Produced at MYTHOS STUDIO BERLIN.|
- Karakuri [6:17]
- Metrosexual Zone [7:40]
- You Are Evil [11:57]
- Hawai Iniki [14:36]
- Ev’rybody Out There [12:44]
- Adrenalin Hunters [8:44]
- Ceep Kool Tonite [10:00]
- Dynamic Relaxation [14:28]
- Easy Rotations [10:22]
- Flightseeing [10:24]
- Passione Totale [9:49]
- Mythomorphosis [9:17]
- Pimp Your Guitar [6:19]
- Fourthreetwoone [13:07]
- Kirikaeshi [14:20]
All compositions, instruments and programming by Stephan Kaske.
I was surprised to learn that not only is former Mythos mainman Stephan Kaske (whose 'Grand Prix' is something of a forgotten classic!) still making music but had received Schwingungen awards as recently as 2005.
This lavishly-packaged 3CD box set (with a smart booklet, too!) is his latest offering, containing 15 tracks of rather fine rhythmic melodic synthmusic of the sort that is a rarity these days & Kaske's melodic skills mean there is plenty of worthwhile music to be discovered here, as proven by 'You Are Evil', where some imaginative vocoder effects are absorbed into the melodic framework or the 14-minute 'Hawai Iniki' which is even better, setting off from an immediately infectious sequencer backing that is returned to, to good effect, throughout the track. It's also one of the few longer pieces that doesn't sound like it goes on for too long, thanks to the greater variety on offer although others are not so lucky.
'Dynamic Relaxation', for example, is another 14 minute job & is far too repetitive, saying all it needs to in half that time which does dilute somewhat the impact of the otherwise quite enjoyable melodics. The 'uniformity' that is evident in the backing rhythms doesn't help in this regard, either, although his melodic skills, for the most part, compensate for this with 'Adrenalin Hunters' boasting a nice contrast between the bright & breezy sequences & the dynamic main theme or 'Easy Rotations', where the offbeat, almost rusty-sounding sax adds a down-at-heel jazz feel & it's no bad thing to see an EM musician looking beyond the usual realms for inspiration, is it?
Elsewhere, some wordless vocals add to the already uplifting mood of 'Passione Totale' which opens disc three &, although I'm not too sure about the title, the similarities between 'Pimp Your Guitar' & TD's late 80s work is actually quite enjoyable, with some almost mind-bending guitar work adding a sharper edge to the pleasant melodics.
As the collection nears its end the overtly happy feel of 'Fourthreetwoone' is tempered slightly by a nicely abstract middle-section before 'Kirikaeshi' brings out the analogue drum machine for one last hurrah, along with the kind of ethnic effects that were 'in vogue' about 10 years ago but they basically sound OK here, bringing to a conclusion this fine release that's well worth discovering.
GB / Sequences
"Mysteria" is a magnificent triple cd by M.A.S.S., the artistic name of Stephan Kaske, a founding member of the mythical band Mythos, created in 1969.
This album joins Space Music with Synth-Pop in a very imaginative manner, which proves why the artist succeeded in becoming a musical visionary at a time when shaping risky concepts of sound was by no means as technologically easy as it is now.
Kaske, who since then has been developing an intense musical career in various recording projects as well as being the author of soundtracks and music for television advertisements, displays an excellent combination of artistic creativity and mastery in his skills with the electronic medium, which means in fact that this work is a true jewel for the lovers of innovative electronic music, with a remarkable beauty, while at the same time avoiding arid experimentation or commercial formulae which are repeated ad nauseam.
An impressive three CD collection of melodic electronica with programmed beats and occasional world elements. Mythos delivers here a suite of fifteen synthesiser compositions evolved out of Berlin school origins. The musical approach is dramatic, energetic and colourful - strong programmed rhythms propel multi-layered electronic arrangements where imaginative themes luxuriate among swirling effects, morphing sequences and delicate textural films. Lending an additional range of expression there are oriental er-hu violins, emotional female vocal utterances that suggest the Middle East and a number of other global influences. The variation here comes primarily from fluctuations in intensity and layering rather than chordal arrangements, repetition is well employed and cycling, developing motifs build into vibrant compositions.
The mood here is one of exotic digital professionalism - Kaske delivering some evocative compositions that wring surprisingly passionate responses from the wires and circuitry at his disposal. Mysteria is unarguably synthesiser music in the grand tradition, twinkling with inviting artificial light and rippling in sequenced regularity - yet the music here is certainly not mechanical or predictable. Monumental and imposing at times, many of the tracks have a regal quality about them as if drawing on a distinguished and extensive history.
Mysteria comes in a double opening digipack that unfolds into four sections. Three hold discs and the fourth pockets a twenty eight page booklet that charts the history of the Mythos legend. A series of double page spreads describe the origins of the band, the development of their sound and the albums that have spanned almost four decades. Swirling fractal images accompany the information both within the generous booklet and the digipack sections themselves. The front cover puts a beautiful computer graphic to the fore - the words "Music is both an art and a craft based on acoustic principles yet subject to various interpretations hence its artistic merit" lurking to the bottom right. The rear cover contains a track list with timings and relevant contact details.
Mythos (not to be confused with the Canadian duo of the same name) was founded in 1969 by the multi-instrumentalist Stephan Kaske along with Thomas Hildebrand (Drums) and Harald Weiße (Bass) and was one of the original bands on the famous German Ohr label. The band gradually slimmed down so that currently it is a solo project of Stephan Kaske. M.A.S.S. - Mysteria comes two years after the 2 CD set Edgar Allen Poe ... but there is a large discography preceding these that points to a powerful sonic heritage. Promotional material suggests "You must listen to this music on a SA(SuperAudio)CD-Player to hear the full range of this melodic, rhythmic modern electronic journey into sound".
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM
Mythos / M.A.S.S. is an act well known to electronica fans and this three CD set will doubtless delight those already in the know. Mysteria is a must for lovers of German synthesiser music with its roots in the seventies, delivered here with a new millennium clarity.
Stephan Kaske has had a long career in electronic music, going back to 1969 when he joined two other musicians to form the group Mythos. In the 1990s he started to record under the moniker M.A.S.S, initially to put his own interpretation on the music of selected classical and modern composers. His latest release is a three CD set called Mysteria -each consisting of five tracks- which is best appreciated by those who have a Super Audio CD player.
Not having heard any Mythos or M.A.S.S albums before I had no idea what to expect from Mysteria. I'd describe it as thinly layered synth pop ranging from some great tunes to somewhat boring ones. But across the CDs there's enough to keep the listener interested.
On disc 1 the first but shortest track "Karakuri" is the highlight. Lush synth lines with a frisson like humming power lines combine with a skittering rhythm and an exotic style melody hinting at suppressed emotions.
In some tracks there's a sensuousness lurking in the rhythms and melodies, and especially in "Metrosexual Zone" the aching ethnic and androgynous vocals bring out this aspect.
Onto disc 2 and the sonics are familiar. Musically it's more dramatic and perhaps a little more melodic. By now there seems to be a pattern, at least for me, that the first track on each CD is the best.
On "Adrenalin Hunters" it's not surprising that the music is upbeat with an infectious rhythm and melody of sparkling notes that sometimes reached an intensity like fireworks exploding in the sky. Apart from losing its way in parts this track is wonderful.
By now you get the idea of how this disc set goes musically. I'd say that Mysteria fits into the well populated category of good but not great EM.
Of the nearly three hours of music much of it is accessible and enjoyable enough, some is a bit boring, and a few tracks go on too long.
2007. Dene Bebbington / Ambient Visions
This release from 2006 offers a total of 160 minutes of delightful electronic music.
Fanciful keyboards drive these melodies, assisted by percussion and an assortment of sampled instruments. The electronics are versatile, sometimes rumbling other times glistening. A certain jubilant flavor is present, bestowing the melodies with a bouncy quality. Grittier elements provide a tasty counterpart to this joviality, infusing the tunes with a sense of mystery that never becomes too foreboding. While the keyboards ring with a lustrous clarity, a murky demeanor gnaws at the edge of the chords. A stance of amused majesty might better describe the overall mood.
Sparkling melodies are established, then embellished by auxiliary cadence. Repetition plays only a small role in the music's structure, as passages unfurl with inventive variations. Fresh riffs are constantly surfacing, tirelessly bolstering things with entertaining diversions.
The percussion is nimble and generous, providing the melodies with sumptuous locomotion. Traditional drums share the rhythmic stage with a bevy of synthetic beats.
Vocal strains are manifest in several songs, generating a human presence, grounding the music's effervescent mystique.
Compositionally, this music is tight and ripe. Classical styles blend with modern sensibilities to produce rich melodies with wide-range appeal. Passion is suitably present but under studied restraint. Despite their enigmatic aspects, the tunes remain amiable and wholly accessible. Their drama exists on a fundamental level, albeit cocooned with layers of jocular motivation.
Good-time tuneage with strong maturity.
2007. Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity
Note: This 3-CD set is in Super Audio CD (SACD) format; however, it is a hybrid SACD, and will play in standard CD players as well.
What a fun surprise it was when this beautifully packaged 3-CD SACD set arrived in the mail. Complete with a 28-page booklet, the liner notes give a detailed history of the man behind the project, Stephan Kaske from Berlin, who apparently has been involved in electronic music since the 60s in various group and solo projects, doing both original and cover material.
The music is melodic, mostly light and upbeat, with sequencers and drums. There are progressive rock influences as well. Typical of the music to be found here is track three on the first disc, "You Are Evil". Despite the dark title, it is quite bright and bouncy, with a cool shuffling groove that carries it along.
Equally optimistic is "Hawai Iniki" (sic), with a variety of light synth layers. The general approach and lighthearted mood, if not the actual sound, is reminiscent of EM bands like Wavestar, Software, and the like.
Disc two starts nicely with "Adrenalin Hunters." Cool sequencing and slowly thumping beats form the backdrop to a variety of nifty electronic textures, including a very Tangerine Dream-like stabbing synth sound. Starting with punch, it lays back a little in the midsection via a more leisurely playful rhythm section.
At times, the set seems a little overly full to cover three discs; for example, "Ceep Kool Tonite" has a very similar sound and style covered on disc one with "You Are Evil." Wailing female vocals don’t add anything worthwhile.
"Dynamic Relaxation" is pleasant enough, but could easily have been trimmed considerably from its running time of 14:28 to about a third of that and still gotten its point across.
Still, Kaske has his own distinctive style, not merely a copy of other Berlin school artists, and as such if you like the lighter side of EM you may want to give this a try, if for no other reason than to say you have an electronic music SACD other than TD’s Rubycon.
2007. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
After his astonishing epos about Edgar Allen Poe, Stephan Kaske (M.A.S.S./Mythos) presents his follow up and celebrates his 40 th release with a triple album in an awesome digipak (with the complete history of Mythos).
The first CD opens crystal clear with a phenomenal depth in the sound as only is possible on a hybrid SACD and a DDD recording! The pleasant and accessible melodies are played by a sample of a violin and accompanied by refined percussion and light orchestrations.
The next track "Metrosexual" is a somewhat jazzy shuffle, enriched by numerous subtle effects. The sample of a female vocal gives this track a bit of an erotic edge.
Track 3 falls into the same category but has a bit more rhythm and a slightly different beat. Some parts remind a little of the beautiful instrumental songs by the Alan Parsons Project.
Track 4 is a an easy-listening tune, almost danceable and parts make you think you’re in a merry-go-round. In between there is tasteful more quiet piece.
The last track happens to be in the same tone but has some changing rhythm patterns but I’m not particularly fond of the distorted male vocals that have been used here.
CD2 opens with a Tangerine Dream-like track but there are major resemblances between "Ceep Kool Tonite" and "Metrosexual", while the melody-lines of "Everybody Out" and "Dynamic Relaxation" are comparable as well.
The atmosphere in "Easy Rotations" is the same as in "Metrosexual" but the solo-instrument is a trumpet (or a remarkably perfect sample of it) and the music has got a little more swing.
The last track called "Flightseeing" is the highlight for me: sounds like Tangerine Dream in greatest form but then ‘Kaske’s way’.
CD3 is my favourite and opens with a track very much like "Metrosexual" (again!) but a bit slower and with different noises and effects.
"Mytomorphosis" reminds of Kraftwerk but a little more playful a.o. because of a theme returning halfway when the ‘steam-train is accelerating’.
The most symphonic/progressive tracks are top of the bill: "Pimp Your Guitar" could be considered a cross-over between Tangerine Dream and Porcupine Tree and "Fourthreetwoone" is a delightful and cheerful synthi-pop track.
The closing piece is a long modern, melodic track full of rhythm and with a nice groove.
My rating of this work would have been even higher if Kaske would have decided to put his musical ideas on one long CD, because many themes pop up more than once and/or are just a bit too lengthy for my taste, but still all together a very impressive release!
Menno von Brucken Fock
In the early 70s there was the legendary Krautrock band Mythos led by multi-instrumentalist Stephan Kaske. Over the decades Kaske remained active as a musician, ultimately becoming a solo electronic artist with a long string of releases recorded as either Mythos or M.A.S.S. Mysteria is his latest release and is a massive one at that.
This triple CD release comes in a lavish digipack with a 28-page booklet summarizing Kaske's musical career and basically marketing his back catalogue.
I really tried to like this album, especially since I am a fan of his very early work. But there is far too much mundane and boring music on Mysteria to make me want to listen to it more than once. It isn't until I waded through the first two discs that I finally uncovered some music on Disc 3 worth listening to: "Mythomorphosis," "Fourthreetwoone," and "Kirikaeshi." These three songs have an edge and harken back to earlier times. Unfortunately the rest of the discs are simple repeated sequences that rarely vary with occasional sampled voices, but nothing to capture your attention.
It is a shame as it is evident that Kaske devoted a lot of time and energy into this project, as well as encouraging you to listen to the CDs on an SACD-player to experience the full range of his electronic music. Kaske has received a lot of positive press for his other work, and that is probably where you should go rather than investigate Mysteria.