by Glenn Hammett, The Raging Consciousness Desk
This live recording, taken from a series of concerts given throughout Europe and the U.S. (with one studio track), surely rates as one of the finest examples of ambient electronics, period. Imagine the very best of both artists' collective history, condensed onto one CD. LIVE ARCHIVE comes out of the gate like a locomotive and never relinquishes its power in these imaginative compositions. There are, for long-time fans, hints of past recordings such as SUSPENDED MEMORIES: FORGOTTEN GODS and THE SPIRITUAL BONDING, yet made both fresh and exclusive to this aural document. This is not a re-hash of works precedent, but a striking, power filled amalgamation of styles we have grown to love, melted down and fashioned into exclusivity. This documentation of live performances is so unquestionably impressive that I seriously doubt that any other team of artists could compose and perform a comparable oeuvre. The fact that these are live productions makes the CD that much more overwhelming.
Using a mix of both electronic and acoustic instrumentation makes for an enormously diverse range of musical emotion. Setting a series of bells, didgeridoo and other sundry implements against the dark drones, "Two Reptiles" chugs along, creating a distinct sense of an Aborigine 'desert ritual' experience for the listener. The most incredible asset to LIVE ARCHIVE is the ability to paint such vivid imagery. The depth and scope create, in a sense, an anthology of musical-photographs that are so vibrant and extraordinary that the listening space disappears, replaced by the unreal atmosphere limited only by the imagination.
One of the best pieces, "Soundworld Collage" a mysterious sound environment replete with whispering, barely audible female voice, male chant, a variety of alien percussive sounds, wind-blown devices and drifting keyboard drones filled the listening room with an (unheard) atmosphere – the likes of which are quite rare in recordings – and found mostly in audiophile or high-end releases. This phenomenon, usually reserved for playback on high-resolution systems – more often than not on LP's – occurs in that brief period before the music commences when the needle drops onto the vinyl. The listening room takes on the character of the venue in which it was recorded – the effect so surreal and disquieting that the 'silence' is exciting in of itself. The real jaw-dropper is that this occurred on an inexpensive mid-fi system. We are nearly frightened to think of what would ensue were this CD played back on a system of high-end proportions.
The other peculiarity is how the material presents itself, as there is a familiarity to the sounds, yet they are presented as nothing else these artists have released. There are textures that may recall previous endeavours, yet this CD stands alone in it's inimitable presentation. How these artists manage to do so, what with such a vast output, proves that they are among the pre-eminent instrumentalists working today.
LIVE ARCHIVE is what the Ambient / Electronic scene is all about: originality, masterful knowledge of the instruments, compositional creativity and near-perfect sound.
LIVE ARCHIVE has already found its way on our "Best-Of 2000 List" and easily scores an "eleven" on the 1 - 10 scale in both music and sonic categories.