Alias Zone,
Lucid Dreams
(CyberMotion, 2001)

Alias Zone is taking music into new territory in the field of cross-genre ambient music. Brian Eno first brought ambient music to the attention of the underground masses in the '70s. I remember listening to a couple of imports my boyfriend's older sister had purchased. It was different, it appealed to me even then, back when rock was everything. Alias Zone has followed the trail Brian made, for just a little way, then branched into completely new territory, boldly going somewhere new and taking us along for this awe-inspiring journey.

Chris Meyer is the genius behind the wheel for this project. Joining him are the members of Cosmic Debris, with whom he also plays. When Chris wanted to do something completely different, the band graciously agreed to help out. The "loops, live improvisations, and dub tactic treatments" are by Blake Arnold, Richard Bugg, Chris Meyer, Keith Snyder, Lucky Westfall and Richard Zvonar. Going into detailing all the instrumentation and sound devices used would take a great deal of time and space, so I'll leave it up to those of you who wish to delve further to check it out at the source -- I recommend taking a long look around this site.

Meyer explained in an interview on the site that Alias Zone "is heavily in the ambient groove/dub vein, with a stronger world beat component than typical electronics. There are also vocal drops and spoken word passages, although they are almost as likely to be in Swahili or Urdu as in English. Flashes of reggae, jazz, rock, illbient, drums and bass, Berlin Movement and new age also make their appearance." It is a tantalizing disc, filled with ten of the most uniquely original tracks I have ever heard -- each one enfolds you in a world of musically induced imagery, and allows you to become the music. A very incredible experience -- this is ambient at its most potent extreme to date.

Each track has a story behind it, and some of these can be found at the website. There is not much contained within the disc and cover notes, aside from Chris' thoughts on the disc, titled "the process," and a very lengthy list of instruments and sounds included on the disc. Sometimes it is better to let the imagination run with what it has. The 10 original tracks will take you from the street to the deepest jungles and back again.

"Towards the Dawn" is a favorite of mine, beginning with a loud roll of thunder and what sounds like the growl of a large predatory cat -- with some quiet vocals mixed in. Then it erupts into a sensory overload of jungle sounds with a raindrop sounding beat. The voices come and go, as woodwinds make their appearance, and all the while the percussion has an enticing beat, drawing the body deeper into the dance as the mind soars off on a visual journey.

The sounds of the city are mingled with a primal jungle beat in "Dervish." The bass guitar provides a steady tie to the "civilized world," while the woodwind and bird calls pull one forth to the jungle depths. Oddly enough, when listening to this track the first word which cropped up and kept returning was existentialism. A meaningless universe of sound, triggering personal responsibility? It is an odd word to link with music, but it feels so right when listening to this.

"The River" begins with chanting and the howl of the wind. It is an eerie opening, raising the hair on the back of my neck, and then soothing them with the drums. President Lyndon B. Johnson has a sampled appearance here ... blending with the music, deepening the meaning; a river of history and of people of all races. An intriguing piece at best -- all people became one -- "this is our heritage," as Lyndon says.

Lucid Dreams is a must-have for anyone who likes ambient music or likes to listen to music which makes them think and feel. You won't be disappointed with this disc, it is even "the bomb" for dancing as was proven by a couple of errant teens enjoying themselves in my living room -- captivated by the music as they were heading out for the day! Alias Zone's Lucid Dreams stopped them in their tracks for over an hour. This disc not only crosses music genres, it crosses age barriers, too!

[ by Naomi de Bruyn ]
Rambles: 22 September 2001

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