reviews

The Interstellar Cementmixers - "Dimension Y"

The Interstellar Cementmixers - "Dimension Y"
(Planet X Records 2004, PX 2036)

Aural Innovations: April 2004

As with their prior releases, The Interstellar Cement Mixers (Rich Collins and Stephen Martin) voyage again to the far reaches of the known cosmos with Dimension Y, which features eight previously unreleased tracks from the ICM archives. Many have compared the Mixers’ intergalactic sound montages to those of Zeit-era Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze’s early space cadet phase (Irrlicht and Cyborg), and it’s easy to see why. Dimension Y is a veritable handbook on the reconstruction of the early 70s Berlin School sound: huge modular drones, interstellar radar bleeps, liquid streams of analog electronics, eerie cosmic choral voicings, oceans of white noise, massive ambient textures, waves of static electricity—truly music for deep space explorers everywhere. More importantly, the ICM sound itself is an invitation to the mysteries of the physical universe as revealed through sound: exploding suns, collapsing stars, the music of the quasars, planets in endless transit, the chemical decomposition of metamorphic worlds, the hazardous navigation of time warps, the remote sensing of alien atmospheres. Nowhere is this more evident than on the masterful “Methane Collision,” 18 minutes of mind-bending cosmic mayhem that features pulsating synthesizers, oscillating noise sweeps and slowly drifting pad textures, all eventually coalescing into a dark, elegiac hymn for the entropic forces of the universe. The same could be said of “Dimension Y,” though the emphasis here seems to be on slowly evolving synth textures that merge and fuse into one another like interstellar dust clouds on their endless migration across distant galaxies. “Underwater Inferno” seethes and roils with all the murky ambience of some impossibly alien sea imploding in upon itself, while the muffled shrieks and hydraulically distorted moans of mutant whales and half-humanoid dolphins reverberate through sunken cathedrals and emerald grottos. “Radar Parchment” is a fitting finale to this interdimensional trek, its twittering filter sweeps and modulated synth backdrop enveloping the listener in a ghostly vortex of disembodied voices and shimmering ectoplasm. Fans of the cosmic era of contemporary German music will definitely want to pick up Dimension Y, as well as the Mixers’ earlier releases. This is as close as you’ll ever get to Alpha Centauri without actually flying there.

Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree

"The Interstellar Cement Mixers return with another offering of high voltage space music. At times soaring and utterly cosmic, they also come back down to earth and explore the sonic terrain of the post industrial society. The full range of their frequencies will without doubt stimulate the space between your ears."

Archie Patterson, EUROCK

buy it here

 
The Interstellar Cementmixers - "Night Radiation"

(planet X PX 2035) cdr 72m

In many ways I can see The Interstellar Cementmixers as the Nottingham equivalent to our own band Endgame, in that they are keen Eurorock and electronic music collectors (like ourselves) who also decided to delve into making their own music. They also share many common influences, however their history and methods of making music are quite different.

They are a duo and have been getting together in the studio (on and off) for over a decade, migrating from noisy industrial grunge to a more refined cosmic/space music. With each release they seem to hone their style further. Their focus nowadays tends to latch on to melodic contexts, with underlying use of sequencers, big synth swooshes and echo/glissando guitars. Largely NIGHT RADIATION steps on from RUBYCON era Tangerine Dream with hints of 70's French synth and often also reminds one of early Lightwave in the rich use of analogue synthesixers. As usual it will take many listens to fully absorb this new album but immediate impressions are that it will be a great late-night listen, with just enough weirdness to keep it fresh and exciting!

Alan Freeman, Audion Magazine

 

The Interstellar Cementmixers - "Night Radiation"

(Planet X Records 2001, PX 2035)


From Aural Innovations #18 (January 2002)

Be prepared to journey into the deepest, darkest, farthest reaches of space. With their vast array of keyboards and electronic effects, UK musicians Stephen Martin and Richard Collins will take you there. Night Radiation is the latest release from the Interstellar Cementmixers, and it continues their tradition of electronic music that hearkens back to the early days of the great space explorers like Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze.

From the opening 14-minute track, Mind Prison, we're treated to broad washes of deep, deep electronic ambience, a cosmic sea with strange fish bubbling and crying in its depths. The journey continues with gurgling, deep space signals penetrating eerie, rumbling drones on Optic Crevace. Lighthouse Concealment creeps up on you slowly, a lonely beacon in a vast sea of darkness, while Oscillating Sarcophagus is eerie and chilling, a frozen sound that may cause your breath to mist. In contrast, Faded Prophecy inspires awe, with its enormous curtains of sound blowing in the cosmic wind. The final track, the 18-minute Night Radiation, may be a little more earthbound, but you will still feel like you are standing on the top of a lonely hill, late at night, shivering in the cold wind, but bathed by the light of a billion stars from above.

Although I compared the Interstellar Cementmixers sound to early voyagers like Tangerine Dream, their music is not about hypnotic sequences, it's about deep, deep ambience, and the vast coldness of outer space. Think of TD's classic album Zeit (a personal all-time favourite of mine), and you will get an idea of what to expect. It will send shivers up your spine, bring goose bumps out on your flesh, and take your mind into the deepest dark matter chasms of the interstellar void. Turn off the lights, put the headphones on and take the trip!

For more information you can visit the Interstellar Cementmixer's web site at: http://www.interstellarcementmixers.co.uk/.

Contact via snail mail c/o Planet X Records; 21 Munford Circus; Cinderhill; Notthingham; NG8 6ED; UK.

Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald

THE INTERSTELLAR CEMENT MIXERS "Dislodged Resonance" (dark ambient)

Planet X Records PX2031 (CD-R, 7 tracks, 72.02)

THE INTERSTELLAR CEMENT MIXERS "Monochrome Gravity" (dark ambient)

Planet X Records PX2034 (CD-R, 6 tracks, 73.39)

The duo of Richard Collins and Stephen Martin create highly abstract, unapologetically electronic music of the sort where you can actually hear knobs being twiddled. "Arachnoid Staircase" uses a repeated, deep, doomy bass to underpin crashing white noise, and once the skirling lead line has established itself, resonance goes to max and the old filter slider gets audibly punished. On "Ink Castle" the mood is more romantic, though still undeniably dark as distant weebling noises overlay echoing, detuned drones; "Extreme Disintegration" is a gloriously grungy fragment at two minutes, but "Potassium Bible" manages to exceed twelve and "Silence Shockwave" starts sounding definitely electro-acoustic with its distant, watery bubbling noises.

At times TIC sound like electro-acoustic acts Morphogenesis or AMM, but they're definitely not coming from the direction of classical avant-gardists who would probably snub them for being insufficiently academic, although the end result of their musical processes often sounds extremely similar. The closing "Timedust" doesn't take this tack though, as it's clearly inspired by very early Klaus Schulze (around the Irrlicht/Blackdance period) and as such comprises swirly phased organs, thin synthesizer lead lines, and very simple wobbles of white noise stretched out to an epic 17 minutes or so.

All this was recorded in 1998, though it could easily have been done in 1972 and there's nothing in the musical content to indicate that it wasn't. Complete with a nice tape of church bells on the end and the (wanted or unwanted) sounds of the synthesizers being switched off, this is a glorious celebration of primitive electronics dragged into the late 1990's.

A year later on "Monochrome Gravity" we can at last discover TIC's instrumentation - little Moog and Yamaha synths, old Korgs and Kawais, a few effects and now a distant bit of electric guitar. "Magenta Turmoil" opens the album with a series of deep drones and white noise splashes, while on "Concealed Obelisk" it's difficult to tell whether you're listening to a droning synth or a distantly sustaining electric guitar (and perhaps pointless to try).

We're still impinging on Morphogensis territory, though with a touch of Steve Roach or Vidna Obmana as well, and so this is definitely another one for those who like their music dark and ambient. It would probably make good headphone listening too, though it may be too scary for that...

Emix-cd review

Dislodged Resonance & Monochrome Gravity

Remember how exciting your first listens to the early electronic space bands like Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Ash Ra Tempel, and Klaus Schulze were? No, The Interstellar Cementmixers aren't a long lost classic from 1972, but a duo project from UK musicians Stephen Martin and Richard Collins. With an arsenal of Moogs, Korgs, Tascams, and other keyboards, effects, and guitars, the Cementmixers serve up heaping portions of all the great sounds that the ambient space Krautrock pioneers created so beautifully. Multiple layers of textured ambient waves and drones weave their mystical way through a cosmic primordial stew that will entrance you into a state of cosmic bliss.

"Arachnoid Staircase" and "Timedust" are standout tracks on Dislodged Resonance, with Pink Floyd styled keys, Tangerine Dreamy swirls, and pulsating wind-tunnel drones that make for a tripped out race through the cosmos. Martin and Collins excel at developing space, sound, and atmosphere as the music traverses down its winding cosmic path. "Potassium Bible" and "Silence Shockwave" are darker ambient droning pieces. "Potassium Bible" includes slowly developing ambient space and drones that are embellished by various scattered sounds. The combination makes the music simultaneously dreamy and stark. A surrealistic world that reminds me of a spaced out alien Cabinet of Dr Caligari soundtrack. "Silence Shockwave" is like an industrial factory world under the sea. Eerie aquatic space drones and lots of sound experimentation make for a dark but intriguing journey. And "Vascular Storm" is probably my favorite track, and one that Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel fans will drool over. Swirling and droning meditative synths create a floating multi-textured atmosphere that is accompanied by continually rising and falling whistling space lines and pulsating organ tones. The ultimate in Kosmiche!!!

Monochrome Gravity is stylistically the same as Dislodged Resonance, though it's less varied, having a trademark sound characterized by multiple layers of keyboard waves and drones of varying pitches, colors, and hues. Some are dark and foreboding. Others are heavenly and angelic. Slowly developing Tangerine Dreamy ambient space tracks feature all the bands' fun bleeps and various other freaky sounds to go with it. Lots of dark, slowly developing space atmospherics with a heavy focus on sound development. Drones of every imaginable pulsating pitch, twist and turn while throbbing, squealing electronics pierce our brains. It's often a frightening world we're in traveling in, continually having to fend off attacks from every direction. One need only start with the album's 21 minute title track to experience the full breadth of this duo's sense of space and sound.

In summary, The Interstellar Cementmixers rank among the best of the current electronic space bands. The keyboard sounds on these albums will bring tears to your eyes. And I know I say this all the time but headphones and complete relaxation are required to fully benefit from the depth of The Interstellar Cementmixers' journeys. Start with Dislodged Resonance.

Jerry Kranitz - Aural Innovations #16 (June 2001).

Monochrome Gravity

Venturing further off into the cosmos than ever before, here we have Nottingham's ethereal synth duo mixing in an even wider range of textures than ever before. From their Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, Richard Pinhas inspired roots, the focus on melodic tectures is now becoming less important with the accent on texture and form becoming the greater part of their sound. Such is the layering of textures that the various synths and processing devices all mangle and recycle the sounds so much that Mellotron like textures breath through it all, despite their absence. The closest you may have heard from anyone else may be Lightwave, or I could describe it as a less melodic, less derivative Radio Massacre International. If none of this means anything to you, this is also a good starter for those wishing to try some synth-based music that's experimental but not too weird, or maybe for those that like their music weird but want something more relaxing!?

Alan Freeman - Audion Magazine.

Monochrome Gravity

They're back - with a second, wholly instrumental album that features just 6 long tracks in seventy minutes, and you know what - it's absolutely SENSATIONAL!!!! Essentially electronic, the whole thing oozes analogue heart and early 70's soul, with vast, textural panoramas of real cosmic music as it was always meant to be! The likes of early Tangerine Dream, soundscaping Agitation Free, Cosmic Jokers and Brain-label Cluster, would all have killed to be able to produce music that sounded this good!! The opening track alone, with its huge, epic sweeps of space synths, drones, electronic bass rumblings, string-like synth flow, subtle phasing effects and more, just puts you right back at the heart, mind and heady days of the pioneering 70's when music like this was exciting and mouth-wateringly mind-blowing - and it still is now, thanks to this and the equally awesome Ohr Musik album. Throughout the album, they've got the whole sound, feel, depth, texture, layers and arrangements, absolutely spot on, yet it's all so well done, as to sound both of a time and yet so fresh and alive, fulfilling nostalgia for the past, massive enjoyment of the present and great hopes for the future. This is music that crosses the boundaries of analogue, space, cosmic, Kraut and psychedelic categories, and is just an awesome set of long tracks, the likes of which only Ohr Musik around today can match for delivery and sound - spellbinding and utterly essential listening!

Andy G - C&D Services.

Dislodged Resonance

The debut CD from the Interstellars, a group of which I can proudly proclaim to have been the first retailer in the country to stock and promote, and it is an absolute masterpiece from start to finish! They take as their cues, the wonders and splendours of playing improvised and structured music in uncharted waters, in the same vein as, and with the same satisfying results as, the pioneers of the early 70's such as Cluster and early Tangerine Dream - in fact, the whole pioneering Krautrock electronic movement, as well as more modern outfits such as Stars Of The Lid, Amp, etc. But far from sounding tired or dated or copyist, the music of this group is non-rhythmic, yet flows in a magical fashion, although the soundscapes and layers are not really identifiable in the way of 'oh, a guitar line', or 'oh, a synth line' etc. There are just some fantastic multi-textured, multi-layered landscapes that are a joy to hear - solid but varied, consistant and with the atmosphere of the (then) new music of the 70's firmly intact. In no way difficult, and certainly up there with the best that labels such as Darla and Kranky have to offer these days, this is such a fantastic release that anyone into this whole area of cosmic, bliss-out, spacey, or whatever you call it style of music, has got to get this CD because it is one of the finest listening experiences on the planet. There's just so much to it and yet it's totally accessible, often tranquil but ethereal and haunting, occasionally really intense, and beyond. This is simply brillant music that should not be ignored.

Andy G - C&D Services.

Encapsulated Turquoise Void

They say it's all to do with "Your state of mind". So when in my mind I see clear water and shimmering forests in a prehistoric world of sensual simplicity I know it translates to another classic mix of dreamy atmospheres and choice spacey synth sounds from the undoubted masters of the electronic massage. This album continues and surpasses the trend of recent work finding the Cementmixers in total control of their output, a powerful, at times almost symphonic series of spaced out undulating patterns. With such clarity in their sound it would be difficult to place the ICM of today with their mid '80's roots, the discordent rambling insanity that placed them in the "Difficult" section. A different band? Well maybe. These excellent recordings make a strange connection between early '70's Krautrock experimentation, the bands primary source of inspiration, and the chilled out ambient sounds of the '90's. Soothing and mystical. Definitely music to make "Your state of mind".

Steve Howard.

Manequin Ambergine

The latest tape to beam over here via the GPO from Planet X, is another Interstellar Cementmixers excursion weirdly titled Manequin Ambergine, an oozing slab of synths and dark soundscaping. Typical of their style, although a bit more melodic than previously, getting closer to some earlier works by Nightcrawlers and Lightwave.

Audion Magazine.

Magnetic Subsidence

The perfect description of listening to an Interstellar Cementmixers album might be "It's not so much, which track is it, but which planet am I on", such is their sound and this is the ICM at their most refined, masters of their genre. Magnetic Subsidence is a fusion of an eerie but relaxing ambience and the analogue synth sounds of the 1970's but stamped with that all important trademark originality. Seven tracks of quality electronics that captivate and take the listener into a deep ocean of drifting synthesisers and reverb bubbles all tinged with an air of mystery. Start with the first track, "Memory Gradient", weird sounds become vaguely reminiscent of a whole back catalogue of synth music but disappear almost as soon as they appeared leaving the imagination free to roam in a uncharted world. By the time I've realised I'm listening to a different track, it's too late, I've been captured by a science fiction journey as I visit countless planets in faraway galaxies. "Is there anybody out there?". After listening to Magnetic Subsidence I know there is

Steve Howard.

Magnetic Subsidence

A private Nottingham cassette label, Planet X Records focus it's releases by local cosmic industrial/ synth duo The Interstellar Cementmixers. Their lastest cassette release Magnetic Subsidence (Planet X PX2023) offers a further development of their style to much more melodic realms. Strongly showing their influence of indulging in free-form Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and notably inspired by Lightwave, it's dark electronic music that crosses a lot of boundaires. In all, it's probably their best yet, if still a bit overlong for the ideas.

Audion Magazine.

Phobos

After a two year break the Cementmixers have started recording again. Following the release of Hystersis Calyx comes their latest journey of evocative compositions which combine dreamy soundscapes with the distrubing abruptness which typified their early work. The chaotic electronic improvisations are still there but now neatly woven into eerir arrangements that suggest a Faust, Laibach meets Mind Over Matter collaboration, recorded in the Tardis. Side one opens with Salt which for the first minute sounds like Tangerine Dream until it gently dissolves into a cosmic horror story, exploring places TD couldn't reach. This is followed by five more equally obscure titles that proceed in the same vein. The Cementmixers are essentially a synthesizer band building layered textures that have an off-beat Residents quality. These meander and decay effortlessly providing an environment for strange noises, impenetrable guitar solos and ending up with a sound that while obviously coming from a European synth tradition doesn't quite git into the accepted norms. Phobos is another excellent release by the Interstellar Cementmixers who give the weird and abstract a meditative feel that is both interesting and emotive, and is ultimately very rewarding.

Audion Magazine.