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Vapourspace

Sonic Residue from Vapourspace

Review by Steve Alspach

Here's an interesting concept - take songs from various releases from a progressive rock record label and let the music be transformed by a techno mix until it's nearly unrecognizable from the original source. Such is the concept behind this CD. set. The first CD contains the original versions of the songs, the second CD contains the reworkings at the hands of Mark Gage and Vapourspace. The end result is a disc that is exploratory in some places, very similar to the original in others, but quite well done and shows that Mark Gage shows an excellent sense of imagination in his work.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Attention Deficit- Girl From Enchilada
Originally a short, funky number, Gage muddles the bass and the guitars so that the drum pattern emerges as the predominant instrument in the mix. 
Niacin-Blue Mondo
Niacin is a powerful bass-drums-Hammond organ trio. This song starts with a slow, ethereal feel before it kicks in. The organ solo is pretty much a true solo as bass and drums drop out. Gage adds some Emersonian synthesizer blasts as well.
Steve Morse-Led On
Morse's paean to Led Zeppelin, with a nod to Jimmy Page's Indian inclinations, gets an even stronger Indian flavor with the tabla. The original acoustic arrangement gets a total electric modification while the driving electric section of the original is left out of the mix.
Explorers Club-Time Enough
The original ranges between moments of pure power and floating delicacy, including an acoustic guitar solo from Howe. A shorter mix comes from Gage, lopping off some three-and-a-half minutes. Cooper's vocals are kept in the mix, and guitar riffs poke up through the surface. Given that much of this song is with no rhythmic center, Gage uses the vocals from the last third of the original as the anchor to the tempo.

Liquid Tension Experiment-Osmosis
A tinge spacey to begin with, Gage wisely lets the melodies stand on their own and brings the interaction between Petrucci and Levin up front. The drums are sped up a bit, but the song loses very little of its original feel.
Bozzio Levin Stevens- Dark Corners
This song, leaning quite a bit towards King Crimson's "Red", starts with a lurching bowed bass solo. The drums come in at double time and flirts with hip-hop in many places while snake-like guitar lines replace the power chords found in the original.
Bozzio Levin Stevens-Melt:
The stop-start 7/8 intro to this song gets placed in the middle of the mix and given an echo treatment, making this section a bit hard to follow. The syncopated drum patterns in the mix drop out in places, giving the piece a "hanging in mid-air" feeling. The solo in the middle sounds like a guitar-keyboard hybrid, one sound indistinguishable from the other.
Liquid Tension Experiment-Another Dimension
This high-energy yet melodic instrumental workout gets an excellent treatment. The rhythm is slowed down, yet the drum pattern makes the song sound like it hasn't lost any of its drive. Though the original has many small movements to it, the mix takes one theme and works with it throughout most of the mix. The Jordan Rudess accordion-like section is blended with the sounds of the city (an underground train, a street bus) for quite an unusual ending.
Steve Walsh-Kansas
Gage cuts back on the bookends of this selection - the apocalyptic ending is tempered a bit, and the lengthy intro is edited down considerably, and but the vocals remain intact and the rhythm stays unchanged during the verse and chorus. Drums, bass, and keyboards take place of the guitars that Gage has decided to omit
Tempest-Jenny Nettles
An old-fashioned rock-and-reels piece gets a total overhaul. The last three minutes or so becomes a bit ethereal - a two-chord keyboard pattern is repeated while the sounds of sea waves and gulls make for the gentlest of endings.

 
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