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Ricochet Gatherings (Part 1): 2005 and Airsculpture

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Each year, Ricochet Dream sponsors a Gathering that serves as a reason for notable EM artists from all over the globe to assemble to socialize and perform together in massive jam sessions. Below are the documentation releases from three years of this festival.

What makes these releases special (besides the superlative music) is the opportunity to hear diverse musicians improvising on the spot and collaborating with spontaneity. While many of these guys are meeting for the first time, their talents and mutual love of EM is a common bond that often serves to produce stunning tuneage.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: Ricochet Gathering, La Gomera 2005 (limited edition 4 CD set on Ricochet Dream)

This release from 2006 offers 4 discs of electronic music recorded live in La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain, on October 11-18, 2005.

Attending and contributing to this release are: Airsculpture (Adrian Beasley, John Christian, and Peter Ruczynski), Star Sounds Orchestra (Steve Schroyder & Jens Zygar), Steve Jolliffe, Paul Lawler (aka Arcane), Dave Brewer, Bill Fox, Jozef Skrzek, Paul Nagle, Polaris, Jarek Degorski, and Conrad Gibbons.

When you sit a lot of different musicians down at a host of synthesizers, you can expect the output to be versatile and kaleidoscopic, which is exactly the case here (and in the following releases). There are piercing highs and guttural bottoms, whimsical chords and dramatic passages, textural flows and looping sequences and diverse keyboard riffs. Thereís e-perc, lively rhythms and ponderous beats and dire tempos. There might be guitars and other instruments--this is difficult to gauge, since there are no instrumentation lists accompanying these releases, just overall personnel and their country of origin. Sorting out who does what, whoís leading and whoís playing in support--this information would be feigned guesswork. So, the actual music is what will be discussed. It should be noted that none of this music is crowded with layers struggling to dominate; each aspect is meticulously crafted to respectfully function in tandem with the others.

Disc 1 (80 minutes):

The first track (a very short one) is a somber piano piece with accompanying tonalities that sets the mood. The second piece elaborates on that opening with more serious variations, expanding the tune with several lavish keyboards which establish highs and lows for the lilting melody. Next, things get a bit abstract with a bubbling and scraping opening leading into a passage of ponderous harmonics which generate a reverent mien of astral disposition, linking the ocean with the night sky. The following track features ambient textures, pleasant keyboards, squeaky embellishments, tentative rhythms, glisteningly masterful guitar and sparkling chords, all of which gradually coalesce into a terse study of nautical waves; the tune accumulates a dreamy disposition while maintaining a hint of suppressed vivaciousness. Next is the discís epic piece (at 34 minutes), in which lazy guitar and growling noises languish in a miasma of churning effects until moody electronics establish a quiescent intro for a stirring dose of imperial euphoria with moaning tones, vocal effects, underwater e-perc, and a bevy of cherished keyboard riffs--all working toward an emotional pinnacle of sonic delight. The next track adopts a romantic air with glittering keyboards and hesitant beats, all gradually hardening into a nucleus that is rich with understated drama as shrill chords emerge in tandem with more strident rhythms. The final track flows right out of the previous piece, plunging into a subdermal churning of extremely calming aspects.

Disc 2 (77 minutes):

The opening piece utilizes piercing tonalities in conjunction with surging pulsations to achieve an exalted mood that tastefully captures the audienceís attention with the application of auxiliary keyboards. The following track perpetuates that elevated perspective, but takes a slightly dreamier approach, employing shrill elements to achieve a soothing dose of vertiginous sonics with hushed rhythms and high-pitched electronics. Next, horn-like electronics dominate an island excursion supported by stately e-perc and quirky sounds, all navigated according to the guidance of an urgent set of coordinates that deliver the tune to a blissful destination. The next track is this discís mammoth piece (at 32 minutes), in which aspects slow-build from a serene intro into a powerful composition crafted with hyperactive keyboards, somersaulting rhythms, tortured guitar and sounds that buzz with electrified potency; this tune possesses a superb gravity that communicates a sense of energized zest as each element seems to duel with each other for holistic supremacy, all leading toward a blazing crescendo that lasts forever as the music persists in maintaining a level of dazzling intensity right up to the exhausted end. Next comes a lively piece that combines regal tones with bouncy keyboards, producing a sonic immersion of satisfying demeanor. The last track adopts a softer approach, as dreamy keyboards establish a textural fog that is punctuated by deeper tones and cheerful bells; the appearance of crisply suppressed e-perc lends a touch of locomotion before a liquid guitar carries the tune to its conclusion.

Disc 3 (76 minutes):

The first track blends space guitar with breathing electronics and meticulous e-perc to achieve an appealing state of relaxation as the tune unfurls its elegant drifting quality--all of which is cast aside when an urgency enters the mix, driving the tune into a serious propulsion that remains subdued despite the escalation. The second piece employs sedate guitar in association with cloud-like textures to produce an amorous flair of gentle disposition. The next track continues the temperament of the prior piece, replacing romance with an environmental approach as the bewitching electronics inject a pensive flavor to the guitarís peaceful twang. The following track is decidedly more energetic with stratospheric keyboards and chugging rhythms establishing a curvaceous elevation of delightful character. Next comes the discís big composition (at 24 minutes) with sparkling electronics generating a noble tableau for the blooping e-perc and more ponderous keyboards as the melody moves from a princely to a cybernetic character with gritty effects, while sweeping tonalities persist in goading the tune back into regal territory for its emphatic pinnacle. The next piece starts vivacious and maintains its spry pace throughout, in which keyboard cycles compound with insistent determination as space guitar strives to be heard. The final piece pays homage to a classic Tangerine Dream underwater piano interlude.

Disc 4 (80 minutes):

The first track (being one of this discís three big compositions at 18 minutes) features languid electronics and aerial guitar for a while before the songís temperate nature shifts into a bouncier gear with searing effects, peppy e-perc and haunted vocoder designed to chill the blood then get it pumping. The next piece (another long one at 24 minutes) mixes ethereal crooning and vocal snippets with buoyant keyboards and snappy percussion to produce a surging ride embellished by enthusiastic flute, some blistering guitar outbursts and a plethora of zany electronic effects. The following track applies a frolicsome flute to a pressurized selection of slippery electronics, resulting in a particularly frantic downhill slide. Next, for the discís third long piece, at 17 minutes), things slow down to a serene pace with pensive flute and foggy textures that establish a moody soundscape littered with versatile effects which coax the tune into a more energized tempo that explodes with celebratory bongos and blistering space guitar. The next track uses those bongos and flute again, this time to generate a whimsically bouncy composition with a taste of Spanish guitar. The last piece is extremely sober with basement tones and expansive electronics that conjure a dark harvest of cosmic proportion; then flute enters to cast some hopeful illumination on the finale.

Between these four discs, you get a fair sampling of numerous styles of electronic music, from energized to ambient to bouncy to pensive; enough variation to satisfy everyone.

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AIRSCULPTURE: Before the Moon (limited edition double CD on Ricochet Dream)

This release from 2006 offers 113 minutes of electronic music recorded live at Castillo del Mar, Vallehermoso, in La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain, on October 14, 2005.

Airsculpture is: Adrian Beasley, John Christian, and Peter Ruczynski.

Versatile electronics generate lavish melodies featuring suitably sprightly rhythms.

Disc 1 has a watery beginning, with eerie tones rising from an aquatic milieu and accruing an astral disposition that gradually coalesces into a harmonic presence full of grand expectations. An artificial churning approximates a languid fluid rhythm surrounded by machinery-in-waiting. From this placid environs emerges a majestically ricocheting tempo which ushers in bass tonalities that growl into crisper definition amidst ascendant keyboards. Melodies break through into actuality, pleasantly couched in delicate beauty. Energized rhythms evolve from this soundscape as the electronics achieve a stately melody of vibrant promise. Aspects continue to develop until the music flows with a pacific bounciness. Looping cycles commence enhanced variations, taking the tuneage higher and into a realm peppered with epic punctuations. Then suddenly, everything gives way to an elaborated form of the fundamental beat, from which even more strident keyboards emerge to cavort to a state of dense grace. Diverse riffs swing into play as the e-perc grows more complex. Again, things switch pace, this time descending into an airy serenity seasoned with haunting embellishments of an endearing stratospheric fashion. Fresh keyboards lift this flow from moody tranquillity to a passage of sparse yet evocative chords.

Disc 2 picks up where disc 1 left off, sliding into crystalline keyboard expressions immersed in auspicious tones. This passage is very pastoral, tickling organic sentiments with agile notes of a sparkling demeanor before eventually allowing more vigorous melodics to surface and command the performance. The music builds in vitality until an eloquent density is achieved with glittering keys and soaring tones. Elements sneakily creep into the mix, augmenting the flow until the music pulsates with congenial authority. A period of sparse diodes ensues, a transition point that indulges in gurgling electronics of a supercharged character. This switches (quite abruptly) to synthesized bongos accompanied by sharp keyboard notes. The break swiftly pursues a rhythmic passage as e-perc unfurls and additional keyboards flesh things out into a peppy tune riddled with emerging regal riffs. The crystalline character that started the disc returns, lacing the mercurial flow with familiarity before a host of strange sounds rise to agitate the music into another ecstatic passage. The tuneage glows with strong charm as variations enter the mix, maintaining an ever-growing sense of jubilant power until the dwindling climax. After a pause, beats usher in an assortment of volatile new sounds for a very effervescent encore of appealing rhythms of increasing complexity accompanied by electronic effects. Effective keyboards guide this percussive extravaganza to a pinnacle of gripping euphoria that exhibits a taste of techno dance flourish.

For over a decade, Airsculpture have focused their skills on live improvisations, and the music on this release exemplifies that expertise. Masterful melodies seethes with anticipatory power, mesmerizing with a constant resurgence of expansion.

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