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Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Kosmiche Musik

Beyond Berlin: Totem

Totem

Totem

Beyond Berlin: Totem
Released: 6 April 2019
www.groove.nl

For many of today’s Spacemusicians, their inspiration comes directly from the Electronic Berlin-School of 1970s Germany. Almost 50 years ago this highly independent group built an entirely original genre based on their own new principles. Along with the use of new music technology, one of the main features of this so-called Kosmische Musik is its idea of de-limitation. The synthesizer ensemble Beyond Berlin (Rene de Bakker, Martin Peters and Oscar van den Wijngaard) is making its mark by exploring this ideal. Their CD Totem presents five studio tracks which, while based on the work of their heroes, are not mere mindless replications. Balancing a technological precision with personalized artistic expression, this trio references the order and harmony of the contemporary mainstream – all the while leading their listeners into a new sonic realm. As gravity bends light, so Totem bends time. In a clockwork clarity of layer upon layer of building ostinato figures, each piece plays out in a pleasantly melodic dreaminess. With its skipping sequencer strategies and animated chord progressions, the overall mood of the album is embracing – as warm as an analogue synth, yet as cool as digital space. The patterns blend, displace and divide in a warping coil of echoing notes. Totem has been designed with care, and carefully carried out as an exploration of expression. In anticipation of a better tomorrow Beyond Berlin realizes a dynamic and mesmerizing sound. With thought leaders telling us that nothing ages as fast as the future, it is good to find each successive generation of artists reaching far into it – in blatant disregard of the doubts of today.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END13 June 2019

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TJ Porter: Darkness

Darkness

Darkness

TJ Porter: Darkness
Released: 18 April 2019
tjporter.bandcamp.com

TJ Porter professes a profound influence from the Berlin-School of Kosmische Musik, and proves it throughout every one of his album releases. His Darkness (41’56”) is loaded with throbbing sequencer patterns, and winding motor notes – echoing through space in synchronized machine precision. In lines of dancing tones, each row reinforces the next – while heroic chord progressions pluck both heartstrings and gray matter in equal measure. A vital energy courses through Darkness. In a brilliant adventure into an electronic wonderland of seven carefully conceived works Porter embraces the ideals that framed his music’s founding. The melodic content unfurls above and below the pulsing foundation. Wide open synth lead lines energize and brighten the air, and shift mood pleasantly – only to slow dramatically within a bubbling, undulating pace. There are also thought zones where the feel becomes more settled, locating a less energetic and more reverential atmosphere. With darkness on the horizon, the mind of this musician can still imagine events beyond cynicism and mistrust. Let us hope that Porter’s Darkness is what we experience just before the dawn.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END6 June 2019

Bernhard Wostheinrich

Elsewhere

Elsewhere

Bernhard Wostheinrich: Elsewhere
Released: 7 December 2018
www.iapetus-media.com
www.redundantrocker.com

Bernhard Wöstheinrich really puts the “extra” in extraterrestrial. Suspicions of his unearthly origins will be upheld upon listening to Elsewhere (68’44”), an album of Electronic Music that confirms his expanded ideas of the cosmos and infinite space. The classic works of the original Berlin-School have nothing to fear, as Wöstheinrich is more comfortable with self-expression than with translation. This wayward album will arouse the imagination of listeners, as it explores an aural space along contours which remain obscure. Sounds arise, vibrate, and recede, but do not travel along a linear plane. Conveying a unique ambiance the mood moves through a vast emptiness. The upper strings tremble over a thickening bass, then, with cold deliberate pressure, chase the harmonies into an upper atmosphere. With echoing patterns of sequencer notes, we are treated to a delightful acceleration in energy. Repeating motifs motor up, propelling us through distant starlit stretches – then reorder down into a languid drift. As the spacey lines meet, combine, and evaporate each of the four tracks move into a distinctive section of stillness. In tones edged in platinum Elsewhere rings of a far-ranging sonic intelligence – which is felt in its unrestrained directness of expression. By overcoming the limitations of contemporary music Bernhard Wöstheinrich better expresses his un-conforming ideas. Existing in stark contrast to the mainstream, Elsewhere communicates the harsh and heavy reason for staying awake in a world of the self-anesthetized.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END11 April 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

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

Bluetech: Liquid Geometries

Liquid Geometries

Liquid Geometries

Bluetech: Liquid Geometries
Released: 16 November 2018
www.din.org.uk
www.bluetechonline.com

Free spirited and possessed of an Inner Light, the album Liquid Geometries 58’14” is loaded with monumental stuff meticulously realized. As a sonic traveler preparing for a new journey, Bluetech (aka Evan Bartholomew) surely revisited Spacemusic classics such as Phaedra and Rubycon – not for their equipment list, but to re-experience their directness. The hypnotic hymns of electronic dreaming found on Liquid Geometries move easily through somewhere barren and otherworldly to an inverted slowcore electronica – a place where the power of electricity is harnessed by the human mind. Liquid Geometries is a work that slowly reveals its power and complexity – such that the climax of each track may be noticed only in hindsight. Possessing a lulling beauty swirled in Berlin-School atmosphere and culminating in nine sky-high tracks, the dexterous cadence of each piece escapes the absolute. Aiming for a slow-burn build, the temperature of this release rises from cool to simmering. Sounds build out, and lines of rhythm are introduced. Minimalist sequencer runs motor on, brightening gradually along their course. Individual notes are transposed, echoed and repeated, altering minutely the pattern, then quickening the pace of the music. While a magic machine pulse provides a distinctive energy, one more of the mind than of the air, confirming synth lines surface – reassuring the lost and arousing the adventurous. Where dramatic chord changes help us ascend further still, the deliberate pacing in other areas slows the listener with its intellectual puzzle. This album plays in a way that makes us listen anew to the familiar. There is nothing not to like here. While some musicians just tend their machines, those at a more thoughtful level seem to be playing themselves into existence. Bluetech takes full possession of his impulses as he shapes music into something that far transcends the limits of his time. He never loses sight of the wonders he is attempting to capture, nor of the nebulous mysteries we are all trying to fathom.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END1 November 2018