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Electronics: Stefan Erbe, Mythos, Dan Pound, Synth.NL

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STEFAN ERBE: Inside the Images (CD on Erbe Music)

This release from 2009 offers 76 minutes of spacey electronic music tinged with bouncy embellishment.

This music was inspired by the exhibition "From the Ruhr Valley to the Sky" shown at the Zeiss Planetarium Bochum in 2009. One might expect the compositions to be atmospheric and spacey, but Erbe has injected a level of pep to his sonic homage while retaining a degree of spaciness. While most of these songs were composed by Erbe, some are classical pieces which he has chosen to interpret with modern animation.

Some textures are utilized to provide celestial backdrops, but the majority of the electronics are lively keyboard expressions, lending a bounciness to the interstellar void.

This bounciness is enhanced by e-perc whose rhythms achieve a sprightly air expressing an enthusiasm concerning mankind's outward urge. He has found a way to flavor drama with strong ebullience, effectively transforming mysterious realms into regions that are rich with vivacity.

The keyboard chords blend classical airs with a contemporary demeanor, producing melodies that inject hints of vigor to the overall stately grandeur. While some cycles are employed, Erbe's fingers generally dance across the keys with involved elaboration, generating tunes that continue to grow in scope instead of relying on repetitious loops.

Some tracks (like the classical ones) are characterized by dreamy sentiments, but even here a sense of energized verve is prevalent, replacing ponderous sobriety with a sense of eagerness.

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MYTHOS: Unabsteigbar! (limited edition CD EP on Mellow Jet Records )

This release from 2010 offers 44 minutes of buoyant electronic music.

Mythos is Stephan Kaske.

In 2009, Mythos played at EM-Breakfast in Bochum, Germany, performing material from the Gallery Concerts album. Five new songs were included in the set--they constitute the material on the Unabsteigbar! release.

A host of electronics conspire with rhythms and vocodered vocals to produce music of an energetic nature.

The electronics blend shrill notes with bass tones, resulting in a lush sound that resonates with mesmerizing appeal. But it's a lively mesmerization, with a vibrant demeanor. The keyboards are nimble and delightful, describing melodies that chug along with an astral touch. While sustained chords provide a tasty subterranean flow, auxiliary electronics generate spry lead threads that bristle with vitality.

The e-perc is often understated, functioning from within the mix instead of propelling things from a demonstrative vantage. There are occasions where the rhythms are healthy and robust, however, contributing bouncy tempos which excellently compliment the music's fairly jubilant character.

Kaske makes liberal use of a vocoder, seasoning the tunes with droney vocal effects that actually adopt a sprightly life of their own, meshing nicely with the other electronics in an instrumental fashion.

These compositions possess an urgent quality that tickles the audience's attention with agile melodies while the foundational layers establish a hypnotic undercurrent. The tunes exhibit a distinctly cheerful mood that is quite infectious. Even the last track, with its extreme sense of drama, conveys a sense of mirth.

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DAN POUND: The Fourth Way (CD on AtmoWorks )

This CD from 2009 offers 73 minutes of textural electronic ambience.

This music is Pound's sonic interpretation of an enlightenment practice called the Fourth Way, based on the teachings of Greek and Russian philosophers G. Gurdgieff and P.D. Ouspensky.

The electronics are a blend of dark textures and airy tonalities, both serving to maintain a balanced auralscape, a neutral psychic realm in which the listener can luxuriate and free themselves from the rigors of physical distraction.

Keyboards provide scarce guidance here. The electronics generally manifest themselves as waves that cascade to and fro or flourish into expansive eternity. In a few instances a melodic presence creeps in and even the beats adopt a gentle rhythmic definition. Piano even makes an appearance at one point, lending a classical air to the drifting psychic depths.

While periodically exhibiting melodic hints, the majority of this music consists of harmonic flows that surge and ebb. This oscillation is tempered by flutes, ethnic woodwinds, and strummed strings which bestow touches of humanity to the ambience. The title track (at 29 minutes long) manages to utilize all of these elements to goad the listener into a vivid dreamstate peppered with stages of engaging sonic stimulation.

Tribal percussives also contribute to the embellishment, providing unrhythmic punctuation that often approximates drops of water falling across the cerebellum. On a few occasions, though, the beats muster themselves into softly compelling rhythmics that slither through the mix like glowing serpents, spreading benevolent agitation amid the temperate electronic flow.

These compositions are designed to entice the listener into a meditative mood, then goad them into alternate states of consciousness. Many of the passages display a distinct darkness, but it is a murkiness devoid of menace, intent instead on instilling a subliminal awe through the application of soothing grinding sounds. Their pulsating presence is seasoned by auxiliary aspects (flutes, beats, and shamanistic chants) that serve to link the listener's detached spirit with their organic heritage.

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SYNTH.NL: OceanoGraphy (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This release from 2009 offers 73 minutes of pleasant electronic music.

Synth.NL is Michel van Osenbruggen.

Aquatic textures waft beneath airborne electronics, bouncy keyboards and stately rhythms to craft pleasant tuneage.

The electronics are gentle and achieve a balance between dreamy and mildly energized. A versatile array of sounds is utilized, resulting in depth as well as scope. Sweet chords coexist with bass pulsations, producing a well-rounded sonic palette.

Keyboards generate pacific melodies through constant key manipulations, relying only minimally on loops. A persistent stream of engaging riffs is delivered, displaying emphasis on compositional dedication over technological repetition.

The rhythms maintain a steady locomotion but without becoming too overt. A temperate pace is established. The beats are unintrusive but possess enough substance to lend complementary oomph.

While these compositions are all devoted to aquatic elements, that doesn't mean they're all flowy and low-key. That temperament is found in some of the pieces, but other tracks exhibit a degree of understated intensity. These floating melodies are nicely seasoned by spry embellishment, and this state of animation is held in tasteful restraint to keep things affable yet engaging.

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