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The Silverman - Nature of Illusion

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Artist: The Silverman

Album: Nature of Illusion

Label: Beta-Iactam Ring

Review date: Feb. 9, 2006

Packaged in a nice little mini-gatefold sleeve, this 2-CD set from Legendary Pink Dots instrumentalist The Silverman (a.k.a. Philip Knight) sees him dabbling in murky, vaguely experimental New Agey waters. The two CDs are divided into two cohesive parts. The first is the titular "Nature of Illusion," the second is "Woodland Calling,” which is only included with the first 700 copies of the release.

The insert artwork contains a scrawled diagram illustrating the "nature of these recordings," which are primarily synthesizer in origin, augmented with some flute, exterior sounds, and a brief vocal appearance by Edward Ka-Spel. For the most part, the music owes much to predecessors like Conrad Schnitzler and Tangerine Dream.

There are some intriguing moments here akin to Nurse With Wound's abstract rhythmic experiments, as in the first part of "Nature of Illusion" when rubbery plunks ping-pong from side to side amidst dark sounds of synthesized wind and wordless vocal babbling funneled through delay. The interplay of glistening electronic tweaks occasionally peeks up above the static background tones.

But long passages evoke equal parts New Age synth soundscapes and Lustmord-style cavernous gloom, making the listening experience hit or miss. The calm passages can feel like an interlude until the next interesting moment, unfortunately, leaving one killing time in the interim. As a midnight background listen it's fairly suitable, but not noteworthy.

Some of these longer passages, of course, are more successfully evocative than others. When channeling the sort of crystalline edge-of-space void that Organum perfected, there's a hardness and darkness that gives the mind something to explore. Often, though, the aimless layering of synthesized tones evokes nothing so much as the soundtrack to a Nova science special on television: harmless and bland.

Ultimately, most of the album slides past innocuously, quiet slabs of space that are hard to concentrate on and inevitably fade to gray, proof that at times less is not, in fact, more.

By Mason Jones

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