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Haunting Electronics: 'Ramp, Surface 10

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'RAMP: Doombient 1: Verbrannte Erde (CD on Doombient)

This CD from 2003 offers 63 minutes of forbidding electronic music recorded live on August 17, 2002, at Kunstfeld-Feldkunst Visual Arts Performance, Dorsten, Germany.

'Ramp is: Frank Makowski and Stephen Parsick.

Renowned for their darkwave electronics, 'Ramp deliver a solid dose of eerie compositions with this release. The elements that comprise this music are dire expressions of impending oblivion, yet the tunes themselves evoke a spacey expansion that hints at imminent grandeur.

Vibrant pulsations rise from an ominous intro pool, interspersed with bristling percussives and crackling energy discharges. Gradually, each sound develops a shroud of buzzing shadow that allows the notes to merge and blur, generating a flowing melody propelled by sultry rhythms. Treated voices, sounding more like tortured bellows, sweep into the mix, ushering in a mood of disturbed jubilation that culminates with everything plunging into a vast echo chamber reminiscent of a submerged cargo hangar. Auxiliary treatments elongate the growlings into resonance that stretch from the audience into infinity.

From there, the sonic flow goes underwater with chugging mechanics that explode with spiny tempos of emphatic enthusiasm. Peripheral effects dog the mix, creating unbearable tension. A majesty emerges from this anxiety, spiraling into lofty altitudes that vibrate with reedy tonalities. Nimble riffs enhance this stratospheric passage, delineating serpentine patterns through nebulous depths, leading to greater thrills and breathtaking sonic tapestries designed to haunt and delight.

Few bands achieve this dazzling mastery of engaging electronic music laced with such appealing desperation and dark demeanor.

This CD comes in a metal case.

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SURFACE 10: Borrowed Time 2000 (CD on Space for Music Records)

This release from 2004 features 73 minutes of previously unreleased ambient tracks originating from 1994-1999.

Surface 10 is Dean De Benedictis.

Although generally more "ambient" than Surface 10's previous work, this music still exudes a definite body and vibrancy. The melodies are tense and designed to generate an undercurrent of anticipation. Several tracks break the passive mode, creating intense moments of majestic power.

Waves of galactic tones sweep through the air, buzzing and whirling to achieve a density born of ethereal consistency. Languid e-perc rhythms drift through these sonic clouds, urging melodies from relaxed textures. Gentle riffs emerge, twirling and spinning with a teasing velocity, to recede into the pleasant soundscape like elusive apparitions. Effects fade in and out, tantalizing as they enhance the flow with their brief appearance. Staccato chords waft through the weaving tonalities, while percussives periodically liven the mix with frolicsome beats.

Often, this music strays from its traditional ambient mold, exploring mildly more energetic territory that softy invigorates the audience with playful stretches. Always, though, the intention is to mesmerize and supplant the listener into a zone of increasing vastness.

According to De Benedictis, "This music is an outcry of longing for timelessness," and that disposition is excellently captured by his enduring compositions.

A talented mixture of airy tones and gritty effects conspire to agitate and pacify, maintaining an easygoing temperament that frequently stirs the audience from its hypnotic state. Uplifting riffs pepper the mellow atmosphere, producing enthralling crescendos amid the enticing soundscape.

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