After around 8 months, Pete and Tetsu decide to take on round 2 of this series. The second time around, there's more of a concentration on how deep they can get into the fractal sequences, with helical staircases of melody and large revolving plates of sound filling every aural niche. Remaining strong from the time of its release in the summer of '94, this one picks up where the debut left off, and continues to amaze and sedate with each listen. The pieces are clearly more richly layered and planned this time, while the overall tone moves a shade darker. The 2 hour-long tracks turn and drift endlessly without forsaking the pleasures of detailed sequences. Despite countless listens, headphones reveal intricately designed patterns and hypnotic loops in the background. The sequences can get intense, but somehow this doesn't interfere with falling asleep. Night owls should try this album instead of taking melatonin. I can't even estimate the number of times I've put this album on low volume right before going to bed. This type of music seems to have a natural affinity for slumber, although I've also listened to it countless times at higher levels during waking hours. Many times, while crossing that ambiguous border between sleep and consciousness, I've caught myself actually "listening" in my sleep. This must be some technologically induced hybrid of mild lucid dreaming and a headphonaut excursion. Sometimes when coming back out of it after only 20 minutes or so of listening, I feel like I've just slept for about 4 hours! Try it and see what happens.
With all that said, 2350 Broadway II is still one of my favorite beatless albums from Fax. And with 2 full CDs, you're certainly going to get your money's worth. The first disc, Invisible Landscape, takes it's title from one of the most technical of Terrence McKenna's books on the Time Wave and the Eschaton. The second disc, Art of Dream, implies that you let the vibes lead you into dreamland.
Another thought: dolphins sleep with one hemisphere of their brain at a time while the other remains "awake" to navigate and help with swimming. This is known as "subconscious breathing." The brain hemispheres switch off, alternating so that each side gets rest without rendering the animal completely motionless or unawares. This is a lot like the music here, except the brain hemispheres are interreacting synths and keyboards, and the alternations occur when Namlook and Inoue slightly shift the mood every now and then. There's definitely a sense of multiple intelligences at work here. This is music made for exploring innerspace.
Disc 1: "The Invisible Landscape":
The first disc starts out with that low metallic wash you might recognize from Psychonavigation's "Psychic and UFO Revelations..." But the similarities stop there, really. The introduction phrases build into a thicket of synthetic mixtures. A feeling of buoyancy is induced by the gradual flux of waves from high to low frequencies, and back again.
The opening takes on a much more enveloping effect, and they tell us their landscape is invisible?? Well, it can't be seen, but it's readily available for scrutiny with 3rd ears.
By the time you reach this point, each direction you choose to listen in seems to tell its own story, and yet the difference instruments and arrangements also mingle nicely. The drift is sustained for several minutes.
At the end the of this section, the atmosphere has changed almost entirely, but you haven't noticed because of the very gradual shifts used. The tone remains chilled out.
At around the 21' minute mark, the fractal melody patterns fade in and out, leaving traces of echo, this continues for about 7-8 minutes. A solo accompanies these structures for a few moments at a faint volume level.
All turning points blend into each other, making reference to any one particular spot difficult. When we finally reach the halfway point of the disc, the various elements of the piece are molded into a gently fluttering cadence.
Occasional gliding synth tones join the mesh.
This section should definitely knock you out (unless you've been drinking too much coffee). The metallic wash that started the disc off also steps in here now and then.
The final stages bring more fluid layers to the front, while the darkness recedes. A second sweep of fractalish melody fades in finishing the disc. For the adventurers eager to immediately extend their internal explorations, you can start disc 2 when the final track index (#14) shows up on the LCD for disc 1. A mixer may be necessary. Make sure both volumes are about equal, and the mix is now on autopilot. Sit back and listen while the Invisible Landscape recedes and the Art of Dream emerges....
Disc 2: "Art of Dream"
We begin with a dark, introspective glow. At 2:45 into it, computerized harmonic screeches bubble to the surface and oscillate gracefully, creating giant buttresses of sound. 5'-10':
No time is wasted, the Story begins. A cluster of enveloping synth clouds the area, and a solo rises from the rush of sound. What perfect music! Truly a great combination of emotional melody shining through rich synthetic layers.
We plunge back into the depths of the dark glow, while the solo continues to spin new melodies. A polished fluctuation recurs in the left channel every 10 seconds or so, deep and bassy.
The feeling continues. 3:15 into this section, things get really spacey. Some twinkling synth textures foreshadow your investigation of unfamiliar territory. The interleaved tones morph and stretch, and a new area appears, turning your zone into an extremely colorful and uplifting one. The simple irregular patterns here overflow and cover the area.
Surfaces continue to ripple and change before you ears, condensing and swirling. Hints of soft, delayed piano are sprinkled in key. Optimistic vibrations abound.
More sloping oscillations and a reemergence of those sounds from section #2. For the next 15 minutes or so, the forces trade off while the solo melodies continue to sing. Before reaching #9, the dark glow fades in briefly, permeating the collage of flowing electronics.
The first few minutes serve as an intro, with the opening melodic theme emerging at the 5 minute mark.
(review by [email protected])
Pete Namlook and Tetsu Inoue aka The Dynamic Duo. The collaborations released thus far between these two expert knob twiddlers have proven to be constantly of a high standard, in my opinion. This 2 disc set is no exception. If you liked the first in the series then what is on offer here should also tickle your fancy.
"The Invisible Landscape" is a deep, dark (mmm, nice....), hour-long float through space. From time to time you get Namlook's trademark synth sound sweeping over you and pushing you further on your journey through infinity.
"The Art of Dream" is a similar experience, much less dark, but equally deep. You get more of those delicious synths than on disk 1. It's a much more "fluffy" affair and reminds me, in fact, of Shades of Orions 2. Halfway through the track develops into a swirling mass of ambience and we are even treated to a piano, albeit with a great deal of echo. The whole thing is a delight.
My favourite of the two is "The Art of Dream," but both are highly worthy of purchase. Neither of these efforts is instantly accessible - there's too much to take in with one session, but after a few spins you'll find that, once again, the Dynamic Duo save the day. Rating: 4.5 out of 5
(review by Ian Ainslie)