Recorded live at Hampshire Jam 6|
- Primaeval [21:09]
- Atavistic [20:16]
- Signals [20:45]
- Extinction [14:17]
Liphook, Hampshire, UK
20 October 2007
On October 20th 2007, Michael Shipway and Steve Smith, together known as VoLt, gave a concert at the "Hampshire Jam 6" festival in England. In the last years, VoLt has become a household name in retro-electronic music. Everything is there in their music: the stretched sequencerlines, the big solos, the sounds and the overall ambiance. This is added with some typical British humor which is always nice in a musical style that is often called too serious.
Already on their latest studioalbum "Nucleosynthesis" the duo used more and more sequencerparts (at least more than before) and on "HjVi" this is again the fact.
These sequences are amongst the finest ever created in electronic music. It seems simple to create a sequence but to use the right notes is not easy at all. VoLt are masters in creating the right sequences. Just listen to the first track "Primaeval" and it all becomes clear. The sequences are long but keep attention at all times. This combined with great solos and an overall melodically approach makes their music so interesting. In contrast to a lot of Berliner Schule-inspired music, they also use a lot of digital sounds.
For instance, this is the fact on "Signals". Again, the sequences here are masterful.
The last track "Extinction" is built up excellent: from a soft start to massive sequences and a "rocky" atmosphere. Let’s hope the last title doesn't count for the music of Shipway and Smith because the way they are developing as VoLt is impressive and one that has to be continued.
This cd contains the music VoLt played at their concert at Hampshire Jam 6 at Liphook, UK, on October 20th 2007. The disc offers over 76 minutes of music, split in four lengthy tracks.
The 21-minute "Primaeval" kicks off with great sequencing with xylophone-effect and uplifting synth pads to which engaging melodic lines, solo’s and effects are added. Excellent electronics that grab and keep your attention.
"Atavistic" takes the backseat with beautiful piano and warm, swirling soundscapes, shortly after that quiet sequencers kick in with a solo-voice on top. Some great electric guitar comes in around the 11-minute mark and plays along with the electronics, only starting prominent soloing towards the end of the track.
After an introduction of warm, velvet textures, some complex and dynamic spatial sequencing enters the stage on "Signals".
The lush, up-tempo 14-minute closing track "Extinction" features the most synth soloing over beautiful, multi-layered sequencer patterns.
All in all, this album finds VoLt in excellent spirits, of which the music even surpasses those of their already great previous studio albums.
Bert Strolenberg / Sonic Immersion
VoLt are Michael Shipway and Steve Smith. They play sequencer-based improvised Electronic Music. One of the best examples of their style is the album HjVi released on Dutch EM label Groove Unlimited. The music was recorded during "Hampshire Jam 6" Electronic Music festival, so what we get here is an unaltered live recording.
"Primaeval" gets to a quick start with an intense siren-like sound. After a few seconds, an urgent sequence starts. Another sequence joins in, as melodic pads provide a comfortable blanket that wraps up the ubiquitous pulsations. A mournful solo cries on top. The backgrounds disappear, leaving us with sequences only. A reflective melody is heard, supported by gentle synthesized choir. Excellent experimental sounds provide that special bite, as the sequences become almost marimba-like. Bowed notes reminiscent of Robert Rich's lap steel guitar playing are heard. A rapid bass sequence emerges, accompanied by a blistering solo, taking the track to its conclusion on an energetic and upbeat note.
Atmospheric effects serve as the transition to the next piece, titled "Atavistic". Soft pads soon take over, as gentle piano notes hang like a mirage in thin air. A bass sequence starts, joined by yet another one, all supported by melodic pads. A piercing solo is heard. The track has got great melodic content and a somewhat melancholic mood. A strange experimental rhythm starts and a reflective electric guitar weeps in the mists full of sequencer webs. Little by little the track becomes more relaxed and serene, while still retaining its rhythmic elements. The guitar sounds very much inspired by Edgar Froese's solos on Tangerine Dream's live albums from the 1970's and 1980's. The track ends with warm analogue pads and lonely sequences echoing into the distance.
Another transition and we enter "Signals". Synth atmospheres give way for a growling synth sound and wind effects. Mysterious pads are greeted by a morse code sound. A rapid sequence starts, supported by yet another one, as twittering effects fill the jagged spaces left by the pulsations. Melodic pads remind on Gert Emmens' style. A steady bass pulse starts, as warm analogue pads are heard. The sequences mutate, as an excellent pad / choir combination appears, accompanied by an electric guitar solo. This is some exciting EM. The pads return for a brief spell, before the sequences end this upbeat piece in the most energetic mode possible.
"Extinction" (the encore) begins with dark sounds and symphonic synthesizers. A very exciting sequence starts, arranged in cyclical patterns and supported by melodic phrases from synthesizers. A piano melody is heard. More sequences are added, greeted by the audience's applause. And yet another super-rapid sequence appears, and another one. How many of them are there already? Five? Six? It doesn't matter. What's important is that it's one hell of an EM piece, with multiple pulsations and a great melodic synth solo. A steady rhythm starts as the adrenaline levels go up with a melodic improvisation on a synthesizer.
HjVi is a very enjoyable album and a worthy addition to any EM collection.
2008. Artemi Pugachov / Russia
Recorded live, at the famousEM festival Hampshire Jam 2007, HJ VI starts under hubcaps.
After a sound test intro where a heavy siren is metamorphosing into THX sound, Primaeval tumbles on heavy and hopping sequencers. An infernal rhythm seized in mellotron nebulosity with floating pads and sprinkled of juicy synths solos. The intro of Primaeval bursts in the ears with a sequential intensity which is to the image of the English duet who is strongly inspired by 70’s Tangerine Dream. A loud opening which slowly quiet down under a more limpid sequence which coo in cascades under a more synth and a mellotron as dense as enveloping, creating the rhythmic paradox of which Volt is nourished.
Follows a strange and unreal percussions battle which splits up the tempo under synths with apocalyptic sirens, guiding us towards a final where the heavy solos are lost in a soft minimalism melody which is fastened to Atavistic intro. A dark morphic softness is rolled up in cosmos. Synths whistle heavy drones drowned in a mellotron which waltz in solitary. Soft piano keys emergent of this astral nebulosity, a prelude to a light sequential and minimalism movement, girdled of charming synth, who multiplies in his echo. The sequence hiccoughs on percussions with double effects whereas a synth guitar moans in an ambient structure which is not without pointing out Robert Rich.
Signals begins also lukewarmly. Dark ambient which waltzes on mild mellotrons, before beep beep sound wake up the movement with a heavy sequencer which spits a nervous tempo, always wrapped of beautiful mellotron pads, before embracing a playful heaviness under synths with grave reverberations which borrow guitar textures. TD in a pure state. Quite simply divine.
Extinction, the encore, is initiated by soft and floating mellotron. A little before the 4th minute the movement is accentuated by a beautiful sequence and soft synth as we can hear on TD’s Wavelenght. The rhythm becomes more limpid with intermingled sequences, creating a hopping and ambiguous pace which explodes on solids percussions as well as a rain of solos in a heavy and explosive final, ordering another listening of this 5th opus from Michael Shipway and Steve Smith.
For those who love heavy and hard sequences, ŕ la TD’s 70’s Berlin School type, with a daring ingenuity which perfectly suits the contemporary area, Volt HjVi is strongly recommended. Another great Groove product.
2008. Sylvain Lupari / Guts Of Darkness
The duo Volt (Michael Shipway and Steve Smith) is one of the most interesting names in the Space Music that is currently being done.
In this album, recorded live at Hampshire Jam 6 Liphook, Hampshire, United Kingdom, October 20th, 2007, the artists combine dreamy melodies with unearthly environments and sequencer rhythms of great strength, outlining an amazing sonic landscape of a cosmic character. In the most perfect cosmic vein, "HjVj" will delight the lovers of this kind of music.
From the very first sounds of what could be a spaceship taking off, through to the fantastic Berlin School type sequences, to the sound of the ecstatic audience appreciation at the end, this is a wonderfully exciting album. It is a recording of all new compositions taken from their Hampshire Jam Six performance.
As always with Volt though it is not only the quality of the sequences that grab you but also the melodies, some subtle, some storming, even anthemic that separate them from the 'average'. I have, as before, to compare their music with Wavestar or even Gert Emmens & Ruud Heij. This is sequencer driven music with loads of evolution and change of mood. They don't let themselves get stuck in a rut. There is always something else to say or mood to convey. Sometimes the pulsations are energetic but playful whilst at others they are cranked up to ball breaking overdrive. Even the more atmospheric moments are carefully crafted and quite beautiful (this time more 'cosmic' than 'dark') which of course makes the returning more explosive moments even more effective.
This is one of the very best albums by the band so of course highly recommended.
HjVi stands for Hampshire Jam 6, the origin of the latest CD from Michael Shipway and Steve Smith. These guys have been doing this a long time and know their stuff.
"Primaeval" wastes no time, jumping right in with fast, stutter-step sequencing. A nice synth lead starts a couple minutes later, and off we go. Things get a little wilder, pinging back and forth with quirky little sounds as we pass the 10:00 mark. But always, the mesmerizing sequences are there, forming a steady foundation that holds everything together. It really hits its stride as it chugs past 15:00, and it seems like this 21-minute track is done in no time.
It flows seamlessly into "Atavistic" which cools things down considerably, which is good because you may need a breather after such a great opening number. There’s even some pretty piano mixed in with the synth textures, reminiscent of how Tangerine Dream did that so well on albums like Ricochet and Pergamon. Of course, it doesn't sit still for too long, and within a few minutes we’re on the move again, first one sequence, and then another over the top of that. Once again the synth lead is very nice, and everything builds and fits together just as it seems it was designed to. A sizzling guitar lead adds punch to the latter moments, finishing this one with a real flourish. So what else can I say?
There are still two lengthy tracks to come, filled with more stellar electronic music.
I can hardly imagine any serious Berlin school fan not being totally tickled by this.
2008. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
This CD from 2008 offers 76 minutes of lively electronic music recorded live at Hampshire Jam 6 in Liphook UK on October 20, 2007.
Volt is: Michael Shipway and Steve Smith.
The first track gets right to it. No languid opening of abstract coalescence--the music surges directly into a state of invigorating liveliness. Pulsating electronic cycles roll forth, urgent in their definition. Piercing embellishment appears in the form of keyboards describing fanciful riffs. Compelling chords reach skyward, stretching the melodies to express evolution from rudimentary generation through maturity to an endearing decline.
Subsequent tracks do feature moody intros, however, creating a pacific calm before things plunge into vigorous substance and exhilarative velocity.
Throughout the tracks, a variety of new sounds are introduced to garnish the already dense sound. This habitual melange keeps the music fresh with regular doses of engaging diversity.
Guitar appears in one piece, although it is probably of synthetic origin. Nevertheless, this instance lends a decidedly cosmic blaze to the tune.
Rhythms are present, but it is the rapid application of non-impact sounds that serves to generate the majority of the locomotion. Sometimes, conventional e-perc is employed, but the use of non-impact rhythms is more predominant, establishing a fluid edge to the comfortable tempos.
These compositions progress from their initially earnest pace to a frenzied urgency with slick development. A heightened sense of constant movement is accomplished with ease, all the while the melodies being seasoned with charming variations and thrilling punctuation.
Matt Howarth / Sonic Curisity
A na záv r druhého retro okénka záznam HjVi vystoupení Michaela Shipwaye and Steve Smithe, kte í si íkají Volt z lo ského šestého Hampshire Jamu.
Jejich výkon se zas tak neliší od lo ské adovky, na ní jsem u m l p ipravený text, je nakonec nebyl nikde vytišt n: „Sou ástí alba jsou t i (teda zde zm na – ty i) rozsáhlé kompozice se stopá í mezi 14 a 21 minutami. Pokud bych m l k jejich retro po ínání p idat jeden p ím r, tak by to byl standardní. B hem hodiny a tvrt procházíme mnohokrát prošlapanými stezkami, které jsou za léta pe liv upravené, zbavené ostrých záto in, tak e se na nich cítíme sice bezpe n , ale po ase nás za nou mírn nudit.
A to je i p ípad Michaela se Stevem, kte í se jinak sna í se to jde. Pe liv st ídají nálady, hrají opravdu férovou hru, bohu el jim je vid t do karet a navíc postupují podle notoricky známých pravidel. Nejd íve se zkondenzuje analogová mlhovina, která se posléze za ne prosv tlovat jemnými melodickými motivy. Kdy nazraje as, p iplazí se sekvenceroví hadi, kte í rozehrajou match naplno.
V tu chvíli za nou pán m svrb t prsty a p ijdou nesm lé a posléze i troufalejší sóla a sólí ka, aby se po dlouhometrá ní jízd vše pono ilo znovu do nadýchaných atmosférických pe in. Jak íkám, sna ení pán je veskrze sympatické a z gramatiky musím vyseknout jedni ku, jen ten obsah pokulhává a stává se odleskem a kopií starodávných p edloh, je mají sv j p vod v Berlín léta Pán 1974 a 1984."
To recenze desky Nucleosynthesis, u ní jsem nemusel ubírat vzhledem k novince ani árku. Bohu el. 60 %
Et un deuxičme live pour ce trimestre, et celui d’un duo aprčs celui du couple Padilla-Murphy. Mais ici, nous passons de l’autre coté de l’Atlantique avec ŕ la barre les Anglais Michael Shipway et Steve Smith et leur navire VoLt.
Cet album est une sorte d’apothéose en réalisant parfaitement la fusion entre des Tangerine Dream d’époques différentes, le mélange parfait entre les sonorités nouvelles (replaçons-nous en 1982) et les dynamiques des Logos et Poland, et les longues séquences moogétiques d’Encore. Les quatre morceaux participent de la męme maničre de faire : plusieurs séquences en perpétuels chevauchements avec réguličrement un élément nouveau qui offre ŕ l’auditeur une perspective différente. Sur cette ossature, les deux protagonistes plaquent de puissants soli de Moog qui portent les morceaux ŕ leur paroxysme quand ce n’est pas une guitare déchirante qui vient exposer sa plainte.
C’est vraiment du grand art, de l’e-music avec une majuscule. Assurément le troisičme must de ce trimestre.
LouLou / Prog-résiste