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Solitaire — Plains and Skies
(Projekt no#, 1992/2023, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-08-25

Plains and Skies Cover art

Used to be, listeners would have to wait for things that were originally brought to life on LP to be reissued on compact disc; now, the wait is for anything that was released in any physical format (mainly LP or CD) to be released in digital format, the ultimate delivery method for music. No warps, skips or surface noise of the LP (not to mention the slow track access), none of the glitches and C2 errors that seem to plague compact discs, even brand new ones. Granted the artwork sucks and there’s no gatefold or booklet to flip through for hours while you listen to the music in technically perfect sound, but download is the future, be it wav, flac, hi-res mp3 or whatever other formats are out there, and I’m on board with it. Just keep a backup copy for when the hard drive decides to go south. At hand is the digital reissue of Solitaire’s second album from 1992, originally available only on compact disc, now brought back to life in digital format. Solitaire began as the two-man synth project of Elmar Schulte and Rüdiger Gleisberg, but two years after the debut album Altered States, Solitaire was Schulte alone. With Schulte’s passing late last year, it seems Projekt will be making an effort to get the remainder of Solitaire’s catalog released in digital format. Plains and Skies consists of eight tracks of beautiful ambient electronics, much in the vein of same-period Steve Roach — in fact Roach contributes Native American flute, samples and drum programming to one track “Quiet Earth,” a collaboration that would be expanded to a full album on Solitaire’s next release a year later. Some of the album’s cuts, like “Procession of the Eldest” and “Rhythm of the Stones,” are percussion-propelled while others like “Secret Ceremony,” opener “Wide Plains,” and album closer “Mountains and Skies” are far more textural, with other tracks finding a space between those two poles. Perhaps the piece that typifies everything here is the sprawling eighteen-minute “Anasazi... The Vanished People,” beginning in a more floating textural realm and turning toward percussive elements toward its ending phase. Plains and Skies remains an essential work of tribal floating ambient sounds; it’s good to have it available again.

Filed under: Reissues, 2023 releases, 1992 recordings

Related artist(s): Steve Roach, Solitaire (Elmar Schulte)

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