So what is the present but an outgrowth of the past? The early work of Tangerine Dream is often cited as establishing the "Berlin-School". They explored a new territory, which left a path. Decades later we find the UK synth trio AirSculpture fully invested in musical endeavors meant to advance the ideals established during this golden age of synthesizer and sequencer Spacemusic.|
- Graveyard Shift [53:43]
- Argent Engine [10:32]
Graveyard Shift (64'15"), the product of their STAR'S END live to air studio session of 19 November 2006, feels like a less urgent/more tech savy re-imagining of the TD classic Ricochet (1975). This style speaks to us as no other form can. It is a music sensitive to its own era, as we are not listening "to" something, but listening "for" something. It expresses a mood, an atmosphere, a tone in a numberless variety of subtle shadings and differences.
Graveyard Shift includes two tracks, the more focused and compact "Argent Engine" (10'32") was earlier found on the now out of print STAR'S END 30th Anniversary CD. This ten minute sequencer piece charges through space like a starship whooshing past solar systems, while the title track expands slowly over three sections and 50 minutes at a more deliberate pace.
Beginning in an amorphous texture this piece fills space with dense sound forms. Drifting, rolling drones and chords form a current of sound - out of which patterns of tones echo and advance so very slowly. As these electronic droplets gradually move outward and fill in the empty slots and skips the pulse of this track quickens, growing our anticipation. "Graveyard Shift" (53'41") sustains an interesting energy throughout its run, never peaking, but never running out of fuel. Chords mix with lead melody lines as synthesizers rush and then wait in service to a most interesting compositional contour - facilitated by the late-night hour of this recording session and the objective of producing a sustained listening space for all the folks out there in radioland. In the third movement the sonic content starts to melt as metallic muted ringing and modulated effects bring us to an unusual zone of timbre experiments and a darkening chill.
Music is an art that exists in point of time. Its events are abstract in nature, and pulling them all together in the imagination is difficult for the audience. Added value comes when listening to Graveyard Shift for more than the sheer pleasure, more than the potent and primitive force, of sound itself. This music has an expressive power and a meaning behind the notes - which as listeners is our purpose to feel.
Chuck van Zyl / STAR'S END
The music of Airsculpture is not of the most accessible, I agree on it. Anchored well in a musical style which flirts with a Berlin School perfumed of somber English chthonian vibes, the trio exposes in concert, and this year after year, a musical genre based on improvisation. It results from it into long musical plays stuffed of enigmatic ambiences and of heterogeneous tones which are linked to rhythmic passages forged in the minimalism and of its hypnotic effects. Very estimated by an American audience which is still nostalgic of the Tangerine Dream era of the 70's, Airsculpture makes regularly a flying visit in the corner of the Pennsylvania to offer a musical performance deserving of his reputation and where the improvisations suit very well to the night-waves of the famous Star's End Radio Show hosted by the legendary Chuck van Zyl. This is how “Graveyard Shift” was conceived on a cold night of November 19th, 2006. And that would have been the night of the Halloween that it would still have been better. Here is why!
Hollow winds, imagine endless roarings in a deserted world, open the first abyssal movement of the title-track. We hear ringings there. But what charm even more is these lines of synth and their slow winged movements which glide over a symphony of ectoplasmic breezes and these hummings of machines to make nourish a night of fears. Like film directors, or better authors of cabalistic works, Adrian Beasley, John Christian and Peter Ruczynski take the time to widen well their amphigoric moods where is grafted a subtle chthonian choir. A pulsatory line emerges. And like a spectre which skips but limps of its still soft legs, it beats a weak irregular measure which has the peculiarity to hunt the somber ambiences to give way to synth lines which flirt with a strange approach of contemplativity. A sequence gets loose from these moods to play with its shadow and clinks in parallel in the dark pulsing movement which little by little escapes in the oversight. It's early. The bar of 8 minutes caresses our ears when the lights of the rhythm turn up to cavort freely in the smoking circles of "Graveyard Shift". Hypnotic, the rhythm increases as much its strength as its pace to wave in the weak jingles of cymbals, but also in the heavy and resonant pulsations which buzz as a destroying threat. This is where the solos are gliding. Less threatening than the rhythm, they draw deformed haloes which float such as lazy summer breezes pushing the hot winds towards the wet bodies. And it is there that the beauty of the free style takes all its place. The rhythm is swarming of these shadowy spots which oversize and its debit and its heaviness, while that some arpeggios with tones of glass refloated of metals sparkle in parallel. The solos bring then a more shady, more threatening touch with superb wrapping lassoes which embrace this movement of which the amplifier effect loses its scale for the benefit of new ambiences which this time have not many rest. Percussions, drum bass b eats and pulsing sequences are plotting for a sneaky rhythm where roam strange harmonies weaved in a nasal synth and in the singings of some kind of spectres. A wonderful line of flute rises. Its chant brings a seraphic dimension to this 2nd part of "Graveyard Shift" which feeds of vibes closer to the years of Ricochet and Encore, from you know who. Mists and astral singings wrap this delicate rhythm embalmed by the fluty harmonies, while that some sharp-edged hoops cut the serenity. Ambient, the rhythm ennobles its heaviness, which makes contrast with these flickering sequences, with good strikes of percussions. And these synths with their chants as much angelic than symphonic! Delicious that they are. Except that we forget them with this movement of sequences which pile up its keys. Keys which hiccup, gesticulate and curse against the strikes more and more accentuated of the electronic percussions. But the rhythm remains always motionless, spreading its splendour by gathering here and there all the ingredients to avoid the redundancy of the improvisations. Doubtless the biggest strength of Airsculpture which leads his long title-track towards an infernal finale where we regret of being anesthetized by the serenity of this delicious hypnotic rhythm.
"Argent Engine" offers a very sticky intro with aquatic lines which spread their soporific influences. This anesthetic effect crowns the 5 minutes when a line of sequences and a 2nd one louder are dancing in parallel to create the illusion of a duck which tumbles down a slope on its legs by looking at a thick cloud of derisive young birds. The contrast harpoons our ears. And soft ghostly breezes, as well as secret harmonies, try to harmonize this disparity. Except that another dark line is pulsing with more brightness, making burst another line of sequences which brings another one. And so and so... Revealing thus a superb little game of sequences which forge an audacious figure of rhythm of which the kicks explode in the singings of synths and of their lines more destructive than this totally whacky rhythm.
WoW! Go get this one. “Graveyard Shift” is some great Airsculpture. Once again, this is the art of improvisation at its top. Honestly? I would never have thought that all of this was written and played in 2006.
2014. Sylvain Lupari / gutsofdarkness.com & synthsequences.blogspot.ca