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Electronics: Detlef Keller, Primitive Painter, Tranzit, Vapourspace

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DETLEF KELLER: Different Faces (CD on Manikin Records)

This CD from 2002 delivers 68 minutes of dense electronic music by Detlef Keller (whose frequent collaborations with Mario Schönwälder have made the pair's music a mainstay in the European electronic music genre and concert scene). Here, we get to hear Keller's solo accomplishments, which are purely and respectfully cut in the Berlin School of Electronics mode.

Densely layered textures emerge from darkness, drenched with somber sentiments and languid tonalities. The music gradually evolves power and structure with vibrating pulsations that lend rhythm, while the keyboard cycles accelerate with sportive determination. Light and airy tuneage grows more mature with each turn, becoming almost frenzied by the time E-perc appears to lend complexity to the driving sequencing. These slow-building patterns continue to amass vitality, as if questing for a stage of sonic divinity. When dormancy creeps in, it is only a prelude to greater velocity and loftier heights.

Atmospheric qualities lurk just beneath these energized passages, balancing the frenzy with a sense of sedate nobility. These pensive layers function as a viable foundation for the harmonics. They lay hidden while the music surges, but surface as tasty brides for the various stages of progression, offering breathing spaces between the mountainous peaks of ecstatic enormity. Stately electronics sustain the drama with heavenly sentiments and washes of super-charged current.

This release features only three tracks (two of which exceed 25 minutes each), allowing the melodies to flourish to incredible intensity.

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PRIMITIVE PAINTER: Primitive Painter (CD EP on Dead Digital)

This CD EP from 2002 offers 18 minutes of uptempo electronic tuneage in four tracks.

Joyful piano ushers the listener into a valley of subterranean beats. Soon a bevy of E-perc and choral sounds seep into the mix, expanding the landscape into a frigid tableau. An armadillo is playing in the snow.

Synthesized jew's harp reverberates in conjunction with nimble E-perc that grows hissier. Scraping sounds spiral into the altitude. Peppy progressions lead the audience into the depths of this urban mantra, where the meditation erupts with a pleasantly disruptive coda.

Hesitant E-perc and simplistic piano are accompanied by vocal samples denouncing the Cold War. Crystalline keyboards flitter with abandon, as the track enters a whirling conclusion.

More vocal samples growl along with the EP's final tune. Hyper E-perc and frolicsome electronics define a swinging melody that draws the listener into a mechanical womb, nurturing all with celebratory beats and a cheery cacophony of clashing keyboards.

Synth pop for the new millennium.

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TRANZIT: Tranz-Rapid (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This 2002 release features 75 minutes of the diverse electronic music of Tranzit (aka Dirk H. J. Nusink).

Deeply resonant electronics share the mix with airy tonalities and nimble, crystalline keyboards. Intricate E-perc lends compelling rhythms to the lush structure of these tunes. The synthesizers wail and warble, expressing pleasantly shrill riffs that invigorate as they entertain. There is a sparkle to most of the sounds utilized to create this music, a shimmer that is reminiscent of dizzying altitudes where the air is not rarefied but contains a euphoric concentration of oxygen.

While much of this music is dynamic and frolicsome, an ambient edge emerges every once in a while to pacify the audience. Even these sedate passages, though, possess a melodic presence, as delicate melodies are explored with a subtle pep and verve.

Mechanical overtones are tempered with rich humanity, producing music that is spacey but earthy.

A wide range of styles are displayed on this CD, from hyperactive Berlin School electronics to ambient passages to ethnic-tinged compositions that merge EM sensibilities with World Music. Besides showing Nusink's versatility, this variety makes this recording of interest to several genres.

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VAPOURSPACE: Sonic Residue from Vapourspace (double CD on Magna Carta Records)

Vapourspace is Mark Gage. This time, the trance master applies his dance treatments to a selection of progrock tunes culled from several Magna Carta artists. The truly amazing thing is that Gage added no performance to the remixes, deriving every nuance and variation from the original tracks' instrumentation.

The bands that receive this electronic reconstruction are: Attention Deficit, Niacin, Steve Morse, Explorers Club, Liquid Tension Experiment, Bozzio Levin Stevens, Steve Walsh, and Tempest.

The remixes inject a spacey quality to the intellectual passion of the progrock tuneage, transforming frenzy into hypnotic diversions that retain the basic melodies while straying with inventive intentions. Monstrous bass notes are stretched and contorted into trembling liquid shapes that wind through the mix like glowing serpents. Keyboards are subjected to grander proportions, until their resonance scrapes the roof of heaven. Percussives are multitracked to produce even more intricate rhythms. Guitars are coated with honey so that their riffs become sweetly glutinous. Often source instruments are mutated into completely unworldly sounds, filling the music with exotic flavor. These alterations are most evident on the Tempest track, where Gage transforms the band's Celtic sound into a thrilling cinematic excursion that is drenched with drama and hypnotic ascension.

This double CD offers before and after music, in that the primary disc features 66 minutes of Gage's technocratic remixes of songs that are offered in their original, untouched versions on the second disc (which clocks in at 65 minutes).

This second, "Originals" disc not only allows the listener to see what and how much Gage did to the tracks, but it also functions as an excellent introduction for the uninitiated to the type of solid progrock offered on Magna Carta releases.

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