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Modern Electronic Music: Adrian Stone, Victor Cerullo, Pascal Comelade & Richard Pinhas, Lobe, Remotion, Der Spyra

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Contemporary electronic music comes in many forms.

One of these forms can involve lots of melody and surging power that elevates and catches the breath with its engaging harmonics.

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ADRIAN STONE: The Dream Captain (CD on Adrian Stone Records)

Adrian Stone is Tony Kendrick (with some additional bass by Dylan Kendrick and Mel Holida).

Get ready for 42 minutes of trance inducing guitar floating on a sea of ambient electronics.

The guitars (electric and acoustic) are the real stars in these instrumental songs, delivering haunting riffs that are as rich with emotion as the backdrop is steeped in sedate atmospherics. Granted, sometimes the backdrop surges with distinct showings of aggression, but the overall tone is always kept in check and paced to invigorate rather than irritate.

Percussives are present but hardly evident.

Meanwhile, some of the guitars are enhanced and warped by treatments, rendering the instruments into untraditional identities so they can sneakily embellish the music with further strangeness.

The compositions are clear and tasty, relying more on structure than cycles or overlapping textures. Most contemporary electronic music tends to feature over-treated guitars, but Adrian Stone concentrate on maintaining the guitars' classical timbre, applying these chords to ethereal melodies. This difference makes for a remarkably refreshing listen.

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VICTOR CERULLO: Loneflyer (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This 55 minute CD from 2000 features music inspired by Richard Bach's "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" novel. (Also included are new versions of two pieces from Cerullo's "Ludus" debut CD from 1998.)

As a result of this inspirational springboard, one can expect samplings of seagull cries to appear amid the electric gurgling and symphonic keyboard rushes. While the emphasis is definitely on harmonious flight, the music frequently strays into more active territory with E-perc and dynamic riffs. From flutish notes to rich astral tones, there is quite a versatility of sounds going on in this pleasant music.

Cerullo's style of contemporary electronic music blends traditional synthesizer tones with modern, more rhythmic structures. Sinuous keyboards accompany atmospheric airs, excellently achieving the mood of flight and the loneliness of birds aloft.

The melodies are engaging and dramatic without being hyper or intrusive.

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PASCAL COMELADE & RICHARD PINHAS: Oblique Sessions II (CD on Les Disues du Soleil et de l'Acier)

This 46 minute CD from 2000 is a very strange collaboration between Pascal Comelade and Richard Pinhas (aka Heldon) recorded in 1999.

Comelade's peculiar style is influenced by his penchance for plastic guitars and toy pianos. This eccentric instrumentation is also augmented with electric organs and grand piano.

Pinhas' guitar virtuosity has been international legend since the Seventies, and here his nimble fingers and looping sustain is (as always) superb.

The contrast between Comelade's simplicity and Pinhas' complex snarl creates a firm union in this music however. Comelade's hesitant pickings and fanciful keyboard chords produce a nervous tension that flows nicely with Pinhas' growling textural drone. Although the tracks are generally sedate, they seethe with supercharged sound, setting ambient teeth on edge as they mesmerize with cosmic layers of shimmering tuneage.

Also appearing and supplying electronic airs on one track is David Cunningham (aka The Flying Lizards in the Eighties).

Another oddity on this CD is a very astral version of Brian Eno's classic track "Here Come the Warm Jets".

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LOBE: Hibernation (CD on Swim Records)

Lobe is Ian Hartley.

The mode is lively electronic ambience on this 60 minute release.

Waves of sinuous E-perc accompany the synthesized melodies as they wobble through frozen valleys, emerging into the arctic night to cavort with furred BPMs and subdued techno sensibilities. Hissing pulsations exhibit alternate vibrations under Hartley's direction, churning with the buzz of extraterrestrial machinery.

Although tempos play heavily in these compositions, an airy pace is generally maintained. Riffs ricochet with the slow determination of neutrinos in a particle accelerator. Sonic intersections produce variations that spiral into lusher moods. Often, keyboard electronics are triggered with percussive rapidity, generating rhythmics that twinkle with harmonious impact.

This music is too energetic to be considered ambient, but then its beats are too luxurious to classify as dance music. The melodies can be frantic, but their sedate delivery yields a chilling smoothness that leaves a pleasant afterglow with the listener.

A distinct edge of intelligentsia is present that lifts these compositions to a rarefied height, placing Lobe's music beyond meditation and firmly breaking ground in the union of mind and machine.

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REMOTION: Between Fiction and Reality (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This debut CD by Remotion (aka Dutchmen Richard Stuij, who does the composing and overall performing, and Arjan Steenbergen, who supplies engineering and additional drums and effects) features 71 minutes of relaxing electronic music shot with edge and powerful rhythmic sensibilities.

Inspired by Berlin School roots, Remotion spurn computer sequencing. Their live-in-studio recordings rely upon nimble fingers and appealing melodies. E-perc plays a delicious part in that structure, propelling the dreamy passages into more dynamic territory with sinuous and alluring tempos that remain subdued despite their motivational purpose.

Sighing tones of a peaceful nature tremble in the wind, soaring on breezes stirred by a slow-building core of melodic chords and fanciful riffs. By the time the percussives enter, the listener is lulled and primed for a journey into livelier regions. Borne on this rhythmic foundation, active keyboards ooze into the mix to unfurl complex riffs that intertwine with each other, generating a lush panorama of compelling tuneage. Upon achieving an emotional euphoria, the sonic mass dwindles, receding into minimal codas that bridge each separate track.

While each track exemplifies a compositional command, producing interesting melodies that tickle the mind with their playful nature.

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DER SPYRA: Home Listening Is Killing Clubs (CD on Manikin Records)

Mixing dreamy electronics with enticing E-perc, Spyra deliver 71 minutes of extremely appealing tuneage on this 2000 release, highly charged with rhythm and catchy melody.

Haunting electronic effects share the stage with tender keyboards. Guided by a sinuous synthetic percussive drive, this music strays beyond a sense of dreaminess, plunging the listener into a realm of calm that edges on compulsive. The tempos sway and weave, drawing in the listener's attention with subtle attraction.

Music such as this occupies a shadowy region between dance and space music. The sentiments of trance are subdued, but the music cannot fail to compel the audience to move their extremities in time to the sensual pulses and percussive interplay.

Rhythms blend, accruing complexity yet maintaining a relaxed posture. Each synthesizer riff enhances the mix, lifting this music far above standard techno, while grounding it in a European moodiness. This fusion exhibits a shrewd majesty that is difficult to question or ignore.

It is not surprising that experiencing music of this quality in your living room will compete heavily with any local club scene.

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