Sleeping Dogs Lie 80: Pete Namlook, Tetsu Inoue

shades-of-orion-3This review isn’t quite destined to describe a Namlook album out of thousand others, a Namlook project out of dozen diverse, a Namlook trend/style out of several big ones or even the two masks of Namlook himself (N-the soloist, obscure and obsessive, and N-the collaborator, sharing or splitting his way of doing electronic music, but also always leaving a print that belongs to him and him alone). It’s more of a write which tries to emphasize what could be subtle, special or at least substantial in this individual musical record, what’s its creative energy, what’s good beyond what’s bad…at most compared with the previous albums from this definitive project.

Tetsu Inoue and Pete Namlook (wonder why in this order and not backwards?) have a lot in common (even if it’s sometimes incredible), still also have a way of complementing themselves in style and composition. In what’s “just” the third brush of the entire Shades Of Orion project (let’s not mention the others that aged in the same way) the two artists again choose an old-style of electronic craft & sound, but don’t leave it modest in any way. The epic work here can be reduced to “d & d (dark & deep) ambient electronic”, but that still leaves space to talk about the particular attitude Inoue & Namlook adopted when making it. An attitude that, at first, led to a splendid choice of ideas and balaced instrumentality in preparation for the album itself, but, as it didn’t go all the way till the end, the result was left ambivalent. Shades Of Orion 3 is either oriented towards dark surrounds, either slows down to passive, mellow or ordinary effects.

The album kicks in captivatingly, even in a more original spark than usually, though after a while you realize there’s a bit of carelessness in the handle. Betelgeuzian Ritual (the titles are among the annoying kind, but let’s better stick to music) is effectively a sparkful trance, with dissonant notes, mega-bass rhythms and a paste of meditative atmosphere. The strange sounds could express themselves emotions, though their artificiality is the main ingredient. Stranded On Rigel is more productive and full of electronic suaveness. It’s interestingly close to the sound & shine of the older epic Orion Transfer (from Shades Of Orion 2), but the actual and particular approach makes out a light-ambient and electro-modern experience. Melodies and organic sounds persist initially, but in the second part of this “naive masterpiece”, everything regresses towards soft noises and silent waves. So, out of a first “lounging” mood, you end up listening to technical clusters. Inoucent and Serious (again, cheesy titles for a complex work) is good and thrilling, pulsing the same hollow ambient style as before. Even if it’s a mere symbolic impression, the music here is both of a translucid and heavy range, both of a sharp quality and bit old essence.

This cup of modern, ambiguous electro-therapeutic session is toasted for dark, deep meditations. Of a subversive ambient power and a concept of heavy, crispy if empty sound blazes, Shades Of Orion 3, the last of its kind for now, is yet naturally artistic. Three stars awarded for a work that “sins”, in which the two masters have risked some things, but a work that’s succulent enough as well. (

01 Pete Namlook and Tetsu Inoue: “Betelgeuzian Ritual” (06:55) from “Shades of Orion 3” (1996)
02 Pete Namlook and Tetsu Inoue: “Stranded on Rigel 3” (38:26) from “Shades of Orion 3” (1996)
03 Pete Namlook and Tetsu Inoue: “Inouecent and Sirius” (25:38) from “Shades of Orion 3” (1996)


Sleeping Dogs Lie 28: Bill Laswell, Terre Thaemlitz, Atom Heart, Tetsu Inoue

“Web” has some of the most abrasive, industrial leaning ambient of either of these composers’ careers. Chains rattle, voices whisper menacingly, and dark, dissonant textures and deep bass drones collide on a trio of extended tracks united by the questionably thematic topic of digital communications technology. Difficult but rewarding.

“Second Nature” is a typical Bill Laswell excursion into the murkiest depths of ambient experimentalism, meaning there’s no danceable beats, no hummable grooves, and virtually no firm melodic ground for listeners to grab hold of. That said, patient listening will be rewarded in due time. This is some seriously crazy, experimental stuff; a bit too subtle for casual listeners, but an interesting ride for those passengers willing to ride it out to the end of the line.

American bassist Bill Laswell (Praxis, Massacre, etc.) is the founder of ‘collision music’ – a collaborative concept that brings together musicians from divergent instrumentations and backgrounds. “City of Light” is about Banaras, a city older than history, tradition, way beyond legends. It is Shiva’s land, founded at the dawn of creation. It is India’s oldest and most fabled city. The Hindus call it Kashi, the luminous…

01. Bill Laswell, Terre Thaemlitz: “Open URL” (from “Web”, Subharmonic, 1995)
02. Bill Laswell, Terre Thaemlitz: “Transfer Complete” (from “Web”, Subharmonic, 1995)
03. Atom Heart, Tetsu Inoue, Bill Laswell: “Green Paste” (from “Second Nature”, Submeta, 1996)
04. Bill Laswell: “Kashi (with Tetsu Inoue)” (from “City Of Light”, Sub Rosa, 1997)
05. Bill Laswell: “Above The Earth (with Lori Carson)” (from “City Of Light”, Sub Rosa, 1997)
06. Bill Laswell: “Nothing” (from “City Of Light”, Sub Rosa, 1997)


Sleeping Dogs Lie 22: dbkaos, ARC, Robert Rich & Ian Boddy, Tetsu Inoue, Hoffmann-Hoock & Wöstheinrich

“Index02” is a bargain label sampler from DiN, featuring contributions from Reuter/Boddy, arc, Sunsonic Experience and dbkaos. All tickled into a continuous 78 minute mix by Ian Boddy, many people will already be privy to the DiN sound thanks to the “Index01” CD dished out with Wire back in 2001. Acting as an aural cousin to that release, “Index02” inhabits a similar paddock of electronica, serving up hot and creamy solitude in a style reminiscent of The Blue Room. Keeping any mixing shenanigans to a bare minimum, Boddy’s unobtrusive segueing allows the individual tracks to shine independently rather than being trussed up on an over-arching structure which requires your full attention. Beatific throughout and cheap as chips, “Index02” is the sound that dust caught in sunlight would make were nature a bit more conducive to electronica.

“Lithosphere” is the second collaborative release between DiN label boss Ian Boddy & American ambient pioneer Robert Rich. Following on from their debut album “Outpost” (2002) the duo once again decided to eschew the false economy of a purely virtual collaboration and convened at Rich’s Californian Soundscape studio to physically work together over an intense period of 10 days. Following Boddy ‘s departure Rich then honed and fine-tuned the arrangements before finalising the mastering of the project. Whereas “Outpost” was sonically ‘out there’ and was perceived by many to have its heart in the realms of space music, “Lithosphere” has a more earthy, organic quality. Once again the album is centered around Rich ‘s signature lap steel guitar voicings and the deep bass rumblings of his analogue MOTM modular system. However Boddy ‘s input is unexpected in its direction with astonishing sound design elements intermingling with delicate keyboard textures using high quality sampled glass & stone percussion instruments together with haunting string & woodwind loops. One of the binding forces for this album was the duo’s decision to utilise an alternate just intonation tuning. This at times gives the harmonies a piquant flavour whereas at others a glistening quality that just adds to the sonic exotica that Boddy & Rich have concocted on “Lithosphere”. Boddy has always pushed the aspect of collaborations within his DiN catalogue and “Lithosphere” shows the true advantage such a philosophy brings to bear musically on the labels output. The album is a true reflection of the two artists combined efforts and could only have been produced with their joint work ethic. “Outpost” is one of the most popular DiN albums. There ‘s every chance that “Lithosphere”could surpass the high standard that its illustrious predecessor has set.

I first came in contact with Inoue on hearing the sublime “Active/Freeze” collaboration with Taylor Deupree on 12k. Since then I have managed to backtrack through his vast collection of releases including collaborations with such scene luminaries as Bill Laswell and Atom Heart. This new record for the DiN label is possibly the most completely realised record I can bring to mind from Inoue, and he displays a masterful grasp of marrying live instrumentation and digital noise. Each track has a certain crystalline property to it, but it avoids the usual trapping of ‘ambient’ music and never breaches that boundary into the dreaded world of ‘New Age’. Musical comparisons would range from Harold Budd and Shuttle 358 to the thick noisy clouds of Tim Hecker.

Taking a hefty chunk of influence from Tangerine Dream and then blending it with 1990s IDM isn’t a direction you’d expect an artist to take, but then Ian Boddy’s been doing this stuff for quite some time now and has built up something of a reputation. Although it occasionally skates rather close to the new age genre, much of “Elemental” has more in common with Manual, Ulrich Schnauss or at times even US retro-synth dudes Zombi. It’s not that I can’t take synth-prog music (I not-so-secretly love it…) but there’s something about the way Boddy seems to rely on playing it safe that makes “Elemental” a little less than breathtaking.

“Conundrum” marks the musical meeting point of Klaus Hoffman-Hoock and Bernhard Wostheinreich, which integrates the experimental noodlings of the former with the electronic processing techniques of the latter. “Conundrum” is a trance-inducing blend of digital ambience and ethereal, often droning instrumentation. The album’s title track makes an outright foray into Eastern sounds, giving the piece a distinctly new age sensibility which runs through much of the rest of the album, albeit in a less pronounced fashion.

01. dbkaos: “Hydrosphere” (from “Index02”, DIN, 2005)
02. ARC: “Silent White Light” (from “Index02”, DIN, 2005)
03. Robert Rich & Ian Boddy: “Glass” (from “Lithosphere”, DIN, 2005)
04. Robert Rich & Ian Boddy: “Subduction” (from “Lithosphere”, DIN, 2005)
05. Robert Rich & Ian Boddy: “Stone” (from “Lithosphere”, DIN, 2005)
06. Tetsu Inoue: “Remote” (from “Yolo”, DIN, 2005)
07. Tetsu Inoue: “Particular Moments” (from “Yolo”, DIN, 2005)
08. Tetsu Inoue: “Flow” (from “Yolo”, DIN, 2005)
09. Ian Boddy: “Never Forever” (from “Boddy Elemental”, DIN, 2006)
10. Ian Boddy: “If All The World Was Blue” (from “Boddy Elemental”, DIN, 2006)
11. Ian Boddy: “Flux” (from “Boddy Elemental”, DIN, 2006)
12. Hoffmann-Hoock & Wöstheinrich: “Conundrum” (from “Conundrum”, DIN, 2007)
13. Hoffmann-Hoock & Wöstheinrich: “Swarmandel” (from “Conundrum”, DIN, 2007)
14. Hoffmann-Hoock & Wöstheinrich: “Moonlit” (from “Conundrum”, DIN, 2007)