Neu Harmony NH031
This is one hell of a powerful CD! It combines tracks from both the Hampshire Jam 2 and National Space Centre performances played completely live without any pre-recorded backing. There are two new numbers plus the sequencer dominated tracks from 'The Demon Haunted World' and 'Bellerophon', most of the pieces running into each other without a break. Indeed it is a sequencer fest to end all sequencer fests!
Unfortunately Colin Anderson was not present on either of these recordings (thus the title) therefore the remaining band member Grant Middleton needed some assistance. Paul Nagle, Andy Bloyce (from Kubusschnitt) and Steve Jenkins were drafted in to help and because of the new line ups the tracks have quite a different 'feel' to the album versions. The sequences tend to be 'bigger', the mood meaner and melodies more intense, sometimes quite markedly so. What you don't get on this CD is drift; it is power EM almost all the way through. An example of the added oomph can be heard straight away with the opener 'Launch' sporting a new and additional rhythm which drives it forward with even more energy than on the original (which was pretty awesome anyway). 'Return' is extended by about 75%. The sounds used on the main melody sound quite a bit different making things seem more joyous and triumphant than before and a completely new more moody ending is added.
FV-T loses the samples including the intro and end. We are straight into a bass sequence and lead melody but the biggest difference is in the guitar parts. The acoustic guitar (and piano for that matter) disappear entirely and electric guitar is given much more bight, almost growling from time to time. Completely devastating! 'C-57D' on the other hand is without the mournful guitar part of the original and again gets straight into the sequence. It sounds slightly stripped down but more in yer face. We get the first of the new tracks next, 'Dream Sequence'. An almost Morse code type warning sequence slowly increases in intensity. It gradually morphs until a delightful delicate lead chimes up. Indeed this is probably the tenderest moment on the entire album. The sequence carries on regardless providing the perfect backing for the melodies. The following number 'Watch the Skies' is another newy. From a loud dramatic beginning of massed pads a delicate slow melody rings out, each note echoing into the distance. Indeed this track contains some of the best melodies UTD have ever penned. Even so the sequences are just as impressive, a bright one bouncing over the top whilst a lovely slow bass one rumbles underneath. Yet another sequence is added in the middle of the mix as the wow factor is increased still further. Awesome, simply awesome!
Now we get a somewhat condensed version of 'The Aeon's day'. The initial sequence is one of the deepest most bass laden I have ever heard from UTD. To start with it sounds very different to the original but eventually becomes more recognisable. From the end of this track we rumble seamlessly into 'The Long Rain'. Though all the recognisable elements are there the emphasis of each layer in the mix seems quite a bit different, if anything providing an even more melancholy and brooding effect. Deep, deep sequences get 'The Bridge' underway. This is actually the second more energetic half of the track. Further sequences are added then the guitar enters. It is hardly noticed to start off with just providing part of the underlying rumble but then really let's rip, replacing the traditional lead but fitting with the rest of the 'don't mess with me' feel perfectly. 'Hell' starts up even before the previous track finishes. It condenses the over twenty minute number into just seven. This mix emphasises all the important elements of the original but with added driving rhythm and an even more intense searing lead line. Another slab of brilliance! 'Solar Gravity' is a wonderful swirling mass of throbbing sequences and energetic guitar with that little bit more mayhem (in the best possible sense of the word) than before, ending the set off with that all important explosion. If you are a fan of retro sequencer music this CD is absolutely essential. If you haven't tried Under The Dome before (what is wrong with you!?) it is an excellent place to start. (DL)