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BPMs Unleashed

Beats-Per-Minute (technically noted as BPMs) is a term used to often describe the frantic rate of percussive elements in electro-dance music.

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BANCO DE GAIA: Iqizeh (CD on Six Degrees Records)

Banco de Gaia is multi-instrumentalist and electronic wizard Toby Marks, whose reputation for world beat trance music is internationally renowned.

With "Iqizeh", Marks delivers 67 minutes of deep-groove techno music of the finest kind. Also appearing are the sultry vocal strains of Jennifer Folker, while Ted Duggan supplies additional drumming for three of the CD's nine tracks.

Electronics and percussives (natural and artificial) crowd this music. Keyboard riffs assault the listener with their enticing patterns, establishing a swift addiction to the melodies. Synthesizers bloop and squeal amid the riffs like glittering ivory birds flocking inside a crystal ball. Various other instruments are freely sampled and put to excellent use.

The intricate percussion blends modern beats with Eastern rhythms, generating lavish fields of pulsating BPMs.

Other vocal effects (besides Folker's sensuous lyrical passages) exhibit themselves, non-verbal crooning which furthers the music's exotic nature.

There's some exciting old-style organ riffing going on near the funky "Fake It Till You Make It", leading to a quasi-Pink Floyd guitar crescendo. Tastefully followed by the sinuous and expanding melody of the CD's finale.

Among Marks' numerous talents, he is gifted with the ability to create intensely riveting melodies, driven by truly compelling beats that speak directly to the rhythmic portions of the brain. "Iqizeh" offers a veritable fountain of these instantly appealing songs.

Parts of this music were recorded inside the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Temple of Seti 1 at Thebes, and other locations in Egypt.

Also available is the "Obsidian remixes" CD EP (also on Six Degrees Records). Banco de Gaia's singles are often maximum BPM funtime, and this one features 29 minutes of inventive and pulsating remixes by Fluke, the Light vs. PFN, and Slinky Kink Productions, and a Radio Edit by Banco de Gaia. The melody is pummeled by extra rhythms and playfully contorted by deviant variations, elevating the music's already hypnotic nature.

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CHILDREN OF DUB: Digital Mantras for a Fucked Up World (CD on Magick Eye Records)

This 64 minute CD from 1998 features a fusion of techno and Tibetan music. The electronics are generally  hyper-but-in-restraint, while the E-perc remains persistent. The presence of ethnic instruments and raga percussives entice the melodies into meditative regions, producing a strange coupling of far eastern transcendental and eastern dance music.

Female vocals swim in the songs, lending an emotional content to the normally cold (but interesting) tuneage.

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CYBERNAUT: Hydrophonics (CD on Magick Eye Records)

This 62 minute CD from 1998 features some very tasty sans-vocal techno music. The velocity is frantic and the electronics are equally frenzied. Nests of compelling E-perc billow amid the mix, propelling the rhythms with insistence and verve.

Hidden in this electronic compression are elements of psychedelic, Harthouse, and trance. These influences slide between the barrage of notes, flavoring the tunes with modern sensibilities and a technological edginess.

This is the kind of music that digs into your brain with intangible sonic spikes, targeting your dance-center and triggering compulsive body motions without the instruction of the listener's forebrain.

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MICRONAUT: Micronaut (CD on Positron! Records)

Take a liberal dose of surging electronics, cyclic riffs and computerized cleverness, and inject a profusion of luscious E-perc rhythms. Fuse these waves and beats until the mix is a compression of compulsive dynamics. The presence of lecturers as vocal content lends this music a quasi-instructional quality.

Lurking in the techno fever is a dose of funk, supercharged to the point of explosive enthusiasm. Even when the acceleration factor is reduced to a twitching sedation, the music retains an edge of enervation that can be recognized beneath the undulating tremors.

The frenzied electro-pulses of "Send in the Clones" is quite exhausting, featuring no pause or break as the notes spill into view, crowding the air with their synthetic charm. When the E-perc goes overt, the piece becomes even more relentless, punctuated with sweeping alien chords that slice the sonic density with squealing verve.

The Arabesque flair of "12 Minutes" swims in a turgid pool of hyperactive E-perc and outer space effects, generating a bridge between the Middle East and the far reaches of other planets.

While "Black Hole" displays a ponderous opening that gradually spirals with tender melody into an ultimate collapse, drawing in the listener with an unarguable attraction.

It's tuneage like this that puts the hyperspeed in the rave, electrifying the dancefloor and transforming the dancers' every gasping breath into a desperate attempt to keep their bodies oxygenated enough to perpetuate the exertion.

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MICRONAUT: Io (CD on Positron! Records)

This 2000 release features 57 minutes of high energy electronic music dedicated to an examination of Io, Jupiter's volcanically active moon.

The first track, "Fifty Feet", lands on Io, complete with NASA descent countdown and gradual BPMs.

From there, the rhythms grow in tempo, as "Infrared" scans the lunar body with inquisitive melodies, sinuous E-perc and swimming electronic keyboards.

The rhythmic velocity increases with "Hi Gain", adding bass pulsations to generate a surging quality to the frenetic tuneage.

With "Ioncannon" the music incorporates digitally treated vocals and an interplay of keyboard riffs, straying into hip hop turf.

"5x5" takes a more sedate turn, blending previous elements like technical vocal snippets and serpentine electronics and languidly agitating E-perc.

This slides into the cosmic chill of "Cold Water", stirring the melody with muted pulses and underwater vocal effects and high-end capering riffs.

"No Go No" possesses a cautionary quality with a sense of dramatic desperation injected to the electronic riffing and uptempo E-perc. Further vocal samples of a transmission nature enhance this tension.

With "Dig This" the music goes down-and-dirty for some frantic dancing on the icy surface, delivering rapid chords and smooth electronics with celebratory abandon.

The mission culminates with "Fly By", a quirkily tempoed taste of space funk that generates an erratic orbital appraisal of the moon's curious attributes.

"Northern Style Kung Fu (Drunken Master Remix)" deviates from the scientific project for a high-energy return to Earthly culture merged with spastic dance sensibilities.

Flowing together into an ongoing sonic investigation, this music is thoroughly engaging for both the mind and other extremities.

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