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Spacemusic Reviews

Category: Spacemusic

Arjen Schat: AS

AS

AS

Arjen Schat: AS
Released: 1 September 2018
www.arjenschat.nl

Prior to spinning AS (44’29”) by Arjen Schat, try to imagine that this music is not residing on your digital player, but rather that it is waiting for you in some safe celestial space. Everything sounds better under starlight, and so from out of the galaxy deep this music will seem exquisitely formed. A heroic explorer, Schat’s reach is long. Representing either urges in the brain, or a sense of moving through an interstellar expanse, AS is loaded with pulsing synthesizers migrating in synchronized, echoing patterns. Along currents of dancing notes, each sequencer line reinforces the next – while full-throated lead lines rise like a strange hollow singing in our hearts. Designed to propel the listener endlessly through a trackless void, this album seems to confidently create its own space as it flies – however searching, tremulous and immeasurable this fascinating sonic realm may be. Carrying the light and line together we can almost feel the heat coming off of Scaht’s instruments. Yet, in this wonderful journey of four tracks, he manages to take us where his machines alone cannot. Who is it that knows how to navigate through the storm? That would be the person who has caused the storm. Being on your own, one can go deeper – and in his music Schat takes full advantage of this freedom. The sheer artistry displayed throughout AS is so expertly accomplished that we listeners cannot help but be seduced. It is remarkable how many fresh reserves of musical energy Schat teases out of such a well-established genre. Energy sparked by creativity is full of potential, and AS confirms that Spacemusic thrives when it provides an alternative to the doldrums of that which is common. This music is free to witness its own history, but has it lived up to the ideals that framed its founding? Possibly. If Schat can do everything right, control the chaos of electricity, move sound in the proper direction and place, he just might make something perfect.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END11 October 2018

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James Murray: Falling Backwards

Falling Backwards

Falling Backwards

James Murray: Falling Backwards
Released: 14 September 2018
www.homenormal.com
www.jamesmurray.info

Real life is enough for most people. Thanks goodness that James Murray is not like most people. His album Falling Backwards (47’05”) edges into our awareness, and warms us up in a most welcome way. His instruments, an extension of his consciousness, do not just make sound – they are part of the spirit of this musician. Realized with a kind of cursive grace, the seven tracks show strength in their stillness. As parts of the mind are held back by language, so it may be that in his organization of sound we find Murray’s conceptions and emotions becoming concrete and communicable. From a palpable unease and the whisper of spirits, to electronic shadows and magnetized clouds, Falling Backwards provides a better expression in the harmony of tones. Each piece begins as an impression within the composer’s head. As vivid aural tints form a handsome contrast, the movement of sonic forms becomes active and charged with electricity. Working with the understanding that sound expresses something in itself, Murray indulges his arrangements with lush ornamental pads and sterling, swirling lines of vaporous, recurring notes. Everything in his turbulent sonic landscapes is in motion, yet we never seem to move very far from the dreamy dark holler from where Murray remains in repose. To some Falling Backwards may remain a blur, but to others of us – who hear the interior hum of drama in each and every moment – we cannot help but imagine the futures we will dream about while under its influence.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END4 October 2018

Various Artists: Elements and Particles

Elements and Particles

Elements and Particles

Various Artists: Elements and Particles
Released: 19 October 2018
www.din.org.uk

It has been said that a scholar collects, and so with his Tone Science series we find Ian Boddy (of DiN Records) continuing a fine job of just that. Now let us welcome Elements and Particles (60’23”), the second anthology of nine musical realizations that have never before been. The raw material of this art is electricity, which is forged into sound and music by dreamers and builders. Their wordless structures offer everything from technological complexity to the simplicity of a prayer. The artful sonic organization of the works found on Elements and Particles can stem only from a developed instinct. Timbre has always been a secondary consideration in music, yet in the field of Electronic Music it is the key medium of artistic spiritual intensity. In a genre this wild and ungovernable, each piece exerts its own specific force on the imagination. In an ever-fading atmosphere, the artists presented on this collection are shaping the character of sound in a thousand small ways. Finding their internal guidance the nine come alive to transform gently vibrating tones into a commotion of motion. As the worrisome low trill of LFOs gives way to a formless vacuum, another track goes bone deep cold. When chaotic modulations upset the spirit level of our minds, conventional access points recede – and we are left with only the sensation of hearing. There are also places of unspeakable beauty. In this innovative modular synthesizer realm, oscillators may sing of the quiet power behind their volume, with tempered circuits humming in ascent. Chirping rhythms echo lines of melodious machine patterns, and scatter above the round warmth of slower purple notes. In metallic voices and synthesized verse this gear can reference its technological founders, but in this worship we only diminish a power meant to amplify humanity – to further advance our state. The nine musicians represented on Elements and Particles always choose the light – as their lives are meant for discovery. With each new musical endeavor they dare to be more human. We may be considered mad by those who cannot hear the music – yet for all those who understand, it is a wonder beyond all dispute. But as steady as we are in our pursuit, we must wonder… what is this strange compulsion that drives us to create? We all do live this question, and must live into its answer.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END27 September 2018

Ombient: The Wings of Halphas

The Wings of Halphas

The Wings of Halphas

Ombient: The Wings of Halphas
Released: 19 September
www.ombient.com

Ombient has heard night eating the world, and converted this energy into sound. Taking the listener into null space the extraordinary Electronic Musician Mike Hunter observes an odd parade of angels and demons that check in and out of his nightmarish sonic space. Adding to a restless and vast body of work now comes The Wings of Halphas (59″00′). It will do us no good to leave a light on while this piece plays, because if timbre is thought of as the color of sound, then this album is black enough to absorb the light of any respectable listening area. Here the idiosyncrasies of Hunter’s gear are cleverly enlisted, so you are advised to ready your sub-woofers for the ensuing sound system workout. With crackling circuitry searing electronics, the conventional access points of rhythm, melody and harmony are closed off – as The Wings of Halphas presents an experience of sounds, tones and organization that will be completely unfamiliar to any audience. In Ombient’s uncontained void, distortion is a welcome character. With its ripping texture, and red zone saturation, it bestows a sense of surpassing limits – in service to this composition’s ever-present feeling of lost abandon. The fire of a rumbling furnace draws air in hissing discontent, to issue the leaden fumes of this grinding industry. Raw chords inhabit the cellar, cowering before the grinding oscillators and crumbling modulations occupying the upper air. Something more than drones and tones inhabit this seemingly unending track. Probing, bitter, sharp, emotionally charged, yet burning cool The Wings of Halphas expresses more than the surface reality of sound. It digs down below – because from out of the subterranean realm does come the inspiration for this kind of music. In Ombient’s demanding world dense auricular forms do frustrate our dreams of escape – so conjured by a particular, inquisitive mind. Like waking from darkness, into a dark time, we wonder if we will ever find our way out? But for all its devils and darkness, this realization came into being out of the simple pleasure of making music, of following where the creative process leads – in hopes of working the minds of both the player and the listener.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END20 September 2018

Alluste: Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds

Alien Worlds

Alluste: Alien Worlds
Released: 24 May 2018
alluste.bandcamp.com

Piero Monachello is a propulsive musicmaker, and knows well how to keep the listener engaged. As Alluste his sequencers fire like the neurological mechanisms behind the mind’s functioning, and help better align thought and mood toward a more positive current. His Alien Worlds (61’18”) may be based on the 1970s Berlin-School, but it narrates from the present. Each work emerges and develops as in a slow gathering of hot blood. Still marveling at the beauty of synthetic sounds, the veteran Monachello sparks reactions and arouses emotions across eight tracks of brain beat Spacemusic. One does not listen to this music so much as drift into it. In a swirl of throwback synthesizers a tumbling latticework of echoing arpeggio notes dance along scales of nocturnal minor key chords. Lush harmonies sigh and whisper their celestial concord, as piano keys play out dramatically under digital reverberation. Full string sections may add warmth and fullness to one composition, as quickly as an ethereal vocal will leave us in a trackless void on another. Animated by the power of melody to convey emotions Alien Worlds stands strong against the harshness and cynicism that tears at the fabric of our world – and reminds us that we all still have our own feelings, questions and fears. While being all instrumental, Alien Worlds somehow manages to speak in a human vocabulary – requiring us to be beholden to something other than our own opinion. If you play this album, then you are agreeing to listen to Monachello’s story. There is a spirit that this music catches you up in, yet it is meant only to serve us – and that which stirs in our deepest of hearts.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END30 August 2018

TaboTago: Kymatica

Kymatica

Kymatica

TaboTago: Kymatica
Released: 18 April 2018
www.iapetus-media.com
tabotago.wordpress.com

Bernhard W√∂stheinrich, Andreas von Garnier and Leander Reininghaus are the Spacemusic ceremony celebrants TaboTago. These three minds are a fascinating interconnected machinery. Steeped in the brew of the Berlin-School their album Kymatica (52’12”) conjures well that particular era’s vague air of cosmic mystery. Throwing off currents of nervous, wiry energy this music portrays a specific moment of human interaction. The three musicians concentrate intently on the task before them. As their jam sessions deepen, they becoming oblivious to the rest of the world, which enlarges the sense of real contact and cooperation. Kymatica‘s six skillfully navigated tracks should make it obvious that there are real people involved in the realization of this music, and not a one of these pieces is the result of casual interactions with algorithms or automated applications. As sequencer patterns bolt from the starting line, seemingly with a pack of demons at their backs, Mellotron flutes, strings and choirs sweeten the air with their dulcet strains and affecting harmonies. Further in a discourse for electric guitar and synths has an air of self-interrogation – achieving an uncanny directness. It is an anthem for anyone who has raged alone at the night, sending questions into the darkness. But hearts should always mend by morning, and Kymatica quickly moves beyond the sunrise and back into starlit terrain. Minor-key chords are split apart into mechanistic and echoing arpeggio notes, winding out, then sustaining like an engine in its power zone. Lead lines bring focus to the story of the song, while modulated effects scatter in the wake of locomotion. TaboTago is an innocent wild thing, at the mercy of a ruthlessly predatory species – which is to say we the listeners. Kymatica is much more than the result of transforming an electrical current into sound. This work warns us that the future is out there – unstoppable, and on its way… asking what will it bring? and will we be ready?

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END2 August 2018

Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij: Galaxis

Galaxis

Galaxis

Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij: Galaxis
Released: 31 March 2018
www.gertemmens.nl

Our brain is a predictive organ, constantly guessing what will be coming next. And so throughout Galaxis, the triple CD set from Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij, our minds should feel thoroughly exercised. With Galaxis this long-lived duo offers 14 tracks that demonstrate their range as composers, arrangers and musicians. Overtly a Spacemusic collaboration, this epic release also benefits from ample electro beat box and conventional acoustic drum kit – a rhythm feature that permits this music to access the ideals of the musical mainstream (while never forsaking its cosmic roots). As the energy level builds, Emmens & Heij head out on a reckless ride into the unknown. Sequencer patterns run in machine like precision as full-throated lead lines and penetrating synth harmonies fill out the sonic story. Their spacier tracks offer a magnificent directness. As oscillators detune and phase, modulated effects chirp, flitter and glitter, then recede into the distance. With long lines of held notes we search for a path along an undulating arc of reverie. Lulled by an otherworldly calmness, the listener drifts on these vibrating currents – drawn easily above the shifting timbral expanse. Throughout this growing density a slowly building ethereal energy may be felt. Churning, shimmering sounds flow together into a sweeping resonance, then are displaced by a new and equally novel airy form. Cosmically complex yet microscopically intricate these zones meant to spark our imagination exposes the purity and calm of two electronic souls. While Galaxis may be promoted as having something for everyone, how much better to consider this diverse offering as an invitation to embrace and appreciate the many moods and ideas of which this unique genre is capable. Beautiful and strange, quietly profound, then rocking and charged, every piece evokes an inner experience through the artful shaping of sound. In its forward thinking, this kind of music has always been about making the future, an activity that at one time took place outside of science fiction. But, as some truths are better told in sound, the purpose of this music now might lie in its ability to help us just survive the present.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END26 July 2018