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 Outland - PW 19 (also AW 022)
  Release Date: 17 November 1994
  Limitation: 1000

   From the Earth to the Ceiling      1.02.00

  all tracks written by Pete Namlook and Bill Laswell

This is one of those discs that seems obvious and suspiciously simple when you first listen to it. Some time passes, you decide to give it another try and the second time it knocks you down. It doesn't even sound like the same album, or maybe you're not the same this time around. At least that's what happened to me. Outland is at once deep, dark, evocative, and foreboding. I've heard the argument that some of these "ambient" pieces are needlessly stretched out when they really could have been edited down to 20 minutes or less. The only track on Outland, "From the Earth to the Ceiling," is something you want a full hour of. Sustained Mongolian chants braided with warm synthetic waves, realtime, as Namlook likes them. We go through several stages which are seamlessly blended together. This is minimal beatless instrumentalism, separate yet interactive, that fills one hour with bass, waves, and voices (sourced in Ulaan Bator courtesy of someone named Nicky and Oz). Bill Laswell seems to be controlling some organic bass textures with the help of his trusty envelope filter, while Namlook controls the synth textures. The full composition is symmetrically designed, giving the impression of recession and approach, or ascent and descent. Right in the middle, acting as a kind of aural navigation buoy, is a mysterious eastern melody which only lasts for about 90 seconds. A post to the ambient list in April of '96 by Taro Tsuzuki says this is a segment of a 19th century composition, "Koujou no Tsuki," ('Moon Over Ruined Castle' was the translation offered) by one Rentaro Taki. Here is a rough description of the different stages that the disc goes through, listed along with the appropriate times:

0 - 5.35 : Deep, guttural, thunderous chanting. Synth lull, distant voices

6.09 - : Vocal harmonic layers

14.14 - : Ascending & descending pitchbend organics

18:40 - : Harmonic voices re-emerge with added texture

22:26 - : Synthetic synth notes are introduced

24:00 - : The medley begins, bob your head if you must

26:30 - : Laswellian envelope filters, more voices

35:00 - : Rhythm disperses, Koujou no Tsuki marks the halfway point

42:15 - : Vocal harmonic layers re-emerge

43:00 - : Pitchbend organics

56:00-end: Reprise of the thunderous chants

(review by no@h)

Definitely encourages a reflective state. Basically, this sounds like Tibetian monks chanting on snow-covered mountain tops during a light blizzard. Sounds wonderful on a good stereo system.

(review by Scott McFarland)

_Outland_ is one of my favorite FAX cds. It is one of the more "out there" releases from this label. The opening chants are very, very creepy...heavy-duty...overwhelming. When Pete's analog synth starts to drift out of the voices my head starts to droop from the sheer power of this music. The bass is awesome, especially on a LOUD system (typical FAX -- thanks Pete). Comparisons would include some parts of _Organic Cloud_, the Gyuoto Monks, lots of literature by H.P. Lovecraft. This CD makes me think I'm somewhere high up in the Himalayas, and have just downed a heavy-duty DMT-based psychedelic drink with some *very strange* monks. As the wind whips around the shelter and the blizzard settles in, the visions start to get out of control...

(review by Wallace Winfrey)


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