Phaeton by Foreign Spaces

Foreign Spaces

Phaeton

9 tracks

Running time: 1:11:42
Released: 07/2000

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  01   Phaeton I - Planet - 17:39
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  02   Blue Stream - 4:41
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  03   Moonless - 4:04
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  04   Silver Glider - 3:17
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  05   Phaeton II - Lifeforms - 21:19
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  06   Spheric Architecture - 5:16
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  07   Artifical Encounter - 7:24
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  08   White Sunset - 3:44
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  09   Phaeton III - Utopia - 4:18
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More Info

SynGate FSCD 2000

Never a dull moment when a new CD from Foreign Spaces arrives. Characterised by inconsistency, their previous offerings have when it all "came together" presented some of the most sublime and infectious EM to be found anywhere. Witness the incredible closing 5 minutes of 'Dark Star Part 1', a piece I still revisit with anticipation and awe.

So now we have 'Phaeton', and though only 3 letters away from TD's classic album this is nothing like that style, in fact one of the characteristics of FS is that they sound like no other band on the scene today. The opener 'Phaeton I - Planet' typifies their unique style, with gripping sequences adorned with overtly melodic lines which dominate the mix. After an extensive 7 minute rhythmic section the track takes a breather with a pleasing ambient pastiche. Hit the 10 mark and the track then presents its full repertoire of melodic sequencing and a beautiful lead line picked out on their trademark searing synth vox. It mutates, ebbs and flows for the remainder of the piece presenting different angles on the same theme. It's the 4th time I've heard this piece, and true to form suddenly this has clicked - it's yet again another FS "classic moment" with the most infectious melodies. 'Blue Stream' glides in on a wave of classic sequencing then another impressive theme starts up which makes all the right statements. The piece is punctuated by those slightly quirky falling note interludes, which again are so characteristic, before again setting off on its soaring flight. If I could make any criticism it's that I'd like FS to let the track flow slightly more. Such is their enthusiasm to cram in the variation and entertainment it can be a little counter- productive at times, but even so by any benchmark this is a fine piece. 'Moonless' consists of a syncopating sequence and a relatively understated main theme, while 'Silver Glider' opens with massed synth chords before yet another superbly constructed theme hits home. This is quality.

'Phaeton II - Lifeforms', the longest piece at 21:19, follows and its size and position make it very much the pivotal track of the album. Ambient resonance and effects introduce the section before crashing percussives really get the ears flapping. The complexity of construction is fascinating as theme upon theme emerges only to be usurped by another. At 3 mins a more rhythmic section takes over and listen out for the detailed inflexion of the sequence notes, very clever and it really keeps you wondering what's going to spring out of the mix next. Again the only comment I'd make is that, initially, the stop/start nature does take some getting used to but familiarity makes it sit more comfortably. Fade at 6 minutes (yes, were only at 6 mins - what the next 15 mins bring God only knows!) to a more sedated section which eventually morphs into weird effects, then an arpeggiating sequence breaks through and swings from speaker to speaker. And amazingly it just gets better and better, with the closing themes a melodic delight.

'Spheric Architecture' features the most sublime motif to open and close the piece, sandwiching a meandering theme which has its own merits. The whole piece is underpinned by a choppy yet delicate sequence which briefly breaks through from time to time. 'Artificial Encounter' adopts a more laid back stance, with the ubiquitous flutey synth accompanied by more fine cameo synth roles. 'White Sunset' is a beautiful atmospheric piece, and just listen to the wonderful textures which FS create here. Instantly recognisable and immensely pleasing, this (the shortest piece at 3.44) is much more than the obligatory "space filler". Finally we are presented with the third part of the title track, subtitled 'Utopia'. Harpsichord sequencing gives it a slightly formal air, but the strong melody and fleeting drum beat offsets this with more contemporary leanings. A strong finish.

You already get the idea that this is a fine album - it's probably the most consistent FS outing to date. Fans of their melodically rhythmic and very individual style will find that it has been worth the wait. (GG)