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REDSHIFT VIII - TOLL

Redshift

Progressive Electronic


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russellk
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is an essential album for electronica lovers, with one proviso.

REDSHIFT have a single party trick: they produce glorious music in the vein of TANGERINE DREAM's Virgin years (1974-83), but they do it better than TD ever did. The proviso is simple. If you are one of those motivated in your exploration of music by originality, move on. There's nothing to see here. But if you love that Berlin School sound - the pulsing sequencers, the slow, almost post-rock rise and fall of a track, the sheer intensity of the ambient soundscape, then this album is for you.

'Toll', their eighth album, is the best REDSHIFT album I've heard. It was recorded live in 2004, but not released until 2006. It's hard to imagine they didn't gussy it up somewhat in the studio, but I have no bootlegs to compare it with, so I'm only guessing. Whatever, the whole 65 minute experience is irresistible.

The first track is an eighteen minute monster. 'Stuka' is a slow-building collage of pulsing bass and falling notes (hence the title) that reaches two stomach-tightening climaxes. Though the sound is not original, REDSHIFT uses a wider palette than TD did for, say, 'Ricochet', harnessing volume changes very effectively. The effect is compelling. 'Cast Down' is a six-minute segue, an ambient swirl reminiscent of something off 'Zeit', leading into 'Glide' and the return of those lovely sequencers. They chatter away for a few minutes - remember, things take a long time in Ambient Land - while minimalist synth chords and notes fit themselves around the rhythm. Again the track builds almost imperceptibly, so by four minutes in the noise cascades through your brain, only to die off. We even get a flute here, strengthening the resemblance to 70s TD. 'Rock' is another segue, white noise like the constant crashing of sheet metal introducing a menacing rumble, a barely changing drone as pleasant as fingers on a blackboard, but that is, of course, the point: to set up a juxtaposition to the extraordinary final track.

The title track begins in agony, cacophanous synths and morphed voices sounding like the room next door to a torture chamber. An ethnic percussion heralds the start of the slow build, the glacial changing of the pulsing beat which gradually becomes more complex and layered, then hidden under a thick blanket of synth washes. Some lovely harsh guitar chords are loaded in to heighten the tension. It all roars into life after eleven minutes - you need patience for this - but the sound is so jaw-droppingly beautiful the wait is worth it. Sweet discharge, then the long bittersweet fall to the end. And a lovely, shiveringly intense reprise at the end.

Remember the proviso.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#168995)
Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008 | Review Permalink

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