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Indie Music: Digital Geist, Jacob Duringer, Jonas Kroon, Jorge Natalin, Praguedren, Thought Thieves

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DIGITAL GEIST: The Apollo Program (limited edition CD on Digital Geist Music)

This release from 2010 offers 60 minutes of spacey techno music.

Digital Geist is Alex Kourelis.

Dreamy interludes are flavored with rhythms that transform the melodies into strong techno.

The electronics blend delicate texturals with more urgent delineation, producing a lush dancefloor milieu with a touch of astral influences. A selection of riffs are delivered by keyboards, producing melodies that swim amid the beat clusters. Meanwhile a bevy of effects season the edges of things with engaging charm.

The percussion is crisply synthetic yet snappy, excellently capturing a club disposition with tempos designed to motivate the listener's feet into delightful motion. Complex rhythms churn away, supporting the sparkling electronics with a versatile array of beats.

While these compositions are straightforward techno, the songs convey a sense of awe and nostalgic mystery as they examine the early NASA space program with melodies that aspire to high altitudes. Many of the tunes embody a sprightly sentiment: uplifting and congenial.

This release is available as a physical CD from the artist and as digital downloads from various sources. A special double CDR version of the album is available from the artist. Check the webite for details.

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JACOB DURINGER: The Fruit of the Spirit (CD on Diskfacktory)

This release from 2011 offers 46 minutes of soft electronic music.

Duringer plays the Monolithic Two-Dimensional keyboard (of which he is the inventor), which utilizes no programming, layering, multitracking, or any other artificial assistance. Each sound is produced live by manual fingering of the complex keyboard.

While this music tends to be somewhat minimal, its sparseness generates a fragile mood that excellently matches the tender melodies. Chords spill forth with unhurried deliberation, crisp and generally haunting in their timbre.

A degree of complexity seeps in as the tracks progress. Multiple riffs appear and interweave, producing a touch of density that remains delicate. A toy-like quality dominates the music, producing a distinctly intimate feeling with each passing moment of shimmering phraseology.

Curiously buzzing and ticking noises are employed as rhythmics, lending some subtle propulsion to the lazily flowing pieces.

Despite their oft simplicity, these compositions express a certain genteel behavior that becomes entrancing. For all their minimal characteristics, the melodies slowly evolve within their own parameters, displaying engaging progression. By the end of the CD, the tunes have achieved a degree of intricacy far in excess of the pace found in the early tracks.

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JONAS KROON: Melo (CD on Amadea Records)

This release from 2011 offers 68 minutes of stately music.

Norwegian synthesist Kroon is joined on tracks by: Goran Obad (on bass, guitars, percussion, and vocals), Birgit Nerheim (on violin), Line Haukland (on cello), Jostein Austvik (on drums), Alex Braathen (on percussion), Sondre Sandhaug (on bass), Mateusz Rostad (on violin), and Csilla Szabo-Eri (on violin). Lead and backing vocals are performed by: Trym Bjonnes (who also plays harmonica), Kjersti Vatnan Ekman (who also contributes flute), Silje Gulbrandsen Hagen, Thomas Haakonsen, and Thomas Wicklund-Larsen. The last track is remixed by ambient musician Xerxes.

Soft electronics blend with classical instruments and vocals to produce tuneage that mesmerizes as it stimulates the cerebrellum.

The electronics are soft and gentle in their presentation, serving as an excellent medium in which the other instruments float with stately elegance.

Among the classical instruments, the violin stands as an integral contribution, bestowing a lilting beauty to the music. The violin alternates between subtle background tones to more expressive lead sawing that generates an heightened level of activity. That elevated sense of motion is similarly augmented by infrequent outbursts of electric guitar. The uncommonly charged incidence of flute also escalates the vibrancy of a few tracks.

While rhythms are present in this music, often they are generated by other instruments creating fragile tempos to counterbalance the more overt drums (when the latter appear to goad things into a lively state).

While vocals are a steadfast fixture in these tunes, they manifest mostly in a non-lyrical manner, adding sinuous layers of crooning to the flowing melodies.

These compositions exhibit a regal posture with their studied gentility, but that aristocracy is suitably tempered with an energized attitude. Combining aspects of cinematic music and progressive classical and contemporary electronics, the result is an alluring sonic excursion full of dreaminess and enthusiasm in equal shares.

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JORGE NATALIN: In Atmospheres (limited edition CD on Natalin Music)

This release from 2010 offers 33 minutes of guitar dance music.

Natalin plays guitar. He is joined by: Tim Egmond on keyboards and effects, Klaus de Jong on drums, and Tijmen Ruizendaal on percussion and samples.

An interesting fusion of trance and rock achieved entirely without computers.

The rhythms establish a sinuous presence of durable beats fairly reminiscent of a garage band.

The guitar is the pivotal instrument, belting out growling sustains and warbling chords that walk a fine line between abstract and traditional rock music. The strings are subjected to experimental sensibilities while manifesting a conventional resonance.

The keyboards provide a grounding element with their slippery sweeps. Additional effects flesh out the tunes with novel enhancements.

These compositions pursue a goal of creating dance music centering on guitar instead of electronics. The result is quite alluring, with rock guitar stylings supporting the driving rhythms and generating tuneage possessing an eccentric appeal.

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PRAGUEDREN: Aurora Australis (CD on Dank Disk)

This release from 2011 offers 42 minutes of ambient music.

Praguedren is: Tomas Effliger and Sector Seventeen, recording in their East Prague studio.

While previous releases have displayed an affinity for minimal ambience and jarring reconstructions of other band's material, with this release Praguedren settle down to show their own creativity.

Track one illustrates the band's fascination with gentle ambience, coaxing tenuous tones into dreamy structure.

The next piece bumps up things to a slightly more invigorating presence, with trembling drones and echoing e-perc beats. As the song progresses, the drones wander through engaging variations with a touch of submerged resonance.

Track three blends processed tempos with blurry pulsations which possess motorized hints. The result is a mood of edgy expectancy.

Next we have a piece that continues to pursue the band's obsession with sparse sounds cultivated to generate emotional responses in the audience. Tension is created as the barely discernible tonalities drift through a realm which lends sparkle to each muted drone.

Track five employs a more pronounced rhythmic presence, albeit still suppressed and restrained to the point where the beats are incapable of establishing a coherent tempo. Gentle electronics wash over the segregated impacts, swamping the beats in a medium of elongated tones.

The last track is the longest (at nearly 13 minutes), and offers an extended dose of Praguedren's passive tuneage. Here, the tones float with shimmering grace, unmarred by any intrusive beats or attempts to liven things up. The end result is a soundscape of endearing gentility rich with introspective potential.

All told, this release explores an interesting approach to ambience.

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THOUGHT THIEVES: Krista (CD EP on Thought Thieves Music)

This release from 2011 offers 28 minutes of gritty pop music.

While electronics play a role here, it is a submerged presence (and apparently devoid of computer involvement). Drones adopt a dark posture tinged with a balancing touch of squeal.

The guitar is nimble and clever, belting out shiny riffs oozing with catchiness.

The percussion is crashing and compulsive, generating driving rhythms of an infectious stature.

The vocals are rich, warmly captivating, and very reminiscent of the New Romantic movement from the early 80s.

Steeping in New Wave roots, this music applies a modern approach and technology to pop tuneage. These compositions seethe with vibrancy, the type that stimulates the mind with the same deep influence that it has on the mind. decorative rule

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