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V/A - Trighplane Terraforms No.1

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Artist: V/A

Album: Trighplane Terraforms No.1

Label: Mental Telemetry

Review date: Jun. 20, 2003

Sharpness Amidst the Soft Visions

This beautifully packaged CD is halfway between a collaboration and a compilation, bearing within its confines three groups whose visions mesh while remaining indubitably individualistic. Poland's Magic Carpathians, Britain's Vibracathedral Orchestra, and the Bay Area's Six Organs of Admittance all share a certain otherworldliness while approaching their off-planet forays from different angles.

The two pieces from The Magic Carpathians both bring a stripped-down sonic methodology to work. "Fish/Wish" is nine minutes of odd creaking, squeaking, accordian-like sound that's honestly a bit annoying, combined with slow pulsing bass and ghostly vocals that are appealing. The song is either hauntingly repetitive or annoyingly unchanging, and honestly it depends on what mood I'm in while listening to it. "Uluru" fills the void with an ambient wash of sound, layers of what might be percussion, horns, keyboards – it's hard to tell what some of the sounds might be. Oceanic and elemental, it's rather beautiful. About five minutes in, it suddenly becomes harrowing, with a scary vocal outburst and harsher drones.

Six Organs of Admittance allocate their seventeen minutes on the CD to one epic saga, entitled "Warm Earth, Which I've Been Told." It starts with acoustic guitar and a droning organ sonic backdrop. A quiet tambourine rhythm locks in with the guitar, and chanting vocals enter the audio picture. Later on, the world opens out into wide organ drone and sporadic percussion sounds. Metallic percussion sounds slowly take over, and then fade out to be replaced by wordless chanting and ringing acoustic guitar. Odd, roughly-recorded percussion and vocals finish it out on a melancholic, yet somehow rousing note.

Taking the opposite approach, Vibracathedral Orchestra contribute five individual pieces. "Jubilee" almost rocks in an extraordinarily droney way – thick guitar embedded with bits and pieces of bells and other percussion. It's quite hypnotic. "Vatican Fog" and "Nightbox" are both somewhat random collections of clatter and clink, complete with semi-ritualistic chanting, flute, and percussion clunks, though "Nightbox" does build up some fiendish momentum. "Fanfare" is all dreamy flow while "Sunset Lye" is a thick soup of drone and wavering tones, clattering percussion and mind-bending trance-out sound that is abruptly cut off in the prime of its life.

What's interesting here is the similarities in vision and the different angles taken in painting the pictures. Each of the artists contributes moments that I find rousingly successful, and moments that are less so. Yet when considering that the importance lies in how the complete portrait of their world is conveyed, each is ultimately successful overall. Sometimes it's the sharp edges that make you most aware of the shape of things.

By Mason Jones

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