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Electronics: Thomas Fanger, Detlef Keller, Rob Papen, Thought Guild

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THOMAS FANGER: Parlez-vous Electronique? (CD on Manikin Records)

This CD from 2005 offers 77 minutes of energetic electronic music.

Synthesist Fanger is joined on this release by Klaus "Cosmic" Hoffmann-Hoock, Michael Potrafke, and Luna B.

A twinkling starscape erupts with cyclic beats and dense electronics, which swiftly evolve into a pulsating melody embellished by sidereal effects. Chugging diodes and sighing flutish keyboards join the mix, thickening the pastiche until the music literally throbs with complexity. Matching this intricacy, an escalation of drama overwhelms things, carrying the surging tuneage to even loftier altitudes. Each time you think it's reached its pinnacle, the music defies expectations and plunges even higher.

And that's just the first track, which clocks in at 19 minutes.

The rest of the album continues to push the envelope, striving for greater sonic thrills with hyperactive riffs and cosmic peaks that blaze with astounding glory.

Nimble-fingered keyboards are joined by wickedly searing guitar. Chords parade in an engaging spiral as e-perc emerges to generate steadfast rhythms of mesmerizing deportment.

The pace steps down to a softer realm for the third track ("Jungle Bar"), conjuring hypnotic passages of space guitar and dreamy mellotron (specifically, the Memotron).

A few short tracks ensue, delivering brief excursions of tasty delight, interrupted by a longer piece ("Velvet Beach") which explores grittier terrain with crashing surfs and melancholy guitar and phase-shifted electronics rich with nostalgic quality.

The CD concludes with "The Land of Milk and Honey", a nocturnal 16 minute composition that utilizes piercing flutish keyboards in conjunction with a distinctly teutonic demeanor. Harmonies ascend to incredible heights where they are peppered by sparse e-perc and astral guitar, resulting in a remarkable dose of ultimately satisfying proportion.

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DETLEF KELLER: Harmonic Steps (double CD on Manikin Records)

This release from 2005 features 137 minutes of gripping electronic music.

CD 1 features 74 minutes of "Electronic Steps" which exhibit dazzling scope and sonic emotion. Electronics and e-perc conspire under Keller's direction to generate a lavish series of engrossing tunes, each unique and sparkling like a foot-shaped jewel on a panoramic beach. Generally, the pieces abandon Keller's normal slow-build approach and dive into gripping melodies with gusto and creative verve. Snappy tempos share the stage with driving sequencers and urgent keyboards. Each track explores a different contemporary EM fashion--one piece employs marching band style percussion to achieve a quasi-techno anthem, while another piece allows clear piano to lend a classical edge to the composition, while another's airy synthetic windwoods evokes a pastoral flair. This results in a tour de force of varied sounds, from retro Berlin School to New Age. Regardless of the style, though, a common dynamic unifies the songs.

CD 2 features 63 minutes of "Piano Steps" which continues the electronic pilgrimage. While the first track restricts itself to solo piano, later pieces embellish that approach with additional electronic instruments. For a while, the piano remains the nucleus, forefront and in command. Eventually, however, the piano retires, to be replaced by electrified keyboards. A high degree of vitality comes through, as Keller belts out tunes that convey a jovial enthusiasm. As things progress, symphonic instruments enter the mix, reinforcing a concert hall undercurrent in the music.

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ROB PAPEN: Day Dreamer (CD on Orange Music)

This release from 2004 has been reissued with bonus material and now offers 52 minutes of cheerfully delightful electronic music.

Having recorded for years with bands like Peru and Nova, Rob Papen goes solo with this debut release, delivering a tasty dose of uplifting EM that has roots in Biblical sources.

The electronics are crisp and inventive, exploring pleasant melodies crafted with crystalline execution and cheerful sentiments. Combining textural backdrops with poppy keyboards, contemporary electronics and nimble e-perc, the music luxuriates in a realm of positivism and entertaining tuneage. Keyboards drive the music, delving into melodic variations while auxiliary electronics maintain an engaging foundation. Flutish strains often infect the keys, imbuing the tunes with airy flairs that reach upward toward the life-giving sun.

Utilizing a playful compositional sense, Papen creates good-time melodies that are jubilant and appealing. His style tolerates no gloom or darkness, generating moods that sparkle with optimistic illumination. This dedication is refreshing and enjoyable.

The tracks are generally short (averaging 5 minutes), allowing Papen to explore the melodies without elongation. This compression serves to focus the music into gems of sonic luster. Only one track indulges in extension (clocking in at 11 minutes), and here this extravagance is worthwhile as the composition examines a sense of congenial tension that benefits from the opportunity to build without haste.

This reissue's pair of bonus tracks reflect the same slick appeal with resonant keyboards blending with elegant e-perc. One is a 9 minute piece featuring nicely uptempo tuneage of a highly engaging nature. The other is a 2 minute track of particularly heavenly design. The new packaging comprises an embossed case that matches the music's stately mien.

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THOUGHT GUILD: Continuum (CD on Harmonic Resonance Recordings)

This CD from 2005 offers 56 minutes of cosmic electronic music.

Thought Guild is Christopher Cameron and Gregory Kyryluk (aka Alpha Wave Movement), with Andrew Spurrier on e-bow guitar on one track.

Strap in for a cosmic journey that heads out into space and takes you to the depths of inner consciousness. This music combines celestial elements with contemplative ambience, resulting in highly engaging EM tuneage.

Pleasant tonalities provide a delicate backdrop for dreamy keyboards and astral electronics. Sparkling textures unfurl with infinite intentions. Nimble synthesizers generate a plethora of mesmerizing riffs that undulate and whirl, gently stimulating deep neurons with their sinuous patterns. Chords waft on celestial winds, goaded into looping sequences of crystalline beauty and embellished by meticulous human guidance. Lavish atmospherics surface and pulsate. Congenial riffs glisten as if airborne dew rode these synthetic notes.

E-perc plays a valuable role in this music, rendering comfortable propulsion that is durable without becoming intrusive.

Blending aspects of ambience with contemporary EM, Thought Guild injects a liveliness to their soft tuneage. The compositions are thoughtful and agile, while retaining an endearing fragility. American and European styles are fused to produce a global hybrid that leaves the Earth behind in its quest for galactic vistas lurking deep in cerebral terrain. decorative rule

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