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Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Cosmic Music

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

K Markov: Interactivity

Interactivity

Interactivity

K Markov: Interactivity
Released: 24 September 2019
www.synphaera.com/exosphere

In playing Interactivity (65’33”) you are agreeing to listen to K Markov‘s story. Expressing a mood, an atmosphere, a tone, in a numberless variety of subtle sonic shadings, he travels through space like a rocketeer blasting past planets. Polished, rigorous and sober this release is influenced by the 1970s Berlin-School, yet it narrates from the present. Each of its five tracks emerge in a slow gathering of ominous growls – putting the audience inside the action. The amorphous texture of Interactivity initially fills out our space with dense forms. These timbre experiments provide an unexpected excursion. As drifting drones roll out their charged current, the potent, primitive force of sound itself expresses power. Above a storm of sequencer patterns, rushing synthesizer chords mix with lead lines and bristle with electrical current. These pulsing passages are spirited performances of melodic and rhythmic flight. Slow melodies hold forth above a venting mass, while echoing note cycles peal out amidst animated keyboard leads. With electronic harmonies rising and falling in passages of light and dark, an unexpected beauty emerges. Beneath the enigmatic cool of a deep space traveler, this musician generates heat. When tonal content melts into a muted metallic ringing, modulated effects bring on a darkening chill. Here too Markov captures angelic harmonies, amid mined subterranean frequencies. The structure of Interactivity sets the pace of thought. Out past the storms of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and the other gas giants, past where the planets end, we may find – among the stars – that there is a meaning to this work. It urges us to be more, not to just want more. Animated by the power of music to convey emotions it stands strong against the cynicism that tears at the fabric of modern life.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END26 September 2019

Massergy: Fire Opal

Fire Opal

Fire Opal

Massergy: Fire Opal
Released: 22 March 2019
www.spottedpeccary.com

Most Spacemusic embraces a great range of variables, but for that of the soul. Eric Jensen‘s work as Massergy is an exception. Unusually uplifting, the seven works on his Fire Opal (70’13”) reveal themselves as delightful explorations into the sensation of sound. The mode of this album veers between narration and abstraction. Its allure, a graceful controlled calm, feels softened, then supplemented by moments of intriguing sonic drama. We listen to Fire Opal first with our ears, then again with our heart. The luminous austerity found in its unmoored passages culminate in a spacey synthesized symphony devoid of all gravity. Tones spread out in an ethereal atmosphere, then harden into forged, full-tensile strength. Notes climb slowly above warm electronics, as steely echo guitar plays against the icy pulse of gentle sequencer patterns. As contrast to this album’s expansive placid terrain Jensen adds dark tumultuous textures. With the mood bottoming out in dark timbre and questioning chords, the rumbling motion of a lower register penetrates our being – to remind us of a realm much larger than the one in which we live. In our cacophonous times, Massergy’s works are a counter programming. His music supports what is best about humanity, while challenging the worst. It asks only to be listened to on its own terms, in one’s own time. Fire Opal is an album that implores us to take it easy, and focus on our own healing.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END28 March 2019

K Markov: High Voltage

High Voltage

High Voltage

K Markov: High Voltage
Released: 1 February 2019
kmarkov.bandcamp.com

From a realm of sonic wonder comes High Voltage (49’02”) by K Markov. This release and its like are not a retreat from the world, but rather a re-imagining of what can be. Drawn in by a vivid imagination and high spirit, we find something cool, real and sudden. Each of the three tracks found on High Voltage have been designed to flow as a whole, gradually infusing our listening space with Markov’s sense of wonder at existence. The music is absorbed before we even know we have heard it. As thrilling contrasts move between the poles of chaos and order, the composer steps outside himself to dream up new realities. Upon the workings of some powerful engine sequencer patterns emerge and echo through the purple dusk of twilight into a perfect pitch dark night. Passing the control of known forces sputtering sparks heat the circuits of our brains while consonant synth melodies foretell the destination of dreams. With all reference points left behind we enter new space, guided only by a refined artistic sensibility. There is no one way to play this music, and so at each new outing we find new things about sound, mood, atmosphere and texture. Attracting the ear and stirring the mind we again find Spacemusic to be the only genre that can support a thousand ideas all in one performance. K Markov is a persistent and prolific composer, proof that music is an urgent calling. On High Voltage he touches the untamed forces of our internal lives, and weaves these themes into a striking album – to help us focus on our won truth. Such imaginative work shows people there are other ways to create and live, as it trains our thoughts. Markov’s condition is as with many who have come before him, as he stands in wonder at the unfailing stars.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END – 21 March 2019

Arjen Schat: Audionautic Research Program

Audionautic Research Program

Audionautic Research Program

Arjen Schat: Audionautic Research Program
Released: 1 March 2019
www.arjenschat.nl

The Spacemusic of Arjen Schat relates more to an age or an era than it does any particular aesthetic or movement. His work’s ever-changing destination is linked to the mood, talent and craft of the performer – who takes us with him on a journey to the creative center. Schat’s album Audionautic Research Program (72’29”) is a mind trip of well over an hour – across an improvised synthetic landscape of sustaining strings, interlocking tone patterns and ethereal effects. A wonderful tension is felt between the mechanistic sequencer blips cycling beneath an unfurling ribbon of synth lead melodies and the rush of sustaining chords. Exposing its elemental power, each of the two lengthy tracks on this release takes instant and utter possession of the listener. Sprawling, pulsing lines, running parallel to one another, are fantastically simple in their construction, but endlessly complex in effect. Cycling patterns motor and syncopate, and whirl by. In the magical motion of intricate, echoing notes we encounter a strange machine beauty. From the round and warm to something more thin and brittle, a range of melodic synthesizer expressions ride above the interplay of urgent, ever-evolving arpeggiated scales. A spirited energy of celestial harmonies, spiraling spacey effects and graceful synth-bourne melodies provide this music with a luxurious feel, even where it is most spare. Schat’s expressive analogue lead voices manage to bring focus and life to what is otherwise an exercise in repetitive mechanistic virtuosity. Working at a scale that is sure to dwarf the listener, his imaginative scoring and rapt intensity evokes limitless horizons. Audionautic Research Program wonderfully captures the spacefaring atmosphere and cosmic mystery expected from this style – but also acknowledges that the height of the Cosmic Music genre may have been set many years ago by its founders. Schat knows that it is up to him and his generation of Electronic Musicians to continue in the realm of the Berlin-School – in their exploration of this work’s breadth.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END14 March 2019

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

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