Just listened to this one, coming in to work this morning - it's more eclectic than the other three and I think it might be looked back on more favourably in the future than say Silence 4. Not a definitive review but, briefly by track ...
1) very eastern in orientation; a hissing flute that seems to announce sunrise - a short and simple introduction.
2) flutish melody again but, this time with greater momentum (electro rhythms) as the day bursts into life.
3) dark, wailing synth gives way to some simple percussive work then, Laswell's bass enters the fray and dominates. Hereafter it's a funky and multi-layered affair. A familiar voice tells of "strangers ... seeking a cure for their own mortality." Ends suddenly. Prematurely ?
4) again the bass underpins; this time orchestral synths. Accessible? Yes. Enjoyable? Yes. Particularly memorable? Perhaps not.
5) starts with chaotic effects and muffled voices, this is sinister. Echoey drones follow - a very atmospheric track.
6) choppy bass work juxtaposed against tribal chanting and synthetic hand clapping. It's an original sound on Fax - one that works well and (for some odd reason) reminds me of "The Electric Spanking Of War Babies" by Funkadelic ! Develops into a full blown, ethnic, drums 'n' bass workout.
7) think original Outland here. An eastern wall of sound shakes your diaphragm, then segues into a Sultanesque section that draws the day to it's close.
8) a piece of psychonavigating monochrome. Is this an aftermath? Sounds like the end of the series to me, as well as the album.
Very satisfying. Looking forward to driving home tonight.
Just want to comment on this one again, having prematurely posted a review shortly after it was released and only one hearing (more fool me).
Quickly bored of this one. As a series, Outland definitely starts on a high and moves progressively downwards. I've now heard numerous releases on Fax with input by Laswell and I'm becoming more and more convinced he's a technician, not an artist.
(review by Paul Milligan)
Outland "IV" follows the development of composition that began in earlier Outlands as well as both the Psychonavigation and Sultan series in its use of Middle-Eastern exotica and instrumentation. The interplay between the artists is seamless by way of both styles combining in such a means that two develop into one. The listener may hear slight cues and recognizable styles found on unaccompanied efforts. Interestingly enough, both artists¹ combined efforts are unique occupying a space left vacant by their solo material. It should be quite apparent even to a novice when listening to Outland that these artists are at the crest of their craft and know their way, methodically, around both studio and instruments. There is never a shaky moment when they lose composure or the material weakens from lack of originality. There is a sense of purpose, sureness and direction in the recording. As does a world-class ice-skater, Outland know precisely what they want to do what works best with the gift they possess, managing to make it seem effortless. The music flows that gracefully. There are a great many surprise sounds that are buried and twisted far down in the mix that gives the listener the consciousness of detail. Even those, which may be presented without Œpersonality¹, are transformed as in the beautifully rendered backdrops of viscerally textured drones. Fact is the music on this release has a magnitude of distinction and finite detail, making each listen fresh with many layers to fully assimilate.
When collectors are introduced to prolific artists such as Muslimgauze or Namlook, the first impression is usually one of questioning the validity of the recordings? In each form we find the prolific. Be it Mozart, Van Gogh or Laswell these artists have much to say and an (un) known time frame in which to do it. As in the sad passing of Bryn Jones, releasing a CD a week only to vanish in the blink of an eye. One may only imagine what he might have been composing ten years down the road.
It is the quality of the music, which is in question. The bottom line. In a world filled with the mundane, the unimaginative and the Œparrot¹, Outland "IV" is a way of escaping, taking a voyage into the mysterious Middle-Eastern sound-worlds of Namlook ands Laswell. To top all of this are the accompanying impossibly great sonics. The fidelity on this disc is of demo-quality representing a clean, quick and detailed sound stage without a hint of bite or harshness. There was a remarkable percussive effect - rendered with so much presence that the dog barked and I thought something in the room had loosened. The dynamics wrought are of such fortitude that keeping a paw on the volume button is advised. A few minutes into the disc I thought our grrl-about-town, Arvo, was going to have a conniption fit! Candles fell over and woofers rubbed on their braces! It wasn¹t very pretty! So do watch the volume level those first few minutes!
(review by Glenn Hammett)