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The Dark Aether Project — Feed the Silence
((Not on label) DAP002, 1999, CD)

Feed the Silence Cover art

The second release by this Maryland-based quartet is a major leap forward from their debut; first of all, they now live up to the ‘dark’ in their name — most of this stuff is menacing and foreboding, like the nuclear war sound that leads into a three minute Alan Parsons-like opening to the first track that clears the way for some spirited Stick and guitar transcensions; the arpeggiated section that closes this nearly thirteen-minute piece that states loud and clear that The Dark Aether Project has arrived. The second track is an aggressive (but still dark) Middle Eastern-flavored rocker that introduces vocalist Ray Weston (Always Almost, Still, Echolyn), definitely a stronger vocal presence than the original singer, but still somewhat underutilized (he only appears on two of the six tracks); Weston gives his all all on the very Van der Graaf Generator-like title track. “Building the Worm” brings in a second Warr player for a dense multilayered — and drumless — improvisation. With the dueling guitar and Warr guitar on many of the tracks, it’s difficult to escape at least some cursory comparisons to 80s King Crimson, but the band definitely has their own compositional style and approach. As with the debut, a live improvisation closes the album. One of the best surprises of the year so far... highly recommended.

by Peter Thelen, Published 1999-11-01

The Dark Aether Project is a collective group of musicians led by Warr guitarist Adam Levin. They are representative of modern American groups like Djam Karet, who approach their rock atmospherically and tonally as well as structurally and melodically. This is their second album and they are joined here on a couple tracks by ex-Echolyn singer Ray Weston. The disc opens with “Burnt Sunrise,” which is thirteen minutes of bliss with an ambient intro that flows into a number of phases including some nice cyclic parts. “Nightmare” is aptly dark, somewhat repetitive, and contains some mournful singing by Weston. The tribal / rhythmic side of this piece gives it a trance-like feel, the guitar parts very much King Crimson. “Stages” also takes from the Crimson repertoire, with the tritones and dual Warr guitar and electric guitar lines, its interlocking cycles unconventional and fascinating, peaking in a nice stretched-out guitar solo and developing through a number of segments to its finish. “Building the Worm” is a strange ambient piece that isn't the first time during the CD where one is reminded of Pinhas and Heldon. Guest Markus Reuter plays a nice solo over Levin’s sound fabric, and the results are superb. The title track feels like there’s less going on with it, it has the other vocal contribution by Weston and evokes a somber mood. There is a bonus track added, “Out of the Dark / Dark Aether (Live)” which evokes the side of DAP that I like, experimental / improvisational ambient pieces that set mysterious and uneasy moods. I suspect that filling out the project into a group will continue to help these musicians improve their compositions and become more adept in the vast experimental territory that they and too few modern groups dwell in.

by Mike McLatchey, Published 1999-11-01

Featuring an inviting Canterbury-meets-80s-Crimson sound, The Dark Aether Project has produced a competent if unspectacular second outing. Both the 8-string Warr Guitar (the kind brought into the mainstream by Trey Gunn and King Crimson) and Hammond organ are prominent in their mostly-instrumental compositions, and the occasional vocals are delivered by none other than Ray Weston (ex- Echolyn, now also in Always Almost). The Warr Guitar (played by Adam Levin) delivers several interesting ostinato passages on the opening track, “Burnt Sunrise,” which often sounds like Crimson’s “Discipline.” Elsewhere on this track, the Hammond organ carries the same overdriven tone favored by David Sinclair on the early Caravan albums. Overall, the album really didn’t grab me. I can certainly appreciate the tight arrangements and the excellent recording quality, but in the end, I found I was left with more structure than substance. Individual passages are great, but on the whole each piece seems more like a blueprint than a finished piece. The pieces seemed to me to be patchworks of good ideas, riffs, and progressions, but somewhat lacking in cohesion. Even so, I can recommend this album to fans of new, intelligent progressive rock that emphasizes instrumental finesse and discipline.

by Steve Robey, Published 1999-11-01

Filed under: New releases, Issue 18, 1999 releases

Related artist(s): Markus Reuter, The Dark Aether Project


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