In its continuing quest and mission to be an innovative and creative label, Magna Carta now presents an album of electronic remixes of the best tracks from its great artists – Sonic Residue From Vapourspace. Among the artists covered are Liquid Tension Experiment, Bozzio Levin Stevens, Steve Morse, Niacin, Attention Deficit and Steve Walsh. With Sonic Residue From Vapourspace, it becomes clear that there is a distinct tie between the heady sounds of electronica and the intelligent music of progressive rock.
Mark Gage (aka Vapourspace) was enlisted to create new music from the existing master tapes. Gage went through numerous Magna Carta releases searching for the tracks that he wanted to remix for this project. One year later, Gage emerged from Vapourspace with an album based on the original works but sounding radically different. Yet, throughout all his changes to the original tracks, he never added new performances using only the source material provided altered with his mastery of studio technology.
Gage has a hard time putting a label on the Vapourspace sound, but "neo-classicist electronic" is a term he thinks comes pretty close. He is also quick to point out that he is not a DJ. His song "Gravitational Arch of 10" from one of his early albums was labeled as one of the most important electronic tracks of the last decade by URB Magazine. Yet, Vapourspace relies on the original performances and a radically different perspective of what music can sound like.
The first stop is Attention Deficit's "Girl From Enchilada". Its original form is a retro textured jazzy cut. Gage takes the piece into a more modern electronic zone. It comes across funkier than the original, with this being the closest the CD gets to dance music.
Next up is Gage's reading of Niacin's "Blue Mondo". As performed by Sheehan's group, it starts in a sedate, jazzy mode, turning to a harder, proggy-retro style quickly. Gage's vision of it comes across early on as very atmospheric. Later it starts really kicking, and Gage wisely chose to keep both the killer bass work and John Novello's trademark Hammond sound. The cut drops back to atmosphere to end.
The next number on the disc is "Led On". This one is almost a picture within a picture - Gage's interpretation of Steve Morse's homage to Led Zeppelin. In its original form it strives to cover all modes of Zepness – from the acoustically driven playful to the majestic and mysterious and then into the hard-rocking fury. The only really noticeable effects of Gage's influence here are the somewhat spacey and effects-laden texture and the fact that he chose to eschew the more rocking segments of the piece.
We see the first instance of Gage working with a non-instrumental cut on the next number. Here he chose to remix Explorer's Club's "Time Enough". The hard rocking and powerful piece is a great choice for inclusion here, being very strong. Under Gage's tutelage the cut loses much of its harder edge, taking on a more percussive and electronic tone. One of the unexpected effects of this change is that the vocal work of DC Cooper really takes on a new urgency and power here. It becomes the driving force of much of the piece. Gage also chooses to add extra emphasis to what in the original is a brief jazzy interlude.
"Osmosis" by Liquid Tension Experiment is next. In its original form it is a sedate jazzy instrumental jam. In this take, the arrangement feels a bit sparser and the rhythm more prevalent. It is a fairly faithful take on the piece, but there is a nice cutting in and out effect on the lead lines that adds something to the percussive texture of the track.
Next up are two songs by Bozzio Levin Stevens. The first is "Dark Corners". The original version is a fierce, but tasteful, jam that is very King Crimson oriented. As Gage presents it, it has a mysterious quality and actually feels a bit playful at times. It is much less hard-edged, and more percussive and electronic. It has an almost bouncy texture.
The original version of BLS' "Melt" is quite relaxing and fun in texture. With Gage's handiwork, this one becomes one of the more unusual cuts on the album. It starts with a very weird sounding texture. By selectively removing and reworking certain layers, though, the piece actually seems more hard-edged than the original in places. Gage reworks a song that was in a less serious mode transforming it into one of the more powerful numbers on the CD.
Crossing back into LTE territory, Gage moves into "Another Dimension". As originally released, this cut is somewhat reflective and mysterious early, screaming out into prog fury as it carries on. Gone is the mysterious texture of the original, being replaced by a very funky, rhythmic mode. The fury of the original never appears, but it takes on a wonderful percussive texture and the melody line seems more potent in the somewhat less cacophonic mix. Thankfully, Gage preserves the European café segment of the piece, adding effects to make it more real.
The other vocal piece of the disc follows. It is Steve Walsh's cut, "Kansas". Originally a dramatic and evocative prog rock number, it seems almost more mysterious and powerful under Gage's hand. It gets very atmospheric at times, and the ending is especially strong.
Rounding out the album is Gage's take on Tempest's instrumental number, "Jenny Nettles". As Tempest presents it, the cut is a fun, acoustically-driven Celtic rock number. It really changes in his mixing studio. The song loses its Old World flavor and playfulness, its melody becoming the cornerstone of an atmospheric electronic jam.
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Sonic Residue From Vapourspace
Catalog # MA-9057-2
Buy Now: $15.98 [shipping/handling included] Download The Album Now Release Date: January 29, 2002
1. Girl From Enchilada - Attention Deficit 4:25
2. Blue Mondo - Niacin 6:35
3. Led On - Steve Morse 6:21
4. Time Enough - Explorers Club 5:47
5. Osmosis - Liquid Tension Experiment 4:19
6. Dark Corners - Bozzio Levin Stevens 10:30
7. Melt - Bozzio Levin Stevens 3:40
8. Another Dimension - Liquid Tension Experiment 7:21
9. Kansas - Steve Walsh 7:25
10. Jenny Nettles - Tempest 9:07