DWELLER AT THE THRESHOLD -- synth "rock" and sequenced electronic music - "EER-MUSIC.com aka Eclectic Earwig Reviews Music and More for You!"
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Into the Liquid Unknown
by Paul Ellis
Hypnos/Binary, 2001

        Over the years I’ve learned to trust Hypnos’ excellent taste when it comes
to slow, nocturnal, minimalistic ambient. If it’s Hypnos, it’s going to be
good. So I’m delighted that Hypnos has decided to branch out into faster,
more rhythmic electronic ambient. Their taste is equally good here in their
set of recordings under the “Binary” sub-label.

        Paul Ellis makes electronic music the old-fashioned way: with machines, not
with loops and samplers and digital doohickeys. Or at least it sounds that
way. Ellis’ sound comes direct from the sequencer-driven, beeping oscillator
music that I enjoyed (and made) back in the ‘70s. There’s a “European”
quality to his work, with inevitable comparisons to Kraftwerk, Tangerine
Dream, and Jean-Paul Jarre, but this is less pretentious. Ellis is more
concerned with tracery and texture and interweaving strands of sound, a kind
of abstract electronica rather than something derived from the world of rock
or pop. Only in a few places does he use sampled instruments or an electric
guitar. His sound is spare and perhaps a bit dry ­ no grandiose caverns of
reverb or banging percussion here.

        Though he remains within the non-melodic world of ambient, he has a good
sense of underlying harmony (in the usual minor/modal keys) and when to
change it to avoid monotony. There are some sweet drifting moments, and some
satisfying dark metallic glints; every so often he also scatters some
special effects to liven things up. If there is such a thing as “classical”
electronic music, this is it. It’s a shining, optimistic, futuristic sound
that seems to come from a time when people could imagine such a future.

HMGS rating: 8 out of 10

Hannah M.G. Shapero, EER-MUSIC.com

Hard Particles by Dave Fulton Eurock, 1999 Eurock Contact Address: P.O. Box 13718, Portland, Oregon, 97213, USA The sequencer-driven rock of the late ‘60s and 1970s, especially that of the Germans and the French, is still echoing clearly in electronic music from 30 years later, as can be heard in this 1999 album by Dave Fulton. This fin-de-siecle album is untouched by the trends of those last thirty years: no “tribal” percussion, no “nature” sounds of birds and streams, no Celtic pipes or voice samples or industrial clanks. It’s pure electronic sound, created from an impressive array of both custom and ready-made synthesizers, and it sounds as futuristic as it did thirty years ago. The ambiguity of that last sentence was deliberate. The future isn’t what it used to be, and Fulton’s sound tends toward the “retro,” using the same hard, open tones and modal rock-based harmonies that were used in the late ‘60s and 70s, especially by venerable artists like Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre. You get that déjà vu feeling listening to this. His drone and ambient pieces move along well, his sequences cruise, but you’ve heard this before. The album title and some of the track titles suggest the language of modern physics, a field which has been evoked by other electronic composers such as Richard Burmer (the delightful track “Physics” on his 1990 album Mosaic) and by “Vir Unis" on his apocalyptic 2000 album Aeonian Glow. You’d think that electronic rhythms and sequencing would be just right for this physics metaphor, and indeed this album picks up both speed and interest in its second half. On his track 8, “Clouded Flats of Radiations” and the following “Particle Reversal,” track 9, some of that dynamic subatomic quality comes through. But often, Fulton’s musical particle accelerator seems to be working on well-worn theory which needs some updating. HMGS rating: 6 out of 10 Hannah M.G. Shapero, EER-MUSIC.com 8/4/01

Ouroborus by Dweller At The Threshold: (Dave Fulton, John Duval, Paul Ellis) Hypnos/Binary Records, 2001 (?) http://www.hypnos.com/binary Ouroborus is a release on Hypnos' new "Binary" sub-label, which adds rhythmic, techno-electronica to Hypnos' repertoire of ambient sounds. Paul Ellis, one of this Dweller At The Threshold group, has also recorded a solo album for Binary, Into the Liquid Unknown (see that review above), and Dave Fulton released his own album Hard Particles (also reviewed as well here) on the Eurock label in 1999. They all seem to be a close-knit group of synth players in the Portland, Oregon area, where Hypnos is based. And they all are heavily inspired by the European sequencer and steady rhythm electronic music of the 70s and 80s. Despite "Dweller At The Threshold's" state-of-the-art array of synthesizers and other equipment, their sound is resoundingly retro.

Unlike Paul Ellis' more cerebral solo album, Ouroborus has lots of rock and trance-pop influence. The harmonies and minimal melodic lines are relentlessly minor-key, which gives the pieces a somewhat "dark" or somber flavor ­ but it's a pop darkness, not the truly scary dissonant darkness of microtonal composers like Robert Rich or "Vir Unis." My problem with Ouroborus is not its mood, but its repetitiveness. Once the band finds something to work on, they go at it without much change, for many long minutes. There are nice moments, but most of the time I was checking the elapsed time readout on my player, which is not a good sign. Their best material, for me, is when they slip back into "true," floating ambient, as in track 3, "Ouroborus part 1." The rhythmic sequences in the other pieces just seem to motor along familiar but monotonous highways.

HMGS rating: 6 out of 10 Hannah M.G. Shapero, EER-MUSIC.com November 9, 2001

This review written for --
but oddly, never appeared in: John Collinge's Progression Magazine

Dweller At The Threshold: (reviewer's cryptanalysis of title follows.){cryptosign 1}-Generation, {cryptosign 2}-Transmission, {cryptosign 3}-Illumination (CD, 53:01); Eurock ECD-2015 Those of you who don't like vintage Tangerine Dream, didn't get into Jarre, nor appreciated Wavestar's brief splash should skip to the next review. On the flip side of the coin, the heads that is, read on. This release, titled as an alien cryptogram, deciphered previously, is 15 tracks that flow seamlessly into one another as "Generation Parts 1-7", "Transmission Part 1-3", and "Illumination Part 1-4". They time-out from 1:06 to 5:37. There is no wasted space here, no bleeping filler, no techno-drivel, nor any overwhelming synth monotony. When this disc was over I was left hanging -- wanting more psychic hallways to wander. This is a whole album thing you are to experience in full -- no tidbits. Be absorbed. This is 1990s synth digital quality and production but with that analog sensitivity and a view to that sequenced wanderlust of the '70s. There is even a pleasant mellotron fugue that evoked S.F.F. for me. Paul Ellis, Dave Fulton, and Jeff Vasey call down otherworldly, amorphous entities across the void into your ever-pulsating speakers. James Haggerty embellishes electronically and Tom Geivett adds in guitar synth. This band has faithfully revived the glory days when T. Dream gave a darn, when the music wasn't popsynth, song-oriented snippets but was allowed to breathe, to merely happen, to evolve. T. Dream dethroned themselves. Dweller At The Threshold is to be applauded for a well-crafted, interesting, stimulating creation. A new microchip is ready for implant. Jack in! High recommendations. ~ John W. Patterson, EER-MUSIC.com


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