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Electronics: Mike Andrews, Fanger & Schönwälder, Mike Metlay, Under the Dome, Different Skies Sampler

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MIKE ANDREWS: Time & Science (CD on Neu Harmony)

This release from 2003 features 63 minutes of majestic electronic music.

A windswept void becomes the stage for a host of heavenly synthesizers. Delicate keyboards sparkle like radiant gems in a mysterious sky. Sweeping chords generate a regal disposition as the melodies rise from a timepool of crystalline clarity. Pleasant textures provide a congenial backdrop for swooping chords and glittering sounds of scientific promise.

A more substantial presence appears by track five, and the music grows demonstrative, exerting E-perc rhythms and riffs that achieve a horn-like elegance. This peppier mode endures for a while, with snappy tempos and jubilant harmonies that evoke uplifting moods as the music sways and pirouettes across the night sky. Multilayered keyboards establish heavenly textures comprised of softly shrill tonalities.

The timbre of these notes are directed away from baser concepts: upward and outward. While introspection is not precluded, the intent of this music is one of expansion, filling the environment with its inspiring demeanor and opening vistas of perspective that are normally hidden from everyday awareness. It's like the tuneage possesses the power to open intangible eyelids which the listener did not know they had, revealing a subtextural reality that bestows a spectacular sunrise with even more grandeur.

Fans of Vangelis and Jean-Michel Jarre will appreciate this release.

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FANGER & SCHÖNWÄLDER: Analog Overdose 2 (double CD on Manikin Records)

These CDs from 2003 feature 157 minutes of Berlin School excellence by Thomas Fanger and Mario Schönwälder.

Delicate keyboards trickle like crystalline waterfalls cascading over humming amplifiers, establishing a pastoral mood for the electronic loops to come. Sounds surge into prominence: majestic tones punctuated with lilting atmospherics and gurgling machine noises. A melodic presence emerges from this ambient soundscape, as notes organize themselves into harmonic sequences, cycling to generate an ascendant demeanor. Heavenly keyboards swarm overhead as riffs coalesce, forming an enticing fog around the listener's shoulders. Accreting strength with each loop, the music pursues this slow-build fashion to immense altitudes, creating a fervor that is both gentle and vibrant. Flutish keys flavor the mix, as the melodic backbone adopts more demonstrative expression. The music grows more powerful, unfurling its undulating sequences like a regal serpent with a multitude of grinning faces. Keyboard strokes become more forceful, providing a subtle rhythmic quality for the encircling chords. Stratospheric tonalities frequently surface, turning the sonic traveler's attention away from any earthly origins as the audience is lifted to heavenly perspectives. Less conventional sounds enter the mix, injecting otherworldliness to the now-dense melody. And this is just the first track--33 of the entire 157 minutes featured on these splendid disks.

This analog plethora is an overdose of congenial effect, delivering hypnotic tuneage that does more than sedate, invigorating the mind with unexpected promise and exciting internal discoveries.

The second disk's music was recorded live at Liquidrom in Berlin, and the Futureworld Festival (with guitar by Ed Kurtz). Presumably both concerts were from 2002.

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MIKE METLAY: After Silence: Live in Denver (limited edition CDR on Atomic City, distributed by CD Baby)

On September 18, 2002, Metlay performed a solo opening set for a Rudy Adrian concert in Denver, Colorado. This 41 minute CDR documents that electronic performance.

Keyboard-driven tones create a gentle mood that floats like smoke, coalescing into emphatic tuneage that manages to remain soft and holistic. Delicate tonalities unfurl into complex sonic structures infused with vigor despite their fragile demeanor. Silence becomes a starting and returning point, as the music bridges consciousness with meditation. While some passages display a gritty earthiness, the majority of the performance is atmospheric and tenuous. Textures of crystalline vibrations engage in aerial contortions to achieve peaceful expressions of synthetic sound.

Only two of the five tracks utilize E-perc; the rest of the music being beatless but highly harmonious.

The melodies are pleasant and cheerful, injecting a mildly energized pep to the overall tranquillity.

Using no backing tracks or audio loops or computers, Metlay actively generates this music in realtime.

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UNDER THE DOME: Bellerophon (CD on Neu Harmony)

This CD from 2002 features 55 minutes of dynamic electronic music.

Under the Dome is: Grant Middleton and Colin Anderson.

Growling synthesizers share the stage with regal-timbred electronics. Deeply resonant tones twinkle amid vaporous masses of heavenly chords. Complex patterns generate a sonic landscape of exotic definition, resplendent with lively action and entertaining musical acrobatics. Slowburn tendencies are amply applied, producing lavish passages that elevate the audience to lofty altitudes. And once the perspective has achieved such heights, velocity and structure accelerate to create head-spinning harmonies.

E-perc is employed, although frequently the percussions are provided by rhythmic application of non-impact sounds, with rapid-fingered keyboard riffs cycling into beats that are warmly fuzzy. Such tempos are seductive with their fluid nature.

Touches of cosmic guitar lurk in this liquid music, firing up the sound with wailing trajectories that embellish the astral electronics to excellent pinnacles of ecstatic comportment.

Although much of this tuneage consists of drifting ascents, there are ample tracks that deliver strongly emotional peaks as the electronic threads coalesce to achieve frenzied intensity with frantic riffs drenched with an interstellar drama.

Space age phenomena are the subject of this instrumental music cut in the Berlin School style.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: Different Skies: Arcosanti 2003 (CDR on Atomic City)

Different Skies is an electronic music festival that combines live public performance with intense professional networking. Different Skies 2003 will take place at Arcosanti, a remarkable architectural site and artist colony in the Arizona high desert near Phoenix.

This CD is a sampler featuring tracks by the electronic musicians who will be attending and performing at this festival.

Included on this 75 minute CDR are tracks by: Dave Brewer, Mutation Vector, Tony Gerber (from Spacecraft), Sundagger, Cassiel, Etherium (featuring Giles Reaves from Spacecraft), Dweller at the Threshold, Xeroid Entity, Ma Ja Le, Tim Walters, Team Metlay (featuring Mike Metlay), and Ozone Player. Most of these tracks are culled from previous releases by the bands, the exceptions being: Sundagger, Tim Walters, and an unreleased selection by Ma Ja Le from a live set at Space for Music 2.

The music offered is varied, from overt electronics to soothing ambience. The common element, however, is a fore-thinking attitude, one that embraces the present mode of EM and applies futurist sensibilities to that genre, whether it be space music or ambience. Enjoyable and engaging, this collection is an excellent introduction to these artists.

People interested in the festival, whose public performances are being held on September 12 and 13, 2003, can go here to learn about Arcosanti.

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