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BASS COMMUNION

Progressive Electronic • United Kingdom


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Bass Communion biography
A lot of people know who Steven WILSON is, as a musician and personality, also knowing - always, actually - what's his pivotal band: PORCUPINE TREE, with its complexity of psychedelic, pop, metal and hard rock being remarkable at different times, over different periods. Steven Wilson has a number of side projects, that shine up his familiar face in the elite of rock contemporary musicians and his natural gift or interest in many projects and collaborations (approached, perhaps, from his multi-instrumental skills, though he doesn't vary the music much from one band to another, except when the concept is totally different and needs a really abstract approach): BLACKFIELD, NO-MAN or IEM ("Incredible Expanding Mindfuck") leading the way, with mainstream, different or interesting rock music. His strong ideas of hypnoses, trances, sequences and soundscapes, melded in a process and a healthy band called BASS COMMUNION, doesn't differ much from the above-mentioned main interest in building a great side project (out of scraps, most likely); it almost shows however a Steven Wilson like never before - not a rock musician, not a mainstream-hardstream magician, not a concept riddler, but an electronic phaser and a pretty distinguished electronic technician, leaning on music that makes the rest of the art.

Everything noted down until now should actually be of no surprise to a Steven Wilson fan, BASS COMMUNION's length of music and artistic endeavour being familiar and taken in account by many of those who plug heavily into PT, NO-MAN or IEM. The different tone comes not in how Wilson's independent work fine-tunes with the heavy stuff of his mega-bands, but in how his independent work has an independent vibration as well, without referencing back to the music of other projects. Nothing from the psychedelic long shot "Sky Moves Sideways", the trippy-abstract-electronic "Voyage 34" or the dark-rock instrumental jam "Metanoia" (all PT albums) indicates one bit what kind of electronic dreams is Steven Wilson creating through BASS COMMUNION. Maybe only IEM shares some psychedelic, "krautr0ck" ideas in a similar way, but the music up there is called "self-indulgent" by way too many voices.

More about how BASS COMMUNION shapes up can be read in reviews or important interviews Wilson gave. The interest for noise, electronic or krautrock experiments started through a serie of "cassette duets" with Simon Vocking, back in the 80s, the influences to these rudimentary b...
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Loss (CD w/DVD)Loss (CD w/DVD)
Soleilmoon 2006
Audio CD$27.58
$23.00 (used)
CenotaphCenotaph
Import
Tonefloat 2011
Audio CD$14.83
$16.82 (used)
Pacific CodexPacific Codex
Box set
Equation Records 2008
DVD Audio$74.97 (used)
Bass Communion 2 & 3Bass Communion 2 & 3
Import
Imports 2013
Audio CD$41.29
$44.75 (used)
Bass CommunionBass Communion
Import
Dark Matter Distribution 2007
Audio CD$12.91
$9.00 (used)
Bass CommunionBass Communion
Import
Imports 2014
Audio CD$78.85
$82.10 (used)
Ghosts On Magnetic TapeGhosts On Magnetic Tape
Import
Headphone Dust
Audio CD$59.99 (used)
II/IIIII/III
Beta-Lactam Ring Records/Revol 2008
Audio CD$50.68 (used)
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BASS COMMUNION discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BASS COMMUNION top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.37 | 31 ratings
Bass Communion (I)
1998
3.46 | 28 ratings
Bass Communion (II)
1999
3.33 | 15 ratings
Bass Communion (III)
2001
3.85 | 8 ratings
Jonathan Coleclough/Bass Communion/Colin Potter
2003
3.51 | 45 ratings
Ghosts on Magnetic Tape
2004
3.47 | 18 ratings
Loss
2005
2.63 | 8 ratings
Indicates Void
2005
3.54 | 20 ratings
Continuum
2005
3.24 | 11 ratings
Loss
2005
2.65 | 12 ratings
Continuum 2
2007
3.36 | 14 ratings
Pacific Codex
2008
3.50 | 26 ratings
Molotov and Haze
2008
2.98 | 19 ratings
Cenotaph
2011

BASS COMMUNION Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.79 | 5 ratings
Bass Communion/Pig - Live In Mexico City
2008
3.89 | 9 ratings
Chiaroscuro
2009

BASS COMMUNION Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BASS COMMUNION Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.33 | 3 ratings
Bass Communion V Muslimgauze
1999
3.00 | 3 ratings
Reconstructions and Recycling
2003
2.83 | 3 ratings
BCVSMGCD
2006

BASS COMMUNION Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 10 ratings
Atmospherics
1999
2.75 | 3 ratings
Bass Communion v Muslim Gauze
2000
2.30 | 11 ratings
Vajrayana
2004
3.25 | 4 ratings
Dronework
2004
3.00 | 2 ratings
Bass Communion / Fear Falls Burning
2008
2.75 | 4 ratings
Haze Shrapnel (with Freiband)
2008
4.00 | 5 ratings
Litany
2009
1.00 | 2 ratings
Headwind/Tailwind (with Freiband)
2009

BASS COMMUNION Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Bass Communion (II) by BASS COMMUNION album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.46 | 28 ratings

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Bass Communion (II)
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by admireArt

4 stars Bass Communion one of Steven Wilson's electronic music projects, which is more focused on sonic atmospheres, as such, therefore it is closer to the (unexistent) Electronic/Ambient tagging . No PT, or SW, electric guitar solos or vocals, (that explains the crowd). Anyway, BC's, second, two cd, album, holds the best part of this kind of intention. Imagine the atmospheres that his other bands visit, enhanced and bared-naked. Calm intensity, without detours. To get there he uses all his compositional talents, some parts of his darker past knowledge, his electric guitar simplified with a wah-wah pedal, and very creative, wind, synth and piano atmospheres, and in some tracks ("16 Second Swarm", "Drugged III" and "A Grapefruit in the World of Park"), the unmistakable presence of Robert Fripps "soundscapes". But basically, this second project is Steven Wilson (all instruments) accompanied only by Theo Travis flute and sax, as such. A real treat , if you like the genre. The kind of work which by rule (in my book, of course) will be a part of my collection, therefore the kind of record, I will recommend in this PA page as a ****4 star "Flawless and mysterious, environmental electronic music" album. Enjoy!.

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 Loss by BASS COMMUNION album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.24 | 11 ratings

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Loss
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by Argonaught

1 stars Wicked tongue say that, like Apple addicts will buy anything with a the Apple logo on it, Steven Wilson's faithful would be just elated if their next Burning Shed package came with a blank CD and a weird picture in it.

Well, Loss is dangerously close to this hypothetical package. We bought it on a picture disc, purely as an act of idolatry. There is a depiction of what looks like an infant, lying in what looks like a casket, and there is a long-haired figure on another side. All tinted in tarnished bronze.

Unfortunately, music in the conventional sense of the word is completely amiss. There is a vague and amorphous sequence of "menacing" distorted sounds. Which is sounds, and not music. On Loss, Wilson isn't even bothering to create a semblance of a soundscape.

Yes, I know what minimalism is .. minimalism is putting more meaning into less talking. Minimalism is precise and not random. And Bass Commuion's Loss could have been a product of collaboration between a napping cat and a brick (the former lying across the keyboard of a synthesizer, and the latter holding the sustain pedal down.

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 Cenotaph by BASS COMMUNION album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.98 | 19 ratings

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Cenotaph
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by blueavenger

4 stars Bass Communion's virtues don't need to be extolled ad-infinitum by me here. People reading this review will already know that it is part of Steven Wilson's immense pantheon of work and that it is a departure from his other projects by way of its focus on ambient, electronic minimalism.

The key questions here about Cenotaph - Bass Communion's 11th studio album - are; is it any good; how does it stand up to the other Bass Communion albums and is it worthy of entry in the hallowed archives of great progressive music? Well there is a favorable answer to all three queries in my opinion and the founding argument for this stance can only relate to one element: the music.

Citadel (5/5) starts things off with the obligatory BC retro-crackle and then kicks into menacing brass that breathes in and out of the track like an outtake from the Alien / Outland- era sci-fi movies from the late 1970's and early 80's. This is soon accompanied by a blend of eerie ghost-movie strings, staccato electronic effects and an otherworldly choir of distant voices. The general essence is of a slowly descending swell towards something more sinister or visceral as the various elements oscillate in volume and presence. Sure enough, the tension moves to the next level five and a half minutes in as a regular heart- beat style pulse comes to the fore, as if perfect accompaniment to the intimated visual cues of a advancing into the darkest of chasms after a steady descent. In truth, not much else happens thereafter, but the music is pace and theme of the track remains relentless and is expertly mixed. Quieter moments emerge, strings swell and the brass exhales, while an odd -and perhaps slightly out of place ' stringed instrument (perhaps a Koto) is plucked in the background. The orchestra of dread, inevitably, gives way gradually towards the end as chords become notes and the string bass is sustained while the beat slowly sinks beneath the lingering chorus of the damned.

Citadel, for some, might be construed as a little tedious, but anyone that wants a truly dark ambient backdrop to their lives can surely not want for anything more and this sits nicely alongside tracks like Sleep, Vajrayana and Dwarf Gallery (and even No Man's Born Simple) at the gloomy end of SW's repertoire ' representative of the sequel to Ghosts on Magnetic Tape, as Steven Wilson had suggested this could be viewed as.

Colourofmoney91 referenced Andy Stott in his review of this album and it was probably the 2nd track ' Carrion (3/5) ' that he/she was thinking about. At 21:24, Carrion is the longest track on the album by a couple of minutes and, whereas Citadel was a horror-movie soundtrack of a piece, with a considered intro, varying instruments and a distinctive essence, track 2 forgets the script and doesn't really deliver. Compared to the five-minute intro of the preceding track, Carrion gives us barely 30 seconds of industrial rumblings before the beat kicks in. Straight away, the electronic pulse of the track is quicker (109 bpm, versus 100), but less distinguishable from more conventional ambient dance (the aforementioned Mr. Stott). The accompaniment is also not as rich as is rather Spartan throughout with a groaning synthesizer in the background and various sci-fi samples alongside the primary instrument of distorted xylophone (or something similar) which itself, only offers 2 or 3 notes every 20-30 seconds. The brass motif from Citadel makes a welcome appearance every so often, as do some occasional guitar licks. Aside from that, Carrion is rather unremarkable and, whilst still a worthy piece of moody, minimalist trance, does not sustain the momentum of the opening track: rather than continue in our journey through the netherworld, we seem to have ended up back above ground, wandering through a misty woodland. If anything, this is the greatest departure from any Bass Communion music that has come before it, but it does at least serve to transit less contrastingly with track 3 than Citadel might have done.

Cenotaph (5/5) is possible both the title track and the center-piece of the album and also marks the turning point between darkness and light. Gone are the low-register brass rumblings, ghostly choirs and tense beats; what we are left with is a shimmering piece of classic Bass Communion electronica. It's almost as if this track ' being the only one without a 'pulse' ' symbolizes death or perhaps, a glance into what might be beyond that. Bearing some similarities to the untitled 20-minute coda to Queen's 1995 Made in Heaven album, (itself a celebration of somebody passing beyond), Cenotaph comes across like the logical evolution of the beautiful Litany EP and - echoing some of the tone and character of Drugged - Cenotaph raises Bass Communion's music to another level of sonic wonder. The crackle is front and centre, as always, but offers more halcyon warmth than usual. The opening tone rings of an old war-time radio transmission and gradually allows descending strings to creep in, as if to serve as a transition (or an ascent, if you will) from the depths traveled previously. An angelic, synthetic choir emerges ' the polar opposite to Citadel's hellish wail ' and merges cleverly with the strings to make harmonious chords as they make their way down the scale. It's such a good effect that it is repeated a couple of times for good measure. Heavenly synth notes register thereafter, as if glints of sunshine through clouds. Here, the listener is truly lifted to another plane of existence, bathed in a glorious golden light, and as the glow fades, we segue effortlessly into the album closer.

Conflux (4/5) serves to maintain the spirit of the album's centerpiece and could fancifully be interpreted as a return descent to the surface of our mortal world, post enlightenment or rebirth (possibly even in angelic form). Musically, Conflux could comfortably be summarized as 'Cenotaph with beats' and, whilst not as compelling as the two standout tracks on the album, it satisfies its brief of ending the record in a suitable fashion. Here, the 109 beat of Carrion returns ' echoing the reoccurring leitmotif of Pete Namlook's Outland IV - this time from the very first bar, accompanied by the swelling and surging motifs featured in Cenotaph. The groaning brass, sawing strings, electronic dabbles and futuristic samples all return and share equal staging as the track drones and pulsates incessantly and happily enough for nearly eighteen minutes ' which, at almost 4 minutes shorter than Carrion, shows better editorial judgement.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Steven Wilson wrote only 2 x tracks here, but made an albums-worth of content by placing a trance remix of each immediately following in the running order, such is the similarity between both the structure of Carrion and Conflux and also how they are symbiotically linked to the track that precedes them.

It's only in this facet where Bass Communion's eleventh studio album lets itself down. Musically, had Carrion been a stronger, tighter track with a little more variance (perhaps with 2 distinct halves like 16 Second Swarm or some changes in pace and tone like the aforementioned Vajrayana) and Conflux offered a greater distinction to Cenotaph, then there would have been few complaints and we could easily have been lauding a 5-star masterpiece in electronic wizardry.

As it is, this is probably still Bass Communion's best album, but there remains ample promise for even better to come should the supremely spread-thin Mr Wilson be able to devote a reasonable chunk of his precious time to a 12th record and aim for the focused, thematic brilliance of this and Ghosts on Magnetic tape, rather than the sprawling, experimental concepts of Loss and the ill-conceived Pacific Codex.

In terms of where Cenotaph stands in the great annals of Progressive music is another matter. What would true Prog-devotees find on this album to savor? Purists would argue that four tracks of 20 minute length is at least a good starting point, but that there isn't the range, depth and variety to compare with, say, Tangerine Dream: the yardstick of Progressive Electronica.

To summarize, I would probably have to say that people looking for a truly progressive experience ' like Phaedra for example ' might be better off elsewhere. For those of you looking to immerse the mind in a dark, absorbing, organic torrent of aural inspiration, then there can't be much out there more appropriate for you than Bass Communion's Cenotaph.

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 Bass Communion (I) by BASS COMMUNION album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.37 | 31 ratings

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Bass Communion (I)
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Without even realizing it at the time, Steven Wilson's debut `Bass Communion' album was my very first electronic album. I was right into my Porcupine Tree/Wilson love phase, eagerly snapping up anything the man put his name to, knowing that I would at least find something interesting with this release. Upon my initial listen almost 15 years ago, I had absolutely no idea what to make of it. I had never heard anything like it, and it barely even resembled music to my ears. It sounded like snippets of inane noise, throwaway scraps hurled together with no sense of direction. It took me some time before it all fell into place, at a very vulnerable time in my life where I seemed to suddenly relate to the cold, isolating and lonely introspection of the album.

Comprised of experimental short music samples, looped slight percussion, hypnotic drones and static, the pieces stretch into long, drifting and floating electronic soundscapes. Some reference points might be Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze, but where those artists frequently make you think of deep space and alien worlds, Wilson's work is far more personal and human. This worryingly makes the album much easier to relate to, even if that means confronting feelings and emotions you'd rather push aside or avoid altogether.

After `Shopping's brief introductory crackle of static, `Drugged' has cut up pieces of Theo Travis' sax blowing in the distance, tormenting and howling in it's sadness. It frequently sounds quite flat and tuneless, giving the piece an uneasy sound. Wilson's somber organ slowly enters and wraps around the piece, Theo's sax becomes more reflective and mournful. Both slowly unwind and drift along for several minutes, heightening the sense of solitude and loneliness. Eventually a slowly strummed guitar enters, backed with an icy veil of ghostly synths. This track is later reprised at the end of the album in a longer 25 minute haunting ambient piece more along the lines of the above mentioned Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream.

Cold glistening electronic fingerprints dance like raindrops around the spooky `Sleep, etc'. With it's unsettling mix of running water, thunderstorms, static and occasional harsh electronics, it makes your mind feel like it's moving in slow motion. Relentlessly predatory and threatening, definite horror movie soundtrack work here.

`Orphan Coal' has strangely wooden percussion, some seemingly comprised of voice samples, that blur into a hypnotic maze of maddening alarm-like loops, electronic washes that phase in and out, and brief heavy bass lines. Deeply fascinating and, although still uneasy, it's a little bit of a respite from the gloom of the rest of the album.

It's easy to understand the wildly varying opinions and reviews for this album. As much as it's made a huge impression on me over the years for it's emotion and depth, I also understand those who would find it inane, tedious and devoid of musical value altogether. I can listen to it one time and not connect with it at all, then the next be completely overwhelmed. It's the sort of album that guarantees you wont ever listen to it the same way twice.

The CD comes with five alternate covers, each with a very different abstract or surreal image associated with the five pieces on the album. I've always used the fourth one - `Orphan Coal', which has a photo of a deserted bridge and lonely city streets at night. This striking image perfectly captures the isolation and sadness of the album, and it compliments this emotional work for me perfectly.

A lonely, haunting and thoroughly immersive album I can relate to and connect with from time to time, sadly during my unhappier and lonelier moments. But it's albums like this that can make you truly feel human, that in moments of personal reflection force you to confront yourself. I hope more adventurous listeners might take the time to see how they respond to this powerful work.

Four stars.

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 Loss by BASS COMMUNION album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.24 | 11 ratings

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Loss
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by ole-the-first

5 stars A fairly intriguing dark ambient experience. I'd say this album is much more interesting than anything else Bass Communion and Continuum ever did.

Though the album ain't that long (less than 40 minutes), it worths ten 80-min long minimaist ambient pieces. Throughout the album we can hear disturbing pianos and electric noise. Together they're creating excellent dark atmosphere.

When I was listening to the first part, I constantly thought of those old abandoned houses, photos of which you may find in the booklets from Opeth releases. Needling high-pitched pianos are really chilling here. This music is really spooky and dark, and at the same time it's excellently sad. It really might make you feel like you've just lost someone dear and beloved.

In the second part piano sounds like thunder or very big brass bells. It creates even more suspense that you may find in the first part. Anyway, listening to this I felt like a character from Hitchcock's "Vertigo"!

Those parts altogether, as I said before, are falling into one essential ambient experience. I said, essential. So I can't give it less than five stars. Excellent work.

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 Ghosts on Magnetic Tape by BASS COMMUNION album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.51 | 45 ratings

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Ghosts on Magnetic Tape
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Steven Wilson comes over all Brian Eno on his Bass Communion projects, and Ghosts On Magnetic Tape is no exception. Actually, I'd be inclined to say a better comparison this time around is Tangerine Dream's Zeit, since the compositions here have the same slow, glacial, drone-like quality to them. With crackling and spitting tape noises emerging here and there, the impression that we are listening to an impossible transmission from the netherworld is expertly evoked, creating a haunting and sombre experience for the listener. Not a place to go if you're after more lively psychedelic fun in the vein of Porcupine Tree, but if your musical tastes tend towards the minimalistic ambient there's a lot of joy to be found with these ghosts.

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 Continuum 2 by BASS COMMUNION album cover Studio Album, 2007
2.65 | 12 ratings

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Continuum 2
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

2 stars For every good horror film experience there is a much less enjoyable sequel. This apparently holds true with music as well.

Steven Wilson and Vidna Obmana did such a wonderful job on their previous collaborative release that they decided to release a second part, Continuum 2. Any music fan can tell you that news of a "part 2" to a highly enjoyable album often creates both excitement and worry, and for good reason. The previous installment of this series is a terrific, terrifying ambient industrial soundscape exploration that is sure to incite at least a small instance of panic for the listener, especially when paired with an appropriate physical setting such as a dark room or, ideally, a cave or abandoned factory. This continuation of the series is a bit overdone and comes off of a kind of ridiculous at times.

In the same way as the previous album, the tracks here are simply labelled as numbered constructs starting with IV, and the music begins in the familiar uneasy ambient drone - so far so good. But suddenly a heavily distorted doom metal guitar chord and steady hi-hat tapping breaks the ambience with severe gusto, entirely ruining the atmosphere. On the first track, the doom guitar is ever present, completely dissipating the effect of the shifting industrial dronescape that faintly looms in the background, which is upsetting considering that the track is almost 23 minutes long. Subsequent tracks follow suit, using varying degrees of emotionless doom metal and drowned industrial audio scenery, creating an hour of disappointment.

Continuum 2 is essentially a copy of Lustmord's work on Juggernaut, being primarily dark ambient with disruptive and distracting doom/sludge metal guitar. While I do find doom metal in general to be enjoyable, it does not work well with what would otherwise be a beautifully disconcerting dark ambient soundscape. I'm sure this album provides a good crossover opportunity for fans of doom metal into ambient electronic territory, but as someone who already enjoys both genres individually, I'd say this execution is unfortunately mediocre.

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 Continuum by BASS COMMUNION album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.54 | 20 ratings

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Continuum
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Like being held captive by chains in the lowest levels of an old rusty factory.

Steven Wilson in collaboration with Vidna Obmana has created a stark depression of deep industrial ambience on Continuum that chills the skin upon listening. The three tracks on this album, labelled as numbered constructs, are successful in drowning the senses in complete darkness, no remnant of the faintest light to be seen.

In movies like Kairo where there is a scene where a character is lost of help captive in an abandoned industrial factory heavily coated with rust, Continuum is the perfect auditory companion. These tracks give off a sad, empty drone that sounds like the natural resonances given off when inside of a large metallic facility where other sounds are absent besides the distant kling-klang of unmanned machinery of generations past and the peripheral scattering of the inhabiting fauna. This perpetual atmosphere of uneasiness continues throughout the majority of the album until later in the "Construct III" where a view of light is finally found, as if after all of this time of being lost in this groaning factory that seems to produce nothing except red iron oxide and disconcertion, a way out of this hell is at last within reach and outside wildlife can be heard anxiously awaiting your escape. The album, however, finally ends with a resolving empty drone, suggesting that the impending doom had not been escaped.

A bit nerdy in my description, maybe, but anyone with powerful imagination should be able to generate their own disturbing series of guided imagery with Continuum, and fans of Lustmord and Atrium Carceri should find this album quite enjoyable. However, anyone afraid of creating an atmosphere of uneasiness within their mindspace might want to pass on this album.

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 Atmospherics by BASS COMMUNION album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1999
3.83 | 10 ratings

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Atmospherics
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Steven Wilson displays symphonic cinematic mastery.

Atmospherics is a compilation of short pieces that are original compositions, remixes, and extracts of pieces from other Bass Communion albums for use in television and radio. Even though these pieces are short, each track has its own unique qualities (in relation to only the other tracks on this album) that result in a listening experience that isn't dulled down by stagnant repetition but is instead a fairly eclectic collection ambient atmospheres.

Compared to other Bass Communion albums, Atmospherics has a pleasant symphonic grandeur quality and a cinematic quality. Each track can easily create a guided imagery experience that takes you to a pond in the nighttime, a misty Scandinavian mountain with peering owls, an illuminated ballroom of an Elizabethan castle, and even treading water at sunrise as the fog lifts off of the ocean.

Of course, being ambient music, Atmospherics will likely not appeal to non-ambient fans, but fans of electronic music in general should find this audio scenery very pleasant and active enough to warrant concentration and emotional involvement. In the current Bass Communion output, this album is a great accomplishment and standout.

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 Cenotaph by BASS COMMUNION album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.98 | 19 ratings

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Cenotaph
Bass Communion Progressive Electronic

Review by colorofmoney91
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Emptiness that moves at a steady pace to nowhere in particular.

Bass Communion, being a Steven Wilson project, is always on my list of projects to listen to when a new album is released. So far the music hasn't lived up to my expectations but the attempt at creating dreamy soundscapes is usually respectable, which is the case of Cenotaph. Described as a sequel to the mysterious and relatively enjoyable Ghosts On Magnetic Tape, I can't really see how this is much of a sequel at all besides being entirely ambient and fairly dark.

When "Citadel (q)" finally gets going after 5 minutes of abyssal groaning and old timey vinyl record crackle-pop, a very deep and mid-paced dubstep inspired bass beat is introduced. Because of the dark atmosphere and the deep dubstep quality present on this album, it sounds like Wilson has been inspired by Andy Stott. The only problem I have with this is the clear lack of sufficient progression or points of interest. "Citadel (q)" and the last track, "Conflux (n)", utilize the exact same beat and drones that slowly alter in pitch, which wouldn't be too big a problem except that together they create 37 minutes of the exact same stagnant, bland experience.

The middle portion of the album mixes things up a slightly - about as slightly as compositionally possible. The beat present on 3/4ths of this album is still pounding away on "Carrion (u)" but with an added higher pitched beat on top of it, and the dark ambient drone background is a bit more active with various electronic groans and resonances. "Cenotaph (r)" completely removes the aforementioned beat and is instead completely ambient, starting off with a rainy drone atmosphere and progressing to a darkly celestial ethereality.

Steven Wilson is a very respectable musician and is an understandable figurehead in modern progressive rock, but this latest attempt at crafting beat laden ambient comes off as boring, even to a fan of ambient music in general. I can see the level of work that went into this album - made obvious by the extremely deep and pleasant atmosphere that the production of this album so proudly displays - but the entire album sounds like what Andy Stott would record if he were to completely give up on making his music interesting at all. That being said, I am very positive that Cenotaph is great music for lulling oneself to sleep or simply let drone in the background for peripheral solace while performing lengthy, tedious chores, but it's not suitable for musical entertainment.

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