Review of original Important Records CD version of 'Basilica'
Please note 'Basilica Origins (Deluxe) does not include the remixes referenced here
Blissful ice storm fragments tinkle and ping against each other as they descend on the night wind.
Riding on currents from the North they follow their own logic and show you the face of the land as
they pass. You stand on a high promontory arms outstretched and eyes wide opened to the wild, wild
sky. The tattered sleeves of your robe catch gusts and billow with the promise of flight. A great
chord arises from the landscape and settles into the atmosphere for an eternity. Like some Borealis
of sound it hovers just above and just out of reach. This ectoplasm of sound expands and contracts
in a never-ending octopoid undulation. Bending and swirling it grows to fill ever more space and
time. Now from horizon to horizon it reaches; a vast and swirling dome. Your work is done here.
You descend the mountain to bear witness to the people below.
Such is the power of Rameses III's new release, "Basilica" that you can imagine whole mythic scenarios
such my ramble above. This is ambient music but it's not a background affair. It's tones and sweeps pull
your mind along for a glistening and beautiful ride. "Basilica" is made up of two discs; one being a
culling of live performances by the group at various clubs in London. The other (I suppose this is the
"real" and proper release here) are remixes by friends such as Neil Campbell (of Astral Social Club fame),
Robert Horton, Keith Berry and Gregg Kowalsky. The two discs actually bear very little resemblance to
each other and that is a testament to how flexible the sources actually are. It is however a wonderful
contrast to hear some sound elements in one stretched out and given new life on the other. It goes a
long way towards explaining just how differently we all encounter music. These tracks are built from
what these re-mixers heard. What would they sound like if you or I had done them? That is a part of
the non-hierarchical aspect of ambient music. It has no leaden, lock-step rhythm to chart its course,
hence it can go anywhere with each of these permutations being equally valid expressions of the whole.
In that sense it mirrors our developing understanding of the universe. Everywhere is the center
simultaneously. That is beautiful and liberating thought. It's not often that you get a chance to
witness an elegant beauty that is also revolutionary and liberating. I feel that these non-source
point sound pieces give us just that chance. The timeless and glacial aspects of the music are
mirrored in the cover art's panorama of almost invisible, yet palpably powerful, winter waterfalls.
This Basilica is one with room for all to worship.
Friday 28 March 2008