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Terre Thaemlitz - Soil
Instinct, US
- David J. Opdyke

In AmbiEntrance, September 14 1997.

Pensive, bleak, dark, eerie and empty. And that's only scratching the surface. This is some of the most haunted musical melancholia I own. I like it alot!

This hour of electronic angst contains 6 tracks ranging from 8:22 to 11:41 in length. As I write, the day is gray; summer's beginning to die, it's been raining, it's bound to rain some more... perfect!

subjective loss, day 83 opens with a quiet wash, like slow feedback, inhabited by distant radio voices and unidentifiable, plaintive burbles of sound. It drifts, oscillating more toward the end. It's all very low-key and somehow unsettling.

elavatorium  features slow bell tones, a helicopter-like presence and bird chirps among the myriad of sounds that make up this piece. Far, far away, a big band ensemble plays as the female singer yammers on. An electric pulse sets the lugubrious rhythm for the latter moments.

Sparse mechanical noises and electric warblings open yer ass is grass. An old film projector runs as a deep drone moves behind. The vocal sample seems to be that of a Marine drill sergeant, espousing the deadliness the Corps can instill in a man (namely Charles Whitman and Lee Harvey Oswald). A spookily quiet air is occasionally punctuated by more electronic sounds until suddenly overtaken by the zealous group cry of "Kill, kill, kill...", which is slowly overridden by mournful strings. (I don't know where Terre gets his sound samples from, but it's nice to get a message along with such chilling ambience. See his track fat chair on the Chillout Phase 2 comp...).

trucker  swirls with various synthesized tones, hisses and drones. An unintelligible vocal riff (something like "Uh roh ha doh... uh reh he deh" ) occupies much of this gray space, but fails to communicate.

Long, quiet tones swell and drone in aging core, aging periphery. Subtle changes and musical sounds keep the mix alive and ever-changing. I think it's a wonderfully titled piece, living up to that name with its thoughtful atmosphere.

cycles wafts in gentle desolation. Occasional subharmonic patterns rumble and a soft ghost of female voice wordlessly sings, another voice seems to quietly cough. A woman's narration and sound effects emerge to tell a tale of domestic abuse, again demonstrating Terre's powerful and meaningful use of borrowed sound sources.

Highly recommended, unless you have a low threshold for depression. Very artistically rendered and minimal in style, the works here are interesting and thoughtful in their own disturbing way. I have to give it Two Up.

(This review posted September 14, 1997)