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Ricochet Gathering Concerts: Various Artists

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From 2000 through 2010, Ricochet Gatherings have attracted diverse electronic musicians from all over the globe to jam together.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: Ricochet Gathering: Okefenokee 2001 (limited edition CD on Ricochet Dream)

This release from 2010 offers 73 minutes of dreamy electronic music recorded live at the Ricochet Gathering in Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, on April 20-24, 2001.

Contributing musicians were: John Christian and Pete Ruczynski (from Airsculpture), Dave Brewer, Marcel Engels (from Free System Projekt) (all on synthesizers), and Bill Fox (on guitar and effects).

Texturals and flowing electronics conjure gentle tunes of a misty variety.

While these electronics focus on conveying a humid (swampy) character (i.e.: winsome with airy tendencies), a degree of alternate versatility is employed to balance that ambience with a certain degree of gutsier tones. Deeper chords bestow a sturdy basis for the melodies, and more strident (reedier, shrill without being piercing) notes provide emotional punctuation.

Elongated textures dominate this tuneage, establishing tenuous auralscapes of delicate substance. Auxiliary electronics season these temperate flows with relaxed harmonics, generating a pulsing milieu. Keyboards periodically introduce touches of animation to the streaming sonics, generating fragile riffs whose gentle undulations produce passages of softly energized vitality. Even when the chords become nimble-fingered, their puissance remains moderate.

The guitar tends to softly smolder amid the flow, producing chords that shimmer rather than scald. In the second piece, the instrument adopts a soft twang but remains soft-spoken, blending with the crystalline flow.

Percussion is generally unused here, but when tempos appear they are reverently crafted to be reminiscent of classic Tangerine Dream rhythms.

These compositions are improvised without much preplanning, yet they shine with a bewitching luster that contradicts the reality that they were created impromptu in collaboration. The melodies flow with a vaporous fluidity, easily evoking the damp environs of a swamp, whether it be the sedate pools of water or the swaying vegetation or the flittering wildlife found in such regions. As each track (there are three long ones) progresses, the music evolves from a regal calm to a state of comfortable vigor.

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RICOCHET GATHERING: Keep On (CD on Ricochet Dream)

This release from 2010 offers 70 minutes of eerie electronic music.

Featured musicians are: Daniel Bloom, Indra, Paul Lawler (aka Arcane), Paul Nagle, Steve Schroyder (ex-Tangerine Dream), and Spyra.

This material was recorded live in Transylvania, Romania, on November 11, 2008. The goal of the participants was to pay homage to Tangerine Dream's soundtrack for The Keep film.

Track one (40 minutes) features Lawler, Nagle and Schroyder. The piece begins with an eerie ambience that captures the mood of antediluvian mountain ranges and develops a melodic presence that emerges like a spirit from an ancient crypt presenting itself for the awe of the listener. Rhythms are establishes (through the application of non-impact electronics), goading the spectral electronics into a stately mode. After a suitable period, actual beats appear to convey the tuneage into spookier territory punctuated by grinding effects and sneaky keyboard riffs that prefer to remain submerged. Another ambient passage ensues which is more sedate, almost pastoral, heralding a sunrise that might banish any mood of trepidation.

Track two (20 minutes) features Bloom, Indra, Lawler, Nagle and Spyra. This song utilizes a grittier opening tinged with spacey effects. Melodic threads gradually surface from the harmonic pastiche, establishing an almost romantic air with lilting keyboards drifting amid vaporous texturals. A celestial atmosphere emerges to usher in a passage of contemplative beauty which culminates with a reverent cathedral perspective.

Track three (ten minutes) is Indra all alone. Here, things get moving swifter with electronic riffs swimming out of an ominous pool to establish a sense of mounting urgency. Auxiliary riffs slide into play to evoke complex development. A touch of supernatural omens is maintained with haunted effects that gracefully encircle the central theme. The piece concludes with a sudden shift into rapid-pace keyboards that spiral through crashing clouds.

A very tasty release that strikes new ground in its homage instead of relying on rehashing the original's material.

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RICOCHET GATHERING: Muflon Sorcerers (CD on Ricochet Dream)

This release from 2010 offers 74 minutes of stately electronic music recorded live at the Ricochet Gathering in Jelenia Gora, Poland, on September 11, 2004.

Featured musicians are: Dave Brewer, Jaroslaw Degorski, and Conrad Gibbons. They are joined on a bonus track by Paul Lawler (aka Arcane) and Krysztof Horn (from Remote Spaces), and Bill Fox.

In striking contrast to the Keep On Ricochet Gathering release, the music here embodies a dreamier disposition, with airier keyboards that possess a subtle majesty as they generate stately tuneage.

The electronics are gentle and regal, crafting melodies that drift on soft breezes. A sense of relaxation is conveyed as soothing textures are created and then embellished by elegant keyboards. At times, the electronics adopt a more shrill timbre, but those passages retain a pleasant edge, rechanneling their surging power into the creation of optimistic riffs.

While keyboards play a vital and constant role in this music, their chords are gentle and smooth, delineating riffs of engaging beauty that slowly marshal puissance without violating an overall soothing temperament.

A variety of tones are utilized, mixing low sedate sounds with more vigorous resonance. The result is well-rounded music that displays a careful balance designed to mesmerize.

Rhythms are present only in the last track (which notably occupies 25 minutes of the CD), and they are achieved through the use of non-impact electronics instead of e-perc, resulting in a softer edge to the locomotion. The keyboards are bouncier here, too, delivering sprightly riffs that sparkle with delightful luminosity.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: Ricochet Dream: EMtv & Ricochet Gathering Yellowstone 2007 (DVD on Ricochet Dream)

This DVD features an Artist Sampler--55 minutes of videos set to music from various Ricochet Dream releases, and a 71 minute documentary of the Ricochet Gathering in Yellowstone in 2007.

The Artist Sampler features works by: Spyra, Picture Palace Music, Conrad Schnitzler, Fanger & Schönwälder (featuring Lutz Ulbrich)*, Physical Love, Lemoncill, Oloiuqui, Harold Grosskopf*, Fanger & Kersten, Polaris, Ideation, Axel Heilhecker*, and Daniel Bloom. (*--previously unreleased track.)

All the songs included in the Artist Sampler are set to videos by Thomas Fanger. This music displays the full range of electronic styles found on Ricochet Dream releases, from atmospheric auralscapes to bouncy trance tunes.

The Yellowstone 2007 documentary (filmed and directed by Kinga Kielczynska) features a pastiche of live improvised performances, interviews with attending musicians, and environmental footage accompanied by the jam music.

Contributing musicians for the Yellowstone Gathering were: Adrian Beasley & John Christian (from Airsculpture), Thomas Fanger, Mario Schönwälder, Rainbow Serpent, Josef Skrzek, Daniel Bloom, Steve Schroyder, Ololiuqui, Paul Lawler, Bill Fox, Michael Victor, Michael Holcer, with guests Robert Grabowsky and Bob Weigel.

The performances are presented in snippets and show the extremely relaxed manner in which the guys jam and interact. The setting is not a concert stage, but rather a very homey locale where the musicians have set up their various apparatus in a room at a lodge. Theatrics are nonexistent, instead the performers comfortably play together in a setting that is more social than anything.

The interviews are more casual discussions, revealing how the musicians perceive these Gatherings as not just opportunities to play together but chances to socialize and learn from each other.

The environmental footage is dazzling in its scope, portraying lavish scenery from Yellowstone Park and Bozeman, Montana, (landscapes, waterfalls, geysers, rock formations, prairies, roadways, skyscapes) in conjunction with dreamy electronic music by the attendees.

This documentary definitely grants the viewer an intimate glimpse into the Yellowstone Gathering. It's not just informative, it's an enjoyable delight for the eyes , the ears, and the mind.

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