Soundician The Beauty is Knowing… While Soundician have released via the web (Liquid Audio and MP3 albums) it is also possible to get ‘hardcopy’ disks from them directly, so they fit this issue. Musically untrained, they represent one of the other aspects of DIYing: the tools of the trade (synths, mixers etc) have become more available and people are learning to do it themselves (punk ambient?) and going in various directions at once. Soundician describe themselves as eclectic, which is true. Tuned woodblock percussion (synth – as are all instruments here) create a rapid melodic grounding over which whooshing and shimmers dash, then joined by a thumbpiano and xylophone alternating the main melody of ‘Pebble’. Voice washes are here, as elsewhere. In ‘Missed’ a deep echoed slow drum provides a grounding for rising and resonant tones and a simple picked piano melody surrounded by tinkles (perhaps a bit newage, but the opening and closing tapehiss is a surprise). Somewhat Tangerine-ish, ‘Icicle’ has various synth melodies (vibratto string, voice and thintones) over a rhythm created from a looped bellmelody. A similar influence on the more techno ‘Horizon’ which has a supple and interesting drum loop driving the piano and rising strings. A dreamy keymelody is surrounded by high calls, tone and voice washes and wooshy electro in ‘Aquamarine’ with a simple, rapid beat below. Just when you thought this was straightforward lush ambience, along comes ‘Drowned’ where high echoed bleeps, like some alien animal, call around a sparse beat, with some washes and shimmering blips. And then comes ‘Ether’ where stretched metallic tones cycle is joined by an evocative musicbox melody and then a high almost whistling tone melody that occasionally ear pierces. After which ‘Papillon’ is a jaunty ride of squelched chords and dancing keyboard and harp melodies with lighthearted intimations of atonality ond offkey registers. A bigish finale with ‘Smile’: tyatya repeated loops as layers are added – a slow organ melody, an echoey main tune, pulses and a beat slipped under. This is a enjoyable album – the music is light and pleasing, and there are times in this world when you need that. It has a bit of the feel of a compilation because of the varied nature as Soundician find their voice (some influences are clear), but Odette is a skilled selftaught musician with a clear ear, and it is produced it well (not sure what his influence on the sound is). Well worth checking out if you want some relaxing melodic, with a suggestion of some more devious avenues that the pair could take in the future.
Soundician The Beauty of Knowing 2,5 stars CD-R, Eigen beheer 2001 Soundician’s 2nd album ”Beauty of Knowing” is a bit shorter as it offers just 35 minutes of music, but musically it digs in the same territory as its predecessor. From the beginning is becomes clear that the expressiveness of their music has grown, and again there are great atmospheric tracks to be found like “Horizon” and “Aquamarine”, but with “Drowned” and “Ether” the duo again also dares to step into the deep end as darker undercurrents show up. Surprisingly enough they finish with the nod and a wink of “Smile”. Their sound is tempting and daring, but the sound- and production deserves thumbs up.
It is difficult to imagine, but Soundician’s second CD, “The Beauty is Knowing…”, is even deeper and more beautiful than their first. Using a more sophisticated and more sedate symphonic synthesizer, Odette Johnson and Kit Johnson have fashioned a vast atmospheric wall of sound. But this is not about technique and technology. Odette and Kit have depth in their music. This music is for crawling inside and escaping for a moment or two. Deep listeners will appreciate the vibrant tones and the vivid colors. Those qualities give this album its extra appeal. This wonderful CD is a gem, worthy of inclusion – as a late entry – in many “Best of Year” lists. It is a brief rest stop on the highway of life. Reviewed by Jim Brenholts, author of “Tracks Across the Universe: A Chronology of Ambient and Electronic Music”
SOUNDICIAN The Beauty is Knowing… (C & P) Soundician (2001) The Beauty is Knowing…from the duo of Kit and Odette Johnson (who record as Soundician) amply delivers on the promise of their previously recorded music (available only on Liquid Audio via download). The CD features nine tracks, most of which are three to four minutes in length. All the songs display this duo¹s considerable talent in various micro-genres of electronic keyboard music. Swinging from moods both joyful and celebratory (‘Pebble,’ ‘Horizon,’ and ‘Papillion’) to wistful (the wonderful ‘Icicle’) and including some darker tone poems as well (‘Missed,’ ‘Drowned’ and ‘Ether’), the album¹s strengths are both its polished production and engineering and the unified-yet-diverse approach to composition and performance. While the songs are almost uniformly built upon a repeated musical phrase or melody (all of the cuts being unique to each other, of course), the different moods and tempos lend The Beauty is Knowing…an air of constant flux. If one were to place one¹s CD player into ‘random play’ for this album, I suspect it would be even more delightful an experience as the sequence would be constantly re-shuffled, adding to the feeling of pleasant ‘vertigo,’ as it were. Musically, some songs are dominated by shimmering synthesizers, such as my personal favorite, ‘Icicle,’ and the closing number, ‘Smile.’ The latter transforms itself into a nice low-key drum and bass song by the end – nice wrinkle, that! ‘Pebble’ opens with a reverbed cymbal sound and features delicious kalimba-like tones repeating over synth-vibes, which are also heavily echoed. ‘Missed’ starts off with a thundering bass percussive effect melded to a lower register drone. When a somber piano begins playing a series of repeated notes, the piece takes on a subtle Tim Story-like mood – again, nicely done! ‘Icicle’ as I stated earlier, is my absolute fave on the CD. Shimmering bell-like synths, high-pitched keyboards, and lush synth choruses, combine to paint a cool yet starkly beautiful musical image of icicles hanging from a house¹s roof, reflecting fading sunlight as day comes to a close. Low-key but still pronounced Berlin-esque touches successfully strip the song of any ‘new age’ pretenses. This last comment underscores Kit and Odette¹s knack for adding a wrinkle here and a bit of flavor there to breathe added freshness into their music. Consistently enjoyable, holding up well to repeated listenings (I gave the album at least ten spins prior to reviewing), The Beauty is Knowing…beckons a bright future for Soundician. Catchy without being poppish, ethereal without being cloying, and using electronic rhythms (which I should have delved into more of in this review – sorry) in inventive and clever ways, the recording reveals that the genre of melodic electronic keyboard music has lots of mileage left in it – in the right hands, ofcourse! Recommended!