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CD REVIEW: AeTopus - Memories of the Elder
By Ben Ohmart - 01/12/2002 - 12:00 PM EST

Artist: AeTopus
Album: Memories of the Elder
CD Review: Washington State composer/producer Bryan Tewell Hughes used to be a bass player in several Pacific Northwest bands, but now he’s taking the egghead helm and launching his own electronic world that shakes hands with the sleeves of Tangerine Dream, Ray Lynch and many of the pioneers of a genre I could, and do, listen to for hours.

The opening piece, 'The Running Path' is aptly named and a bit of a red herring for the new agers out there. The path that runs is piano, long and hard like a waterfall that won't dry up, encircled by a dark night of nature.

It is the 2nd tune of this hour long journey that probably sets the true pace for what to expect. And by the time you get to ‘Reflecting in the Glass’ you are well and truly energized and relaxed on the expedition, all in the same muscle group. How is this possible? AeTopus isn’t seeking passive, old lady-organ music whereby new age is defined as one finger on the melody and pre-set rhythm underneath. In ‘Glass’ for instance, there is an oriental feel to the orchestration which provides a tension while still not keenly tying nerve endings in knots. It’s a curious marriage of two seemingly distant occupations.

I’d never call this new age, and electronica is usually & frankly too busy a name for what’s going on in this 12 track media. It could best be described as movie music without the dramatic crashes. ‘The Child’ is one of my favorites, as repetitive and soft as the gentle rhythm rolls, it is a rambling tune with tinkly piano, easy bass locked in, and generally just a Tangerine Dream (before they got too techno) light surrounding it.

Same for ‘Grand Microscopic’ which makes the mind boggle at the infinitism of music and larger subjects. It is music which lays the brain open to its own interpretation of cerebral-sight and sound as a way into the Museum of Modern Art. Imagine walking around to all the paintings with this playing in your head. Or, perhaps the music would be an interesting exhibit; if music says something different to every listener, as does non-realistic art, perhaps the thing to do is hang a tape recorder in the gov’t-sponsored room and let each hear what s/he hears.

Anyway, a fine release, 2 years in the making. Well worth your hard-earned cash.

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