starsendradio

Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: STAR’S END

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

Advertisements

Chronotope Project: Lotus Rising

Lotus Rising

Lotus Rising

Chronotope Project: Lotus Rising
Released: 23 November 2018
www.spottedpeccary.com
www.chronotope-project.com

Fully and effectively imagined, Lotus Rising (58’56”) opens up a warm and beautiful space, then moves slowly through it. Recording under the name Chronotope Project multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Ericson Allen takes time to take in the grandeur of existence – with music that moves from darkness to light along a spaceward tracking arc. His works slowly unfold just as easily in the dreamy brilliance of harmonic climaxes, as they do darkly in the thickening air of a room-shaking rumble. With its celestial choirs, glowing synths and delicate atmospheres, the eight tracks on Lotus Rising contain a fair amount of Spacemusic drama. Once the sequencers kick in the listener is treated to a delightful acceleration in energy – but not enough to disturb the contemplative and expansive nature of this album. Repeating patterns seem to bubble up – providing sleek propulsion across shimmering sonic landscapes – then coalesce and metamorphose, drifting away as the spacey lines meet, combine, and evaporate. Blurry chords extend above imaginative electronic modulations – just beneath the misty aura that surrounds each sound. Each a singular flowing thought, these works ask us to tune into the quieter frequencies. But being meditative does not mean Lotus Rising has to be vague. With its easy cosmic intimations it guides your psyche to stillness through searching probes from the warm heart of Electronic Music. From mysterious and remote to ethereal and heavenly, the eight silvery tracks on Lotus Rising are quieting to the mind. This album’s drifting approach – warm in tone and pleasantly melodious – gives this music a welcoming atmosphere. From textures of desolation, and still chill zones, to vigorous workouts of charged musical charm, Lotus Rising provides a rich, fully formed musical environment we will want to visit over and again.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END10 January 2019

K Leimer: Imposed Order | Imposed Absence

Imposed Order | Imposed Absence

Imposed Order | Imposed Absence

K Leimer: Imposed Order | Imposed Absence
Released: 26 January 2018
www.palaceoflights.com

When the Imposed Order LP arrived at WXPN back in 1983, the DJs were duly impressed. But one of us was quite shattered. The idea of a good-looking, expertly engineered, independently produced album of lofty new music, by someone somewhere way out in the USA, someone who probably did not know anything about our scene here in Philadelphia, who had founded his own record label for this and a number of other similarly weighty projects, this notion was beyond stimulating – it was moving.

It was such a pleasure to explore the nine tracks found on the original LP, which moved easily between cool textural ambience to Fourth World heat. Imposed Order seemed to reference contemporaneous works by Brian Eno, but to the extent that a typical listener would not really notice. This music truly inhabited its own distinctive space, a space which has never really been appropriated, or even approached by any other artist in electronic sound.

A lifetime later, the guy behind the label, the music and the aesthetic is still active and vital. Along with decades of forward-thinking, innovative releases and projects, K Leimer has now found it was time to re-release his original classic – with a second disc full of works realized for various purposes between 1983-1987.

The beautiful Imposed Order | Imposed Absence is an inventive album that is rarely made any more. The original Imposed Order was released in a time where border crossings were not forbidden, but rather encouraged. Its re-issue (with bonus material) feels like a retreat back to an era when this genre was new, and offered a world of possibilities. A marvel of musical precision, it reminds us that there was a time when we celebrated the sounds and moods of music, and not just the technology and process.

From the granular detail of ethno-drum loops, to slow, airy piano improvisations, and the dreamy atmosphere of vintage synths and reverb, Leimer’s compositions move like a swift silvery ghost. One track may be as intimate as a whisper, while the next rolls over us like storm clouds coming in from the horizon. Absorbing and moving, Imposed Order | Imposed Absence deserves full immersion. However, it is doubtful that you will find yourself anywhere in this music. It will be better for the listener to avoid wondering what it all means – so as to notice better how it makes them feel.

If the art of music is about transporting the audience, then K Leimer is an unrivaled guide. His abilities elevate Imposed Order | Imposed Absence beyond the “Indie” category and into fine art. We are not really sure who made K Leimer, or what confluence of events has led him to make so much substantial music. In his early releases we can hear where Leimer began. By listening to his recent work we may learn where he is, but trying to predict where this artist will go next is completely impossible.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END3 January 2019

Juha-Matti Rautiainen: Above Me Weeps the Sky

Above Me Weeps the Sky

Above Me Weeps the Sky

Juha-Matti Rautiainen: Above Me Weeps the Sky
Released: 15 November 2018
www.juhamattirautiainen.com

We find the music of Juha-Matti Rautiainen drifting in a cool deep blackness. Tinged with cosmic melancholy his album Above Me Weeps the Sky (66:31) feels as intimate as a whisper, yet as vital as the sun rising on a new day. Rautiainen has a musician’s gift for finding and organizing the perfect range of sounds and textures meant for conjuring a specific atmosphere – in service to expressing certain emotions. It is this exact sonic poetry that gives this album its slow chill. Rautiainen has obviously left the conventional view of his instrument behind, as Above Me Weeps the Sky finds him using it to explore music of stillness and space. The music slowly alternates between a trembling vulnerability to waves of strength and light – often with a deep subsonic foundation. Coaxing new and surprising timbres, along with more comforting melodies and contrasting harmonies, the field of sound expands beyond the well-established palette of the bass with layered tones, bending notes, metallic pitch shifts and image altering processing. His success may be found in the connection of imagination and creativity to technique and technology – and the taming of a quieter action. Rautiainen has not found the right solutions to the problems plaguing our age, but he has found the right questions. By hearing him play the electric bass guitar in a most resourceful way, doing such imaginative things with it, eliciting sounds from out of the sky on down to the ground, with just four steel strings, it should not be hard for us also to imagine being bigger… larger than the way we find ourselves. We are a meaning seeking kind, and so seek to silence the turbulence within to better carry out our ways. By taking the way of the thinker we may find that we are not living through a bad time, but it is an empty time – which leaves it up to humanity to find the sacred. And so we shall, even as the sky cries above the weary world.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END27 December 2018

Spyra: Dunst

Dunst

Dunst

Spyra: Dunst
Released: 20 October 2018
www.groove.nl
www.derspyra.de

With music by the celebrated German synthesist Spyra, we know we will be traveling down the kind of road where we will not be using our eyes to navigate. His album Dunst (71’541″) features a vague air of cosmic mystery. The unpredictable swerves and drifts of its six tracks provide a wealth of dramatic potency and musical color across each intriguing sonic journey. Expanding in all directions yet still possessing a cerebral inwardness, the weight of this music will rouse its listeners – enough even to become aware of themselves. Dunst features many of Spyra’s signature stylings, such as lush synthesized strings, dramatic harmonic shifts and striving electronic beats. Weaving beautiful lead lines amidst complex interlocking patterns and repetitive motifs he realizes an irresistibly likable Spacemusic. While Dunst reworks Spyra’s cosmic/chillout hybrid of syncopated patterns and intelligent percussion accents, he also boldly relies on other more abstract concepts to further his musical ideas. In one moment we are feeling a strong galloping pulse, then further in comes the purring beauty of sustaining electrical tones. Its shimmering surfaces and consonant harmonies feel welcoming, yet Dunst‘s transposing sequencer notes echo ahead – beckoning us to the open road. With each new Spyra CD we experience a new cycle of intimacy. He almost always gives us the spacey and the dancey, some easy ambiance drifting into deep sonic dives, then a heart-felt melody over machine rhythms… but never the same way twice.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END20 December 2018

Bob Holroyd: The Cage

The Cage

The Cage

Bob Holroyd: The Cage
Released: 9 March 2018
www.bobholroyd.com

Everyone has a talent, but not everyone has something to say. So let now those with ears hear The Cage (59’57”) by Bob Holroyd. Relentlessly introspective, this album is about what it means for Holroyd to be alive right now. Patient and yet exploratory, the music may be as much a therapy for the musician as it is a pleasure for his listeners. While little of The Cage is truly new, the light it sheds most definitely is. As Holroyd seemingly runs an electrical field through a chamber ensemble, instruments lose their sense of place and become sonic forms – making every note piercingly bright, yet soft as velvet. Haunted and fragile, stricken strings establish a secret territory – a kind of twilight struggle between contrasting harmonies and unresolved emotions. His ambient zones work well to still the wheels, while further in textures thicken, a rhythm arises, and an anthem resolves. The Cage always takes the way of the thinker, even when it is pumping and pulsing soft beats and gentle grooves. This music for the quiet mind also grows softly – with layered violins, reverb drenched piano notes, delicate acoustic guitar, and all manner of digital treatment and interference. The quieter sections tug from the edges, pulling our attention away from their center. With its subtly heightened, finely focused energies flowing through every moment, this work decorates our condition with music. Holroyd is a remarkably protean composer, one at home in a wide range of styles. At all times he is the human centerpiece of The Cage – his hollowness, his most veiled, impossible longings, and more, all portrayed across 12 tracks of becalmed poetic brevity. Pushing the Ambient Chamber Music form forward with intellectual precision, artistic clarity, and stylistic confidence, any one of Holroyd’s finely tuned compositions prove it is possible to achieve a utopia with the materials we have at hand.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END13 December 2018

Manuel Göttsching: E2E4

E2E4

E2E4

Manuel Göttsching: E2E4
Released: 1983
www.manuel-goettsching.com

On Saturday 12 December 1981 Manuel Göttsching sat down in his studio and recorded some music. After about an hour he had realized something that he imagined would be nice to listen to on an upcoming airline flight. A few years later this piece was released under his own name through the In-Team label as E2E4. To those more familiar with Göttsching’s Cosmic Music, Berlin-School and Space-Rock roots, this new work took a while to be accepted. With its shuffling beat box rhythms and simple, repetitive sequencer pattern E2E4 seemed to have more in common with Disco Music than it did with Space Music. But once forward thinking radio programs aired it, and club DJs started spinning this disc for the dance floor, more and more musicians began sampling riffs and copying the style – and the status of E2E4 grew to mammoth proportions. What commenced as an easy going musical jaunt, inducing bewilderment among established audiences, E2E4 was embraced by a new generation of people and ideas. As the pulsing relentlessly builds up – working its magic on the mood of the listener – the cyclical rhythms and electronic tones probe the recesses of the unconscious. The spirited energy of E2E4 will have all the lights in our heads lit at once – like an engine coming to life; messages flying, ideas flowering, charges of electricity whipping across the brain, leaving our selves luminescent, awake and alive. The shards and stray threads of mental activity eventually recede, as the closing scenes of E2E4 are enlivened by Göttsching’s wonderful electric guitar soloing. To this day this album manages to feel fresh and inventive rather than stale or studied – an outcome not part of an overarching artistic strategy. Göttsching simply knows that in a work of art there must be something more than what is called force. There must be distinction and a rarity of feeling. In creating music that combined the elements of improvisation with structured composition, he is a genuine innovator – a complicated hero whose humanity is profoundly irresistible.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END   7 December 2018