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Electronics: Broekhuis, Keller and Schönwälder, Create, the Omega Syndicate, Synthetic Block

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BROEKHUIS, KELLER, SCHÖNWÄLDER : Live @ Dorfkirche Repelen (CD on Manikin Records)

This release from 2006 features 60 minutes of tastefully dreamy electronic music.

Joining Bas Broekhuis (drums and percussion), Detlef Keller (synthesizer, laserharp, sequencer) and Mario Schönwälder (synthesizer, sequencer, and rainstick) for this live performance (at Dorfkirche Repelen, Germany, January 16, 2005) are Raughi Ebert on guitars and Thomas Kagermann on violin and voice.

Performed in a cathedral, this music bears a certain somber presence that, while devoid of any religious connotation, possesses a distinct reverence. That devotion is focused on the music itself, and honestly tends to get a bit lively.

Heavenly textures unfurl to cloud the air with atmospheric disposition. Piano passages wind through these tonalities, propelled by snappy percussion that maintains a respectful restraint as it delivers rhythms to the evolving harmonic. Sharper electronics emerge, joining in the grand design and imbuing the music with more pep. Not all the songs display this vigor, but even the softer pieces shimmer with an inner, subdued vitality. Guitars (of the acoustic and electric variety) provide a pleasantly romantic edge to the melodies. Slippery synthesizers accompany a passage of delicate acoustic guitar, generating a novel aspect that is remarkably engaging. Cerebral violin floats into the mix, deliberately contradicting traditional resonance normally attributed to this instrument with a modern flair.

With the exception of the final track, long-form compositions dominate this album. The harmonies surface and slowly mature while auxiliary embellishments gradually flesh out the structure with loving performances. The result is a lush panorama of dreamy tuneage which serves as a superb milieu for outward-bound introspection.

This disc features a bonus slide show from the concert, with soundtrack by Ebert and Keller.

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CREATE: From Earth to Mars (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This CD from 2005 offers 75 minutes of eloquent electronic music.

Create is Stephen Humphries.

Delicate keyboards generate languid foundations, establishing regions of shimmering chords upon which the melodic electronics shine like jubilant stars. Lavish passages of layered textures unfurl, gradually building strength until the sky is thick with luxurious harmonics. Then the cycles that have been mounting vigor and volume emerge to command the mix with their velvet expressions.

Tenuous e-perc rises to a position of authority, becoming more demonstrative and lending lively rhythms to the flow.

Meanwhile, those mounting cycles cast off their restraint and commence resounding with engaging power. Evolving and intermingling, these riffs grow piercing while retaining a soft edge that evokes a dreamy voyage beyond Earth's atmosphere.

Mechanical sounds appear, flavoring the second track with tension that swiftly matures into a provocative drama. Sweet keyboard loops provide a congenial counterpoint that lightens the intensity as they merge with the clanking machinery.

The title track continues this dramatic interplay of dark and fancy. Pulsating patterns accrete with stolid determination, producing dense anticipation. This expectancy is rewarded once the lighter riffs enter the mix. Accompanied by elegant beats that prudently remain immersed in the flow, the composition seethes with potency and continues to thicken. Clocking in at nearly 20 minutes in length, this song as adequate time to build nicely to a passionate crescendo wherein all the elements flourish to remarkable altitudes.

All of the compositions here display this mounting grandeur, exhaling creativity until the music is ready to burst with vitality.

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THE OMEGA SYNDICATE: Phonosphere (CD on Neu Harmony)

This release from 2006 features 69 minutes of spacey electronic music. The first two tracks were created in the Mind Cavern, UK, on February 22, 2004; the rest of the music was recorded live at the National Space Center, Leicester, on November 13, 2004.

The Omega Syndicate is: David Gurr and Xan Alexander, joined by Stuart Jackson for the Mind Cavern gig.

Leave your homeworld far behind and join the Omega Syndicate on a thrilling voyage that spans the solar system and ventures far beyond. Astral tonalities waft and coalesce, generating dreamy passages rich with otherworldly sentiments. Cosmic keyboards provide delicate melodies to this harmonic expanse. Looping sequences emerge, cavort and merge with each other, creating a lavish resonance of stellar pulsations.

Imagine a journey deep into the sun, where flows of incandescent plasma are converted into streaming sound. Steadfast patterns are evident, augmented by incidental sonic events which rise and sink as the music persists. The more resilient sequences endure, mutating with subtlety, devilishly creating new harmonics that continue to change. Meanwhile, a constant parade of hazy patterns weave among these aural nebulas, punctuating the cloudy regions with an endless array of enticing riffs.

What starts out as a sparse sonic environment swiftly mounts into a deluge of lush electronic textures drenched with mesmerizing appeal.

While generally devoid of crescendos, this music achieves a pleasant level that serves to entrance the audience with entertaining stability.

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SYNTHETIC BLOCK: Escape Velocity (CD on Gears of Sand)

This release from 2006 offers 63 minutes of cordial electronic music.

Synthetic Block is Jonathan Block.

Lush electronics ooze forth, egged on by sultry polymerized rhythms that provide pleasing locomotion to the comfortable compositions. An easy-going structure is utilized, saturating the music with an enthralling dreaminess that is not impaired by the percussive presence. Sustained textures are heavily augmented by uncyclic riffs, giving the music a constant sensation of creative progression.

Strings and woodwinds are synthetically generated, adding a pastoral flair to some of the tunes. A strong sense of humanity is present too, imbuing the music with a congenial accessibility. Pensive moments prosper from this benevolence. Even when the music grows more lively, a distinct humility serves to sedate the activity.

While most of the tracks are short (from 5 to 10 minutes long), there is an epic piece ("Orbits") whose 27 minute duration affords Block ample opportunity to meticulously create a gradual evolution that is quite thrilling in its development from atmospheric drones into a pastiche of stately, dramatic melodies.

A verity of amiable qualities permeates this tuneage. Block's music achieves a level above standard ambience while exercising a richness found in masterful contemporary electronics. While dipping fingers in both ends of this sonic spectrum, this release effectively straddles barriers and produces music that is universally tantalizing.

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