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Jack Hertz

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Album Reviews posted by Jack Hertz


  1. For me, classic Electronic Music doesn't get much better than this. Decades later, it still sounds as fresh and innovative as ever. Fast set the bar very high, and we are all the better for it. One of my desert island selections. 


  2. You are in for quite ride on this split release. Be prepared to travel between elements of the avant-garde, kosmische, and exotic soundscapes seamlessly mixed into a flowing sound tapestry. The two (side long) tracks on this virtual album offer what I can best describe as "Berlin Concrete". Too diverse to put in a category, the tracks are experimental not only in sound, but in the huge variety of sounds and ideas presented. While each has their own distinct Krautrock sound. Fiesel's "Dressing-up sign 1", is a bit more dark and electronic compared with Bergan's more rhythmic, "Suits 2". Don't be put off by the experimental classification, I found this is music is accessible, as it is adventurous. Four stars.


  3. An Eno album all the way, but he does allow Abrahams and Hopkins to shine through at times. This would be a great album if we haven't been taken to these places so many times before by Mr Eno. There are hints of his many albums all over these tracks. Not a bad thing, but its starting to feel like Brian has few tricks in his bag. Still, there are some solid gems on this album such as "2 Forms of Anger" and "Calcium Needles" that add new sounds to Eno's vast sonic canvas.


  4. 5925d2475cd56_three-willow-park-raymond-scott(1).jpg.1c6792f754033ef62af8954dd6b90b5e.jpgThis is the album I have been waiting for. The new material featuring outtakes and isolated tracks, pulls back the curtains to reveal the master at work. Up there with the IBM computer singing "Daisy", the world's first Artificial Intelligence music generator can be heard under the command of Raymond Scott himself. Hearing what the Electronium really sounded like in action gave me goosebumps. These are the moments avid listeners live for. Rare they may be in this day and age, the new release from Basta Music, "Three Willow Park: Electronic Music from Inner Space, 1961–71" delivers many of these moments.

    The follow-up to the 2000 "Manhattan Research Inc." album that effectively turned the world onto Raymond Scott. This new release takes a closer look at the man and his instruments, especially the Electronium. The music and accompanying book are some of the most detailed examinations of Raymond's electronic "sidemen", that he designed and built himself. Instead of the vintage commercials and ephemera we know Raymond Scott for. Three Willow Park (TWP) features numerous alternates, outtakes, demonstrations, and solo tracks that provide a first-hand encounter with the unadulterated production recordings. While the term "raw" may be applied, these tracks are full-fidelity recordings, amazingly bright and clear - even by today's standards.

     

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    The beautifully packaged 3 LP set laid out a in modern vintage style, instantly transports the listener to the time and place of the contents. Each of the record sleeves featuring a different layout. Are filled with delightful Scott ephemera of the facility, instruments and daily life in the factory. The covers are just the teaser for the accompanying 20 page booklet that goes even deeper into the archives to present detailed articles on Scott's electronic music years. Arguably, one of the most important times in Raymond Scott's life. When the Electronium and other inventions matured into products for other people to use. Ultimately, opening the door to his relationship with Motown. The booklet's articles by Scott historians Irwin Chusid, Gert-Jan Blom and Jeff Winner. Accounts by celebrities Robert Moog, Tom Rhea, Herb Deutsch, Brain Kehew and others. With the addition of memories from family and friends. Provide an endearing look at Raymond Scott the artist, engineer, business man, and father. Long standing questions on his instruments are answered, myths dispelled, and new ones presented. I found my self re-reading the booklet again and again. For those who really want to know, the booklet is worth the price alone.

     

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    When was the last time you put on some music and were moved emotionally by what you heard? These kinds of experiences are rare in this age of on-demand everything. Listening to the TWP tracks are a trip back in time when electronic music was still a Wild-West of sorts. Raymond's enigmatic story is especially interesting because he used audio to document what he did. The sound quality on TWP is so good, and intimate. There is an eerie presence with his gentle voice guiding the listener through the inner-workings of his creations. It feels like you are in the room with him.

    Production aside, it is what we hear on TWP that makes the ears dance. Spanning 2+ hours on 61 tracks. This is a literal smorgasbord of electronic works by Raymond Scott. Some will sound familiar to those who know the "Manhattan Research Inc" recordings with various alternate and outtakes. While related, the TWP collection has done a fine job of choosing contrasting versions that can be quite different from the final production versions. I got a laugh hearing an electronic version of Powerhouse used on a Domino Sugar commercial. Toy Trumpet, Pygmy War Dance, and classic commercial spots can be heard as well. Yet, those are the minority in the collection. The rest of the cuts are of new and unheard material, including some Motown recordings.

     

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    These recordings not only show how Raymond Scott composed. They let us hear what many of his inventions really sounded like. The Electronium is the rightful star of the show, but we get to hear the Circle Machine, Clavivox, Bandito The Bongo Artist and others as well. His incredible creativity is immediately apparent in how he's able to configure intricate and or delicate compositions from mere beeps and boops. This was new territory at the time. Scott's vision for an electronic composition system (band) is still a model of complexity and functionality today. This is well evidenced in the many demonstrations, most under 1 minute. Scott's pieces are confidently composed, with a relaxed kind of precision that makes them sound electronic, but have a human element at the same time. Hearing what are effectively intelligent algorithms that play themselves out, musically, or not. It is still a marvel on more aesthetic levels than I will touch on in an album review. Not unlike the discovery of fractals. There's a sense that we're peering into the inner-workings of the Universe. In this regard, Scott is the Tesla of sound. A man who's life was dedicated to commanding the universal rules of sound for the good of all mankind. For your own good, be sure to  get "Three Willow Park: Electronic Music from Inner Space, 1961–71" from Basta Music on June 30th.

    See more information on the release at the official Raymond Scott site: 
    http://www.raymondscott.net/three-willow-park/


  5. I felt this album was lacking when it came out in 1992, and even more so when I listen to it now. For me, its lacks all the things that make Brian Eno and many of the musicians on this album special. The compositions feel uninspired. The synth programming is boring and redundant. The production sounds muddy and flat. Maybe it is just me, but I'm not sure I would even recognize this as Eno's work if I wasn't told.  


  6. German electronic music artist Christian Fiesel's new album "Hagen's Delight" is two CD collection of tracks that feature a variety of compositions ranging from dark ambient to majestic near-symphonic works. 

    Whoever Hagen is, their delights seem to focus on shaded themes that are often mysterious and contemplative. As a whole, the music here would be right at home in a film noir suspense, and at times even a slow moving horror movie. The tracks have a story like quality that open with an introduction, then build into new ideas that frequently explore more than one mood in a composition.

    The first CD that opens with the track, Bells Call. Is an introduction to the albums' overall sound. Bringing to mind a castle on a hill wrapped in dark clouds. As a guitar starts to play as the clouds break to light its majestic architecture. Darkness Rising follows with rolling sequencers that evoke a feeling of driving on rolling hills. The march is on with the track Night Programming. Opening with a royal sounding mix of beats and strings that transforms into an ominous parade of the robots. Next, light sequences build into a quartet contemplative Mellotron voices on Out of the Spheres. The track, Rusty Nail, burps and bloops warnings of an pending storm, that develops into a scene of harsh winds and flapping iron gates. Moving through the dark forest of Say Goodbye to Yesterday, that ends with reverb soaked drums and vibrato guitar. Christian picks up the pace on Don't Surrender to Hate. Forged of drum and synth sequences that move along with determination. The clouds part for the final cut on the first CD as the Long Cure feels like the warmth of the sun in a gentle, yet invigorating way.

    The second disc opens with Downwards We Go, a bubbling synth track with riffs of distorted organs interrupting the flow. Soon followed by a gentle phasing sound of synthesized string ensemble before it all peels away into a contemplative ambient drone that ends in a serene chorus of synths. As the name suggests, Desert Trail is dusty and dry sounding with guitar over grainy synth washes. After Dallas is another contemplative sort of piece, low and brooding looking for the light that it never seems to find as it ends on gentle vocal notes. Christian returns to a more mechanized sound on Shielded Transformer, rumbling and buzzing a radiant hum. Wisdom as second of the longest tracks on Hagen's delight. Is dark with periods of heavy chorusing and distorted guitar, to end with a solemn drone all the wiser. We return to distant drums and some foreboding on Glass Cabinet. The final track, A Summer's Funeral. Seems to  summarize Hagen's Delight just right. It is slow tempo composition that incorporates subtle Berlin flavored sequencers with thick string arrangements that move between apprehensive and enlightening visions of a better tomorrow.

    Overall, Hagen's Delight feels like a long dark journey into the a Europe long forgotten. There is a majesty to these recordings that conjure visions of dense forests, castles enshrined in the mists and the occasional ghoulish figure moving in the shadows. Intentional or not, the somewhat ambient approach leaves the listener wanting a bit more conclusion and contrast between tracks over the two compact discs they fill. Which, as mentioned, makes one curious who is Hagen and what is meant by "delight", as the mood can be heavy and brooding but also introspective, perhaps the feelings of a King isolated in his castle? 

    I gave the album a 3.5 star rating, which would have been a 4 were it not for the length of the release. It was challenging to get through the second disk, that I felt covered much of the same ground at the first. Still, this is a captivating release that has an old world sound that feels organic, yet displays the work of a fine German electronic composer. Christian is very good at working with dark themes without sounding fatalistic or demonic, as a lot of dark ambient music tends to fall into.


  7. Just got my CD of this album and have been playing it the last two days, non-stop. While this album sits firmly in the Berlin style. Kellerkind Berlin takes the motif a bit further with interesting timbres and synth leads occasionally replaced by guitar. This is done with perfect balance, taking up the right amount of space without changing it so much that we lose track of the Berlin goodness. There's a common, minimalist approach to these tracks. Each one starting out nearly ambient, then growing and building measure by measure. A pattern begins to form and unwind till a grand arrangement blossoms into a warm undulating tapestry of pulsing delight. Fans of Robert Schroeder's early works will find themselves at home in the den of Kellerkind Berlin.


  8. I was lucky enough to see them perform a few times. Hard to believe, but the show was almost just like the record. These guys were very talented performers as well as composers. Their music was so new sounding and nostalgic at the same time, they really captured the feeling of sci-fi movies, menacing technology, and a love for the stars. RIP Barney Jones.


  9. Paul Schutze is one of my favorite soundscape artists. Still somewhat ahead of his time, his work fuses fourth world, electronic  and other dark electronic styles into a sound all his own. This album is wonderfully dynamic with slick percussion and deep dives into sonic neither worlds that are rewarded with repeated listens.


  10. A timberal masterpiece, Hyerborea is one of may favorite Tangerine Dream albums. Marrying pristine PPG sounds and textures in such a minimal, yet very satisfying way. Each track is rife with exotic moods that carry us off to faraway places via clever synth programming and inventive rhythms. There a special majesty to this record, as we can feel these artists realizing something very new, on the cutting edge. This alos is great music that takes krautrock to another level. Ready to burst into ambient or IDM at any moment. Christopher Franke keeps it rocking with slick kosmiche beats that maintain a certain style and grace throughout the album.


  11. Sharpness Of Formulation by Charles Rice Goff III & Michael LaGrega is Mmmm Mmmm, good. This music has been slow-cooked with a hearty broth the hungry listener can swim in. All kind of surprises are in this sonic minestrone: found sounds, synths, loops, voices, and more beat into improvised submission come at you like a parade. Ever changing and morphing objects form, replaced one by one with another equally wonderful spectacle. 'Annulment Of Suspension' is like a kind of harmonious noise that finds there is life after iteration. After a good dose of space mayhem on 'The Machine Economy'. The duo leave us suspended in animation with 'Amid That Which Is'. My fave on the release, 'Plasticity Nullifies Vividness' delivers an ethereal punch to the cranium. We've entered surreal space in the closing tracks. Crossing a star field of blinking eye-balls on 'Analysis Of Being-In' and finally. The encounter with intelligent life as we are guided through 'The Manual Doorlock Buttons Of Perception' to find we have become one of the ingredients in this tasty sonic stew. 


  12. This is a wonderful album that brings berlin and ambient styles together in a very inviting way. Pads, sequencers, and guitars meld in a rolling tapestry of lush rhythms and evocative beats that left me wanting more.

    The album opens with 'Tangerine', a solemn, yet enticing piece that calls to the listener before breaking into lovely sequences of piano, sequencer and strings.

    On 'Phase REM', Kellerkind Berlin shows us he can handle long form tracks quite well with sequenced bass and synth pads to carry us off to REM cycle on a cloud of sparkling chords.

    'A Bit Dangerous' is an adventurous piece moving between up-tempo percussion layered with pulsing arps, and more ambient passages as if we are moving over changing terrains.

    Tight drums, sequencers and piano leads are on the menu at 'Highnoon'. A wonderful mix of harmonies and sparse drum patterns keeps the ears locked on the signals.

    'Continuous' is a fun track with a quirky feeling that is inventive and playful with a nice pulsing beat.

    The album closes with my favorite cut, the somewhat ominous 'Wide Dream'. An intricate composition that intertwines several elements that evolve through out the piece, yet remain complementary and enticing to the listener.

    I am so glad Kellerkind Berlin chose to re-remaster "Dreams" to share it with us. Highly recommended listening for fans of more laid back Berlin style electronic music.


  13. IMO - It don't get no better than this. There is no album I have listened, studied, and marveled out more than this one. Side one is just so massive and complicated. It really has everything: long form, fast and slow, light and dark, analog and digital, drone and complex, floating and sequenced, and timbres are to die for. This album opened my ears to the idea of timberal orchestration and totally changed my view of what could be done with electronic music. 

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