Awakenings 2007 volume 1
Brendan Pollard donates his awesome twenty-minute 'E-Live
2006 Rehearsal' to get this double CD set
underway. The initial sounds are as if vast objects are being hurled into the
sea accompanied by all sorts
of weird whooshes and twitters. A superb combination of sequences emerge from
the aquatic depths.
These meld rapid melodic runs as well as bass pulses. It is all underpinned by
some wonderful mellotron.
In other words Berlin School Heaven. More sequences are added accompanied by a
flutey lead line. In the
seventh minute things subside to more thick analogue sonic effects, coming out
of it with a decidedly
'Ricochet' sounding collage of sounds. Very impressive indeed. More sequences
emerge including a
sedate but wonderful three note one then an amazing one hundred mile an hour
scorcher before things
quieten down again and we get an exquisite moody finish.
More flutey synth, mellotron and twittering effects once again transport us to
a blissed out mid 70s
electronic Utopia as 'Ricochet Gathering - Gaiole Part 1' gets underway,
featuring, amongst others,
Paul Lawler, Paul Nagle and Steve Schroyder. It's another superb track that
bounds forward with an
infectious bouncy bass sequence then as the melodies come in it starts to take
a rather Arcane twist
on the early eighties Tangerine Dream sound. Very gradually the pace quickens
and the excitement
builds. Odyssey donate 'The Space Inside'. I hadn't heard of this act before
but he can sure knock out
moody atmospheric stuff. It is a very welcome return for Corporation (it must
be a decade since I last
heard anything from them!). And what a fantastic track they have given us with
'Aliens in your Midst
(First Contact mix)'. After some very dark atmospherics we get sampled text
then in comes a wonderful
infectious beat and sublime little melody. It's a real body mover that hits the
spot perfectly. If you like
Intelligentsia, T Bass UK, Asana or Synthetik you should most certainly go for
Chaos Research give us the slow moody chugger 'Metropolis 2006'. It's a bit of
a strange one mixing
contemporary beats with classical leanings. Very clever. Create come up with 'Choralis
of his more atmospheric tracks which for me worked best before the slow
sequence came in at about
the half way mark but interesting throughout. Awen's 'Pink Oceans of Goom'
begins with a vast wall
of electronic twitters. A sequence fizzes and shimmers through the backing.
It's all rather mesmerizing
'Dreams of the Old World' by Chromengel is initially all rather cosmic but then
a steady rhythm starts up.
Acoustic guitar colouring provides contrast and fits in nicely with a tinkling
sequence. There is nothing
wrong with the track though I couldn't help feeling that it was more a sketch
of ideas that could have
been worked on a little more. I'm sure others will think differently though.
The second disc opens with 'Storm Forge' from Xan Alexander (member of the
All very brooding and malevolent it is too. A rapid high register sequence
contrasts the backing nicely.
The foot is firmly put down in the second minute as an insistent rhythm drives
us forward. Things reach
euphoric proportions as an anthemic lead line soars above it all. It's one of
those tracks which just begs
to be played live - devastating stuff!
Stephen Palmer changes the style completely as we delve Space Rock realms with
'Giza Rock'. Eastern
sounding percussion is underpinned by a dark drone out of which emerges an
intense urgent sequence.
It morphs this way and that as a vibes type lead mixes with the drums creating
quite a groove. Things
become even more exciting as some fairly heavy electric guitar rips over the
top. At around the five minute
mark the sequence starts to spit venom but this is softened a little by another
gentle percussive lead.
A similar style is maintained in 'Three Moving Parts' by Eppie Hulshof which is
quite surprising as this
is nothing like his most recent Berlin School album 'Besucher aus dem Kosmos'.
A jaunty rhythm mixes
with all manner of cosmic whooshes and an excellent bass line. A tinkling
sequence takes over the
rhythm then we slowly subside into more stellar effects and quiet relaxing
drift (the second 'Moving Part'
I presume). A new sequence emerges as we enter the rather tasty final part.
Modulator ESP gives us
'Zeta Major' and quite an eerie place it seems. Gradually some sort of
structure materialises, solidified by
a lonesome meandering lead line. Sequences start to emerge but overall its all
rather trippy and laid back.
'Live at Guerilla Zoo 10 Feb 2007' by Entity is straight into a lovely chugging
sequence that reminded me
a little of 'The Nightcrawlers'. A piano(ish) lead is placed over the top but I
didn't think it was as effective as
the sequence. It seems that no compilation album is complete without a
Broekhuis, Keller & Schonwalder
track and on this one we have 'Zeitreise Ambient Mix'. I thought because of the
title that it might be a
complete drifter but no, there is a nice steady rhythm and bass line. The
rhythm develops- sure it is laid
back but not what I would call ambient. Little vocal colouring is added. A
lovely piano line adds that touch
of class. We finish with a track from Free System Project's National Space
Centre concert of last year
(10th June 2006) called 'Leicester Square'. It shows the band in dark brooding
mood. As you would expect
the sequences are masterful, nicely bass heavy but with a sort of arcing energy
quality to them.
Absolutely brilliant and a stunning way to finish the album.
David Law / Synth
Awakenings 2007 volume 1.5
'Rhodes to Nowhere' by Xan Alexander is full
of metallic shimmers and solar flare type whooshes.
A lovely delicate melodic sequence emerges like a soft rain on the water.
A simply exquisite, beautiful
lead line drifts from the speakers shifting as in a gentle breeze. What is
more, further melodies keep
coming each as sublime as the last. The is one of the most wonderful
tracks I have ever heard from
Xan, probably even better than his opener to the second disc on Vol 1 but
very very different. Tracks
like this and the other I have mentioned would provide the perfect balance
on a future solo album.
Following the similar concept to its earlier sister album (Awakenings 2006
Vol 2.5) we flow straight
from one track into the next without a break.
Zeitlos was a new name to me but his 'Black Hole Descent' is the most
wonderful collage of sounds
and effects. Modulator ESP, having already given us 'Zeta Major' on Volume
1 now showcases its
companion track 'Zeta Minor' and actually it's not too dissimilar to the
previous number by Zeitlos,
music to submerge yourself in and let your thoughts take you where they
will. Peter Challoner donates
'Interpolation'. Yes, initially it's another floater but this time it's
not as aggressive as its two predecessors.
The sounds are much softer, ethereal even. In the second minute a laidback
rhythm starts up and then
a sequence is added but it is all rather tranquil.
'Ricochet Gathering - Gaiole Part 2' features Paul Lawler, Paul Nagle,
Steve Schroyder, Spyra and
others. Piano and a nice squelchy lead line meander creating quite a lazy
summer afternoon feeling.
Electric guitar is added but the gentle licks just emphasise the dreamy
feel. The guitar fades away
and a sequence does emerge in the seventh minute which seemed to be
working its way up to
something major but instead it subsides into watery effects. Russell
Storey's 'Phoenix Lair' is back
to the spooky stuff. Long decays to dark brooding touches of sound add to
the feeling of unease.
Things become more bass laden and rumbling as we progress until we get to
a really nice crystalline
ending. 'Peripheral Blur' by Memory Geist (another new name to me) is
initially more of the same,
using an excellent sound palette but there is a delicacy and precision
here that makes it one of the
best truly ambient tracks on the album. Nick Robinson donates 'Awake'. A
slow undulating throb
forms a base around which drones are added. Detail is provided by various
and contrasting effects
including lovely female Asian type chanting. Another good one. We finish
with 'Left Behind the
Borders of Space & Time' by Phrozenlight. It's a track which is
predominantly made up of solar
winds, with just the faintest touches of other sounds. Rather fitting to
the subject matter I suppose.
David Law / Synth
Awakenings 2007 volume 2
Brendan Pollard kicks this latest
volume off with 'The Neon Chamber'. With Brendan sequences are never
far away and a lovely skipping bass one propels the track forwards within
the first few seconds. The most
gorgeous of tron melodies floats over the top providing a little softness.
We then get a pastiche of one mid
seventies Tangerine Dream sound after another but also with some of his
The enjoyment from the opener
continues through to Pete Tedstone's 'Oscillator'. Ethereal wordless vocal
pads drift through the air. A subdued organ type sound adds to the gentle
mood then a slow loping rhythm
sets up some structure around which a sequence starts to develop. A second
sequence is deployed and
we are soon hurtling along. The initial sequence comes and goes within the
ebb and flow of the track until
after the half way mark, when everything is thrown in. With such an
opening brace of tracks it is hard to
believe that the quality can be maintained but it most certainly is with
Xan Alexander's (from the Omega
Syndicate) curiously titled 'Dr Louis Brain Freeze and the Comet's Tale'.
Xan has a real feel for melody
as is displayed by the initial stabbing lead line and sequence
combination. Infectious beats and yet more
wonderful lead lines come one after another reminding me (not for the
first time with his work) of Wavestar.
Maybe the track should have been edited down a little but nevertheless it
is still excellent.
'Voyager' by Ion continues the
sequencing excellence over some really nice backing, a melancholy lead
providing a bittersweet moodiness. Eppie E Hulshof is currently making
quite a name for himself after his
re-appearance on the Electronic Music scene and his sixteen-minute
contribution to this project 'Seq Maniak'
can only heighten his profile. A slow hypnotic four-note loop provides a
base over which a lonesome lead line
ploughs a moody furrow. A sequence replaces it just before the third
minute giving a more aggressive edge
to proceedings. The track is stripped down to silence in the sixth minute
only for a rapid two-note sequence
to pick up the baton along with some quite curious harpsichord flourishes.
This section is quite brief however
as a deep bass pulse soon becomes the main focus. Another sequence
emerges, this time accompanied
by a really nice lead full of attitude. The pace quickens increasing the
excitement almost until the end.
Phrozenlight's 'Sea On A Liquid Sun' is very different to anything I have
heard from them before as instead
of their usual slowly evolving ambient soundscapes, it features a sedate
and fairly melodic ten note (I think!)
sequence over as fine an atmospheric backing as I have ever heard from
them. The sequence slowly morphs
as we go, sometimes disappearing altogether. This is subtle and enjoyably
crafted stuff and my favourite track
by Phrozenlight so far (though it probably could have been edited down
slightly). Chromengel round off the first
half of this two album set with 'Jovian Airbrake Manoeuvre'. Most of the
tracks on this disc are sequencer and
mellotron dominated and Chromengel continue that legacy with just as much
enthusiasm. Quite a driving
rhythm joins the pulsations as well as sonic blasts like a spaceship
hurtling across the horizon. Things
become even more intense as another sequence skips amongst the mayhem.
There is also some fairly
upfront lead lines that give the whole thing a faintly prog rock feel.
Eppie Hulshof returns alongside
Frederic Wurtz (together known as Von Haulshoven and AEM) to start the
second disc with 'Travelling Back to Point Zero'. This is really cosmic
stuff full of sighing drones punctuated
by crashes and whooshes. It isn't destined to an ambient number however as
in the second minute a rapid,
though rather simplistic, sequence surges forward. We return to the cosmos
just before the six-minute mark.
Two moody but rather tasty sequences (accompanied by mellotron of course)
emerge from the tranquil backing
only for us to return to atmospheric realms once more. It is as if the
track is separated into distinct sub tracks,
each framed by ambience. The third sequencer passage is the most melodic
but also quite driving. Ideal for
travelling down the motorway. There is a short interlude in the middle
before sequences return again but to me
it seemed more of a variation of the same theme rather than a completely
new section. The final section is just
beautiful, as gorgeous pulsations mix with moody lead line and more tron.
Really lovely stuff. The second offering
by Ion, 'Evensong' continues with more sublime melodic sequencing then ups
the pace nicely giving it added oomph.
If you haven't checked out the album from which it is taken yet ('Future
Forever') I recommend that you do. 'Create'
contribute 'Rohan's Journey to Belvedere'. We get a fairly standard
formula start of rapid tinkling sequence emerging
out of atmospherics. By the fifth minute it has departed and we enter a
gently pulsating meandering section. By the
tenth minute things have returned to pure atmospherics out of which
emerges the returning initial sequence joined
by a nice bass line. I really thought it was about to take off, and yes
things became more energetic but it still never
quite reached the heights I had been hoping for. Rene van der Wouden
donates 'Soledad'. This is very different to
anything I had heard from him before as previously I had thought Rene was
much better at atmospheric numbers
to rhythmic ones but here he really cranks up the sequences and drums and
it's superb. A real blast done very
well indeed! 'Indian Persuasion' by Mooch doesn't initially start off as
Eastern sounding as I was expecting though
it is certainly all shimmering and dreamy. When the drums arrive I suppose
they did have a faintly ethnic quality
but that wouldn't have been the first thing that had come to mind if the
track had been titled differently.
A very pleasant track nonetheless. Magnetron combine Steve Humphries (aka
Create) and Xan Alexander.
'The Road Without Cats Eyes' is the first collaboration I have heard by
them. I couldn't really detect much of what
I associate with Xan's work as it came over much more like a very good
Create track to me with lightly skipping
sequence and gentle synth washes but whatever, I found it very enjoyable.
Modulator ESP comes next with
'Grinder' And a very impressive start it has too with a superb heavy
sequence along with quite aggressive sonic
whooshes and power plant type effects. A further rapid sequence carries
things forward as the track continues
on its blistering journey.
In my opinion this album contains
some of the best music in the series so far. With a running time of over
and a half hours and yet priced as a single album (at the time of writing
this) it has to be a bargain!
David Law / Synth
Music Direct / MusicZeit
Awakenings 2007 volume 2.5
Alpha Wave Movement's
'Subtle Circuitry' is a very fine opener combining lovely contemporary
ticking rhythm over a superb understated melodic lead shimmer. Another
pulsating lead line comes to join
the first and even though much of this track comes over as rather
understated it is also deceptively complex
and absorbing, drawing you in. It's the sort of track you can play time
and time again without ever getting
bored and is thus a wonderful way to get started. The end of this track is
cross-faded into Architexture's
'Shores of Orion'. A very nice acoustic guitar type lead shines over some
drifting whooshing backing.
A repeated melodic motif creates a rather hypnotic focus as the track just
continues on, providing a
sedate soothing atmos.
The pace quickens a little for
'Picoseconds' by 4m33s. A rapid staccato sequence (a nice melodic one at
that) bounds forward from the very first second. Other note droplets fall
then echo like a gentle rain falling
on a puddle. The sequence fades away leaving the droplets but soon other
echoing sounds, almost like a
train as if heard from far away, become the main feature. The initial
sequence re-emerges as the track runs
its duration. Phrozenlight's 'Starkraut' is well named as it is all rather
'stark' and dark, being a montage of
windy and eerie sounds. Very much a piece of music in the truest ambient
tradition as is Russell Storey's
'Carinae'. Quite a storm of electronic rumbles and whooshes is served up.
A pulse, almost like a warning
beacon, rings out then disappears. Things start to become calmer but still
with an uneasy edge to proceedings.
Rene van der Wouden's 'North Sea Ambient' on the other hand is a much
warmer and lusher affair.
HyperEx Machina's 'Dead (JS mix)'
is a track which will divide EM fans as it is basically a monologue about
the inequalities of the planet set over melancholy synth backing (good
guitar solo too). Must admit that the
text really ain't bad at all but some people will just reject any vocals
in their music out of hand, which in this
case would be a real shame.
David Law / Synth
Music Direct / MusicZeit