Music Reviews

Jun 13 2010
Artist: Lightphaser (@)
Title: Flashback
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Distributor: Amazon
Rated: *****
It seems as though more good things in the field of electronic music have been coming out of Eastern Europe lately. Here's an album that's firmly planted in the retro-electronica space music field. Seems as though this music was once the rage a while back, but somehow fell out of fashion. Actually it's good to hear Joseph Gogh (from Hungary) reviving it. The cosmic echoey sequenced electronics and LFO'd waveform bloops and swoops are reminiscent of Silent Records artists such as Alpha Wave Matrix and Spacetime Continuum (without Terrance McKenna), and even pioneer space-electronica bands like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk back when they were good.

Gogh uses enough rhythmic propulsion to drive his starship to avoid New Age clichés for the most part, and keeps his vocals on the cyber-side with the judicious aid of vocoder. The exception to this is the enlistment of his sister Timea to sing on a couple of tracks. It was the track 'Control,' that most stood out with Timea's vocals on the chorus. To be truthful, I couldn't make out what Joseph was saying on the verses through all the electronic processing, but Timea's voice came through strong and clear. Simple but effective. It would have been nice to hear more of her'¦definitely a candidate for a track on a compilation. Gogh's vocals on 'Give or Take' are still processed to a degree, but a bit more intelligible and a little edgy.

The structure of Lightphaser's music is pretty simplistic but the elements are interesting and at times complex. I wouldn't really call the tone of it dark in the way electro-industrial and EBM are dark, but I wouldn't call it cheery either. Not gloom, just the coldness of space. There is rarely a time in the music when there isn't some sort of rhythmic element going on, and that's a good thing with a project like this. Also, in keeping vocals to a minimum, or using less words, there is greater impact when they are present. Since they are processed and spoke-sung, it sounds like a cyborgian element of the music. As for the synth sounds, they're mostly old school with a bit of updating. (I kept hearing shade of Gary Numan here and there.) If there was one gripe I have with 'Flashback' it has to be the use of normal drumkit sounds on some tracks. I guess Gough was going for a bit of power, but I would have stayed completely in the realm of electronic percussion. I think it detracts from the cosmic quality of the music I believe Lightphaser is striving for.

In conclusion, this is a very cool release with a lot of sonic variety. I tend to gauge how much I like a CD by how often it ends up in play rotation, and whether I would buy it (if I didn't already have it). To that end, 'Flashback' has probably been played more than any other CD in the recent batch I received from the Chain D.L.K. HQ, and I'd probably buy it if I had only heard certain pieces from it, 'Falling Horizon,' 'Eternity,' and 'Control,' being particularly good tracks. Definitely worth checking out.

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