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Fast Rails - Fiesel & Hertz

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    The follow up to "End of the Steam Age" takes us on a journey to Norway for some amazing scenery by way of the Slow TV Project. Christian Fiesel and Jack Hertz were so captivated with the 7+ hour Nordlandsbanen: minute by minute videos of the Norway landscape. They composed a whole album for you to chill out with. This release is available on audio and / or with a special video release that features 1080 HD video to go with each track on the album. Note: the videos are made from stock NRK sources, and look much better than what you will see online. Friday November 27th, over 1,2 million Norwegians watched parts of «Bergensbanen» on NRK2. Featuring almost 7 1/2 hours of HD footage showing every minute of the scenic train ride between Bergen on the Norwegian West Coast, crossing the mountains to the capital of Oslo. Subsequently, the project was extended into the Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall.
    Track Listings:
    1. Crossing the Horizon 12:17
    2. Around the Bend 09:58
    3. Glimmer on the Tracks 12:13
    4. Bergen 11:05
    5. Station 08:53
    6. Park Sides 09:49
    7. Fast Rails 08:55
    Total Time: 1:17
    Artist Name(s):
    Christian Fiesel, Jack Hertz
    Release Year: 2016
    Style:
    Ambient, Berlin, Industrial, Progressive, Space Rock
    Album Type:
    Studio
    Formats:
    Compact Disc, Digital / Download, DVD
    Cover & Packge Design:
    Jack Hertz
    Label / Publishing
    Label Name:
    Aural Films
    Catalog Number(s):
    AF0175, AFCD042, AFCD043
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    Album Locator
    [+] Amazon
    [+] Amoeba
    [+] Discogs
    [+] Ebay
    [+] Google
    [+] YouTube
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Michael Hodgson

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   1 of 1 member found this review helpful 1 / 1 member

`Slow TV' is a term used for a type of live `marathon' television coverage of an ordinary event in its complete length, popularised in the 2000s by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), beginning with the broadcast of a 7-hour train journey in 2009. It is from this event that sound experimentalist Jack Hertz, collaborating with fellow electronic artist Christian Fiesel, draw inspiration, and the duo (following up their terrific earlier related work `End of the Steam Age' from April 2016) have crafted a fascinating album of both vintage and modern influenced expansive progressive/ambient atmospheres, cool electronica and experimental soundscapes, `Fast Rails', and there's the option to purchase an additional DVD of the above described stock NRK footage that runs the 77 minute length of the disc as part of a `crossover' package to compliment the album, which works to beautiful effect.

`Crossing the Horizon' opens with subdued pulsing beats that grow and retreat in stature over reverberating sustaining electric drones and fizzing panning washes, subtle slinking electronica-flavoured grooves emerging subtly throughout. Both `Around the Bend' and `Glimmer on the Tracks' have a flowing Steve Roach-like shimmering aura teeming with mystery, with the latter almost able to pass for a lost Tangerine Dream soundtrack piece, and the lightly danger-laced `Bergen' fuses expansive Berlin School moods with shadowy electronic beats, electric guitar distortion, Mellotron-like choirs and ruminative acoustic guitar flecks that remind of Robert Schroeder's `Harmonic Ascendant' in fleeting moments.

The strident guitar strums weaving in and out of the hovering electronics of `Station' hold a faint bluesy tone (and just listen for that lovely if brief Mellotron passage in the final moments), the psychedelic `Park Sides' is both playful and mysterious with a mellow The Orb-like lurching cool drowsiness to its slowly revealing slithering beats and sequenced trickles that perfect fuses old and new sounds, and the distorted electric guitar strains over wavering overwhelming electronics backed to a constant driving beat of the closing title track `Fast Rails' build to a wild and disorientating finale.

It sounds like it could be completely dull, but the gently hypnotic visuals and the frequently floating music accompaniment work to sublime effect on this Aural Films netlabel release, and this is very far removed from placid slow-moving generic ambience or tired progressive-electronic clichés. Completely removed of the visuals on the DVD, the `Fast Rails' album in itself is a diverse and deeply immersive electronic collection of extended works, but together the two mediums achieve a mesmeric cohesion. It's also not a slight in any way to consider the disc a fascinating and cool background listen, and it turns out to be an unexpectedly lovely musical surprise that can be enjoyed on a number of levels from two intelligent and unpredictable artists.

Four stars out of five.

(This review also appears on the Prog Archives website)

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