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(49 min, Mellow)
TRACK LIST: 1. Emerald Mound 5:14 2. Serene Procession 19:45 3. Beyond Elevation 14:42 4. The Seventh Tide 2:00 5. Daidalos Hunt 7:49 PERSONNEL: Ronald Nygard - electric guitar; electronics Hasse Horrigmoe - bass Tom Steinberg - drums
Prolusion. Norway's TANGLED EDGE has been in existence since 1980. This is a brainchild of guitarist Ronald Nygard and bassist Hasse Horrigmoe, who are still together, drummers having changed frequently until Tom Steinberg joined the trio in 2002. Apart from two CD-R and two cassette recordings, the outfit has five officially released full-length albums, namely "In Search of a New Dawn" (1989), "Entangled Scorpio Entrance" (2CD, 1992), "Eulogy" (1993), "Tarka" (1997) and "Serpentary Quarters" (2006). Tangle Edge is a live band, from time to time touring all over Scandinavia, as well as giving several performances in England, Italy and Russia.
Analysis. Overall, "Serpentary Quarters" is Space Rock from start to finish, but I very much doubt this remark is elucidative enough to complete the review right here and now:-), above all due to the narrowness of the term as such, since there is probably no end to the different forms and manifestations of that genre. Another reason to examine the album in detail would be this group's quite specific approach to the style they've chosen, and it's just the time now to mention that originality is one of the main virtues of their creation. There are five instrumentals on the CD, and most of them begin and develop similarly - exactly due to the fact that Tangled Edge have their own original vision of music. The opening number, Emerald Mound, starts off with spacey effects and related sounds, which eventually give way to bass, guitar and drums, the latter two instruments figuring more prominently, since it's the bassist who sets up the framework for his partners' improvisations, and inasmuch as he does so almost everywhere on the recording, his parts appear to be the most laconic, though never monotonous. (After reading the previous sentence, one may mentally exclaim: Then why did this reviewer call this music Space Rock, and not Space Fusion? The fact is that there are only rock improvisations on the album and none of them touches on jazz harmony.) On the other hand, Emerald Mound is the one track with a conspicuous melody, some guitar solos being nearly catchy. The music evolves slowly, yet steadily, above all thanks to the drummer whose amazingly inventive work with various cymbals, triangles and other percussion strongly diversifies the picture. In all, this accessible piece turns out to be a really apt introduction to the program. The consequent compositions are highly eclectic, despite the fact that the scenario is still the same (though I see I've already touched this matter - just with different words). Serene Procession and Beyond Elevation fluidly flow from one to another without a pause, in which is no surprise, since both are parts of one monolithic epic, Transcendental Virtue, whose total duration exceeds 35 minutes. Not counting that in the intros and outros of each of the parts, the music is never slow and, say, distinctly spacey. The density of the textures and the intensity of the arrangements steadily grow during the first five or six minutes, then reaching the height of intensity and eclecticism with a wall of blazing guitar solos and drums crescendos, to be maintained right up to the finale of each of the parts. A real culmination, however, awaits the listener on Beyond Elevation. Contrary to its title, most of this piece reminds me exactly of an endless elevation, the arrangements being even more dynamic, eclectic and edgier than those on the preceding piece, whose title though (Serene Procession) seems to be ironical as well. There is much phase shifting throughout each of these two. Although fast and rocking throughout, Daidalos Hunt is also a gem of a Space Rock jam and is another highlight - along with Beyond Elevation. The short piece The Seventh Tide is the one whose inclusion in the CD I'd call in question, to say the least. Performed by Ronald Nygard alone, this is a really strange combination of cycled loops (or similarly sequenced solos) and chaotic guitar sounds.
Conclusion. Although quirky, much of this music has quite a strong hypnotic effect, so psychedelic Space Rock would probably be the best overall definition for this, Tangle Edge's latest offering. Perhaps there is something transcendental in this stuff, but it's certainly not for meditation, demanding much attention on the part of the listener. If you like the earliest work of Hawkwind and Amon Duul II, but especially the first Djam Karet album "No Commercial Potential", you might be pleased with "Serpentary Quarters" as well.
VM: October 1, 2006
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