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Electronic Space Music

Despite the unearthly nature of the genre, not all electronic music possesses an affinity with outer space. The following releases do though.

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PATRICK KOSMOS: Trance Neutral Zone (CD on Quantum Records)

Patrick Kosmos (aka Patrick Wille) delivers 59 minutes of powerful electronic music on this 1999 release.

Laced with cosmic guitar, electronics are the dominant factor in this music. After a suitably sedate beginning, the tuneage erupts with E-perc and lively synthesizers that choke the airwaves with enticing melodies. The structure of these songs differs greatly from average electronic fare in that the music is not comprised of overlapping textures. Instead, the music is crafted in a more rock mode, with heavy rhythms and active riffs that area already lush and powerful the second they appear.

This rock motif shows in several outbursts of savage guitarwork: searing and gutsy. As the E-perc grows more intricate and more assertive, the entire nature of this electronic music moves from trance into dynamic.

Not all the songs contained herein are as over-the-top, although that hardly decreases their immediate appeal. There's a fair share of ambience (that admittedly possesses more than its share of tempo) and even a few pieces that belong in the soundtrack of a European thriller film.

One track is recorded live at a Spanish rave festival. This piece exhibits that aforesaid textural style, generating layers and stacking them as the music continues. The result is still a shade more active than normal rave performances.

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PETE NAMLOOK & TETSU INOUE: Shades of Orion (CD on Fax Records)

Both renowned electronic composers in their own right, Namlook and Inoue join forces here to produce 70 minutes of outstanding trance music.

Moody and cosmic, this music employs melodic elements in a slow and extended structure to create long compositions that are constantly adding new textures to an already gradually evolving chorus of electronic cycles. There is a subliminal ascendant quality to the paths taken by this music, as each subsequent passage reaches for the next level of consciousness.

There will be a percussive presence, but it will remain sedate and unthreatening, compelling the melodies along with gentle rhythms. In sympathetic alignment with those tempos, the electronics will coalesce to form riffs that are almost techno in their flavor. These riffs will command the music for long periods, and while they never explode with any force, their energetic nature will be quite evident.

Each wave of evolution will be preceded by another gradual slowburn of galactic electronics, regal chords and chittering bleeps that evoke nebulas seething with the promise of new life. These waves will inevitably lead to newer riffs and alternate trance states.

The use of sampled voice in one track allows the trance E-perc to advance further into that techno region resulting in a distinct rave essence flooded with strobing wails.

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NEMESIS: Sky Archeology (CD on Freeride/Spinefarm Records)

Nemesis is Jyrki Kastman and Ami Hassinen. Based in Finland, they deliver 66 minutes of extremely spacey electronic music on this CD.

Taking apart the heavens with a scientific scrutiny, this music reconstructs constellations into dramatically droning soundscapes. Abstract tonalities blend with keyboard textures to produce an astral escape velocity wrought with tension and awe-inspiring revelation.

There are even percussive elements buried in the mix, attributing a slowbuilding rhythm to the music. By the time the space guitar begins its distant wail, the listener is already deeply immersed in a quantum trance and primed for the breathtaking ether ahead.

The melodies grow increasingly lush, overlaying numerous sequences and patterns to produce passages of dense complexity. A wide range of tones are utilized, giving each piece a versatile depth that superbly captures the majesty of outer space expanding around the audience. As riffs evolve and undulate, space is further defined for appreciation.

Masterful without being demonstrative, this tuneage is thoroughly entertaining and intellectually stimulating. The pieces possess the ability to fill the air with comfortable melodies that seethe with a restrained dynamic power.

Lightheadedness might be encountered while listening to this music, so cosmic is the mood, so compelling are the compositions.

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DAVID REEVES: In Starless Space (CD on Fax Records)

This CD features 60 minutes of spacey ambient music, often charged with a subdued energetic tendency.

Wavering tonalities wash over the listener, saturating them with abstract pulsations designed to approximate interstellar regions. Slurring keyboards enter the mix, lending a puffy rhythmic quality to the soundscape. Slowly, the nether sonic region is developing substance and character. NASA broadcasts begin to filter through the background, establishing a human presence in the void.

Cosmic furnaces burn with stoic resolve, complete with the erratic crackle of X-ray bursts. An alien bubbling is struggling to escape the mix. Then everything falls prey to an overt E-perc element that, despite its unhurried tempo, dominates the music with the aid of more sampled vocal broadcasts (often in non-English languages) and astronomical instructional lectures. Frequently, harsh electronic sounds are harnessed and employed to generate that percussive behavior.

Overall, the "music" is a curious fusion of atonal constructions and rhythmic waves, producing a unique sound that simultaneously favors both genres. This odd unity ends up excellently portraying outer space with an agitated calm.

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SOLAR MOON SYSTEM: Logbook '94-'00 (CD on Manikin Records)

This 74 minute CD charts the growth of Solar Moon System, members of which made their debut as guests and sonic duelists on Klaus Schulze's "Contemporary Works, Volume 1" (the ten CD set on Manikin Records). The material on "Logbook" spans the band's formative years, affording an intimate glimpse into the evolution of their innovative sound.

Solar Moon System approaches the genre of electronic music with a desire to fuse several traditional elements in a thoroughly modern way, blending the conventional Berlin School sound with rock instruments and a dub style laced with vocals.

Expect a bevy of synthesizers and keyboards and samplers and sound processors. But know there's a strong percussive presence too, meting out sinuous and powerful rhythms. Also be warned that you can expect severe guitar and sultry basslines. And rest assured, there are vocals aplenty: rapping, crooning, shouting, and even sampled background mutterings. Watch out: breaks are as thick as bees in a honey factory.

These elements are applied to a unique blend of modern electronic, dub hip hop, and power chord rock'n'roll. Not only do the songs meander between these genres, but they often represent each turf simultaneously in a startling fusion.

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