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Cosmic Ground - Cosmic Ground IV CD (album) cover

COSMIC GROUND IV

Cosmic Ground

 

Progressive Electronic

3.88 | 7 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars With three studio discs, remix/previously digital only/unreleased pieces compilations and even a live album all popping up in a relatively short span of years, keyboardist Dirk Jan Müller of modern krautrockers Electric Orange keeps up the momentum of his solo career and its alias Cosmic Ground to deliver 2018's `IV'. With his army of analogue gear and creaky Mellotron once again in tow, while Dirk may still have one foot in the door of the defining vintage electronic masters of old, here he expands his Berlin School-modelled atmospheres in all sorts of further directions, infusing them this time with murkier Krautrock textures, cinematic soundtrack-like elegance, dark ambient drifts, gloomy drones, dreamy chill-outs and even sparingly implemented vocoder touches, making for the most varied and unpredictable Cosmic Ground work to date.

The pulsing hisses and stark droning machine-driven suffocation of opener `Possessed' is not `industrial' as such, but it's absolutely oppressive and monolithic in its level of intimidation and Cluster-like enveloping fear. The expertly unfurling Berlin-School drama of `Stained' fuses alien tribal percussion with a sequencer-pattered slink, the bouncing `Obscured's evocative vocoder recitations call to mind Robert Schroeder and plenty of vintage electronic artists (not to mention Pink Floyd, with the piece sounding like the love-child of `One of These Days' and `Sheep'!), and `Greasy' dances with unceasing Ashra/Manuel Göttsching-like ringing trickles that lift into chiming fluffy heavens.

The twenty-minute `Progeny is a multi-part suite that seamlessly moves through strident unfolding synth drones, ever-circling sequencer jangles and drifting come-downs, all rising and retreating with carefully controlled grace and an impeccable unhurried touch. Both `Plains' and `Deep End' are final hypnotic drones, the first ebbing and eerie, the latter adding a bubbling and hazy `Phaedra'-era Tangerine Dream fuzziness and seeping unease.

(And if a seventy-eight minute album isn't enough for you, download copies come with an additional thirty-eight minute piece `Soil', a longform drone of reverberating organ and drowsy ethereal guitar wisps, with the final minutes revealing a cavernous stalking pounding before succumbing to a calming Mellotron climax. It's a beautiful standalone work all its own, and hopefully it doesn't languish as a mere download only and receives its own CD or LP release in the future - hint, hint, Dirk?!).

Dirk Jan Müller keeps refining his approach and implementing new sounds with each successive Cosmic Ground release, and this latest one shows his greatest restraint and natural subtlety more effectively than ever, with long stretches of measured space-music that never become static or uneventful. `IV' can easily sit alongside Thorsten Quaeschning's `Cargo' soundtrack and Steve Roach's `Molecules of Motion' as one of the standout prog-electronic works of the year, and is Müller's defining solo work to date...likely only until his next one comes along and tops it!

Four and a half stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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