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Mysteria by M.A.S.S.

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In 1972, Stephan Kaske was part of a band called Mythos whose first few records were released by the then-small, now-legendary German label Ohr Records. By 1980, Mythos was just Kaske. Subsequent albums were done for Sky Records. In 1990, Kaske began recording under the name M.A.S.S., performing electronic interpretations of music by Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Handel and other classical composers. Throughout the Nineties and into the new millennium, Kaske returned to creating his own compositions.

"Mysteria" is his latest release.

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M.A.S.S.: Mysteria (triple CD on Membran Music)

This release from 2006 offers a total of 160 minutes of delightful electronic music.

Fanciful keyboards drive these melodies, assisted by percussion and an assortment of sampled instruments. The electronics are versatile, sometimes rumbling other times glistening. A certain jubilant flavor is present, bestowing the melodies with a bouncy quality. Grittier elements provide a tasty counterpart to this joviality, infusing the tunes with a sense of mystery that never becomes too foreboding. While the keyboards ring with a lustrous clarity, a murky demeanor gnaws at the edge of the chords. A stance of amused majesty might better describe the overall mood.

Sparkling melodies are established, then embellished by auxiliary cadence. Repetition plays only a small role in the music's structure, as passages unfurl with inventive variations. Fresh riffs are constantly surfacing, tirelessly bolstering things with entertaining diversions.

The percussion is nimble and generous, providing the melodies with sumptuous locomotion. Traditional drums share the rhythmic stage with a bevy of synthetic beats.

Vocal strains are manifest in several songs, generating a human presence, grounding the music's effervescent mystique.

Compositionally, this music is tight and ripe. Classical styles blend with modern sensibilities to produce rich melodies with wide-range appeal. Passion is suitably present but under studied restraint. Despite their enigmatic aspects, the tunes remain amiable and wholly accessible. Their drama exists on a fundamental level, albeit cocooned with layers of jocular motivation. Good-time tuneage with strong maturity.

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