When Tony Gerber isn't playing planetariums with the ambient electronic band Spacecraft, he's pursuing his sonic muse in solo electronic music. Truly, this man is driven to express his ambient self, luring you to join him in cosmic journeys of placid calm.
TONY GERBER: Blue Western Sky (CD on Lektronic Soundscapes)
This 1994 release marked Gerber's debut solo recording. Employing relaxing electronics, astral guitar, and luxurious harps, he delivers 62 minutes of extremely delicate soundscapes of definite melodic intention.
Soothing keyboard melodies mesh with tender guitar strains, whispering through skies that seem to stretch on forever. The keyboard-driven electronics are highly evocative of dewy mornings, replete with mists hanging low across the landscape. The guitars, often trembling with sustained qualities, speak of purpled horizons shrouded in those rising mists.
Sometimes the keyboards are sans electronic definition, delving into purely piano strains with somber results. For some tracks, a softly purring percussive element appears to stir the drifting harmonics without disrupting the flow. There are even instances when the guitar adopts an edgy air, soaring with luxurious riffs like a glorious sunrise.
The track "The Lunar Crossing" was recorded live during a lunar eclipse in 1992. Here, Gerber's languid guitar and harp stylings are accompanied by Spacecraft fellow Giles Reaves on atmospheric keyboards for nearly 11 minutes of nocturnal inspiration.
A distinct new age attitude exists in this music, dedicated to experiencing one's environmental surroundings more than retreating into introspection. Gerber's compositional sense touches the soul softly, urging a unity with the world around us through mellow passages of peaceful tuneage.
Recorded during a solar eclipse in 1987, the 38 minutes of music on this CD were improvised "at the moment" by Gerber on synthesizer, joined by William Linton on synthesizer and Mason Stevens on guitar.
TONY GERBER: Cosmic Flight (CD on MP3.com Records)
There are three tracks here, two of which are of long duration, allowing the music to evolve slowly and reach emotional pinnacles.
As implied by the CD's title, this music soars to convey the listener to interstellar vistas. Although hardly epic or dynamic, the compositions swell with a gradual ascendance, moving from pensive tonalities to heavenly atmospherics.
Softly droning electronics generate a foundation for hesitant keyboard chords and touches of processed guitar. As the music progresses, the structure rises to float overhead like a pulsing cloud of patience. Infrequent beats, solitary and used for emphasis rather than to create a tempo, punctuate the tranquility and hint of higher dramatics. As the harmonics continue to mount, electronic twinklings scamper through the lazy tones.
This music maintains a languid quality, drenching the listener with oracular shadows of sound.
TONY GERBER: Guitarscapes (CD on MP3.com Records)
This CD features 48 minutes of short tracks, a sampling of live and studio recordings from the Nineties. Although these pieces are guitar based (acoustic and electric), other instruments (ghostly trumpet, comfortably unintrusive drums, soft-spoken synthesizer, and sultry bass) lend an enhancement that expands their softly contemplative nature.
The music never rises to any urgency, preferring instead to stir the emotions with smooth melodies. The growl of electric guitar is subdued, functioning as an undercurrent for the strumming of acoustic guitar. The electronics provide an understated otherworldliness for the earthly moodiness.
These compositions generate a cafe atmosphere, bordering between modern folk and soft jazz. The absence of vocal content relegates the tunes to a background nature, softly colorful but never presumptuous.
This music fits the tone of a summer Sunday morning spent relaxing in bed, remembering the victories of days lost to memory.
TONY GERBER: Altamira (CD on MP3.com Records)
The 56 minutes of music on this CD portray an ethereal journey into prehistoric eras.
Pensive electronics wander through unspoiled pastures. Processed guitars embark on comfortable climbs up newborn mountain ranges, while acoustic strings delineate foothills thick with greenery. During the opening track, gentle percussives generate pre-tribal rhythms, evoking a heartbeat for the ancient panorama.
These pieces capture a time when our world was undisturbed by industrialization, uncrowded by civilization's mandates. Not even beasts perturb this tuneage with their primal presence. Nature rules here, from the distant rumble of electric guitars to the luxuriant melodies of synthesizers drifting over free fields of grain.
Although the overall tone is sedate, this music possesses a majesty that tickles the listener's psyche with visions of open landscapes and air worth enjoying with deeply appreciated breathes.
Averaging longer durations (from 6 to 12 minutes long), these compositions are enabled to produce somber sentiments which spread into livelier expressions.
TONY GERBER: Clearly Opaque (CD on MP3.com Records)
This release reflects an earlier period of Gerber's ambience, one focused primarily through synthesizers alone. Recorded in 1987, the 46 minutes of music possesses an atmospheric quality punctuated by density and periodic frivolity.
Gerber's electronics are tinged in some songs with romantic flute and mandolinesque guitar. Frequently the synthesizers unleash a gaiety with frolicsome sparkling tones that scamper like sunlight across a plain of angular crystals. Here, the moodiness is spoiled by anticipation as the auralscapes venture close to defined melodies of celebration. When percussive rhythms are present, they retain a muted tempo.
The general tone is one of discovery though. The compositions strive to banish shadows, to reveal hidden aspects of buoyancy. Whether the music adopts a giddy or somber nature, the hint of enlightenment is always dominant.
From the ping-ponging synthetic qualities of "Computations" to the breathing expansion of "To the Sky", the music exhibits this sense of emotional disclosure. While "Slim Elephants, Small Godzillas" progresses from ambient minimalism into mammoth surging...before dawn spills in to quiet the outburst.
TONY GERBER: Native Spirit (CD on MP3.com Records)
Recorded in 1989 and 1990, these 56 minutes display a dreamier side of Gerber's atmospheric music.
Sighing synthesizers stir the air with pensive soundscapes. Keyboards trigger soft electronic chords to drift downstream with unhurried sway. A mediaeval flair enters the music this time, as if wandering through green forests that exude a romantic charm.
While "Baba's Den" trembles with quirky but soothing E-perc, "Above the October Moon" employs a cyclic background for languid guitar strings to etch nocturnal clouds against a breathless void. "The King's Wishing Well" possesses a quasi-bagpipe element amid sobering tonalities, while "Cathedrals" examines a stonelike mood with layered keyboard sustains. "Caverns", the CD's longest piece at 10 minutes, holds a denser mood in which delicately shriller pitches trace the imperial growth of stalagmites.
These new age melodies unfold with a kind of reverence, caressing the soul without jarring the mind.
SPACECRAFT: Summer Town (CD on Space for Music Records) Space For Music Records
This recording features a single 55 minute long track that truly displays Spacecraft's improvised live electronic music. Here, Gerber is joined by Giles Reaves, John Rose, and Diane Simmons.
The music is generally soft and tranquil, promoting contemplation through the peaceful application of electronic drones and sensitive guitar, with the subtle addition of haunting flute, minimal percussives, and non-lyrical vocals. There are some passages in which the guitar strains with electronic fury, but the outcries are subdued with a tenderness that refuses to jar the audience.
Drifting with delicate sounds, the melodies evolve slowly, rolling from one cloudbank to the next. The result is atmospheric, yet still humanized in timbre. Quite decent music for meditation.
There is a distinct undercurrent that reminds the listener of the ambient jams by Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, or Ash Ra Tempel during the early 70s. This "old-time progressive" flair is transported into today's ears with modern sensibilities.
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