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THE O ZONE: Neverland (CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave. #251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

Gabber techno of the frantic techno kind. Rapid pulsation keyboards and driving E-perc struggle for melodic dominance on this 65 minute CD. A bit too socially conscious with the lyrics. Sonically, if you dig Moby's early techno, you'll go for this.

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OB 1: Anubismatist (CD on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).

This is an extreme chillout space recording, progressing for 57 minutes through a variety of softly atmospheric pieces. The electronics are calmly rhythmic, mixing with deep tones and unobtrusive percussive tracks that lurk at the fringe of one's attention. Add an almost subliminal-in-its-minimalism touch of vocal noises and sampled bits.

Good stuff--excellently blending Worldbeat and Orb style ambience.

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MIKE OLDFIELD: The Songs of Distant Earth (CD on Reprise Records in USA).

It's intensely satisfying to the audiophile in me to finally hear Oldfield return to the format of long instrumental compositions of epic proportions, shedding the burden of lyrics (a shot for commercialism that didn't pay off for him). "Distant Earth" is one such instrumental success (there are some vocals and choirs, but nothing intrusive)--a 56 minute piece of sonic beauty (actually it's 17 pieces bridged together into a long epic, but the result is quite seamless). Naturally guitar dominated, this album features a full range of instruments to achieve a rich and enthralling sound for the impressive melodies of grandeur.

The music on this album was inspired by the writings of SF author Arthur C. Clarke. The CD also contains a CD ROM track for Macintosh computers, featuring a little computer animation done (supposedly) by Oldfield himself.

Of other note: there are two CD Eps for the "Let There Be Light" track (both UK imports on WEA Records) containing numerous techno remixes by Brian Transeau and Hardfloor.

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ONE DOVE: Morning Dove White (CD on FFRR Records in UK).

Imagine experimental pop with a strong Laurie Anderson twist in a glass of techno rave. This 70 minute CD features a nice balance of catchy uptempo tunes with some seriously denser pieces.

Lush fem vocals swim in an intricate mix of percussive effects and liquid sounds punctuated with guitar outbursts of a shimmering nature. The presence of producer Andrew Weatherall (from Sabres of Paradise) lends a cohesiveness to these diverse elements, resulting in an extremely interesting techno release.

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THE ORB: Aubrey Mixes, the Ultraworld Excursions (CD on Wau! Mr. Modo/Big Life Records in UK).

This is a remixed collection of material from THE ORB's first album "The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworid" (which has finally been reissued in the USA as the original double CD it was in the UK). The Aubrey CD is very cool, featuring remixes by Steve Hillage, Youth, Ready Made, Jim Cauty and Dr. Alex Paterson. Ahh--your real question is: are these remixes different enough to warrant your interest? Yes--they are; that is, if you are into THE ORB's peculiar take on ambient rave music. Lots of samples and hypnotic rhythms and extended doses of each song.

THE ORB: Orbus Terrarum (CD on Island Records in USA).

The Orb has long been a standard by which the commercial realm judges the techno music scene. With their trancy long-evolve electronic pastiches of multi-source sampling and interweaving soft percussives, they've rarely failed to impress.

Well, this new LP adds a new factor to this hypnotic equation: violent outbursts and a wonderful blend of mechano-organic flair. Ah, but fear not--the intensity is not predominant, all the moreso making the outbursts more effective.

Some may frown upon the cheap shot of starting the new LP with studio versions of two old tracks from the band's double live CD "Live 93" (also on Island in USA), but these studio versions are crisp and different enough takes to warrant high interest. It's after these two pieces that all hell breaks loose with "Oxbow Lake", a song that deceptively begins with a wandering piano melody and evolves into a seething electronic charge box. From here on, the ride is littered with intense passages and trance rhythms that vibrate darkly.

There's a CD EP of "Oxbow Lake (also on Island), featuring 4 versions (plus the original) by A Guy Called Gerald, Sabres of Paradise, Carl Craig, and a violin string arrangement by Instrumental. 32 minutes of very cool stuff, taking the piano-into-intense electronics piece in curious, alternated directions.

THE ORB: Pomme Fritz (CD on Island Records in USA).

This one took some getting used to. It is a strange, almost industrial turn for Dr. Paterson and crew. What first struck me as atonal passages turned out to be structured into a larger pattern which became more evident on subsequent play of the disc.

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ORBITAL: In Sides (CD on Internal Records in UK, CD on Asteralwerks in USA).

Masters of trance techno, the Hartnoll brothers (aka Orbital) have achieved a masterful new plateau for their hypnotic electrosound, injecting a dramatic thrill to the compositions. Intriguing use of harpsichord with a strong Grecian touch is mixed in with the oddest sampled instruments (like rubber bands) amid the snappy E-perc, fast-tap delicate keyboards and fuzz bass.

A cerebral touch to the songs brings the music closer to modern electronic, leaving techno behind as a point of origin. Yet this album retains a strong dedication to rhythmic sensibilities and catchy tunes.

One USA edition of this 72 minute album comes with a bonus 58 minute disc collecting the "Times Fly" and "The Box" EPs. A very tasty bonus indeed! A later USA edition of the "In Sides" CD features another bonus disc with other material (mostly live stuff and their take on "The Saint" theme--which they did for the movie).

ORBITAL: Snivilization (CD on Astralwerks in USA).

Orbital delivers a strange evolution of their sound with their "Snivilization" CD. The rapid intricacies of their techno sound have become less predictable. The music weaves in unexpected electronic directions which produce quite pleasing responses in the listener. Having become hooked by their "Are We Here?" EP (also on Astralwerks--note, the UK version of this CD EP features different, much tastier remixes), I was unprepared for the album version to be so unlike the quick tempo single, much less the album version's extreme length! Wow! A breathtaking album and certainly worthy of repeated attention.

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THE OROONIES: The Whale and the Wind (50 minute cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Avenue., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).

Spacey psychedelic rock on the soft side with an ethnic twist...in the vein of early Gong, Ozric Tentacles or Third Ear Band. It has some very tasty moments with swimming fanciful vocals, durable drumming, jazz baselines, astral flute and shimmering glissando guitar amid a pixyland of chittering subtle synthis. Builds nicely to ample intensity.

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OUR GLASSIE AZOTH (CD on Plate Lunch, PO Box 1503, D-53585 Bad Honnef, Germany).

Basically nonrhythmic in nature, two of these four pieces on this 35 minute CD excel at aggressive electronics with shrill potential, spooky dark auralscapes full of angry computers and hungry screeches and tortured drum.

Severely recommended to those looking for a synthetic pea experience. Even the pair of atmospheric pieces possess sharp fangs.

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OUT OUT: Pepperbox Muzzle (CD on Axis Records, 2341 Chestnut St., #103, San Fransisco, CA 94123, USA).

Rapid industrial sound distortion and sampler overkill added to the heavy E-perc and pounding synthis. Really quite enthralling. Their "Finched" CD (also on Axis Records) is another agro delight.

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OZMA: "A Huge And Silent Place" --the latest musical CD release by Atomic City, will have  all-new color cover art by Matt Howarth (featuring a guest appearance by Keif Llama).

This CD was recorded in late 1995, and collects the best material from about two hours of music created by OZMA, the name given to that year's working collaboration between Mike Metlay and DAC Crowell. Over the three years following the recording sessions, the tracks were culled, edited, sequenced and mastered with the technical assistance and golden ears of Darwin Grosse, and for about the past year the album has been mastered in its final form and ready to release.

Those of you who are wondering what the CD is like... Well, it's definitely space-trance music. There are almost no rhythms or beats on the record, not a lot of the traditional melody/harmony structures... just a lot of electronic texture, very cold and dense. Someone described the music as being "true" space music, in that it does not evoke the feeling of being in space, but rather the feeling of being space itself, the vast emptiness between our Sun and its nearby neighbors. (A number of the tracks are named for near stars, like beta Hydri and Lalande 21185.)

Five of the tracks are very long, and five are short transitions, making just over an hour of music. The music is all improvised in two passes: in most cases, DAC would create an entire improvised tapestry on his electronics while Metlay wasn't there, then play it back digitally as Metlay listened to it and played along himself. A few of the tracks were spontaneously recorded in one go by the two of them together, but nothing was pre-sequenced or edited except for length and to remove the occasional digital artifact.

This release can be regarded as at least as good as the stuff being put out by labels like Hypnos, Projekt/Darkwave, and Fathom.

If you would like a copy of the Atomic City release of A HUGE AND SILENT PLACE, please send a check for $20 made payable to Mike Metlay to the address at the label:

Atomic City
P. O. Box 17083
Boulder, CO 80308-0083

Please include your name, address, and email with the check. If you would like more than one copy, that's cool too.

Buyers from foreign countries should send checks or international money orders in US funds, preferably drawn on a US bank, and to avoid Eurocheques, which completely mystify US banks. The price for Canadian buyers will be $25, and the price for other countries around the world will be $30.

Don't miss out on this exciting new release.

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OZRIC TENTACLES: Arborescence (CD on Dovetail Records in the UK, IRS Records in the USA).

Ever since I discovered their "Erpland" album I've become quite the Ozricheaded fanatic. I quickly searched out all their albums and even obtained their self-released cassette tapes (which have since been reissued on CD). I sniffed out offshoot projects by Ozric members (such as EAT STATIC and NODENS ICTUS), and even found an Ozric videotape ("Live at the Fridge"). At every step, my glee was utmost and I found it impossible not to endlessly promote the band's music.

And with the release of their album, "Arborescence", it starts all over again. I'm going to rant about Ozric's wonderful blend of electronic and ethnic rhythms and how the astral rifts are filtered through a happy hophead sensibility. I'm going to praise their swooping gurgling, urgent synthis, their stunning guitar, their locomotive percussion. I'm going to babble about how this band is bringing space music to its maturity. I'm going to bang on the table and wave my arms and legs in the air as I try to describe the epic levels that their songs achieve: the sheer ecstasy, the utter intensity, the optimum ticket to free association.

From a more critical stand, "Arborescence" starts slow, with material that is somewhat derivative of earlier work. This is not unacceptable, for they do interesting tricks with the older rifts. Once the album kicks loose, though, it's a sonic free-for-all scramble in your head. I loved it, and I could go on for--well, I think I've made my point.

OZRIC TENTACLES: Become the Other (CD on Dovetail Records in UK).

I fully expected this to be another ho-hum standardly outstanding album by Ozric Tentacles, full of more miracle takes on the same riff. What I didn't expect was the exact level of outstanding that the Ozrics would achieve this time, belting out brilliant melodies and stunning guitarwork amid the thick synthi rhythm tangle and busy percussive atmosphere.

Outstanding is just so inadequate though. Ozric Tentacles normally start out amazing and build from there, yet "Become the Other" contains music of a superior level--beyond power rock, beyond trance guitar. Naturally epic in quality and quite hypnotic by nature, the music here is a definite growth for the band.

Okay, there is still some evidence of that "same riff", but it is not worked to death, appearing only briefly. The Ozrics have found a new riff.

OZRIC TENTACLES: Curious Corn (CD on Mad Fish Records in UK).

For quite some time, the Ozrics have been a primo instrumental space rock band, producing ethereal yet powerfully dynamic tuneage comprised of stunning guitar pyrotechnics, swimming synthis, driving percussion and all-round funloving madness.

This CD bears seven new songs of such brilliance, 46 minutes of intricate cosmic ascension to ardent epic heights. Newcomers will be amazed and longtime listeners will be satisfied.

OZRIC TENTACLES: Erpland (CD on Dovetail Records in UK).

The spaced-out quality of early Hawkwind and the intricate fusion of a Gongesque sound into a throbbing single sonic mass. But it would be a grievous musical crime to ignore Ozric Tentacles on the basis that their music is comparible to early 70e space rock, because Ozric Tentaclee have matured that sound into a modern incarnation of trance rock--blinding guitar, eternally swimming synthis, thundering sinuous basslinee, mesmerizing percussion, lots of bubbling noises--instrumental music for a higher consciousness. This 73 minute CD is to die for, with its profusion of epic peaks and astral sweeps.

OZRIC TENTACLES: Jurassic Shift (CD on IRS in the USA).

Ozric Tentacles are often guitar strong with their ethnic slant on instrumental fusion rock. This CD is typically thick with driving guitar, amoebic synthis, subtle bass, cleverly perpetual drumming and outbursts of butterflyesque flute. The compositions are dynamic and catchy and highly recommended.  

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