Groove Unlimited is an electronic music label based in the Netherlands. Their releases span numerous aspects of the EM genre, from space music to Berlin School to ambient to decidedly individualistic stylings. The common element, though, is that all their releases are remarkably entertaining and vibrantly engaging. The following reviews examine this sparkling diversity.
RUDY ADRIAN: Concerts in the USA (CD on Groove Unlimited)
This CD from 2003 features 62 minutes of live electronics recorded on New Zealander Adrian's 2002 tour of the United States.
Adrian's electronic music tends to run on the atmospheric side, employing tranquil textures to create soundscapes of ambient demeanor. Although this profile fits many of the tracks on this live release, there are frequent instances of substance rising from the mysterious sonic mists. Passages of heavenly stature, lilting with a Vangelis flair, embellish the fragile compositions with tender melodies that evoke an intense longing and geological loneliness.
As the music progresses, its ambient qualities become submerged in a density that employs livelier riffs and more stratospheric harmonies. Even when the tuneage reverts to more tranquilized terrain, the melodies carry a somber power that transcends their apparent serenity, stirring sentimental connections between the listener and their environment.
Each track is culled from a different concert, defining location through a musical study of indigenous locales, as in the flutish portrait of "Rock and Junipers" from the Arches National Park in Utah, and the urgent sequencing of "Rail Corridor" from his Rocky Mountains performance.
The final track on the CD comes from one of Adrian's homeland concerts, providing an exotic contrast to his sonic interpretations of the American scenery.
CAN ATILLA: Live (CD on Groove Unlimited)
This CD from 2003 features 64 minutes of electronic music recorded live at the Ankara International Music Festival in May of 2002. Attilla's electronics and drumming are accompanied by Murat Yucel on electric and classic guitars.
Of Turkish ancestry, Can Atilla explores electronic territory in the footsteps of Tangerine Dream and Jean Michel Jarre, flavoring those influences with his own uniquely lively sensibilities.
Dense keyboards belt out rapidly structured riffs with a frenetic passion, immediately drenching the audience with melodies that surge and cascade full of vigor and stamina. Sequencing provides lavish, growling underlayers for the emphatic keyboards. A variety of clever electronic effects flavor the music with astral airs.
Powerful percussion swiftly propels the music to epic proportions, adding larger-than-life rhythms that explode with authority. A sense of compelling grandeur is achieved, a majesty that expands with each passing minute.
Fiery guitar-work embellishes the already hyperactive music, injecting ardent fury and cosmic demeanor.
Possessing strong Tangerine Dream influences, Atilla forces an escalation of dazzle from those roots, generating tuneage that is huge and impressively masterful. His audience reels before the sheer power of his music, dazed by its commanding presence and entranced by its engaging melodies.
To call this CD amazingly satisfying is a gross understatement.
RON BOOTS: Dreamscape (CD on Groove Unlimited)
This 2003 reissue of Boots' debut CD release from 1991 features new material added to flesh out the disk to a total of 77 minutes of luxurious electronic music.
Deeply resonant keyboards sweep across nebulous fields of icy electronics, delivering their pensive harmonies with stately elegance and shimmering demeanor. The electronics span a variety of tones, from reed-like whistles to rumbling bass undercurrents. Often glistening like a frozen rainfall, delicate chords flourish into delicate melodies, intertwining and mating with emerging riffs. Graceful E-perc rhythms blend with heavenly textures, producing an uplifting sound that never grows demanding. The resultant sedation is peppered, though, by the festive quality of the compositions, embodying the music with a soft stamina that bolsters as it lulls.
There is a majestic property to this music, one that converts elongated soundscapes into ecstatic panoramas of inspiring sound. Boots' melodies are soothing, but infused with a restrained grandeur that tickles the mind with portends of greater things.
The "Dreamscape Part II" piece is culled from a night-long spontaneous live recording by Ron Boots, Bas Broekhuis (who provides drums on another track), Ron Doesborg, and Eric van der Heijden. It features a spoken text track in Esperanto by Desiree Derksen.
This classic release affords fans the opportunity to experience the roots of Boots' music, revealing that the man started his career with a deep reverence to the Berlin School of Electronics, but had already established a distinctive style that he has continued to evolve and refine over the last thirteen years.
VOLT: The Far Canal (CD on Groove Unlimited)
This CD from 2003 features 60 minutes of modern Berlin School electronics.
VoLt is: Steve Smith and Michael Shipway, a pair of Brits who exhibit tasty talents rooted in the retro, Berlin School sound.
Let's visit Mars. Look--the tour is taking us to examine one of the Martian canals, those immense chasms that mysteriously crisscross the surface of the Red Planet.
The sonic journey begins softly, with a passage of ethereal atmospherics. This nebulous definition is swiftly swept into masterfully sequenced melodies that radiate with power and surging riffs. Cycled chords encircle us, while electronic textures establish a hazy backdrop of twinkling starfields and the somber darkness interplanetary space. Intricate keyboard patterns emerge, swimming in an aerial ballet that provides its own rhythms without the application of percussion.
Sweeping arcs of sparkling sound descend toward the crimson landscape, bringing us within touching distance of the great terrain. These dreamy tonalities are punctuated by unhurried synthetic beats which decelerate our plunge, imbuing this section with a heavenly grandeur that evokes the majesty of this desolate locale with a gradually accreting sonic density.
The final track commences with a flurry of space-age effects, blending gurgling radio signals with the rising hiss of a jet exhaust. After a stretch of quasi-romantic expression delineated by pleasantly shrill synthesizers, this trajectory transports us into a thick nest of active electronics and nimble-fingered keyboards. The sequencers produce a lush tapestry of engaging riffs peppered with upwardly-mobile locomotive tempos generated by rapidly compressed keyboard notes. The tune becomes more vigorous with insistent melodies and soaring embellishments of bubbling consistency. The crescendo is certain to dazzle us with its sonic strength and emotional prestige.
Of the CD's three tracks, the first two are in-studio creations, while the third (and longest track, at 24 and a half minutes) was recorded live. Although comprised of improvised performances, this music exhibits strong coherence and impulsive melodics that evolve into quite stirring experiences.
ERIK WOLLO: The Polar Drones (CD on Groove Unlimited)
This CD from 2003 features 69 minutes of energized ambience.
Norwegian Erik Wollo combines the atmospheric qualities of Geir Jenssen (aka Biosphere) and American ambient maestro Steve Roach with his own individualistic arctic spin, generating soundscapes that are lavish but hardly understated.
Icy textures float like shimmering clouds overhead, while crystalline keyboards enunciate delicate harmonics that convey a pleasant frigidity. These electronics do more than simply evoke arctic landscapes, they convey strong tactile impressions that transform this music into a full sensory experience.
Exalted percussion provides congenial rhythms for this sparkling electronic tapestry. Nimble tempos inject an energetic flair to the even-tempered flow, attributing the ambience with a compelling verve.
Despite their languid nature, Wollo's compositions are passionate and gripping. He creates a dreamy serenity that is laced with a sense of tension infused with a softly seething power that remains unintrusive, but is impossible to ignore. His melodies are often considerably more complex than drifting atmospheric structures, peppered with invigorating passages that uplift and open one's mental eyes to intangible beauty.
Some of this music was originally made for TV documentary films for polar expeditions, while other tracks were used as background music for the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in 2002.
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