SOUNDICIAN Soundician (CD-R of Liquid Audio tracks on the artist’s website) (2000) Mixing up various forms of electronic music, e.g. dark-flavored ambient dub, noir-ish electronica, beat-oriented space music and melodic yet still atmospheric soundscapes, the duo that call themselves Soundician have fashioned music that is imminently listenable yet also challenging enough so as to not be merely the latest ear candy. What’s just as unusual as the music is that this is not available as a CD, per se. It’s (the music, that is) stored on their website as Liquid Audio. [note: the tracks reviewed here are now readily available on the artist’s mp3.com site as 2 different DAM CDs] However, since reviewing music requires ready access to it, one song at a time, I convinced them to send me a one-off CD-R. And boy, am I glad I did. This is some tasty stuff, brimming with shadowy darkness, sexy rhythms, and a velvet smooth assortment of sensuous synths. Since the music on the site is not in “album” format, there is no point in talking about “opening” or “closing” cuts. So, I’ll just randomly comment on my favorite songs. “Anniversary” features a snaky series of beats, midtempo in speed and smoky synths, while piano carries the melancholic melody line. “Aegean Blue,” fittingly, has a floating series of synths and ultra-lush strings riding lazily over a kinetic bass rhythm. Again a piano carries the refrain, but it’s matched by some cool echo-effect spacy synth effects. While there is a light feel to the song, somehow this comes across more as a cyber-romantic cut than as dripping wet melodrama. Now, on “Obsidian” the tone becomes decidedly darker, as the song opens with drone-buzz synths which are soon joined by a really eerie beat, almost sounding like some kind of beast dragging its feet on metallic ground. Disturbing but in a hip and cool way. “Curtain” explores spacy territory with cascading arrhythmic synths, Liquid Mind-like synth choruses, and other keyboard washes and effects. “Sleepwalker” is surprisingly cheery, with warm analog synth notes bubbling on top of billowy soft synth washes. Definitely a bit retro at times, the song is sincere and friendly. Here again, the duo (Kit and Odette) show a wonderful knack for fusing piano lead lines with three, four, and even five different electronic keyboard layers. Most impressive. “Dark Water” starts off with the slow sound of drops falling into a pool of subterranean water (that’s a solid guess, I think, as you’ll doubtless agree when you hear it). Minimal synths weave vague fog-clouds of chords and sparse piano notes play out a sad and reflective song laced with regret. There were a few more songs on the CD-R too, but as I said, reviewing this as an “album” seems somewhat ill-advised. What I can tell you with certainty, though, is that Soundician’s music is first-rate EM. Engineering is excellent – the mix is well-done and the production is full of nice touches that make it hard to believe this is their first stab at music (they only started creating music in September of 1999). Their songs are both beautiful and moody, filled with music that is visual and evocative. I don’t know exactly how the whole Liquid Audio thing works, except that you download the songs from their website (see above).Kit wrote to me that they are open to producing “hard copy” (his choice of words) CDs if asked to do so. I’m willing to bet that if you listen to even a few minutes of their music, you’ll want to either download it all or else ask for a CD-R. If you’re a fan of spacy yet melodic dub, ambient noir (on the lighter side of dark) with sensual beats, or just a lover of way cool EM, you’re gonna love Soundician. These two have a lot to offer the genre. I urge you to support them in any way you can.