Recorded at Vagern Records Studios and mastered by Ron Boots.|
- Zama, 202 A.D. [11:23]
- Anabasis (The retreat of the ten thousand) [10:14]
- Intentionis (Intention) [8:57]
- Cogollum Cogito (Harvest shoot) [4:08]
- Evanesco (Dissapear) [5:05]
- In Hoc Signo Vinces (With this sighn you will conquer) [5:48]
- No Ni Vull ! Not, and I don't want) [3:17]
- Ecce (As well) [5:11]
- Initiamenta (Initiation) [4:49]
- Ferox (Ferocity) [4:41]
- Vastitas (Huge) [4:08]
All tracks composed, recorded and played by John Lakveet.
Analog sequencing, retro sounds and Berling School atmospherics.
The Netherlands’ Groove label, perhaps the premiere label for sequencer-heavy electronic music, has been on quite the roll lately, releasing and distributing a number of albums by newcomers and veterans alike. This batch of releases presents the label’s stylistic range from ambient/drift electronic music through Berlin school and borderline techno styles.
John Lakveet collaborated with Dom F. Scab on Silent Mars, and one could say he is a kindred spirit of sorts in the sequencer field (his last album was entitled Sequentiagite). Like Scab, Lakveet doesn’t go for the obvious space concepts (don’t worry, we’ll get to those), EPI(K)VS seems oriented to a Roman or Greek concept circa 202 AD, although one would be hard pressed to define it from the CD itself. While Scab’s latest stuck mostly to sequencers and their interplay, Lakveet includes plenty of atmospheric drift sections to break things up, and while Lakveet hasn’t assimilated his influences as fully as Scab has, he has come up with an appropriate ebb and flow for the musical energy. One can’t help but admire musicians in this style, attempting for distinction in a field still entirely dominated by the Berlin pioneers. It brings up the question of just how originality rears its head in a genre so intensely tied to a few artists.
Clearly Euro-electronic is striving to surpass its influences while attempting to evoke the same sort of emotion and impact these same influences did for the new crop of artists. And really there is no label more intrepid than Groove where this is concerned.
Lakveet's "Sequentiagite" was one of my favorite albums from last year, so I was really looking forward to "Epikus".
It's a really interesting album. Lakveet's music is more sequencer-based, as always, but there are some very nice atmospheric sections as well.
On the first track, "Zama 202 AD", the sequencers don't kick in until about half way through, and a couple of tracks are mainly atmospheric in nature.
So this music is more complex in structure and perhaps takes a few detailed listens to fully appreciate. It's really a stunning album, though.
Lakveet "does" sequences about as well as anybody, and the more atmospheric sections really build the anticipation of the sequences to follow.
In his second solo album, John Lakveet has succeeded in creating an epic symphony, intense, full of warmth, beauty, stormy atmospheres, and also mystery.
With a first hearing the listener already perceives the effort there are behind this project. In successive hearings, the range of this CD appears in all its greatness. The music is impetuous, risky, able to evoke situations where the emotions are given a free run and adrenaline floods all our entire being. The dramatic melodies and strong sequences that appear in certain passages, provide some of the compositions with an apocalyptic atmosphere.
This album takes us towards the unknown eras of yesterday, but also towards the unknown tomorrow. In short, this is a magnificent album, which no doubt will contribute to increasing the reputation of this artist.
2003. Jorge Munnshe / Amazing Sounds
Spanish resident John Lakveet returns with a strong follow up to Sequentiagite, named in a way that really can't be typed - there's a circle around the K in EPIKUS, all in caps, the letters with an ancient stone-like appearance. But this is music firmly rooted in the future, not the past.
After a few minutes of surprisingly low-key atmospherics, "Zama, 202 A.D." unleashes fleet-of-foot sequencing that rises to the surface and drives things along quickly.
"Anabasis" is even more forceful, though it shifts abruptly into low gear for a bit before taking off again. Vintage electronics are side-by-side with lively modern elements, especially the cool percussion.
"Intentionis" drops the pace considerably, a light wood xylophone the only beat before mesmerizing electronics loop around to the forefront again.
These first three tracks take up almost half the CD; the rest is a number of shorter pieces, beginning with the low-key "Cogollum Cogito". Soft synth strings and other atmospheric touches are eventually overtaken by yet another piece of brilliant sequencing, bright and bouncy. An interesting synth lead lends a Japanese quality here.
"In Hoc Signo Vinces" brings things to breakneck pace, brimming with energy. It is constantly shifting, but transitions are deftly handled throughout.
"No Ni Vull!" really grabs, with stabbing synth notes poking into the air at every turn.
"Initiamenta" is another favorite. Like some others, it starts in a quieter ambient mode, but can't resist coming back to gripping sequences. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, always a strong point.
"Ferox" has a tremendous build up from soft and minimal to loud and intense.
"Vastitas" is the perfect ending, a dreamy formless piece that reminds me of the way Yello likes to finish CDs with a downbeat touch.
Epikus is a winner.
2003. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
Epikus was my first experience listening to a John Lakveet album, although I had heard of him as a result of his Silent Mars collaboration with Dom F. Scab, who is undoubtedly one of my favorite purveyors of Neo-Berlin school EM.
Epikus will probably appeal to fans of Scab, but it should be noted that Lakveet's soundscapes are less melodic and noticeably less polished in terms of sound design, and while he probably traverses more sonic territory and infuses his compositions with a greater sense of variety, he also often relies on fairly unfocused song structures in order to accomplish this. If you are a fan of constancy or a more traditional song format, however, you shouldn't necessarily let this turn you off, as Lakveet often discovers uniquely compelling combinations of sequencer patterns within the context of his unrestrained experimentation.
Epikus has an ancient Roman theme, and although I can't really say that these sequencer tapestries are evocative of any imagery from that time period, I have to give Lakveet credit for using a foundational concept that bypasses the many thematic clichés of the EM genre. We get started on a particularly foreboding note in the form of "Zama, 202 A.D.", which features a slowly morphing atmosphere complete with apocalyptic choirs and analog washes of synth effects a la the introduction of Tangerine Dream's "Cherokee Lane" from Encore. As the song evolves, Lakveet showcases his distinctive approach to Berlin school EM, which is best characterized by wildly chaotic sequencers that refuse to be dictated by the constraints of the traditional EM song format.
The next piece, "Anabasis (the retreat of the ten thousand)", gets right into the sequencing, and in a little over a minute it introduces an attitude-laden bass sequence that'll make you feel like you're even more of a bad-ass than the rap-blaring teens in the car next to you (just make sure to turn it up even louder then them ;-) ). At 3:15, a sequence that embodies the aforementioned chaotic qualities makes its entrance, and it possesses such an unrestrained presence that it completely dominates the soundscape for the 45-seconds of its duration.
"Intentionis (Intention)" begins with some eerie ambient washes, which give rise to a slow melodic sequence that utilizes a tribal xylophone-like voice. The organic elements fade quickly to make way for more sequencer mayhem, although this time Lakveet throws in a few mid-to-late '70s Tangerine Dream lead lines, nicely customized to accommodate the erratic soundscape that underpins them.
Following the first three pieces, which range in length from 9 to 11 and a 1/2 minutes, Lakveet chooses to focus on shorter pieces (all under 6 minutes), which express slightly more cohesive themes without undermining the overall feeling of disarray that appears to be this album's hallmark.
First up from this portion of the album is "Cogollum Cogito (Harvest shoot)", which is noteworthy in that it features more of those tribal-esque synths, and the supporting synth that can be heard from 1:16 to 1:42 reminded me of Vangelis' Soil Festivities.
"Evanesco (Disappear)" again embraces this album's more customary synthetic sound palette, and also boasts one of my favorite sections on the album, where an ascending melodic sequence is perfectly complimented by all manner of brooding lead lines, intertwining supplementary sequences, and nuanced yet impactful sound effects. For me, this section was just about the pinnacle of Lakveet's approach to Berlin school, as it managed to maintain the album's distinctive style while still conveying a sense of underlying synchronicity.
"In Hoc Signo Vinces (With this sign you will conquer)" begins with what sounds like the burbling of some primordial swamp. As the piece progresses, a menacing sequence seems to creep from out of the murky depths, finally surfacing after a minute or so. A promising beginning, but the song never really develops beyond an uncharacteristically repetitive sequencer and some uninspired sound effects and melodic accents. Fortunately, "No ni Vull (Not, and I don't want)" compensated by featuring one of the most purposeful sequences of the album, and although the development was limited, it was appropriate given that this is the shortest song on the album at just over 3 minutes.
"Ecce (As well)" had a definite appeal for me, an affinity that I attribute to the masterfully crafted interplay between the simple yet effective melody of the laser-sharp lead line and the syncopated sequence.
"Initiamenta (Initiation)" has an introduction that captures the more tranquil aspects of celestial phenomena, after which a particularly "prickly" sequence appears.
"Ferox (Ferocity)" follows, and this is definitely my favorite piece on the album. The sequence that is introduced at 1:24 is simply top-notch: complex, infectious, and in keeping with the song's title, downright ferocious. Later, Lakveet further accentuates the song's impact by incorporating a subtle trance pulse.
We conclude on an atmospheric note in the form of "Vastitas (Huge)", which suggests that Lakveet is giving us time to absorb the intense emotions expressed during the preceding feast of sequencers.
Although I did appreciate Lakveet's attempt to transcend the often times purely repetitive, trance-inducing template of his Berlin school peers, I also found myself wishing that he would infuse his compositions with a more discernable sense of focus and structure. Overall, however, Epikus was an ambitious and often times satisfying excursion into the more untamed realms of EM, and I will be keeping my eye on John Lakveet in the future.
2004. Travis Briggs
It's interesting that a number of similarities can be detected between this latest album from John Lakveet & that of his Spanish countryman Dom F Scab's recent album "Facta" in a number of ways as both were members of the band At-moos & released the "Silent Mars" collaboration between them.
Both musicians have chosen sources of inspiration different from the usual concepts of space & the cosmos & both seem to be trying to take sequential EM into a slightly different realms as, not unlike "Facta" this is a more structured album of longer & shorter tracks.
As a rule this is the more dynamic album of the two, especially with the two long tracks which open proceedings.
The choral voices the crop up during the opening minutes of "Zama 202AD" add a dose of atmosphere while the Techno rhythms that take the reins for a while later add a dose of the required oomph, although their brevity mean they don't really make their presence felt for any length of time, adding instead an extra dimension to the music.
The later "Ferox" is a more rhythmic lively piece but it's the only track that features rhythms heavily, apart perhaps from the slower "Ecce".
On the lively theme some seriously tasty soloing contributes towards making "Anabasis" the album's undoubted high point. A heavily dynamic track which keeps the impetus going throughout, especially the scorching climax which gives the Teutonic styles a kick up the arse. On the subject of lively & dynamic music, the later "Ferox" is a bouncy rhythmic piece but this,along with the slower "Ecce" are the only tracks to features rhythms to any great degree.
These shorter tracks, at between 3 & 6 minutes, prove, in the main to be enjoyable, well structured affairs, not exactly world beating but certainly more than adequate.
"Cogollum Cogito" features a pretty odd sound as it's lead, sounding like a musical nose blow (if you can imagine that!) & although there are some slight "Sorcerer" touches to the sequencing of "No Ni Vul!!" & the pleasantly atmospheric & melodic "Intiamenta" should appeal to fans of Michel Huygen's later works (even the title sounds similar!) this is no copyist album & the abstract closer "Vastitas".
The opening two tracks prove that when Lakveet gets his stuff together then the results can equal any of the established EM names so hopefully he'll develop this style further & then things could start to get seriously interesting.
2004. Carl Jenkinson
I think is a very magical and intellectual music. Like me so much the sound arrangements and the convention of drums and guitar sounds. I hope you can launch some of your music in this side of the world. Because is a little difficult find this kind of artist an his music here.
2004. Hever / Mexico
Epikus es, en esencia, música del futuro inspirada en acontecimientos del pasado. En este caso, el sintetista catalán John Lakveet se basa fuertemente en la historia de las antiguas civilizaciones clásicas griega y romana como medio para, una vez más, hacer maravillas con diversos medios electrónicos. El interés en la historia de John Lakveet parece hacerse patente en los trabajos del catalán. Desde las antiguas civilizaciones clásicas, hasta las catedrales de la época medieval, pasando por los iconos de arqutectura de Antonio Gaudí que estaban presentes tanto en Sequentiagite (su anterior trabajo), mostrando en su portada una escalera en espiral de La Sagrada Familia, como en este Epikus donde, acertadamente, aparecen yelmos de guerreros que se pueden observar en la Casa Milá de Barcelona.
Tras la publicación de Sequentiagite, donde mezclaba fuertes secuencias con ambientes, siempre centrándose en la electrónica clásica, tal y como hizo anteriormente en el grupo At-Mooss, el sello discográfico holandés Groove Unlimited recogió el relevo, para publicar este trabajo. En conjunto, el trabajo es, quizás, menos sorprendente o arriesgado que Sequentiagite, posteriores trabajos como Building Sequential Stones Vol 1. o su trabajo Silent Mars junto a Dom F. Scab.
El "porcentaje de secuencias por minuto" en Epikus (perdón por utilizar esta expresión tan frívola) es menor aunque sigue siendo una parte inportantísima del disco. Hay una mayor cantidad de elementos atmosféricos y con largos pasajes de acordes ambientales. El trabajo de rítmico sigue existiendo, por supuesto, como algo innato a la actual forma de componer de Lakveet, en este caso con un tomo más "vintage". Los sonidos son más directos y, en parte más primitivos, parecen en determinados momentos menos procesados... más cercanos al sonido de los 70.
En Epikus encontrarás momentos de majestuosidad, diversos efectos, secuencias y paisajes atmosféricos. In Hoc Signo Vinces, Ferox o No Ni Vull! son más secuenciales, Ecce tiene un toque de sinfonismo y, en otros temas como Cogollum Cogito o Zama 2002 AD verás largas introducciones casi planeadoras. Como estandarte del estilo más ambient, Vastitas. Mención especial por mi parte para Initiamenta, que me recuerda fuertemente a los primeros Tangerine Dream.
2005. Jorge Sergio
"The sequence. . . The reiteration of minimum units of sound chained in recurrent repetitions."
This is what Spanish electronic musician John Lakveet writes on his website introducing his first solo-CD "Sequentiagite". "Epikus", his debut on the Groove label, is a continuation of this sequencer-based music. Lakveet is an accomplished musician/composer who already made 3 albums with the band At-Mooss (of which also Dom. F. Scab was a member) and created "Silent Mars" with Scab.
"Epikus" is an excellent blend of sequencerpatterns- and loops, experimental sounds and atmospheres. Just play the CD, listen to the openingtrack "Zama, 202 A.D." and everything becomes clear. Just as his fellow-countryman Scab, Lakveet doesn’t make long-stretched pieces of music but on this album stays in the range of 10, 11 minutes. His sequences are great, like in "Anabasis", "Intentionis", "Evanesco", and "In Hoc Signo Vinces". Next to all the sequences this is also enough room for great atmospheres as proved in "Initiamenta" and "Vastitas".
Lakveet’s music is retro, is Berlin School but is just that little bit different from what you normally hear in this style to set it apart. And that is what makes this music special.
2003. Paul Rijkens