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Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Cosmic Ground

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground 5

Cosmic Ground 5

Cosmic Ground 5

Cosmic Ground; Cosmic Ground 5
Released: 25 October 2019
www.cosmicground.de

Atmosphere is the intention of works by Cosmic Ground. While most music made with electronic instruments provides abstractions in sound (leaving the listener lost amidst unresolved questions of existence) this project by prog-rock keyboardist turned space explorer Dirk Jan Müller continues to engineer expressions useful to those embarking on their own intimate aural adventure. The CD Cosmic Ground 5 (75’23”) presents eight tracks of Müller’s excellent Berlin-School inventions – each building out from spare beginnings into cool textural proportions. With its chilled synth pads pulling our mood into dark realms, the sound assembly soon gives way to echoing sonic effects seething above urgent sequencer throbbing. Inside these pulsing machine poems the motoring patterns circle and crest dramatically – their interlocking rhythms shifting with each new design. Continually throughout Cosmic Ground 5 the abyss widens, and, as a vast planetary choir mysteriously descends, fills with drama. With its mechanical reiterating riffs the cascading notes shift and divide in a twisting double helix of charged electrical tones. Once these propulsive fabrications reach their fullest spark, a coursing synth work stills the journey – flaring and sending us off to probe other coordinates. For riders of the empty plain Cosmic Ground 5 is the perfect soundtrack. Between its palpable sense of alienation and our yearning for meaning in The Universe we may hear the real force that moves things.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END7 November 2019

Pollard/Daniel/Booth: Eight

Eight

Eight

Pollard/Daniel/Booth: Eight
Released: 13 October 2018
pollarddanielbooth.bandcamp.com

Throughout Eight (68’55”) Pollard/Daniel/Booth make an exploration into the uncharted depths of the imagination. Favoring the simple expression of complex thoughts, this trio visits realms they may never have discovered on their own. Over its four tracks Eight builds a mysterious drama. In varying transparence the exquisite turbulence of roiling modulations and sustaining chords supports vintage Mellotron lead sounds, red-blooded synth lines and expressive electric guitar tones – all in service to the realization of a dynamic sound experience. Following the dissipation of its vague dread and sonic voids, this area’s central mass gives way to the signature interlacing layers of pumping sequencer patterns expected of this ensemble. Within its geometric planes and compressed space we may find a labyrinthine web – revealing an instantaneous unity between multiple crisscrossing and planar fields. These splintered forms and kaleidoscopic flickering surfaces seem to evoke the energy and dynamism of traveling through space – but without ever a thought of the vehicle used to make the journey, nor the destination. As music making machines recast the artist as an engineer, armed with modular synthesizers in place of pianos and violins, the genre of Electronic Music would seem to downplay the role of the artist’s hand. But with the rapid advancement of technology turning us ever inward to investigate the expressive qualities of sound, the better players in this field have adopted an approach, not so much pertaining to what the instruments are capable of, but what is the creative mind behind the instruments capable of? For Pollard/Daniel/Booth, each encounter with the musical exercises found on their album Eight will reveal, not technicians merely operating an apparatus, but a collective spirit – as they examine and ascertain an atmospheric depth, and contribute again to the restless genre of Spacemusic.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END25 October 2018

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground IV

Cosmic Ground IV

Cosmic Ground IV

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground IV
Released: 21 May 2018
www.cosmicground.de

It may be argued that we are drawn to whatever in music that is boldly marked with personality. The brawny, brooding, primal realm of electronic sound realized by Dirk Jan Müller, in his highly personal effort as Cosmic Ground, does offer a distinctive synthetic substance – as well as access to the feelings of the lower plane. The album Cosmic Ground IV (78’26”) wanders to bizarre, distant and involved coloristic regions. If a synthesizer is a tool to make sound, then electricity is the raw material – which works its will within us across this CD’s seven tracks. Utilizing the darker portion of the audible spectrum the composer subjects the listener to a range of daring and captivating mental experiences. Phantasmal sonic events seem to confront underworld demons, as we move away from any concluding serenity. Along with all its foreboding, Cosmic Ground IV does give the impression that Müller takes some pleasure in the rhythmical arrangement of sound. Large-scale discharges lead to episodes of stormy grandeur, yet a swollen waltz of dancing arpeggio notes soon lights our shaky steps. However, in spite of a cerebral climax of overpowering sequencer sonority, we may still feel this music becoming darker by degrees. In ominous oscillations between Mellotron black and the comforting chords of a soft electric organ, this music is trying to say something for which words have not yet been invented. Many albums of Spacemusic simply provide pleasurable feelings to the listener. This one goes further… transmuting vague sentiments into the human sense of wonderment. Following the course of thought, Cosmic Ground IV provides a contact between two minds: that of the author and of you – who benefit from being open to the refreshment, the strengthening, and the stimulation of this work.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END24 May 2018

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground Live

Cosmic Ground Live

Cosmic Ground Live

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground Live
Released: 17 June 2017
www.sunhair-music.de
www.cosmicground.de

Pondering galaxy-sized questions, Cosmic Ground entered the concert hall. Compiling performances from two 2016 events (E-Live & The 9th Psychedelic Network Festivals), Dirk Jan Müller and Horst Porkert have realized the album Cosmic Ground Live (77’49”). The four tracks where made in the heat of the moment, as these conditions are known for revealing the creative spark, and finds both musicians and their listeners experiencing the music together in the act of being made. The trick is for neither to become too lost in the process. Cosmic Ground Live begins broodingly downbeat, with dark forms rising from out of dark corners of the mind. Bass laden drones try to swallow a melodious Mellotron flute solo, which lilts blessedly above a maelstrom of writhing timbres. Wrapped in a luminous halo of reverberation a string section rises from the deep dense rumbling electronic tempest, before the introduction of Müller’s signature breathless tone patterns – which mount, repeat and seem to echo out across eternity. A demon behind the sequencer, he occasionally observes the audience – who will always tell you which way to go. Each new ascent presents the classic sound of one or another vintage synthesizer, and a shivery reverence that defies explanation. Weeping choirs and full-throated waveforms endow this release with greater passion. The compression that comes from these reprieves of stillness intensifies feelings found in the passages of acceleration. With each set, our Spacemusic mystics manage to conjure a stimulating atmosphere of mystery, adventure and motion. Once inside this expansive zone, we may travel to the place where lives our dearest hopes and dreams. Cosmic Ground Live glows with mystery and possibility, pushing through the outer limits of mainstream constraints. This is the music we may turn to whenever we need proof that further possibilities for representing innovation, mystery and drama in music still lie out there; in an ever-receding possible elsewhere. These kinds of live concerts are a spectacle of wires, electricity and wits – something that trusts all who hear it to think.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END20 July 2017

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground III

Cosmic Ground III

Cosmic Ground III

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground III
Released: September 2016
www.cosmicground.de

We must one day ask Dirk Jan Müller, the man behind Cosmic Ground, what is the larger purpose of this music? His work, and that of contemporaries Redshift, Node and Arc, draws on higher-order capacities. Theirs is a minimalism that speaks volumes. The release Cosmic Ground III (71’00”) is proof that Müller is thinking on a bigger scale. Full of infinite possibilities, bristling the listener’s countless synapses which have yet to be activated, Cosmic Ground III is of a musical language learned, first by listening, then by doing. It is a special kind of treat to be permitted to roam this world with Müller. His album’s four tracks are personal expressions made in textures and atmospheres. Deep listening may evoke the pursuit of specters, pan-galactic time warps, or passage to surreal destinations – its vivid headiness in complete service to our dreams and fantasies. Each piece finds portent sounds building dense harmonic forms – out of which emerges forward motion motoric sequencer patterns. In a withheld energy these echoing interlocking runs of notes produce a mounting compositional tension, released in our minds as impressionistic cerebration. Mellotron chords in minor keys slowly sweep across the sound field. Synthetic drones hold, darken, then lighten, informing the music’s mood. In an ascending rush, then a descending calm, with our imaginative sonic aviator we depart our more common thoughts… for mysterious regions. But we should think no more of the technological and mechanical thrill of this electronic music, and instead allow its stimulating effects to be absorbed into our consciousness. Müller believes his Cosmic Ground III to be a cognitive experiment – an understanding which lends an appropriate gravity to the task of making this music. Its confidence may be intimidating to mid-level musicians, while its lack of irony will confuse intellectual, yet still uninitiated music consumers. As this genre makes its way further into our world, we hope we will find greater levels of thought and consonance. If it is true that the future is not driven by the past, but by technology – then tomorrow belongs to us.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END13 October 2016

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground 2

Cosmic Ground 2

Cosmic Ground 2

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground 2
Released: 3 August 2015
www.cosmicground.de

For some people, when they ponder the “deconstruction” of a Spacemusic album, they go looking for a screwdriver and a pair of wire cutters. When considering the work of Dirk Jan Müller, and his Cosmic Ground project, please put away your tools. It will take only an effort of the imagination, as well as that of the intellect, to comprehend and enjoy this music. A follow-up to his self-titled debut, Cosmic Ground 2 (77’57”) again forgoes the white heat of technology for realizations of mechanical, electrical and analog origin. Utilizing several vintage sacramental synthesizers, in a secret ministry of sound, he performs a most welcome digital detox on his listeners. Across its four tracks Cosmic Ground 2 haunts us with wild pleasures. From its plutonium dense gray desolation and battles with extreme silence, to twinkling modulations and multiple rows of rolling sequencer patterns, we move – west with the night. Arranged under an atmosphere of netherworld sonics, Cosmic Ground 2 throbs powerfully and bounds outward along an electrified musical current. Some sections express themselves without rhythm. In an ever-shifting collage of tones and notes these zones offer classic textures of sustaining rumbling drones – which support a dramatic movement of chords in the upper register. Locked in an impressive cloud of knowing, Dirk Jan Müller’s imagination seems inexhaustible. He is more than merely piloting his gear, and his music is greater than the audio engineering ideas credited to Robert Moog through Donald Buchla. If among its many qualities, this release sounds nostalgic to you, that is a good thing. The present only lasts but 80 milliseconds, so we do live in the past… where most of our lives are.

(Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END20 August 2015)

Cosmic Ground: Cosmic Ground

Cosmic Ground

Cosmic Ground

Cosmic Ground s/t
Released: 8 March 2014
www.cosmicground.de

What a great time it is to be a Spacemusician. Warping beyond the denouncements of Phaedra “originalists” (scolders of the opinion that everything produced post Phaedra is mere mimicry) outfits like Redshift, Free System Projekt, Node and Arc do not even think about winning over these critics. By carefully exploiting the intrinsic technological limits of 1970s Electronic Music they enlarge the medium’s expressive range and prove this genre is an organism that continues to grow and change with each new manifestation. Taking its place nicely among the aforementioned Cosmic Ground is the self-titled debut CD by Dirk Jan Müller and has the feel of an album someone needed to get out of his system. Previously part of the prog-rock group “Electric Orange” Müller adopted the dark, as opposed to being born into it. Cosmic Ground presents music from another time and place – and really takes us there. In a transcendent plunge into darkness the listener becomes swallowed up in Mellotron stringed soundtracks and layers of portentous synthesizer drones. The momentum shifts out of this ominous territory with propulsive bristling fervor as tumbling sequencer patterns motor on in echoing perfection. The notes brighten, darken, modulate, add and subtract in a futuristic syncopated minimalism Space fans have been fascinated with for decades. With Cosmic Ground we are listening to someone with a real passion for sound and atmosphere. However far lost in The Universe he is Cosmic Ground offers a committed performance from Müller – one of uncanny vibrancy. Today’s artists hope to elevate the Spacemusic experience to one of mystical proportions – as they continue to push this sound as far as it can go.

(Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END12 June 2014)