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Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: New Age Music

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

Skoulaman: Fluxes in Philadelphia

Fluxes in Philadelphia

Fluxes in Philadelphia

Skoulaman: Fluxes in Philadelphia
Released: 26 October 2019
www.groove.nl
www.skoulaman.nl

The Dutch Electronic Musician Hans van Kroonenburg chooses to make his life bigger through playing concerts as Skoulaman, and ours richer through the act of listening. His Fluxes in Philadelphia (71’45”) extends the fleeting connection of the concert venue through a live CD. Recorded on 18 May 2019 as part of The Gatherings Concert Series it reaches moods and emotions that a less adventurous contemporary instrumental music could ever possibly touch. Seated in the pews during this confident performance it was hard to recall the existential emptiness of modern life just beyond the reverberating sanctum. The seven tracks found on Fluxes in Philadelphia are examples of the Skoulaman live dynamic at its peak – living in the flow of the moment and simply playing to those assembled from the heart. With still sustaining synth pads supporting interlocked sequencer blips, rising keyboard lead lines converse with electric piano. In the ambient, more reflective zones the mind flows inward – with the focused, melodic, rhythmic sections leading us on a journey outward. When stirring up metallic glitter analogue synthesizers breathe ethereal tones. In an instant we hear the lyrical rush and rumbling of a coming time. With its celestial choirs, growling pads and delicate textures this work portrays a certain amount of drama – yet its delightful acceleration never disturbs the friendly and contemplative feel. With the sound expanded on two tracks by local electric guitarist Harrison McKay, the Skoulaman show took flight in midnight swirls and cloud nine bliss – and demonstrates the rare thing that may be felt when a unique talent, receptive audience and reverential air all converge in a unique sanctuary setting. This is a realization that could never be the mere distillation of several classics, as the unique and supportive atmosphere contributed so significantly. The conditions under which this music was made are of a factor that can never be replicated – a one-time-only moment for Skoulaman to hold forth and make his statement. Those at the performance could see the joy this man took in the act of playing music and creating something new. Through the release of Fluxes in Philadelphia everyone may now hear this joy. This event and album reminds us that the world is still full of beauty and kindness – and the musical realm Skoulaman creates is a place we should all aspire to live in.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END12 December 2019

Futuregrapher & Eric ‘the’ Taylor: Effects Of Clouds

Effects of Clouds

Effects of Clouds

Futuregrapher & Eric ‘the’ Taylor: Effects of Clouds
Released: 6 April 2019
www.neotantra.co.uk

Effects of Clouds (64’07”) fits into a category of Ambient Music that is difficult to label. Its eight musical structures caress the ear, and impress us each with their sonic variety and properly cosmic vibe. Demonstrating the many possibilities of their instruments and technology the collaboration between Futuregrapher (aka Árni Grétar Jóhannesson) & Eric ‘the’ Taylor also presents the many possibilities of their collective imagination. Throughout these whirling abstractions of electronic fragility it is unclear where to start listening – with so many fascinating textures and levels the more eager among us may want to hear this work all at once. Effects of Clouds is an easy album to become lost in. Its music is open enough in which to know our own thoughts, yet filled with a force strong enough to transfer the ideas of the musicians effectively to their audience. In a world where only the colossal will suffice, the scale of this work remains at a personal level. Some pieces sound muted, which somehow provides an unexpected intimacy. Some pieces possess an ecstatic richness, and an expressive interweaving of static harmony. And some pieces include spells of dissonance, yet retain an all-embracing spirit. But all of the pieces on this album – as they are so packed with wonder and a lofty emotional pull – will fill our space in a remarkable way. Swaths of electronics inhabit the upper reaches, to calm restless ghosts, as a mist on the verge of freezing into snow swirls in north wind currents. Sounds sit still in the gloom, while a heavy black night blots out stars – and we escape into a sonic mythology realm. Freed of the restraints of conventionally designed music, this duo pursues visions that are dreamy and surreal. Their luminous intricacy recalls New Age/Spacemusic classics of the 1980s, even while gazing toward a time yet to come. Jóhannesson and Taylor make a music that believes there is no shortage of tomorrows. As the Earth spins further forward into the future, and we all rest easily beneath a solitary sky, like rooftop antennae we wait for a strong signal – and for the Effects of Clouds.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END25 July 2019

Markus Reuter: Monde trilogy

Monde vol 1

Monde vol 1

Markus Reuter: the Monde trilogy
Released: May/June/July 2019
www.iapetus-media.com
www.markusreuter.com

Modern times are not conducive to delicacy, so Markus Reuter‘s Monde trilogy may seem an indulgence – too luxurious and attuned to the long-view of life to have much of a message. Yet, past its overt calm we may feel something urgent running beneath this music’s smooth surface. Each one of the three disc set’s 27 tracks feels newborn, yet somehow ghosts beckon from every piece. On the Monde trilogy Reuter reclaims those silvery strands from the neglect of New Age and Ambient Music, and weaves them into an atmosphere so sensuous that we may easily lose ourselves within, but of such potency that we may just as easily find our self once inside. The sedated, softly sonorous string sounds, derive their sonic bloom from a learned balance of intuition and restraint – which Reuter commands after decades of studio experimentation and concert execution. His realizations were made in real-time performances with an electric guitar, and the associated processing effects, under quiet listening conditions. In touch with streams of creativity powering his mind, by way of the currents of electricity running through his guitar, Reuter’s compositions are honed, but not overworked. He has designed a gorgeous palette of textures and tones, arranged in pastoral consonance – which makes for our constantly renewed aural interest. From a single point of charged spark, to an expanse of the ether, this music shines in the brilliance of its imaginative scope. Aligning with the values of good Spacemusic it bestows a mental state that runs counter to that of the world outside. So long as we remain open to the seduction of Monde‘s understated drama and beautiful natural sound, may we enter its eerie darkness, to return later… up through reassuring light.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END18 July 2019

Thom Brennan: Imaginary Conquests

Imaginary Conquests

Imaginary Conquests

Thom Brennan: Imaginary Conquests
Released: 1 May 2019
www.thombrennan.com

With his musical compositions realized from a reverence for the natural world, Thom Brennan hopes to help restore the habitat of human thought. His CD Imaginary Conquests (70’59”) is perfectly in tune with itself and its maker. Luxuriating in the contours of harmony, Brennan finds a form of life in contemporary electronic textures. Each of the four tracks seem like a singular flowing thought – each asking us to tune into a unique, quieter frequency. Electric ribbons of sound sing of a synthetic landscape in sustaining chords, interlocking tone patterns and ethereal effects. With layer upon layer of arpeggio triads and tetrads, the entrances and introductions of subdivided rhythms settle the listener into a lulling reverie. Ringing melodies and rounded notes unfurl steadily, sweeping us away in an enveloping sense of magic. A spirited energy of consonant complexion and spiraling spacey effects imbue this music with a cerebral energy, while pulsing lines of echoing sequencer scales run parallel to one another in increasing levels of intricacy. In constant transition, these patterns seem just like the world in which we live. Simple in its construction, but endlessly complex in effect, Imaginary Conquests manages to sustain our imagination over a prolonged span. From its silvery and warm tones to a humming, gently charged atmosphere, Brennan’s synthesizer expressions draw us into his realm completely. So often do we humans look to music and art – and also to nature – for that which we are not able to find within ourselves. Imaginary Conquests is a deep musical environment meant as much for contemplating such mysteries as it is for guiding those merely adrift.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END9 May 2019

Byron Metcalf/Mark Seelig: Persistet Visions

Persistent Visions

Persistent Visions

Byron Metcalf/Mark Seelig: Persistent Visions
Released: 15 March 2019
www.projekt.com

It would seem that anyone with a heartbeat could find something of themselves in Persistent Visions (71:03) by Byron Metcalf & Mark Seelig. In its news from the frontiers of consciousness we all should be able to find a pulse. Turning cerebral mechanisms Metcalf’s drumming patterns are accompanied by Seelig’s skyward flute tones. A sense of gradual momentum, neither outward nor inward, declares its primal quality. Rhythms and grooves trek through our psyche beneath silvery notes carrying the comfort of melody. Diffuse synthesizer harmonies sustain, and then draw us back to still subtle spaces. Each element combines to superb effect. Persistent Visions is not episodic, or circular, but somehow continually expanding, as it descends ever deeper into its listeners. The pace is methodical, the playing intuitive, and the music genuine. We are calmly led into a unique space, within which a musical vision is shared, and knowledge is whispered. The digital society de-emphasizes contemplation, and so it is difficult for modern musicians to develop habits of mind that do not feel half-machine themselves. But this duo was genuinely moved while playing their music, as will we be upon attending to it. Throughout Persistent Visions we feel Metcalf & Seelig always reaching for something – otherwise, why would we bother to follow them on this journey at all? In a constant flight forward, this duo plays whatever occurs to them, always advancing the threads of their story – with the narrative of their music broadening as far as our listening minds allow it.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END25 April 2019

Jim Ottaway: Beyond the Purple Sun

Beyond the Purple Sun

Beyond the Purple Sun

Jim Ottaway: Beyond the Purple Sun
Released: 10 April 2019
www.jimottaway.com

Because Jim Ottaway has spent so much time in an imaginary realm, we wonder how he is able to navigate through the real one? He operates in the large format of Spacemusic, so as to evoke expansive, epic ideas and subjects – time, history, the body, and existential concerns of the self. The CD Beyond the Purple Sun (57’14”) features seven tracks of beautifully drifting and transporting music – both restful to the intellect and comforting to the spirit. Harmonious and soft, each work is a singular flowing thought asking us to tune into the quieter frequencies. But being meditative does not mean Beyond the Purple Sun has to be vague. Its permeating atmosphere of stillness also conveys a unique ambiance of limitless emptiness. Yet it also conjures a few realizations from negative space and the idea of nothingness – as a reminder of the beginning of everything. These unpeopled spaces push the listener further toward the center of this aural universe. Twilight swaths of color hover just beneath a misty aura surrounding long electronic notes. Tones vibrate, arise and recede, but do not travel along a linear plane. As synth voices blur one into the other, forming sonic colors of striking beauty, Beyond the Purple Sun leads your thoughts to stillness and reverie. In overcoming the limitations of contemporary music, Ottaway tries his dreamy ideas. He has found that talking to dreams, and in this field one’s dreams may become real, is better than chasing them – and so we find that the force of his realizations comes from the truths we already know.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END18 April 2019