Neu Harmony NH021
The sleevenotes read like a veritable "who's who" of current synth artists: Paul Ellis, Nemesis, Free System Projekt, Robert Carty, Rudy Adrian, Kubusschnitt, Dave Fulton, Synthetic Block, Paul Nagle, Arcane, John Christian (from AirSculpture) and Ramp. This project was borne from the internet chat group "beyond_em", a thriving source of news, information and general gossip which has hundreds of subscribers, including the artists here and many more. As Paul Ellis, the co-ordinator and "guy to blame", as he describes himself, says on the sleeve ".....I was surprised by the number of other musos on the list and the high quality of their work. I threw out an idea where one musician would pick up the musical thread of the previous musician and make an album that way......"
'Beyond Me' is the result, a virtual embarrassment of riches. There is so much tempting music on this album you really won't know where to start. The majority of tracks are new, only the Arcane piece has appeared previously on the 'Alterstill' CDR, and Paul Nagle's track has appeared in remixed form on 'Blue Book'. Just before I dive into the tracks, one mention for the sleeve graphics especially the inside cover featuring cartoon cameos of all the artists - it's very cleverly done.
Fittingly Paul Ellis gets the show on the road with a fantastic piece called 'Into the Liquid Unknown' (8.19). It features magnificent sequence contortions which are sometimes left to twist and mutate in isolation, at other times accompanied by perfectly judged silken pads. Next up is 'Nemesis' with 'Siloportem'(7.25). A punchy beat underpins expert sequencing and some classic mellotron sounds. Again it's a top notch synth outing, and blends perfectly with the former piece, and the next track for that matter - 'Pharos' (5.27) from 'Free System Projekt. This really does bring to mind mid 70's EM with mellotron timbres painting a patchwork of sound which could be straight from 'Phaedra'. Half way through the piece those trademark FSP pulsations start up and we are on another roller coaster of rampant moog style sequences and epic synth textures.
Robert Carty contributes 'Outside Influences' (5.10) which opens with strange alien utterings before a slow but mammoth beat appears around which all manner or electronic detail is layered. It sounds slightly tribal, Aztec culture comes to mind, such as the more atmospheric work of Richard Burmer. Next it's Rudy Adrian with 'Secrets in Sahara Sands' (6.42) which carries on the atmosphere and style perfectly, yet stamps a very different interpretation with a choppy sequence and ethereal synth layers. Kubusschnitt's 'Vantage Trick' (6.18) will surprise (and disappoint) no-one, being a classic slab of retro sequencing with electric guitar angst pitched perfectly in the mix. Dave Fulton's 'Falling Away' (5.32) takes the baton, a strangely beguiling collection of electronic throbs and drones while 'Flash of Attention' (1.45) by Synthetic Block is a brief but perfectly formed cameo which features syncopating oscillations.
Paul Nagle's 'Adventure' (8.37) opens with a marvellous arpeggiating sequence and an infectious melody. John Hickey contributes foreboding words before "the cave closes" to allow Arcane's 'Alterstill part 3' (6.00) to be unleashed. If by some twist of fate you haven't got this track, the situation needs to be rectified immediately. First aired at Jodrell Bank, this is possibly the only track which has ever left myself and Dave Law speechless at the same time.
'Heathkit Interociter' (4.12) by John Christian is a fascinating and quite unique sequence based track - wonderfully inventive in construction, very melodic and hugely entertaining. Finally Ramp serve up 'Rapture of the Deep' (6.21) and this has to be heard to be believed - atmospherics from the Gods.
What an album! No matter what your taste in EM this has it all, in one cohesive high quality package. Buy without hesitation. (GG)