Foreign Spaces - Dark Star

In stock

SynGate Dist. CD FS03
released 1997

When a Foreign Spaces album hits the platter the results are never anything less than interesting. On their previous two releases the main characterisic has been variety; their ability to create quality EM in John Dyson mode on one track, then switch to Tangerine Dream on the next track with equal success. When they hit top form the results can be breathtaking, and the track 'Nebula' from 'Being Creature' has become one of my favourte "now just listen to this..." pieces. Inevitably it doesn't all work, but the highs definitely compensate for the lows. I approached 'Dark Star' then with high hopes, and after hearing the 20 minute opener 'Dark Star Part 1' those hopes were certainly not unfounded. The opening synthesised pads are Space Music personified, creating a floating soundscape which acts as the perfect platform for the delights which follow. Sequences are marshalled at the 2½ minute mark, initially moving around in a strangely atonal fashion but it does work. The voices then adopt the familiar Foreign Spaces pallete, with flutey stabs being woven into a marvelous tapestry of sound by silken lead synths. The sequences seem to gain in stature even more at the 5½ minute mark and the melody is developed with vigour creating a piece which really kicks. Around the 9 minute mark the track constantly changes tack, threatening to close than restarting anew. The sequences finally break down at the 11 minute mark leaving a drifting collage which ebbs and flows until powerful synth lines start to pick out a theme of such infectious beauty that it will have you replaying the last 5 minutes of this piece over and over again. On first hearing TD's 'Hyperborea' I nearly wore the end of side 1 out such was my admiration for the closing section of the title track. Chris Franke hit the same sort of spot 14 minutes into 'Scattered Thoughts of a Canyon Flight' from 'Klemania' (those 2½ minutes are the only reason I kept the album). Well, Foreign Spaces have captured the same sort of spirit here with a mood and melody of spine tingling proportions. Brilliance like this makes EM what it is. FS do like to pack in the variety but with the next track we are taken from the sublime to the ridiculous. 'Ning-Nong' is the offender. Two minutes of pure crap. It's not even quirky, cute or amusing (unlike the inflatable alien in the cult movie?!). It's awful - just skip it. 'Ancient Galleries' restores sanity and quality. A strong chugging sequence plays host to all manner of synth lines. The melody is developed well throughout the track and it almost ends up being a "seatbelts-on" job. Unthinkably 'Andromeda Caravan' initially threatens to be another 'Ning-Nong', however by being genuinely quirky this track actually is bearable but I'm still left wondering why FS tackle material which sounds so much beneath them. 'Cybermachine' again restores normality by hitting home on a barrage of sequencer rhythm and more scorching synthesis. Finally 'Dark Star Part 2' offers a further 11 minutes of spaced out sound paintings which don't match part 1, but really that would be expecting too much. So there you have it. It's one of those releases which is a bit of a enigma, having some of the best and worst EM I've heard for a long time back-to-back. But the dross only lasts 5 minutes and is neatly packaged for CD excision, leaving much fine material to be explored. But really those jaw dropping 5 minutes at the end of track 1 seal it for me. No album containing such a peak can receive anything except the highest of recommendations. (GG)

Download is also available

We also recommend

Browse this category: Foreign Spaces