Music & Machines: Improvisation - Tradition & Freedom 12-14/12/07 Submitted by VirginiaPipe on 26 February, 2008 - 20:55.
The Conference - A view from the edge...
Wow. As I reach this stage in the writing, I feel remarkably as weary as I did by this stage in the original proceedings - I can almost not write. Thank f*ck, then, for David Hughes Software, whose dazzling set of post-pop revisionist sheens came off like a tribute act to Tomita and Jean Michel Jarre. Wow! All those synths, and he can really play them! Don't not watch this on MFB, for pity's sake, it's fab.
There was the inevitable speculation that it was part of some elaborate practical joke by Colonel Rawls - either that, or a payback in one of Major Valchek's ongoing personal beefs (still on Season Two, obviously) with Frank Sebotka. Certainly, the dead reception from the floor had the same effect. Except for me and No Wind - we were ecstatic! And not necessarily from a puerile sarcasm that the misguided may attribute to us - David Hughes's orgiastic pentatonic glossings were such a poignantly brutal counterpoint to any collective ground those gathered might feel they had won over the conference, that one suspected it was motivated by fear mongering on the part of the organisers: relinquish the restraint and sobriety of a rational improv orthodoxy and you might be condemned to an eternal massage in synth-pad purgatory.
David Hughes is a very active English musician. His best known project is, without a doubt, T-Bass UK but there's also Skin Mechanix too.
Now he returns with Ion and a disc, Future Forever which, like a sponge, shows us all of the influences absorbed by David throughout all his years of experience. Here the musician shows us a collection of classic electronic sounds, crystalline and slowed down sonorities where the sequences appear as transparent and very hypnotising. Examples of this description are the themes Future Forever and Evensong, two jewels of required listening for fans of sensible ears. Passages like Logoscape, Minerva and Farscape offer us an almost real approach to to space, to deep and hidden atmospheres.
But also on this disc we can find some earthly and acoustic sounds like in the precious item The Silent Scream, where ancestral percussions sounds with more inhumane layers.
David Hughes returns and it does by the great door. Essential!
Review by Manuel Lemos Murad‡s, of Articmist
Ever seen pictures of the ice hotels they build in Norway and Sweden every year? Well this sublimely wintery ambient album by David Hughes' side project, Ion, may just may be the perfect soundtrack for staying in one.
Firmly rooted in the Berlin school, it's incredibly clean and crystalline and we love the modern utopias it conjures up with its frosty sequencing and big serene arcs of sound.
Standout tracks include Future Forever and The Silent Scream.
Ion is the new solo project from David J. Hughes of T-Bass and Skin Mechanix. It is firmly rooted in the melodic Berlin school camp, without the rock riffs and power chords from other Hughes' projects. The simpler, quieter approach pays big dividends, allowing the cool synth compositions to set the mood. The title track wafts in serenely, evenly. It breathes for a while before light sequencing and beats come in. Eventually the main melodic theme arrives, soaring over the top of the rest, its impact made by the restrained approach that leads us there. Deftly handled, this is a lovely understated way to open.
Even softer is 'Logoscape', a dreamy musical reverie that leads us into 'Minerva', a romance-tinged piece that somehow manages to evade outright sappiness. Think of Tangerine Dream's best soundtrack work from the 1980s and you get the idea. 'Evensong' is similar in tone and style, though with a brighter sequencer line to build on. This one develops particularly nicely, with the same sure-handedness that permeates the entire album.
'Farscape' is a trippy deep space journey. 'The Silent Scream' is a nifty hybrid of modern shuffling beats and retro sequencing in relaxed mode. 'Tangents' is pure Berlin school, with an atmospheric space music beginning and ending, and driving sequencers and rhythms in the middle. I particularly like the soft ethereal finish, which segues perfectly into the mellow closing track, 'Flying Over Blue Waters'. I highly recommend Future Forever .
Just wanted to stick my head above the clouds and give a massive heads up to Mr Hughes for realizing this tasty nugget of modern electronic music. I have had this disk playing since late last week and am increasingly finding it to be the must have disk of the year! Not at all what I was expecting when I put it on.
No matter how much David tells me he has chilled out, the past few albums have still had enough audio meat to make my eardrums bleed. So with the usual caution I slipped the disk in and waited... and I was greeted by a fantastic ambient sequencer workout."
Nice one I thought. I know your game - just as I let my guard down you will let rip. It didn't happen. Just more and more very well thought out and, dare I say it, chilled out pieces unfolded.
Now these are not endless ambient bubbling'z that go nowhere for 10 min's and then with a flurry of modulated white noise are gone. No, these are structured, melodic and always progressing pieces with melodies that interlace with the delicate sequences perfectly. This music not only conveys a tune but it is dripping with a atmosphere - a warm, calm and welcome atmosphere.
In short this is in my opinion where electronic music of the e.m variety should now be going, a sound very much of today with respectfully used influences from the past and a open eye to the future.......forever!
Ion is David Hughes from both T Bass UK and Skin Mechanix. Even though this album does have an individual identity it should still be liked by fans of both those acts.
We kick off with the title track. Soft, soothing, faintly melodic pads with just a hint of melancholy float in the air. A slow rhythm starts up along with a sequence which starts off relatively sedately but soon ups the pace providing a nice melody, morphing beautifully as it goes. Further melody comes in the form of a moody lead line. It reminded me a little of Edgar Froese's solo work.
'Logoscape' is all ethereal, as windy drones mix with angelic wordless pads. Quite beautiful. 'Minerva' on the other hand uses a beautiful piano line conjuring up the best melody on the album so far, complimenting a percussive sequence extremely well. It reminded me a little of 'Optical Race'.
The Tangerine Dream comparisons continue through onto a lot of the tracks as well (which is probably intentional given all the TD references in the track titles) including the next number 'Evensong'. A lovely melodic sequence bounces along giving us an energetic start. It just gets better and better as things become more syncopated - a real body mover. The mood changes with 'Farscape', as dark bubbly atmospherics create a rather alien soundscape. 'The Silent Scream' is different yet again as it is based around tabla type rhythms but melodically it's as good as 'Minerva'. 'Tangents' initially takes us back to moody realms but as a rapid sequence enters the heart rate quickens. 'Flying Over Blue Waters' is another which is very Tangerine Dream sounding and again the piano type melody is exquisite. It's a wonderful track, slow, thoughtful and full of beauty.
Apparently this album is the first in the 'Dust to Dawn' trilogy so if you like it the journey is just beginning!
"Future Forever" is the first album in the Dawn to Dusk trilogy from Ion, an electronic music outfit signed to the recently re-established Thinking Metal label.
The title track kicks off proceedings with a simple choral/synthesiser arrangement, which develops into a real foot tapping, sequencer-driven noodle-fest that reminded me much of Vangelis with all of the electronic trumpet and brass synth leads. The album then shifts and turns through a variety of moods and styles ranging from bright and cheerful to the somewhat downbeat and melancholic though it never wavers in its ability to fit into and enhance your own personal soundtrack.
Standout tracks for me include Future Forever, with its strong melodies and foot-stomping rhythms and Flying Over Blue Waters, which is one of the most emotionally pure and downright honest pieces of music I've ever heard.
In short, I loved this album from start to finish. Initially, I was expecting a half-baked rehash of tired and over-used Berlin School cliches but this album rises comfortably above the dross to create a mood and sense all of its own, and one that I kept going back to over and over again.