During Netlabelism’s foray into technical difficulties, I had ample opportunity to explore the netlabel universe. One of my prize finds is a label called Cyan Music.
They are a Germany-based label that focuses on electronic, ambient, and lounge music. With at least 13 artists and 53 releases, the most recent of which came out in the middle of last month (October 2015), Cyan proves itself to be an active and prolific supporter of the netlabel community. Truthfully, I haven’t had the chance to listen to all 53 albums yet, but I’ve heard several of them, and I feel very positive about what I’ve found.
To cite a few examples, from the downtempo/lounge region of the musical spectrum, Smooth Genestar’s Sputnik EP and D-Echo Project’s Unity in Diversity stand out to me. Out in the furthest reaches of space, I found Condensspur’s Several Miles Wide. I felt so good after hearing this one that I had to make it the subject of my next review, that is, this one.
Russian-born Ivan Maier, aka Condensspur, has been producing music since at least 2006 as part of the ambient project Rabitza. In 2013, he created his Condensspur moniker. To get an idea of his inspiration, we can look at Cyan’s artist page. Among others, we find Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, and Solar Fields; all of which are pretty big in their respective fields, to say the least.
Several Miles Wide consists of six semi-long tracks (average length ~8 minutes) filled with progressive and spacey synths, thumping and rhythmic bass lines, quirky glitches to tweak your brain, and plenty of chilled (and sometimes trippy) vibes.
For example, the first track “Oko” (“eye” in old Russian) starts slow, like an eyelid gradually opening. Glitches, chimes, and synth vibrations stir us from our slumber. A little more than a minute in, a deep, resonating bass churns in the background while what sounds like voices begin to rise. The tempo steadily increases with high hats and various percussion until the halfway point when our pupils can finally see. With a whooshing wave of energy, the track picks itself up and splashes our eardrums. By now, we’re wide awake and grooving with the track.
“Sternwarte” (named for an observatory in Germany) is another stand-out. The beginning is deceptively slow. We hear footsteps and the sound of an electrical system powering up, maybe the giant telescope. Among a plethora of building synths, a pulsing rhythm emerges. By the two-minute mark, the scope is running and we’re ready to take our first look at the heavens. As though witnessing the start of a meteor shower, the first of many synths streak through the soundscape while a second, more patient layer orbits around like planets. Before long, the heavens are aglow with stars and solar systems, moons and meteorites and nebulas. The track fades leaving us with the distinct impression that we just experienced something raw and magical.
Considering the album as a whole, layers upon layers of synths and glitches coupled with a strong sense of progression and tone leave little to be desired. In short, Several Miles Wide should not be missed.