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Tim Blake: Cosmic Music

Let's step into the WayBack machine for a moment. In the Seventies, Tim Blake sometimes went by the name High T Moonweed and he was a member of Gong (the version of Gong responsible for the classic Radio Gnome trilogy), contributing a crystalline style of electronics that transformed the electronic genre forever.

During the early Eighties, Blake joined Hawkwind (the masters of space rock) for a brief period, tempering their sonic attack with his delicate synthesizers.

Back in the present, we find that Blake has pursued a solo career (off and on) for the last three decades. His muse has been elusive, though, luring him to record new music only when his creativity had something fresh to express.

It is not their rarity that makes Blake's releases so special, it is the man's unique sonic vision. Steeped in crystal machinery and flights of mystic fancy, his music is exceptional and spiritually rewarding.

For more data on Tim Blake, check out Crystal Island

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TIM BLAKE: Crystal Machine (CD on Voiceprint Records)

This debut solo release from 1977 features 38 minutes of prime solo music by Blake.

Delicate drones swirl to form a pool in which higher-pitched sounds can bloop and beep to a relaxed tempo. The electronics manifest as fragile vibrations, tones that might be damaged by a stray breeze. The gurgling breathing of cheerful insects surges as an undercurrent.

The next track presents a livelier pace with frantic E-perc (sounding like synthesized wood blocks) dueling with liquid basslines while complex keyboards go through melodic convulsions.

The third track is live from 1976. Mellow electronics of simplistic nature circle the listener, cajoled by a brief vocal repast.

The next track is live from 1977 and possesses a tasty 15 minute dose of Blake's sparkling electronics. Frolicsome ambience leads to swifter passages as pleasant-but-shrill keyboards explore an engaging melody. As the piece progresses, the electronics grow denser and more emphatic, racing to outdistance themselves.

The last track is a brief collection of surging pulsations that build in volume and intensity...and then are gone.

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TIM BLAKE: Magick (CD on Voiceprint Records)

This release comes from 1991. It is live in France and lasts for 56 minutes.

By this point, Blake's crystal machines have continued their nonorganic growth, expanding his crystal sound and deepening its tone while retaining a shimmering vivacity. The delicacy of the electronics has become tinged with a mystical awe. The tuneage this time acts like an interface between earthbound spirits and the heavens.

Vocals attribute specific sentiments to half of the songs. Blake's voice is tender and soft as he waxes lyrical on affairs of the human heart and the quest for inner peace.

During these vocal passages, bass tones and sultry E-perc enter the mix to establish stronger rhythms. The electronics grow more complex and hyper, with effects shooting in from the side. Amid this density, playful keyboards wander through variations with evident joy.

It is during the instrumental compositions that Blake's true gift shines. The moods he captures with his harmonic synthesizers are testaments to the charm of ascension through clouds to reach mystic circles. Energetic rhythms undulate in concert with lilting chords and soaring tones to produce sonic states of expanded consciousness.

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TIM BLAKE: The Tide of the Century (CD on Voiceprint Records)

Released in tandem with the new millennium, this 44 minute CD represents Blake's observations of one century cresting into the next. This music examines the dichotomy between mankind's civilized and unbridled natures, not in conflict, but in contrast.

The electronics are sweetly clear, sparkling like snowfall against a stark night sky. These electronics dominate, but display themselves in comfortable union with relaxed E-perc, and classical piano. Hordes of curious sounds squirm in the mix, lending a playfulness to the dreaming music.

Vocals play an essential role in these tunes, whether they be crooning about the promise of the future (in the title track), or lamenting mankind's inhumanity (in "Sarajevo"), or the reggae edge of the background rap during the jazz-injected strains of "Tribulations".

The track "Byzantium Dancing" exhibits wondrous sonic evocations with its denser electronics, thumping bassline and more active E-perc.

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CYRILLE VERDEAUX: Clearlight Symphony (CD on Clearlight Music) Clearlight Music

Before we leave this overview of Tim Blake's music, look at what the WayBack machine has brought back with us by mistake!

Originally released in 1973 as Clearlight Symphony's first album, time saw this record swallowed by obscurity and commercial aloofness. But now, in the new millennium, we find that this classic recording has finally been reissued on CD, affording everyone exposure to what could be one of the finest electronic trance recordings from the last century.

Clearlight Symphony was the brainchild of keyboardist Cyrille Verdeaux. Contributing to the 41 minutes that comprised the symphony's two movements were: Tim Blake, space guitarist Steve Hillage (who now records under the techno identity System 7), Didier Malherbe on cosmic saxophone (all from Gong), Gilbert Artman (the jazz percussionist who masterminded Lard Free and Urban Sax), French guitarist Christian Boule, and bassist Martan Isaacs.

While the symphony's main theme presents itself via grand piano and dramatic synthesizers, belting out riffs with superior majesty and breathtaking passion, the other instruments cavort in an underwater ballet, enhancing the central melody with deliberate grandeur. Their harmonies intertwine to merge like different colored oils swimming through a waterfall, producing astounding crescendos with considerable frequency throughout the composition.

For those who are interested: do not confuse this version with the Clearlight Symphony II release (on Mantra Records), which features alternate (and live) recordings of the actual symphony.

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