Reviews 01-03-2002


Music Reviews 



by Soundician


The Beauty is Knowing....

by Soundician

Visit Soundician's website. 



Soundician is Odette Johnson and Kit JohnsonSoundician is also their debut CD  and it is "out there," so to speak!

There are no rules so Odette and Kit follow no rules.  Their motto is "... remember, it's better to miss a beat than to miss the point ...".  They classify this music as  "eclectic" and that is appropriate.  It has elements of minimalism, space music, trip hop and experimental music.  it is electronic and it is deep.

They are, quite literally, inviting listeners to enter their journey and their world as they try to bring sense to it.  The music does that.  It is relaxing eclectica and listeners entering their soundworld are free to roam or to follow Odette and Kit.

This is a worthy adventure and a viable candidate for top newcomer.

It is difficult to imagine, but Soundician's second CD, "The Beauty is Knowing...", is even deeper and more beautiful than their first.

Using a more sophisticated and more sedate symphonic synthesizer, Odette Johnson and Kit Johnson have fashioned a vast atmospheric wall of sound.  But this is not about technique and technology.  Odette and Kit have depth in their music.

This music is for crawling inside and escaping for a moment or two.  Deep listeners will appreciate the vibrant tones and the vivid colors.  Those qualities give this album its extra appeal.

This wonderful CD is a gem, worthy of inclusion - as a late entry - in many  "Best of Year" lists.  It is a brief rest stop on the highway of life.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


The Seskian Wars

by Tales


Jean- Luc Herve Berthelot is one of the deepest space music artists in the new millennium.  Recording as Tales, he has created some of the coolest thematic CD's.  The Seskian Wars is based on a story by Tarkan Shinnerlord.  It is Volume Two of The Interstellar Trilogy by Jean-Luc.

Jean-Luc's sci-fi soundscape is full of atmospheres, sequences and experimental computer sounds.  This is listening pleasure at its purest.  The tale (written in the liner notes) and the titles tell the story.  The music is the soundtrack to the adventure.

This late entry is a top 30 candidate for 2001.  It is one of the best pure space music albums of the year!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Foreign Spaces

Visit Foreign Spaces' website

Foreign Spaces is a German synthesizer trio.  Phaeton is a deep and dense soundscape performed in the -DUH!- Berlin school style of e-music.  This trio - Georg Reiter, Lothar Lubitz and Christisn Feher - surrounds those Berlin sequences with lavish atmospheres and vibrant synth washes.  The riffs compliment the sequences and the riffs are integral parts of the sequences.  While this CD is firmly entrenched in the Berlin school, it also embraces the expansive atmospheres associated with American electronic minimalism.  Ron Boots and his cohorts at Groove Unlimited introduced and perfected that crossover technique.  This trio continues that tradition of European electronic music excellence.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Music Inspired by Middle Earth

by David and Diane Arkenstone

Visit Paras Recordings

Visit Neo Pacifica Records

David Arkenstone and his wife, Diane Arkenstone, created Music Inspired by Middle Earth: to honor J.R.R. Tolkein's epic trilogy, The Lord of the Ring.  (I saw the movie on Friday, December 28.  This CD was in my mailbox on Saturday, December 29. I did not expect the CD.)

Dave and Diane have created a credible depiction of the adventure.  The soundscape, largely orchestral, ebbs and flows with the saga, reaching crescendos and depths at appropriate times.  Acoustic ethnic instruments augment the sound design, giving the project a Celtic flavor.

This is a good CD.  It is not as dynamic as the soundtrack nor is it as large and dynamic as the movie.  But, then again, few things are.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Larry Gaab   


Resurrections is an enigmatic CD from an enigmatic artist on an enigmatic label.  Larry Gaab is the only information provided about the artist.  Morphis Music is in Chico, CA.  The e-mail address is and the phone number is (530) 3422-0460.  That's it.  There is no more information readily available.

All the clues are in the music.  This is an experimental symphonic synthesizer set.  The soundscapes are large and there are sequences or layers of sound.  And it is a pastoral soundscape with vivid colors and bright lights.  Larry paints on a large canvas and invites listeners to grab a brush and join him.  Listeners, using the third ear as an instrument, define the direction and the imagery.  There is hope and there is beauty to be found.  L. is the guide for this tour.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Kevin Kendle

Visit New World Music's website  


Kevin Kendle is a veteran new age healing music artist.  Flowers is his fifth CD on the New World Music label.  It is a lush soundtrack for the garden of the soul.

Kevin takes listeners through the seasons as he follows the flowers and their cycles.  The journey starts at the end of winter and the eight flowers end as winter returns.

The music follows the seasons of the soul as listeners follow the cycle of life and its continuous birth and rebirth.  The gentle acoustics augment the symphonic synth and the pastoral beauty of Kevin's work.

This CD fits New World's mission to offer and provide music for well being.  It promotes wellness and holistic healing.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Journey to the Surface

by Gaylene

Visit Gaylene's website

Gaylene is a multi-instrumentalist recording symphonic synthesizer soundscapes in Norwalk, CT.  Journey to the Surface, her debut CD, was originally recorded as a soundtrack for an exhibit at the Norwalk Maritime Center.  The response from the audiences was so encouraging that Gaylene created this CD.

She promotes this as a new age CD but it is much more than that.  This album has qualities of minimalist spacescapes and atmospheric ambience.  Of course, it also has all the properties of a lush new age pastorale.

In her brief recording career, Gaylene has been compared to some of the greats and legends of e-music.  The comparisons are justified!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle

by Vincent Clarke and 
Martyn Ware  




"'Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle' is intended to promote profound relaxation ... with the use of headphones...."  The music, by Vincent Clarke and Martyn Ware, is a soundtrack for the healing powers of the spectrum.

Vincent is a member of Erasure and Martyn is from Heaven 17.  they used these recording techniques on Pretentious, their first collaboration as The Clarke and Ware Experiment.

The music is both gorgeous and stunning.  The spectrum runs through white, yellow, red, blue, green and back to white, in that order. The colors represent, in order, heaven, a beach, the womb, water, a forest and, again, heaven.  The soundscape is spatialized to create dense atmospheres.  The nature samples augment the soundscape.  All the positivity of this CD comes across in a pastorale.

The intentions and the healing powers of this album are overt. Martin and Vincent make their intentions quite clear.  There are no hidden meanings.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Sea of Bliss

by Don Slepian

Visit Don Slepian's website    


Don Slepian recorded Sea of Bliss on February 3rd and 4th, 1980.  He used the Alles Digital Synthesizer at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, NJ.  He was their artist in residence at the time.

This album is a classic in the annals of space music and digital e-music.  it became a standard on Music for the Hearts of Space.  It was - and still is - a staple for yoga, meditation and introspection gurus.  Don used a layering technique to create a slight sequenced feel.  But this disc belongs more in the minimalist style.  Don was well ahead of his time with this album.  The drifting minimalism holds its own with new millennium minimalism.  and there are no dark passages!

This CD could very easily be the predecessor or companion to the bright and spiritual minimalism of Jeff Pearce.  It was, has been and still is a classic!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Electronic Music from the Rainbow Isle

by Don Slepian

Visit Don Slepian's website    



Don Slepian is a classic!  He has re-issued some of his early recordings on CD.  he recorded some new interludes to augment the early music.

Electronic Music from the Rainbow Isle is a collection of miscellaneous tracks from Don's ten years on Oahu.  The original album was a 1978 release.  Don added some newer pieces from the 1980's and new interludes to modernize the package.

In the liner notes he suggests that this music is symphonic electronica and he is right.  The soundscape consists of magnificent and triumphant walls of sound.  Those walls are solid.  Don layered his electronics expertly to achieve a digital sound with analog equipment.  He also used his multi-instrumental talents.  The CD features Don on guitars, synthesizers, the piano, an alto recorder and a penny whistle flute.

His tape manipulations and techniques were state of the art in 1978.  And the set has absolute integrity and merit in the new millennium.  This promises to be a mainstay of many collections.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Don Slepian

Visit Don Slepian's website  

Introspection is an amalgamation of the old and the new from Don Slepian, ... one of the genre's major talents... according to Rolling Stone.

This is absolutely symphonic synthesizer music.  don composed and performed new music,  "Retrospective Suite, Parts 1 - 15", to bridge the older tracks together.  the suite adds more to the marriage of the old and the new.  It is performed entirely on acoustic piano, eschewing new digitalia.

Don is definitely a major talent in this genre.  His fans and listeners are anxiously awaiting new music from this genius.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Mathias Grassow

Visit Mathias Grassow's website





Mathias Grassow is definitely the king of ambient drones.  He does that so well and with such musical integrity that it is surprising, pleasantly so, when he dresses them up. 

Lifecycles is one of those surprises.  This rhythmic display of Mathias' ambient soundworlds grabs deep listeners with smoking rock and roll guitar riffs and a hot rock rhythm.  The drone, subdued and in the background, carries the heavy sequences and the large-scale soundscapes.

And this is not done superfluously.  Mathias took a risk with his departure from his normal minimalist style.  This is a biorhythmic extravaganza, complete with Middle Eastern influences.

It is good to hear Mathias diversifying.  It adds to his status in the e-music community.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


The Relic

by Chuck van Zyl

Visit Stars End's website  




Chuck van Zyl is an absolute enigma.  He is an e-music DJ and concert host, tireless in his efforts to support and advance electronic music and its artists.  And he is one of the e-music community's most accomplished artists, in and of his own right.

The Relic is a double CD of large-scale sci-fi walls of sound.  Chuck uses just enough sequencing to keep the set from being pure minimalism, but there are strong qualities of the same.  The atmospheres are expansive and large-scale.

Chuck's music is hard to find.  Listeners making the effort to find it will not be disappointed!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


The Edge of Everything

by Farfield

Visit Farfield's website    

The Edge of Everything is a deep and dark soundscape from Farfield, nee Nick Webb.  He uses all manner of electronics to mold and manipulate this set.  The atmospheric ambience is dense.  The eerie samples take it over the edge.

This disc is hard to describe and easy to like.  The synth riffs are catchy; the samples are interesting; the orchestral passages are dreamy.  But the emotional response is somewhere out in left field.  there is a response.  It is just not overt.

The darkness is not scary.  The orchestration is not pastoral.  The soundscape is not ambiguous.  It is ambivalent.  This is a masterful sound design.  Nick has created a soundscape that goes both ways.  That is a rare response!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Nik Tyndall






Lagoon is a classic space music release from the legendary Nik Tyndall.  at the time of its release (1990), Hearts of Space was on the cutting edge of electronic music.  and there was no controversy about it!

Nik released nine albums between 1980 and 1989.  They were available in the USA only as hard-to-get imports.  This release changed all that. 

The CD is steeped in the Berlin school style of e-music.  (Nik is from West Berlin.)  it is also on the cusp of the integration of new techniques in that style.  There are definite moments of overt minimalism and gentle ambience.  Nik's specialty had long been in the meditative zone.  On this CD he incorporated the German style sequences into that mode and gave listeners a hybrid of sorts - meditative Berlin school e-music!

This classic CD is difficult - not impossible - to get.  Space music devotees are still waiting for the re-issue of the HOS discography.  This is a key reason.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


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