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Electronics: Gert Emmens, Picture Palace Music, Dan Pound, Spyra

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GERT EMMENS: Metamorphosis (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This release from 2010 offers 74 minutes of fluid electronic music.

Flowing textures are embellished by keyboards, resulting in tuneage that floats despite its evident weight.

The electronics are slick and polished, evoking a journey through perception and its impacts on life. Delicate atmospherics generate a vaporous foundation that adapts to enhance the primary melodies.

Those primary melodies are presented in a slow-build fashion, wherein basic threads are set forth and then elaborated until the expressions achieve a vibrant lushness. While Emmens' fingers are rarely idle, they do not flash across the keys to offer the notes in a rapid delivery. Instead, chords are presented, sustained, then tempered with additional touches to produce a smoldering beauty. The last two pieces, though, do display velocity in which a zesty attitude with swift notes achieves an inspired energized state of delightful animation.

Some rhythms are present in one track, but the rest of the music is offered mainly in a beatless form, concentrating on fluid structures tinged with incidents of amiable puissance. In some cases, pulsations are harnessed and presented in a rhythmic posture to lend the tracks propulsion.

These compositions exhibit a distinctly regal mien, perhaps because Emmens crafted them exclusively using analog equipment, thereby infusing each note with a retro richness. The tunes abound with a sense of mounting density, moving from sparse openings and progressing through stages of accretion until the music flourishes with robust power.

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PICTURE PALACE MUSIC: Midsummer (CD on Groove Unlimited)

This release from 2010 offers 65 minutes of rocking electronic music.

Picture Palace Music is: Sascha Bator (on synthesizers and percussion), Thorsten Quaesching (on guitars, lapsteel guitar, synthesizers, piano, tubular bells, drums, percussion, vuvuzella, vocoder and vocals), Kai Hanuschka (on drums, percussion, and vocals), Djirre (on guitars, vocoder and vocals), Stephen Mortimer (on guitars), Vincent Nowak (on drums), and Juergen Heidemann (on sound-stone, boomwhackers, and vocals).

Fusing contemporary electronics with rock sensibilities and producing tuneage of strong appeal to both genres.

The electronics concentrate on keyboard structures embellished by a profusion of sidereal effects; the latter can be best described as background elements which have bullied their way into the spotlight. The keys offer some ambrosial riffs that manifest as cycles of driving authority.

The guitars glisten with a smooth resonance. Sometimes expressing raucous riffs calculated to fit into a rock motif, other times adopting almost textural postures, drifting like vaporous threads amid the music.

The rhythms are an integral aspects of this music, serving to support the melodies with driving tempos of a sinuous complexity. The drums are strong and direct, delivering rhythms that perfectly mesh with the rest of the instruments and strengthen each passage in delightful manner.

A few pieces feature vocals, but they are often vocal effects (processed chants or heavenly chorales) and rarely do they occupy any dominant vantage, relegated into secondary status to enhance rather than lead the songs.

While some of the tracks explore conventional ambience, the majority of these compositions pursue a territory better classified as modern instrumental. The rhythms are too pronounced, too integral, for the songs to be considered "electronics." Meanwhile, much of the music is designed to evoke a dreamy response in the listener, thereby rendering it too cerebral to be considered as traditional "rock." What you get, though, is a marvelous fusion of each genre, metamorphosed into tunes of glorious charm and universal allure.

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DAN POUND: Aurora (CD on PoundSounds)

This release from 2010 offers 64 minutes of shimmering electronic ambience.

Dedicated to the moods generated by atmospheric manifestations of light, this music communicates an airy flair that frequently shimmers with tenuous electronic embellishment.

The electronics tend to be gentle and flowing, often relying on texturals to achieve harmonic layers of vast expansion. These auralscapes are tempered by additional traceries whose more-prominent-but-still-understated definition serve to maintain the music's overall serenity. Wisps of melody slither through this ambience, teasing the listener's psyche with their glistening activity.

While controlled tonalities dominate this tuneage, keyboard electronics are present, serving as fanciful enhancements which lend rarefied substance to the floating compositions.

The application of deeper-voiced electronics produce a moody density that laces the darkness with elusive illumination.

One track features a lazy guitar whose chords ride breezy currents amid chilly vapors of soft electronic oscillations.

These compositions achieve a delicate beauty in their expert approximation of airborne displays of light. The music perfectly stimulates introspection while promoting a tendency to watch the sky, allowing the listener to color that vista with their own imagination.

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SPYRA: No Beats for 1 Hour (limited edition CD on Ricochet Dream)

This release from 2010 offers 60 minutes of temperate electronic music.

This music is technically exactly what the title implies: an hour's worth of gentle tunes, most of them composed as soundtrack material for theatre or art installations. Ah, but do not expect these tracks to be devoid of melody or drama.

Track one is a serious orchestral piece (albeit entirely synthetic) that sets the temperate mood for the album.

This slides into the second piece (the longest track at 16 minutes), and the music goes entirely electronic with churning pulsations punctuated by twinkling diodes and sweeps of piercing tonalities. The song turns into a dreamy excursion through celestial territory with swaying tones and contesting pitches.

This is followed up by another electronic journey, this one exhibiting more melodic presence with meandering keyboard threads supported by sighing drones.

Next is a short piece that conveys a very ghostly place through use of minimal electronic whispers.

A whispered voice carries the listener to the next track, where synthesized cello and woodwinds conjure a stately presence.

The next track features a guest (Eric George) on clarinet, continuing the classical demeanor of the music. The tune has a subtle winsome edge to it.

Another short piece, this one returning to electronic outer space where grinding sounds coexist with fragile texturals.

The finale is another long track (13 minutes) and pursues a darker mood with the delicate application of heavier sounds wandering through an ominous vista of sighing tones.

Spyra shows proficiency in a variety of soft modes, from conventionally orchestral to abstract sound constructions to minimal ambience.

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