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Electronics: Kees Aerts, Richard Pinhas & Merzbow, David Wright

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KEES AERTS: If One Door Closes, Another Door Opens (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This CD from 2008 offers 76 minutes of buoyant electronic music.

Synthesist Aerts is joined by Ron Boots on two tracks.

A host of electronics are employed to generate the dreamily spry tunes found on this release. This blend of calm and activity is quite rewarding, producing music that soothes as it uplifts.

Atmospheric textures establish airy foundations for more agile harmonics. Riffs are created, then set to run in cycles as additional loops are added to the sonic pastiche. This mounting accretion of layers results in lavish structures whose resonant components serve to enhance each other, achieving a higher unity in the form of melodies that are rich with grandeur. This majesty is often seasoned with a whimsy that bestows a distinctly humanity to the melodies.

Keyboards play a vital role in this tuneage, providing the music with themes which cavort and twirl amid the already spinning loops.

While percussion is present, its presence is adroitly crafted to lurk within the mix, propelling from an interior vantage. Not all of the rhythms are comprised of actual beats; some derive their tempos from the rapid application of synthesized non-impact sounds, which in turn infuses a fanciful temperament to those passages.

These compositions evoke a determined yearning, communicating the expectation of wonders waiting around every corner (or through each doorway). While an astral quality exists in most of the material, many of the tracks possess an enjoyable buoyant demeanor.

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RICHARD PINHAS & MERZBOW: Keio Line (double CD on Cuneiform Records)

This release from 2008 features 109 minutes of tumultuous ambience.

Pinhas (the guitar maestro behind legendary French group Heldon) and Merzbow (Japanese noise sculptor extraordinaire) combine their talents to create ambient soundscapes with a gritty undercurrent.

There are six tracks on this release, each of prolonged duration, allowing the music to build patiently toward maturity.

In track one, tenuous textural waves (generated by an inventively processed looped guitar) establish a gaseous flow that is soon attended by a rising-yet-craftily-restrained tide of industrial noise. Slowly filtering through this grinding mechanical environment come the understated wailings of an electric guitar, spinning out chords of harsh definition that are adroitly suppressed until they seem unearthly in origin. Gradually, the guitar riff, extended into an expansive growl, surges in puissance until its grating resonance dominates the mix. The industrial motif musters its stamina to meet this challenge, creating a cascading duel of non-hostile aggression.

Next, the guitar wail meanders through passages of pulsating electronics, a stringed spectator in a realm of chugging machinery. Auxiliary sounds, severe and dissonant, enter the flow and provide hissing counterpoint to the undulant tapestry of guitar moans. All of the elements commence an increase in intensity, the guitar straining with bestial expressions (nimble-fingered yet still stifled to a soft growl), the industrial grumble accreting into a passionate hiss.

Bringing the first disc to a rousing conclusion, the third piece launches with abrasive gears clattering while the guitar establishes a vibrant fog of throbbing growls. While the noise factor expands to include bubbling synths and rotary action, the guitar adopts a more cohesive presence, delivering fluid chords that glisten with electrified honey. Fervent enthusiasm is conveyed as the aspects swell with vigor. Tumbling percussives rise to provide chaotic rhythms as the guitar takes a breather, only to return with revitalized zest amid a pacific layer of sighing electronics that guides the composition to an edgy finale.

Disc 2 starts off with a short track (at 8 minutes long, compared to the otherís 16-26 minutes length). Here, the guitar swiftly reaches a frantic presence, delivering snarling licks immersed in a churning morass of urban noise.

The next track harnesses the chaos and turns it back on itself, transforming turbulence into a streaming display of harmonic organization. While the guitar blazes with mounting complexity, the industrial aspects adopt an atmospheric demeanor. Crashing diodes punctuate the mix as everything slides into a miasma that is remarkably soothing despite its cacophonous definition.

The last track takes a more urgent turn, generating dire consequences with wildly cascading guitar licks functioning as an in-your-face foundation while the electronics fidget with impatient rowdiness. Traces of temperance struggle to make themselves heard, but are invariably swamped by the turgid gravity of the dominant elements. Savage guitar riffs swell and explode. Industrial electronics produce a strident level of abrasive clamor. A salvo a futuristic artillery heralds the pieceís conclusion.

These compositions embody an abrasive expression of industrial noise tempered by the tastefully subdued wail of a guitar whose sustained utterances seethe with guttural ambience. The result is tuneage defined by a coexistence of flow and turmoil, aggression and harmony, mounting intensity amid a pool of dreamy velvet. The song titles imbue this music with social relevance.

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DAVID WRIGHT: Dreams and Distant Moonlight (CD on AD Music)

This CD from 2008 offers 77 minutes of imperial electronic music.

Joining UK synthesist Wright are: Andy Lobban (on lead guitar), Nigel Turner-Heffer (on bass). Additional guitars are supplied by Spectrasonics Bizzare Guitars. Vocal samples are sourced from Spectrasonics Vocal Planet and Hearts of Asia.

Delicate atmospheric textures are augmented by refined keyboards, fervid guitar licks and snappy e-perc, producing tuneage that combines dreamy aspects with gregarious animation.

A stately piano melody prepares the listener for this somnambulant voyage, which commences with bubbling electronics and gently pittering e-perc. The introduction of pacific guitar helps get things moving, and the rhythms step up to match this livelier motif. The electronics muster complexity as they enter this sprightly stage, excellently supporting the guitar pyrotechnics and the thoroughly engaging rhythms.

Gradually, the instruments switch roles, and the guitar and e-perc support the electronics. Nimble fingers coax keyboards to generate alluring riffs, while auxiliary electronics lend sparkling embellishment. A sense of ascension is accomplished as the melodies flourish and expand in scope and passion. Instances of regal piano serve to ground the soaring music.

The e-perc itself achieves a notable status through the bewitching character which Wright applies to the beats. The sounds display a remarkably mechanical timbre, strangely emotional despite their artificiality, contributing to the overall drama with their serpentine tempos.

These dependably catchy compositions flow together to create an epic presentation that achieves a highly dramatic posture with pensive spots along the way and uplifting passages that exhibit delightful vivacity.

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