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Electronic Music by Brendan Pollard & Friends (Free System Projekt, Hastronaut, and Phil Bloom)

Hailing from the UK, Brendan Pollard has been recording superb electronic music with the band Rogue Element for several years. Since then he's enjoyed a solo career that has attracted him some well-deserved international attention.

And now he's collaborating with some other notable EM musicians.

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FREE SYSTEM PROJEKT/BRENDAN POLLARD/HASHTRONAUT: Time Out of Mind (CD on Acoustic Wave Records)

This release from 2009 offers 77 minutes of retro sweeping electronic music.

Free System Projekt is: Marcel Engels and Ruud Heij. Pollard is (well) Pollard. And Hashtronaut is Michael Daniel. Everybody plays a plethora of electronics; and Daniels augments his gear with some guitar.

Cosmic synthesizers and space guitar are employed in the generation of some very interstellar tunes.

Track one begins with an excursion through spacey effects, blooping and whooshing, until an array of guitar sustains usher in an harmonic passage that evolves into an undulating nest of astral melodics. Bewitching keyboard cycles enter the tonal pastiche like glittering patterns emerging from a cloudy nebula. Entwining with each other to form a complex flow, the riffs become augmented by deeper chords that muscle their way to the forefront. Retro riffs appear to counter the denser sequencing. An ascension occurs as the patterns spiral into an engaging helix. Slithering from the nucleus of this spiral structure comes the wail of tasty space guitar which indulges in some searing sonic gymnastics before a stretch of classic textures settle into dominance. The helix splits apart to allow the individual cycles a chance to flourish before evaporating in a distinctly cosmic conclusion.

In the second piece, interstellar winds carry the listener through realms of massive sighing machinery, finally entering a territory of bubbling pulsations. Tenuous sequencing rises into the mix, establishing a cosmic milieu for the advent of more dynamic riffs. These newcomers flex their elegance, creating a tapestry of sparkling threads. Some space guitar lurks deep in the mix, crafting a remote structure of dazzling brilliance amid the celestial patterns.

The title track (and the longest at 28 minutes) has an opening of murky cosmic effects that eventually host the emergence of textural flows of a shimmering character. While these retro harmonics unfurl themselves, the effects persist in their shuddering pulsations, gaining strength instead of giving way. This struggle continues for a while, the sweeping keyboards marshaling sweet depth and emotional delicacy. Liquid riffs blend with flutish electronics, producing a passage of radiant tenderness. There's a period in which the effects reclaim mastery, and then are washed away by an ascendant tone of dire consequences...that gives birth to a strident riff accompanied by breezy chords. This fresh riff swells in power and influence, sucking in additional keyboards whose expressions serve to boost the central theme into a glorious splendor. The glory endures, gathering momentum and spinning off variant patterns for a delightful while...before indulging in feverish crescendo.

The last piece is the album's shortest tune (at eight minutes long), and its vitality is therefore more compressed. The cosmic effects in the opening are more aggressive. A resolute assortment of riffs emerge in full force and swiftly achieve a melodic drama that builds with wondrous luster...and then ends.

These compositions utilize a slow-building structure, gradually layering threads and loops until a certain density is achieved. This intricacy evolves throughout, producing expansive passages of mesmerizing beauty.

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POLLARD/DANIEL/BOOTH: September 2009 Jams (CDR on English Electronic Music Company)

This release from 2009 offers 72 minutes of slow-building electronic music. This material was recorded in preparation for their performance at Awakenings later that month (see next review).

Brendan Pollard plays sequencers and synthesizers. Michael Daniel (aka Hashtronaut) plays guitar and synthesizers. Phil Booth plays synthesizers.

In the first track (which is 51 minutes long), the electronics are initially quite dreamy and gentile, generating a languid passage of pacific textures. Keyboards introduce a mixture of burly and mildly energized cycles. Then the guitar kicks in with poignant strikes, punctuating the pleasant flow with touches of drama. The guitar notes toy with wobbly sustains of an astral nature; meanwhile the cycles build in puissance, mounting to the point where they spill forth melodic complexity in the form of nimble-fingered chords which gradually evolve into lavish expressions of stately grandeur. The riffs continue to accrue animation, blending together to formulate advanced intricacy. The guitar returns with some frenzied pyrotechnics, tastefully mixed in an immersed vantage amid the looping riffs that keep chugging along. At the piece's midway point, a stretch of abstract effects provide a cosmic bridge that leads to an extra-passive interlude of somnambulant organ keys, which in turn gives birth to a dreamy ascension into vaporous atmospherics in which some clouds twinkle with beeping diodes. Eventually, a fresh selection of riffs emerge from the gentle interlude, unfurling their spry loops and spiraling into new structures of engaging melodics...which last for some time, growing increasingly urgent as their density thickens into a delightful pastiche of electronic eminence laced with space guitar.

The second piece offers equitable verve and entrancing elements. After a pensive passage of bubbling synthis and sweeping keyboard drones, there come energetic electronic outbursts and ponderously groaning machinery building to a heavenly crescendo.

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POLLARD/DANIEL/BOOTH: Live 26.09.2009 (CDR on English Electronic Music Company)

This release from 2009 offers 79 minutes of energetic cosmic electronic music recorded live at Awakenings, in Burton upon Trent, UK, on September 9, 2009.

Brendan Pollard plays sequencers and synthesizers. Michael Daniel (aka Hashtronaut) plays guitar and synthesizers. Phil Booth plays synthesizers.

It begins with crashing pulsations and burbling diodes, leading to astral slide guitar textures. Cohesive melodies emerge slowly, surfacing thread by thread amid the interstellar mix. Delicate keyboards generate looping riffs that gradually blend into an engaging cohesion. The threads steadily ascend, seasoned by residual cosmic sounds, to achieve a demonstrative presence as additional keyboard sequences appear to thicken the flow with vibrant definition. Auxiliary key patterns establish a rhythmic propulsion as the music swells to majestic stature.

The tuneage reaches a level of intensity with the introduction of space guitar. Riffs of searing beauty slice through the stratospheric medium to bask everything in stellar effulgence in the form of pyrotechnic guitar wailing. Even after the guitar subsides, it leaves behind a luster that nicely flavors the cyclic electronics which serve to wind down the song to a smoldering conclusion tinged by pastoral keyboards blending with heavenly chords.

While the CD features a single long track, the music is actually broken into separate sections. The second song kicks in pretty promptly with a dreamy keyboard melody. Sidereal aspects rally, coalescing into a congenial passage rich with pensive characteristics. After a while, more energetic keyboards slide into play, boosting the music's vivacity with nimble-fingered riffs that sparkle like afternoon sunshine cascading across a verdant valley. The sudden outburst of snarling guitar bumps everything into a seething intensity; the electronic cycles mirror this aggression by adopting an alluring urgency. A grittiness enters the mix as growling electronics slip into place, punctuating the emotional gravity with a pleasantly coarse persona. As the piece progresses, new riffs are subtly introduced, expanding the central theme with their embellishment. As is customary with these slow-building structures, the music enters a winding-down phase peppered by previous elements, concluding with keyboard sustains mixed with pastoral bubbling.

The third song assembles a selection of electronic winds for its opening, livening these breezes with cosmic effects. Keyboard loops possessed of more bass presence emerge, creating a darker milieu with sovereign riffs coexisting with uplifting cycles. Enter the guitar, squalling like a wounded beast, and the song’s severity kicks in. Here, the guitar and electronics achieve a demonstrative presence as the music blossoms into a majestic struggle to break free of the roiling vapors and reach a vista where the fierce euphoria can expend its unrestrained verve. For the finale, everything falls into a black hole and only traces of the fever are able to clamber their way to audibility for the fade-out conclusion.

Surprise--the electronics muster themselves for a lively coda, violating astrophysics as they tunnel their way out of the incredible gravity well to tickle the audience's ears with a jubilant last piece.

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