STEVE DINSDALE Tomorrow (CD on Northern Echo)
This release from 2014 features 52 minutes of diverse electronic music.
Dinsdale is from Radio Massacre International
From the poppy nature of the first track (with its bouncy e-perc and piercing keyboard lead), one almost expects this to be a pop album (quite a surprise from a member of RMI)...but then the next piece explores an airy composition with light-hearted flutish keys and dreamy secondary chords. So...the tone is set: one of expect the unexpected.
Which is exactly what Dinsdale delivers with this music. The moods switch from song to song (from rollicking uptempo to somber atmospheric to twinkling astral excursions.
As far as instrumentation goes, it's mainly electronics (mostly triggered by keyboards). There are numerous effects and peripheral sounds, all electronic. Percussion is nigh unheard from; often rhythms are approximated through the cyclic use of non-impact electronics.
One just has to accept that Dinsdale is exploring new sonic terrain, while retaining the crisp creativity that has driven RMI from droney electronic soundscapes into progrock turf. The nice thing is, whatever the chosen mode, the music still exhibits an appealing flair. While crossing boundaries between types of music, a sense of regal charm is maintained and even expanded on. (There's almost a Residential quality to some of these tunes.)
Expect the unexpected...but expect to be delighted.
DARSHAN AMBIENT Little Things (CD on Spotted Peccary Music)
This release from 2014 offers 63 minutes of relaxed contemporary electronic music.
Darshan Ambient is multi-instrumentalist Michael Allison.
The general mood of this release is excellently set by the first tune, in which a lush textural supports a somber piano until gentle percussion and additional electronics join the flow, transforming an ambient piece into a luxurious melodic composition that is rich with a pleasant emotional disposition.
The electronics are calm and crisp. There are tonal backdrops that establish dreamy realms populated by the other instruments. Auxiliary electronics lend body and depth to the flow with their soft pulsations.
Keyboards play a vital role here, issuing lilting melodies that undulate on relaxing breezes. Occasional piano bestows a majestic flair to certain passages.
A variety of other instruments are present, like guitar (whose crystalline notes twinkle amid the tonal flow), feathery trumpet (which injects an arid romanticism), and strings (whose possibly synthesized presence introduces a haunting edge at times).
Some percussion is utilized, but the tempos are held in check so they do not overwhelm things.
These compositions are designed to elevate ambient music to another level, one where unhurried melodies are important and deliver a mood of relaxation just as do tonal auralscapes. The songs possess some degree of oomph, but their vitality is restrained, allowing the music's general gentility to speak for itself. The tunes are poignant and endearing.
MYTHOS Grand Prix (CD on Sireena Records)
This release from 2014 is a reissue of an album from 1981 and features two previous unreleased tracks, making the CD a total of 44 minutes of quasi-techno music.
Mythos is Stephan Kaske.
Nimble electronics, flute and percussion produce some tasty driving music.
The electronics tend to be shrill and somewhat hyperactive. There are no background textures, just direct lead keyboard riffs with some secondary electronic embellishments. There's a peppy quality to these electronics. The keys concentrate on individual notes strung together to create melodies, very little fluidity going on here. While the additional effects have a predominant swooshing character to them, careening out of left field to zoom across the stage and vanish without a trace.
The flute is equally piercing; no delicate winsome fluting going on here. The notes are crisp with scarce breathiness to them.
The percussion tends to be somewhat artificial, but such beats fit with the quasi-techno nature of the tuneage.
Synthesized horns are employed in a few tracks, further enhancing a nostalgic dancefloor motif.
There's robotic vocals in two songs.
These compositions seem designed to blend retro electronics with a techno sound (which was just emerging at the time). The songs are bouncy with a high degree of animation, crafted to get the listeners out of their chairs and dancing around.
Of the two bonus tracks, one either dates from the old days or was crafted to fit in with the retro-techno sound. While the second piece is clearly more modern, with densely layered electronics and sashaying flute generating a moody melody.
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