"Sometimes a regular dose of electronic music just doesn’t satisfy. Stephen Palmer’s latest offering, an amazing six-disc set, should surely scratch the itch of anyone craving an extended session of deep space listening. Stephen is an already prolific musician and has released quite a few CDs in the past few years. The last couple of releases with his project Mooch concentrated on sonic recreations of psychedelic music from specific time periods (i.e. 1967½, 1966, 1968a) that are incredibly realistic. While I really dig those albums, it’s the electronic stuff that really pushes my power button. Last year he released an intense double CD entitled Berlin via Cairo/Berlin via Istanbul that featured Berlin influenced sequencer-driven electronics combined with a Middle Eastern flavor. This time out he’s flying deeper into the space with mostly pure electronic music including a few unique twists on the journey.
There might be a few diehards out there that recognize the name Urs Amman. He was the painter of several early Klaus Schulze album covers like Blackdance, Picture Music and Timewind. While we are on the subject of Klaus, quite a lot of the music here in this set is done in homage to the German synthesizer wizard. While I still haven’t fully absorbed this entire set, I will admit to several times checking what I was playing to make sure it wasn’t really Klaus. This is probably most evident on disc one with the track “Einfachheit” which is German for naiveté. The first 24 minutes or so is pure Schulze magic. Stephen gets a really fat sound using a Yamaha CS-30L analog synthesizer on this track. The track is not all dreamy space music. There’s a nice noisy section in the middle that gets fairly weird.
“Tochter Der Stimme” on disc two starts out a bit more upbeat with a nice droning space rock rhythm. This one reminds me slightly more of another great German musician in Manuel Göttsching, partially because of the great guitar work towards the end. The is a wonderful track that seems simple but continuously evolves, much like the pieces on Ashra’s New Age Of Earth or Blackouts albums. Like the first disc, this contains an abrupt change somewhere during the middle of the track, but not as drastically. It’s truly amazing how Stephen Palmer can recreate a moment in time and make it his own.
“Schönheit” (beauty) goes back to the Schulze realm but now it’s a more alien space than before. This is another one that features a cool vintage analog synthesizer, the Korg MS-20. Probably the slowest of the six discs, this one features some of the strangest synth sounds with lots of spacey exploration.
The next disc in the set is a little different. “Borderland” is a piece divided into two parts, to illustrate the area between two different countries. This track features many different instruments and sounds. It has a feel similar to Mike Oldfied’s early albums. There are some nice melodies on this disc that remind me slightly of the Mooch albums. The themes on both parts are the same with different sets of instrument sounds. This features drummer Erich Z. Schlagzeug who has also helped out on the Mooch albums.
“Achtundsiebzig” (78) is a sequencer driven piece that brings a strong 70s Tangerine Dream presence to the set. This one was mostly realized through software programming but still retains a vintage sound. Erich also provides drums here, really making the music come alive.
The last disc contains “Luftgesang” (song of the air), a lighter, almost new age piece. Things start out with a gorgeous vibes sequence and soon spacey and orchestral keyboards are added. This one seems like it took the longest to produce with lots of different instruments including grand piano, Rhodes, and lots of string sounds. It ends with some very soft keyboards giving the impression of drifting away on the clouds.
There’s so much music here that it’s tough to give an accurate description of everything going on. This review is only scratching the surface of all that is going on. After listening to all of the discs a few times, I’m still discovering great things that I haven’t heard before. I’d say that anyone into great electronic music and Klaus Schulze in particular should give this one a chance. It’s more than worth the affordable price that it’s being sold for."
Floyd Bledsoe at Progressive Ears