Redshift III - Down Time
Appetite duly whetted by a masterful performance at the Alpha Centauri festival, 'Down Time' hits the CD platter with the sort of expectation I once reserved for a new TD album. Sorry, that is a totally clichéd and predictable comment. But it is appropriate, because 'Down Time' is predictably magnificent.
Let's first put this album into context. 'Ether' was an impossible act to follow, so the only available approach is to not try to follow it - rather to supplement its existence with a sibling which proves that Redshift are capable of much more than Berlin School magnificence. 'Down Time' charts this path to perfection. It won't alienate traditional EM fans in any way, rather cajole them down a darker and slightly more challenging route. Node tried it, but their approach was to dust off the detour signs and pile up the traffic cones. Redshift are instead trying an altogether more gradual lane change.
'Nails' opens the show and tries to disprove all that I have just written. There is nothing subtle about this piece. It is a savage demonstration of relentless sequencing which starts calmly enough but will soon have you letting the cat out of the room before all its fur drops out. The beast is eventually tamed to allow the most sublime 'Phaedra' influenced section to end the piece. Pure Node, pure brilliance. 'Ultranaut' is another Node style moody chugger, the sequences emulating clock and heartbeat effects as the foundations for a variety of motifs and voices. 'Mania' if memory serves me right was the encore from the Alpha Centauri gig. A deliberate sequence is soon unleashed into an orgy of bass bombastics. Guitar detail vies with screaming synth lines. A corker! 'High Noon' opens eerily with medieval choir effects and textures. A slow rhythm then introduces a motif which walks the tightrope between foreboding and optimism. 'All Things Bright' gets straight into a steady beat which hints at something naggingly familiar. Was I the only one at the concert who though this was going to develop into a full blown re-working of 'Assassin'? It doesn't, but it's still a great piece. 'Protoland' opens with e-piano which brings to mind Spyra's more moody moments, a feeling underlined when the sequenced groove gets underway.Then subtle key changes are introduced before being immersed in noise and mellotron flute. This track should have been 3 times longer - so many ideas and so little room to flourish. 'Down Time' ends with classic Redshift pulsations which build slowly from an organic morass.
On 'Down Time' Redshift continue to push the envelope that little further than before. Less Berlin School, more London School of Engineering.
Graham Getty - used with permissionwww.synthmusicdirect.com