Dweller at the Threshold - Ouroborus
Hypnos Recordings has established a reputation as a reliable and yet daring explorer of atmospheric and minimal ambient recordings. But some of us are interested in more dynamic electronic music, both from the perspective of the listener and the recording artist. Our customers have requested, more than anything else, that Hypnos give expression to more dynamic forms of electronic music, everything from experimental electronica, to more rhythmic ambient music, and classic European-influenced e-music. To that end, the BINARY sub-label has been established, to give voice to artists both new and familiar, who were previously working in forms more kinetic than would have fit with Hypnos. Hypnos is pleased to announce the debut release of the Hypnos/Binary sub-label.
OUROBORUS by Dweller at the Threshold is the first Binary release by a group whose members include Dave Fulton (whose collaboration THE MOST DISTANT POINT KNOWN with Hypnos founder M Griffin was released on Hypnos, to much acclaim, in 2000), Paul Ellis (whose solo album INTO THE LIQUID UNKNOWN is the Binary label debut, also released this month), and John Duval. The first Dweller album, NO BOUNDARY CONDITION (released on Eurock) had a stronger Tangerine Dream influence, but the group has since moved further into deep, deep space. Though some measure of digital technology is in use here, one of the features identifying Dweller's sound is the heavy use of analog modular synthesizers. Fulton relies heavily on a refrigerator-sized bank of Doepfer modular synths and a Synthesis Technologies (MOTM) system, while Duval uses "The Fist of God," a massive Serge Modular system.
The use of all this expensive, esoteric analog synthesis gear is no
mere "synth geek's vanity" -- the sound of Dweller at the Threshold
possesses a character and clarity that would simply not be possible
with modern digital synthesizers. An audience member at a recent
DATT concert in Portland was overheard afterward saying "I haven't
heard something that good since Tangerine Dream was young." That
isn't to say that Dweller intends to mimic the German synth music
greats -- just that their sound has enough substance to thrill
even the most jaded e-music fan.
Track list with MP3 samples:
1 Circular Logic 03:38
2 After Logic Fails 10:41
3 Ouroborus Part 1 13:04
4 Ouroborus Part 2 08:01
5 Worlds Without End 08:00
6 Resolution 17:54
7 Automatic Writing 08:57
Purchase direct for $10.99
Reviews"Once again, the past comes to our rescue with the Dweller at the Threshold release Ouroboros. As so many of today's artists in electronic sound have been influenced by the classic cosmic music of the 1970s, so has Dweller at the Threshold. The great thing about DatT is that this group has captured the mood of the era without becoming a cliche. DatT explores this realm of music while retaining their own true voice. Due to their unique approach to music and technology, DatT produces compositions that are distinctly their own. Sure, present are the syncopated electronic rhythms, haunting mellotron leads and unearthly morphing effects we look for in good spacemusic, but DatT produces all this off-center enough to give the attentive listener a refreshing pause. This is achieved by more than just a comprehension of the historical aspects of creating spacemusic, more than just the how of making sounds and what goes where, Dweller at the Threshold understands deeply the ultimate purpose and meaning of this music."
-- Chuck van Zyl / STAR'S END
"This is a very exciting work and a promising start of a new label."
--Vladimir Jovanovic, Innerspace Radio, Zagreb, Croatia
"...a great listen, IMO; lots of variety..."
--Bill Binkelman on the Ambient Music mailing list
"I was naturally very intrigued to hear the music on this CD, knowing that the gentlemen of DATT are to be heard this coming spring at the ninth Alfa Centauri Festival. In any case, my expectations were high because I knew their earlier releases "No Boundary Conditions" (KLEM80, p.59) and "Generation, Transmission..." (KLEM89 p55), and had been very enthusiastic over these. Well, after a whole week of this disc not getting out of the CD player in the hobby-room, I know for certain that I will be choosing a good spot to be when DATT give their concert. If they chose to play what I hear on this CD, then that will be fabulous! The music is pure electronic, in a style which many KLEMers love. Lots of sequences, but in this case with a more subtle manner than we know form the Berlin School EM. And naturally space-sounds, dramatic hits, gripping solos and very professional thematic developments in the individual compositions and the overall album. Additionally, when you realise that the three gents appear to be excellent musicians who know how to make a good mix, you will begin to understand why I look forward to hearing them live."
--KLEM Magazine, The Netherlands
"Track 1 (3:38)
I like the hint of a melody at the beginning and end of the piece. It sounds slightly sinister, and teases you because it seems like it is going to go somewhere else, but doesn't. Good intro.
Track 2 (10:41)
The one little pulse that runs through it reminds me of the synth TD used on "Kiew Mission" from Exit, one of my favorite tracks - so right away I like this one. But not just because of that - all the little floating sounds around it are great, too. Very Airsculpture-like passage ensues, with great sequencing and tron lead. All retroheads, including myself, will find this irresistible.
Track 3 (13:04)
Minimal beginning, everything sounds far off, nice effect here. Sort of a pause to come up for air after the great Track 2. Organ lead gives this an older TD sound, like Atem, at least for a moment. The transition from one theme to another between three and four minutes is fantastic, really gradual and incredibly smooth, just like TD at their peak - well done! This is such a great, subtle track. I like it even better than Track 2, but I love both of them.
Track 4 (8:01)
Mellow, sort of rides out a gentle, good sequence. Another great transition as it falls out of the sequence toward the end. The choirs at the end are very Redshift-ish.
Track 5 (8:00)
Energy picks back up, I like the layered build up of sequences to start. I think it hits full stride at the 1:00 mark, and I'm already in sequencer heaven, but it adds another great bit about 20-25 seconds later, then a down beat, and more synths. Ok, we're only up to 2:00, I can't take anymore great sounds, stop already!!! This track is a grabber.
Track 6 (17:54)
I love that tinny, crisp percussion sound that TD used on Ricochet. That same sound is here, with a cool rhythm that sort of skips a beat and echoes all over the place with cool panning effects. Nice. Short little stabs of bass and a great flute synth have TD Sorcerer, Encore, or Stratosfear written all over them. About 8:00 in, and I'm going crazy again, this is just too good. Do Franke, Froese and Bauman know some of their basement tapes have been stolen, and their best ones at that??? Another great sequence is folded in at 11:50 mark, when I thought it couldn't get better. Keeps building. As awesome as track 5 was, this may even be better.
Track 7 (8:57)
I'm drained, I can't take anymore, what's left? Starts easygoing enough, I can handle this. Uh oh, here it comes - more energy, more intensity - have they no shame? No sense of decency? A Berlin school fan can only take so much! Ok, I'm getting a little silly, but who can blame me? I'm running out of superlatives. This midtempo sequencer piece is actually a really good finisher, not too mellow, not too upbeat, sort of letting us down easy after the rest of the disc. It sounds like a final track, it just fits. You can tell it's getting ready to end about 2-3 minutes before it actually does, and just gradually, softly, brings you back to Earth. Has a very definite ending, changing to its final theme right when it seemed it would be content to just float around a couple more minutes and fade out.
I don't know what these three guys were smokin' when they made this record, but I hope they keep smokin' it! The new line-up for D@T seems to have changed the chemistry just right somehow. This kicks serious Teutonic butt! They should be very, very proud of this one. This, along with Paul's solo CD, should really create some buzz for the new Hypnos sub-label, Binary. Well done, guys."
"Cool cover art, cool title, cool music. For starters, I like the hint of a melody at the beginning and end of "Circular Logic." It sounds slightly sinister, and teases you because it seems like it is going to go somewhere else, but doesn't. Good introduction, it whets the appetite for more, which comes in the form of "After Logic Fails." There is a little pulse that runs through it that reminds me of the synth Tangerine Dream used on "Kiew Mission" from Exit, one of my favorite TD tracks - so right away I like this one. All the little floating sounds around it are great, too. A very Airsculpture-like passage ensues, with great sequencing and Mellotron lead. All retroheads, including myself, will find this irresistible.
Next up is the two-part title track. Minimal beginning, everything sounds far off, nice effect here. It sort of serves as a pause to come up for air after the energy of the prior track. The organ lead gives this an older TD sound, like Atem, at least for a moment. The transition from one theme to another between three and four minutes is fantastic, really gradual and incredibly smooth, just like TD at their peak - a great, subtle track. Part two continues in mellow mode, sort of riding along on a gentle sequence. Another great transition as it falls out of the sequence toward the end, with synth choirs sounding a bit like Redshift. After this lengthy low-key section, the energy picks back up on "Worlds Without End." This is a thickly layered burst of sequencers to start, seemingly hitting full stride in the first minute, but it keeps unleashing more, then a down beat, and more synths. This track is a grabber, and a slice of sequencer heaven. Next is the longest track, "Resolution," running about 18 minutes. I love that tinny, crisp percussion sound that TD used on Ricochet. That same sound is here, with a cool rhythm that sort of skips a beat and echoes all over the place with cool panning effects. Nice. Short little stabs of bass and a great flute synth have TD Sorcerer, Encore, or Stratosfear written all over them. Surely Franke, Froese and Bauman know some of their basement tapes have been stolen? "Automatic Writing" is a mid-tempo sequencer piece, a really good finisher - not too mellow, not too upbeat, sort of letting things gradually wind down easy. A very strong Teutonic release."
"I'm new to the group - drawn in by the excellent 'Beyond ME' - and not a musician, but I listen to a lot of EM and I have to pass out a compliment.
DATT's Ouroborus arrived this past weekend, and I've listened to it every day since. It's a stunning record. If you're looking for a demonstration record of just how wonderful analog synths can sound, look no further. Not only do the synths sound great, but the clarity of sound and stereo imaging are outstanding. Turn down the lights and grab the headphones or make sure you're in the sweet spot of your listening room. I'm hard pressed to think of a more beautiful sounding record.
My tastes tend more to the rhythmic and melodic rather than the purely ambient, but I think folks at both ends of the spectrum will find a lot to like here. The title tracks, in particular, have some wonderful soundscapes, while the toe-tappers will wear themselves out on 'Worlds Without End' and 'Resolution'. And about 4 or 5 minutes into 'After Logic Fails', all the Rubycon/Stratosfear-era TD fans will be in total bliss. Great work!"
--Dave Fox on the BeyondEM mailing list
"This 70 minute CD from 2001 is the third release by Dweller at the Threshold, whose members consist of Dave Fulton, Paul Ellis, and John Duval. The first half of the CD is comprised of live improv jams, while the last three tracks were born in the studio.
Densely mixed to perpetuate a seething cloud of charged particles, this music layers gritty tones and lush textures, generating a flow that surges with growing harmonics as it moves steadily toward pinnacles of sonic majesty. Keyboards lay down riffs that intertwine to create complex electronic patterns. The synthesized melodies grind and growl on their dedicated paths, mesmerizing and thrilling the listener with the illusion of never-ending cycles that ascend through the air, striving far beyond the terrestrial stratosphere.
This tuneage is propelled by rhythms of a non-percussive nature, utilizing beats generated by rapidly applied keyboards, producing twinkling tempos that are as emotionally evocative as they are devoid of jarring impact."
--Matt Howarth, space.com
"Dweller at the Threshold’s Ouroborus is a harmonious and resonant electronic journey. Using a series of esoteric vintage analog synthesizers Dweller at the Threshold set out to create an exploratory and spacey electronic recording and succeeded. Ouroborus is similar in a lot of ways to the works of Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, and other Berlin-school electronic synthesists. While these influences may be very prominent in their music they still work to create their own distinct and original sounds and do a great job. The electronic sounds of this recording make it seem as though you’re listening to some obscure vintage analog synth recording, except that the sound quality is state of the art, the ideas and motives used here are complete and original, and overall the work is fantastically lucid. If you’re familiar with Dweller at the Threshold’s first recording No Boundary Condition then you’ll certainly enjoy this recording, although this recording has less of Tangerine Dream feel by comparison. This is a well-crafted recording and one that makes great use of vintage analog synthesizers. This disc is recommended to fans of electronic music as a whole, but specifically to vintage analog synth enthusiasts."
--All Music Guide, Matt Borghi
"Ouroborus is almost classic space music from Dweller at the Threshold. An ouroborus is also an ancient symbol used in alchemy. The serpent swallowing its tail represents the unending cycle of birth and rebirth. The ancient alchemists used the symbol to signify purity and infinity.
Paul Ellis, Dave Fulton and John Duval have infused their heavy sequences with massive atmospheres and deep ambience. Only the great Ron Boots is in this crossover territory with DATT. Of course, the sequences are of the classic Berlin school variety. They are the main ingredients in the massive soundscape. The drifting atmospheres compliment those sequences in very atypical fashion.
DATT's previous CD's have had similar qualities as have the solo CD's by Dave and Paul. Their promotional set, available at some of their live performances, hinted at this maturation. It took the return of master synthesist, Paul, to take it to this level (no offense to Dave or John intended). This is another wonderful CD from the Pacific Northwest. It is the second release on Hypnos/Binary. If it is on Hypnos, it is great!"
--Ambient Visions, Jim Brenholts
"Ouroboros is seven tracks of classic emusic from this American trio. 'Circular Logic' opens the disc with a nice teaser. Swirling space music seems like it is about to venture into the outer reaches, but stops tantalizingly short. 'After Logic Fails' has warm, wonderful synths and atmospheres reminiscent of Tangerine Dream's Exit CD. In particular, there is a repeating pulse that reminds me of 'Kiew Mission' from that disc. Though familiar Berlin school reference points abound, with sequencing and vintage sounds galore, it is a fresh enough spin to keep things interesting and appealing. When the mellotron strings arrive, just prior to the 5:00 mark, this feels like home. Think TD, Airsculpture, and others.
Dreamy atmospherics begin 'Ouroboros part 1,' seeming to glow and shimmer as it develops. Like vintage TD, this piece excels in the transitions, carrying effortlessly from one distinct musical theme to the next. There is an assured feel to the entire flow of the CD. After a lot of floating in part one, part two of the title track is carried along on a gentle, mid-tempo sequence. Lush synth pads are used throughout the disc, and figure especially prominently here. Again, a really beautiful, seamless transition as it nears the end. To this point in the disc, the energy level has been restrained, but is unleashed in 'Worlds Without End.' Sequencer after gorgeous sequencer builds, as intricate layers compete for dominance. Great track. Next up is 'Resolution,' an 18-minute wonderful slice of analog heaven. The crisp percussion and beautiful synths are not unlike TD's Ricochet and Encore discs. A churning, pulsing bass line forms the backbone of 'Automatic Writing,' which has nice touch of dramatic flair, again marked by excellent transitions. The last couple minutes of it are more like a separate piece, and make a very good conclusion to an excellent CD."
--SMD (Synth Music Direct)