Magellan Deep - "Cloudlab"
(Pre-Release CDR [no label listed] 2000/2001)
From Aural Innovations #17 (September 2001)
Magellan Deep's list of influences would make a good foundation textbook for a History of Space Rock course. Hawkwind, Nik Turner, Anubian Lights, and Farflung are among the exalted in Charles van de Kree's solo space project. "Cloudlab" feature six heavily electronic tracks that average about ten minutes. This would allow sufficient of space (no pun intended) to develop layers of atmosphere. That's what I would have liked to hear in this music, but unfortunately it hardly deviates from the main set of rhythms set out at the beginning of each track. The structures are pleasing, well programmed, and multi-layered, but they don't hold their power after ten minutes of repetition.
The first song, "Cloudlab," sets out some well-written sequences, but the next two songs seem to melt into each other and lose my interest. Up to this point, the music is mostly an homage to acclaimed astro-composers and offers little that I have not already heard before. Next comes a cover of "Spirit of the Age." Although it was quite accurate and immaculately arranged, I was a bit disappointed in the artificial sound of the virtual drums. The synth suffered from an artificial sound as well despite the high quality tones exhibited on the rest of the album. My guess is that Charles was either aiming for a slightly frayed synth effect, or had trouble duplicating the exact voice of the original. The voice processing results in vocals that sound like a Cylon from the Battlestar Galactica TV series.
The fifth song is by far the best. "Mutara Nebula" is the longest track and also the most captivating. Deep, arpeggiated synth produces a percussive effect to ground the gushing solar winds on top and the excellent roving xylophone melody. "The Algorithmic Structure of Crystals" closes out the release with just under four minutes of pure space electronica. Like the rest of the album, it's well written, but not very original. It sounds like a slow Anubian Lights track, but with a more artificial sound. Charles has put a lot of work into this (recorded from April 2000 - February 2001) and has produced a worthy album. If you're in search of music in the mode of the space moguls, this is it. It's a well-crafted, if not highly original piece of music.
For more information you can email Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact via snail mail c/o Charles van de Kree; 4800 San Mateo Ln NE #142; Albuguergue, NM 87109.
Reviewed by Anish Bhatia