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The Maskit Chamber (USA) - Overall View
2002-1 - "Heaven Machine" 2002-2 - "The Fourth Wave"
Prolusion. "Heaven Machine" and "The Fourth Wave" are, respectively, the second and third solo albums by >Djam Karet's Gayle Ellett, and each of them is a limited edition CD of 250 copies. If you are interested to know why these two were released under the vehicle of The Maskit Chamber, please check the interview with >Gayle from two and a half months ago.
2002-1 - "Heaven Machine"
TRACK LIST: 1. Italian Horror Movie 7:17 2. English Countryside 6:35 3. Mosaic 2000 4:32 4. Floating Arpeggios 4:32 5. Free Tibet 3:37 6. Transcendental Medication 5:28 7. Bill & Monica Shuffle 5:27 8. Kosovo 5:11 9. 6% Solution 4:17 10. Indian in the City 4:57 All tracks: by Gayle Ellett. Produced & engineered by Gayle Ellett. SOLO PILOT: Gayle Ellett - keyboards; guitars, bass; percussion
Synopsis. The music Gayle writes within the framework of his solo creation is vastly, if not radically, different from that of Djam Karet, and not only compositionally. Although there are quite a few guitar parts found on "Heaven Machine", the album falls into the category of the so-called Keyboard Progressive, as varied analog and digital keyboards, including the Hammond organ and Mellotron, play a prominent role throughout. Overall, all ten of the tracks here are entities of a uniform stylistics representing a rather accessible, but very original and tasteful Symphonic Art-Rock with distinct elements of (still symphonic) Space Rock. Why "overall"? Three pieces are in addition notable for some specific particularities and are especially unique, so I won't forget to tell about them below. Compositionally, the album doesn't remind me of anything else, though of course, there are many bands in the history of Progressive working in a similar stylistic direction. I am not used to using comparisons when the music is original, just like in this case, but since the edition of both of The Maskit Chamber CDs is more than very limited, I'll go this way just to show you approximately what you can expect to hear. Please only note that the 'model' I am going to present you is simplified and is full of relativities. Both of the longest tracks on the album: Italian Horror Movie and 6% Solution (1 & 9) are filled with a dramatic atmosphere, which is also present on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here, part II. The up-tempo Mosaic 2000 (3) with the bright chords of 'synthetic' brass instruments has something in common with Lucifer from "Eve" by The Alan Parsons Project, and Transcendental Medication and Bill & Monica Shuffle (6 & 7) with the more romantic stuff of that English band. The slow, fluid and, at the same time, tense music on English Countryside and Kosovo (2 & 8) may bring to mind some episodes from Eloy's "Silent Cries & Mighty Echoes" - especially those performed without drums. As for Floating Arpeggios, Free Tibet, and Indian in the City (4, 5, & 10), even abstract comparisons are hardly applicable to them. The first of these pieces has a unique, mixed spacey medieval feel to it. I don't know whether it's an American or Asian Indian is the invisible hero of Indian in the City (10). In any case, along with Free Tibet (5), this composition is full of flavors of Hindu and Turkish music, as well as the sounds and overtones of such specific instruments as Sitar and Saz.
2002-2 - "The Fourth Wave"
TRACK LIST: 1. The 4th Wave 50:25 All music: by Gayle Ellett. All instruments: by Gayle Ellett. Produced & engineered by Gayle Ellett.
Synopsis. The 50-minute composition presented here is, in its entirety, about a symphonic Space Rock in pure form. To be sure, some elements of music of the East are available here in places as well and are especially evident closer to the end of the album. There are much lesser of the parts of vintage keyboards on "The Fourth Wave" than on "Heaven Machine" and are very few of those of electric guitar and percussion. But then, there are a lot of passages of semi-acoustic guitar and, what's especially amazing, those of classical acoustic guitar interwoven with basic textures. The music ranges from dramatically romantic to rather dark and, episodically, even sinister, but always has a mysterious feel to it and is very imaginative. The arrangements develop slowly, yet, constantly. As well as in the case of the previously described album, the music is distinctly original and may evoke only 'genre' associations. Here, the more or less applicable points of comparisons would probably be early Pink Floyd and classic Tangerine Dream. On the other hand, The Fourth Wave looks in many ways like the logical continuation of Djam Karet's >"Ascension", and personally, I perceive it exactly so. The truly epic nature of the music makes this album even more impressive than "Heaven Machine". But while the CD's playing time is about 50 minutes, the music ends ten minutes earlier, and the remaining space is filled with synthesizer effects. Why? The use of effects out of the context of music is generally the waste of time (in every respect), and those done at the end of the album are just like the road to nowhere. Hence, a half of the rating star, hence!
Conclusion. "Heaven Machine" and "The Fourth Wave" are the products of genuine inspiration, and I wouldn't say that originality is the only hallmark of them. While being musically different from any of the Djam Karet albums, both are hardly much inferior to such of them as "Suspension and Displacement" and "Ascension".
VM: February 5, 2004
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