Gravity Hill - "Monkeys On The Moon"
(Space For Rent Music 1999, GH2001)
From Aural Innovations #11 (July 2000)
In a nutshell, the best floating electronica includes REAL percussion. And not only does Gravity Hill have two percussionists but the blending of electronic music with acoustic percussion is this ensemble's mission. Based in Indiana, Gravity Hill consists of Keith Yount on Percussion, Joe O'Connell on percussion, Bunny Sheets on keyboards, Kelly Sheets on synthesizers, and Chris Holt on guitar and guitar synth. "Monkeys On The Moon" is their first CD and all the music was fully improvised with no overdubs. Gravity Hill is also quick to point out that unlike a lot of ambient space bands they are also a live performance band.
The promo material describes Gravity Hill as like Tangerine Dream meets Mickey Hart's Planet Drum. This is fairly accurate though AI readers will be pleased to know that the Tangerine Dream element holds the stronger hand. The music is beautifully recorded and the result is 70+ minutes of ambient space explorations that are standard floating electronica kicked up a notch by the percussion.
Most of the music is an easy-paced journey and the percussion often adds an ethnic element to the mix that travels the globe but remains firmly in space. The music moves through a series of themes, my favorite of which are the parts where the two synths are traveling in their own deep space realms, the guitar is playing simple but effective leads, and the percussion is playing at a steady tribal, but not overwhelming pace. Things get a bit intense at times, but only to the point where the head starts bobbing to the groove but the mind continues to expand. Gravity Hill will easily appeal to ambient fans who like a full band sound that journeys a few steps beyond the typical electronica mold.
For you more information you can visit Gravity Hill at their web site.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz