Superheaven - s/t (self-released 2003)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: January 2004
Superheaven is a solo project form an Alabama based electronic musician who wishes only to be known as David. This self-titled 2-CD set is apparently David's freshman release, though he also plays live and appeared at the 2003 Spacerock Con held in Cullman, Alabama this past October.
"Target Digital Chair" opens disc 1 and begins with an interesting combination of atmospherics and tribal rhythms. The rhythms are what drive the music, creating a robotic dancey vibe, and the atmospherics sound like the rush of ocean waves against the shore. But about half way through this 12 minute track a sample from Monty Python's Life Of Brian serves as a transition to a more overtly rave party beat oriented segment that sounded pretty hysterical with the Monty Python bits continuing to pop back in. Lots of interesting ideas here but it's a bit uneven. Things do get more linear on "Alternative Light" and "Eloquent Domain", which are among the shorter tracks of the set, and from here David seems to take off and even shine at times.
David's real strengths comes to light on tracks like "Prowl", "Echo Me Lord" and "Wave Pusher", all of which paint dreamy, continually evolving landscapes with a cosmic but beat oriented edge. "Prowl" features another cool combination of beats and electro melodies, and has some very cool alien efx that keep things moving steadily along. I can envision this one working great as the soundtrack to a sci fi action flick. And speaking of good soundtrack music, "Echo Me Lord" consists of beautiful rolling soundscape space symphonics along with David's ever present spaced out DJ beats. This would also be great music for a computer game where the player is exploring some dark desolate planet with a complex landscape that holds many opportunities for surprise discoveries. Real image inducing stuff. Ditto for the nearly 20 minute "Wave Pusher", the most purely meditative spacey voyage on the first disc. And though the combination of beats and atmospherics is very much a part of the trademark Superheaven sound, this was a case where I wished he would have dispensed with the beats and focused completely on the dark but serene space symphony he's creating. Very nice.
Disc 2 features 6 more mostly lengthy tracks of tasty electronica. David really does have a flair for aural imagery and narrative flow, and the opening track, "Sylicon Blood", is similar to "Prowl", but with an even darker and more intense, yet spacey vibe. Once again the percussives dominate and very nicely color the music. "Sugar Heaven" is a playful tune that brings to mind Kraftwerk and Neu!, but also includes more New Agey elements. I hear guitar on this track too, which is an addition that works well with Superheaven's music. "Enter All-Light" brings us into tribal robotic freaky head boppin' dance mode. "Lord" is a strong track with a lush Vangelis styled backdrop, lots of cosmic space embellishments, and off-kilter alien dance grooves. Much of it reminds me of the soundtrack to the computer flight game Descent, which I always thought was pretty cool.
"Flicker" is another highlight. It's got pounding industrial rhythms, sounding like a rave taking place in some factory in space. Lots happening here, with more complex than usual arrangements of the layered parts and carefully inserted freaky bits and pieces. And once again we hear guitar, which gives the music a fuzzed rock sound. Nice stuff. Finally, the closing track, "Predicon Supernova", proved to be yet another standout, and at 16 minutes one of the longest tracks on either CD. This is one of the more progressive rock oriented tracks of the set, yet it also includes all the spacey, rhythmic and narrative elements that have made this such an enjoyable listen.
I think what impressed me the most about Superheaven is that David does so much with so little. It's clear that he doesn't have the most sophisticated keyboard rig. But just as state of the art equipment produces little in the hands of someone who lacks talent, an imaginative musician and composer can take simple gear light years beyond its capabilities. Fans of electronic space music with a taste for beats and a progressive rock edge will find much of interest in Superheaven's music.
For more information you can email Superheaven at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact via snail mail c/o David; 1606 Woodard Dr; Cullman, AL 35055.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz