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The Dark Side of the Moog X

 The Dark Side of the Moog X - PK 08/168
  Release Date: 21 March 2005
  Limitation: 2000

   Astro Know Me Domina      50.20
    Part I - VI

  all tracks written by Pete Namlook and Klaus Schulze

It's been a while since I last posted a review here, 3 years to be precise, and that occasion was upon the release of DSOTM IX ...and a more enthusiastic review you would be hard pressed to find. My expectations for this latest (rumoured to be the last) instalment were obviously running high.

Whilst wishing it weren't so, I have to say that I find the first 5 minutes completely self-indulgent. What possessed Pete to think that Fax listeners would really want to hear him recounting his apparent stream of consciousness thoughts about "being creative" and this being a "rather special release" (etc) I can not imagine? Apart from which, the effect quickly becomes tiresome on repeat playing! Sorry, but in this listener's opinion he's made something of a bum call.

Once Pete's warblings have finally subsided the track continues for a further ten minutes with some 'atmospheric' effects which (one assumes) are intended to further set the mood of the album yet, it's all pretty abstract stuff and really doesn't do anything for me, one way or the other. Overall, a far from promising start !!!

However, Parts 2 and 3, which merge seamlessly into one another, quickly develop into something far more interesting ...with a nice trippy beat and a (dare one say?) rather jazzy melody on piano brought in and out of the mix. It's not breath-taking stuff but, it has a pleasing, if familiar ring.

Part 4 is where this release really kicks into gear and, guess what, yes it's a Schulzian sequencer-type groove that's responsible! Several minutes in the 'groove' is then faded out and some (this time appropriate) spacey effects help everything to glide into a much darker and classic DSOTM sound, with an interesting industrial rhythm underpinning some truly grandiose pads ...it's fabulous stuff and light years ahead of Part 1. As the 'groove' returns to the mix everything builds into one of those climaxes that are near damn irresistable. Just one complaint, it's way too short. On a KS album this track would have been pushed out to the 20 minute mark, rather than the miserly 10 minutes we have here and which, ironically, seems to pass in even less time than that.

With the tone of the release now back on a solid footing Part 5 continues the dark mood, no beats here, just serious intent. It's a rather stripped back sound, there are only a couple of active layers but, it's extremely evocative and nobody does this sort of thing better than Pete and Klaus ...and I mean NOBODY. Turn your speakers up really loud, it's marvelous and powerful stuff.

Part 5 then becomes the backdrop droan to Part 6 when an incredibly melancholic lead takes up the reins. This took me right back to the mood that closed DSOTM IX ...it's that damn good. What more can I add? However, yet again and all too suddenly, it's over ...not 5 minutes have passed.

How to summarise this release? Overall I would say it's in the top half of the series but, ironically, it should (could) have been the crowning glory. This is a tale of missed opportunity. Had Part 1 been axed and the last three tracks all doubled in length this would have been 60 minutes of pure bliss ...and on that note, I rest my case.

(review by Paul Milligan)

Just listening to it for the first time, and as I reach Part IV, I thought I start typing along what my first impression is.

This X, oh yes, its certainly different to IX. And that is a good thing (at least for me).

I have to admit, I find Pete Namlook's voice in the opener pretty bad. He has that typical hessian-german accent, it was cool in "Gebirge" on FoO somehow, but here... hmmmm... the problem for me is, I know that accent (being german and born in Hessen, ahem) and it does not work for me, because it amuses me too much to hear it. Glad that its mangled by some heavy effects (pitch shifting and whatnot). :)

The first two parts are floating around spacious, minimal, even isolated at times. The first half of Part I is all intro, the mangled speech and effects mostly, in the second part it starts to go somewhere slowly. Very simple sounds, a monotonous drone, some chords and spacey effects with almost endless delay lines. Part III then moves on, with a rolling bassline, drums, the tempo increases, and on top of it some sparse soothing piano melodies. Very very good stuff here, atmospheric, powerful.

Part IV returns to the "classical" sequencing. I bet that the fans of IX will say "ah, now we're talking!" when it starts, only 1 minute into it and you know - its the original Schulze touch here - and thats were it gets a bit boring for me (I mean, the pads & chords & sequencer lines are beautiful, spacious, unobtrusive... which means... same procedure as last release...). But thats the DSOTM heritage - and one has to realise, its good that they did not deny or abandon their roots, either.

Part V then starts with incredibly beautiful glassy pad sounds, some howling background noises, an intense feeling of drifting lost in space, loneliness... - WOW, this is really really good & gives me goose bumps.

Finally, Part VI, guitar on a massive bed of fat analogue pads, the only problem is - its going nowhere, it doesn't "close the book", literally spoken, it just ends at some point, poof, thats it. That leaves me unsatisfied, but maybe it was only my unsatisfied expectation that the series final would end more pompous.

Summary after the first impression: I definitely like it more than IX, no, a lot more than IX. This is a refreshing release; in the past I said that #9 was enough already, let me take that back. DSOTM X lets me wish they wouldn't stop here. Why is that? I don't know. Maybe X carries the feeling of room, of space, exploring new territory while staying familiar.

(review by Alexander Kunz)


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