- Ambient/Soundtrack/Experimental

    • cm1974 said...
    • User
    • 28 Jan 2009, 20:35 - Ambient/Soundtrack/Experimental

    Craig Murphy is a musician, composer and producer of experimental music and a multimedia artist working with abstract music videos. Having established the rising Herb Recordings imprint in his native Scotland, Murphy's own output resembles that of a musical odyssey. An obsession with Frank Zappa has seen to a fascination with experimentation and Murphy's many projects span several genres. From the mechanistic, yet poignant electronica of Solipsism, his electro-psychedelic band Shoosh with Neil Carlill and multi-instrumentalist Ed Drury, his audio-visual project Weird Fields, to his recent ambient outlet Murphy's distinctive sound is often abstract, yet retains a rich, melodic and emotional edge.

    Craig Murphy is a man of many projects: the Herb Recordings founder tackles electronica under the Solipsism guise, electro-psychedelia in Shoosh alongside band-mates Neil Carlill and Ed Drury, and deep ambient under the name. Alien Genome Project finds Murphy fashioning a three-part opus that's about as immersive as ambient gets with the album's eight sections featuring multi-tiered synth swells and billowing masses so immense you could disappear within them altogether. The material's galaxial feel and trippy ambiance intensify when distorted voices echo across the limitless expanses of deep space, and nowhere is that epic pitch achieved more intensively than during the title piece which unspools over ten trance-inducing minutes (the sound is so huge, it reduces the voices that occasionally surface to indecipherable mumbles). A thirty-six-minute work of varying moods, Alien Genome Project takes its inspiration from the “Panspermia” theory—the idea that “micro-organisms or biochemical compounds from outer space are responsible for originating life on Earth and possibly in other parts of the universe where suitable atmospheric conditions exist”—but the work can be experienced just as easily on purely musical terms as an engrossing exercise in synthetic dronescaping. If anything, its unapologetically pure synth-based sound has more in common with ‘70s-styled ambient recordings (early Tangerine Dream, say) than a more current release where granular static and other noise might accompany the drones. That Alien Genome Project leaves such a strong impression is due in part to the forceful intensity of its presentation. Textura

    September 2008

    I’m old enough to remember Erich Von Daniken and his potty theories about how earth’s civilizations were brought about through alien contact. There was quite a hoo-ha about it all when I was a kid, and his books flew off the shelves. I’ve just glanced at Wikipedia and was surprised to learn that he’s still with us, and only the same age as Leonard Cohen! Bizarre. Panspermia is the hypothesis that the seeds of life exist all over the universe, and that life on earth is nothing unique, nor even originally from here. Nice theory, but it hasn’t a whiff of evidence to support it (nor to discount it – it’s one of those hypotheses which are simply acts of faith). Exogenesis is something else entirely – the theory that life originated elsewhere and came to earth during the asteroid bombardment of the Pre-Cambrian era, before the planet had an adequate atmospheric shield. Anyway I digress. The reason I brought the topic up at all was that the panspermia theory is the inspiration behind Alien Genome Project, a self-released album by Craig Murphy (whose band Shoosh are featured on the Phantom Channel compilation) under the moniker

    The album consists of drones, cosmic synth chords, and disembodied, distorted vocal samples. It has echoes of Kosmische Musik acts like (early) Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schultze as well as their spiritual descendants such as Pete Namlook. But there are equally nods to Stars of the Lid, Eno’s Apollo and Murcof’s Cosmos projects. The eight tracks unfold slowly. Some are short and fragile; others, like the title track, have a suitably cosmic grandeur. “Hybrid”, the closing section, has a slowed down echoing voice that has the rhythm of whale song, and sounds like the last, fading sounds of a dying civilization. It’s quite a spooky end to a seriously trippy suite of music. Only it isn’t quite the end. There is also a bonus 36 minute mix of the album entitled “Alien Genome Project (Full Blown)”. The album is available from Musiczeit at the address below. Music, Musings & Miscellany is the solo project of Craig Murphy, perhaps better known as one half of electro-psychedelic outfit Shoosh. ‘Alien Genome Project’, however, is like listening to an old-school ambient record, where melodies shift extremely slowly. Indeed, Tangerine Dream and Brian Eno would certainly approve of Murphy’s work.

    Although consisting of eight tracks, the album could be viewed as one long instrumental piece. As the title implies, it does recall a journey in to a world of alien lifeforms but one where said life forms are peaceful beings and no danger is ever threatened. Fragments of dialogue can be heard but they’re so buried under ambient drones, it’s hard to ascertain what’s being said. ‘Replicate’ could be accused of being a Boards Of Canada cast-off but otherwise it’s a warm, slowly shifting journey; content to drift along at its own pace.

    It’s true to say that ‘Alien Genome Project’ belongs to a group of any number of records over the last thirty years which follow a similar space/alien/ambient theme For those post-midnight listens with just the headphones and a bed for company, though, this atmospheric music is the ideal solution. Leonard's Lair

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