to energized riffs moving the body, Polarity provides an intriguing journey into electronic texture and sound – expanding and contracting continually under an atmosphere suggestive of all things cerebral. Even the recurring drum zones loop at the speed of dreams, and beckon thought. Anthologies are a good way to learn about new artists, but sometimes it is not necessarily the individual tracks the audience wants, but their mixture, and the more complex experience which may arise from a well-produced set. The DJ is that complexity. Making something bigger than the sum of its parts, Galoppe so enjoys the act of connecting two different songs through smooth transitions. Raising and lowering the energy level, from drifting gray calm to sparked beats and grooves (and many levels in between) the many musicians presented throughout Polarity play a significant role – one more that of source material than of author. But each are equally valuable, none better than the other, as taken together in this assemblage their individual meanings are amplified, and they each reach a place where none could go alone.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END18 January 2018

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Ascendant: Particle Horizon

Particle Horizon

Particle Horizon

Ascendant: Particle Horizon
Released: 7 November 2017
www.synphaera.com
www.ambientascendant.com

Particle Horizon (73’42”) shows a new confidence at the reunion of two coolly calculating minds. As Ascendant, music makers Don C. Tyler & Chris Bryant work well together at communing with our interior monologue. In touch with the current of creativity, by way of the current of electricity, here this duo provides ten harmonious compositions – each portraying ideas and feelings of magnitude. With its benevolent messages, drifting lost in the darkness of space, Particle Horizon is an intricate but effortlessly listenable album. From meandering melodic thoughts, to luxurious lead lines, Tyler & Bryant champion civility. Sounds shine spectacularly as synthetic sighs and whispering waves expand across note dappled soundscapes. Skittering electronic pulsations are woven into the music, yet refuse to establish a regular beat – as each piece on Particle Horizon turns like a system of intermeshed helical gears. Enhancing the sonorous aspects of this work its tonal material intricates a lofty character, and achieves a surface of equalized tension. Synths slowly crest, then recede into timeless cosmic serenity. Bass notes mark a slow time in potent dramatic holds, just as intermittent sonar chiffs signal an incoming message. But, for all its musicianship and production values, the importance of this music lies in the emotional responses of its listeners. In an apparent independence from terrestrial concerns, Particle Horizon has been designed to create and sustain a particular state of non-climactic thought. As its users grow ever wiser to its technology, one would think that this genre would eventually begin to sound conventional, and become tamed. Yet, it still has the capability to unleash latent creative potential in everyone who engages with it (musician and audience alike). The true wonder of Electronic Music is not that its reaches are so vast, but that its people continually attempt to touch that which will always be just beyond their grasp. In this spirit, the technological revolution will be proven to be not an unstoppable, unguided force, but a product of human creativity. As the authors of each advance, Mankind will always decide where technology will take us.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END14 December 2017

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