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The Dark Side of the Moog

 The Dark Side of the Moog - PK 08/96 (also AW 004)
  Release Date: 6 October 1994
  Limitation: 1000

   Wish you Were There      51.21

  all tracks written by Pete Namlook & Klaus Schulze

First impressions: warbles, chirps, oscillating sheets of analog abound. At times extraordinarily experimental sounding, but at the same time engaging and planned. Lots of ping-ponging echoes and spacious reverbs give the impression of an area in which a syntheatrical plot entertains and occupies your mind...for a time. The blatant allusions to early and mid-era Pink Floyd albums seem to insinuate (1) powerful synths weaving mind-bogglingly beautiful melodic contours; (2) spacerocker-length tracks with spontaneous yet familiar live solo-segments woven into darkened tapestries of prosaic chord progressions; and (3) an emphasis on the creation of a concept album. Aren't we simply surrounded by interesting concept albums these days... music for airports, music for films, music for grassbars, for arctic circle cave dwellings, music to substitute for the film's "real" soundtrack, music for sleeping, for ambient rodeos... but I digress... The Dark Side of the Moog seems to me to be a meta-concept album for people who like a pinch of nostalgia in their ambient, but also ponder and appreciate the future of musical evolution. Wish You Were There, divided into ten equal sections for ease of access, is mostly beatless but is interspersed with some of the same percussion sounds as Namlook's Wechselspannung project (with Jonah Sharp). Liner notes advise, "Big sound system and medium to high volumes are strongly recommended." Not a loud one, a big one =) Well, at least they aren't givin' us optimum humidity and magnetic flux density (as on H222's Round Window). In any case, I did as I was told and cranked it. At times it's almost trance-paced (do I recognize the Sultan's bass drum patterns here?!) at others deep and spacey. The album starts out mellow and works to a rhythmic crescendo and everything comes together. Brooding and oscillating Moogs guard the entrances of some breathtaking frozen aural architecture. Namlook explores several different musical styles throughout the 51-minute length of the album. The excerpts on Genetic Drift did not properly prepare me for the full-length (do they ever though?).

(review by no@h)

_Dark Side of The Moog_ was slightly disappointing, because it doesn't really feel like a collaboration. Klaus Schulze dominates the sound, and it feels like perhaps Namlook was perhaps a bit overawed to find himself working with someone who so obviously was a huge influence on him. The record is good as a Klaus Schulze album, but as a collaboration it falls a bit short. I was secretly hoping for another stunner like _From Within_ or _Dreamfish_.

(review by freeke)

This is great. A classic. Buy this immediately. Surprisingly there are some heavy beats in all the droning/ambient/experimental/melody stuff. Really a great one.

(review by xdadax)

Ah yes, The Dark Side of the Moog -- it would probably not be incorrect to say that this series on FAX brought more interest to the label than any other series has. After all, it brought me here. =)

Wish You Were There, Part I -- We start with chords that sound somewhat low quality and washed out; not to fear, though, as they get warbly and we hear some high-fidelity sounds begin to emerge. Let me state right now why this whole series is interesting to me. Every piece seems to carry some kind of life to the sounds, everything tells some kind of story. In this particular case, it seems to be some kind of sad event, and then something strange happens, something comes out of the sky, or something like that. Anyway, we are introduced to a very high pitched synth with quite a personality.

Wish You Were There, Part II -- Which brings us into an expansion and alteration of that synth throughout several minutes. If you have old or inadequate speakers, or even an old head unit in your car, the high pitched frequencies will turn into outright noise. Trust me. Don't play this on a 1988 VW's stock stereo. Moving on, we arrive back to that feeling of something alive coming out of somewhere, with a personality of its own -- and those chords...

Wish You Were There, Part III -- but they are much clearer now. A few seconds in, watch that sub. This is possibly the largest, most intense bass highlight of any music I've ever heard. I keep wanting it to come back, but it doesn't until later in the piece. We are instead treated to a nice melodic moog on top of the lush chords. In the last few minutes we are introduced to a nice hard moog solo melody and some pads, and another dose of intense bass. Which takes us into...

Wish You Were There, Part IV -- The calming down of the moog. After some more pads, we come to a pretty nice sequence, and then some electronic hi-hats, and other electronic zaps and percussion -- Really good. Then in comes the bass kicks, deep as can be, and more layers of percussion. Which brings us to...

Wish You Were There, Part V -- We get into some straight 4/4 beats here, almost dance music. Then some more high pitched synths give a little bit of melody, which turns into a less invasive little jingle-type melody of sorts, reminds me of some kind of melody from a chant that little kids are known for producing. That kind of dies out... and we are then introduced to some deeper sequences that change the tone of the music slightly. This continues into...

Wish You Were There, Part VI -- These darker sequences are overlaid with some melodic variations, all the while jumping somewhat randomly between right and left. This is where 5.1 surround sound would add so many more possibilities ;) Then the whole thing returns to the minimalism of before, with some percussion here and there, and another little wavy synth melody takes you to a deep part of space, namely, the next part..

Wish You Were There, Part VII -- This little synth dude seems to be calling out into space for his long lost friend, or something -- that's the feeling I get from this. This continues on for some minutes.

Wish You Were There, Part VIII -- Little synth still hasn't found his friend yet, and sounds pretty sad. Eventually we come to some more sequences and beats, and then some more zapping, and we're back to what we heard in parts V/VI. This continues on for a while and takes us into...

Wish You Were There, Part IX -- The sequence melody develops a bit more and our pads return, which adds some of a cinematic feel. Near the end of this part, our hard moog solo is back, and we are led into...

Wish You Were There, Part X -- We come into some more 4/4 dance beats, and at about 2:00 the solo turns a lot "lighter" and vanishes into space, and I guess our little synth hasn't found his friend yet either, after all that.

Overall, an extrordinary start to a great series.

(review by Andrew Keyser)


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