Transformation 88:98 is a kind of best of. I had so many emails asking if I had more music available after Intrigue I finally got around to compiling this CD. These tracks span from 1988-98 (hence the title) with one new recording.|
- Landscape Of Tomorrow [10:29]
- Element Of Intrigue [7:38]
- Moving Target [4:42]
- Biomechanoid [5:37]
- Creature Of Legend [6:44]
- The Rebus Tape [8:15]
- Delusions [6:32]
- Facade [3:15]
- Eastern Promise [3:59]
- The All Seeing Eye [6:48]
- Thru Rugged Terrain [7:26]
I worked in some big studios in the early 90's and a lot of this music was created during the downtime on high end equipment. Probably the most ambitious of these is track 1 - Landscape of Tomorrow which had 3 months of pre-production & 3 months recording/re-arranging/mixing. At times I though I'd never finish it.
Tracks like this didn't appear on Intrigue as they didn't suit the theme of that album but are all now finally available on this collection.
It's quite a varied collection of styles but there's enough up-tempo stuff to keep fans of the last CD happy!
1 Landscape Of Tomorrow 10:29 Starts off with raspy breathy synths and Blade runner-like timbres. A slow rhythm starts (a tad like TDís Legend soundtrack). The tension builds, until drums punch in and a rather Ď80ís like Propaganda bass line joins it, over this Steven plays a solid melody, and this is soon joined by new sequences. Over all it reminded me a bit of Mark Shreeve's Crash head album, bombastic and melodic with lots of twists and turns building to a 'Jarre like' synth solo and a huge rumbling, echoing ending.
2 Element Of Intrigue 7:38 Starts with an eerie Synergy/Larry Fast like note, over this echoing drums with a Ďmid-pacedí JMJ arrangement are added. An interesting piano melody is added over yearning synth cries and echoing crashes. The chord and bass line interplay are just brilliant. Once again Steven shows he can craft a great tune, whilst showing he can be influenced by but doesn't have to copy others, something a few EM artists could learn from.
3 Moving Target 4:42 We're back in Crash head territory here, good stuff (although personally I could have done without the sampled cries). The drums twist from Art of Noise to Kraftwerk and back, whilst metallic sequences push the track forward. The track ends with a brief War zone sample.
4 Biomechanoid 5:37 A brief atmospheric pads introduces a big stomping 4 on the floor track (think Eat Static jamming with Fluke). A top tune, and if you like upbeat stuff you'll love it. Is that a sample from the 6 million dollar man I can hear?
5 Creature Of Legend 6:44 Starts with a BIG FOOT movie sample (hence the titleÖdíoh!), a sampled flute melody replaces it, this is soon joined by a big thumping rhythm over Art of Noise like percussion and sampled acoustic guitar sequences. A good solid track.
6 The Rebus Tape 8:15 An ominous start, this is soon overlaid with an analog like rattling drum pattern, a high sequence and a nice melody (with much pitch bending). Steven uses a great echoed noise effect over a lush minor key chords progression. The piece builds again with a portamento gliding sequence, effects driven drums and a great melody. Brilliant
7 Delusions 6:32 A totally different track, with 'right in your face' drums and TD like sequences (I canít quite place where Iíve heard the drum sounds before but theyíre great) with old movie clip samples, sequence after sequence are added and the excitement is kept up to until skidding halt for a few bars of piano and then bang! Weíre back into the sequencer-fest again, this time with an added melody line to close. Another winner for me
8 Facade (excerpt) 3:15 Sounds like something from Foreign movie thriller (subtitles not needed), bending pads and other hard to place sounds play whilst huge stabs pound in the background. These then die away leaving a breathy melody, over eerie effects (think 1980ís TD)
9 Eastern Promise 3:59 Begins with an electric piano, but itís soon gives way to a more dance influenced feel, complete with snare builds and sampled vocal snippets (the descending piano motif reminded me of TDís more recent work). Good to see Steven trying other styles
10 The All Seeing Eye 6:48 A totally different track, very much like some of TDís early Ď80ís soundtrack work, all ethereal sinuous pads, (slightly like Remote viewing from TDís album Exit meets Propeller Islandís the Secret Convention), phased and echoing, subtle and atmospheric it wouldnít sound out of place on one of the better Fax label cds. Superb.
11 Thru Rugged Terrain 7:26 A big swirling JMJ pad introduces what might be my favourite track from Transceive ever. A big, bouncy, 'EM meets Club' track. For me itís got everything, great drums, Propaganda like brass stabs over phased chords, a memorable chord progression and a solid melody.
2006. Andy King / UK
A combination of grinding and breathy noises over an appropriately sinister sonic backing gets the awesome 'Landscape of Tomorrow' off to a very impressive start. An excellent lead line is then blasted by a simply fantastic rhythmic salvo that grabbed me as strongly as Mark Shreeve's 'Legion' did the first time I heard it. The melodies could also have been penned by Mark- they're that good. It's a bit difficult trying to air keyboard and drum at the same time but I sort of managed it! We of course finish with an explosion.
'Element of Intrigue' starts off with a brooding rhythm to which wonderful melodic pulsations are added complimented by a stonking anthemic lead line. Again my body just couldn't keep still- its all so incredibly exciting and full of energy!
'Moving Target' blasts forward with crashing rhythms. It's the sort of music that would get you driving way too fast. Heavy stuff indeed.
'Biomechanoid' initially calms things down a little. The soft pads soon give way to a rapid staccato melody then vast lead stabs and a spitting machine gun type rhythm. The soloing is absolutely manic, way OTT and of course just how I like it. All the tracks so far have been superb but this is even better. For the meek, lovers of squeaking dolphins and fairies this most certainly ain't.
'Creature of Legend' features vocal samples from some film about Sasquatch. Another exciting loping rhythm starts up along with a moody moaning lead line. There is even an acoustic guitar in there mixing delicacy with power.
'The Rebus Tape' builds slowly, a sharp rhythmic loop mixing with a rapid sequence. There is something of a sinister feel to proceedings. We enter euphoric realms once more as a superb strident lead line starts up over apocalyptic drums. There are changes in pace as we go; from moody passages to more oomph laden belters.
'Delusions' is more like a cross between Mark Shreeve and Synthetik. Again rhythms and infectious melodies mix exquisitely with some well-chosen samples. It's a track which just oozes attitude.
'Facade' is a short atmospheric piece but hardly tranquil, instead it is moody and full of menace.
I also thought 'Eastern Promise' was going to be laid back but no- it turns out to be the most 'different' track on the album. Like a mix between Asana and Space!
'The All seeing Eye' is another brooding atmospheric number, sort of like dark Robert Rich mixed with TD's 'Sorcerer'.
It's back to nuclear meltdown for 'Thru Rugged Terrain'. A heavy rhythm strikes up whilst wonderful melodies fly over the top. This would be amazing played live.
What a fantastic album. Highly recommended.
There used to be a particularly British phenomenon in the world of instrumental synth music that became known as 'Brit Synth Rock'. This powerful style of music acted as a lively and dynamic counterpoint to the somewhat twee sounds that were emanating from most od mainland Europe with Mark Shreeve (who also wrote a couple of Samantha Fox's biggest hits) being its most famous practicer, so much so that the adjective 'Shreeve-like' has now become the very definition of powerful rhythmic EM.
Although this style seems to have gone into hubernation there are still some musicians keeping it alive, among them the Scottish musician Steve Nelson who here presents his second album (following on from 2002's Intrigue), consisting, as the title suggests, of tracks recorded between 1988 and 1998 although the closing 'Thru Rugged Terrain' was remixed in 2006. Recording dates are given on all tracks although it hardly matters as they all sound like totally new tracks anyway, there's no lessening of quality to suggest certain tracks are older than others, apart from the voice effects that do date the dancey 'Easter Promise' just a tad.
This, along with the punchy, techo of 'Biomechanoid' was doubtless inspired by his work in the dance music scene which doubtless gave him a headstart in producing music that was polished and dynamic although he does get a bit carried away on the opener 'Landscape Of Tomorrow', which is a memorable and purposeful number, the strident horns providing what seems to be an appropriate closing point only to branch off into a slower theme that seems totally unrelated to what has gone before. It's enjoyable enough in itself but would have been far better employed providing the basis for a totally new track. For the most part, though, the tracks are as tight and as dynamic as would be expected with 'Element Of Intrigue' building into a stately and powerful offering, the main theme of which resembles Jean Michel Jarre, funnily enough while 'Creature Of Legend', inspired by the legend of Big Foot, is similarly majestic and contains a sample from a very scary episode of 'The Six Million Dollar Man (it was the Sasquatch's eyes that did it!!), although the roaring sounds a bit silly here.
'Delusions' is made up of three different sections that, on the face of it, bear no resemblance to each other. Starting very majestic the industrial motifs change the outlook completely while the offbeat interlude again seems to bear no resemblance to the rest of the track (I'm guessing this is something to do with the title!) while the excerpt of 'Facade eschews the rhythms in favour of a richly-textured piece that's quiet one moment & triumphant the next.
Albums like this are all too rare nowadays so anyone still doing this powerful brand of EM is well deserving of support so check out Transceive's website for more info. Anyone into bands such as The Echoing Green and Droom who don't mind the lack of vocals may very well find this to their liking.