Spacemusic Reviews

Martin Sturtzer: Epsilon Eridani

Epsilon Eridani Martin Sturtzer

Martin Sturtzer: Epsilon Eridani
Released: 20 July 2022

With Epsilon Eridani (40:55) Martin Sturtzer shares his LP length window on the cosmos. Charged with a brain chilling energy this most majestic machine music involves all sorts of human choices and interventions. Across its three tracks the pitch-dark universe seems to become lit by a flicker of electronic grace. From dense sounds carrying an air of displacement to undulating fields of synthesized chords, Epsilon Eridani expands and contracts in a slow motion of round sounds and tamed timbre. We may imagine a set of concentric spheres – echoing sequencer patterns progressively revealed – as we move further along this sonic detour from linear thinking. Delving deeper into the the second half of this release we find tonal differences dominating the realm. Through the placement of contrasting harmonies this piece expresses texture, atmosphere, and all else that eludes the spoken word. Throughout all his substantial spacey interludes Sturtzer encourages the listener to follow the music in all its unfolding detail. In his idea of what may exist between the stars we should experience an unfamiliar feeling of lightness, like being on another planet where the force of gravity is only a fraction of the earth’s – a world where the low hum of possibility is constantly reverberating.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END21 July 2022

Scanner: The Homeland of Electricity

The Homeland of Electricity Scanner

Scanner: The Homeland of Electricity
Released: 17 June 2022

Accessible only from the first person The Homeland of Electricity (50:11) attracts our attention by way of the veritable imagination of Robin Rimbaud. Under the enduring alias of Scanner he has realized another ten tracks – ten transmissions better understood as distillations of thought, streamlined to play for us within the parameters of Electronic Music. The character of the sounds that make up The Homeland of Electricity range from the rounded and consonant to the brittle and bleak. These deep late encounters with Scanner may go one way or another. Some moments are as soft as sleep, where the mind may slip free of conscious control – while further in arraying linear patterning yields steady sequencer runs, then on into a wide, curved vacancy where we are left to wander the wastes of space alone. Mechanized patterns of notes emerge with an assured meter. In the succession of tones and ideas we find ourselves traveling in place. Within such ambiguous sonorities it is an easy drift deeper into the music. Midway through this album excursion arises a point where we can firmly feel the pressure of Rimbaud’s creative energy. In a present tense of wakefulness the propulsion of beats and wildness of samples barreling through slick sputtering synths crosses over Spacemusic boundaries and into something more alloyed. Between the disarmingly gentle and the animated and unconfined we attempt to grasp Scanner’s Zone of the Unknown. In his unforced experimentation he discovers hidden affinities. From the raw and power packed to the subtle and dulcet this work retains an all-embracing spirit. By remaining unnamed, it remains even more so in our thoughts.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END14 July 2022

Klaus Schulze: Deus Arrakis

Deus Arrakis

Klaus Schulze: Deus Arrakis
Released: 1 July 2022

Part dream engineer, part sonic philosopher, in his earliest efforts Klaus Schulze utilized a new instrument (the synthesizer) to realize a new music for a new age. His atmospheric explorations of timbral and temporal space, of extended durations and considered harmonic structures came to be referred to as (for lack of a better term) Space Music. Untethered to traditional disciplines this new era of expression opened up space and then moved through it like nothing before. Released posthumously, his Deus Arrakis (77:28) is yet another superb release in a long line of albums inhabited by flowing synths, delimited imaginings and gradual revelations. Marked by an unmistakable spirited energy, the three lengthy pieces of Deus Arrakis develop under ethereal textures and spiraling effects. The deft cello-bourne melodies of Wolfgang Tiepold and extended vocals by Eva-Maria Kagermann heighten these compositions with a luxurious feel. Restless variations expose concealed connections as the stream of transformations encourages neural firing in the brain. As sprawling sequencer lines pulse ahead, Schulze’s imaginative scoring and simmering intensity evokes limitless horizons. Fantastic in their construction, endlessly complex in effect, the cycling patterns motor on – whirling by in a magical motion of syncopated notes. Always working at a scale that transcends the listener, he showed us the difference between being merely close to the music and being inside it. A heroic explorer, Klaus Schulze’s reach is long. If we learned anything from his body of work it is that the mind is bigger than its thoughts – an idea that will keep us engaged for many years after his music has stopped.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END7 July 2022

K Leimer: The Starting Errors

The Starting ErrorsK Leimer

K Leimer: The Starting Errors
Released: 1 July 2022

Throughout his long-established career, K Leimer has always told a good story – something which we look forward to hearing with each new outing. In one more self-scrutiny The Starting Errors (72:16) wonders about what we have created, and when it will end. Yet another remarkable achievement of the imagination it hopes to provide something moving and true. Possible categories include Modern Chamber, Ambient Electronic or Neoteric, but there really is no name for this kind of music. Original, genre bending, thought-provoking, emotionally resonant and above all a consistent pleasure, the vibe of The Starting Errors is as undeniable as it is undefinable. Perhaps realized under a darkling sky, its eleven tracks, one more poetic and intriguing than the next, move from reasoned sonic blurs and fragmented digital currents, to a junction of prowling ghosts and crackling live wires. In one existential moment after another we can experience interludes of lightness and insistence awash in quiet and subtle details, followed by the unnervingly open-ended loaded with philosophical possibility. A tonally delicate midway point stands out as an exceptional location where nothing disrupts the essential harmony and loveliness of this beguiling composition of piano and string ambiance. Further in, neo-classical orchestrations supporting repeatedly recited spoken words offers a more direct message. The subdued journey of The Starting Errors takes plenty of detours into unexpected zones, tones, textures and states – which in fact may be the entire point of this effort. An artist of Ambient eloquence Leimer’s informed listeners will find themselves again engrossed in his skillful sonic designs and imaginative atmospheres, as surely as they will his artistic spirit. Always reaching for perfection, music seems to be the best way for Leimer to capture what he is living in, and share these feelings and emotions with receivers of like-mind. In this dusky present, lulled listeners will know their own brilliance by recognizing his.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END30 June 2022

John Luther Adams: Houses of the Wind

Houses of the Wind

John Luther Adams: Houses of the Wind
Released: 17 June 2022

Constantly testing his powers John Luther Adams leans into the raw energy of a decades old recording of Aeolian Harp. The sound emanating from this dawn spacemusic instrument and its wind animated strings seems a perfect soundtrack to unsettled realms. His Houses of the Wind (52:46) – an album in five parts, each about ten minutes, each perceived so elementaly – makes it easy to imagine our planet before it was inhabited, or at such time it is returned to that state. Transformed into a migrating, subtly colored timbral field, the basic recording of this instrument gains depth, acquires radiance, and further comes to life through untold audio manipulations. Requiring multiple facets of listening, thinking and feeling Houses of the Wind may seem the result of a strange new art. Lacking familiar reference points, it should lead us to consider unseen things around us.

The fluvial action of wind on strings produces a gradual purring drone, which is reimagined by Adams’ action on the recording – which provides even further transformations between mood, tone color and hue. Further in, darkness descends in rumbling drones and primitive spaces. The shifting shapes and shades of sound hum in a tremor of floating textures – emanating from the simple vibrating overtones of taut susurrating strands activated by random currents of air.

With Houses of the Wind Adams adds to an impressive oeuvre and proves himself a far more adventurous composer than previously suspected. His relentless curiosity and receptiveness to all things audible and a fascination with the effect of sound tells us about his values – that his work is as equally about music as it is about attitude. Whether an unnavigable experiment in indefinite pitch, or a quiescent tone zone, the haunting nature of these five realizations will be felt long after the recording has completed its play. In a world that cannot be made sense of Adams offers the listener music for dreaming bigger than one’s own self – of something bigger than what we know in this world.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END23 June 2022

Private Sea: Private Sea

Private Sea Private Sea

Private Sea: Private Sea
Released: 10 June 2022

Attention all Owlish Ambient types! Fellow travelers Alex Mitchell and Ryan Todd should be arriving in your listening space with Private Sea (50:26) – their excellent self-titled debut. While Private Sea expresses and experiments in ways built on previous entries in this field, they are far more focussed on the wonders of the psyche than the machinery used to make this release. Their optimism and artistry are fully present throughout every well-crafted musical moment. Driven by openness and compassion, vision and vibe, the assured pacing of its six tracks leads us into this duo’s remarkable euphonic, electronic, stereophonic state. In their interrogation of atmosphere, Private Sea commands the sound, the weight, taste and texture of synthesized tones. From fuming, vigorous and urging, down to the softest susurration of truthful timbral rumination, they navigate between Spacemusic’s tidal drone zones and ethereal washes, on up to a lively braindance of melody, rhythm and pulse. Although geared toward tranquility and quietude, nothing about this album seems confined. Testing the waters on this their first outing, Mitchell & Todd believe in the promise of new coastlines – and that the mind is its own place, its oceans vast and to be explored. In daily life feelings ebb and flow like waves upon the shore, but it is in the Private Sea of individuality that the sheer sensation of accomplished works like this one will endure.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END16 June 2022

Carlos Dengler: Aqueduct

Aqueduct Carlos Dengler

Carlos Dengler: Aqueduct
Released: 15 April 2022

Multi-instrumentalist Carlos Dengler rests easy at the outer reaches of Ambient Music. His Aqueduct (60:40) is brimming with ideas, but never tells us what to think. As self-assured as it is exploratory this is not a flashy album. It possesses a warmth and excitement (seemingly from the process of creation) that is satisfying, even joyous to the listener. Under the pervading, probing nature of Spacemusic, the drifting quality of Ambient and the caressing comfort of New Age, Aqueduct maintains the unique connection between sound and spirit. A vibe will carry you further than solid ideas can, and Dengler’s polished performances reveal genuine emotional content. Flowing between a number of sincere moods, from somber elegance to playful luxuriousness and daydream dramatics, mystical melodies move the music into illuminated space – while elsewhere gray atmospheres direct us toward decidedly subdued sonic hues. Agile arrangements and meticulous timing indicate great abilities and technique, yet this work for the quiet mind glows softly. With guitar, flute, bass, piano, voice, light percussion and synthesizers, most listeners will slip through states of awareness, enjoying the wonderful journey between their internal life and the resonating listening space. Heightened by hints of the otherworldly the seven tracks are easy to listen to, yet are still capable of provoking thought. With its subtle intricacies, clear beginnings and dramatic resolutions, we leave this realm feeling better for having had experienced this music. Even as Aqueduct plays out in fluid sensitivity to detail and tone, it withholds secrets. It is wonderful company – even more so with the familiarity brought by additional listening.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END9 June 2022

Skoulaman: Mundus in Motu

Mundus in Motu

Skoulaman: Mundus in Motu
Released: 24 April 2022

Who does not love being transported while listening to music? ‚Ķespecially when the journey takes you across a diverse terrain and through many intriguing moods. On Mundus in Motu (74:46) Skoulaman (Dutch Electronic Musician Hans van Kroonenburg) applies his creative spirit to this end. Its seven tracks, studiously varied, allows our mind to unwind. Leading us to a place outside ourselves, the music seems to be emanating directly from this musician’s being. A jewell box of a release Mundus in Motu takes on a certain shape in our memory. On his quest for momentum, van Kroonenburg deliberately dwells in the assured pace of his superbly syncopated sequencer patterns. As harmonic forms advance and recede, the free movement of drama widens and expands. Subtle contrasts of cool melodic hues push and pull at the listener’s attention, while the warm currents coursing through this music hits our ears all at once – as if everything gathered in the head and heart of the artist has emerged in a totality of sound. Arranged in exciting, inviting ways this music takes place in a smarter, gentler world than the one in which we live. Though polished and sure Mundus in Motu is also full of heart and wild touches. Coming from someplace beyond the spoken word, in generous stretches of charged synthetic zones, down to its soft, easeful spheres, this release is fully and effectively imagined. Listen to it straight through, because you would not want to miss the surprises or the pleasure of discovering this work. Please close your eyes, and open your ears, and dream bigger than you are.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END2 June 2022

Meg Bowles: Pilgrimage


Meg Bowles: Pilgrimage
Released: 20 May 2022

Inward looking, yet continually expansive, Pilgrimage (54:18) by Meg Bowles gives musical form to thought and a unique passage through the world. Geared toward soft cerebral states this passionate, brainy album takes flight in our imaginations – where its beauty often surpasses that of reality. Energized rather than daunted by the inexhaustible creative nature of her field, Bowles plots a sweeping journey of dramatically shifting moods and detailed aural landscapes. Pilgrimage features six tracks, each a unique spell cast by slow motion synthesizer fields of consonance and serenity. The tones are clear and calm, and meant to liberate contemplative states already within the listener. Atmosphere, texture and mood all unite in gentle converging currents. Secret voices emit a warm glow amid receding forms, as abandoned melodies hover over drifting sonic designs. While electronic aggregations progress in cycles, gather force and then subside, harmony is expressed in a breathing stack of intervals. Alive with the pleasures of synthesis interludes of tremulous repose inundate shimmery string timbres. Rolling swells, rich harmonies and peels of sound spark one charged moment after another – yet exploring the scale of this music is what leads us ever upward. Arriving whenever we get there, on this journey we are in no particular hurry to reach our destination. Traveling these spaces the listener may roam blithely – dissolved into something great and complete, or seek ardently – as one should on a Pilgrimage. Searching through this sonic realm you may discover new or expanded ways to hear and feel, or merely experience the beautiful stillness and charm within the resounding immensity of Bowles’ music.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END26 May 2022

Polypores: Hyperincandescent


Polypores: Hyperincandescent
Released: 20 May 2022

The electronic instruments in the studio belonging to Polypores are just waiting for Stephen James Buckley to tell his story. Realizing music of the imagination, the laboratory conditions of this art have produced Hyperincandescent (43:54). While thoroughly modern, the making of and listening to this marvelous music does still allow for an old-fashioned charm and wonderment. Its reverence for thinking, or because it is undertaken by a musician whose mind is so settled and fixed upon their work, Hyperincandescent will be heard as a unique form of expression – one where the mind has created something that it did not already know of. Pursued in multiple parts, each of this album’s suites connect continuously across the span of an LP side. From drifting weightlessness to roiling tempest, this music feels like a journey through time, darkness and light. Discovering properties of sound, Buckley expresses well the play of atoms in the mind. Describing this work by its magnitude, volume, density, speed, energy, mass, duration and direction may help listeners recognize the intelligence at the other end of this musical message. But the truth of this release is found in its ability to magically transform our surroundings into an element to which we belong. In striking sonic swirls and upward scales the two tracks re-affirm the pleasures of Electronic Music – while further in chill currents descend downward past known forces. Notes combine as they collide. In such shades lush and tender their beauty feels electric. Sequencer patterns emerge amid machine modulations, and are soon swept toward a vista of synthesized chords. In bonding better to this voltage vision, the music gives full play to our fancy, and rises to new heights. There is a creative lifeblood circulating through Hyperincandescent. It is a music-to-think-about record – easier to enjoy when your mind is flexible and in a playful, pondering mood. In this open, neural neutral state we are most likely to find an order to these tones, and some meaning waiting for us within this most patient music.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END19 May 2022