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 Psychonavigation - PW 13
  Release Date: 14 April 1994
  Limitation: 1000

   Psychic and UFO Revelations in the Last Days      38.46
   Angel Tech                                        10.17
   Black Dawn                                        21.22

  all tracks written by Pete Namlook and Bill Laswell            

The prolific duo of Namlook and Laswell team up to create a mighty fusion of deep dark atmospheres and low dub pulsations. Variation in note choice and melodic contour seem to be intentionally held at a minimum by both musicians, which makes the album overall conducive to reading, cat-napping, or simply sitting quietly while the organized sounds work their magic. What could be shortwave interference joins the palette of other instruments to give the impression of an alien presence on the album. The general tone of all the tracks is deeply pensive or meditative, as the title suggests.

Psychic and UFO Revelations in the Last Days - This track serves as the bulk of the album, checking in at just under 40 minutes. The title, though perhaps a bit too pretentious for some, pretty accurately conveys the overall feeling of the song: on the edge of something catastrophic, revolutionary, and significant. The end of the Eskaton draws near. Enthusiasts of Remote Viewing (a psychic technology even the military dabbles in) might have an affinity for this one, as it evoke images of superluminal messages racing to distant corners of the universe to large yet shapeless beings roaming through space. Poised on the brink of inspiration and devastation, a slow dub rhythm and bassline set the foundation for spacious frequency sweeps and the occasional synth pad textures one might recognize from 2350 Broadway II and various Namlook solo recordings from the early periods of Fax. A voice declares "We seek contact with other life forms..." Dr. Tyrell says a few words about genetics: "The coding sequence cannot be revised once it has been established." Roy Batty's time is up. Other phrases introduced sporadically through the piece: "Each day affects the next..." and "It is the unknown that defines our existence." The words are merely food for thought and do not overwhelm the music of the recording. This is the first track and also the longest track in the whole series so far.

Angel Tech - This track owes its name to a curious little book by Antero Alli on creative meditation, yoga, and visualization. Check it out, even Borders Bookstore carries it these days. Actually, this piece gives me the heebie jeebies if I happen to put it on at night when alone. It just sort of evokes a mysterious murky atmosphere that never sits comfortably in the dark. A voice announces the date of recording from the year 1912. Another phrase can also be heard, but I haven't been able to figure out what language it is or what it means. It's eerie like the number stations are eerie. A gentle howling builds up and goes around and through winding underground tunnels. Definitely a unique sound, and this track seems to serve as a resting point between the two longer beat-oriented pieces.

Black Dawn - This is some grim orchestral dub. Somber, yet dignified at the same time. Perhaps it's the nice bass melody drawn from the Laswellian Bass Machine that retains optimism after all that's transpired. And the bassline will be your only consolation on this dark morning. The melody it plays goes along well with Namlook's accompanying synth chords, and this is indeed an interesting fusion of styles. With breathy pads and strings enhancing the low melody being played, this track is my favorite of the 3. More of the squelches and sweeps from track 1 leak back into the scene here, but the tone of the track overall is quite different largely from the influence of the bassline. Somehow, despite a sense of great loss or aftermath, the melody still seems to carry a message of hope.

(review by no@h)

I was listening to this last night and remembered how amazing it is. Laswell uses a really phat & heavy bassline throughout (as he does!) and the first half is quite shuffly with some really nice funky beats floating in and out. The second half of the album explores some of the darker elements of deep ambience. Lots of loops/echoes and almost alien sounding samples which works really well unlike some other things I've heard in this vein. Great titles too! This is available in the US on Subharmonic, Laswell's dark ambient label if you can't find the FAX import.

(review by Will-E)

The opener is an unconvincing attempt to mix spacey synth noise with an incongruous dub rhythm. The next track is an eerie slice of ambience, reminiscent of some of Bill Nelson's work. The third track aspires to a lush symphonic sound and I find it a bit ponderous. Not my favorite example of either artist's work.

(review by Scott McFarland)

Psychonavigation is Pete Namlook + Bill Laswell. Laswell, of Material/Axiom/Divination fame brings out the weirdness of Namlook. Namlook's usual knob twiddling is accentuated and exaggerated with the help of Laswell.

1- Starts out with some hollow droning sounds and some odd whirrs, hums and beeps. In comes a LOW bass and a kind of weak beat, which gets lost in the sea of bass until it is strengthened by a deep thump and a cool bassline. A breathy synth melody rides over the top while the beat/bass fades away and comes back a few times. It mellows out at the end and ends with some tweaked noises. Interestingly, there's a sample that says, "We seek contact with other life forms" which appears to be stolen from Captain Picard from TNG.

2- Ten minutes of just totally strange warped and mutated noises spanning all frequencies. Totally beatless. Ironically, there is a C major scale being played in the background, just to show how tweaked the tones are.

3- Very beautiful, with some knob twiddling that brings in a string like emotional melody. A beat comes in and is reinforced with the low thump and a bassline once again. Nice.

All in all, there is a lot of unrealized potential here. After hearing "Dead Slow"' (Ambient Dub vol.2--Laswell's, not Beyond's) I expected a lot more rhythmically, while this release sort of ignores the beat and goes for the bass. I had to turn down the mega-bass thing on my discman cause the bass was too much and was hurting my ears (on a volume level of 2!). So I guess if you heard this on a big system it's blow you away.

(review by jonathan takagi)

if this cd had been a single or an ep presenting some tightly produced trax properly mixed and edited to proper lengths, such as, oh, 7 minutes? 10 minutes? you might just have a really awesome cd. but this is namlook, the material is raw and probably done with very little production, maybe even done live in one take. i think pete and bill just sat down and wanked about a studio for a while, done some ganja, maybe some acid, and came out with this.

the first track is 40 minutes long. for a while you get nothing but total synth washes, it's obvious pete is just wanking around. beats float in, float out, in, out, in, out...a bass line comes in, out, in, out, while the synths wash on for the duration. bill is obviously the beats and bass guy, nice job but i think they are just loops. that bass line is still very catchy though. the rest of the tracks stick to the same pattern.

so does it suck? hell, no. i love it. it's a total submergence into another world, all this sound whooshing past. sure it's raw, sure it's simple, minimal and prolly has very little in terms of musical value, but sod that, this is ambient, this is music to listen to and to not listen to. this is music to fall asleep to and music to sit at the edge of your chair listening in total concentration. believe me, it's that good. so should you get it? only if you like this sort of stuff. to anyone else this will be utter and total crap. only buy it if you like noise more than music.

(review by caped crusader)


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