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Jon Johnson

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Album Reviews posted by Jon Johnson


  1. By far my favorite Eno album and I know that's a tough thing to say for some fans myself included. It has all the ingredients that makes Eno what he is. His different take on Rock-Pop-Prog music and elements of his Ambient style as well. Before And After Science was the first Eno solo album I bought after getting into Fripp & Eno's albums earlier the same year. Right off the first track "No One Receiving" It hit me as something special. A bonus having Percy Jones on bass for 3 of the tracks as well as Phil Collins after having recently gone through a Brand X phase.

    Most of the songs on side 1 (with respect for the vinyl pressing) have a rock or lively feel to them but quarky as in Eno style. While by Side 2 the music winds down to more mellow, pastoral, or dare I say ambient tone. Some of titles suggest things that were happening in Eno's life such as the song King's Lead Hat, an anagam for the Talking Heads who Eno worked with more or less in the same era. Also the song Julie With...was said to be about his breakup with girlfriend actress Julie Christie around the same time.

    The overall sound of the album has a variety of atmospheric tones.Even the more uptempo, lively tunes have a subtle aura or certain reverberation. The song Kurt's Rejoinder showcases Eno's voice processed through a flanger towards the end. At the time I had been using MXR flanger pedals for a few years and I couldn't help but think thats what he was using but I'm sure it was more from the board or a more pro rack version. Nev er the less the effect worked real well for this at one time aspiring musician fan.

    My vinyl version that I originally bought but later parted with regrettably was the EG editions reissued in 1982 which had the record itself  inside a plastic sleeve with various EG albums stamped on both sides of the bag. I will say if you are a listener listening in an altered state and place the bag in front of the record jacket at a distance, interesting things happen to the front of the album. ;)


  2. My first listen through of this record since it's release. First impression is exactly as described by Brian. Very much in the vein of his long works stretching back to Thursday Afternoon but like he also says, in the liner notes, it really goes back as far as his origins. 

    Its very similar to what he originally intended for his Ambient works, the music is as easily ignored as it is listenable. Its a good album to have on while you are working, which is how I heard it the first time. There are times where I found myself tuned in and out to certain passages more. It does have an even flow without too many drastic changes to the music's movements. Sometimes it gets subtly  disturbing. Uneasy feelings lure to the top of the psyche and then relieved by an introduction of a new timbre or musical pathway back to the light.

    I hear familiar tones of the past or perhaps a hybrid of old with new. Not sure what instruments he is using but I may imagine its close to mostly software based instruments or I may be proved wrong and he's still using DX7, Wavestations, and other treatments. Whichever the case its a refreshing 21st Century Eno Man.

     


  3. I like a good soundtrack and love a good soundtrack even more when it sounds great and done by an artist(s) I follow. I may even go out of my way to see the film but a lot of the time I am disappointed more with a film when I like the music. I bought this album not knowing anything about the movie but knew everything that i could know about Tangerine Dream in 1986. Almost 6 months after I saw them the first time on one of their arguably "best last tours". They got this gig because director Ridley Scott decided on a new soundtrack for the American release of the film, instead of the original one lined up by Jerry Goldsmith, to appeal to younger movie goers and by adding Bryan Ferry's "Is Your Love Strong Enough" tagged on for good measure.

    Movie stats aside Tangerine Dream composed the music in 1985 for the film and they did not disappoint with the gear they were working with.Often time I hear groups do stuff thats kinda page turning and think "why are these guys not doing this on their own music?" There's passages heard here, as brief as they are, that define new timbres. Maybe because a film budget offers more chance? Doubtful but maybe at times.

    About 20 seconds in from the piece that opens the film introducing the land of "Legend" there's a wonderful synth sound driven by an LFO/Filter, that I always thought was more on the digital side, which then gives way to a familiar Tangerine Dream sounding melody. Throught the short pieces from the film, there's suspense, terror, and, passion, with little bits of humor. The song "Loved By The Sun" has Yes's Jon Anderson providing vocals which also played into my naivety at the time that they were all in the studio together workling. Not so according to documented history of the movie. 

    Over all the music of Legend is another inspiring Tangerine Dream album that the film's producers did a very good job at making it play with a beginning, middle, and, end. The music stands on it's own without the film but its probably hard to not think of the movie without it.

    Edgar Froese, Chris Franke, and Paul Haslinger do a great job with the gear they had. Under a short time frame to work its harder to find those special things from gear or happy accidents. Some of the fantastic instruments purportedly used were the Synclavier II and Waveframe among their workhorses like Edgar's DX7ii, their Roland and Sequential gear.Magic does happen Legend or not.


  4. I should never want to listen to this album.The day after I got it was the day my first synth I owned, a Korg 770, got stolen from my apartment. I was listening to it in the car for the second time that same day so at times its hard to separate the experience but I can listen and forget or ignore.

    The album is very similar to Jean Luc's sojourn "Individual Choice" the year before only this time he goes it alone save for a few choice players providing solos and/or support parts. This was a time when everybody was gettin in on the new synth and drum machine sound of the 1980's. Particularly the "DX" sound with older instruments from Moog and Sequential Circuits plus the new ways of composing music ins the studio and be autonomous.

    The album kicks off with a "great to be alive"  piece "Open Mind". Here Jean Luc sustains a solid synth and drum rhythm while joyously playing violin which gives way to a nice synth solo which in turn brought home by Chick Corea's descending solo lines. Its funny I always forgot that those solos were played by Corea and took it for granted that it was an arpeggiator, which were also the big thing coming out with synthesizers then as now. Track two suggests isolation with contemplation and more violin and an ominous bass with a processed piano that sounds sampled to me. Track three brings back the brightness with caution and passionate melodies for "Watching Birds".

    Track four or in my case side 2 kicks off with "Modern Times Blues" with George Benson and his familar clean Jazz guitar sololing. Trading riffs with Jean Luc throughout. Track 5 "Orbital" Encounters" has the right kind of stereo panning that suggests "orbit" and a very understated drum track(s). Decidedly stationary in nature with no fireworks but maintaining a steady orbit. Track 6 brings in a nice heavy fade in of Jean Luc's violin and the very familiar sound of a Yamaha RX drum machine. Again more soling and a nice digital reverb laden violin one note pads.

    Until i heard this album and the previous one I'd never followed or heard any of Jean Luc Ponty's music. I had plenty of friends in high school and college who did and perhaps his most touted song from my circle of fans was "New Country". To this day when I play one of his records I reach for this one or more often "Individual Choice" and I do own some of his other records. I do find him an inspiring to listen to and a certain nostalgia for my early 20's.


  5. My initial entry into the World's of Jon Hassell via Brian Eno. I consider this one and the second volume released a year after this to be companion pieces though they offer differing flavors in a World of "Possible Musics'. I was in my latter days of college studying music when i bought these two a week apart from each other or so. The first song Chemistry features a prominent bass part from none other than Percy Jones of Brand X fame. The first sparse opening then hands off into Delta Rain Dreams which pleases the ears to a literal rain forest. The third track GRIOT  (Over 'Contagious Magic') was recorded live at an art gallery in Canada which has very earthy electroacoustic feel to it. Maybe it was my state of mind at the time but I always imagined snakes being charmed by the music :D This is followed by Ba-Benzele which features a very prominent Prophet 5 pad/drone with Jon Hassell soloing over top. i can't help but wonder if it's a solo with a hint of longing or loss in it. Rising Thermal  Rising Thermal 14° 16' N; 32° 28' E which rounded out the first side of the vinyl edition has what I always thought a tape loop within loop similar to what Eno/Fripp used to do together. the longest track Charm(Over 'Burundi Cloud') features percussion with ethereal synth sounds tucked around with the familiar and present trademark Jon Hassell Trumpet.

    This album is a great listen especially if you are a Jon Hassell fan, an Eno fan or both. Together like so many Eno collaborations make a great combination. if we only had more cooperation among artists these days.:emo:


  6. Like every fan of Tangerine Dream, I was really sad to hear that Edgar Froese had died. There were indications that he was leaning towards getting affairs in order for his "change of cosmic address" at some point but for sure not as soon as it happened. Though he did have a bad accident in the Winter of 2013 that put him in the hospital with a major recovery he wasn't ready to slow down or stop. It was more about writing his book and more music to be recorded and released. His current project at the time was a new streamlined Tangerine Dream with a genuine return to an emphasis on synthesizers with new twists on their catalog. Part of that new line up included Electronic Musician Ulrich Schnauss who brings in another dimension to the band I first heard on the triple disc 2014 live tour album Supernormal Australian concerts. 

    In the fall of 2015 this EP recording, featuring music from the yet to be released Quantum Gate album, was released to give fans a glimpse into what is in the making. At the time of Froese's death a lot of the music had already begun being recorded if not mapped out with the rest of the band. Edgar's idea for this project was he wanted to translate the latest knowledge of Quantum Physics into music.

    Its an ongoing fan controversy on whether they should continue with the name and rightly so but to me its logical that they kept Froese's ideas going since they'd been working on it already. The results to my ears is remarkably fresh and brilliant. Modern yet nostalgic at the same time. Maybe a little darker and disturbing at times. You can hear Froese's playing and influence yet you also hear what is a new Tangerine Dream however there was an end game in place to the band before he died. The ever present pulse of sequences like in most Tangerine Dream music runs throughout but there is also nice synth washes and ambient pauses. Still other times I feel it sounds like an electronic music commentary on the state of things although its supposed to be about Quantum Physics.

    I'll be looking forward to hearing the complete full album.

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