Music Reviews



Dweller at the Threshold: Full Boundary Condition

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 19 2004
Artist: Dweller at the Threshold
Title: Full Boundary Condition
Format: CD
Label: Quantum Records
Rated: *****
Dweller at the Threshold's 3-disc set, Full Condition Boundary, combines the group's first two CDs and adds as a bonus a third live disc. The music of DATT rides the borderline between traditional but trippy ethereal music and downright ambient soundscape. At times there is a Pink Floydishness to these long stretches of enveloping, dark space electronica, but this goes far deeper into space or the mind's eye than Floyd ever dreamed. Simple layers of electronic sound and notes combine to form something much more than the sum of its parts. It's strange that something as seemingly simple as this could be as gripping as it, in fact, is. Truly epic in nature, DATT has the capability to carry you far away from the earth and your body. Transcendent music acts as the spokesperson for the cosmos, as a beckoning to encounter what lies far beyond. I am frustrated at my inability to describe such powerful music/soundscapes, to convey how truly enrapturing it is. I suppose you'll have to take my word for it and buy pretty much anything by DATT.

John Duval: Hell's Canyon

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 19 2004
Artist: John Duval
Title: Hell's Canyon
Format: CD
Label: Hypnos
Rated: *****
John Duval's "Hell's Canyon" is the sound of the wind drifting through the walls of the canyon on a distant planet combined with the signals skittering back and forth between satellites. This incredible piece of dark ambient forms hypnotic soundscapes, sort of what it would sound like if space itself had the equivalent of whale song slowed down: prolonged sounds like the musings of alien landscapes, the soft siren's call of the farthest nebulae. But among the stretched, ethereal drifts of sound and near music you'll find steady electronic blip beats that sound as if they are the message of sentient life pouring through the void. This is when the CD (specifically track three, "River of Fear") comes closest to traditional music. However, "Hell's Canyon" is as gripping - more, even - than a lot of "normal" music. It speaks to the innermost mind and is enjoyed at its peak when you are still and nothing is active but ears and spirit.

Dweller at the Threshold: Ouroborus

 Posted by Kristofer Upjohn   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 19 2004
Artist: Dweller at the Threshold
Title: Ouroborus
Format: CD
Label: Hypnos/Binary
Rated: *****
Dweller at the Threshhold's newest album, "Ouroborus", is an instantly captivating CD. DATT's music is absolutely the perfect soundtrack to a journey through space. With this mesmerizing electronica, which hooks you with the most minimalist compositions, I wouldn't need suspended animation to traverse the long distances between stars, merely this music and a window through which to gaze at said stars. Self-styled composers of "spacemusic", a genre that's been around longer than many might guess, unless they're alread familiar with this style, DATT present electronica that is ethereal and ambient and dark (as space is dark, not evil), music that slowly reaches you with its sounds of deep space, the song of the planets. Sometimes the music manifests as elongated washes of ambient, at other times a more note-after-note progression. At no time does the atmosphere break. DATT is easily one of the best artists - space music or music at large - I have experienced of late. These tunes are epic and reaching and engrossing in a major way. This is the very sound of your journey through the reaches of outer space translated into music. Incredible.

DIE FABRIEK: Quatro-Erogenic-Occupy Theme's Part II

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 18 2004
cover
Artist: DIE FABRIEK
Title: Quatro-Erogenic-Occupy Theme's Part II
Format: CD
Label: AFE Records (@)
Rated: *****
The second part of the cd released by Moloko + in 1999, this new work by Belgian collective Die Fabriek took two years in the making. First off, the packaging is CRAZY. AFE has always had a taste for elegant, if not elaborate, covers for its cdr releases, but this is probably the most complex and outstanding one (not considering the Teddy Bear box - but only because that is food for psychiatric research): a vinyl envelope with a toy-like cardboard top, housing a sleeve made of "alien skin" plastic (a green-brown textured material) with a stenciled DF logo, plus an inlay card, anti-alien stickers and a set of close encounters-related postcards (my fave was the "alien abduction pregnancy test" ad)... plus the cdr, of course. Whew... if it took so long to describe it, imagine what must have been like to put it together! On to the musical aspect: I'm sadly not familiar with DF's production over the years, but these veterans have covered industrial, musique concrete, kraut rock, plain weird stuff etc. Anyway, this must be one of their most accessible releases, because it's full of "proper" music... yep, and quite melodic too. Beside being the layout designer, Hue - mind of the Italian electronic projects Sparkle In Grey and Normality Edge - has participated in the recording adding beats and mixing samples provided by the DF core group. I think his hand shows in the more rhythmic tracks, like "Spacewalking" (a great opening, sort of space-shoegaze-electronica) or "The comet dance". But as a whole, the work could be only labelled as (modern) kraut-psychedelia; think of a mix of LA Düsseldorf, Ash Ra Tempel, Pink Floyd and Boards of Canada and... no, you won't get close anyway. Lots and lots of trippy guitars: strummed, flamenco-ed, delayed, looped... This is my main problem with the cd - I'm generally not a fan of 70's psychedelia, and at times I find this a bit over the top for my tastes. But it's successfully assembled, and if you dig your electronica trippy and sweet, you'll find this work a gem. It surely evokes ancient times when aliens kidnapped people for sexual experiments, but also had some kinky appeal.

WARREN BURT: Harmonic colour fields

 Posted by Eugenio Maggi (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 18 2004
cover
Artist: WARREN BURT
Title: Harmonic colour fields
Format: CD
Label: Pogus (@)
Rated: *****
Recorded between 1996 and 1997, "Harmonic colour fields" was played using a Roland Sound Canvas synth, which the author wittily describes as "the world's best cheap solution for fine tuning microtonality (and they're not even paying me to say this!)", and the liner notes further inform us about the nature of these deliberately "static microtonal harmonic fields". While used to even extreme forms of minimalism and computer music, I admit at first I was a bit disappointed by this cd - probably because, of all possible sounds in minimal contexts, I have a sort of distate for synths (unsurprisingly, I find the hyper-minimal "11:21:23 (A drone on mom and Felix's birthdays)", with its more subtle frequencies, the most enjoyable piece). But as the listenings succeeded, Burt's doomy, slowly unfolding drones did suck me in. Very static music indeed, reminding of historical minimalism works like La Monte Young's or Charlemagne Palestine's ("Alloy", for example) in its monolithic nature, thus requiring a concentrated mood and a certain dose of patience to be fully enjoyed. The solemn, at times dramatic power of the electronic drones makes up for the initial impression of tediousness.


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