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Product Format: CD               ** Regular Stock Item **

Price: £10.83 (exc) £12.99 (inc)


An album of two distinct halves – the 1st commercial in places - the 2nd firmly over-the-top “Berlin School” with a modern slant on the rhythmic element!

This is the 2013 solo album from Ami Hassinen, one part of the Finnish Synth trio NEMESIS.
When I started playing ‘Spinal Staircase’ the first big-name musician I thought of was Jean-Michel Jarre, but by the time the last track had completed it’s near 30-minute run, the “Berlin School” of thought was firmly fixed in my mind, but with a more modern slant on the rhythmic element – a bit like how AXESS sounds in full rhythmic flow – bombastic, dynamic, hard-driving and ever so exciting!

The instruments Hassinen used to produce ‘Spinal Staircase’ were: ARP Odyssey Mk3 / Minikorg 700s / Ensoniq EPS 16+ / Korg 01Wfd / Roland JP8000 / Roland XP-50 / Kurzweil K2000s / Akai S4000 / Korg M50 / Korg TR61 / Addictive for Ipad / various Sequencers & efex and e.guitar.

Please Note: A Download code for a Bonus Track comes with this CD.

Here’s the in-depth stuff…

‘Labrat Liberator’ is a briskly paced melodic opener with a punchy bass-line and a steadily growing melody line over the top which is catchy and a little SPACE ‘Magic Fly’ like is style with the odd syn-drum effects some distant faint voice samples in the background.

‘Walking To Antares’ is very Jarre-like with driving sequenced rhythms and attached effects, with a flowing high-register lead synth melody flying over the top. At just past the two-minute mark there is a changeover of the lead instruments, with huge waves of sweeping synth chords coming in from various angles, and these are later overlaid by the more tuneful synthesizers again – Nice track – great, pulsating punchy rhythms.

‘Isotherm’ opens in cosmic territory with a undulating drone that is punctuated periodically by a signalling synth motif, and then, just after a minute a rhythm drives over the horizon to take the track into a nice flowing passage. Deep synth bass chords form a kind of framework around the background ambience, then a synth lead melody filters into the mix and we now have a really nice groove going where the tune layers are improvised with until the track spirals off into deepest space.

‘Nozama’ is very much an up-beat affair – again a bit SPACE ‘Magic Fly’ or JMJ ‘Oxygene’ like with its pulsating bass-line and simple, yet highly effective catchy melody line on top. The track is briefly punctuated by a lull in the driving rhythm at just before the two-minute mark, but quickly busts back into action again, with the beat ever stronger and extra melodic layers of top. This is a very catchy track where you just can’t help tapping your toes (and other bits) to.

At just under half an hour, ‘Spinal Staircase’ is the album’s title track, and it is indeed one epic piece of synth music!
It opens with a few minutes of deep space, cosmic atmospherics, with added ghostly phased voices wistfully flying over the soundstage. Just past the three-minute mark a rhythmic drive is slowly phased in, then further electro-percussive layer are added until track is into a fantastic driving rhythmic groove.
As the six-mute mark approaches the sound of (I think) sampled Mellotron strings form a haunting theme over the driving undertow. New sounds and effects are subtly added to this slowly building epic as it goes, including what sounds like Mellotron brass textures.
Just past the nine-minute mark a powerful synth sound takes on a bending/twisting solo, weaving in and out of the jet stream left behind by the driving percussive sound.
All the time you feel as if you are being taken over by this flowing groove as it moves onward, subtly taking on new sounds and melodies as it goes. As the intensity reaches almost reach fever pitch at just under the thirteen minute mark, there is a faint sign of some layers being removed, but this is only to make way for a pack of even grander sounding multi-synth chords and tunes to get in there and take their turn at a solo or two. At the halfway mark an incoming cosmic wind pre-empts a new angle on the rhythmic end, then some very regal sounding keyboard sounds take a turn improvising with the melody line in an exciting fashion. The seventeen-minute mark brings a small chord change to the track and a high-register synth lead that tears around the top end of the mix. The twenty-one minute point brings about a slight change in the sound of the rhythmic element of the track, then these disappear altogether at the twenty-three minute mark for around a sixty second breather before striking up again amid a collage of layered atmospheric sounds and blazing effects, seemingly building towards some kid of anticipated bombastic, explosive conclusion, but just as it reaches boiling point a hail of cascading synth sounds cracks open the now well-honed rhythmic mould and breaks through into a heavenly passage of pure ethereal space music, where choral voices hover in the ionosphere and the sounds of sombre string synths lead the track to its final resting place in the stars.

Phew, that was some epic piece of semi-improvised synthesizer music, and it has left me for one quite drained!


Track List:
01. Labrat Liberator (5:01)
02. Walking To Antares (6:59)
03. Isotherm (6:20)
04. Nozama (4:40)
05. Spinal Staircase (29:45)

TPT – 52:50