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Cosmic Ground

Progressive Electronic

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PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
3 stars On this occasion underway on solo paths with his project COSMIC GROUND this is Dirk Jan Müller, predominantly known as the member of ELECTRIC ORANGE as well as the SPACE INVADERS. Currently both are rather innovative bands hailing from the rising space and neo krautrock scene in Germany. It doesn't go without notice - here we have the second workout released for this project. Besides hammond and mellotron Dirk is having a huge arsenal of analogue synthesizer tools at hand again.

That means you'll have to await a more retro styled album in general, filled with floating spacey patterns and looping repetitive sequencer motifs influenced by Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, Manuel Göttsching and similiar. Conceived for a double vinyl release most likely, four extended songs are given, all equipped with a length of around twenty minutes. Way more organ drenched the closing Altair partition is differing from the other songs. This one has evolved to my album highlight within the recent listening sessions due to its magnificent flow.

While certainly entering the cosmic ground CG 2 is a solid contribution to the widespread progressive electronic field. Although Dirk does not really reach for a new niche with his compositions, it's definitely well done - gripping either way, but also a matter of relaxing excercises when trying to put your feet up. It solely depends on your current mood what particular section you might prefer. Just give it a try!

Report this review (#1447986)
Posted Saturday, August 1, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Great retro electronica/Kosmische Music from ELECTRIC ORANGE's keyboard player, Dirk Jan Müller.

1. "Sol" (19:23) opens with a couple of minutes of distant-sounding industrial sounds playing around in the background soundscape. In the third minute a TANGERINE DREAM-like computer-synth sequence emerges, rises and proceeds to dominate until around 5:20 when other sounds (organ) are beginning to emerge---though not enough to commit to the weave for a good minute or more. The increasing volume of the top end of the oscillating sound waves (approximately 60 seconds per cycle) is very effective--and the clarity lends to its pleasurability. This is, truly, like a prime TD song (e.g. "Coldwater Canyon" sans electric guitar) only recorded/produced with the advantages of 21st Century technologies. (9/10)

2. "NGC 224" (18:40) awesome electronica in the TANGERINE DREAM vein. The electronic drum sound sequenced sounds a bit 'off' to me but the progressions and evolution of the song throughout its nearly 19 minute length make up for it. (9/10)

3. "Organia" (19:43) opens with wave after wave of synth chords, washing ashore due to the slow flange effect. At the five minute mark the hypnotic rhythm sequence is introduced, slowly rises in sound level, as the synth waves recede. Gradually, other keyboard sounds, notes, riffs, and waves are introduced/added to enrich the sound palate- -but the programmed sequence is awesome on its own. Beginning at about the 13 minute mark, the bottom drops out: the music begins to slowly fade (the treble side, for sure) virtually disappears before slowly flanging back to a loud crescendo--a pattern that continues over the next two minutes until we are left with one long sustained bass chord and Mellotron voices. By 15:30 a layered reed-like buzzing sound is introduced and quickly takes over. The rhythm sequence is gone, all that is left is the rise and fall of this ominous buzz chord--which plays out to the end. Were it not for the exceedingly slow and drawn out--and fairly simple--development, this would be a sure-fire masterpiece. (8/10)

4. "Altair" (20:09) opens with some sustained, high pitched crystalline notes--could be organ, could be glass harmonium. The weave is joined by some eerie noises and minimalist STEVE REICH-like sounds, notes and chords. Feels like a walk through the night woods in a horror film. Fortunately, there are no "Tubular Bells"-like sudden noises jumping out at you in the first six minutes. In the sixth minute, however, there is a brief four-note riff (arpeggio) from what sounds like a computerized guitar that rises into prominence and dominance in a quite ominous way. It feels as if something is approaching--something mysterious and powerful, if of low and/or tired intelligence, that a woods-walker would want to avoid/hide from. By the 10:00 mark the intruder has passed; it's probably safe to emerge. But we don't. For another minute and a half we wait--until the very last strains of the maurading lurker have passed. Then organ chord changes indicate a slight change of perspective--perhaps one as little as a turn of the head--and then again--but no movement from this safe hiding place. Observation, listening, hypervigilance, heightened senses, distrust and fear keep the woods-walker glued to his spot. Our patience and caution are rewarded as in the sixteenth minute a distant moan or haunting voice is borne on the wind. Not close but not far--and getting closer?! At 16:45 it sounds as if we have launched--running--away--speeding through the woods away from the witch voice, away from the trail of the massive Lurker, running at near break-neck speed through the woods. The run begins to feel timeless, spaceless, as noise and sensory input seem to fade away leaving us . . . in our bed, awake, soaked in sweat. What a dream! What a brilliant musical journey! (10/10)

This is so close to being a masterpiece of progressive rock music--the only thing it is lacking is something new, fresh, or innovative to contribute to the "progress" of the Electronic/Kosmische Music subgenres.

Report this review (#1592583)
Posted Thursday, July 28, 2016 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Cosmic Ground is the name of the solo project from Electric Orange's keyboard player Dirk Jan Müller, who performs vintage era influenced deep-space soundscapes with elements of Kosmische Music, Berlin School, electronica, drone, trance and ambient styles. Dismissed by some as mere homage, or worse, an outright clone of the classic Seventies period of Tangerine Dream, Müller may absolutely utilise the same sounds as that defining group on the surface, but digger deeper reveals directions that the important German band never travelled in, as well as some very modern influences worked in as well.

While 2015's `Cosmic Ground 2' (arriving a year after the self-titled debut) takes the format of Tangerine Dream's `Zeit' by offering four vinyl-side length/twenty minute-plus extended pieces, it differs quite substantially musically from that particular genre-creating landmark work. It lacks the icy nightmarish drones of that double set, instead all of the four compositions here are made up of long stretches of minimalistic soundscapes that slowly evolve in the most subtle of ways, the most minute of details delicately worked in and stretched out much further than mere imitation would offer.

Opener `Sol' is sprinkled with chiming sequencer ripples that slowly grow in presence, the very lightest of dancing trance traces slinking in and out with fuzzy panning ambience its destination. The instantly darker `Ngc 224' groans with unease and builds in dense throbbing intimidation, and `Organia' drifts on gentler ambient washes, lulling synth caresses lapping back and forth as a steady pulsing beat bounces away before finally melting into darker ominous drifts. But the equally mysterious and lulling album closer `Altair' is the most impressive moment, Ashra and early Pink Floyd-like quivering organ shimmers and slowly emerging sequencer trickles concocting a drowsy, meditative and finally haunting siren cry of aching lonely beauty (although there was probably no need for the last minute sequencer dance, the piece was perfect just as it was!).

Dirk Jan Müller may not quite take the progressive-electronic/Kosmische Music style in undiscovered directions here, but nor is `Cosmic Ground 2' some `cut and paste' lazy idol worship or `highlights package' of more popular artists in the field. Rather, if given fair, patient and close repeated listens, it offers glimpses of worlds he may go on to explore in even greater personal depth in the future, but even for now this superior second effort is still an unhurried (but never uneventful) and deeply immersive soundtrack full of space that weaves a captivating atmosphere.

Four stars.

Report this review (#1612750)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2016 | Review Permalink

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