Systems Theory: In Progress (CD, 77:50); Systems Theory Records, STD002, 2003 E-mail: n/a Cyberhome: http://systemstheory.net 10 words or less: Transatlantic cyberspace project in the vein of Djam Karet Elaboration: Systems Theory is, as stated a project that has a number of musical contributors. At the core of the project are two longtime associates who have collaborated musically since 1978. To date the duo have produced a number of hand made discs which they distribute themselves but as of this writing (01/04) I understand the first 'official' album is being finalized. The album in my CD player was recorded in 2002 and was sent to me almost a year ago (yeah, so I'm not the most timely reviewer on the planet... sue me!) The music herein is quite reminiscent of Djam Karet, specifically their album Suspension and Displacement. There's gobs of Mellotron (played forward and backward) which I believe is handled by one of their overseas collaborators from Scotland. Keyboards, Percussion, Bass Guitar, Flute, and what sounds like Ebow Guitar fill out the sound, which is an all-instrumental affair. Each piece goes through various stages of Ambient soundscapes to ethnic percussion passages and all out sonic assaults. While I keep coming back to the Djam Karet reference, Systems Theory do approach that territory from their own perspective and the forthcoming album should prove to be a worthy purchase for fans of that style. Highly recommended! ~ L Perez
Systems Theory: Demos 1999-2000 (CD, 42:58) STD001, 2000 CYBERHOME: http://www.systemstheory.net Sometimes, musical fulfillment comes from bizarre places. As a reviewer, I get to experience a pretty wide variety of sonic styles, including a lot of CDs from artists I’ve never heard of and quite frankly don’t really want to hear from again. For the most part, cream does rise to the top and unknowns are generally unknown for a reason. For instance, when I’m handed a CD from King Crimson or The Flower Kings, I automatically expect a certain level of excellence – in other words, the artist is burdened with my high expectations that they must meet. On the other hand, when I’m sent a CD from a band I’ve never heard of that was burned onto a CD-R and adorned with homemade artwork, I’d be lying if I said my expectations are generally not very high. However, I do try and clear my head of preconceived notions while reviewing these CDs and I attempt to give these lesser-known acts a chance to change my initial opinion. Well, let me tell you - never before has an act done so which such quickness and power as has Systems Theory with their release Demos 1999-2000. In fact, even though the CD is officially a “demo CD,” it’s musical quality is far beyond most of the “official” releases I receive to review. Systems Theory is truly “progressive” in every sense of the word, and an absolute joy to listen to. And it just goes to prove once again that you can’t judge a book by its cover. The music on Demos can only be described as occupying a space between symphonic prog, ambient, and space rock – however, it amazingly somehow avoids becoming just a derivative of any of these genres. Systems Theory have managed to find an unclaimed pocket of musical territory, and created a very forward-thinking set of tracks with which to colonize that new space. The band consists of multi-instrumentalists Steven Davies-Morris and Greg Amov as well as Mellotron/organist Mike Dickson. Diane Amov also kicks in with some tasty flute work that truly augments that textures that the rest of the band lays down. Those textures are usually mixtures of digital programming and real instruments, creating an incredibly eerie soundscape (made even more eerie by Dickson’s Mellotron). Systems Theory are absolute masters at selecting the appropriate samples and loops to maximize the emotional impact of their compositions – they know what buttons to push and which keys to press to maximize their artistic potential. The CD kicks off with the aptly titled “Under Oriental Skies” which starts out living up to its name with its Far-East tinged samples and instruments. However, about halfway through the song is seemingly hijacked by a mixture of Robert Fripp and a college marching band drum section. After a minute or so of frenzied “hip-hop”-like beats, the song once again slowly descends back into a meditative Oriental-style. “Breakdance in Hell” is sort of a Porcupine Tree-ish 11 minute track that I imagine would be huge in dance clubs for the mentally unstable – the funky backbeat and electronic sounds are constantly clashing with Dickson’s mellotron throughout creating a very bizarre and almost disturbing experience. And when I say “bizarre” and “disturbing,” I mean it as a very sincere compliment. The other three tracks on the CD follow the same eclectic path – new-school electronica battling it out with old-school tape loops in a war that only listeners to System Theory will win. These guys are truly breaking new musical ground with their forward-looking progressive music, and deserve all the support they can get. Here’s wishing much luck to this innovative and creative band! More information on SYSTEMS THEORY can be found at http://www.systemstheory.net - Michael Askounes (firstname.lastname@example.org) CREDITS: Steven Davies-Morris: Various Instruments, sample loop programming, MIDI programming Gregory Amov: Various Instruments, sample loop programming, MIDI programming, violin Mike Dickson: Mellotron Diane Amov: Flute TRACKLIST: 1. Under Oriental Skies (6:47) 2. Breakdance in Hell (11:23) 3. Where Titans Sleep (9:50) 4. Strange Obsession (6:38) 5. The Boy Who Gazed at Stars (8:04)
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