Smile on the Void by “A Produce” Hypnos Records, 2001 Enigmatically pseudo-named electronic musician “A Produce” has returned with another of his somber, elegant albums, this time with a title which is a wry homage to Steve Roach. Some of the music on this Produce album does show a bit of influence from the Tucson master “floating” electronic tones accompanied by percussion rhythms - but most of it is original, pure grade-A Produce. It can flow in the classic “dark ambient” mode, with brooding, dissonant electronic atmospheres shimmering with menace or despair, as in track 2, “Night Curve.” But it can also access more poignant emotional territory, with tragic almost organ-like minor chords accompanied by rumbling bass lines, as in track 3, “The Big Sleep.” And then again, Produce can do the “drone” thing as well, with the psychedelic “Visions” (track 4), one of my favorites on the album. Produce’s earlier albums specialized in a kind of minimal, gemlike sound, provided in (usually) short pieces which did not change from beginning to end. Smile on the Void still makes some use of this style, but in this album Produce has chosen to enrich his textures and move away from minimalism. He can still create an ultra-quiet “relaxation” piece, such as track 5, “Inner Sanctum” which is very much in line with the quiet Hypnos sound. But then after that, he wakes the listener up with two longer, up-tempo pieces which derive not from ambient so much as from thirty years of electronic rock, complete with sequencers, drums, bongos, and other percussion, and minor-key power chords. There are even some passages played on hard-edged electric guitar, courtesy of Produce’s friend Scott Fraser. With this variety, “A Produce” shows that he is more than an electronic minimalist or experimentalist. He proves with this album that his electronic voice can sing in many styles, from the mystical to the dramatic. There are even moments of passion, though they are always tempered by his ironic and sometimes detached attitude, which keeps Produce’s music from being either naïve or pretentious. The musical smile is gentle, and the void doesn’t have to be magnificent to be quality produce. HMGS rating: 9 out of 10 Hannah M.G. Shapero 4/25/01 SMILE ON THE VOID tracks include: 1 smile on the void 2 night curve 3 the big sleep 4 visions 5 inner sanctum 6 i woke up dreaming 7 spirit room
EER-MUSIC.com Editor's note: I found this release a bit too "all over the place" style wise from track to track and never could really get into it to either relax or groove enough. At least Hannah liked it. For me, I will pass on this one and keep my James Johnson and Steve Roach ambient works nearby. Or maybe I'll just go and compose my own musicks to chill-out to . . . CodeX Hypnos
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