Vapourspace - Sonic Residue From Vapourspace - The Magna Carta Remix Series Volume 1

Year of Release: 2001
Label: Magna Carta
Catalog Number: MAX-9057-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 64:39:00

It was not so long ago that I saw the label "progressive" stand out on a display in a record store. When I approached the display it sadly also wore the word "dance" beneath our beloved word "progressive." Progressive dance has nothing to do with the kind of music we like; however, listening to Sonic Residue From Vapourspace makes you think twice about that remark. Studio wizard Mark Cage has attacked the Magna Carta catalogue by means of digital cut and paste and by adding sequencers, loops and effects in order to give the music a new dimension, a new life, a "progressive" approach with a dance twist.

Mentioning the word "dance" together with Magna Carta is a daring experience. So you can imagine how daring it was when Pete Morticelli approached Mark Cage, offering him a chance to try his hand at re-vamping some original material by the likes of Attention Deficit, Niacin, Steve Morse, Liquid Tension Experiment, Bozzio Levin Stevens, Steve Walsh and Tempest. Having listened to this product over and over again I stumble across two names -- ex-Killing Joke producer/member Youth and the band The Orb -- as both are contemporary artists who, time after time, try to deliver something completely new, something that looks like the starting point for this album.

Listening to this material, one has the urge to grab the original compositions and compare them with the new versions. Cage is right when he mentions that "Girl From Enchilada" has a bouncy feel, whilst guitar and bass have now been treated to resemble a synth. In "Blue Mondo" some of the sounds have been muted all together in order to create bigger tensions between certain instruments and passages. Cage also uses a lot of phasing on this track making the music creep from one side of your speakers to the other, adding a slight psychedelic feel to the otherwise overwhelmnig drive of the Hammond B3. Whilst Steve Morse tried to illustrate his influences on the album Major Impacts, he explained in the liner notes that the song "Led On" was indeed inspired by the work of Jimy Page. Now Cage kicks the ball back, telling us he has added an extra Indian flavour because that's what made the original Zeppelin/Page approach so unique. The loops do wonders here, delivering trance like music. The way Cage often works is by cutting up the different takes and channels and leaving behind some of the music whilst other recordings are transformed by means of studio trickery. That way he can mask the rhythm and underline instrumental solos easier. That's why you get this clear acoustic Steve Howe solo during "Time Enough."

Remixing existing ideas is fairly common in the domain of dance music. The main melody remains, yet it is tucked away under layers of new improvisations and grooves. However, in the world of prog, melodies are not often available, hence the fact that it becomes difficult to "recognize" certain tracks once they have been re-modelled. One of the songs that stands out where melody is concerned, however, certainly has to be "Osmosis." Apparently Mike Portnoy's drumming has been sped up, whilst the harp like guitar playing sometimes gets close to the music of Andres Vollenweider. By using a middle section of Tony Levin's bowed bass playing in the intro and modifying the sound, things get a much spookier sound during "Dark Corners." Portnoy's original drums are slowed down in "Another Dimension," whilst several extra sounds are added towards the beginning. With practically all of the material being strictly instrumental, Steve Walsh's "Kansas" is sung, yet in my opinion is the weakest track on this album as, especially in the beginning, it is as if drum and bass don't really fit, making it sound disorderly. Probably the most enjoyable, however, has to be Tempest's "Jenny Nettles." Especially wonderful is the way in which Robert Berry's B3 Hammond shines through as if it were rays of sunshine looking from behind thick clouds. Together with the field recordings of water and seagulls, the ending of the song becomes very visual, but also soothing, as once again a lot of recordings have been left behind in order to deliver the bare essentials.

As an experiment this maybe is not such a bad idea, yet I'm not sure who will buy this album, especially knowing its a full price release. This album will probably be mainly listened to by musicians and studio buffs who will not listen to the music but will analyze the technical feast which is happening throughout this CD. What will the next step be? A reggae version of Close To The Edge with Ziggy Marley taking over from Jon? Or maybe a gospel approach to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway? Or a cajun interpretation of Dark Side Of The Moon? Or ... the list is endless ...

Girl From Enchilada (Attention Deficit) (4:25) / Blue Mondo (Niacin) (6:35) / Led On (Steve Morse) (6:21) / Time Enough (Explorers Club) (5:46) / Osmosis (Liquid Tension Experiment) (4:19) / Dark Corners (Bozzio Levin Stevens) (10:30) / Melt (Bozzio Levin Stevens) (3:40) / Another Dimension (Liquid Tension Experiment) (7:21) / Kansas (Steve Walsh) (7:25) / Jenny Nettles (Tempest) (9:07)

Mark Gage - re-envisioning


Jack Schaefer - studio vision bar and meter graphing
Mike Colcord - Cubase audio transferring
Bill Deblase - subway, water and seagulls field recording

Mark Gage - Gravitational Arch Of 10 (1993)
Themes From Vapourspace (1994)
Vista Humana (1994)
Sweep (1997)
Sweep (Remixes (1998)
Sonic Residue From Vapourspace (2001)

Genre: Electronic

Origin US

Added: February 23rd 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 514
Language: english


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