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Spacemusic Reviews

Juta Takahashi: Pleochroism

Pleochroism

Pleochroism

Juta Takahashi: Pleochroism
Released: 31 December 2019
www.neotantra.co.uk
www.jutatakahashi.com

Juta Takahashi is strong enough to dream. In his music we do not re-locate, but rather we de-locate. The CD Pleochroism (62’06”) strengthens our hearts, as it stills our minds. Its music resides outside worldly realms – allowing us to step easily into sustaining zones of cerebral contemplation. As whispering synthesizers drift into silence, we find each of this album’s four electronic hymns to be a study in harmonic contrasts. Under a cloud cover of digital reverberation string triads sound out in the way moonlight sometimes shimmers. Beams of music, refracted through the spirit of the player, swirl elegantly throughout the sound space. Weightless notes bloom across a range of color and mass – in a process understood only on their own terms. Chords drift, slip and lift in a sweet reverie – as softer sounds prevail and coax the night to stay a few moments longer. Fitting easily into the New Age or Ambient Music categories, Pleochroism is a lush counterpoint to the lesser works of these classes. Each track seems to expand continuously over its duration – flowing gently through a range of sculpted textures and sustained moods. Pastoral and silvery then dark and dense, these slowly shifting realizations open up space then fill it with sound – as deep sonic pleasures lead to reassuring calm. In a time most concerned with the mastery of the world out there, listeners to Pleochroism may transcend the day-to-day – and find contentment dwelling in the universe found in here – within ourselves.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END6 February 2020

Marconi Union: Dead Air

Dead Air

Dead Air

Marconi Union: Dead Air
Released: 29 November 2019
www.marconiunion.com
www.justmusic.co.uk

Nobody goes there anymore, it’s just too crowded… According to Marconi Union, the principality of Ambient Music has ceased to be. After ten albums from a few miles west of this location the Manchester-based trio has declared the genre of ignorable music to be done in by over population. A well-known/popular band, yet always in possession of a real humanity, Marconi Union wonders about their own mystery. Their release Dead Air (55’40”), an album of seven wordless atmospheric tracks, creates its own wondrous soundscape as it goes. Behind these arrangements are Jamie Crossley, Richard Talbot and Duncan Meadows. With subdued rolling sonic waves and ethereal textures they conjure a beautiful and tender inward space. Softer sounds prevail, as the output of guitars, voices and keyboards are pushed into ever more thoughtful realms. Multi-layered and lulling the works found on Dead Air are deceptively simple. Accessible, and at the same time elegant and smart, they provide luxury even in the most spare moments – and co-exist peacefully with the life around them. Gently navigating through these thought zones with care breathing washes of warm chords are contrasted against well-placed electronics and subtle loops. The embracing sound of steel strings, electric piano and the human voice – delicately filtered, distorted and re-imagined – blur between their indistinct boundaries. Although each piece briefly forms its own distinctive condition, the overall effect is unifying. This music has always been considered by the mainstream as being “out there”, yet its true home is “in here”… inside us… deep within the listening mind. The rounded drones, reverberating notes and humming ambiance generates moods beyond the abilities of common Instrumental Music. In such a crowded field, listening to Dead Air feels like entering a secluded garden within a forest – where the dream we dream together may become reality.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END30 January 2020

Radio Massacre International: M21/The Rhodes Less Travelled

M21

M21

Radio Massacre International: M21/The Rhodes Less Travelled
Released: 14 October 2019
www.radiomassacreinternational.com

In a world in which everything may be known, Spacemusic does remain a mystery. This portion of the musical spectrum may be too vast for some, but not for the likes of Steve Dinsdale, Duncan Goddard and Gary Houghton. Their long-lived live band Radio Massacre International has executed a great number of successful experiments in this discipline. Drawn together more in cooperation than in competition, to achieve each of their concerts this collective of improvisers calls on personal resources none are certain they possess. The double CD sets M21 and The Rhodes Less Travelled present this trio in some of their finest moments – with M21 spotlighting the 7 May 2011 show at St Clement’s Church in Manchester, and The Rhodes Less Travelled featuring out-takes from this event’s luminous rehearsal sessions. Making works meant to move the mind from still chill to smoldering state, RMI‘s encounter with their audience sets up the possibility for transcendence. Where intertwined sequencer riffs mix, shift and divide in a twisting double helix of echoing synthetic tones, further in RMI confronts a dissolving world of perpetual gloom – and ascends to the sonic stasis of gentle twilight realms, then on to melodic and harmonic fog clearing clarity. With their synthesizers, sequencers, Mellotron, Rhodes piano and electric guitar RMI performs the Berlin-School form to realize an even remoter music. Dinsdale, Goddard and Houghton live in the flow of the moment. As their bodies become activated by what they are hearing, their central nervous systems fire and a mysterious drama is built. Spacemusic runs deep in the fabric of these three. Their music is spontaneously composed, and so the act of performing live is constantly evolving. As they attain this otherwise unreachable experience, the atmosphere generated remains mysteriously ever in the near future. Yet, the retreat into wordlessness, the struggle against inevitable decay, and its desolating states are no match for the calm and quiet of an old electric piano set against a background of electronic night spirits – giving hope that maybe one day the profound peace RMI knows out in space will also be found here on the Earth.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END23 January 2020

David Parsons: Chakra

Chakra

Chakra

David Parsons: Chakra
Released: 8 November 2019
gterma.blogspot.com

From the calm center of David Parsons comes an expression above existence. Through the specific language of his music he shares with us a discipline, a devotion that most people usually keep private. Chakra (63’25”) provides seven tracks for the quieter, more inward pursuits – and gives the moments we pass listening to it greater significance. Entering its weightless realm we feel received, accepted. Throughout its primitive polish and coarse refinement the human self remains audible. An enigmatic, deep album of methodical pacing and ceremonial intensity Chakra does not lead the listener, but stays with us well into the deeper dream. Electronic textures grow, thicken and gently shift, as harmonics become dense, then fall away into a smooth ribbon of sound. Expanding drones slow the plane of daily existence, as failing hums and buzzes give way to riffs of percussion which carry through the linear path of time. Chiming metallic tones ring above the tapping of synths and clicking of keys. Where breathy sounds seep into one composition, the chant of sequestered monks is released in another. Taken all together these elements convey the enigmatic yet simple essence of this world apart, and may even evoke the metaphysical dimension at the center of the player. However pleasurably adrift in this state of continual expansion, the listener is held inside an intriguing sonic palette – an experience notable for its profound impenetrability. The mind, the soul, the heart, this work touches all three. Chakra is not situated in the past, nor in the future. Within this most vivid sound field every listener is at the center of an infinite circle – with David Parsons declaring himself throughout.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END16 January 2020

Rene de Bakker: Our Gift

Our Gift

Our Gift

Rene de Bakker: Our Gift
Released: 1 June 2019
www.groove.nl

Our Gift (76″04″) is the ambitious solo effort by Rene de Bakker. Part of the Dutch synthesizer ensemble Beyond Berlin, on this release both the musician and audience discover what he is capable of left to his own devices. Our Gift presents six tracks of brilliantly intricate sequencer patterning. Transpiring in an electrical heat this music will throw off sparks. In an effortless braiding of high-concept electronic music and echoing notes each realization conjures a distinctive spacey mood. Polymetric pulses yield complex interlocking, repetitive motifs – and deliver a potent sense of motion. From the beat of the heart to the tick of a clock, larger cycles build from smaller ones. Rene de Bakker commands a striking range of electronic color and texture. Some works maintain just enough keyboard notes to sketch a melody, but where ever tension is fully wound up the leads tower fast and true. Flowing across a fascinating range of textures and moods one may drift into this album. However, Our Gift is an excellent example of smart brain beat Spacemusic, and so requires our attention. Spending time with it is never less than intriguing, and will leave us with a lasting sense of possibility.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END9 January 2020

Neuland: Neuland

Neuland

Neuland

Neuland: Neuland
Released: 22 November 2019
www.neuland.net

The self-titled debut by Neuland may be based on the 1970s Berlin-School, but it narrates from the future. Neuland unites two of Germany’s most prominent and established synthesists: Peter Baumann and Paul Haslinger. The pairing brings out the best each has to offer. Baumann & Haslinger have a great deal in common. They both independently rose to icon status – catalyzing the contemporary synth community – through their work with Tangerine Dream and in significant solo projects. On Neuland two monuments to our scene offer fresh insight into the energetic realm located somewhere above Spacemusic but just below Prog-Rock. Fortunately for intelligent listeners their pursuits are beyond that of the commercial audience. Freely exhibiting a musical vision and technological talent this duo lights up the neural pathways – and leads us on a substantial listening experience. In a swirl of synthesizers a tumbling latticework of echoing notes dance along scales of minor key textures. Sequencers fire like mental mechanisms – to better align thought and mood toward a more positive current. These neatly built pattern exercises provide a hurtling onrushing quality. As electronic harmonies rise and fall, in light and dark tones, an unexpected beauty emerges. In their building, slow-burning spacey anthems lush harmonies sigh and whisper a celestial concord. Chords change keys and the sound fills out. While being completely instrumental, the music somehow manages to speak in a human vocabulary. With each ribbon of melody unfurling, the drama of the song unfolds. By playing this album you are agreeing to hear a story. Rigorously composed and realized, these 15 tracks across two CDs attest to Neuland‘s tendency to interact with the world in the image of their dreams and nightmares. Animated by the power of melody to convey emotions this work stands strong against the cynicism that tears at the fabric of modern life – and reminds us that we all still have our own feelings, questions and fears. This debut is a vivid mind trip on headphones – and knows that the deeper we go within ourselves, the better we may connect with the rest of humanity.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END2 January 2020

Forrest Fang: Ancient Machines

Ancient Machines

Ancient Machines

Forrest Fang: Ancient Machines
Released: 2 December 2019
www.projekt.com
www.forrestfang.com

What is Forrest Fang doing for this world? With the release of Ancient Machines (73’06”) he asks us to hear what he hears. By listening to this album we take our first steps into a larger realm – a zone expressly for those desiring to encounter things outside of themselves. These new territories are reached with each of his successive efforts. The 11 luminous, graceful, self-assured tracks found on Ancient Machines seek a timeless space. Reconnecting us with life as it should be this music thrives. The most absorbing material may be compositions that feature violin or piano, which have been plucked, picked, bowed, struck or strummed. Propelled gently by tempo energy their voice and structure heaves under atmospheric weight. In a simultaneous sounding of tones a feeling of rest, of no need for further resolution is produced. Yet on some realizations clashing frequencies produce mildly moody results. A balance of opposing tensions, the connection between disparate sounds may lead us to better connect with unfamiliar ideas. In a slowing that sinks us back in time each piece is an exploitation of carefully chosen and contrasted tonal qualities. Under a building torrent of reverberating electronics this tech-tinged hybrid work seems from a primitive past, somehow beamed to the present day. With its masterful emotive shading Ancient Machines will be good for listeners, and even better for dreamers. Synthetic sonorities are combined with groupings of acoustic sounds and instruments in a specifically composed manner – and form a unity so as to convey the message of the artist. In a blend of art and technology he arranges timbres, pitches, and rhythms in a way so well that it stirs the emotions of the listener. All musical activity by Forrest Fang is the reproduction of the world that surrounds him, by means of the world that is within him – recreated in a personal form and an original manner. As for the listener, meaning is elusive… out where this music’s thousand dreams softly burn.

– Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END26 December 2019