Reviews 12-17-2000

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Music Reviews 


ambient hyperreal album cover


by Various Artists


Ain't technology grand? That's what I always say when I hear music like this. This compilation comes from a group of electronic music makers who live all over the world, and are connected, most of the time, only by e-mail. They range from "published professionals" like Forrest Fang and independent label artists like Dark Duck's Stephen Philips to complete amateurs who have a lot of expensive sound equipment in a back room of their home. (This back room thing can also be true of the "professionals.")

There are two CD's in this album, which follows a fairly common pattern in 2-CD ambient sets: the first CD contains more rhythmic tracks, and the second contains the more drifting, beatless "pure ambient" tracks. I found both of them enjoyable listening; the rhythmic stuff on CD1 is best by day, the ambient on CD2 better by night. One of the standout tracks on CD1, for me, is the nine-minute excerpt from "Ambient Temple of Imagination's" rave performance, dated 1995, in San Francisco - it is a driving trance-rush segment with a railroad-like speed. Another pair of good ones in succession are track 3, "Avalon," by Belgian Tim Handels, and track 4, "Marisol (Warm Dub Mix)" by Southern California-based "Universal Selector." Both these tracks have the kind of sweet but ironic blend of nice chords and clubby techno sound that I associate with Britain's technomusic-entity "Global Communication." Another melodic, pretty piece is Ohio-based "Dub Jay's"

"Amber Translucence." In general the pieces on both discs of this album tend towards a rather "thin" sound, without too many stacked-up tracks or loud "walls of sound." CD 2 features a more "classic" style of ambient. Utah resident Kendall Jackman shows the influence of Mychael Danna in track 3, a "serious" synthesized string-orchestra piece called "Weightless."  Some tracks are in the "dark ambient" vein, such as Canada's "dreamSTATE"'s "White Winter Moon" (track 4) or Australia's Sam Melbourne's guitar-spacey "Amongst Myselves." (track 2). Forrest Fang's entry, "Harmonia," (track 5) is a sparkling pentatonic "outtake" from his recent album GONGLAND. Dark Duck's Stephen Philips contributes a foggy, nocturnal vision under his "Deep Chill Network" imprint, track 9, "Alone." Other pieces on CD 2 tend towards the "drone" or "minimalist" style, mixed with electronic bleeps and recorded and looped "found sounds."

All the participants on this album identify themselves on the inner pages of the paper insert, including their e-mail addresses and Web sites, so that if you want to hear more from any one of these guys, you can contact him and then hope for the best. This kind of production is, I hope, just the beginning of a new way of both making and distributing music and other sound-productions, something which goes directly from individual to individuals without the often destructive pressure and interference of the commercial music market. This way even the most esoteric sounds can be shared and heard.

Hannah M.G. Shapero 12/15/2000


Healing Lake Rudy Adrian album cover

The Healing Lake

by Rudy Adrian

Visit Rudy's Spotted
Peccary Page

The Healing Lake" is a pastoral atmosphere of floating ambience.  Rudy Adrian has created a serene soundscape of psychoactive proportions for healing meditations.  The sequences are gentle.  The rhythms are subtle.  The feelings evoked are peace and harmony.  Rudy's playful synthesizer lulls listeners into a lucid dream.  This CD is not recommended for any activity that requires thought or action.  Sit and listen.  Go where the heart and soul go.


Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Inexplicable Robert Carty album cover


by Robert Carty

Deep Sky Music

The Inexplicable" might be Robert Carty's best CD yet!  This sonic adventure is dense, deep and pleasantly murky.  It is NOT inexplicable!  It is a further showcase for his development and mastery as a craftsman.  It is the next logical step and emotional plateau of his maturation as an artiste.  His minimalism is stark, surreal and esoteric.  The ambience is serene and vital.  It is inexplicable that Robert does not have a major recording or distribution deal.  His music merits extensive distribution!


Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Moonscapes Cyber Zen Sound Engine album cover

Moonscapes: How Stones
Become Enlightened

by Cyber Zen Sound Engine

Lloyd Barde, owner of Backroads Music, home of the Heartbeats Catalog, called "Moonscapes: How Stones Become Enlightened" the perfect CD!  That statement certainly qualifies the album as worthy of investigation.  Cyber Zen Sound Engine, a.k.a. Grace NoteX and Smith 6079, has put together a very imaginative set of sequences and atmospheres.  It is also very cerebral and ethereal.  Coming at listeners from many different angles, this duo evokes deep stuff.  On one hand, the atmospheres lull listeners into a trance.  On the other hand, the sequences create a hard edge, disallowing a full trance and enabling lucidity.  The lucid trance becomes a vehicle for exploration and exploitation.  Listeners are free to explore the self and exploit the imagination.  The walls of sound and ambient soundscapes provide a perfect balance for sci-fi journeys, meditation or introspection.  Is this the perfect CD?  As always, the answer to that question is subjective.  It IS an absolutely essential CD!


Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


On the Edge of Forever Never Known album cover

On the Edge of Forever 

by Never Known

Amon/Never Known Website

Andrea Marutti records either under the alias of Never Known or Amon.  "On the Edge of Forever is a Never Known CD of stratospheric atmospheres, deep minimalism and haunting soundscapes.  Andrea infuses the soundscapes with deep feelings.  Listeners will hear futility, joy, frustration, serenity and angst.  The juxtaposed emotions create a gentle roller coaster effect.  The music does not bounce or jerk.  It flows gently around and into the listeners.  This is a seminal release from Andrea.  He deserves more recognition.  Listener support will provide it!


Reviewed by Jim Brenholts

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