Nailed God - In The Beginning

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Fossil Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 65:37:00

Nailed God is Steven R Gordon on a variety of keyboards, synths, effects modules, a drum machine, doumbek, klong yah, various shakers, tribal percussion instruments, tribal drums and, says Gordon, "a multitude of other household products and toys that make interesting sounds." The result is instrumental electronic music that often reminds me of 80s-90s period Tangerine Dream, though the section track "Frenzy" actually made me think of an all instrumental Emerson, Lake and Palmer circa Tarkus. In fact, in some of the wilder keyboard moments, Gordon reminds me a lot of Emerson, even if the tone is quite different. On a piece like "Angle Of Incidence," the sound is very distorted? fuzzy. Not the production, in this case, as the moments where the sound is meant to be clear, it is. But it is on this piece that Gordon attacks his keyboards, somewhat in an Emersonian manner. Yet, an undulating, spacey synthscape like "Chase, After The Storm" is very much Tangerine Dreamy. Though, also early Steve Roach and some of Kevin Braheny's work come to mind. The ethnic percussion can be heard in the light, playful "Eventide" - a piece that places "strummed guitar" over a plucky strings-like keyboard phrase. In spots a "flute" trills over the top. Where as the track that preceeded had a some amount of tension, here everything is relaxed, almost languid.

Flute-like sounds return for the intro the darker "Midnight Waves," where a very dark, sustained note sets the scene. We almost get that frozen moment effect that Steve Roach is so good at capturing. Ah, but add to this tense moment chittering effects, which at first seem Earthly, and then otherworldly. One gets the feeling of being in a forest on very foreign soil, knowing that something is out there, moving, stalking you - only you can't see it, just feel it. Somewhere in the distance you can hear church bells ringing (a brief effect added here), which tells you someone is nearby, only in which direction? The mood in this piece shifts subtly? the church bells returning, darker in tone. You've found the church - overgrown and abandoned. Oooh, how ominous - for whom the bells toll, they toll for thee, indeed (Oddly, this is a similar scenario that Gordon imagined for "Chase, After The Storm"?).

"Elemental Dance" is marching tune, where the distortion on the keys is just a little too much, the tartness on the guitar-like keyboard phrase just a little sharp - it does sound good when it mellows a bit. The "drums" have just too much of that drum computer sound - they are, but are way too digitized. This piece is just a little too hard to listen to. In fact, the sound is like an image that's has bled more than a little bit into the paper. And, we get some very shrill keyboard solos here, too.

The longest piece on the album is the nearly 15-minute "Legions Of Hell." This, like "Midnight Waves" begins very darkly, but instead of the "other" remaining in the shadows, this "other" is right out in front, taking center stage. Imagine looking down in the, ahem, pits of hell and watching the purposeful marching of hell's legions - army. What you see is an order procession, and, as the music would indicate, some ceremony. Flames lick up on either side of the walkway? and then you notice they are headed upwards, though an initial glance reveals something seemingly out of an MC Echer painting - staircases going in impossible directions, only here it is simple paths crossing over rivers of molten lava, and, as I said, flame licking up both sides. And you are moving against the tide, heading downward (perhaps to join the end of the line). Sonically, all we have is a repeated drum pattern, both clanging and fuzzy percussion, the latter the main element that with the boomy drum indicate the forward march; the latter the heat and flames about you. Ah, don't think there isn't also the voice of hell speaking. I hate to include a "sounds like" here, but if you were take the percussion of Genesis' "Mama" and "Tonight, Tonight, Tonight" and mix in some Banks- like keyboards (also from "Mama"), all very much darkened, then you'll have a general idea of what this sounds like. (And yes, for some, that period of Genesis' career was hell? but I'll have no sarkiness from you!) You know that the closer you get to the end of the piece, the fewer legionnaires there are in view? and the closer you are to joining the end of the line.

"5-4 Works" is a much more upbeat piece, though with just a touch of darkness around the edges that we can't call this a "happy-go-lucky" tune. It's almost there, though. "Ridin' Hard" brings back the shimmery, jangly percussion of early tracks (which doesn't always please the ear), and adds both a quietly screaming guitar-like keyboard phrase, and some parpy blasts of keys. It almost gives you the feeling of motoring down an open stretch of highway, but the bulbous sounding drums underneath don't quite give the rolling of the open road feel. It ties one down too much to the earth. Not that it's a bad track, but it doesn't quite achieve what I think it's supposed to.

And talk about light and cheerful, well "Gaelink" sure accomplishes that. A recorder trills a happy tune, over a jaunty guitar, and snappy percussion, including shakers. It's so upbeat, it sounds like a Mannheim Steamrollerized holiday tune. You are rat the pied piper is leading out of town, and you're happy for the chance to travel. You might think that it is too happy to work with the rest of the material, but actually, it's the release valve, after all the tension.

Even in the tracks I didn't veer off into imagery for, you can imagine the "visuals" that would accompany the music - if it were released on Miramar, that is. It's the kind of music that they'd match to visuals of, say, evolving fractals, or a trip through the cosmos (as in the case of "Chase, After The Storm" - didn't say it couldn't be a meteor storm or solar storm), or even, at times, computer animation.

Though I'm not fond of the fuzzy-effect used here, In The Beginning is, while not a masterpiece, still a rather good electronic instrumental album. Though, "Legion Of Hell" might march just a little bit too long, but that's sometimes hard to judge when you're writing a review. If this style of music is of your taste - as it is mine - then you'll want this in your collection.

Intro?(0:50) / Frenzy? (2:09) / Angle Of Incidence (10:03) / Chase, After The Storm? (6:36) / Eventide?(4:08) / Midnight Waves? (5:33) / Elemental Dance?(9:57) / Legions Of Hell? (14:50) / 5-4 Works?(3:32) / Ridin' Hard?(6:38) / Gaelink?(3:21)

Steven R Gordon - Kurzwil PC-88 MIDI controller keyboard, Yamaha Dx7, Yamaha TX-81Z FM synth module, Turtle Beach Pinnacle sampling PC soundcard, Roland LAPC-1 synth PC soundcard, Yamaha RX8 drum machine, Yamaha T100 effects module, Lexicon LXP-5 effects module, Mackie line mixer, Cakewalk 9 sequencing and sound recording program, djembe, doumbek, klong yah, various shakers and other tribal percussion, "several tribal drums of unknown origin, and a multitude of other household products and toys that make interesting sounds."

In The Beginning (2001)

Genre: Electronic

Origin US

Added: November 30th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 656
Language: english


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