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Tag: STAR’S END

Various Artists: Krell Music

Krell Music

Krell Music

Various Artists: Krell Music
Released: 29 October 2018
www.auralfilms.com

The cheapest high in Electronic Music may be had by making unstructured noise. Typically, composers who partake in this kind of exercise are asking of the listener nothing more than, “I dare you to like this” – as only the author alone can appreciate their own impenetrable musical acts. While the works found on Krell Music (119’49”) may indeed pose challenges to the average music consumer, the concept enlivening this collection is of the first order – and excellently informs each and every piece with its mission.

The Krell referred to in the title of this anthology will be well-known to fans of Forbidden Planet, the beloved 1956 cult-classic of Sci-Fi cinema. As the story unfolds, we discover that The Krell were the once thriving alien race inhabiting the distant planet Altair – the only remaining evidence of their existence being their abandoned, monumental engineering achievements and equally impressive examples of art, culture, and music. Krell Music features imaginative extrapolations of the brief example “Ancient Krell Music” presented in the film’s soundtrack – which was realized by EM pioneers Louis and Bebe Barron. Their music, which is heard throughout Forbidden Planet, lacks real-world references, so as to sonically represent the fantastic objects and beings discovered in the movie – yet still managed to serve conventional narrative demands. It is also credited as the first all-electronic score ever to be employed in a Hollywood film.

The reverence shown to the Barron’s by generations of Electronic Musicians borders on the religious, as their amazing efforts are often thought of as the starting point of a continuing, decades-long, amazing experiment. Their early “electronic tonalities” envisioned how EM evokes notions of the exotic Other, and reset every fundamental aspect in scoring a film. This is what outer space sounded like, and still sounds like over 60 years on.

Krell Music will confound anyone with an expectation of continuity. Each track, whether imagined out of the reference scene, or absorbed in the energy of the soundtrack as a whole, is missing any conventional access point. Without discernible rhythm, consonant melody, or even a tonal base, these realizations touch something deeply primitive that lives within us all. Telling their story simply through the manipulation of sound, the contributors have come up with compositions closer to the ideals of modern abstract painting than of music. Arranging sounds without any terrestrial reference, each track transpires into a surreal, unknowable atmosphere.

The instruments used to produce this music must gave gotten a real workout – as the sounds they emit cover a wide range of imaginative sonorities. From the nightmare texture of tensile sonics and arcane modulations, to gentle lullabies and the quiet humming of The Great Machine, the 26 musicians represented here all have their own individual idea as to what the music of the Krell meant and sounded like. This group has absorbed well the film’s meaning and place in history, and even more so the aesthetics of its music.

The collection of music presented here should be considered masterful. Krell Music works both as a stunning document of a fictitious lost alien civilization, and a 26 track soundtrack of unlovely, but not unloved music (for which your attention to all will be rewarded). Yet within all the clatter may be found a questing optimism. Because, as old as it is, the genre of Electronic Music is not yet done teaching us what it can do.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END8 November 2018

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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

 

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

Helios: Veriditas

Veriditas

Veriditas

Helios: Veriditas
Released: 31 August 2018
www.ghostly.com
www.unseen-music.com

As Helios, the music of Keith Kenniff has the ability to make our world appear to be a better place. With the 12 tracks on his release Veriditas (45’27”) he takes the listener with him into a liminal space. The experience proves as magical as one would expect. These arrangements portray a wide open realm of the imagination, where the main consolation is the feeling of being energized – not through rhythm or beats, but by the overlapping realities of multiple realms. Veriditas is a gorgeous, contemplative, deliberate ride. With its slowly spiraling triads and prowling bass, ghostly assemblages of drifting electronics coalesce to form big major chords or mysteriously minor ones. The restless searching of harmonies – which takes the ear in a pleasant way – produces a moody reverie. As our thoughts circle within this oxidized eerie beauty, a wayward soul slowly swoons – and a wistful easygoing air heightens the wonder. As grainy detail recedes behind vivid sonic gestures, the crawling tempo, gradual chord progressions and drawn-out notes push through cavernous reverberation as Veriditas strains against the EM form. When it comes to the music of Helios, we should set aside our music history, and just listen. His work resides in an open intellectual forum, one far more likely to help us understand and embrace new ideas than to obliterate them. But more people should recognize this wondrous world, where a love of being alive, a love of our humanity, is essential in itself.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END18 October 2018

Arjen Schat: AS

AS

AS

Arjen Schat: AS
Released: 1 September 2018
www.arjenschat.nl

Prior to spinning AS (44’29”) by Arjen Schat, try to imagine that this music is not residing on your digital player, but rather that it is waiting for you in some safe celestial space. Everything sounds better under starlight, and so from out of the galaxy deep this music will seem exquisitely formed. A heroic explorer, Schat’s reach is long. Representing either urges in the brain, or a sense of moving through an interstellar expanse, AS is loaded with pulsing synthesizers migrating in synchronized, echoing patterns. Along currents of dancing notes, each sequencer line reinforces the next – while full-throated lead lines rise like a strange hollow singing in our hearts. Designed to propel the listener endlessly through a trackless void, this album seems to confidently create its own space as it flies – however searching, tremulous and immeasurable this fascinating sonic realm may be. Carrying the light and line together we can almost feel the heat coming off of Scaht’s instruments. Yet, in this wonderful journey of four tracks, he manages to take us where his machines alone cannot. Who is it that knows how to navigate through the storm? That would be the person who has caused the storm. Being on your own, one can go deeper – and in his music Schat takes full advantage of this freedom. The sheer artistry displayed throughout AS is so expertly accomplished that we listeners cannot help but be seduced. It is remarkable how many fresh reserves of musical energy Schat teases out of such a well-established genre. Energy sparked by creativity is full of potential, and AS confirms that Spacemusic thrives when it provides an alternative to the doldrums of that which is common. This music is free to witness its own history, but has it lived up to the ideals that framed its founding? Possibly. If Schat can do everything right, control the chaos of electricity, move sound in the proper direction and place, he just might make something perfect.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END11 October 2018

James Murray: Falling Backwards

Falling Backwards

Falling Backwards

James Murray: Falling Backwards
Released: 14 September 2018
www.homenormal.com
www.jamesmurray.info

Real life is enough for most people. Thanks goodness that James Murray is not like most people. His album Falling Backwards (47’05”) edges into our awareness, and warms us up in a most welcome way. His instruments, an extension of his consciousness, do not just make sound – they are part of the spirit of this musician. Realized with a kind of cursive grace, the seven tracks show strength in their stillness. As parts of the mind are held back by language, so it may be that in his organization of sound we find Murray’s conceptions and emotions becoming concrete and communicable. From a palpable unease and the whisper of spirits, to electronic shadows and magnetized clouds, Falling Backwards provides a better expression in the harmony of tones. Each piece begins as an impression within the composer’s head. As vivid aural tints form a handsome contrast, the movement of sonic forms becomes active and charged with electricity. Working with the understanding that sound expresses something in itself, Murray indulges his arrangements with lush ornamental pads and sterling, swirling lines of vaporous, recurring notes. Everything in his turbulent sonic landscapes is in motion, yet we never seem to move very far from the dreamy dark holler from where Murray remains in repose. To some Falling Backwards may remain a blur, but to others of us – who hear the interior hum of drama in each and every moment – we cannot help but imagine the futures we will dream about while under its influence.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END4 October 2018

Various Artists: Elements and Particles

Elements and Particles

Elements and Particles

Various Artists: Elements and Particles
Released: 19 October 2018
www.din.org.uk

It has been said that a scholar collects, and so with his Tone Science series we find Ian Boddy (of DiN Records) continuing a fine job of just that. Now let us welcome Elements and Particles (60’23”), the second anthology of nine musical realizations that have never before been. The raw material of this art is electricity, which is forged into sound and music by dreamers and builders. Their wordless structures offer everything from technological complexity to the simplicity of a prayer. The artful sonic organization of the works found on Elements and Particles can stem only from a developed instinct. Timbre has always been a secondary consideration in music, yet in the field of Electronic Music it is the key medium of artistic spiritual intensity. In a genre this wild and ungovernable, each piece exerts its own specific force on the imagination. In an ever-fading atmosphere, the artists presented on this collection are shaping the character of sound in a thousand small ways. Finding their internal guidance the nine come alive to transform gently vibrating tones into a commotion of motion. As the worrisome low trill of LFOs gives way to a formless vacuum, another track goes bone deep cold. When chaotic modulations upset the spirit level of our minds, conventional access points recede – and we are left with only the sensation of hearing. There are also places of unspeakable beauty. In this innovative modular synthesizer realm, oscillators may sing of the quiet power behind their volume, with tempered circuits humming in ascent. Chirping rhythms echo lines of melodious machine patterns, and scatter above the round warmth of slower purple notes. In metallic voices and synthesized verse this gear can reference its technological founders, but in this worship we only diminish a power meant to amplify humanity – to further advance our state. The nine musicians represented on Elements and Particles always choose the light – as their lives are meant for discovery. With each new musical endeavor they dare to be more human. We may be considered mad by those who cannot hear the music – yet for all those who understand, it is a wonder beyond all dispute. But as steady as we are in our pursuit, we must wonder… what is this strange compulsion that drives us to create? We all do live this question, and must live into its answer.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END27 September 2018