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Indie Music: Biomass, Praguedren, Geoff Westen's Digital Activity

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BIOMASS: Energy (CD on Biometrax)

This release from 2011 offers 58 minutes of industrial electronic music.

Biomass is Walter ovtha woodz. He is joined on some tracks by Keyth McGrew (of Second Culture) on synths.

Gritty electronics conspire with mechanoid rhythms to produce enticing tuneage with a suitable edginess.

The electronics are often guttural with hints of a celestial presence lurking within the mix. This combination of dark and light serves to create soundscapes of a haunting character, melodic and ominous.

Rhythms play a vital role here, providing not just tempos but functioning on an equal basis as the melodic electronics, fusing with the latter to establish an appealing urgency. The majority of these beats are electronically generated, lending them a very unearthly cadence--but that unearthly quality is more machine age than space age. One gets the impression of hearing anthems that will drive the machines once they rise up to conquer mankind.

Both the rhythms and the electronic embellishments are presented in cyclic loops that generate a repetitive flow. Auxiliary elements contribute variations deep within the mix, so that while changes occur they are often difficult to clearly perceive.

These compositions tend to merge a sense of dreaminess with a mechanized animation, resulting in an energized flow that becomes quite trancey. The industrial nature of the music is rather dominant, evoking vistas of hardware churning in dedication to some unfathomable purpose.

The last track is an epic piece (22 mninutes longs, compared to the other tracks that last from 2 to 11 minutes) of intensity in which grinding diodes clash with growling tonalities. Here, many of the beats adopt a distant pounding, while airy (but dire) rumbles seethe overhead, creating a delightful mood of percussive anxiety.

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PRAGUEDREN: Serfs of the Plant Kingdom (CD on Dank Disk)

This release from 2012 offers 29 minutes of mellow electronic music.

Praguedren is: Tomas Effliger and Sector Seventeen.

This music combines the elements of deconstruction, dub and drone to produce a selection of dreamy tunes.

With the first track, percussion bestows the textural flow with a touch of oomph, generating a terrestrial connection with the otherwise celestial atmosphere. There's a hint of grittiness underlying the tonalities that enhances that oomph.

The second piece pursues a more astral milieu with waxing and waning pulsations amid a pool of vibrating diodes.

The next track features more percussion (a plodding tempo this time) that lends a funereal flair to the otherwise high altitude seesawing electronics.

This is followed by a piece in which dub sensibilities are applied to the ambient electronics. There's a touch of vibrating strings buried in the mix, and minimal beats (of a slushy nature) contribute an understated edginess.

In the fifth composition, a stability is achieved with tones that mesh to form a breathing cosmic presence

The next piece injects a sequence of sharp impacts to delineate a soothing soundscape of divine character. There's a strong sense of impending greatness just around the corner.

And that portentous premonition can be found in the last track, as keyboards contribute fleeting chords which enhance a recurrence of those plodding beats in tandem with sighing texturals that elevate the listener to a lofty portion of their subconscious.

These compositions illustrate what can be done by combining divergent genres into an ambient template--with highly entertaining results.

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GEOFF WESTEN'S DIGITAL ACTIVITY: Activate! (CD on Disturbing Music)

This release from 2011 offers 64 minutes of rock ambient music.

With this music Westen strives to inject rock influences to ambient music (rather than the more conventional approach of flavoring rock music with electronic textures). The result is dreamy tuneage that exudes a bouncy flair.

While electronics constitute the bulk of the sounds, the songs feature contributions from traditional instruments as well, like guitar, bass, and percussion.

The electronics run the gamut from light, airy wisps of crystalline sound to gritty undercurrents. Keyboards allow the chords to cavort and gyrate with fanciful abandon, as the riffs glitter with an infectious buoyancy.

Rhythms are integral to this music, providing nimble locomotion with tempos that exhibit spry animation even when the beats are steady and languid.

The instances of guitar lend a soaring aspect to the flow, which is often grounded by the rumbling basslines sneaking throughout the mix.

These compositions are generally lively pieces. Not overly frantic, but hardly laid-back auralscapes. Each track embodies its own celebratory milieu, conveying a tempered jubilation of life and the need of each person to embrace experiences in order to banish the status quo. A tasty dose of contemporary electronic music.

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