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The Spacey Electronic Music of Radio Massacre International

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Among British musicians who follow the banner of the Berlin School of Electronics, Radio Massacre International (Steve Dinsdale, Duncan Goddard, and Gary Houghton) has maintained a lead position for years, entertaining and dazzling listeners with their guitar-laced, rich electronics and the lush melodies that are produced by their live improvisational style.

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RADIO MASSACRE INTERNATIONAL: The God of Electricity (CD on Centaur Records)

Recorded in 1994 and predating "Frozen North" (the band's debut double CD, also on Centaur Records), this heretofore unreleased music has been overdubbed and added to, resulting in 60 minutes of outstanding electronic music.

Released in 2001, this CD constitutes one of the Northern Echo Archive Series, intended to afford audiophiles a glimpse into the formative years of RMI. This release stands as an expressive testament to the band's deep Berlin School roots.

This music displays all of the key elements that make RMI's music so gripping: dense clouds of looping sequencers, keyboard tones overlapping to produce swarming textures of seething atmospherics, searing space guitar, and sinuous rhythms generated by demonstrative synthesizer rolls.

Despite several very intense passages (featuring quite interstellar guitar pyrotechnics), the overall structure retains an ethereal quality which RMI has not indulged in for many years. Yet this music equally exhibits a conspicuous power that rattles the listener's synapses with compelling drama.

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RADIO MASSACRE INTERNATIONAL: Zabriskie Point (CD on Centaur Records)

This CD features 71 minutes of RMI's particular (and exciting) brand of electronic music. While the 11 minute title track dates from 1980, the rest of the material is from mid-1996, placing it immediately prior to their first concert at Jodrell Bank, much of which was released on their "Knutsford in May" CD (also on Centaur Records).

Released in 2001, this CD constitutes one of the Northern Echo Archive Series, intended to afford audiophiles a glimpse at an alternate sound from RMI.

Instead of RMI's signature dense sequencing, the musical temperament here is low key and very arid, with relaxed atmospherics ruling the sonic stage. Space guitar appears in dreamy mode, with layers of lazy, multi-processed slide chords echoing in the foreground, while serene keyboard notes drip from the ether heights to splash across a foundation of shimmering tonalities.

Not far from Death Valley, Zabriskie Point is a region in the California desert which has been a source of inspiration for countless creative talents over the years, including the members of RMI. The union of peaceful landscape and searing heat is excellently captured in this CD's music.

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RADIO MASSACRE INTERNATIONAL: Been There, Done That (CDR on Northern Echo Records)

It is important to realize that, for nearly every RMI release on Centaur Records, there exists a CDR release of material that was lamentably unable to fit on the band's regular releases. These CDRs are generally only available from the band themselves: at their concerts, or via RMI's Website.

This 68 minute CDR is a companion release to the band's live "Upstairs Downstairs" CD (on Centaur Records). It features a blend of live material spanning from 1995 through 1997, mixed together into a single 58 minute track. There is also a ten minute live track from 1997.

This fusion of various performances attributes the music with particularly varied scope, compressing numerous songs together to form a solid near-hour of the type of dynamic electronic music that has earned RMI's its modern reputation.

Drifting electronics are employed as the lead-in and subsequent backdrop for livelier synthesizer sequences. Numerous astral sounds and strange effects shudder through the mix, giving the flow an unearthly flavor. The melodies unfold without haste, gradually reaching a maturity that trembles with authority.

Essential to the RMI sound, space guitar echoes into play to blaze with severe passion. Each note is subjected to a quantum degree of sustain, resulting in a tone that wails with animal fury. There are also incidents of the guitar taking a more cosmic and dreamy stance (not unlike early Pink Floyd), twinkling with icy appeal.

RMI inject a distinct vigor to their slowbuild music, generating riffs that mutate into trance-inducing textures. Equal prominence is given to atmospheric airs and driving sequencer rhythms, creating tuneage that simultaneously mesmerizes as it invigorates.

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RADIO MASSACRE INTERNATIONAL: Startide (CDR on Northern Echo Records)

This private release represents a decidedly different sound for RMI. Recorded back in 1993, the 60 minute title track is a sonic impression by the band of several short stories by Larry Niven (particularly the Beowulf Schafer stories found in the "Neutron Star" collection of Known Space tales).

Foregoing driving sequencers and their rhythmic nature, the band produce a more experimental sound here. Reaching quite cosmic proportions, this tuneage heavily evokes deep space vistas in close orbit around interstellar anomalies and stars undergoing gravitonic collapse.

While the structure may seem abstract, it is far from aimless. Moody galactic passages sparkle with stellar bubbling, while eerie tones duplicate the desolate nature of the void. This tuneage flows with astral persistence, providing the listener with a celestial context for deep contemplation as the electronic textures melt into each other, seeming to stretch beyond hearing with quantum resolve.

Periodically, cosmic incidents occur within this ambient soundscape, bringing forth crunching electrons to resound amid the free drifting interstellar medium. Occasionally, the floating drones achieve a heavenly aspect, triggering unconscious emotional responses in the audience.

Also featured is "Monstrous Tides", another vintage piece that features a rare dose of vocal samples accompanying RMI's electronics.

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RADIO MASSACRE INTERNATIONAL: Planets in the Wires (CD on Northern Echo Records)

This 2002 release features 74 minutes of modern electronics in two long tracks.

Gradually emerging from shadow, this music reverberates with otherworldly moods. Atonal lead-ins are slowly subverted by sequenced patterns and harmonic flows of considerable charm despite the ominous overtones they display. Scorching guitar adds a passionate edge to these seething clouds. There are even hints of distant percussives lending dramatic rhythm to the atmospheric pulsations. A sense of cosmic awe is predominant.

Utilizing a slowbuild structure, this music rises to great heights with stately reserve. Once elevated to the precise altitude, though, the drifting textures erupt with cosmic force. E-perc enters, propelling the drift into interstellar velocity. Astral guitar injects blazing riffs into the roiling nebulas of eerie electronics, conjuring passages of ecstatic release. Making ample use of cosmic sustain amid nimble-fingered chords, these guitar acrobatics become quite breathtaking, feeding the audience relentless doses of sonic epiphany until each listener's head is bruised from repeatedly scraping against the ceiling of heaven.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: Is There Anybody Out There...? (CD on Champagne Lake Productions, in collaboration with Synth Music Direct and AD Music Limited)

For those who simply cannot get enough of Radio Massacre International's excellent electronic music, this 69 minute CD compilation of new material from 1997 is a gift from heaven.

The collection includes tracks by: Paul Lawler (aka Arcane), Redshift, Ashok Prema, David Wright*, T-Bass UK, Airsculpture*, Paul Ward, RMI*, Andy Pickford, and John Dyson. Although these tracks were all new at the time of this CD's release, several of them have subsequently appeared on the bands' individual releases. The above *s note which material remains unique to this compilation.

Overall, the tone of this sampling of electronic music is slick and mildly energetic: ambience with powerful substance.

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