Under The Dome - Bellerophon
Neu Harmony NH029
Deep analogue sounds abound on 'Liquid Sky'. Even though atmospheric it literally fizzes with pent up energy. Solar winds blow through the ether. The scene is set for 'Launch'- a sequencer driven stormer. And what sequences! A bass laden one thunders forth while a bubbly melodic one bounces over the top at 100 miles an hour. It's a track which works on every level, even the lead line is sensational. We are now in space, 'Drift' taking us on a beautiful relaxing journey through the cosmos. Darker drones take over on 'The Long Rain'. A little melodic tinkling sequence starts up as do yet more deep bass pulsations which make the floor shake. The tension is incredible but the pace sedate. I constantly expected things to explode but the awesome energy is kept on a tight leash. Vast pads swell like a wave swamping the sequences before they spontaneously combust. We finish on a more tranquil footing.
Swirling atmospherics dominate the short 'Sun Dome' acting like a bridge to the melodically beautiful 'Return'. A rapid 'sequence', sounding like a lead line in its own right pulls at the heartstrings as does the stunning main melody. The sounds swell becoming rather euphoric before fading away to silence out of which the deepest and most awesome bass sequence emerges- could this have been responsible for the recent earthquakes in Manchester? More majestic lead lines are then brought in and I found myself pumping up the volume. Calmness returns for 'Nightfall'. Soft pads are punctuated by water droplet piano notes. More bass rumbles get 'Event Horizon' underway. It's like feeling the aftershock of some cosmic detonation. A massive wave of sound hits then slowly fades into the distance. Another bass sequence starts up then descends to almost below hearing though you will still feel its power. It momentarily disappears only to return with added vigour accompanied by yet another sequence just as uncompromising as the first. This track oozes malevolent power more than any other I have heard - it's quite an experience and not for the faint hearted but boy is it exciting!
'C-57D' is again melodic. This time it's an electric guitar which creates the melody. Another fantastic sequence joins the game and the lead is taken over by conventional synth. The sound chosen is exquisite overflowing with power but also emotion as it builds to epic proportions. It's really something of an anthem which is sure to be the highlight of every live performance they do from now on. 'Atair IV' swirls with sci fi type effects as if a spacecraft is landing followed by sounds of a strange planet. You can easily imagine the scene on the front cover. We finish with another sequencer romp 'Solar Gravity'. Actually on much of this album to call what you hear as sequences is so inadequate. It's as if Under the Dome are literally able to control thunder putting devastating power into every note, shifting it this way and that, obeying their every whim. As for the lead line- it's another corker. There isn't one meandering moment on the album. Each lead is exquisitely constructed, scorching, menacing or even very occasionally tender. It's as if the Gods themselves are hurtling bolts of pure energy. Inevitably the CD finishes with a massive explosion as the album goes super nova.
This is a stunning album. It contains those trademark UTD style sequences as found on their first but it also shows a great deal of maturity, light and shade if you like. Equal attention is paid to the atmospheres and textures which balance the stormers. It also comes over as something of a concept album, right down to the early sci fi imagery of the artwork (think of Forbidden Planet). To get the most out of this album when you first get it keep it on constant rotation, playing it time after time- if your woofers are up to it that is. There is greater depth to the sound here than I have ever heard before. (DL)