X Space - "Space CD" (Moink! Productions 2000, ABMS001010)
X Space - "Whatever Happened To My Mind" (Bad Seed Productions 2000/2001)
From Aural Innovations #18 (January 2002)
X Space are Ante Marijian: Synths, Electronics & Percussion and Bruce Satinover: Guitar, Bass, Synths & DJ System. Both are talented musicians and both are into the fine art of improvisation. The music that they produce is very Electronica orientated and it is created and recorded simultaneously without edit or overdub. What they played at the time is what you get here. For that element alone it is to me a very inspired album, at times it is impressive. Possibly a lot is done by midi. I don't know, but that is not at question here. The facts are that this is a very fine CD.
Space CD is an 8-track album that lasts just over 50 minutes. It is a progression of themes that are all totally instrumental. There is a lot of almost Trance type Drum rhythms on here and much of this CD is of that nature. The tracks weave along very nicely, carrying thoughts on each ebb and flow of the improvisation.
'At The Exit of the Cave' is an up-beat number of 5.29 that casts an array of synthy keyboard sounds over a back-beat that is possibly dancey in feel... well ya could dance to it youngen. It moves like a Saturnia instrumental piece. The keyboards are Vangelis-ish and they reminded me in away of bits of Tangerine Dream. Very hypnotic.
'Villa Strange' is a 5.10 piece that stirs up emotions with sound. There is a nice Bass plodding away on here, the track is itself very dancey/trip hop/ambient, whatever you want to term it. So it would cater for those of that musical taste. The sequenced sound reminds me of Klaus Shulze somehow. Whilst 'Setting Sun' reminds me of a mellow Eat Static, the rest of the Tracks motion through progressions as the musicians saw fit and this is a great improvisation album. It has everything that is required to move the mind through the phases of the music with comfort and expectance of what is to come.
If you are into DJ type Drum Rhythms and ambient trance then this CD will give you all that and more. I am not a big fan of that music but I found that the beats did not overpower the essence of the jams. If you are a fan of Quarkspace's Spacefolds series then you may like X Space. These are not that far removed from that brand of improvised space. Good creative sounds.
The line up on Whatever Happened To My Mind? is the same as the other album and again we have the same mould of improvisation. If the Truth were told I'm more into this one than I was the other CD. There is more in the way of depth and span. This is much spaceier than the Space CD, I mean in the way of rhythm and beats, as well as the pads and atmosphere that litter these scapes of sound.
This one opens up with a 12.43 track entitled 'Production Pt1', and it is an epic number that shows X Space's perception of what is happening inside their creation. It starts with low Bass drones and keyed patterns of a melody that drift slowly though the vacuum of an arpeggio. The vibe gradually motions into lead lines that dart and stab at the mounting sound levels. There is some stunning Keyboard and Guitar work gliding infinitely between the laid back beat and the ambience of the pad layers and throb of Bass. 'Silent Spring' is another 12.00 epic and it stirs passion and shows creativity all the way down the line. It unfolds like a Tangerine Dream piece or maybe some Klaus Schulze stuff. This one is the mellowest of the album I would say. It is very ambient and it settles into a floating sequenced type Drum pattern that is overloaded with interesting sounds, Keyboards and wailing Lead Guitar riffs. It moves perfectly into Track 3.
'Eating Mrs Berkowitz' is a narrative much in the mould of 'The Gift' from The Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat album. The music is slow and mournful but it does its job as backing for the Voice that waffles on about the aforementioned Mrs Berkowitz. 'A little Bit of This and That' slips into 'Theme' which could be likened to Harvey Bainbridge Church Of Hawkwind style Keyboard pieces. It is an 11.55 voyage to say the least. I found it very spacey sounding with its mellow aura enfolding around a Hawkwind style Drumish Sequence. Again the Guitar and Keyboards work around each other very well indeed. This is a great track for letting the music take you away. 'Cycles' begins lost but it soon turns into a stunning jam that is full of shit hot stuff. The atmosphere lifts and weaves its magic, and it is the one that I felt was a good end piece to what is a fantastic album.
X Space on this one really shows what improvisation is all about. From beginning to end I found it well produced and the sound quality is faultless. Considering that all music is jammed, it sounds rehearsed and that is the art of improvisation. Making it sound not jammed, and Ante Marijian & Bruce Satinover do it very well on all tracks. There are a few bands out there doing this type of thing but X-Space for me shines among them with their own way of doing it. Anubian Lights, Quarkspace and Saturnia all do similar things but X-Space do it more like Spacefolds style of improv based creations. So if you like that sort of thing that's what this is. In my opinion it is more my type of music than the first CD. It is less the dancey feel and more the spacey feel.
For more information and to hear sound samples you can visit the X Space Mp3.com web site at: http://www.mp3.com/xspace.
You can email Bruce Satinover at: email@example.com, and Ante Marijan at: Ante_Marijan@yahoo.com.
Contact via snail mail c/o Moink!; 851 Washington; Oak Park, IL 60302.
Reviewed by Albert Pollard