1. Palace Of Lights Gregory Taylor : Amalgam : Aluminium / Hydrogen (US,2007)****°
Trained in a field of curiosities in visual art and later new music art, Gregory Taylor studied Indonesian and electroacoustic music in the U.S. and the Netherlands. This new music interest led him to a radioshow called "RTQE", leading to a few occasional criticisms. He was active in the cassette-culture movement during the late 70s and 80s of independently produced electronic music, performed various concerts, and did some occasional remixing before in addition to his work in what he called 'recombinant noise alignment'. This is Gregory’s third release (after "Voiceband Jilt" on c74, followed by an online label release of live recordings through the Palace of Lights label as a part of their "Flood" series), his second concentrated conceptual piece on CD.
I must admit this album contains some surprising visions. Although the whole album musically works very much like one concept, in one listen, it is especially the opening track which gives the listener the full surprise. While most attempts to use the gamelan sounds for electronic music use two different worlds interacting, this sounds like a completely new music, contemporary music, which is a perfect mix of the true nature of the gamelan into manipulated music, keeping each aspect of it intact but making more from it, through sound manipulation, electronic configuration and so on, making the idea or origins of computer, electronica and gamelan into one new composition instrument, a brilliant opening piece, which is acoustic, electrocaoustic and electronic at the same time, into a wider scope field of expression possibilities. Part two sounds like a reverb electronic music version of it, becoming a click and run melodic, more modern piece. This leads to more changing variations with multi-layered loops of sounds and melodies. More noisy sounds are mixed with the more clear keyboards sounds. Reverbed melodies are mixed in structures of layers with droning organ keyboards, and more bells/chime-like sounds, turning back to the gamelan sound itself. Near the end weirder, darker sounds are added, with echoing, pulsating, and vibrating sounds, noise and clarity, reverbs and clicks, with a bit of ambient darkness intruding. A special album of new electronic/electrocacoustic music, but near the end also just a bit of ambient.
Also planned for the future, but not confirmed, is a release of free improvisational work with several different ensembles.
Audio : "Bem" (zipped file for private use only) 2. Palace Of Light Steve Peters : Occasional Music (US,2007)***°
While Steve Peters made sounds for many site-specific art installations, he also composed lots of occasional project-related music from the last 25 years. This album is an overview of this work, which never has been compiled before. Even when coming from so many different occasions, the album sounds like a deliberate compilation of well fitting tracks, of varied ambient/new music, ranging from minimalism to ethnical inspirations over electro-acoustic sound improvisations. The main factor is that all compositions breathe calmly and gently, out of nothing, of space and silence or tends to dissolve back into it. There’s some improvisation involved, also with some co-operators, so that some tracks tend to fall back just a little on minimalism and repetition in its pulses, but luckily without any annoying effect. It gives more the impression of sound meditations, adapting composition, improvisation, and other musical factors by need of occasion.
“Paris, Once” is a simple piano piece, which is introduced by the label as a Satie-esque piano étude, referring to the quiet evolution in it. “Ancestral Memory” consists of drone-like slower and stretched playing of accordions with overtone harmonies, mixed with some minimalist accordion oscillations, and rhythmic clicks of percussion. “Planctus” is a beautiful elegy or inspiration on Balinese music played with Javanese gamelan and flute, respectful in essence to its origins. “Courtship Rituals” is played by two trumpets, one of them in the cornet-kind of sounds we almost too automatically associate with Miles Davis, mixed with steam-like rhythmic whistles, other space-filling background sounds from what I assume are tubes, voice intermission, and breathing trumpet experiments. Of course this is one of the cooperative works and improvisations. “Suspended Sentence” is an absorbed by space extreme minimalist one note piano piece, mixed with cosmic organ/electronic keyboards drones and harmonies. This continues in a second part, of the former piano with added bass space percussion on “Auto Da Fe”. Hereto are added electro-acoustic crispery and somewhat silent millstone like sounds, and lots of whispering mouth sounds improvisations (by several participators). Then also something that sounds like pigeons make the whispery sound rhythms with percussion a very complete awareness. “Unchained”, possibly from the same session, starts with a pulsating like machine bass drone pulse, mixed with other industrial background sounds. Over this is an improvisation with the always Sufi-associated sounds of some ethnic flute (don’t think it’s a ney, because it’s more bass toned). The whirling loop sounds confirm this idea of a meditative hypnosis. Also hand shakers and Middle Eastern percussive instruments played in a calm breathing tempo add to the impressions of a desert meditative quietness. The track tends to find itself repeated a bit after a while, and becomes minimal and circular a bit, as if falling back for a short while on its found pattern itself. “Circular Lullaby” sounds like it is an arranged piece from sampled voices, pulsating harmonies into the air, and finding each other in being a voice, of an abstract world. “Two Rivers” does something comparable, creating a touching meeting point for overtone-rich tones, overlapping quietly, finding a breathy communal shape.
Participators are pianist Robin Holcomb, saxophonist Tom Guralnick, trumpeter Jonathan Baldwin, percussionist Steven M.Miller and John Bartlit.
Hopefully more links can be added later