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Dense Electronics: Hypnosphere, Frank Klare, VidnaObmana

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HYPNOSPHERE: Within the Whirl (CD on Spheric Music)

This release from 2003 delivers 73 minutes of improvised dark electronic music.

Hypnosphere is: Lambert Ringlage (from Ramp) and Wolfgang Barkowski (aka Alien Nature). This collaboration brings together Lambert's Berlin School style of electronics with Alien Nature's dark ambient sensibilities, producing a very ominous result.

The darkness is conjured with smoldering tonalities, synthesized shadows that seethe and growl from a subterranean vantage. Waves of melodic sound emerge from this dark place, unfurling riffs in slow cycles that reach momentous and delightful proportion. Keyboards define the sonic substance with patterns of slowburning chords, reminiscent of Klaus Schulze circa the Seventies (if Schulze were playing inside a haunted house). Creeping into this stately panorama come weirdling tones, injecting mystery and awe tinged with tension and a hint of dread.

Passionate passages are reached after long stretches of dire portends. The audience is lifted from the darkness by soaring harmonics, which elevate everything above the gloomy clouds of earth to bask in the cosmic rays of free space. Such expansions and definitions are generally achieved without rhythmic accompaniment, although some tracks do employ a percussive presence.

These tracks clock in between 10 and 20 minutes in length, amply affording the progression of sound its dramatic ascension from hypnotic stress to jubilant expression.

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FRANK KLARE: Berlin Sequences (CDR on Syngate)

This CDR from 2002 offers 73 minutes of long-form electronic compositions.

Nimble-fingered electronics rule in this music, delineating cycles of furious sound with rapid succession and harmonic structure. As the loops progress, they accrete sidereal elements: ricocheting riffs, sparkling punctuation, E-perc threads...all merging into the mix with effortless ease. The whole swells, becoming demonstrative, yet retaining a dreamy quality. Chords intertwine to achieve greater definition, expressing melodies that continue their evolution with each new introduced sonic strata.

The appeal of long-form compositions lies in the unhurried nature of such music. Textures are comfortably established at a leisurely pace, gradually coalescing with newly added threads to change. Often, such mutations occur without the audience's notice, as a pulsating cycle undergoes subtle metamorphosis and reaches a lusher state. As sonic elucidation continues, the composition transforms as it grows, density serving to flesh out a thread until the new passage is strong and vibrant, and awaiting its next redirection. Complexity results in a most entertaining method.

Soft E-perc (generally of a bongo nature) embellishes this evolving music, attributing the looping sequences with an urgency that is never intrusive.

It is thoroughly appropriate that a CD entitled "Berlin Sequences" should be steeped in the Berlin school of electronics, pursuing the sound that exploded from Europe during the Seventies to influence the infant genre of synthesizer music. Klare's modern take on this hallowed style is more than a homage, his music is a satisfying outgrowth of this old heritage.

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VIDNA OBMANA: Spore (CD on Relapse Records)

This CD from 2003 offers 74 minutes of eerie electronic music. This release is the second installment of VidnaObmana's "Dante" trilogy (the first being "Tremor").

With this music, VidnaObmana (aka Dirk Serries) explores a more industrial realm (not unlike his noise sculptures from the early Eighties). The electronics are harsher, laced with an ominous touch that is normally lacking in his ambient compositions.

The ghostly electronics are familiar to Obmana's prior compositions, but these ethereal passages reside in an entirely different environment created by the desperate nature of the other instruments.

E-perc rhythms are wrapped in fuzzy coatings that buzz with the growl of unrestrained electricity. Strains of tortured guitar resound in the distance, growing nearer but always remaining just beyond grasp. Swarms of mournful flutes attribute a haunting edge to this ambient hostility, generating echoing textures of pain and regret. Bass strings are plucked with careful lassitude, providing a deadly rumbling to the dark mix.

"Dark" is apt but misleading when describing this music. The compositions are eerie and often ominous, but they also exhibit a dire optimism that strives to cast sunlight into chthonic regions of despair. The rhythms that wind through these haunting soundscapes are uptempo, but hardly upbeat. Despite this funereal demeanor, though, the percussives convey a positive stimulus, motivating the audience to loftier aspirations.

Joining Obmana on this recording are: Marc Verhaeghen (from Klinik) on trumpet on one track, and Joris De Backer on double bass and strings on two tracks.

Included on this CD is "Isolation Trip" (an 11 minute track previously available as a 7-inch single on Klanggalerie).

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