Lost Terrain by Jeff Greinke Hypnos Recordings, 1992 http://www.hypnos.com Seattle-based ambient composer Jeff Greinke has a varied output, which ranges from rock to jazz to experimental noise, but he is perhaps best known for his ambient work. This 1992 album, Lost Terrain, is some of his finest ambient sound, characterized by a slow-paced, chill melancholy. Not for Greinke are the pseudo-“tribal” drumbeats of other ambient artists, nor the inflated swell of overrich synthesizer chords. This is an austere music of grey skies and long, dim winter afternoons (Seattle weather?). This is not to say that Greinke does not use rhythm or international influences. Two pieces on this album, “The Cry,” and “River of Wood,” have a distinct Indonesian sound, though this is inventively melded with a weird electronic cyberpunk noisescape. The pieces on this album often have a wry, bitter humor added to avant-garde electronica, a proper soundtrack for that ideal world of future present that we dream of, where everyone chain-smokes, dresses all in black, wears sunglasses at night, and carries concealed weapons. Nevertheless, Greinke’s portrait inside the album cover looks suspiciously clean and fresh-faced. Greinke displays a good range of sounds on this album; unlike some other somnolent “dark ambient” albums, the pieces on this one sound different from each other. He can move from the ultrablack horror-movie sound of “The Moor,” which is reminiscent of his terrifying “Cities in Fog” set, to something which is almost (but not quite) melodic, such as “Rendered Motionless.” In this track, clear, unnaturally bright electronic tones ring out, in harmonies that are almost major. On the sixth track, “Precipice,” and the last track, “Confluences,” a soupy reverbed piano line meanders through a similar electronic scene. This album could be said to epitomize many trends in ambient music which spun their way through the ‘90s; Jeff Greinke seems to have had quite an influence on other composers. In a musical atmosphere characterized by a cold and cloudy sameness, creative invention, such as can be heard on Lost Terrain, shows up like a moment of wan sunlight. HMGS rating: 8 Hannah M.G.Shapero, EER-MUSIC.com 1/25/00
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Jeff Greinke: Cities In Fog (2CD, 108:58); Projekt:Archive 10 This release sees a remastered version of Jeff's first album on disc one and new material, '95-'97 on disc two. This is dark, brooding, expansive ambience at its droning best. It is an aural diary of inner reflections upon the "everyday sounds and their inherent beauty" quoting Greinke. This is not ethnic, percussive, trance music. This IS THE trance, the soundscape of underwater trains and ether dreams. Let me diverge on the visionary worlds these pieces elucidate for me. You are alone on the frozen river Styx, the Underworld is refusing your entry. Instead, you are sent eons into Earth's future where the Sun has long ago faded but the atomic hearts of ancient autofacs still belch forth just enough life-giving heat. A solitary, lumbering, landwhale drags itself across a terrain of permafrost. His baleful call echoes across the featureless horizon. Overhead, icedust assails the remains of cloud-cities in an eternal lifeless orbit. The vault of the heavens shouts of your insignificance and limitless vistas of time and space whisper of life's short dance. You dare speak but words are meaningless here. A great darkness has moved beneath you, under the frozen wasteland of a dead sea. A relentless beat, a pummeling begins from deep below the ice. You run, slipping, gasping, towards the landwhale in the distance. The ice behind you buckling, you grab onto the frozen mane of the finned mammoth, pulling yourself up. You survive to sleep and awake along a Nebraska roadside back in the 20th century. The droning of a distant triple-trailer truck approaches lulling you into another dream. You awake reading an Iain M. Banks novel wondering what CD this is. Highly recommended for visionary moods. -John W. Patterson, EER-MUSIC.com
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