Music Reviews

The purpose of this page is to provide added exposure to musicians I respect. The bar is set high. To pass Landschaft quality control, the music must be of a quality that meets or surpasses the standard that would secure them a commercial recording release, and/or that I feel an itch to do a Landschaft mix of. I do not review everything they produce - see the band's own websites for complete chronologies - what I review is what I encounter, when I encounter it.

Modulator ESP



Metadata: Modulator ESP is Jez Creek, a synth wizard of the old school. He inhabits a world of Berlin synthesis circa ...quickly scampers off to my record room to check the publication date of Tangerine Dream's Rubycon... 1975. Needless to say Jez has long hair and a beard and lives the dedicated life of the classic synth boffin, travelling the length and breadth of the country looking for classic keys - I am very jealous of his original Prophet V... It was Jez who inspired me to buy my Korg Karma, and who told me about PaulStretch, both Landschaft transforming moments. Jez, of all Nottingham musicians, has the most active on-line community - with some very intersting mySpace chums - I'll say no more than follow the links! Jez, now in his musical maturity, whips-in his massive arsenal of instruments to produce some astoundingly rich and complex live sets. His recorded output is prodigious.

Performance review 25 January 2009; venue Rammel Club, Nottingham,(England)

Jez shared the roster with three other acts. See Rammel Club page for reviews of the full gig.

Modulator ESP, one of Jez Creeks many musical personae put in a set of semi-improvised soundscape, firmly in the Space/Berlin School. The piece was operatic in scale and majesty, a great Tanhauser of a beast that threw mesmerising slabs of sound at the audience like lightening bolts, controlled by this millenial warlock and his bank of electronics. It was all encompassing and held me enchanted from beginning to end. There were quotations of Zeit and Phaedra era Tangerine Dream, but with Jez's own ingredients and sensibility that gave the music it's own special uniqueness. The pace of the single piece, some 30 minutes long was excellently realized, rising to a magisterial Bladerunner/Vangelis-esque passage - that Jez says he put in for me, a brief lift of harmony in the rich layers of timbre that made this set, of the four, my personal favourite. Lush structures piled, wave after wave, one over the other, each building and releasing tension that gave the piece a distinct sense of geometry, each block of sound supporting the next. I have watched Jez develop over the last few years as a musician, and I can say with absolute conviction that he has achieved mastery over his genre and his instruments.

Performance review 13 January 2007; venue The Orange Tree, Nottingham (England)

It's a while since I last saw Jez aka Modulator ESP play. His sound has matured beyond recognition. He is in control of the machines - and there are a lot of them. This performance gave us a dense wall of interweaving Phaedra era Berlin School. Lots of flutey, choral melotron and huge chunky analogue 8 step sequences. Jez - this is no criticism, just my preference - I would have liked a build into a classic Blade runner end-titles sequencer blow-out to produce that tingly scalp perfection. The room acoustic was not good and I would like to see Jez now play a more sympathetic venue - the this one was a mixed audience of beer monsters and the dedicated and the spell of the music was frequently interrupted. Formication were on the same roster.

Recording review 04 June 2007, "Zeta Reticuli v2"

A 74 min, 106MB modem buster of a download available from the main Modulator ESP website. ZR comes in two mixes- the original, and v2 (this review) with added instrumentation. Like v early Tangerine Dream - Zeit era, only more minimal - truly space music. The first 8 minutes, a slow intergalactic soundscape, builds to the entry of a big metalic a-tonal slab of noise, rotating and evolving by minute 17 fading then rejoining in the mid left of the stereo field, almost forming into a melody - but never quite. By the time you reach minute 19, the theme has crept over to the right before subsiding back into a distant re-statement of the opening black night storm. The sonic density up to minute 26, remaining mid right, middle distance while some very subtle, almost inaudible (I was listening to this quite loud on high-end headphone; Sennheiser HD580 that pick up everything) interweaving non-music tantalises at the edge of perception. At min 30, the background wash drops suddenly to a bleak insistent single note that focuses in intensity and volume, rising, centre stage in the soundfield, pulling in another sonic blizzard in it's wake, evolving into a fragmented melody theme, in the manner of Klaus Schulz's Body Love/Mirage/Dune. Minute 36 sees some lower register entering from the left and the main theme dissolving once more into a rising windstorm, that by minute 40, crescendos into intense clusters of tone. The melodic theme re-joins at minute 44, pleasingly distant, and at 46:31 a nice counterpoint emerges briefly holding onto a very long single note that sustains and modulates at min 54 into a new high, melodic line. The piece starts it's descent at around minute 60. Briefly (in the context of the pace of the piece!) a shimmering shoal of tones swims around the stereo field, and a new melody is stated before fade to black. A deeply enjoyable work of great restraint and subtlety, and an absolute must for all space music followers.

Recording review 10 June 2007, "Zeta Reticuli v1" v1

The subject of this review was created first, but begs review second, after v2. Both pieces are the same 74 mins long. The distinction is that v1 does not have the added instrumentation of v2 and the ambient bits are in the mix foreground. They are in character, two entirely separate works. v1 produces an anaesthetic heavy limb, out of body feeling that distinguishes it as "dronology" whilst v2 leans more towards early classic Berlin school synthesis. There are some wise words in the Wikipaedia entry for artist Mark Rothko "It forces one to approach the limits of experience in the post-Kantian sense of the categories of space and time and awakens one to the awareness of one's own existence." I would stick that label on the front of Zeta Reticuli v1.