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

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

This release has already been covered twice, though that has never stopped us from commenting upon a release an additional time. Unlike Keith, I do listen to a lot of electronic music, though mostly of the more sedate variety (i.e. Steve Roach, Kevin Braheny, etc.). But also to folks like Spice Barons, Future Sound Of London, Spacetime Continuum, and many others. So, this genre isn't new to me, per se. But to hear prog rock, prog jazz and prog metal tracks given the electronic treatment...well, this puts a whole new spin on things. The piece that works best for me is Mark Gage's (as Vapourspace) take on Liquid Tension Experiment's "Osmosis." Gage's rearrangement of this piece makes it feel more like a Bozzio Levin Stevens piece (two of those follow "Osmosis"), as Petrucci's guitar takes center stage with a warm, acoustic feel that reminded me of "The Sun Road."

These pieces stand on their own, which means that you need not necessarily be familiar with the source material to find something to like. In fact, it might be better to not be so very much attached to the originals, as sometimes one looks disaparingly upon the "copy" because its "different" from the original. So, I deliberately, didn't go back to the source albums and try to compare versions. What you get are very dramatic pieces, some light and bouncy, some dark and menacing, some just plain funky. If you don't like the repetitive nature of electronic music, the throbbing beats often inherent in this style of music, then you won't like this either. However, those of you othewise don't mind or enjoy that loop of rhythm, then Gage serves it up quite a bit. There is a pulse that runs through all the pieces, though it something one sees at a distance, when making generalized statements. Another general statement one might make is "Why?" Why refashion these tracks in this manner? Well, I think in part it is a challenge, to take two separate styles and meld them into one. Though, this goes beyond just that, picking out elements of one style and repurposing them into the other.

Delving into the pieces themselves, this is what we get. Probably the most unrecognizable piece is "Jenny Nettles." We know Tempest as a Celtic rock band... with the elements rearranged, filtered and altered, they are a psychedelic trance/dance band to rival almost anything on the Astralwerks or Waveform labels (to name two). As is true of really all but two tracks here. If you had never heard the sources before or even of the sources before, you'd never guess what the sources sounded like. Those exceptions are "Time Enough" (Explorer's Club's Age Of Impact) and "Kansas" (Steve Walsh's Glossolalia), and even then, perhaps only the last since Walsh's performance is so distinctive. These are, by the way, the only two pieces with vocals and is mainly why they'd be in this category.

"Blue Mondo" (Niacin) is a sometimes moody (beginning and end) and sometimes like it should be the music for some comical chase scene... either in a Jackie Chan flick or a Lethal Weapon episode. Billy Sheehan's bass is quite fat, while Chamber's drums highly "snary." Steve Morse's "Led Out" was, as was the nature of the Major Impacts album, very much like Zeppelin. Well, the Zep that remains is more of the latter-day Robert Plant solo variety, with an Eastern feel. In fact, Gage did add Indian instrumentation to the piece to give it that feel. The sound of Morse's guitar now is acoustic and swingy (that is big arcs of sound), perhaps a dash of the Hawaiian in there. What might be the electric guitar sounds very throaty and synthesized and there are added sonic effects. The way Gage describes this piece is "ennio morricone meets johnny marr/the smiths meets some eastern radio station out of london, england or toronto..."

Things mellow out considerably with "Time Enough," which proceeds at funeral dirge pace (Gage's intent), even down deep, bell-like tolling. What you will hear clearly is Trent Gardner's trombone, a tone that is unmistakably his (aside from it's Chicago overtones)...and in the snippets of verse that are included, you can too hear Gardner. The was a piece of the Age Of Impact album from Explorer's Club. Gage's fiddling with it has created interesting textures, and gives the piece a very arty feel.

"Dark Corners" (Bozzio Levin Stevens) is menacing, where Gage has taken Levin's bass and used to begin the track. This is sludgy in a good way; time has slowed down in these "Dark Corners." And yet, we come to hear a bass in double time, highly digitized and industrial sounding. This industrial feel returns, but in a different nature with "Melt" (BLS as well, from their second disk Situation Dangerous). This is a lighter, more earthy piece, where the percussion of Bozzio often shimmers. In Gage's notes, he mentions this pieces wet feel, and he is, of course, very right about that. There is a squishy squelshiness to everything -- while it was snowy for Gage as he was completing this, he tells us, you could equally imagine a very hot, humid day when "Melt" takes on another meaning. Or maybe it's just the current California heatwave getting to me.

"Kansas" doesn't quite work for me, as it's like listening to two different stations at once - one playing Walsh's original track, the other playing the electronica. Though all the elements were there originally, the stripped out elements leaving something missing.

Overall, I like this release. The resulting mixes are interesting. As I said, it is an album that could stand on its own. While I am not raving hyperbolically over the album, it is quite good and does bear recommendation.

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: June 26th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 451
Language: english


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