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Psychonavigation 5

 Psychonavigation 5 - PW 45
  Release Date: 18 March 2002
  Limitation: 2000

   The Catalyst                          7.22
    Part 1 - Preparation                10.33
    Part 2 - Running into a Dream        5.39
    Part 3 - Holy Man                    8.50
    Part 4 - Alien Particles             7.35
   Life Eternal                         11.43

  all tracks written by Pete Namlook and Bill Laswell

The opener "the catalyst" is hard beat-driven loop-oriented strange noise with outlandish vocals and experimental sound modulations. It's quite danceable but hard to imagine a context in which to be played.

"Preparation" is a drone track with the beats from "The Catalyst" in the background. Not a good match.. leaving the listener unsatisfied between the two extremes of lulling and nervous states.

The stream decides to move to the nervous side again, a soft and quite complex variation of the known beat theme: "Running into a Dream". With "Holy Man", the drone pads are back with some contemplative spoken words accompanying the beats.

"Alien Particles" marks the intensive finale of the four "Cryosleep" episodes, everything comes to a head.

The last track "Life Eternal" is dedicated to Oskar Sala and sounds like the aftermath of "Cryosleep". For the first time on this disc it gets melodious with bass and strings, before it all sinks into dark ambiance with the damped recurrence of the percussion theme that goes throughout this album... until the end.

Psychonavigation V is a tribal aural electro infusion that for my taste suffers from too little progression. On the other hand, it has to offer one of the finest percussion adventures in FAX history... quite different from all the four predecessors, I would relate it more to the Outland series than to Psychonavigation.

(review by Wolfgang Röttger)

This has some of the right ingredients for a Psychonavigation album...it's as dark as you like, serious stuff indeed. Unlike the previous installments though, this is predominantly a techno-ish album. The opening track, The Catalyst, sets the scene for a dark voyage of the mind, and starts off excellently but soon reveals itself to have little substance over and above the dark tones and techno-ish rhythms. The main track, Cryosleep, at 32 minutes long, carries on along the same theme...sure there is some evolving, some areas have more or less bass and beats, dark droning, vocal samples and so on...but over the course of several repeat listens I still can't help but reach for the 'skip' button when it all becomes too grating. The final track, Life Eternal, is a kind of quieter, less grating version of what went before. The least played Fax album that I own, in an otherwise outstanding series.

(review by AdAckBar1972)

After seeing some so-so reviews of this one on the site, I felt it needed a positive recommendation from someone who absolutely adores this album. I'll admit I'm not necessarily an "average" FAX fan (I love Kooler and dislike Shellground), but this album may be the best "loop-based" album on the label.

"The Catalyst" starts out LOUD! with freaky synths that evoke a Halloween-ish mood (every time I listen to it, it takes me back to memories of a huge haunted house in a barn way in the outskirts of Joliet years ago), and the Sci-Fi voice samples only add to this mood. Loud abnormal percussion, doesn't sound like any instrument I've ever heard, is what leads the rhythm of this piece. It's pretty much consistent, with one big simple-but-effective bass sound, and it leads out with repeated unintelligible radio-sounding samples. Really pretty creepy sounding, actually.

"Cryosleep", the main attraction. Part 1, "Preparation", doesn't have a big fade-in, no real preparation at all. It starts out smacking you in the face with a huge electric noisy drone. Over the ten minutes that this drone is in your face, the harmonics are constantly shifting on it. Sometimes it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard, sometimes it almost sounds like a beautiful major chord... and it's all the same sound. No one else could make complete noise sound so good. About a minute into the noise percussive beats start to make their way in. For about 5 minutes these rhythms are more felt than heard, as it takes a while for them to emerge above the drone. These beats are more or less related to the beats on "The Catalyst," but they seem to resemble the beats of Part I of "The Dark Side of the Moog IX" about as much as that track. Not a problem, though. It sounds just as good in both contexts. Loud low gongs signify that something is coming, and eventually...

Part 2, "Running into a Dream." Say goodbye to the drone, now we have the rhythms full force. The centerpiece rhythm is a panning (what sound like...) live drum sample that gives the impression that these drums they're using are getting the s#!t beat out of them. The loud gongs continue the piece for a few minutes as the main drum loop fades out then back in again, but my favorite "sound" here is a panning plong-y sounding rhythm that sounds like it could have been processed in some way from an '80s drum maching (think "clave" sample). This loop, along with a few others here, I know I've heard elsewhere outside the Namlook universe. I'd like to get my hands on some of them...

The same bass sound from "The Catalyst" comes in again and is the biggest change in Part 3, "Holy Man." A lot of the percussion loops go out, some new ones come in, and a sample of Vin Diesel from the movie "Pitch Black" gives the track its name. This one is generally sonically less unforgiving as the first two, but still very intense. The main drum loop from Part 2 comes in a little bit near the end of this part, and it feels to lose a little steam as it moves into...

Part 4, "Alien Particles." Some themes and loops from Part 2 come back in again with some very loud, very deep bass. This is where you can hear my favorite sound from Part 2 most clearly. After a few minutes of strict intensity, some very loud and very repetitive (in a good way!) percussion loop take over almost everything else, and then it quickly narrows to a quiet bottleneck. The last few loops playing at the end just "pop," and that's the end of "Cryosleep". You made it, but it's not quite over yet.

"Life Eternal," the only track with conventional "music" on it starts with a slightly rock-ish electric bass loop and a simple trautonium melody for Oskar Sala. In the background sounds like the "aftermath" of some of the beats from previous parts of the album, very deep and very dark. Once the trautonium melody goes out, the aftermath beats continue and some reverberating and unintelligible voices accompany and add to the dark mood. A few of the quieter loops from "Cryosleep" start to come in, and then around 5 minutes a stuttering electric bass drone (in some ways related to "Preparation") lays the main foundation for the track. It continues for this fashion with some more creepy sounds and Cryosleep loops coming in, but it still stays very dark and "quiet" compared to the rest of the tracks. It all starts to fall apart and goes out on an echoing bass beat. Very unsettling.

This is one of the few releases on FAX that I can safely say has a very "creepy" tone to it. It's definitely one of the least playful and most "R-rated" of the FAX catalog. Put this soundtrack to a movie, and you've got yourself a seriously freaked-up movie. It also may be the most loop-oriented on the label (I'm by no means a completist, so I wouldn't know for sure), basing itself primarily on percussion and rhythm with the only real "melody" being the first 3 minutes of the last track. All in all, a fantastic album that defines the name "Psychonavigation" so perfectly. As much as 4th entry changed the direction of the series, this 5th one chages it again in a completely different direction.

A+ work.

(review by Kevin Renick)

After the very satisfying but somewhat out-of-place 4th installment of the ultra high quality Psychonavigation series, PK deftly pushes the creative envelope once again and transports the listener back into deep space journey mode, but this time in a visceral and surprising way. The floating driftscapes found on the second and third installments have been replaced here by intensely pulsing, cyber-injected liquid fractal grooves (fans of American electro-shamans Steve Roach and Vir Unis take note!), mixed with plenty of ambient atmospherics and some effective film-dialogue samples, for a heady trip that's certainly different but no less intoxicating.

Unlike its predecessors (especially Psych. 4), this disc is very abstract in terms of melody and structure--there's very little of either, with the music morphing into a series of sound collages, but fortunately this is not a weakness here. "The Catalyst" opens the disc and proves PK and Mr. Laswell mean business, with a thundering two-note bass sequence riding beneath a heavy trance rhythm and spiraling percussive effects. Once pummeled out into the outer echelons of the black void, the 33-minute "Cryosleep" (broken into four sections) takes over, replacing the pounding beats with more delicately hypnotic sputtering rhythmic patterns, Laswellian guitar drones, ambient soundscapes, and even some African drumming harkening back to "Outland 2." Those turned off by Laswell's former heavy dub-bass excursions with Namlook I think will find more to their liking here, as PK does a good job of weaving Laswell's material more subtly into the mix.

The last track, "Life Eternal," is introduced by a melodic bass solo, quickly followed by PK's tribute to the late Oskar Sala via the trautonium. This short melodic interlude soon morphs into a continuation of "Cryosleep"'s liquid grooving and cosmic ambience. Seems like they could have done more with this last track, especially considering the somewhat meager 52 minute running time of the disc. Nevertheless, Psychonavigation 5 succeeds on many levels and is a more than worthy addition to this excellent ongoing collaborative partnership. The beautiful cover art also gets my vote as the best thing Andre has done, summing up the spirit of the music to a tee.

(review by Chris Knowlton)


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