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The Dark Side of the Moog 3 - AW 008 (also PK 08/101)
Phantom Heart Brother 59.00
Part I - VI
all tracks written by Pete Namlook and Klaus Schulze
Number three in the fattest collaboration series on the label, and with numbers 7 & 8 already out in stores for some time now, we've got some catching up to do. Often the albums in this series contain a few of the primary tokens of early beat-oriented electronic music, including deep wall-shaking bass pulses, archetypical computerized bleeps, and sturdy repeatable melodies. Namlook and Schulze manage to infuse a liberal dose of emotion into these age-old, time-tested techno sounds. Staying true to the original conception explored on the first two albums, Phantom Heart Brother takes us further into this remarkable Moogy habitat. Our hosts have successfully toppled their own previous efforts with this hour-long album, the different movements are well integrated into another multiple-staged journey. The symmetrical composition strategy is also in effect here: elements of Part 1 resurface near the album's conclusion in Part 6, and delicate guitar solos are present in Parts 2 and 5. So there is a sense of entering or approach until the album's midpoint, which is followed by several stages of recession. The journey begins with a dark ambient zone that shares similarities with some of the murmuring tones that open up Air "You" or A Saucerful of Ambience. Shadowy amorphous wafts of industrial drones wriggling around. After about 20 minutes of this groping though thick aethers and down seemingly endless winding tunnels, we reach the more comfortable-sounding area of Part 2. A seamless drift into this reveals lovely shifting synth chords that seem to wander out into multiple keys without losing the thread. Fans of the synthwork in Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" take note. The volume grows noticeably. Phrases of melody gently echo into the scene, and at around 11:11, we hear hints of guitar strings announcing the arrival of Part 3. It's a short solo, but it comes around a second time before we enter the next section. In one sweeping motion, we are taken to another part of the musical spectrum entirely, with intricate electro-beepings which lay in stark contrast to everything we've heard on the album so far. A stuttering Putney-Dusty bass drum and a pulsing bass wave keep time. Instruments are distributed independently across the soundfield, some brushing your earpads, others out front in plain view. Namlook's spectral processing of voices and sufficiently ambiguous utterances can be found here too, at about 6 minutes into the track, and they're particularly effective when blended with the generous exhales of static near the 9-minute mark. Both noise and static are also released in short bursts of an almost circadian nature. This continues to the end of Part 3, at which point we are again smoothly jettisoned into the lumbering electronic soundtrack of Part 4, which consists of a more rhythmic-oriented neo-Kraftwerkian sculpture. Owners of the Genetic Drift compilation can find this track near the end of disc 1. This is an interesting track, filled with a melodic theme of epic proportions in the tradition of many classic techno tracks. At 6 minutes though, most elements are cut off, and you are left with the dubby skeleton of the beat. And now, onward to the mighty Part 5, which promises fans of Replugged a real treat! Remember the amazing synthwork on the live version of Air "You" live? Well, a beatless rendition of that piece can be found here, blended with more divine titanium guitar-sourced melodies. The background synths ripple and shine while deep voices echo from side to side. The emotion carried through by the screaming guitar builds up to an inconceivably high apex, definitely something tasty for the late night listening session. Part 6 is a short 3-minute section that finishes the album off, retreating back into the amorphous clouds we were lost in at the beginning of our journey.
(review by [email protected])
At first I didn't like this and quickly moved on to other CDs, but I've since returned to it for closer analysis. Part I is dark, moody, and rather uninteresting harmonic distortion - as with Klaus Schulze's Mirage, however, the first 5minutes of the CD do not suggest the electricity and warmth of the remainder of the album. Part II begins with warm synth overlaid with Namlookian noises - very cool combination - and slowly turns into a warmly melodic bit of ambient a'la Eno (Thursday Afternoon, Neroli). My favorite track is Part IV, an energetically rhythmic (almost techno) track that's a welcome departure from the earlier DSOMs (If you've burned out on techno you may find it echoes too much of cliche works in that genre, but I enjoy Klaus' improvisations here). If you like Klaus Schulze and are looking for something better than DSOM I or II, you'll like this. 8/10
(review by Michael Lekas)
Six sections, each fairly different from each other. As with the last in the series, we have a trancy upbeat section, but mostly the album is layered with Schulze's chords and deep bass sounds, and as always Kuhlmann on the atmospheric soundscapes that are his trademarks. This time around, he even fiddles a bit with a guitar! (The electronic musician's nightmare..) A very good album, different from II as that was from I, and a more than qualifying successor.
(review by Christian)
The third in the trilogy, and perhaps the finest, DSOTM III is one of the more diverse FAX releases I can remember. Beginning with a haunting array of swirling drones, the tune soon shifts to one of a smoother melodic piece interlaced with some Floydian guitar-ocrity. From there it seems as if the two take turns; first with Namlook juicing it up by means of cerebral-induced, rhythmic eccentricities and then with Schulze's dismal triplet foray in typical Krautrock fashion. Things wind down nicely with some frequency-mangled vocal oddities and then back to the opening drone tone. Overall, this release is splintered by variety but integrated well enough by the masters at hand. 3/5
(review by zig)