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The Engaging Electronic Music of Bil Vermette

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BIL VERMETTE: Voyager (CD on Rainforest Productions)

This release from 1994 features 66 minutes of cosmic electronic music.

Helping Bil Vermette on this recording is Gary Vermette on guitar.

Crystalline electronics provide a soothing foundation for direct melodies that are intimately delineated on keyboards. E-perc enlivens the music, but without crashing frantic tempos. The harmonics and rhythms intertwine softly, generating unhurried songs that are quite tender and engaging. Subtle electronic embellishments produce a languid cosmic flair to the melodies, carrying the audience to far-flung galactic vistas where the riffs encircle the listener with luxurious cocoons of shimmering sound.

The space guitar adds a subdued fiery presence that dispels shadows while remaining a contributory aspect rather than bursting to the forefront of the music.

While the majority of tracks here are short (averaging four minutes), this release features two longer pieces: “Silent Regions” in which Vermette explores a slowburn progression from ambience to a mounting frenzy for fourteen minutes; and the title track, wherein Vermette applies a dramatic tension to his euphonious style, resulting in a 24 minute approximation of an astral tour of our solar system that culminates with a triumphant exodus into the interstellar void.

A nice thing about Vermette’s style is that he concentrates on the melody instead of burying it with a horde of overtracking. This focus results in clearcut tunes that do not become distracted by any auxiliary elements.

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BIL VERMETTE: Emocean (CD on Rainforest Productions)

This release from 1995 features 60 minutes of aquatic electronic music.

This time, Bil Vermette augments his keyboards, synthis, and electronic and acoustic percussion with Gary Vermette on guitar, Tom Kastle on dulcimer, bazouki, bass, and acoustic percussion, and Chris Kastle on more acoustic percussion.

Here, the music explores watery terrain, applying cosmic sensibilities to liquid subjects, resulting in a very dreamlike excursion.

Drifting electronics flourish and expand like growing pools of sound. Keyboard riffs are less overt, submerged in nebulous textures that ooze with sedate sentiments. Chords saturate themselves with other instruments, soaking into them and transforming into new identities that churn the waters with their solemn vibrations.

The guitar is similarly more subdued. When it blazes (and it certainly does), the guitar resonates from a distance, evoking a remote solitude for the listener. Mournful, almost sad chords drift across the marine landscape, touching the audience’s soul like forlorn siren calls.

Percussion plays a vital role in only a few tracks, and often relegates itself to a subordinate capacity, tickling rather than propelling the songs.

Again, the bulk of the tracks are short and succinct (four to six minutes long); the exceptions being “Dreams Awake” which exemplifies a decidedly more ambient direction than the rest of the music, and “Dark Passage” which mixes ominous overtones with a murky beauty.

A sense of reverence dominates this tuneage, resulting in a more passive delivery and calming resonance. While definitely emotional, the passion in this music lurks as a secluded observer, more parental than aloof.

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BIL VERMETTE: Geophobia (CD on Rainforest Productions)

This release from 1997 features 50 minutes of earthy electronic music.

For this release, the personnel return to the two Vermette brothers, with Bil on electronics and percussion and Gary on guitar.

The introduction of basic percussion (to some tracks) and a depth of solid electronics (in all) lends this music a dense feeling. One hesitates to call it “rock” oriented, despite the obvious pun with the geological nature of the songs, but the sound is more well-rounded and explores grittier terrain than Vermette’s prior releases. Whatever classification you choose, the compositions soar with greater power and a wider appeal this time.

A variety of electronics (growling pools of darkness, glistening fogs, agitated surges of crackling energy) seep and flow, providing poignant backdrops for the keyboard-directed riffs. Although piano provides a dramatic flair at times, the gist of the chords revolve around synthetically sourced sounds, many of which achieve a startling crispness that reaches far beyond basic auditory responses, triggering emotional attachments with the airy textures.

The guitar flourishes at all the right points, tweaking placid passages with a remote wail and churning tension-riddled moments with a haunting quality. Resounding with a sustained space rock edge, the guitar riffs smolder and seethe, displaying their own molten fury.

This music swells with an immense zest and stamina, evoking grand landscapes filled with breath-holding histrionics. Even when the melodies reduce their fervor, a sense of anticipation still exudes from every loving harmonic.

Highly recommended for those searching for electronic music brimming with rewarding impact.

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