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Music Review: Various Artists – Ricochet Gathering Mojave 2003

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I can state unequivocally that Ricochet Gathering Mojave 2003 is the best electronic music album I’ve listened to in at least ten years, maybe longer. Maybe forever! Sure, there have been single compositions that might be better than some of the ones on this compilation. However, as a CD, it has to be the best overall.

Ricochet Gathering Mojave 2003 is a collection of 14 cuts totaling a whopping almost 160 minutes of superb and truly interesting electronic music (EM), recorded live at one of the annual Ricochet Gatherings that span the globe; the venue changes every year (almost). This extravaganza (the average Ricochet Gathering is so much more than a concert!) took place April 25-29, 2003, and was held, as the name says, in the Mojave Desert, which is in the American West. Some of the featured groups and musicians were Free System Projekt (Marcel Engels) from Holland; Air Sculpture from UK; Star Sounds Orchestra (Jens Zygar & Steve Schroyder) from Germany; Paul Lawler from UK; Wolfram DER Spyra from Germany; Ololiuqui (Volker König) from Germany; Dave Brewer from Arizona, USA; and Bill Fox from Pennsylvania, USA. This two-disc set is part of what transpired over those days.

Ricochet Gathering Mojave 2003 begins with Air Sculpture giving us “Alluvial Elements Pt 1,” one of the longer pieces on this CD at 16:57, and a tune that is perfect for the best, most fantastic dream you ever had. From there, it moves into “Desert Train Pt 2,” a trance-inducing drone with complex layered and swirling riffs which barrel through your brain like a juggernaut, albeit a cuddly juggernaut, with Bill Fox on guitar, and Air Sculpture, Dave Brewer and Paul Lawler on synths,

The third cut, “Alluvial Elements Pt 3,” is a mesmerizing, maddening, and magnetic syncopated synth, with ethereal voices woven into it.

I wouldn’t dare attempt to pick a “best” from this album; there are simply too many.

The music folds, layers, splits, melds, shatters, bursts, bounces, caroms, and ricochets.

Cut 1, Disc 2 begins with the sound of tortured souls, twisting and writhing in frustration and agony, amoeba-like organisms, transparent, but with readily discernible faces and limbs twisting into new shapes every few seconds. Then the foghorn-sounding bleats of the synth overlay a slow background beat, and still another overlay: vocal gibberish in counterpoint to the rhythmic decadence.

Overall, I liked the second disc better than the first, although I couldn’t tell you why. Perhaps a stronger feeling of satisfaction and contentment both while and after listening to it, although I’d be hard-pressed to explain. When I think of the first disc, I also think of satisfaction and contentment. Strange.

You may not see this label, Ricochet Dream, on Amazon.  Go to the label’s website  and you’ll see a wide variety of selections. If you simply want the music, and you’re not a stickler for a certain CD on the original, foreign label, you’ll smile at Ricochet’s easy-on-the-wallet prices.

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About Lou Novacheck