Alternative Music Press CD REVIEWS
Chris Blazen, Tony Gerber, John Rose, Diane Timmons
'SPACECRAFT' (Lektronic Soundscapes LS97009)
This is a wonderful release for enthusiasts of space travel, which transports the listener to a world of astral travel and sub-space beings. Largely dark and mysterious, like space itself; this is true electronic music augmented by Chris Blazen on electronic -sustaining koto, and sampler. There are also excerpts from NASA recodings which were used to enhance the production. These seven stretched out minimalist spaces float and shift from moment to moment, from emotion to emotion. For those who want to "boldly go where no man has gone before as Gene Rodenberry would say, Spacecraft is a real delight, taking us on a wild ride through the further reaches of the imagination. This is a true masterpiece of ambient spacemusic.
Daily Digital Opinion for 12/11/97
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 22:11:04 -0800
DAILY DIGITAL OPINION
Volume 1, Issue 72
Edited by J.F. Parnell (JFParnell@spinme.com)
*** DDO PICK OF THE DAY ***
This is space/trance music made like it used to be. No new-agey saccharine tweedleblips or techno rhythm-machine-clatter, just s-l-o-w, dreamy, otherworldly, mountain-of-sound synth stylings with a light sprinkling of vocals,
found samples and science-fiction-movie sounds. Low-tech effects like varying tape speeds are used here, as are vintage electronic instruments like the Minimoog and Memorymoog. An electric sustaining koto (which I can't readily pick out of the mix) completes the sound. It brings to mind Tangerine Dream around their "Zeit" or "Phaedra" periods with some parts of it suggesting the earliest experimental electronic music of the 1950s and 60s. This is 63 minutes of excellent music for relaxing, meditating, sleeping or simply enjoying. Cool NASA close-up photo of Saturn on the front cover.
Wind and Wire CD REVIEWS Jan/Feb 1998
Lektronic Soundscapes (1997)
Genre: Ambient Space
Four musicians comprise Spacecraft and they certainly seem to have jones for NASA, based on all the liner notes and credits. One would think this project was sponsored in part by Cape Canaveral! It may also have something to do with the fact that three of the musicians are teacher/educators (the fourth one we don't know about), using the jewel box as a soap box to spread the gospel of technological exploration of outer space. Amen, brothers and sisters!
Be that as it is, the music is - as you'd expect - primarily synthesizer/electronic. While all the music is first rate, Spacecraft doesn't really explore any new sonic territory (pun equally intended and not intended). My ears perked up at the beginning of "Zero, One." I thought I was hearing some vintage Karlheinz Stockhausen "Hymnen" being sampled (also near the end of the track) but, no, it was just part of the composition. Actually a lot of different sounds were embedded in the 22 minute long track, including a "zizzing" (comet?) sound that was bit perturbing to these ears. That being the only discordant element, though, the seven tracks of Spacecraft will serve to take one "out there," to chill, in a very deep space that is welcoming and restful -- gently unfolding and embracing the listener. This is a very good CD of this genre and comes highly recommended as such
Mann Makula Hawks
SLUG MAGAZINE OCT. '97
'SPACECRAFT' (Lektronic Soundscapes LS97009)
Ambient electronica that effectively conveys the experience of being adrift in space. I see slowly tumbling vessels, power running low. Communication systems still sputter bursts of white noise, but relays no messages. Outside, tiny lights are immensely beautiful in a world immensely cold.
Spacecraft: Exploring the Aural Void
By Matt Howarth
Special to SPACE.com
posted: 12:08 pm ET
12 July 2000
As a musical entity, Spacecraft came into being in 1996, when the members witnessed a session of NASA image and sound mappings from the Voyager space probe. Inspired by the majesty of space, band members Tony Gerber and John Rose immediately programmed a new palette of sounds for their synthesizers. With the additional electronics of Diane Timmons and Giles Reaves, Spacecraft was primed for launch.
Since then Spacecraft has released four CDs and thrilled numerous planetarium audiences with their improvised electronic soundscapes accompanied by space visuals. The band is currently working on producing a sound and visual package for use in planetariums.
INTERVIEW WITH TONY GERBER
SPACE.com: For those unfamiliar with Spacecraft's live performances, can you (briefly) give us an idea what the audience experiences?
Tony Gerber: Ninety percent of our concerts have accompanying visuals. Projected computer animations, NASA footage, lasers, star machines and SFX lighting are all used. Many of our shows are in planetariums around the country, so an "under the dome" environment is generally the venue. The audiences, which we have found to be a broad cross-section of ages, from 2 to 80, witness creativity in action as the Spacecraft members each play their instruments "live," projecting the "band" vibe, performing mostly music of the moment. The audience and venue influence each of our performances differently. Each show is unique. One of the most remarkable things is the fact that the children under 10 years old are totally quiet. Even the babies! In all of our recordings from these concerts, I don't think I have ever heard a child cry out. It must be captivating.
SPACE.com: Do you find working with predetermined visuals restricts the generation of improvised soundscapes?
TG: Absolutely not. First of all, we rarely perform with predetermined visuals. The visual artists who work with us are generally creating "visual music" of the moment also. Or if they have predetermined visuals, we haven't seen them until we are performing. Many times we are reacting to the visuals, or the visuals are reacting to us. It all seems to magically work together. The element of chance is also a remarkable synchronicity.
SPACE.com: The emotional connections between outer space and ambient electronic music are pretty obvious, both evoking mysterious sensory realms. Do you perceive an applicable union between these elements once mankind begins sending manned missions to other worlds?
TG: Most definitely. I can imagine nothing more appropriate than traveling to Alpha Centauri with Spacecraft music playing over the starship's sound system! Ambient soundscapes as an audio environmental background in the International Space Station will be perfecto. In fact, traveling to the International Space Station and creating a live recorded concert from space, in the upcoming media lab module is something we would like to see happen. I think we are in the infancy of this style of music and it will grow far more appropriate as mankind aims for the stars.
SPACE.com: Besides the lure of space, what other factors inspire Spacecraft's music?
TG: The initial inspiration for the band was derived from NASA resources. The synthesizer technology we are using stems from NASA developments. We are of the "landing on the moon" generation and space was a part of our childhood. These are obvious space connections. However, we look at our music in a very spiritual light too. The recognition of the blessing or gift that we collectively have to create this music is also important. We are all very close, like family, and the growing relationship we have with each other is also very key. We travel with John and Diane's little girl, Claire, who is 3 years old. Claire is a never-ending catalyst to our work. We gain inspiration in the great times we have together as humans. We also find it very important to intertwine earthly energy into our music. Traveling in nature and reacting to the beautiful environments we encounter on the road are also very integral. We look at planet Earth as a living organism floating in space. The balance between the spiritual, technological, stellar and earthly planes are of utmost importance to us.
SPACE.com: What was the last scientific discovery that made you go "Wow!"?
TG: I would most definitely have to say "Wow!" to the recent tree ring studies and polar core samples that support the "Catastrophic Volcano of 539 AD" discovery. This recent historic event drastically changed our course of history. A volcanic eruption that mushroomed ash over the entire globe. Darkness, drought, and cold for a decade. Civilizations were toppled, and a new world scene was born. This concept is changing the way I look at ancient world history and culture.
SPACECRAFT: Spacecraft (CD on Lektronic Soundscapes)
Although possessing mildly melodic attributes, the music on this 64-minute CD is generally comprised of ambient tonalities, often almost abstract in their sonic structure.
Electronic sounds are the instrument of choice, although there is considerable use of electric sustaining koto. The synthesizers are tuned to pierce the outermost regions between earth and sky, where atmosphere gives way to cold vacuum. Leaving our planetary mass behind, Spacecraft's music heads into the void with full heart and astral sensibilities.
Often duplicating the peripheral, mechanical noises we all attribute to space travel, the band amalgamates these sounds of sci-fi subconsciousness with their own stylistic atmospheric sonics. Long synthi waves overlap each other, expanding without ever reaching an endpoint.
Inspired by the excitement shared by space enthusiasts, this music delves quite loyally into the cosmic moods and aural awe of everything beyond the atmosphere of our Earth. Never becoming too minimal, nor blustering into overt expression, the calm of the vastness of space is captured with clinical perfection, creating soundscapes of nebulous drifting which seethe with a controlled power, hinting at greatness just out of reach.
SPACECRAFT: Hummel (CD on Lektronic Soundscapes)
Recorded in the Hummel Planetarium at Eastern Kentucky University in 1998, this 69-minute CD captures the wonderful airs of Spacecraft's free-forming, flowing live performance. While the band played their atmospheric electronics, their music directed the movements of laser light refracting across the Planetarium's evocative dome.
These pleasantly languid auralscapes are tinged with delicate keyboards, comfortably paced to inject melody to the slowbuilding tonalities. Balanced between minimal and demonstrative, this music oozes in the air, like a benevolent swarm of electric bees.
The synthesizers are focused on generating an aura of placid tension with their purring growl. Ethereal textures are everywhere, like intangible windstorms seen in the distance. Fragile keyboard riffs manifest to stir the cosmic mists with their sonic guidance.
Guitar effects and heavenly choral vocals creep into the mix, adding depth to the liquid electronics. In fact, their presence in the music is often cleverly hidden by their otherworldly nature; the guitar in particular employing a very vaporous sound. Although the primary use of voice is restricted to choral pitches, one track does feature lyrical vocals (in Latin).
This music's sense of awe swells with an invigorating harmonic power. The mellow cosmic soundscape becomes enlivened with agreeable currents of euphony.
SPACECRAFT: Earthtime Tapestry (CD on Lektronic Soundscapes)
This 57-minute CD from 1999 features a distinctly more melodic side of Spacecraft's music, as the band explores the link generated between earth and life by sonic resonance.
This time, the domain of synthesizers is visited by a guitar presence and choral vocals. While the soft electronics pulse and flow like energized mist, processed guitars flavor the blend with soaring tones, enhancing the music's ascendant quality.
After lulling the listener with ambient soundscapes, the guitars adopt a more traditional presence, and the synthesizers become more keyboard-like with cyclic sequences of sparkling rhythms. The long waves of sound build into dreamy passages, accompanied by heavenly non-lyrical female vocal pitches. There's even a sedate trace of synthetic percussion in a few pieces.
These compositions are touched with a glorious sunlight, charging each holistic tone with a shimmering quality. Spacecraft's fusion of melody with minimalism produces an ambience that is enthusiastic and inspirational.
Despite these earthier origins, this music still lives in outer space. The expansive qualities cannot be restrained to any atmospheric condition, needing the limitless void to unfurl and properly display its inherent spaciness.
SPACECRAFT: Kaleida Dreams (CD on MP3.com)
Released in 1999, this CD sports 48 minutes of the band's delicate electronic melodies, a soundtrack for the award-winning computer animation of David Turner. Also included is a band history and pictures.
Rich with keyboard melodics and spacey guitars, this music stands nicely on its own, pulsating and cascading with ethereal qualities. The pieces alternate between atmospheric passages and lightly active tunes with synthetic rhythms ricocheting about in the electronic surf.
These soundscapes are evolutionary, involving the blossoming of cosmic textures that mature through each track's timespan. The general tone is a sedate one, generating a calming sense of wonder with their sparkling ambience.
Averaging four minutes in length, these songs display a more focused brand of Spacecraft's ambient style, featuring a higher degree of melodic content.
SPACECRAFT: Spacecraft - 4 star Amazon.com
The Sound of Silence in Deep Space, May 2, 2000
Reviewer: Paul Allaer from Cincinnati
From the opening moments of the first track Planet Orbit, Spacecraft takes you onto a flight in deep space, giving you a flavor of the sounds of silence found there. Not much melody here, just mood explorations with synthesizers of all kinds. Think Tangerine Dream around Phaedra and Zeit. The key track is Zero, One: a 22 minute "quiet blowout" of their deep space sound. This album is the perfect setup for what would come next for Spacecraft, namely the Hummel CD (see review there).
SPACECRAFT: HUMMEL - 5 star Amazon.com
The Best Tangerine Dream Album Never Made By TD, April 30, 2000
Reviewer: Paul Allaer from Cincinnati
I first heard a track from the "Hummel" album on the "Echoes" late night program on NPR and immediately knew I had fallen on a gem. As a big fan of Tangerine Dream era '73-'77, I keep hoping to come across more albums that display the same unique sound of "deep space" made legendary by TD (think "Ricochet", "Rubycon", "Encore"). Well, look no further. "Hummel" is as good as, if not better, than anything TD ever put out. Clearly, the "Hummel" album is a loving tribute by Spacecraft to TD. Spacecraft uses the same deep pulses, synthesizers and screetching guitar solos to create 70 minutes of the best TD music you'll ever hear.
Lektronic Soundscapes (1999)
When I interviewed Tony Gerber earlier this year, and he said that Giles Reaves had joined Spacecraft for their next release, I eagerly looked forward to it. Reaves is well-known for his space classics Sea of Glass and the treasured, out-of-print Wunjo. He also was featured on Gerber’s solo CD Blue Western Sky, to which I must confess a certain sentimental allegiance, being the first CD I reviewed in print. I may not be fully objective, but I think it is safe to say that Earthtime Tapestry continues in the direction set by Hummel, painting beautiful sonic landscapes of extraterrestrial places.
Like Hummel, Earthtime Tapestry is firmly rooted in improvised, flowing space music, with much more melodic sense that the first, self-titled release Spacecraft. Spacecraft have two things going for them that keep their music very fresh and inventive. One is the improvisational nature of their music, the other is the slight changing of personnel from album to album. Though Gerber, John Rose and Diane Timmons seem to have captured a signature sound, they also seem to keep pushing the envelope just a bit, this time with Reaves comfortably joining in. Spacecraft seems to straddle the lines between ambient, experimental, and new age, in a way that is so easily listenable. The end result seems effortless, as in “Dreams of One,” which floats so smoothly and softly, drifting with Timmons’ voice as it echoes across the expanse of space. The eleven selections, which run together as one, strike a perfect balance of musical energy, seeming to know just when to pull back or really take off. The mood ranges from playful (“Stepping Lightly”) to sad (“Elder’s Mourning”) to a little spooky (“Beyond”). Throughout, the space theme resonates, as there is a fragility, a delicate touch that binds it all together. Earthtime Tapestry is stellar space music.
Tony Gerber: Blue Western Sky (CD, 62:25); Lektronic Soundscapes
P. O. Box 15867
Durham, NC, 27704-0867 USA
This is one of those electronic, ambient, spaced synth, harps, and guitar
releases that you can free fall in and find hidden places in your soul and
psyche. This is bliss and the purest of light in sound that warms like the
afternoon sun and the spectral zephyrs of daydream. Gerber has crafted a gem
here. If you liked Ash Ra Tempel's guitarist/synthman's New Age of Earth or
Reaves' Sea of Glass then you'll love this. The super-sustain guitars and
dreamy keys send you off in relaxing, deep breathing exhalations, of
absolute peace. Gerber's works are a reverie in sound. This is splendid
thought-stream music done just right. If you collect well-done ambient
works, want to deep dream, and enjoy creatively original music -- FIND THIS!
Superb, supreme, schweet stuff! I listen often, to this, since it arrived.
It has sensitivities that span the best of the '70s and the technological
expertise of the '90s. Highest of recommendations.
~ John W. Patterson
Tony Gerber, Chris Blazen, John Rose, Diane Timmons: Spacecraft (CD, 63:52);
Take the data transmissions of Voyager to NASA from Jupiter, gravitational
wave audio studies, and NASA imagery -- mix it with the imaginative minds of
four talented people and you get Spacecraft. Seven space music,
electro-ambient, journeys await you. This is not your typical synth project
of quaint melodies and soothing textures. This is a '90s culmination of
things early Tangerine Dream or Ash Ra Tempel projects were merely reaching for.
Chris Blazen on Electric Sustaining Koto, Akai Sampler, Tony Gerber on
Memorymoog, Minimoog, JD800 Synths, John Rose and his wife, Diane Timmons,
on Roland synths pull the stars and solar storms down to your living room.
This is less music than it is an experience in space-visions. You have got
to love electronic music and all its unexplored nether regions to fully
appreciate the worlds of Spacecraft. Think Eno's Apollo space sounds,
Roach's miasmas of the universe's breathing in The Magnificent Void, the
avant garde works of Subotonik, and Salvador Dali on lysergic acid. You are
now approaching the strange dimensions of Spacecraft. Only on the last
track, "Destination Infinity" do we gain a sense of resolution, a signature
Gerberian area I'll call, "the final answer revealed."
This is trippy stuff, drenched in creative vision, pulsing with the droning
hymns of cyborg priests evangelizing distant worlds. Take a chance and
wander the unknown. This release is ripe pickings for any of you budding
sci-fi movie makers for soundtrack material. Cool, very cool. Recommended
for cosmic dreaming. ~ John W. Patterson
Tony Gerber, John Rose, Diane Timmons: Hummel (LIVE) (CD, 69:04);
This live recording at Eastern Kentucky University's Hummel Planetarium
captures the music reflecting and directing laser light refracting within
the sky-vault dome. Those of us fortunate enough to have come across Tony
Gerber's Blue Western Sky will hear a strong echo of that earlier work here.
Joining Gerber is John Rose and Diane Timmons on synthesizers. And going a
delightful step further we have Timmons' angelic, wordless choir vocals
adding an ethereal human dimension
There is a definite Tangerine Dream sequenced Tangram structure to "The
Summon" which comes off quite well. "Explorations In Space" is more of a
Jonn Serrie/Steve Roach thing but evokes strongly the darker galactic
atmospherics of Spacecraft, another Gerber, Rose, Timmons, et al project.
"Galileo" returns to a sequenced T. Dream/ Kitaro snippet. "Hummel", the
title track opens with phased cosmic winds and a very Edgar Froese solo
feel. I heard Aqua, Stuntman, and even that T. Dream classic, Rubycon. This
is a great track, letting one hear what Tangerine Dream could be doing if
they weren't noodling around doing dance mixes or worse. Gerber adds guitar
in this track's outro.
"Dialogues of Energy" is a percussive, ethnic-tribal, chime-vibes, Water
Music-ish piece with Nik Tyndall tendencies that is a nice rhythmic
change-of-pace. A bit of Peter Buffet piano is woven into the crystalline
passages. "Astrollenium" crawls all over you in the thick heaviness of a
droning, resonant mass. Gerber solos on an overdriven, infinite-sustain
guitar. The effects on your head with this one are near maddening with
delight. When you think you can stand no more ecstasy, Timmons' lilting and
haunting voice peels away another layer of your spinal column. This is the
light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel. Timmons' voice is like a riding out a
positive NDE. "Oh man, this is good!" We are treated to more of Timmons on
"De Profundis" as she chant-sings in Latin, a psalm to the reigning King of
the Universe, Jehovah God, Yahweh of Israel. Beautiful synth keys accompany
her in a David Lanz, Peter Buffet, T. Dream style with the slightest touch
of reggae mixed with a sombre Middle Eastern flair. Very nice. I'll save the
last track, "Domes of Light" for you to experience without any of my
This is a wonderful way to experience ambience and electronic music. I
heartily recommend this offering. Folks, this is a must-have.
~ John W. Patterson
Eclectic Earwig Reviews: Progressive Rock and Beyond
LETTERS FROM FANS
“The Spacecraft Cybersphere concert was the best concert I have ever been to in my life. I didn’t want it to end and I still try to explain it to people, but it was something that you had to see for yourself. I know that this is going to sound weird but I think that the music of Spacecraft is going to change the world, because whenever I listen to your music I just get in a better mood. I know if it works for me then I know it will work for anyone else. As I always say, you keep making the music and I will keep listening.”
Your Biggest Fan,
“You guys ROCK !!!!!!!! I have been playing guitar and listening to rock and alternative for fifteen years and recently I have been so bored by it. Then I stumbled across Echoes on public radio and heard you. What an epiphany! I can’t get enough. I have all three of your Cds and listen to them all the time. Thank you for getting me excited about music again.”
...I have always loved this kind of music that you make and promote even though I never new quite what it was called and had limited exposure to it. So I am glad that the artform has such a strong visionary as yourself to produce piece after piece of musical genius and to promote it so wholeheartedly. Space music fans everywhere certainly owe alot of the growing popularity to you.
Radiowave - Greg Paugh
... The last time I saw you, you appeared at the Hummel Planetarium in Richmond. I brought my parents who are both in their upper 60's. I knew it would be an entirely new experience for them (their musical tastes have generally been quite limited due to being "farmer" types living in Eastern Kentucky). They had never heard space/ambient music of any kind and had never seen a laser show. When they left your show, they (especially my father) were in total awe. To them, it was like landing on a different musical planet and experiencing something incredibly foreign, yet good. In fact, my dad, who is normally a bit shy, was compelled to stop and talk with the band members for a few minutes. They absolutely loved it... Anyway, I just wanted to mention this to you and say that I'm grateful for providing a good evening that I was able to share with my parents. :)
Lektronic Soundscapes 1012
Spacecraft sets the controls for deep space with music recorded live in the Hummel Planetarium in Kentucky. This trio of synthesizers and guitar recalls early - '70s Tangerine Dream, when that group was still using live performances as free-form explorations rather than pre-programmed computations. Befitting the planetarium environment, this is music more of design than melody, and it has a pulse more than a rhythm. From the amorphous textures of "Explorations In Space" to the tugging sequencer patterns of the title track, sounds and forms shift and morph through each other, gradually revealing broad chordal structures, gentle pulses, and the interlocking patterns that have long been the hallmark of space music. Spacecraft does it better than many contemporary practitioneers, and Tony Gerber's sinuous guitar leads add another dimension to this sound.
John Diliberto (Billboard Magazine)
ECHOES SYNDICATED RADIO TOP 25 Artists for 10 years
1. Dead Can Dance
2. Loreena McKennitt
4. Happy Rhodes
5. Steve Roach
7. Tangerine Dream
8. Michael Hedges
9. Patrick O'Hearn
10. R. Carlos Nakai
11. Robert Rich
12. Mike Oldfield
13. Brian Eno
14. George Winston
19. Will Ackerman
20. Sheila Chandra
21. Afro Celt Sound System
22. Liz Story
23. Optical Image
24. Adiemus (Karl Jenkins)
25. Paul Winter