Vangelis – Spiral (1977)

FrontCover1Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou (29 March 1943 – 17 May 2022), known professionally as was a Greek musician and composer of electronic, progressive, ambient, jazz, and orchestral music.

He was best known for his Academy Award-winning score to Chariots of Fire (1981), as well as for composing scores to the films Blade Runner (1982), Missing (1982), Antarctica (1983), The Bounty (1984), 1492: Conquest of Paradise (1992), and Alexander (2004), and for the use of his music in the 1980 PBS documentary series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage by Carl Sagan.

Aphrodite's Child

Vangelis began his career working with several pop bands of the 1960s such as The Forminx and Aphrodite’s Child, with the latter’s album 666 (1972) going on to be recognized as a progressive-psychedelic rock classic. Throughout the 1970s, Vangelis composed scores for several animal documentaries, including L’Apocalypse des Animaux, La Fête sauvage, and Opéra sauvage; the success of these scores brought him into the film scoring mainstream. In 1975 he set up his new 16-track studio, Nemo Studios in London, which he named his “laboratory”, releasing many solo albums including Heaven and Hell and China among others. In the early 1980s, Vangelis formed a musical partnership with Jon Anderson, the lead singer of progressive rock band Yes, and the duo released several albums together as Jon & Vangelis; he had previously joined Yes as their keyboard player, but left the group before recording any material with them.

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In 1980, he composed the score for the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The soundtrack’s single, the film’s theme, also reached the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and was used as the background music at the London 2012 Olympics winners’ medal presentation ceremonies. He also composed the official anthem of the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in Korea and Japan. In his last twenty years he collaborated with NASA and ESA on music projects Mythodea, Rosetta and Juno to Jupiter, which was his last studio album.

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Having had a career in music spanning over 50 years and having composed and performed more than 50 albums, Vangelis is considered to be one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music.

Vangelis died on 17 May 2022, aged 79, at a hospital in Paris due to heart failure while receiving treatment for COVID-19. (wikipedia)

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Spiral is a studio album by the Greek electronic composer Vangelis, released in December 1977. It was the third album produced by Vangelis in Nemo Studios, London, which was his creative base until the late 1980s. For the track “To the Unknown Man” Vangelis received the Midem International Instrumental award in 1978.

It is a concept album, thematically inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. On the front cover is cited Tao Te Ching: “Going on means going far – Going far means returning”, while the sleeve notes state that the track “Dervish D” is “inspired by the Dervish dancer who by his whirling realises the spiralling of the universe”.

It was a less known and acclaimed album than the two which preceded in the 1970s, Heaven and Hell (1975) and Albedo 0.39 (1976).

The album reached #38 on the Dutch album charts in 1978.

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In 2011, the album was included, along with Heaven and Hell and Albedo 0.39, in a 3-CD box set series “Original Album Classics” by Sony, RCA and Legacy Recordings. In 2013, the album was released in a remastered and reissued digipak edition by Esoteric Recordings. It includes a bonus track, previously never issued on CD, “To The Unknown Man (II)”, which was released as a B-side of the single “To the Unknown Man” in 1977.

The album is entirely instrumental, apart from Vangelis’ processed vocals on “Ballad”. Vangelis plays synthesizer, sequencers, electric piano, electronic organ, harmonica, brass, timpani, percussion. It is the first album on which Vangelis used the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer, on which he would come to rely heavily in subsequent work, and is the most sequencer-based album of his career.

Henri Stirk from Background Magazine rated the 2013 edition by Esoteric Recordings 4/5 stars.

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In December 1977, the follow-up album ‘Spiral’ was released. It was inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. The album oozes with a myriad of spectacular sounds. It featured the unforgettable marching track ‘To the Unknown Man’, for which Vangelis was awarded the Midem International Instrumental of the year 1978.In December 1977, the follow-up album ‘Spiral’ was released. It was inspired by ancient Tao philosophy, exploring the nature of the universe moving in spirals. The album oozes with a myriad of spectacular sounds. It featured the unforgettable marching track ‘To the Unknown Man’, for which Vangelis was awarded the Midem International Instrumental of the year 1978. (www.nemostudios.co.uk)

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As far as Vangelis’ early work is concerned (pertaining to the five years of his solo career), Spiral stands up quite well, although it’s almost always regarded as an inessential effort. Although the structures and the overall dynamics of the pieces are less complicated and less sophisticated, Spiral’s keyboard utilization is still extremely effectual, even if it does take awhile to get off the ground. The five tracks that make up the album aren’t as atmospheric or as elaborately shifting as 1975’s Heaven and Hell or 1976’s Albedo 0.39, but his musical movement does seem to transgress toward full, complete soundscapes, especially in “To the Unknown Man,” the album’s best example of Vangelis’ artistry. The album is based on a dancer’s appreciation of the universe and how it spirals into infinity, a concept which came to him through his own pirouettes. Both “Spiral” and “Ballad” touch ever so lightly on melody, appropriately relating to the album’s theme, while the lengthy “3+3” begins to unveil Vangelis’ creativity and sense of electronic exploration. After Spiral, Vangelis’ style changed somewhat, with more of a smoother, more melodic approach to the synthesizer, implemented to create a closer relationship between classical and electronic music. Albums such as Beauborg and China lay claim to this, also employing stronger ties between the theme and the music, while 1981’s Chariots of Fire has him merging the two styles completely. (by Mike DeGagne)

I can´t agree with Mike DeGagne:

An often overlooked masterpiece that all of his fans should listen to. (Jake Roberts)

Or: A fascinating journey through the possibilities of electronic music !

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Personnel:
Vangelis (synthesizer, keyboards and other instruments)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Spiral 6:55
02. Ballad 8:27
03. Dervish D 5:21
04. To The Unknown Man 9:01
05. 3+3 9:43
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06. To the Unknown Man (Part Two) 2.55

Music composed by Vangelis

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Richard Wahnfried – Time Actor (1979)

FrontCover1Klaus Schulze (born 4 August 1947) is a German electronic music pioneer, composer and musician.

He also used the alias Richard Wahnfried and was briefly a member of the Tangerine Dream and Krautrock bands Ash Ra Tempel and The Cosmic Jokers before launching a solo career consisting of more than 60 albums released across five decades.

Richard Wahnfried, then simply Wahnfried after 1993, is the long-time and only real alias for Klaus Schulze – originally a pseudonym, later an official side project name. Seven albums were released under this name between 1979 and 1997.

The main characteristics of the Wahnfried albums (as opposed to Schulze’s regular works) are:

Often being oriented towards more mainstream genres (some would say “more commercial”), such as rock, dance, techno, and trance.
Always allowing for collaborative and less electronic albums, with known or unknown guest musicians performing along Schulze’s synths.

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The pseudonym’s etymology stems from Schulze’s love for Richard Wagner:

Richard, evidently from Wagner’s first name. Richard is also the name of Schulze’s first son.
Wahnfried (“Peace from delusion and/or madness”, in German), from the name Wagner gave to his villa in Bayreuth (and where he was later buried).

In his 1975 album Timewind (four years before the first alias use), Schulze had already named a track “Wahnfried 1883” (in reference to Wagner’s death and burial in his Wahnfried’s garden in 1883). The other track on Timewind is called “Bayreuth Return”. After 1993, the albums are simply credited to “Wahnfried”, and namedrop Schulze (“featuring Klaus Schulze”, “Produced by Klaus Schulze”).

“Wahnfried” is the only known alias of Schulze (albeit on the 1998 Tribute to Klaus Schulze album, among 10 other artists, Schulze contributed one track barely hidden behind the “Schulzendorfer Groove Orchester” pseudonym). (wikipedia)

“Time Actor” was the result of a collaboration between legendary Crazy World & Kingdom Come visionary Arthur Brown and German synthesizer and ambient genius Klaus Schulze, recording under the pseudonym of his alter-ego Richard Wahnfried. “Richard” is the name of Klaus’ son born in 1979, and the first name of the German composer Wagner. “Wahnfried” is the name of Richard Wagner’s house, from the German “wähnen Frieden fand” (that his search and hopes will find peace). The album was a unique fusion of Brown’s eccentric musical vision and Schulze’s mastery of synthesis. The album was originally released in 1979 on the German Innovative Communication label.

Arthur Brown & Vincent Crane

Time Actor stands out amongst Schulze’s massive catalog as a masterwork of avant garde new age. Schulze helms the project on electronics, and guests include Michael Shrieve on percussion, Vincent Crane on keyboards, and vocalist Arthur Brown, who sings – or should we say, speaks – on top of it all. Schulze describes the Wahnfried project in the liner notes as “the collective pseudonym of an idea: Time-Electronic, an experiment between avantgarde and muzak: Utility-music for sound-covered environment, in which a new generation grows up: Richard Wahnfried is this generation: Music between genius and nonsense: New ideas transported by an old medium to your ear.” (Press release)

Richard Wahnfried is not a person, it’s a pseudonym /project-name for certain endeavours by Klaus Schulze. This first LP under the moniker is basically a Schulze collaboration with art prog terrorist (and Crazy World leader) Arthur Brown. If there was an instrumental version of the album it would be an essential proto-IDM DJ weapon. As it stands, it’s still pretty great. (roundandroundrecords.com)

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Klaus Schulze uses the alias Richard Wahnfried to record different music with notable guests. Time Actor is one of his best Wahnfried discs. The featured guests are Arthur Brown (as in ” … I am the god of hell fire and I bring you …”) on vocals, Michael Shrieve on percussion and Vincent Crane on keyboards. Of course, Schulze is on electronics. Brown’s vocals are the perfect compliment toSchulze’s manipulations and ministrations. His vocals — often spoken — with his heavy English accent is an extra instrument in the sound design. The music is pure Berlin school electronica. Nobody does that better than Schulze. Because of Brown’s unique contribution, this disc has no peer. (by Jim Brenholts)

This is a dehumanised, cold, aseptic technoid ambient album from Klaus Schulze (with Arthur Brown as singer). Each composition is almost the same, developping similar synth waves floating in a spacious environnement, insistent repetitive electronic pulses and Arthur Brown’s narratives, partly excentric vocals. It contains no variations, suffering of a lack of creativity and invention, very mechanical and definitely uni dimentional. The musical style is pretty similar to face B from Dune but less consistent and without emotion (despite an honest and glacial-seductive “charming the wing” with Arthur Brown’s great lyrical voice). This is a ryhtmical, electronic beat album, linear and without reliefs. The musical background is very minimal and doesn’t enable Arthur Brown to express his genius. Klaus Schulze should have been concentrated on dark, gothic, haunted organ chords (similar to Irrlicht and Cyborg), Arthur Brown would give the best on it. “Time Actor” is terribly conformist, empty and non human. To avoid! (philippe)

??  .. a real strange album … ??  … Make your own decision !

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Personnel:
Arthur Brown (vocals)
Vincent Crane (keyboards)
Klaus Schulze (electronics)
Michael Shrieve (percussion)
Wolfgang Tiepold (cello)

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Tracklist:
01. Time Actor (Wahnfried/Brown) 8.59
02. Time Factory (Wahnfried/Brown) 10.40
03. Charming The Wind (Wahnfried/Brown) 4.50
04. Grandma’s Clockwork (Wahnfried) 4.10
05. Distorted Emission (Wahnfried/Brown) 5.30
06. The Silent Sound Of The Ground (Wahnfried/Brown) 15.02
07. Time Echoes (Wahnfried/Brown) 8.22
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08. Agamemory (taken from the LP Megatone, 1984) (Wahnfried) 8.24

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Harold Budd – The Pavilion Of Dreams (1978)

FrontCover1Harold Montgomory Budd (May 24, 1936 – December 8, 2020) was an American avant-garde composer and poet. Born in Los Angeles and raised in the Mojave Desert, Budd became a respected composer in the minimalist and avant-garde scene of Southern California in the late 1960s, and later became better known for his work with figures such as Brian Eno and Robin Guthrie. Budd developed what he called a “soft pedal” technique for playing piano.

Budd was born in Los Angeles, California and spent his childhood in Victorville, California by the Mojave Desert. Drafted into the army, he joined the regimental band where he played drums. Jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler was drafted at the same time and was also a member of the band. Budd joined him in gigs around the Monterey area. Budd’s experience of the army made him determined to get an education.

After working as “everything from cowboy to mailman,” including a stint at Douglas Aircraft, Budd enrolled in a course in architecture at Los Angeles Community College. He switched to a course in harmony and his musical talent was spotted by a teacher who encouraged him to compose. He began to attend performances by artists like Chet Baker and Pharoah Sanders.

Harold Budd03Budd’s career as a composer began in 1962. In the following years, he gained a notable reputation in the local avant-garde community. Budd studied music at the University of Southern California, under the tutelage of Ingolf Dahl, graduating in 1966. Budd’s work of this period was primarily minimalist drone music influenced by John Cage and Morton Feldman, as well as the abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko, with whom he corresponded.

After completing his degree in composition in 1969, Budd took up a teaching position at the California Institute for the Arts.[8] In 1970, he released his first piece, The Oak of the Golden Dreams, which he recorded with an early model Buchla modular synthesizer at the institute.

Soon afterwards, Budd gave up composition, disgusted by the “academic pyrotechnics” of the avant-garde community.

The road from my first colored graph piece in 1962 to my renunciation of composing in 1970 to my resurfacing as a composer in 1972 was a process of trying out an idea and when it was obviously successful abandoning it. The early graph piece was followed by the Rothko orchestra work, the pieces for Source Magazine, the Feldman-derived chamber works, the pieces typed out or written in longhand, the out-and-out conceptual works among other things, and the model drone works (which include the sax and organ Coeur d’Orr and The Oak of the Golden Dreams, the latter based on the Balinese ‘Slendro’ scale which scale I used again 18 years later on ‘The Real Dream of Sails’).

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In 1972, while still retaining his teaching career at the California Institute for the Arts, he resurfaced as a composer. Spanning from 1972 to 1975, he created four individual works under the collective title The Pavilion of Dreams. The style of these works was an unusual blend of popular jazz and the avant-garde. His 1972 work Madrigals of the Rose Angel was sent to English composer Gavin Bryars who passed it on to Brian Eno. Eno contacted Budd and brought him to London to record for his Obscure Records label.

I owe Eno everything, OK? That’s the end of that… I was plucked from the tree, and suddenly I had flowered. I was just waiting. I couldn’t do it on my own. I didn’t know anything.

Budd resigned from the institute in 1976 and began recording his new compositions, produced by Eno. Two years later, Harold Budd’s debut album, The Pavilion of Dreams (1978), was released. The first performance of the piece was at a Franciscan church in California conducted by Daniel Lentz.”

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The work with Eno led Budd to shift his focus to studio-led projects, characterised by use of synthesisers and electronic treatments, often collaborating with other musicians. Budd developed a style of piano playing he deemed “soft pedal,” which can be described as slow and sustained. While he is often placed in the Ambient category, he emphatically declared that he was not an Ambient artist, and felt that he got “kidnapped” into the category.

His two collaborations with Eno, 1980’s The Plateaux of Mirror and 1984’s The Pearl, established his trademark atmospheric piano style. On Lovely Thunder, he introduced subtle electronic textures. His thematic 2000 release The Room saw a return to a more minimalist approach. In 2003, Daniel Lanois, a producer for U2 and Bob Dylan, and occasional collaborator with Brian Eno, recorded an impromptu performance of Budd playing the piano in his Los Angeles living room, unaware; it was released in 2005 as the album La Bella Vista.

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He had a long-running collaboration with guitarist Robin Guthrie. They worked together initially when Budd worked with Guthrie’s band The Cocteau Twins on their 1985 collaboration The Moon and the Melodies. The record was released by 4AD under all the collaborator’s names (rather than being a Cocteau Twins/Harold Budd record), with Budd being listed first as it was an alphabetical listing. In November 1986, the record charted on the UK Top 75 album chart, spending a week at number 46. Budd and Guthrie subsequently released several albums together, including two soundtracks to the Greg Araki films Mysterious Skin (2004) and White Bird in a Blizzard (2014), with the last, 2020’s Another Flower, released four days before Budd’s death.

Budd also collaborated with Andy Partridge of XTC on the album Through the Hill (1994), John Foxx on the album Translucence/Drift Music (2003) and work with Jah Wobble on the Solaris concert and live album in 2002.

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He composed music for the score of the 2020 miniseries I Know This Much Is True.

Brian Eno called Budd “a great abstract painter trapped in the body of a musician”.

The Guardian said, “The core Budd sound of yearning piano motifs and reverb-laden impressionism is often called minimalism. But compared with the cyclical craft of Steve Reich and early Philip Glass, his low-key, expansive forays felt deftly maximalist. This has made Budd’s craft synonymous with the dreamworld. An heir to Satie and Debussy, his music was treated and poetic, never kneejerk nor incautious.”

Budd died on December 8, 2020, aged 84, due to complications from COVID-19. (wikipedia)

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The Pavilion of Dreams is the second album from minimalist composer Harold Budd and produced by Brian Eno. Billed as “an extended cycle of works begun in 1972,” it was recorded in 1976 but not released until 1978 on Eno’s label Obscure Records. It was later re-released on Editions EG in 1981. (wikipedia)

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Mixing ethereal melodies communicated by voice or saxophone with glissando accompaniment, Harold Budd creates a series of siren songs on The Pavilion of Dreams that shimmer like light reflected on the water’s surface. Billed as “an extended cycle of works begun in 1972,” Budd’s debut apparently took a while to see the light of day itself, having been recorded in 1976, released on the aptly titled Obscure label in 1978, and re-released in 1981 on Editions EG. The minimalist composer had gained some attention in avant-garde circles with the piece “Madrigals of the Rose Angel”; featured here, it reveals the unhurried and unfolding nature of Budd’s melodies as well as his penchant for clusters of bell-like notes. “Two Songs” was written in the years that followed, adapting works from Pharoah Sanders and John Coltrane with arrangements that feature only mezzo-soprano Lynda Richardson and harpist Maggie Thomas; unless you thought the theme song to the Star Trek TV series was high art, you can skip this.

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The opening “Bismillahi ‘Rhahmani ‘Rrahim” is the musical equivalent of a bubble bath; led by the soulful saxophone of Marion Brown, it’s initially lovely, yet the circumspect arrangement saps the piece of its spellbinding effect before long. The last piece composed here, “Juno,” is also the most passionate, foreshadowing the warmth and presence that would appear on subsequent works like “The Plateaux of Mirror.” As with most minimalist works, The Pavilion of Dreams requires patience and open-mindedness on the part of the listener, only more so. Harold Budd achieved an evocative and succinct style on subsequent albums, and these songs are simply the rudimentary steps that led there. (by Dave Connolly)

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Personnel:
Richard Bernas (piano, celeste)
Marion Brown (saxophone)
Harold Budd (piano, voice)
Gavin Bryars (glockenspiel, voice)
Brian Eno (voice)
Jo Julian (marimba, vibraphone, voice)
Michael Nyman (marimba, voice)
Howard Rees (marimba, vibraphone)
Nigel Shipway (percussion)
Maggie Thomas (harp)
John White (marimba, percussion, voice)
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chorus:
Lynda Richardson – Margaret Cable – Lesley Reid – Ursula Connors – Alison MacGregor –  Muriel Dickinson

CDBooklet

Tracklist:
01. Bismillahi ‘Rrhamani ‘Rrahim 18.17
02. Two Songs 6.19
02.1. Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord Budd Rate
02.2. Butterfly Sunday (After The Rain) , Harold Budd Rate
03. Madrigals Of The Rose Angel 14.28
03.1. Rosetti Noise
03.2. The Crystal Garden
04. Juno 8.06

Music composed by Harold Budd
except 02.2. composed by Harold Budd & John Coltrane

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Faithless – Reverence (1996)

FrontCover1Faithless are a British electronica band consisting of Maxi Jazz, Sister Bliss and Rollo.[3] The group is best known for the songs “Salva Mea”, “Insomnia”, “God Is a DJ” and “We Come 1”. Faithless recorded six studio albums, with total sales exceeding 15 million records worldwide. The band announced they would split up after their Passing the Baton dates at Brixton Academy on 7 and 8 April 2011. However, in February 2015, they reunited to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the band.

Reverence is the debut album by Faithless, released in April 1996 and then reissued in October. The album contains several singles that have subsequently become Faithless classics, such as “Don’t Leave”, “Salva Mea”, and “Insomnia”. The album reached #26 in the UK charts.

Faithless01In 1996, the album was re-released as Reverence / Irreverence containing an extra CD with remixes of the original songs. (by wikipedia)

Maxi Jazz, the maestro behind Faithless, is well titled as “the grand oral disseminator.” The tales he spins make this album a manifesto, religious experience, sexual escapade, and 24-hour rave all rolled up into one tightly constructed package. As Jazz explored hip-hop through the 1980s and his path converged with dub superstar Jah Wobble, the ultra funky Jamiroquai, and the Soul II Soul amalgamation (among others), the foundation was laid for the delicious blend of genres and sounds that would break through in the mid-’90s. Reverence is the culmination of all those experiences, as Jazz unleashes a fat packet worth of songs that are really an acid house tapestry in disguise. This album is best heard in one sitting, where all its styles work together to tell the story. But break it apart, peel the layers back, and the songs stand alone as well. The hypnotic title track serves nicely as an introduction, before it’s waylaid Faithless02by the downtempo soul ballad “Don’t Leave,” which is replete with needle, pops, and skips throughout. “Salva Mea,” “Insomnia,” and “Dirty Ol’ Man,” three very different songs, tangle themselves together and pick up the thread from “Reverence.” “Angeline,” meanwhile, emerges as a perfectly impassioned love song. The U.S. release includes the bonus “Monster Mix Radio Edit” of “Insomnia.” Maxi Jazz hits a deep chord with this album. It’s clubby enough for the kiddies, but is incredibly complex beyond the dancefloor. The songs are great, the beats are compelling, and it’s almost impossible to not bounce around the room while listening. But this album is also a collection of shadows, of mirror images, where songs mimic one another before spinning off to do their own thing. Moments are caught and lost, tangled, and straightened out. Really, it’s brilliant. (by Amy Hanson)

Really not my kind of music, but … you know: Many fantastic colors …

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Personnel:
Sister Bliss (keyboards, background vocals)
Jamie Catto (vocals)
Maxi Jazz (vocals)
Rollo (programming)
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Matt Benbrook (drums)
Vince DeCicco (accordion)
Aubrey Nunn (bass)
Dido (vocals)
Paulie (guitar)
Gaeten Schurrer (programming)
Penny Shaw (vocals)
Pauline Taylor (vocals)
Mr. V (keyboards)

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Tracklist:
01. Reverence (Armstrong/Bliss/Jazz) 7.43
02. Don’t Leave (featuring Pauline Taylor) (Armstrong/Bliss/Catto) 4.02
03. Salva Mea (Armstrong/Bliss/Jazz) 10.47
04. If Lovin’ You is Wrong (Armstrong/Bliss/Jazz) 4.17
05. Angeline (Armstrong/Bliss/Catto) 3.45
06. Insomnia (Armstrong/Bliss/Jazz) 8.39
07. Dirty Ol’ Man (Armstrong/Bliss/Jazz) 3.06
08. Flowerstand Man (featuring Dido) (Armstrong/Dido) 3.22
09. Baseball Cap (Armstrong/Bliss/Jazz) 2.56
10. Drifting Away (featuring Penny Shaw) (Armstrong/Bliss) 4.09

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Jon Hassell – Listening To Pictures (2018)

FrontCover1.jpgNow in his ninth decade, trumpeter, composer, and sonic conceptualist Jon Hassell remains a restless musical explorer. While he hasn’t released an album under his own name since 2009’s Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street on ECM, he’s been working to further the Fourth World concept articulated fully on 1980’s Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics and 1981’s Dream Theory in Malaya. Hassell utilized the aesthetics of American minimalism and married them to strands of electric modal jazz, the various global musics he studied, and electronics. He not only employed these on his own records, but in collaborations with everyone from kd lang and 808 State to Ry Cooder, Björk, David Sylvian, and even Tears for Fears.

Listening to Pictures is subtitled “Pentimento, Vol. 1.” The first word in the term refers to an Italian visual art technique that signifies the reappearance of earlier altered and covered-over images inside a primary work. On these eight tracks, Hassell uses his own performance fragments and samples, then overdubs and samples them ad nauseum onto other manipulated sounds and rhythms, ultimately creating new forms. His primary collaborators here are guitarist Rick Cox, drummer John Von Seggern, and electric violinist Hugh Marsh (all of whom also play “electronics”), as well as guests such as sound sculptor/guitarist Eivind Aarset, drummer Ralph Cumbers (aka Bass Clef), and longtime collaborator, violinist Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche. Opener “Dreaming” finds Hassell’s blurry trumpet hovering over a series of barely discernible piano vamps to offer a noirish, yet gentle rounded melody in tones that never develop past their introductory stage, and don’t need to.

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“Picnic” employs a Roland 808, quivering, quaking drum machines, elliptical sonic frequencies, and washed-out keyboards to affect a reverie that exists in the space between light and darkness. “Al Kongo Udu” and “Pastorale Vassant” both move rhythmically from syncopated ambient jungle to broken beat fractures with sampled African drums rubbing up against rickety synthetic ones. “Manga Scene” blends Hassell’s watery, muted modal trumpet to glitchy beats and ominous, dissonant backdrops.

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The robotic-sounding intro to “Her First Rain” is interspersed with post-bop piano, dubwise bass and drums, squiggles, and loops before the set closes with “Ndeya” (also the name of his new label) and weaves together the tenets of an elusive, seductive Fourth World past with “Pentimento” the present; it’s a “now” that Hassell explains as “…letting your inner ears scan up and down the sonic spectrum, asking what kind of ‘shapes’ you’re seeing, then noticing how that picture morphs as the music moves through Time.” In truth, the listener cannot help but remain in the eternal twilight moments Listening to Pictures introduces. It is a music of sense and memory perceptions, a sonic projection equal to but different from the sources that inspired it. When all are assembled, they constitute a deep, mysterious, and occasionally disruptive journey into shade, texture, nuance, and seductive persuasion. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Rick Cox (guitar, synthesizer, electronics)
Jon Hassell (trumpet, keyboards)
Hugh Marsh (violin, electronics)
John von Seggern (bass, drums, electronics)
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Eivind Aarset (guitar, sampler on 08.)
Ralph Cumbers (drum programmin on 02.)
Peter Freeman (bass, electronics on  02., 03. + 07.)
Christoph Harbonnier (basss on 03.)
Christian Jacob (bass on 03.)
Kheir-Eddine M’Kachiche (violin, sampler on 08.)
Michel Redolfi (electronics on 03.)

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Tracklist:

01. Dreaming 6.09
02. Picnic 5.58
03. Slipstream 2.54
04. Al-Kongo Udu 5.12
05. Pastorale Vassant 3.59
06. Manga Scene 5.44
07. Her First Rain 1.38
08. Ndeya 7:07

Music composed by Jon Hassell

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Apollo FourForty – Electro Glide In Blue (1997)

FrontCover1.jpgApollo 440 (also known as Apollo Four Forty or @440) are an English electronic music group formed in Liverpool in 1990. The group has written, recorded, and produced five studio albums, collaborated with and produced other artists, remixed as Apollo 440 and as ambient cinematic alter-ego Stealth Sonic Orchestra, and created music for film, television, advertisements and multimedia. Over eleven years, they notched up eleven top-forty UK singles with three top-tens, and had a chart presence worldwide.

Its name comes from the Greek god Apollo and the frequency of concert pitch — the A note at 440 Hz, often denoted as “A440”, and the Sequential Circuits sampler/sequencer, the Studio 440. They changed the writing of their name from Apollo 440 to Apollo Four Forty in 1996, though they switched back for their latest album. To date, Apollo’s remixes number around sixty – from U2 in the early 1990s to Puff Daddy/Jimmy Page and Ennio Morricone a decade later. Among their Stealth Sonic Orchestra remixes are a series of Manic Street Preachers singles.

Apollo 440 were formed by the brothers Trevor and Howard Gray with fellow Liverpudlians Noko and James Gardner, although Gardner left after the recording of the first album. All members sing and add a profusion of samples, electronics, and computer-based sounds.

After relocating to the Camden area of London, Apollo 440 recorded in 1994 with their debut album, Millennium Fever, and released it on 30 January 1995 on their own Stealth Sonic Recordings label (distributed by Epic Records). They have successfully invaded both the record charts and the dance floor with their combination of rock, breakbeat, and ambient.

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The band had been most known for its remixes until the release of Liquid Cool in the UK. However, it was not until the success of the singles “Krupa” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Dub” that their own musical efforts were brought to international attention — particularly the latter single contributed greatly to pushing Apollo 440 into the spotlight.

In 2007, the band played a tribute gig to the late Billy Mackenzie.

Apollo 440’s fifth album, The Future’s What It Used To Be, became available for download on the iTunes Store from 23 March 2012.

Collaborators over the years have included Jeff Beck, Jean Michel Jarre, Billy Mackenzie, Ian McCulloch and Hotei.

Currently, the band resides in Islington, London, having once again moved its headquarters (affectionately labelled ‘Apollo Control’).

Electro Glide in Blue is the second studio album by English electronic music group Apollo 440. It was first released on 3 March 1997 in the United Kingdom by Stealth Sonic Recordings and Epic Records and on 9 September 1997 in the United States by 550 Music. The album features Charles Bukowski, Billy Mackenzie, and a tribute to Gene Krupa; all three of whom had died by the time of the album’s release. Its title is a reference to the 1973 film Electra Glide in Blue.

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Stealth Mass in F#m” was played several times on BBC Radio 1 on 31 August 1997, when their regular schedule was suspended due to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The title track was featured on the soundtrack to the 1998 film Homegrown (by wikipedia)

A more satisfying album than their previous Sony effort, Electro Glide in Blue sees Apollo 440 moving closer to straight-ahead techno and away from commercial pop, a good move considering the electronic atmosphere of the times. Whether it’s the Sony Playstation video-game track “Rapid Racer” or an incredibly well-done duet with former Associates vocalist Billy Mackenzie on “Pain in Any Language,” Apollo 440 proves they’re no strangers to the dancefloor. (by John Bush)

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Personnel:
Mary Byker (Ian Hoxley) (vocals)
Trevor Gray (keyboards, programming)
Cliff Hewitt (drums, programming)
Harry K (turntables, samples, keyboards)
Paul Kodish (drums, programming)
Noko (guitar)
Rej (bass)
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Billy Mackenzie (vocals on Pain)

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Tracklist:
01. Stealth Overture) (T.Gray/E.Gray/Noko) 1.00
02. Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Dub (E.Van Halen, A.Van Halen/Anthony/Roth, Noko) 4.31
03. Altamont Super-Highway Revisited (Noko) 6.33
04. Electro Glide In Blue (T.Gray/H.Gray/MacFarlane) 8.36
05. Vanishing Point (Noko) 7.28
06. Tears Of The Gods (H.Gray/T.Gray/Noko) 6.18
07. Carrera Rapida” (Theme from “Rapid Racer”) (Noko/T.Gray/H.Gray/Hoxley) 6.47
08. Krupa (Noko, T.Gray/H. Gray) 6.15
09. White Man’s Throat (album version) (Noko/H.Gray/Hoxley) 4.55
10. Pain In Any Language (Mackenzie /Noko) 8.40
11. Stealth Mass In F#m  (TGray/E.Gray) 6.36

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Faithless – Sunday 8PM (1998)

FrontCover1.jpgSunday 8PM is Faithless’ second album, released on 28 September 1998. The album contains the hit singles “Bring My Family Back”, “Take the Long Way Home”, and “God Is a DJ”. The album reached #10 place in the UK charts. In 1999, Sunday 8PM was one of twelve albums to make the shortlist for the Mercury Prize.

In 1998, there was a special release in the Netherlands: The Pinkpop Edition, which included a bonus CD with four live recordings (“God Is a DJ”, “Bring My Family Back”, “Do My Thing”, and “If Lovin’ You Is Wrong”) from the Pinkpop festival of June 1998.

In 1999, the album was re-released as Sunday 8PM / Saturday 3AM, containing an extra CD with mixed versions.

The image on the album/CD cover is the Bluebird Theatre in Denver, Colorado, United States. (by wikipedia)

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The second album from U.K. electronic dance collective Faithless, Sunday 8pm has neither the rampant grooves nor the arrogant idealism to qualify it as anything more than a random, standard dancefloor record with redundant beats and hoary ideas. Clearly, though, more was intended; the theme running throughout Sunday 8pm is one that celebrates club life with an almost religious enthusiasm. The dreamy soundscapes here alternate between elegantly spiritual (and very new age) drifts and dull, tuneless forays into spacy nowhereland — and the occasional misguided R&B trips lack soul (not all that surprising, considering the coldness of this band’s electronica). The one keeper is “God Is a DJ,” eight minutes of club worship that repeats the refrain “This is my church” so relentlessly that you begin to wonder if the Faithless altar includes a turntable and synthesizer along with the usual celebratory offerings. (by Michael Gallucci)

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Personnel:
Sister Bliss (keyboards)
Jaime Catto (vocals, guitar)
Maxi Jazz (guitar, vocals)
Rollo (electronics)
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Rachael Brown (background vocals on 02., 03., 07.)
Dido (vocals on 09., background vocals on 03.)
Debbie French (background vocals on 06.)
Andy Gangadeen (drums on 06.)
Boy George (vocals on 06.)
Sudha (drums, percussion)
Dave Randall (guitar)
Imani Saleem (background vocals on 06.)
Shannon Stewart (background vocals on 06.)
Pauline Taylor (vocals on 07., background vocals on 10.)
Ibi Tijani (programming on 01.)

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Tracklist:
01. The Garden /Rollo/Sister Bliss) 4.26
02 Bring My Family Back (Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 6.22
03. Hour Of Need (Catto/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 4.36
04. Postcards (Dido/Catto/Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 4.01
05. Take The Long Way Home (Catto/Maxi Jazz, Rollo/Sister Bliss) 7.13
06. Why Go? (George/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 3.57
07. She’s My Baby (Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 5.49
08.  God Is A DJ (Catto/Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 8.01
09.  Hem Of His Garment (Randall/Dido/Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 4.07
10. Sunday 8PM (Rollo/Sister Bliss) 2.43
11. Killer’s Lullaby (Maxi Jazz/Rollo/Sister Bliss) 6.08

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Air – Pocket Symphony (2007)

FrontCover1.jpgPocket Symphony is the fourth full-length album by French duo Air. The album was released in March 2007 and features collaborations with Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon. Pocket Symphony also incorporates some of the Japanese instruments Godin recently learned to play from an Okinawan master musician: the koto (also referred to as a Japanese floor harp) and the three-string, banjo-like shamisen. However, a press release claims that “conventional instruments continue to play a great role” in the duo’s music. The album features art by Xavier Veilhan.

The first single from this album, “Once Upon a Time”, can be heard on the group’s MySpace page.

Pocket Symphony debuted on the US Billboard 200 at number 40, with about 17,000 copies sold in its first week. As of 2012 it has sold 77,000 copies in United States according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The name Pocket Symphony stems from the groundbreaking 1960s song “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys. At the time of its release, bandleader and chief composer Brian Wilson often described the track to journalists as a “pocket symphony”.

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Ever since Moon Safari was hailed as an instant classic, Air have swung back and forth between the experimental and accessible sides that Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel united so perfectly on their debut. 10,000 Hz Legend might have been too grandiose and aggressively experimental for some Air fans, but Talkie Walkie sometimes felt as if the duo was presenting the most widely palatable version of their music possible. On Pocket Symphony, Dunckel and Godin find a balance between pretty and inventive that they haven’t struck since, well, Moon Safari, even though it isn’t nearly as immediate — even by Air’s standards, this is an extremely introspective and atmospheric album.

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It’s beyond clichéd to call the duo’s music filmic; nevertheless, “Space Maker” and “Night Sight” play like the album’s opening titles and ending credits, bracketing a set of songs that are sadder and wiser than anything Air has done since The Virgin Suicides (particularly “Lost Message,” which could have easily appeared on that soundtrack). Made around the same time Dunckel and Godin were working with Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon (who also appear here) on Charlotte Gainsbourg’s 5:55 and Dunckel was recording his solo project Darkel, Pocket Symphony could be seen as part of a loose trilogy; if so, it’s more in line with 5:55’s moody romanticism than Darkel’s hyper-pop (where, apparently, any lighter-hearted tracks along the lines of Talkie Walkie’s “Alpha Beta Gaga” or “Surfing on a Rocket” ended up).

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However, Pocket Symphony doesn’t feel as serenely untouchable as some of Air’s previous work, and these darker cracks and wrinkles give it character. These songs are often unsettling, but gently so, like dreams that are still vivid but hard to explain upon waking. The Neil Hannon-sung “Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping” is the most obvious example of Pocket Symphony’s fever dream atmosphere, but there are plenty of others: “Photograph,” a quintessentially sensuous Air track, gives the impression of something a little sinister occurring just out of frame; “Redhead Girl” is a lush meditation on unrequited love so paralyzing that time itself stops. The entire album deals with toxic love and its fallout, but Dunckel and Godin alternate between romanticizing heartbreak and showing just how dreary it can be — although, skilled mood-makers that they are, they manage to make dreary sound pretty romantic, too. The deceptively delicate single “Once Upon a Time” darkens its fairy tale imagery with the fact that once upon a time might be never, while the outstanding “One Hell of a Party,” which features Jarvis Cocker on vocals, presents a breakup as a hangover (a sentiment Cocker also explored brilliantly on Pulp’s This Is Hardcore).

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Pocket Symphony pairs Air with producer Nigel Godrich, which is an inspired choice — not just because Godrich has a similarly atmospheric touch and adds lots of fascinating sonic details, but because he helps Air keep the album intimate, not polished into a state of distant perfection. “Left Bank,” which blends humming with a cello and captures Godin’s acoustic guitar so clearly it sounds like he’s strumming it behind you, is a gorgeous example of how well this collaboration works. The Japanese influence on Talkie Walkie and Air’s music for Lost in Translation is deepened on Pocket Symphony, with shamisen and koto (which Godin spent a year learning to play) adding to its ethereal beauty, particularly on “Mer du Japon.” Musically and thematically, this is some of Air’s most elegant, mature music; it does what it does so compellingly that any attempts to be “poppy” would miss the point. (by Heather Phares)

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Personnel:
Jean-Benoit Dunckel (synthesizer, piano, vocals, vibraphone, samples, drum machine, percussion)
Nicolas Godin (guitar, bass, keyboards, koto, drums, percussion, vocals, solina)
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Tony Allen (drums)
Jarvis Cocker (vocals)
Neil Hannon (vocals)
Magic Malik (flute)
Joey Waronker (drums, percussion)
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String arrangements:
David Richard Campbell – Joby Talbot

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Tracklist:
01. Space Maker (Dunckel/Godin) 4.03
02. Once Upon A Time (Dunckel/Godin) 5.02
03. One Hell Of A Party (Dunckel/Godin/Cocker) 4.03
04. Napalm Love (Dunckel/Godin) 3.27
05. Mayfair Song (Dunckel/Godin) 4.19
06. Left Bank (Dunckel/Godin) 4.07
07. Photograph (Dunckel/Godin) 3.51
08. Mer du Japon (Sea of Japan) (Dunckel/Godin) 3.05
09. Lost Message (Dunckel/Godin) 3.32
10. Somewhere Between Waking and Sleeping (Dunckel/Godin/Hannon) 3.36
11. Redhead Girl (Dunckel/Godin) 4.33
12. Night Sight (Dunckel/Godin) 4.21

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Chorus Of Tribes – Myth (1998)

FrontCover1.jpgChorus of Tribes is New Age music project from the UK. Símon Hulbert wrote all the tracks found on the project’s first and only album, Myth (1998).Chorus Of Tribes – Myth is a relatively unknown new age / ambient album from Etherean Records.

The album was released in 1998 in the UK. The album has a rather ironic story behind it. Late 1997 it was released as a bootleg across the internet and various p2p sites as an album by “Deep Forest and Enigma”, and not by “Chorus Of Tribes”.

Who dubbed “Chorus Of Tribes” to “Deep Forest and Enigma” is unknown, but musically it recembles the two artists in a fair amount, which makes the assumption understandable. This made some people confused, and the album was later rejected as any form of collaboration between the two famous new age artist groups from both sides. However, the songs on this album, independent of whoever made it, became more or less famous. In 1998 it was released on the label Etherean Music.

Now, musically the album is impressive. Into Morocco and Rain Song remain two of the most relaxing and best New Age / Tribal songs Símon Hulbert.jpgI’ve heard. The mood changes a great deal over the course of the album, from almost pure trance to groovy chilled beats, and tribal chants accompanied by soothing beats and vocals.

If Deep Forest and Enigma is up your alley, then this is just for you. (by www.last.fm)

Myth is a union between tribal vocals, instrumentals and popular dance music. Strong tribal/techno rhythms, featuring samples from numerous African tribes. Myth creates a musical hybrid between roots Africa and contemporary electronic.

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Personnel:
Símon Hulbert (all instruments)

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Tracklist:
01. Into Morroco 6.05
02. Inception 7.09
03. LoLo 5.16
04. Rain Song 7.21
05. Ikkijungle 2.52
06. Lullaby 5.59
07. Marakesh 5.59
08. Shackera 5.03
09. Hiyahiyahey 4.16
10. Myth 2.53
11. New Dawn 7.47

Music composed by Símon Hulbert

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Syrinx – Same (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgI found a very personal review about this debut album of Syrinx:

It’s hard to describe what a deep and massive impact I got from this record. Syrinx were active only for two years from 1970 to 1972, but their legacy contains 2 LPs and one 7inch and it’s really indelible. I will try to tell you about the first Syrinx’ album, which is their best in my opinion. I’m trying to avoid this dusty, flacid and absolutely useless word Record in this occasion. The trio of maestro John Mills-Cockell, Alan Wells and Doug Pringle created a stream of Universal energy, powerful, tender and intimate at the same time. All seven songs-pearls are the embodiment of eternity, hope and despair. And what is the most intertesting: the album sounds absolutely solid, it is the canvas of the highest mark, which can be viewed from any angle, you can wallow in it, as in a waterfall. You feel yourself in the place, where some sort of ritual is happening, you hear quiet whisper of the wind, gigantic mountains are talking about ancient times, forest is echoing. Syrinx LP is the album of size of the Life for me.

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You will back to it again and again after the first listen. There are absolute freedom and purification along with the feeling af unbelievable drama and otherworldly eternity at the same time in the Moog-messages of Mills-Cockell. Their music is from the era of real emotions, Syrinx are drawing their masterpiece not about pointless and pathetic emotions. The song of Syrinx is about Eternal. (by krossfingers.com)

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Personnel:
John Mills-Cockell (keyboards, synthesizer)
Doug Pringle (saxophone)
Alan Wells (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Melina’s Torch 2.59
02. Journey Tree 4.51
03. Chant For Your Dragon King 10.26
04. Field Hymn 1.49
05. Hollywood Dream Trip 4.59
06. Father Of Light 2.03
07. Appalosa – Pegasus 11.17

Music composed by John Mills-Cockell

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More about Syrinx here