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Pod by As Lonely As Dave Bowman
Electronic release from Projekt and black tape for a blue girl founder Sam Rosenthal. Artist Name: As Lonely As Dave Bowman Release: Pod
As Lonely As Dave Bowman
POD Ultra-Limited Edition
immersion : three (ltd edition)
Mike Vanportfleet : Beyond The Horizon Line
POD brings a new and chilling element to the ambient music genre known as drone. Inspired by the vast isolation of cold, dark space, the absence of human civilization, and the texture of pure sound, there is a curiosity and fascination with those forces that leads to discovery. As Lonely as Dave Bowman becomes a pioneer in the next stage of ambient drone.
With a chillingly isolated core of sound that detaches and draws back into itself like droplets of mercury, POD crafts a singular sound of metaphoric loneliness that is not just a strand that drifts through space but is an enveloping, permeating cloud. It travels in an infinite trajectory, exploring the realm of the unknown as if a breathing entity, expanding and contracting into eternity. It eventually evolves into a robotic drone, a swarm of emotion and memory.
As Lonely as Dave Bowman is an electronic space music deep-ambient side-project from Sam Rosenthal, Projekt and black tape for a blue girl founder. The images came first. Sam's young son Sasha took the photos one afternoon while playing with Sam's camera. Noticing they were striking enough to be an album cover, Sam decided to create a musical world to compliment the amorphous look the photos captured. Inspired by Sasha's love for the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Sam worked in the studio in new and organic ways. Forsaking his usual melodic and lyrical approach to song-writing, he quickly developed musical pieces that are principally texture and spacial landscapes, created from a meaningful flow of synthetically produced loops and old-fashioned outboard effects.
Is the limitless expanse of space outside the realm of the planet Earth a selective environment for life or is it a cold, dark vacuum that leaves only unimagined emptiness in its wake? Will long periods of separation from humanity support the explorer or will it birth a long, never-ending core of loneliness with tendrils that reach Earth, wrapping its inhabitants in despair and uncertainty? POD provides shape and essence to these philosophical questions that permeate our thinking selves with unanswerable possibilities. The sound ponders the moment and the eternity that extends beyond it, developing a continuous flow that goes on forever in swells and ebbs like an ocean of time.
(THE REAL DAVE BOWMAN)
Sam Rosenthal, founder of Projekt records and leader of goth/darkwave group Black Tape For A Blue Girl, has a new ambient solo album out under the name As Lonely As Dave Bowman. The music was inspired by his son's love of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Well, nobody ever went wrong exploiting my love for that film. In a recent interview, Rosenthal described the music as sounding "like what you would here if you were a stowaway in the nuclear reactor of the Discovery’s motor."
I'm sure you've heard this "It sounds like being inside a..." metaphor used plenty of times before. It seems like the more amorphous and less structured a piece of music becomes, the more people reach for structural metaphors to pin it down. No doubt plenty of ambient musicians would describe their works as attempts to create a sort of space.
I've been on a somewhat of an ambient music bender lately. I honestly don't know how exactly how it happens, but sometimes I just end up focused on a particular type of music for some indeterminate length of time. In this case I think it's related to my sudden decision to follow up on some particular artists and labels. I always find it difficult to explain just what draws me to specific ambient works; it's not easy discussing music composed without melody, harmony, rhythm, or words. That leaves you with timbre and texture--not the easiest aspects to write about without resorting to extended metaphors or purple prose. If someone were to ask me what I think makes good ambient music, I'd most likely just say I know it when I hear it.
Far away from the intimacy of Harold Budd there's As Lonely As Dave Bowman, the new Sam Rosenthal ambient project. Pod is massive, humming, continuous sound. This music doesn't want to hang around and fill in your empty spaces, it wants to become your entire space--a huge sphere of sound. But for that to work properly, you're going to need to turn up the volume. This album does not function properly at low or moderate sound levels. Play it loud, though, and the machine expands and expands until it pushes everything else aside and becomes your reality. It's not a quiet, meditative ambience, but it's still a place where you can hide for a while.
These five pieces are influenced by the films 2001: The Space Odyssey and 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
The first piece is a slow moving drone that wraps you in a cold and comfortless embrace. You cannot escape this embrace once it has you in its arms. The stench of death and desolation that was once so far away from you is edging ever closer, touching your fingertips and and the roots of your hair. Your skin tingles and turns a sickly shade of pale grey; the sun that shines like gold suddenly hides behind frozen, black clouds.
The clouds slowly begin to separate a bit on the second track, as we once again catch transient glimpses of the glittering orb that fade into a round, white moon. The sky grows darker, and the night breeze blows gently through the trees. At first, it is soft and inviting, like a lover who whispers your name in a sweet, mellow tone, then it begins to lie low in the grass, as if waiting to confront an old adversary. It cuts deep into your chest like screaming knives, and then you are left alone to bleed in the grass.
Track 3 is a more peaceful track, but still carries a message of sorrow.The piece starts out bright and colorful in some areas, but then is conquered by the endless night. The stars and moon are right above you, watching your every move, your every painful groan...
They still continue to glisten like diamonds in a pool of water, but they now have come in contact with human's suffering, and this suffering starts to extinguish their glow.
They tremble now before the world. The music grows less intense as the stars burn out, one by one.
Track 4 is a transition from all of this intensity. The stars have died, and the moon weeps for her loss of her companions.There is no longer any reason to be afraid, but there is a reason to be sad. A silent funeral is going on, and you will be the only one who mourns the loss of the world. The track fades out very slowly, offering a few snatches af melody here and there. Track 5 is another drone-like piece that lifts drastically at the end. There is not much to be said about this one except that it is a perfect conclusion to such an ominous soundscape. I must say that I am impressed by what Sam has done with his music. I've often heard that musicians that write for bands are often not as adept at creating expansive solo albums, but in this case he has done an excellent job with this dark ambient project. He is able to incorporate song structure in with electronic manipulation, which makes for an interesting combination! -Kris Tilbury
Ambient music is a miracle in many ways. It isn’t subservient to a chord or central riff. Instead, it is allowed to flow in many directions, creating vast empires of thought and imaginings. The emergent style of ambient music called drone is a repetitious flow of sound that changes subtly, oftentimes in several directions at once. Thus the power of drone music to change mood and create atmosphere is unmatched over the time span of the recording. As such, fans of ambient music are immersed in music that allows one the ability to absorb and transform.
As Lonely As Dave Bowman is an album of soft, flowing musical ideas that move through time like a tether attached to a beginning. Just as Dave Bowman moved through the many points of his journeys, so are you attached to and absorbed by a contemplative and steady stream of core drone music that simply traverses space without a focal point. As Lonely As Dave Bowman is divided musically by 5 tracks, simply titled “One,” “Two,” “Three,” “Four,” and “Five.” However, those five tracks connect quite well over the course of the 65-minute album, never completely breaking off to pursue another sound, instead following the core all the way through.
If you can imagine the immensity of the philosophical barrage that faced Dave Bowman over the course of the Space Odyssey films, as he was re-invented from his experiences, drowned in his loneliness, and swallowed by thoughts and spirituality that no man before him has experienced, then you get an idea of the immersive flow of As Lonely As Dave Bowman.
Ambient music is definitely not for everyone. But if you have an affinity for ambient music, particularly drone, then POD’s As Lonely As Dave Bowman is a superior stream for your meditative side. With the focused eye of a child (featured as the photographic cover of the album) transformed into the evocative and challenging music of an adult, art is as pure as it can get. Note: There are three versions of this album, two of which are and will be available. The first is the standard CD copy in digipak packaging. The remaining version is a 200-piece Limited Edition, numbered album encased in a large, DVD-sized digipak. The third is an "Ultra-Rare" version, now sold out. It is distinguished by a hard blue plexiglass slipcase protecting the DVD-sized digipak packaging. This collector's edition will not be repeated - and was only created in an edition of 50. Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. -Matt Rowe
C'era una volta la musica cosmica, le psichedeliche esplorazioni di geni quali Tangerine Dream e Klaus Schulze. C'era poi la musica ambientale votata alle più ardite esplorazioni dell'inconscio di geni quali Harold Budd e Steve Roach. C'è oggi Sam Rosenthal, genio da vent'anni al timone degli abissali Black Tape For A Blue Girl, nonché fanatico cultore dei sopracitati pionieri ambient. Libero dalle pastoie liriche e gotiche del suo progetto principale, Sam dà vita a questa sua nuova incarnazione in assoluta solitudine, come ben esprime il nome mutuato dal protagonista di "2001: Odissea Nello Spazio", lanciandosi senza remore in uno dei lavori ambient più profondi e affascinanti degli ultimi tempi.
Non ci sono rumorini, pardon, field recording, a operare nel sottofondo, non ci sono soporiferi minimalismi nell'arte ambientale di Sam: la sua musica opera come di consueto a livelli di visionaria superiorità. "Pod" sembra essere l'opera che Rosenthal attendeva di fare da una vita, sin dai suoi esordi su cassetta, prima dei Black Tape, come "Before The Buildings Fell" (1986) e attraverso lo splendido "Terrace Of Memories" (1992) in combutta con un altro prezioso scultore di suoni come il belga Vidna Obmana. Ma solo ora, a 42 anni, Sam rilascia finalmente il suo primo lavoro solista vero e proprio, completo, compiuto, pensato e cesellato con tutta la calma e la consapevolezza necessarie.
Attraverso i cinque movimenti che lo compongono, "Pod" si snoda come un monumentale viaggio di sintesi tra l'ambient "cosmica" dei pionieri tedeschi e quella interiore e psicologica di Roach, Budd, Eno... Monumentale, perché l'elettronica di Rosenthal conserva sempre la sua pittorica grandiosità, anche quando si muove nel gelo, nel vuoto, nell'asettica immensità dell'universo, sia esso quello esterno, infinito che quello interiore, più intimo e profondo. Buio in espansione attraverso stanze di cui non si vedono le pareti, suoni che riempiono gli spazi inesplorati del cosmo e della coscienza. "Pod" è il viaggio di un esploratore dell'esistenza, un poeta-filosofo privato della parola al cospetto di realtà e visioni indescrivibili, traducibili però attraverso i suoni concepiti da una sensibilità musicale fuori dal comune, che neppure una lunga e applaudita carriera ha ancora minimamente intaccato.
Per chi ama le perdute sonorità cosmiche, "Pod" è un lavoro di straordinario fascino, da ascoltare in religioso, nostalgico, stupefatto silenzio. Rating: 7.5/10
In regards to parsing out each piece as an individual song, it rather defeats the purpose of Pod. Likewise, due to the mere nature of this abstract genre, one cannot take only a meager portion of a track as a sample. These "songs" should be considered like chapters in a novel, like Rosenthal's audience-friendly way to allow his listener to skip ahead to certain movements within one solid work. As "One" hums to life, one feels as if they have been transported to HAL 9000's space station home. Synths buzz long and fluid, wavering like chromatic smoke before the mesmerizing emptiness of space itself. Populated by only these lengthy ambient notes, silence's role is just as crucial here as those fine humming threads. In comparison, "Two" is livelier than the previous entry. The synths rise in volume, their blue-hued hums warbling into a steady wall of soothing sound. Here, the silence only peaks through this woven hum-like night through a gossamer curtain. Though subtle, the synths wave and swell like the movements of a calm ocean, with just a slight touch of flange lending the whole a meager swirl. Halfway through, this din dissolves; the hums become a foreboding circular moan, and one feels as if they're audience to the slow-motion float of an immense spacecraft (or obelisk, if you want to fit within the Bowman theme). The center segment, "Three" is the longest in this series, clocking in at nearly 20 minutes. While "Two" hinted at something sinister, this passage is mechanical as it is tranquil. One could compare it to being like a hologram of a solar system; planetary drones wobble by the listener as their orbit draws them close, then trail off towards a quiet distance as their rotation completes its cycle. While "Three" eventually gains some momentum, "Four" is a short journey back into Pod's chilly shadows. The briefest segment, this seven-minute passage's impression is quite subterranean. With its synths set to a somber moan, here Rosenthal paints in audio the feeling of being lost in an arctic cavern. Finally, there is "Five," which acts as Pod's casual crescendo. As "Four" fades away to nothingness, the disc's conclusion quivers immediately into life. Trembling and ghostlike, it is like that finale in 2001 where Bowman crosses into the alien light. His journey ushered on by mammoth white waves of sound, it is like a moment of bright epiphany before this voyage curtails into the utter quiet.
Fans of Rosenthal's work as Black Tape for a Blue Girl may be in for a jolt, for this is not at all like his better-known project. Instead of ethereal world music and gothic folk, this release is without a hint of rhythm and is electronic through and through. For ambient enthusiasts, it will certainly prove an interesting experiment; Rosenthal definitely has the ears of a fan, and hopefully this project will prove to be more than just a one-off release. -Vlad McNeally
Although each track adheres to this motif of a sonorous vacuum, the music is crafted with unique dispositions which incite different responses to this sense of immersion in infinity. The vacuum is not really devoid of substance; each song throbs with lush ambience and tantalizing harmonics. An impression of humanity is cleverly infused in these soundscapes, capturing the onset of isolation and the mind's responses to that subjective solitude.
Tonalities ring with crystalline purity, seething from the distance to wash over the listener without making actual contact. This artful illusion results in an invigorating experience for the audience, allowing the mind to expand to fill the beguiling void. The ethereal electronic textures act as an inspirational medium in which intellect can generate its own interpretations.
This music was inspired by the musician's son's fascination with the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010: the Year We Make Contact. "Dave Bowman" being the first film's human protagonist. This creative intention proves wholly rewarding, as the music creates a milieu of vast emptiness that is far from empty, stimulating the psyche to fill in the gaps produced by the type of visceral isolation which accompanies the subject's detachment from the rest of humanity.
Stripped of all these intellectual aspirations, the music is a finely adept dose of peaceful ambience. The calm is nicely seasoned with a touch of potential implication that dutifully remain just out of reach, prompting a sense of mild anticipation in the audience.
As a first interpretation, POD is therefore his personal tribute to Kubrick's seminal vision of space, as well as its decidedly less groundbreaking follow-up 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Just like the director's masterstroke, the album is both to be seen as a visual and sonic work. Motivated by playfully and intuitively taken pictures of his young son, the cover artwork served as the initial stimulus for the compositions, which Rosenthal wanted to be equally free and without concrete associations. The natural consequence was to lay the emphasis on sound, not structure and to replace all notions of melody with a strict focus on dense, multilayered complexes of shifting harmonies. Drones are subsequently the beating heart of "Pod“, which sways between three basic mood poles: Fear/Desperation, Anger/Revolt and Calm/Majesty. Despite its recognisable character, though,POD finds a recognisable and idiosyncratic angle.
This is mainly because the stoic development of his sustained tonal threads through subtle filter modulation is not that much of interest to Rosenthal. Instead, he is looking for primordial, hormonal reactions, for a situation which places the spectator in direct contact with the forces of nature, far away from the comforts of modern society. With this idea in mind, Dave Bowman is not a hero, nor necessarily a personality for easy identification. Just like almost everything else in 2001, he is a metaphor, a flesh-made emotional or intellectual construct, which, through gestures, expresses what can not be expressed in words.
Similarly, the music relies on the force of suggestion. It uses dynamics and hardly noticeable changes in key as its main tools and as subliminal effects for unsettling the listener: Shining major chords dissolve into hollow and haunting minor moods, while aggressive ambiances give way to passages of great clarity and certainty. Vice versa, mellow sound baths always hold the potential to swell into threatening sonic jugulars with deep red blood pulsing underneath pale white skin. There is not much room for variation of this concept, but the reduced timbral palette and the restricted arrangements only serve to make the overall atmosphere more claustrophobic and mesmerising at the same time.
As an experiment, I used POD as an alternative Soundtrack to 2001. The result was surprising at first: Where it replaced Strauss and Ligeti, it was even more oppressive and dense. When it filled the silence of Dave Bowman's isolation, it however made his plight more agreable. On second thought, this is a logical conclusion of Rosenthal's purposely emotional approach, which sets him apart from the cliches associated with Dark Ambient: The more his pieces remain recognisably "musical“, the more they offer a component of comfort. This only goes to show that he went for the right protagonist. Who would have wanted a record on that boring beaurocrat Haywood Floyd, after all? - Tobias Fischer