M Griffin & D Fulton - Imprint
TRACK LISTING (with MP3 sample clips)
Reviews"Is this a new millennium Music for Airports? In what label head Mike Griffin presents in his own work you in for a finely tuned ear for the most definitive sound aesthetics. On Imprint the synthesizers of Dave Fulton give way to a floating world, an unmistakably Tangerine Dream-like trademarked fusion, weaving sensitive microworlds and subsounds. Though what is updated here is what we have learned from technologies and Griffin strategizes and sequences the astral soundtrack almost prophetically. Neuralnet is an electronic lighting storm hybrid, its understated detachment crashes and dazzles. Here we have a deep body of music, quenched in a glowing bath of sounds that insight higher consciousness, kind of unexplainable until heard. The closing Levitation Before Sunrise so aptly matches its title. It is as though I am standing in front of a ampitheater-sized work by James Turrell. This wave of aural delicacy truly pays allegiance to the ambient masters. In contrast to the brevity of exploration in the fey world of new age, these players do right by the sounds of signs of sonics. It's a rave new world, way after hours, without the glowsticks and the twirl, just the aftermath, the static friction, the raw synergy. This could likely be the revised soundtrack for 2010, (the year we make contact), though whose counting?"
--Vital E-Zine, TJ Norris
"Imprint is the second collaboration between Mike Griffin, founder and owner of Hypnos Recordings, and Dave Fulton of Dweller at the Threshold. It is difficult to imagine two more divergent styles of e-music and even more difficult to imagine them working in tandem, but they do. Griffin is solidly and firmly entrenched in the dark ambient and minimalist arena, while Fulton is one of the U.S.A.'s leading Berlin-schoolers. It is most easily depicted by describing the images of their October 2002 concert in Philadelphia. Griffin sat calmly and stoically at his MacIntosh Powerbook and re-created his atmospheres. Fulton was lost among his huge banks of analog synths; his rig resembled the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. They blended their styles seamlessly there and they blend on this album as well. The mix is perfect, as neither artist dominates yet both receive equal footing. The dark atmospheres surround listeners with foggy textures and icy atmospheres. This CD will appeal to fans of Paul Ellis, Saul Stokes, and Ron Boots."
--All Music Guide, reviewed by Jim Brenholts
""Please Identify" on IMPRINT opens the album with plaintive synth chords slowly alternating between keys. The piece leads the listener, twisting and turning, along an odd sonic route of complex drones, unique timbres and detuned sequencer tones. This is the auspicious opening to the second collaborative effort from Mike Griffin and Dave Fulton, an album attempting to satisfy the modern yearning for enigma.
The music on IMPRINT falls under the classification of Spacemusic and the duo demonstrates that there is no one way to realize music of this genre. Griffin + Fulton take all the ambiguities of the Spacemusic convention and streamline them into a totally distinctive and striking vision. This is not tepid new age bath music, nor is it a carbon-copy of the Berlin School - the aural specifications of IMPRINT cover vast stretches with tracks but no roads and triggers our imaginations to embrace the unknown. The dreamy imagery and blurry edges of "Imprint", the title track, is a journey with no map. Layers of electronic pads shift, phase and combine. This composition unfolds with both the serenity of twilight at dawn and the enormity of crossing the edge of the universe. "Thermoptic Disguise" is reminiscent of the '80's style of EM - after a brief amorphous introduction, a bouncing sequencer pattern emerges over which a restrained lead melody speaks of challenges met and beauty lost.
With all their sonic pursuits, Mike Griffin + Dave Fulton attempt to map and then trap space - converting it into permanent pieces of data which can be released into your listening space; and it is with sound that their world comes into being."
--Chuck van Zyl Host of STAR'S END Ambient Radio http://www.starsend.org
"In the early and mid-seventies, before I was born, the "Berlin School" of music operated as a sort of Tyrannosaurus Rex of the electronic scene. It was similar to classical minimalism, with phasing and counterpointed arrangements made with the latest in analog technology. Perhaps it can be seen as growing from a larger musical movement of the day, from a willingness to experiment with methods of creation previously unavailable to the musician. Wherever it came from - and it hardly matters to this particular modern listener where - this Berlin School produced some classics of the then-unformed and undefined ambient genre. When I was in my late teens, Berlin School classics like Moondawn by Klaus Schulze, Departure from the Northern Wasteland by Michael Hoenig, and Rubycon by Tangerine Dream sounded like film music from seventies cartoons that never existed. I eagerly hunted down the professed classics of the scene, always thirsting for soundtracks to old comics I had, or dated science fiction stories I was familiar with. I reached the point where I had collected all I could find, and I thus began seeking newer artists who continued to carry the torch of a special time in electronic creation.
And I was disappointed with what I came up with. Apparently the T-Rex had become extinct. Too many of the newer Berlin School acolytes were content to repeat past glories - certainly the music was different compositionally, but as a musically uneducated listener, these newer works just didn't have the spark I loved about the "classics" nor did they seem to be interested in updating the sounds I knew so well into a modern experimental context.
Along comes Imprint by Hypnos label founder Mike Griffin and Dweller at the Threshold member Dave Fulton. I'd heard DATT before, and had found it to be in that latter, less interesting to me, class of Berlin School. I felt that I'd heard enough of that particular facet of the genre, and I wasn't particularly interesting in hearing more. Griffin and Fulton had put out a CD titled The Most Distant Point Known, which was not at all like DATT, but rather a deep space excursion that mixed lovely analog synth tones with more modern atmospherics similar to Griffin's work as Viridian Sun.
Having enjoyed that previous work very much, I bought Imprint with no hesitation. I'd even seen the two premiere the work at a heart-stopping Gathering show last year. When I originally purchased TD's Rubycon, I probably played the disc over and over for a month. It was a perfect little capsule of entrancing electronics - a capsule never bettered by the newer legions of e-musicians operating in a similar style. After my first listening of Imprint, I was totally hooked; it was like falling in love again with an older, familiar companion. It hardly left my player.
It is not overstatement to say that Griffin and Fulton have brought the classic e-music sound of the mid-seventies kicking and screaming into the digital age. This is no remake of older triumphs, but a complete expansion and inclusion of classic forms remodeled into a new, entrancing ambient music. Finally I was able to reconcile my tastes in Berlin School with the newer modern styles. This disc is trippy, experimental, and chock full of the little touches that made old Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze so very exciting to my younger mind. Just enough to excite me, but not enough to be a simple rehash.
Griffin and Fulton created a thematic score to dystopian visions, sprawling cityscapes -wonder and adventure on a very galactic level. The sheer drama of this music is apparent in every track, from the opening trance-like theme of "Please Identify" to the quasi-floater of "Levitation Before Sunrise." Most ambient and electronic music could function as a soundtrack to a movie or dramatic work, but this particular piece of music screams for a visual interpretation of some kind! The appreciator of classic Berlin School music owes it to himself to pick this sleeper release from Hypnos up. It's restored my faith that newer artists can create works on par with the old, while still carrying the freshness of vibrant young work.
I have a small selection of CD's I only pull out when the time is "right." I've got to have a book that matches the tone, or some special mood that allows maximum enjoyment of the CD. It's a small list of very excellent music, including Schulze's Timewind, and Hoenig's Departure…. Now that very small list of very fantastic albums has a new addition: Imprint. Another fine Hypnos offering to the electronic deities."
--Review by Brian Bieniowski
"If their last collaboration, The Most Distant Point Known, evoked images of sci-fi and deep space, this one does even more so. Whereas the last disc tended toward darker ambience this one, while still on the mellow side, has a little more activity.
For instance, the coolest sound effects begin 'Please Identify'. Both Griffin and Fulton are technical wizards, and the spatial separation here as it pans from left to right is excellent, giving it a great deal of depth. 'Biometric' has a similar feel of expansiveness. Swirling sweeping sounds whish and whoosh about. I envision robots, or the inner workings of a spaceship. Though 'Biometric' is quite abstract, beautiful dramatic synth strings appear for the last third of the 11-minute journey, giving it more of a retro feel. The title track comes next, full of buzzes and bleeps that again conjure up visuals of a science fiction film. An energetic sequence picks up the pace for just awhile, fading out into what could be alien night sounds. Fulton's influence is particularly notable on 'Thermoptic Disguise', which could easily pass for a Dweller At The Threshold track. 'Plastic and Flesh' may be my favourite, featuring cool bell tones, then organ almost like the krautrock days of old Ash Ra Tempel. The organ hangs around lazily until a crescendo appears almost out of nowhere. I found the overall effect of the five-minute piece unique, refreshing. 'Levitation Before Sunrise' has great textures, choirs, pulses, and a general sense of pent-up energy waiting to be unleashed, only gradually being allowed to escape.
Consider Imprint for your next introspective outer space voyage."
"While retaining the sense of deep space they generated for their first album (The Most Distant Point Known), Imprint seems warmer, intimate and more human to me. This is the best dark ambient electronic album I've heard in quite a while. As always with Dave it's immaculately recorded and as always with Mike it's immaculately presented. In the moment looping analog morphing hypnotic resonating unfolding multilayered- river of sound. Cut 2 has a wicked dark drone that comes in about 4:30 in that will rip your head off! Undulating like an atomic gong until a simple sequencer line emerges Dave finishes the piece with a gothic cathedral organ. Track 5 has a classic sequencer riff with lfo'd lead that I'm sure will appeal to Berlin fans. Track 7 is a whooshing timewind looped drifting freefall feel that is probably my favorite cut at this point. Another gem in the Hypnos catalog. "
--Paul Ellis, on the Beyond_EM mailing list
"Mike Griffin, the man behind A Produce and the Hypnos label, is a master of ambient and Dave Fulton, of Dweller At The Threshold fame, is a master of retro. That sufficed to arouse my interest in this CD. Their joint efforts indeed have resulted in a strong CD which combines the ‘best of both worlds’. Mostly using modern emulations of classic synths like the much lauded Alesis Andromeda and the Waldorf Microwave (2), a sound is created that remains intriguing throughout the whole of the album.
‘Please Indentify’ features a slow sequence which forms the background to all kinds of atmospheric sounds. Some of the tracks sound a bit experimental but they do have a certain kind of structure. The ambient-like ‘Neuralnet’ with its quiet strings and lots of nice effect sounds is one of the album’s highlights. The sequences reappear in ‘Thermoptic Disguise’ which features a strong lead tune. The dark and full-sounding ‘Levitation Before Sunrise’ is another very strong ambient piece.
These guys definitely know their trade."
-- Paul Rijkens / E-dition Magazine