Panabrite: Illumination
Under The Spire

Panabrite's Illumination perpetuates Under The Spire's recent love affair with cosmic synthesizer music, but there's one thing that clearly sets Norm Chambers' take on the genre apart from those preceding him, and it's also one of the things that makes his contribution to the label's catalogue all the more satisfying. Rather than focusing only on the wilder end of the spectrum, Illumination casts its gaze in the opposite direction, too, in featuring a number of mellow and gentle settings.

Oh, sure, the opener “Cirrus,” with its dystopic ambiance and forceful pulsations, locks solidly into the more familiar style, and other pieces are equally widescreen and sunblinded (e.g., “Moss Port”). And “Moongate,” making full use of its eight-minute running time, does slowly build into a panoramic dynamo emblazoned with starlit splendour and bubbly percolations. But the second piece, “Equinox,” reveals that something different's in play when Chambers overlays a slow, ‘70s-styled drum machine beat with stately mellotron textures and wistful synthesizer melodies. “Artery” also plays like some peaceful cosmic pool one can't resist swimming in, while “Station” presents a potent, seven-minute meditation of psychedelic sputter and synth drones that's seductive, too. “Horizon Cycles,” a brief dreamscape of sequencer patterns, mellotrons, and glockenspiel tinkles, ends the album on a suitably becalmed note. In short, Illumination is often serene and peaceful in tone, making for an untroubled rather than turbulent cruise through the galaxy. What's also appealing about the twelve-inch vinyl release is its incorporation of old-school drum machine rhythms, which lends the material a time-worn, even nostalgic feel, as if to suggest Illumination is Chambers' way of paying homage to genre pioneers like Cluster, Popol Vuh, and Klaus Schulze.

June 2012