Originally recorded and mixed at the Solitaire Studio in July 1991.|
- Water - Colours [4:34]
- In the Deep [8:55]
- Northern Horizon [5:10]
- Below Sealevel [14:43]
- We're Afloat [4:41]
- Touch the Waves [6:06]
- Liquid Mirror
- part 1 [9:49]
- part 2 [3:46]
- Liquid Mirror part 3 [11:18]
- Liquid Mirror part 4 [3:25]
All music was composed and played by Ralf Knappe - Heinbockel.
Hemisphere is keyboard player/synthesist Ralf Knappe-Heinbockel. Liquid Mirror is his sixth release on Groove Unltd. and it's a good one. It features electronic music that combines several different approaches, all with a strong sense of originality and a high degree of proficiency, along with a strong emotional content as well. The album starts off with "Water-Colours" which blends several different synth lines with an underlying snare drum pattern that has a somewhat halting rhythm. This is followed by the softly floating "In The Deep" with long graceful synth leads that practically drip, they are so liquid. Quite beautiful, yet also just a touch eerie as the song progresses. Next is "Northern Horizon," maybe my favorite track. Percolating synth beats tripping underneath minor key synths that somehow brings to my mind a midnight train trip along a barren landscape, illuminated by a ghost moon (how's that for visualization?).
Other tracks include the mournful (almost dirge-like) "Below Sealevel" which incorporates strange echoed noises alongside minor-key synths, with righteously creepy results. "We're Afloat" has a march cadence at its start that - I swear -reminds me of the drums that were on the soundtrack in Aliens as the Marines climbed into their drop ship on the Sulaco. Since I loved that particular rhythm, you know I just love this. The synths more or less underlie the beats, which dominate the song.
The opus of Liquid Mirror is the four-part, almost twenty-three minute long title cut (parts three and four are listed as "bonus" tracks, which must allude to a cassette version of the recording). The long drawn out synth leads and washes at the beginning of this would qualify this as space music for sure. Sometimes I was reminded of the last two cuts of Giles Reaves' Sea of Glass, although this is less organic and a little (just a smidgen) darker. The first of the bonus cuts is much "louder" and introduces some alien-type synth effects. Even though this could be viewed as space music, as well as EM, it is not peaceful at this point. It's almost cacophonous at times. with droning synths and background effects getting pretty loud. Things do quiet down by the end, though, although the mood remains mysterious if not disquieting. The final cut is a bouncy sequenced piece, full of dramatic keyboard work and bringing the recording to a more uptempo finish. Usually, I would dislike the abrupt change of pace for a last cut. But, the use of minor key melodies and an almost "triumphant" air to the song somehow seems fitting.
Groove Unltd. seldom, if ever, fails to please with their releases. This is no exception. Ralf Knappe-Heinbockel is a soundscape artist of high degree. The appeal of Liquid Mirror should extend far beyond the obligatory Berlin school devotees and TD fans. Space and ambient music fans may want to broaden their horizons and dive into this one.
Bill Binkelman / Wind & Wire.
This album was released in 1991 on the Musique Intemporelle-label but was deleted for a while. Now, Groove offers a completely new 20-bit remastered version (done by Ron Boots).
In 1991, Hemisphere was still a solo-project by Ralf Knappe-Heinbockel. All of the titles have something to do with water. The interesting thing about Hemisphere is the mixture between great atmospheric pieces and more melodical rhythmic stuff. The first track "Water - Colours", for instance, bears a strong ongoing rhythm which accompanies beautiful floating sounds (for example from the than very popular D50). Pieces like In "The Deep", "Below Sealevel" (with 14:43 the longest track) and the title-track (Part I and II) have an overall colourful feeling. "Touch The Waves" however, with samples from whales, is more dramatic and in the bonus-tracks "Liquid Mirror Part III and IV" you get the feeling that you are deep in the water, perhaps on board of the seaQuest. This is a great album and it is good that itís available again.
1999. Paul Rijkens / NL
"Liquid Mirror" is the 1st album of Hemisphere (alias German musician Ralph Knappe Heinbockel), which originally came out years ago on the Musique Intemporelle Label. This version is sold out for a long time, and hardly sought after by many collectors of nice electronic music. Therefore it's great that the Dutch Groove Unlimited label finally achieved to put out a re-release of this overall classic back on the market. This, fully remastered, re-release contains some bonus-music not available on the original, very succesfull debut of Hemisphere. "Liquid Mirror" offers a great collection of vast provoking rhythmic and non-rhythmic soundscapes, which would later on become on of the major trademark of Hemisphere.
1999. Bert Strolenberg