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Spacemusic Reviews

Palancar: Yurushiiro

Yurushiiro

Yurushiiro

Palancar: Yurushiiro
Released: 29 December 2019
www.palancar.net

Palancar is the sonic representative of Darrell Burgan and his continual awakening as an artist in electronic sound. His epic release Yurushiiro (143’21”) provides 14 tracks that range from a quiet, gentle expansion to raging, formidable force. In the movement of its synthesized strings, contrasting harmonies interplay to great effect. These slow moving works of dreamy brilliance unfold easily in shifting chord progressions, yet do just as well in the thickening atmosphere of a dark rumbling drone. Yurushiiro is vast and spacious, and falls into a category somewhere between the space filling character of Ambient Music, the space defining notion of New Age, and the creation of space as in classic Cosmic Music. When they are not devouring dark static durations, the synthetic tone poems found on this album combine to create a fascinating range of texture and atmosphere. Shifting between a dreamlike stillness, and seductive shimmering synthscapes, to the fierce brilliance of churning harmonic motion, Yurushiiro sweeps us between negative space and motifs of high relief. Synthesized chords churn into a soft mass of expanding rounded sound – as one harmonious scene transforms into another. Creating and choosing an impressive range of tones, from the curious to the consonant, Burgan arranges and paces this work slow enough to be lulling, yet with enough activity and variety to keep the listener engaged. With its hushed electronics and gentle melodies aside unique textures and darkening modulations Palancar moves well between formless night and a twilight realm of beautiful imagery.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END28 February 2019

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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

Chuck van Zyl: Live on Star’s End 08.26.18

Chuck van Zyl: Live on Star's End 08.26.18

Chuck van Zyl: Live on Star’s End 08.26.18

Chuck van Zyl: Live on Star’s End 08.26.18
Released: 17 February 2019
www.starsend.org
www.xpn.org
chuckvanzyl.weebly.com

Produced by Public Radio Station WXPN, Chuck van Zyl: Live on Star’s End 08.26.18 (63’36”) is not a commercial release. It is available only as a “Thank-You” gift to those making a donation to WXPN/STAR’S END.

This album is a conventional silver CD featuring over 60 minutes of the Chuck van Zyl live electronic realizations made in the WXPN performance studio during a private Salon Concert and live-to-air broadcast of 25/26 August 2018. Its four parts each offer passages of improvised in-the-moment sequencer manipulations, amidst the ethereal yearning of synthesized harmonies and cresting lead lines. The listener is invited inside, to float away as the patterns and textures envelope them – tumbling in circles, spirals and pinwheels, beneath unfurling ribbons of creamy synth melodies and modulated, chirping effects.

Chuck van Zyl: Live on Star’s End 08.26.18 may seem more like a spiritual expression than an exploration of a musical form. This work has mysterious power purely on a sonic level. But the miracle of this release is that every time we listen to it, our minds will hear something new – and will so find a different album. Absorbing the full tapestry of the Electronic/Berlin-School experience, and the ideals of live improvisation, we can easily imagine every concert outing serving as a mystic portal for this musician’s own spiritual journey.

Whether channeled from the astral plane, or just the transformation of electricity into sound, Live on Star’s End 08.26.18 is for those seeking a deeper examination of tone and mood. Anyone in love with Spacemusic and its very specific poetry will want to own this recording. While this musical form may have been established in the 1970s, Live on Star’s End 08.26.18 feels made-today fresh. A ceaselessly inventive work, its history begins now.

Press Notes/STAR’S END14 February 2019

Robert Rich: Tactile Ground

Tactile Ground

Tactile Ground

Robert Rich: Tactile Ground
Released: 15 January 2019
www.robertrich.com

Robert Rich remains as content as ever reveling in his remarkable and imaginative designs. After initiating the audience into the bewildering mysteries of his art, he awakens particular responses. Again treating sound as a material to express ideas and feelings, his Tactile Ground is the realization of that which eludes language. A sonic landscape contoured by wonder, we may imagine the musician as an organism. With its recordings of the natural world, surrounded by strange modulations and washes of harmony, we arrive at a most unexpected setting. In some green Eden, or a primordial realm, it feels like these motifs have preceded the human race. With no discernible rhythm, it becomes difficult to maintain our bearings while within Tactile Ground. Sensations vary over 15 tracks and two discs. Where a slight but noticeable restlessness begins, further in the shivering quality of its atmosphere becomes unapologetically bleak. As granular textures are replaced by the smooth, stillness of sustaining drones, brighter passages support the spare, elegant notes of a grand piano. Beautiful tones do emanate from Rich’s steel guitar, slithering and sliding in slow serpentine glissando. Breaths of bamboo flute float through a glorious reverberation above a torrent of churning, murmuring synthesizers – and in this manner Tactile Ground creeps slowly along. Having found that his musical expressions affect other people, Robert Rich does them consciously and intentionally to produce that effect – and so his music is born. As we evolve into creatures with powers which at present we do not possess, we may come to understand fully how sound created thought, and how thought creates music. Until that time, the human mind requires a basic coherence and system, and once given systematic coherence can grasp ideas of ever increasing complexity. Yet, even given this, it will not be possible for us to know the meaning of Tactile Ground until traveling its complete course.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END7 February 2019

Telomere: Supergiant

Supergiant

Supergiant

Telomere: Supergiant
Released: 3 December 2018
www.evenfall.com

It has been said that we never fall into the same abyss twice, but we always fall in the same way. The San Francisco based Electronic Musician Christopher MacDonald may recall this maxim each time he sits down to produce an album. Recording under the name Telomere his CD Supergiant (57’21”) is that rare treasure of a work – something that, upon our absorbing it, seems to deepen the mystery of the human condition. Unapologetically still reveling in the aftermath of his first having listened to Planetary Unfolding – Michael Stearn’s 1981 classic of Spacemusic soundscapes – working as Telomere, across several substantial releases, MacDonald conveys to us his fascination of the swirling blend of electronic tones and ethereal harmonies realized using a Serge modular system. Less a convocation of synthesizers Supergiant is contoured more by wonderment than by technology. Crafted to heal, we will find it quite easy to listen to the seven tracks – and imagine wandering through a stranger’s dream. From the timorous and moody to the bright and ecstatic, the composed sonic landscapes move as easily out through the cosmos as they do to the deepest recesses of human thought. Oscillators take their turn advancing, stacking and receding, all the while harmonies lighten and darken in delightfully shifting timbre. The meticulous sound designs of Supergiant are breathtaking productions – hoping to portray our contemplation of The Universe. Presenting a range of themes and styles meant to connect the furthest object across the ocean of space with your next breath, we find that, “it is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind, that determines which way we will go”.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END31 January 2019

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Sync24: Ominous

Ominous

Ominous

Sync24: Ominous
Released: 24 September 2018
www.lftfld.se
www.sync24.se

Haunted by the doomed power of the human race Daniel Segerstad narrates from the present. Recording as Sync24 his album Ominous (47’27”) emanates from EM’s forgotten corner of today. Whether it is drifting off in cool deep blackness, or teetering on the verge of being too much, this is a work telling our story, and getting back to the sonic vocabulary of being alive. The most essential facet of Ominous is its seductive grooves and propelling rhythms. Building track after track Segerstad conveys an understated determination of the intangible patterns and forces from the world around him. As layered modulated details mingle with luxuriously sweeping pads, strokes of full-blooded melodies and shimmering effects ascend as sparks alongside calm, slowing beats. The music vibrates with life and energy, yet it feels becalmed and pristine – like there is a cold implacable force running beneath the lighter currents. Taken together the eight compositions found on Ominous form a constellation of ideas, and reveal unexpected connections. From the floating cloud of the sacred, to the hard center of the profane, this creative universe has a tilt to it. But for now, the dreamlike electric warmth felt throughout Ominous must remain just beyond our reach.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END24 January 2019

Steven Kemner: Little Notes

Little Notes

Little Notes

Steven Kemner: Little Notes
Released: 3 December 2018
www.fluidaudio.co.uk
www.stevenkemner.com

Clearly Steven Kemner is fascinated with the inner life of sounds. The album Little Notes (39’18”) comes from a place where words are unnecessary, as music better conveys his story. Performed in a kind of slow motion, this album is a work defiant in its meticulousness. Little Notes offers eight places of ambient otherness – each realization of a languorous, inviting disposition. Some pieces are penetrating in their blankness, while others are well received by the ears and hold fast to the heart. Over their brief reclusive spell these compositions rotate and transpose keys. Chords progress and play to a resolution, but occasionally become lost – floating to the surface over and again. Along with its breathing blissed-out layers of vibrating electric guitar strings, Little Notes adds slow piano notes, organ-like tones, mysterious field recordings and manipulated samples. As long melodic lines rise out of a misty aura of harmony, we find its ambiance to be established by an array of expressive sonic shades. It was his concerts within reverberant church sanctuaries that led Kemner to imagine the component emanations of his instrument as objects in space. As notes would float through the air, surrounded in silence, he learned to allow time for themes and forms to be felt by each and every audience member. In his utter refusal to be dull Steven Kemner advances the nearly stationary textures of generic Ambient Music to the level of a steely structured, harmonic tale. Warming the circuits of the listening mind, he reminds us of an often neglected thought – that what has been accomplished in the past can show us what is possible in the future.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END17 January 2019