Melodic Energy Commission - "Time Is A Slippery Concept"
(Energy Discs Records 2004, NRG 31)
From Aural Innovations #31 (June 2005)
After an absence of well over two decades, Melodic Energy Commission has at last returned to Earth and have brought with them a mesmerizing log book of their travels through hyperspace. Time Is a Slippery Concept features 16 songs of such differing shades and hues that resulting sonic kaleidoscope may very well overload your senses. Though Don Xaliman is the only original crew member left from the original incarnation of MEC, he's brought together from the distant shores of the galaxy an excellent supporting cast of fellow space-time travelers. To bluntly summarize the shifting moods and constantly evolving textures of any of the pieces that make up Time Is a Slippery Concept would be a grave injustice to the album's dreamy eclecticism. Still, there are common threads that weave their way through the shimmering arabesque Xaliman has constructed. Any number of the songs on Time Is a Slippery Concept would be fitting accompaniment to an excursion through the great pyramids of Giza - if, that is, they'd been jettisoned into space to orbit the Earth forever. Combining the ancient lyrical mysticism of Egyptian tomb music with the cyberdelic ethos of contemporary electronica, songs such as "Planet Hopping," "Crystal Cave," "Light Beams Pass" and "Moon Surfing" transport the listener to spectral vistas that fuse the sacred and the earthy into a horizon where past, present and future collide. It's a dizzying experience, and one made indescribably exotic by the astonishing variety of instruments employed: flute, theremin, violin, gongs, kulintang, dijeridu, santur, dulcimer, conch shell, kalimba, bongos, not to mention the more traditional instruments such as guitar, bass, synthesizer and drums. And though primarily instrumental, the pieces that feature vocals ("Figure It," Beehive Jive" and "Decisions with Precision," for instance) are engaging in their own way. Still, Xaliman is at his best with sound construction and ambient texturing, particularly on deep space voyages such as "Lifting Wave" and "Underground Summit." Time Is a Slippery Concept is one of those rare discs that deserves, and indeed rewards, repeated listening, particularly in the long quiet nocturnal abyss between midnight and dawn. The pharaohs of the far-flung future will no doubt be listening to Time Is a Slippery Concept with their Sony headphones as Osiris welcomes them into the city of the dead. A much-to-be treasured jewel and a must listen for anyone looking for strange new sonic worlds to explore.
For more information you can visit the Melodic Energy Commission web site at: http://www.melodicenergy.com.
Reviewed by Charles Van de Kree