Reviews 11-24-2005 


Music Reviews 



Tower of Power

by N-Tribe

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Fans of what I call Industrial Ambient will have reason to cheer. N-Tribe, who are the duo Harald Grosskopf and Steve Baltes, have released Tower of Power, the soundtrack to an industrial art exhibition featuring the architecture of a German brewery tower. Originally released as a limited edition CD as part of the event's catalog, the CD has now been made available to the general public. 

My term Industrial Ambient is characterized by the inclusion of many environmental effects, sounds and rhythms that are familiar to industrial workplaces. To these natural atmospherics are added bloops, bleeps, synthetic loops and percussions, resulting in what is sometimes a cacophony of sound, at other times a very subtle and complex sonic experience. 

The four cuts that make up this CD, "Space," "Speech," "Speed" and "Questions" are all lengthy explorations. Questions, the shortest, logs in at nearly eight minutes. Speed, the longest, at just under twenty. Rhythms change, becoming insistent at times, repetitive at others, and quiescent at yet others. This is not German EM, Prog-Rock, or the Berlin School. This is sheer, unadulterated techno. It may make you want to move, it may make you want to reach over and adjust the dial. You will NOT want to just sit and listen.

Reviewed by Fred Puhan for Ambient Visions





by Nadja/Methadrone

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Aidan Baker's side project Nadja has followed up their brilliant "Body Cages" disc with a split release alongside Methadrone on NOTHingness REcords. "Absorption" is a deep and dark disc filled with drones and distortion sure to appeal to fans of Nadja's earlier work. 

Split between the two bands, "Absorption" opens with Nadja's long form piece "Absorbed in You", a feedback laden wall of sound that assaults the senses from the first note. It's an aggressive sound to be sure, but to say that this is just noise would be missing the point. Throughout the track sounds and phrases drift up, swelling in tone and then disappearing in the mix like so much flotsam and jetsam floating in the froth, "Save me..."

messages thrown out to sea. Eventually the sound shifts and breaks into a slight drone piece punctuated by sparse drumming and light guitar, a contrasting calm to the earlier storm, but still suggesting the same tension and drama as before. The track closes with a return to the same wall of sound from earlier, the suggestion that chaos is a more natural state than order. A truly fascinating and beautiful piece as one would expect from Baker and company. 

Methadrone contributes four tracks to their share of the disc and while I've not heard any of their work before, I was quite impressed by them. "A View into the Empty" is a heavy guitar based track where power chords and sustained feedback create a very tense and disturbing environment. It's a very powerful piece, rather majestic.

"Absorbed" follows, a similar theme with more melodic elements, an engaging and hypnotic track that pulls you deep under it's spell. "Sustained Presence of Loss" and "Placebo (part 2)" round out the disc, equally dark pieces that envelop the listener in a shroud of feedback. Very appealing and very engaging work. 

I've always enjoyed the idea of compilations and split releases, they give the listener a chance to enjoy new work by artists they're already familiar with, and to expose new artists that they may not already know. "Absorption" is a fine example of the charms inherent in compilations and an excellent place to discover some dark and heavy new sounds.

Reviewed by Rik at Pink Things. Reprinted on Ambient Visions



Allure of Sanctuary

by Karen Marie Garrett

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CD Baby website

“Allure of Sanctuary” is the second CD released by Karen Marie Garrett. It is astounding how much this artist has grown since her 2002 debut, “Pensare Piano.” Will Ackerman’s gifts as producer certainly helped to make this CD as breathtaking as it is, but if the quality of music isn’t there, no producer in the world can give it soul and depth - and this CD has mega-doses of both. A classically-trained pianist from the age of five, Ms. Garrett plays with the strength and emotional clarity that come from years of expressing oneself at the piano, sharing the joys and sorrows of life with the beloved 88’s. The twelve pieces include eight original compositions, a lovely arrangement of “The Green Hills” by Brian Gibson, and Erik Satie’s “Trois Gnossiennes,” performed as originally composed. Most of the pieces are piano solo, but Garrett is joined on two by award-winning cellist Eugene Friesen (I LOVE cello and piano together!). Some of the other tracks have English horn, light percussion, and wordless vocals, but this is truly an incredible piano album.

The CD begins with “Tip-Toe Dancer (Kathryn’s Song),” one of the lighter pieces in this collection. It was inspired by a story told by a close friend about a childhood dance performed for friends and family. Graceful yet playful, it is easy to imagine the seriousness of the young dancer and the warm reception of the adults. “Lake EWOK Muse” is an improvisational duet for piano and cello that followed a sunrise meditation beside Lake EWOK at Skywalker Ranch, where the album was recorded. The feeling of serenity envelops you as you listen to the two artists interact seamlessly, creating a perfect sense of peace. “Simple Things” is a celebration that begins in a classical style reminiscent of a children’s piano study and evolves, retaining the sweet melody and simplicity of the message but becoming a full and graceful solo. The title track is fascinating. It begins with a mournful piano prelude and becomes a rhythmic dance with a seductive Spanish flavor. Susan Whittle’s vocals and percussion provided by Will Ackerman and Derrick Jordan add to the enchantment. “Will’s Song” is an improvisational piece that is so deeply felt that it almost sends a chill - what a beauty! “Toll of War (Adagio)” is a wrenching duet for piano and cello. A profound statement of humanity rather than of politics, the sense of loss and pain reach to the depths of the soul. This is a piece that needs to be heard. The gentle, pensive closing track is a solo piano reprise of “Lake EWOK Muse.”   Highly recommended!!!

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons reprinted from Mainly Piano on Ambient Visions


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