The long avalanche of genre expansion and bewildering cross-splicing in the electronica sector appears to finally have settled down, probably as much owing to a world-wide economic disaster that has affected all but the most patronized, and perhaps as much drawn from a present exhaustion of the porously defined musical enterprise itself. Things can, after all, endure only just so much enlargement before interested parties must sit down and take stock. What emerges, then, are discs like Chikatetsu, which marry a wide swath of forms in an amalgamation ensuring the sum of the whole is far greater than the parts. This is called 'evolution'.
Tim Gerwing's a Canadian and an, well, 'ambientalist' might be the term most would apply, but I'm not so ready to do that, as his work leaps nimbly across many established venues, first neoclassical in its pitch and presence, then lush and tropic a la Vangelis, later Kraftwerky or lightly Rodelian in contrastive colorations. Throughout, however, the pensive atmospheres of the core of ambientalist inclinations dominate. This makes the CD as much an exotic sonic travelogue as an exercise of construction, drinking in mileaus contrastily terrene and spacy, hazy and sharply focused, bouncy and soporific.
The esteemed Berlin Pulse makes its way into the mix (Station: Chikatetsu I [Transfer], etc.), as do Enoidalisms, Aphex Twinneries, Orbments, and such, but it's the synthesis of process and agglomeration that's striking. Gerwing, like Knox Bronson in his The Seasons (here), crafts spotless environments of clear dimensionalism, but he also tosses in, alongside an armada of keyboards, a bit of Frippian guitar here and there. Fellow composer-player Terry O'Brien (Anomalous Disturbances—here) makes a guest appearance on one cut as well, and Gerwing's music is more overtly melodic than O'Brien's but just as masterful in its descriptive and timbral powers.
Listening to Chikatetsu isn't merely a musical activity but an experience. The palpability of movement and environment are consuming without being threatening; there is, in other words, none of John Foxx's marvelously ominous coldwave dystopianism but rather the Vangelistic success of technology and mind over entropy, as in the extremely friendly and enticing Kitto Ne, an Ibiza extension. With all the doom and gloom currently invading every aspect of our lives otherwise, this disc is a vacation to our better nature.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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