Anubian Lights - "Distant Beacons: Unreleased Tracks & Rarities 2002-2011" (Self-Released 2011)

From Aural Innovations #43 (October 2011)

As an introduction, I'd like to share a special moment: I remember once, as I was driving to school, listening to Let Not the Flame Die Out soon after its release, in this particular instance, it was about my sixth play-through of the album... true, I may have been suffering from some insomnia at the time, but it was, after all, that particular listening when it seemed the album fully revealed all its magic to me, these tracks of luscious deep-space rhythm-driven melody-music had finally merged and blossomed in my mindbody. Ali Mamoun's Broken Entranceway especially. Iit was so orgasmic a sensation that it bordered on some kind of pain. That said, and a tad less dramatic: quite a pleasant surprise it was to come across these new nuggets at the merch table at the Brainticket gig. Mr. Del Rio says that the newer tracks are to be released on the forthcoming album (perhaps as different mixes). The opener Vertical Mapping is an instrumental piece, not electronic but a full rockin' combo, and didn't get me too stimulated 'til the atmospheric keyboards set in later. Adele Bertei is not present on any of these tracks as far as I can tell and it seems that they've dropped the more commercial style of Phantascope and delved back into the outer-space-music of the early years, which is just fine with me (though I do really dig some of said album's songs). Poles Apart (Summer Mix) suggests such, being as beautifully spaced as anything from the first two albums. Tommy Grenas and Len Del Rio have a great knack for layering multiple tracks of cosmic keyboard and synth melodies over well-executed programming, sequences and samples. And they've always had their own sound, one which still tends to tickle my aural pleasure centers. Sign Of the Line sounds like it could be an outtake from Nazbar - an album which took a while to charm me but now stands as a special favorite for moods that no other album quite suits. Tommy's under-stated half-whispered vocals and those patented keyboard swirls... there's still something quite exotic about the sound, it seems indelibly part of their style and yet so naturally integrated with their space-electro leanings so as to not sound forced or fit in with any kind of stylized exotic or "world music". Rotodyne is a super funky space-dance number. I can't even tell if that riff is a keyboard or guitar... probably the latter... but in space no one names instruments, right? Walking Eagle appeared in a mostly instrumental form on their last interim CD-R, but this one's all the better for being embellished by Lisa Papineau's sexy breathy narration: Turns out this version was released on the Bruce Haack Tribute album: Dimension Mix. Sky People is unfettered Anubian Heaven... no one else extracts these sounds from the keys. This later version of The Ba And the Ka (originally from the Jackal & 9 EP) is a worthy remix. Ah, Babu's Kitchen! Previously released on the Outflight EP, uses tracks from Ali Mamoun but reinvents it with a stellar sitar loop... and more sweet synth lines... and when the sitar jumps back into the mix again with all the other tracks engaged, it's a gorgeous effect. The Noobs prove they can turn out killer dub on Seven Centuries, equally spaced as it is groovy. Jet Rock (Ambient Mix) is beatless space/sky music that drifts along on clouds of whispy keys, spiked with various effects and melodies, the course treated radio static building up to entirely overtake the outro. Fur Immer Und Ewig may be the winning number here. It certainly has the driving Neu!-beat one would expect from the title. Add to that the bass-line, the deutsch vocals (femme and Kraftwerk-robot), the uber-kosmiche Nooblisciousness... sehr schoen! The album closes with The Twisted Ladder... like the opener, a full-band instrumental, not bad, but it's the stuff between the bookends that's the most glorious. Thank you! Love, Chuck

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Reviewed by Chuck Rosenberg

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