Various - Flourescent Tunnelvision


Year of Release: 2001
Label: Submergence
Catalog Number: SUB0047
Format: CD
Total Time: 116:33:00

From Submergence, a division of Mother West, comes this 2-cd set Fluorescent Tunnelvison. Featured on it are numerous instrumental and space rock bands, many already household names within the genre -- Djam Karet, Quarkspace, Faust, Mushroom and Escapade. While track-by-track reviews are not always welcomed, and I really try not to do them, in the case of various artist comps, it's seems it behooves me to tell you what I think about each artist's work here. So...get something to drink (your choice), sit back and journey along with me.

The CD starts out with the harsh, cold, and steely "Veitsi" from Circle (Finland). This particular track does nothing for me, though after some time, there is a rather nice bass line that runs through it. My first play of this CD was late at night, so I had it at rather low volume. At first, I thought there was problem with my CD player, that perhaps the CD wasn't in the well properly. I thought that not only was I hearing the CD -- underneath the main sound of white noise one can hear percussion and guitars -- but also the sound of it scraping against the plastic of the CD player. I once had a CDR get stuck between slots and didn't know it until I realized that CD 4 never seemed to get played... But no, the CD in this case was fine. Um...so, I find myself wanting to brush away the wall of noise that is up front to get at everything behind it. The snow does clear just before the end, but it comes, for me, about 8 minutes too late.

F/i (USA) follows with the dreamy, psychedelic "Quantum Foam" -- bleeps, squrps (yes, I have to create a word) accent a lazy, languid guitar line, a mellowed-out bass, and sleepy percussion. While I certainly wouldn't advocate the use of illegal substances ... I can imagine that this would be quite some trip should one try it, as it's quite a trip listening while on nothing but Diet Pepsi. As the track progresses, we get stream-of-conscious-like guitar leads, finding a sonic thought and running with it (in slow motion, of course). Whispery choral vocals all add to the dreamtime feel.

"Calling Quexzalcoatl" comes next from band called Pseudo Buddha (USA). This is Steve Roach meets horror movie soundtrack (back in the days when they had scores not pop songs). The list of instruments is as interesting as the piece itself. We hear Brother Gabriel Herrera speaking in tongues, playing camel bells, and hands; James Cobb plays llama flute, sawblade, and klingende; Quinn The Eskimo plays bass, loops, ocarinas, guord shaker, and prayer bell; BobDog plays magaptera veena, pokemon guitar, loops, and performs manipulations. Seeming mundane by comparison, James Rhodes merely plays bass and chapman stick and Gilly Gonzales mondo percussion ... all this comes together to create a mix that is, despite the title, more Tibetian/Middle Eastern in flavor than South American, and yet...there's that in there, too. I doesn't so much evolve as seem to move enmass across the landscape ... a tight much of musicians all jammed together on a small, open wagon. Need I add trundling across a dense thicket of jungle?

Well, if you think I was being creative by making up a word, the next track on this disk, by Zelany Rashoho (Russia), is titled using icons...a bullhorn, a parking sign, and a telephone. Interestingly, this trilling piccolo led piece with odd, synthesized percussion and bass, sounds more like South America than the track before it. It's a nice, happy piece - like a forest...or jungle...of happy birds.

Oránj Climax (USA?) offers "Offering" a tinkling, wind-chimey like piece with swirling sonic effects, some seemingly to slid right on up the pitch scale into the dog-hearing range...though I personally can only imagine that it goes up that high, as after a certain point, I can't hear it. This is more ambient than the other pieces...it undulates into different moods, leaving the tinkling and "whoops" behind for other sonic effects ... one could give you a litany, but basically it's a series of, "I've found a sound and here it is" variety.

Mmmm...Djam Karet (USA) are next with "New Light On The Dark Age." This is very experimental sounding for the band, quite different from what we expect. It begins as a sound collage, before a keyboard wheezes into focus, being overtaken by what sounds like a cricket on speed (Jiminy, we hardly knew ye)...and melding into jangly percussion, rhythmic drumming, parping keys, and swaths of deep-throated guitar. Here's my thought -- Mannheim Steamroller meets Stomp in the dark pits of hell ... (okay, I might add that deeper into the track, the keyboard parts sound Marillionish, only these seem ballsier than Marillion have sounded. Yes, it's more cool stuff from DK.

Quarkspace (USA) are next with "Brainhaze (D.O.B.H. #3)" which is a rockier track...and kind what I expect from this band. Admittedly, other than on a comp., I've not heard Quarkspace or, to be even more honest, any Hawkwind...so...my saying what I expect isn't to imply "ho hum, it's just Quarkspace being Quarkspace." But I expected driving percussion and sinewy, breezy guitar leads, with a hint of otherworldliness and that's what's here.

Melodic Energy Commission (USA) share their "Ramalite From Vega". Percussion is the first thing that jumps out at you, deep, rumbling percussion. Something powerful and dark is here, lurking, sniffing about, sizing up his/her next meal. Bass and synths provide the incidentals -- though they aren't afterthoughts. They are you, reflecting your caution, your uncertainty, that flinty and, perhaps flimsy, blade in your hand. This beast is toying with you and you think you are toying with it, but that's just part of it's toying with you. And no, I haven't seen Lord Of The Rings yet, but...funny you should ask, because I think that would be a perfect visual to keep in your head. "Ramalite" this isn't, as "Ramaheavy" would be a better description as there is a great heaviness to this. Oh, and by the way, you are left battered, injured and wimpering...and wanting more.

"Suru" by Ektroverde (Finland) is heavy man... the hounds of hell have been unleashed -- deep, deep grinding guitar signals the arrival of something massive ... even the "Ramalite" above would be frightened. This beast is so massive it has it's own atmosphere, lightening shoots across its surface (more guitar, jagged shrieks and howls). It would overfill an IMAX screen, man, this is that BIG. I mean &#%^ING BIG!! No, no, it's not lightning, it's warfare...a choatic morass of laserfire, so many zigzags that nothing survives, absolutely nothing. This is the sci-fi film where the aliens don't just take over Earth, they obliterate it from the solar system, taking the moon with it. You thought the Vegans wanting to bulldoze Earth in Hitchhiker's Guide were going to level the Earth, at least they gave notice. Hmm...I'm stretching this metaphor too far, me thinks, but this is what it sounds like folks. "How The World Ended In 9-Minutes," will be our planet's epitaph. Good God, this song will give me nightmares ... forever. I love it.

Well, since this is the end of the world, it must also be the end of disk one. And it is. Whew...can we handle disk two? Here we go...

Faust (Germany) start us out with "From The Upper Underworld (Little Ravvivando)". This track is subtle at first, but only for a few seconds. Chugging that is submerged (no pun) at first, rises to the fore, shoving aside the ambient atmospheres, but it never quite dominates... And then it becomes an eccentric piece with singing voices (not sure if it's English or not), but in the insane singsong manner the words are sung, it doesn't much matter. A double voice takes over... this is like a B sci-fi movie ... oh, to be honest there's so many bits and pieces here, I couldn't really mention them all -- voices, snores, more music (pounding percussion) -- it's a mini-movie ... a montage of a movie, some eccentric indie German film that's just clever enough to rise above it's production values. It'd be filmed all in black and white, of course, and feature an actress that looks like a cross between Bridgett Bardot and Marianne Faithful, dressed in white. And maybe I'm flashing some scene that actually exists, I dunno, but, of course, she'd been smoking and have that sleek 60s cool about her. The men, beatniks, with goatees and skinny black suits.

The interestingly monikered Volcano The Bear (UK) proffer "Strausshand" -- a mournful yet sweet violin laments over sparse noise. A collective breath is being held ... we are in stasis ... the only movement is the lone violin. This is eerie and alienating. No less because later in the track we get brassy trumpets tooting triumphantly, but the war (there's war again) is long since over...it's your grandfather clinging to the "good ol' days." The track ends with something that sounds like a banjo.

"Warningless" is Escapade's (USA) entry. It's here, while we groove to a jungle like rhythm and keening guitar, that I'll tell you that Escapade's Hadley Kahn compiled this set. And fine job he has done, even if not everything strikes a chord with me...okay, only track one hasn't so far. "Warningless" also contains a sense of danger, here even hinted at the title, ironically. Guitars bite and cut and chug, electronics squelch, percussion rumbles...it moves between angular and ambient...never without some sort of pulse or vibration. This is "The Tempest" in sonic form, and yet not quite at "howling wind" stage. Interesting stuff.

"Fleeing From The Perfect Master" by Tombstone Valentine (USA) is next. It is one part "Chariots Of Fire" (the opening, pounding keyboard notes) and one part...I'm not sure what. Guitars, percussion...in a way playing their own thing, and yet clearly all headed in the same direction. Certainly a strong sense of motion -- fleeing is in the title. This pulses and vibrates as well, as the track above, but to it's own rhythm. There is a more organic feel to "Fleeing" than to "Warningless" ... the tone colours are warmer, there's a entangled sinewiness to it. Piano synth, violin, synth, guitar and bass are the instruments but the sounds include sax at one point (or rather, what sounds like a sax).

"Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" by Mushroom (USA) sounds very familiar, where a super sultry tuba blurts out come-ons, while jangly guitar plays the tune we're all dancing to. Hmm...well, let's see why this is familiar... on Foxy Music it's a bit slower, but not by much, and is called "Joe Namath." And, interestingly, what I said it about it then (October) was "blurting out short come-ons, while guitar (Josh Pollock) and bass (Kurt Statham) play cheerleader to the seduction ... by a pantyhose wearing quarterback." Hah! And I am not even a reviewbot! (hi RMPers). So, this version hits all the right spots as the other version. Here the reference is to a movie that inspired the hit 70s series "Alice," starring Linda Lavin ...(who was in the film, too, I believe).

Anyway, the spacey "Jump To The Moon" is next (the band, Tree Sine (Finland)). Radar pulses alternate with sonar (or so it sounds) as we rocket our way to the moon. Weightless we are, -- well, absent of gravity pulling us, that's how it seems -- and watching the white globe get bigger and the blue-green-white globe get smaller. It's a cramped space in our ship, and that's a bit how the arrangement feels. Everything's tight in and close...we get sparse vocalizations from Mika Rättö which slowly resolve into words "jump to the moon" sang in a Sinatra-scat kinda way. Interesting and groovy in it's own way.

2012 (Russia) are next with "Look". Ambient and spacey, there's shimmeryness like sunlight on the ice formations in Saturn's rings. This is soft and breathy, with occasional trills and stutters of keys.

The longest track here is the 14 minute "So Near And Yeti So Far" by Subarachnoid Space (USA). More ethereal spacey-ness with loopy, swoopy keyboard effects ... not quite like the bridge of the Enterprise has gone haywire, but some of the sounds certainly seem they could be bridge noises from the ship. This is far moodier and edgier than a Star Trek soundtrack ever got, or probably will get. This would be more in tune with the alternate universe Enterprise maybe, but there's no menace here, so perhaps not. Certainly, it would indicate that all was not right with Starfleet though. Anyway, not to beat a dead ... tarq or anything. Percussion picks up an our inertia is ended, as we have been gently pushed on track to something -- signaled too by the chiming guitars. This becomes the soundtrack to the hip, cool, and sarcastic sci-fi movie or show (LEXX maybe? or Farscape?). Love the screaming guitar leads here to that just get cooler by the time we get to the end. Awesome stuff.

Oh dear, it's over. Wow, well, after 17 tracks total, I have to say we've got 16 hits and 1 miss (a miss for me at least). Hadley done good, I'll say, and doesn't loose points for including himself in the selection. When you get a winner like this, you're allowed yourself one indulgence. And you've had a good day today, right? You've worked hard. You're allowed one indulgence...this oughta be it. On the top 10 for 2001 for sure.


Tracklisting:
Disc One: Veitsi (Circle) (9:21) / Quantum Foam (F/i) (6:56) / Calling Quexzalcoatl (Pseudo Buddha) (6:59) / ......{bullhorn  parking sign  telephone]..... (Zelany Rashoho) (3:48) / Offering (Oränj Climax) (5:01) / New Light On The Dark Age (Djam Karet) (8:11) / Brainhaze (D.O.B.H. #3) (Quarkspace) (4:10) / Ramalite From Vega (Melodic Energy Commission) (5:23) / Suru (Ektroverde) (9:01)

Disc Two: From The Upper Underworld (Little Ravvivando) (Faust) (8:37) / Strausshand (Volcano The Bear) (5:08) / Warningless (Escapade) (7:14) / Fleeing From The Perfect Master (Tombstone Valentine) (5:15) / Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (Mushroom) (7:32) / Jump To The Moon (Tree Sine) (5:21) / Look (2012) (6:15) / So Near And Yeti So Far (Subarachnoid Space) (14:21)

Musicians:


Discography:
Various - Flourescent Tunnelvision (2001)

Genre: Psychedelic-Space Rock

Origin VA

Added: December 24th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.motherwest.com/submergence
Hits: 326
Language: english

  

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