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The Uptempo Ambience of Nemesis

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Nemesis (the sonic brainchild of Jyrki Kastman and Ami Hassinen) crafts lovely electronic music which infuses arctic ambience with lively definition. Their style of contemporary EM is always relaxing with a touch of viable substance. One of the things that distinguishes Nemesisí music is the bandís vibrant compositional skill, reliably producing tuneage that stands out as appealing and engaging.

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NEMESIS: Xtempora (double CD on Retroduction)

This release from 2005 offers 144 minutes of glistening electronic tuneage.

Joining Kastman and Hassinen on this release is Joni Virtanen, with words and voice on one track supplied by Knut Gerwers.

Disc 1 features a long piece and several shorter compositions.

The disc starts off with the long track, which dives into sonic meat right away with upbeat electronics and luxurious rhythms. Dreamy textures are peppered with sparkling riffs possessed of a suitable amount of pep. The melodic layers entwine to create a soundscape of luscious depth whose temperament seethes with glorious promise. As the tune progresses, that promise bears fruit in the form of diverse variations and inventive evolutions. Snappy but understated e-perc enlivens the flow, providing sultry locomotion that churns just beneath the surface, periodically emerging to imbue passages with rhythmic vitality. Nimble-fingered guitar contributes additional riffs of glistening character. Time and again throughout its 22 minute duration, the track delivers captivating melodies which embody an adroit union of serene beauty and gentle stimulation.

Nine shorter pieces complete the disc, ranging from 8 to 3 minutes in length. While their delivery is diverse, they all pursue a common motif of mingling dreamy sounds with sensuous rhythms. The songs exhibit relaxed sensibilities pushed just over the line into energized territory. A carefree sense of delight is communicated with casual earnest.

Each of these short pieces are distinctly different, exploring a variety of entertaining tunes...vaporous beats lead to snappy rhythms supporting auspicious atmospherics which mature into compelling melodics...somnambulant tonalities grow pensive...electronic bubbles herald an outburst of invigorating rhythms...things enter a tranquil zone for one song...only to bounce back with fascinating pulsations haunted by astral sounds kept in check by devoted keyboards...followed by a brief miasma that gives birth to a melody of celestial eloquence...then ominous gurglings provide a dire foundation for a recitation welcoming the audience to hell...after which e-perc establishes an urgent propulsion for burbling electronics and piercing keyboards...and a venerable finale reverberates with synthetic chorales and a melancholic keyboard riff...

On disc 2, a pair of epic compositions frame two shorter pieces.

The opening piece is a long-form composition of extremely delicate character, pure ambience with twinkling chimes evoking a majestic glacier. The tune conveys the audience across stark landscapes, then down into the iceís crystalline depths where the serenity becomes quite pronounced before returning aboveground on the wings of breezy tones.

The two short tracks continue this gentle approach. In the first, rotary beats softly clank away in the distance as celestial bodies descend to adopt impressive harmonic definition. In the second, eerie pitches provide a darker examination of the frigid expanse.

The last piece is a stunning opus (at 37 minutes) which starts off with a minimal soundscape that gradually accrues a harmonic presence as fragile tones rise from the ethereal milieu. The peaceful electronics achieve a sense of elevation, and this high altitude is made to glow with shimmering resonance of a regal disposition. Near the end, this airy nature blossoms with lush pulsations providing a subtle tempo in support of an emergent melody that swells into a momentous stature of mesmerizing splendor.

All of the music on both discs typifies Nemesisí expertise with inventive compositions. This gift bestows their tunes with a reliable appeal.

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NEMESIS: Trajectory of Sound, Live Archive Volume 3 (CD on Retroduction)

This release from 2007 offers 68 minutes of live electronic tuneage.

These tracks span from 1997 to 2006 and feature Kastman, Hassinen and Virtanen (with the exception of three pieces by Kastman and Hassinen, and one by Kastman, Hassinen and Lahti.

Icy electronics are enhanced by gentle percussives with guitar providing astral embellishment to the dreamy tunes.

In the opening track, layers of gaseous sound waft across frozen landscapes, establishing an atmospheric foundation of ethereal disposition. Pulsating effects enter the mix, followed by rhythms muted to endow their beats with a pliant serenity. Keyboards contribute guidance to the flowing melody with lavish sweeps and calmly strident punctuation.

Next comes a section from the bandís ambientKaiku release (review found below) in which things get exceptionally minimal with celestial textures. Airy tones provide winsome decoration for the peaceful interlude.

The music takes an energetic turn with the third track as the rhythms escalate their presence and propel a series of nimble keyboard riffs to bouncy dominance. Bass pulsations generate a guttural undercurrent that serves to intensify the glistening resonance of the rest of the electronics.

Technically, the next track is just a brief stage announcement between songs; a soft background tone is present during it. Deeply resonant didjeridu marks the opening of the following tune. Tribal rhythms jostle with a modern electric guitar, each instrument struggling to assert their own influence. For a pyrotechnic stretch, the guitar becomes triumphant with searing chords.

With the next piece, snappy percussion delivers a hint of calypso, while fluid keyboards contribute a sequence of lively riffs crafted to uplift without undue agitation. The rhythms grow increasingly complex as the electronics twinkle with jovial expressions.

Then comes a moody composition with ponderous beats and atmospheric tones which conspire to evoke a steady mountainside ascent.

The last track (being the longest on the album at 17 minutes) reprises the basic melody of the albumís first piece, played in a different key. The differences are more pronounced than that, though, as the cold soundscape is given a more frigid character and auxiliary electronics exhibit more gurgle amid haunting tones. The rhythms seem crisper too. Synthetic winds cascade through the mix, lending an auspicious demeanor to the hallowed finale.

These compositions offer an excellent dose of delicate electronics tempered with suitably understated rhythms. Again, the special flair comes from the bandís distinctive style of crafting these sounds into tantalizing melodies.

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NEMESIS: Music for Earports (CD on Retroduction)

This release from 2001 offers 74 minutes of ambient electronic tuneage.

For this CD, Nemesis is: Kastman and Hassinen, with Virtanen on three tracks.

Generally, this release is an ambient release consisting of three long soundscape compositions framing a series of shorter atmospheric tracks.

The first long piece is made up of crisp tones which establish a glistening milieu. That serenity is seasoned with a variety of swaying effects, all of which conspire to achieve a hypnotic astral terrain of stark beauty. The electronics possess a frigid character that can be quite engaging.

The second long track displays a sense of charmingly subdued animation with muted rhythms goading along a set of cosmic tonalities. Remote keyboards contribute sweeping harmonics. The piece accrues a modicum of puissance as it progresses, reaching an endearing pinnacle with bubbling embellishment.

The shorter pieces (which, with the exception of a 7 minute track, clock in between 3 to 5 minutes each) each continue the ambient approach. Fragile electronics generate expansive moods, some of which are tempered with bewitching alien e-perc.

The final long track adopts a shamanic mien with rattling and eerie tones struggling for cohesion amid an ancient wind. A melancholic flavor infects the electronics. If you listen hard, machinery can be heard clanking in the distance...until lethargic tribal rhythms rise to audibility, lending a shudder to the stiff breeze and allowing the electronic harmonics to express themselves with more clarity.

These compositions (which range from 1996 to 2001) all display a softer side of Nemesis with tracks of tranquil definition. The presence of rhythms in some of the pieces is intentionally restrained, preserving a gentle sonic nature.

Music for Earports is obviously intended as a homage to Brian Enoís classic Music for Airports album, but Earports is actually a more rewarding audio experience, offering more body and melodic content.

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NEMESIS: Kaiku (CD on JP/Artprint)

This release from 2003 features 69 minutes of gentle ambience.

Joining Kastman and Hassinen on this release are Marko Portin (from Ultra Bra) on woodwinds and Joni Virtanen. The CD comes in a limited edition fold-out portfolio of photography by Jyrki Portin.

Since the music is intended to be a soundtrack for Portinís pictures, the tunes are understandably ambient. The presence of bassoon and flute gives them a brooding quality.

Icy electronics establish textural flows which are then tempered by additional harmonics, generating a series of languid soundscapes. Haunting tones hover with resolute determination. These vaporous sonic structures maintain a tranquillity regardless of their embellishment by other elements. Various effects, from twinkling keys to grinding gears, float through the tuneage, often creating a passive edginess.

While rhythms are present in only a few of these tunes, their beats remain subdued so as to avoid disrupting the musicís overall gentle character. Appearing only briefly, guitar is similarly restrained to remote notes that express chilly relaxation and then slip into pedal steel sustains to merge with the basic electronic ambience.

Woodwinds provide a classical edge to this ambience: bassoon sighs describing heartfelt aspirations, flutes injecting a winsome appeal, saxophone contributing dolefully cerebral touches. These traditional flairs can seem quite pronounced in contrast to the rigid serenity manifested by the astral electronics.

Environmental recordings pepper several tracks, lending earthly connections to the ethereal tunes.

Pensive and moody in nature, these compositions excellently convey a peaceful reflection of reality designed to turn perceptions inward and foster contemplation.

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For reviews of two download release by Nemesis, go here.

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