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Electronics: Paul Ellis, Steve Jolliffe, the Ministry of Inside Things, Surface 10

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PAUL ELLIS: The Infinity Room (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This release from 2006 offers 60 minutes of shimmering electronic music.

Beyond theology and science fiction, infinity is a mathematical concept, and Ellis has applied a cunning sense of numeric order to this release. The CD is 60 minutes long; there are six tracks, and each of them is ten minutes long.

Pensive pulsations dominate the first track, providing a foundation for oscillating tones to ooze throughout and clever effects to rise and fall, all contributing to achieve a dreamy entrance to Ellis' Infinity Room.

Things get darker with the second track, as ominous sonics usher the listener deeper into the chamber. Twinkling electronics provide adequate illumination, revealing shimmering layers of gauzy riffs that swirl and ripple with haunting fashion. As the tune progresses, verve appears in the form of driving velocity, carrying the melodies into a frenetic state.

The third piece is steeped in languid textures, peppered with growling effects and chirping diodes. Crystalline keys emerge, generating delicate passages of endearing conduct that slide into more dramatic disposition as the music adopts an airier quality.

Track four explores statelier territory with atmospheric tonalities breathing behind emotive harp strings and tiny loops that swell with each circumnavigation. Eventually, percussion enters the mix, goading all the elements to livelier activity.

The next track exemplifies a more pastoral flair, as environmental samples conspire with spinning effects to produce a gestation of awe-inspiring scope as the tune leaves the stratosphere and plunges into a sedate firmament of heavenly mien.

The final composition uses a sawing cello as a brief intro to an eruption of frantic pace and locomotive density. The riffs are urgent and intense, pummeling the audience with nimble-fingered chords that crash and twitter with breathless intention.

Overall, an introspective turn for Ellis as he sheds his Berlin School roots and strikes off to dabble in more daring terrain.

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STEVE JOLLIFFE: Poland (limited edition CD on Ricochet Dream)

This release from 2006 offers 65 minutes of fervent music recorded live in Jelani Gora, Poland, on September 11, 2004.

Having played with such EM greats as Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, Jolliffe has enjoyed a long solo career producing albums of delightful electronic music for nearly two decades. This latest shows him alone on stage, armed with piano, keyboards, flute, and an extraordinary predilection for nimble creativity.

Dramatic piano passages establish a strange cafe milieu that becomes even stranger as eerie electronics enter the mix. Dark textures coalesce, immersing the stage in a fertile fog that sparkles with effects and sporadic strings and other instruments. Eventually, twinkling piano asserts dominance over these peripheral embellishments, guiding the miasma into a more orderly flow. And gradually, the auxiliary samples adopt melodic demeanor and compliment Jolliffe's live performance, lending snappy rhythmics and sighing tonalities to the easygoing piano.

Live flute and electronic urgency often appear in tandem. The accompanying electronics surge with bouncy, dark energy, while the frolicsome flute cavorts with passionate abandon. Before any outbursts have the opportunity to become too boisterous, Jolliffe reigns them with nimble-fingered piano, generating foundational drama that reaches out and grips the soul with classical eloquence.

The CD features three long tracks, allowing each composition ample room to grow and flex and indulge in mischievous variations.

The first track utilizes a sound excerpt of Edgar (Tangerine Dream) Froese guitar from 1967.

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THE MINISTRY OF INSIDE THINGS: Contact Point (CD on Synkronos Music)

This release from 2006 offers 54 minutes of tranquil electronic music.

The Ministry of Inside Things is: Chuck van Zyl and Art Cohen.

With a title like "Contact Point," one might assume this music to be concerned with a human/alien rendezvous, but the truth here deals more with the juxtaposition of earthly elements, specifically between the sea and the land. The band does a remarkable job of capturing the dreamy mood of the New Jersey coastline, evoking languid beaches and foggy marshes with preternatural acumen.

Eerie slide guitar notes provide haunting accompaniment for keyboards of a sedate nature. Textures flow with calculated serenity, generating oceanic realms of heavenly proportion. Approximated foghorns warn that land is nearby as the tuneage navigates through unseen islands whose embankments are hidden by resolute mist. Gradually, the ambience builds to peppier tuneage as keyboards start twinkling amid a bank of growling tonalities. Fingers commence dancing across keys, describing playful melodies that are rich with a sense of breathtaking discovery. Chittering noises and ghostly expressions enter the flow as the journey starts its way up a somnambulant river. Surrounded by pensive resonance, night embraces the music with somber chords and ascendant sequencing that reaches quite a shrill pinnacle of ecstatic delight. The CD concludes with a sunrise that is luxurious with promise and superbly duplicates that feeling of drifting in a void between sleep and wakefulness.

Even if you harbor no interest in the Jersey coastline and its contemplative environment, this music will still mesmerize and captivate the listener with its lush ruminative qualities.

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SURFACE 10: Surface Tensions (CD on DiN)

This release from 2006 offers 66 minutes of melodic electronic music laced with illbient undercurrents.

Surface 10 is Dean De Benedictis.

Prepare to have your awe stretched as dense electronic textures conquer the sky and maintain a strident presence. Meanwhile, livelier riffs and heavenly sequences dominate the music's foreground with their vibrant behavior. Passages stream with sneaky embellishments, each increasing the density while contributing to a greater overall resonance (albeit a resonance seasoned with twitchy personality).

Synthetic rhythms chitter away, generating languid patterns that are too sedate to belong on a dancefloor, but too excitable to remain subliminal. Sometimes these beats spurn the notion of tempos and just act as additional aspects in the thickening cluster of sounds.

Melody plays an important role in this music, but often the tunes are host to nests of quirky effects all vying for attention.

There's a definite illbient edge going on here, as harsh noises of utterly mechanical disposition agitate the flow with their staccato chatter. Sounds are frequently chopped in mid-definition and fiercely repeated. If not for the even flow of the rest of the mix, you'd suspect your CD player of malfunctioning. These disruptive elements keep your attention focused on the music, where it should be in the first place. Not an instant of this inventive tuneage should be missed.

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