"One of the most intriguing, unpredictable, and ENJOYABLE recording acts in ambient music"
- Bill Binkelman, Wind & Wire
"Skeel's tendencies to jam are an intriguing counterpoint to Mark G.E.'s
- Jason Kiel, Shepherd Express
cyberCHUMP is an electro-organic duo that explores aural
soundscapes of rhythm and moment. Subterrainian atmospherics give way to
driving space melodies. At once a mix of science beats, ambient texture
and cinematic themes. The duo works mostly separately at a distance from
one another, to come together occasionally to finalize their work. Their
music is guided by very little discussion as they seek to evoke a place, time or
mood, utilizing the studio as an instrument.
Jim Skeel: High & Low looped guitars, keyboards, bass, samples, manipulations
Mark G. E.: Altered keyboards, five-string fretless bass,
guitar, treated accordian, samples, machines
Flutter and Flow (2013)
by Paul Foster of Echoes and Dust
When we slow sound down, what happens?
Well, we know it lowers the pitch of the sound, we also know that it dulls
the tone and timbre, as it's operating in a totally different frequency range
than originally. This often imbues music with a totally different quality than
previously: bright and upbeat music becomes prosaic, melancholy and
This was an area explored by composers who used tape-manipulation and, later,
samplers to exploit the changes which time and pitch exerts on sound.
Rather than make this technique the whole of their music,
Cyberchump have utilized bespoke software to re-pitch and stretch their own
tracks from the past, to create backings for new compositions.
Just so you know, Cyberchump are Mark G.E. and Jim Skeel. They work apart,
only meeting up to mix and finalise their music. On their website, I count 10
previous releases, not including Flutter & Flow. So, quite prolific,
then. They're experimental, conceptual and, as it turns out, compulsively
Ok, so what about the music? Well, several boxes are ticked. This is a duo
whose influences aren't necessarily apparent, but I'd guess they're pretty
eclectic and esoteric. There are touches of Another Green World-era Eno
in places on 'Sign By Night', but this is fairly fleeting as deep Cooder-esque
blues guitar and mellow mid-pitch bass punctuate the emerging soundscape. This
is 'ambient', but not in a new-agey, self-indulgent and inwardly reflective way.
It is ambient in that it's relatively sedate music which conjures some mildly
dark and cinematic imagery. Picture music, in fact.
Later, in 'Neon', we get treated to some odd little timbres and dissonance.
Dark and gradually escalating space-rock that broods and flows (and occasionally
There is a danger that the music becomes unfocused and lacking in structure
with this type of project however, it is eminently melodic also. Little tuneful
sequences and riffs pop in and out of the noise, tying the tracks together. In
possibly the darkest and seemingly most formless track on the album, 'Dark
Machine Language', a beatless drone and machine noises bring to mind sci-fi
scenarios, as well as Martin Hannett's 'Lift Recordings' for Joy Division's
Unknown Pleasures sessions.
The album concludes with the euphoric pads of 'When Time Was No Time', made
more foreboding-sounding by an eastern bass melody and slowly opening filters.
It develops into an awesome swathe of chiming guitar and deep drone.
A simple conclusion for you, dear reader: How to summarise this album? Dark,
melodic, contemplative, cinematic, experimental, headphone-filling. Therefore,
it pushes all my buttons.
Tom B of Bad Sounds Magazine:
Cyberchump call themselves an electro-organic duo and seem to have released
records for quite some time. What’s a bit different about this two piece is that
they live in separate cities in the United States creating most music over the
internet. A more common thing these days yes, but a far cry from the days of
sending reel to reel back and forth for months to create music.
Flutter and Flow is ambient music created from “sweet spots” in 30
minute stretched out pieces created by “audio stretch software” which are then
cut down to pop music length.
In a kind of a “jam until it works” creationist style. Luckily, cutting it
down from 30 minutes leads to less monotony.
What we are left with are seven ambient pieces (clocking in at only 47
minutes), that seem to flow rather nicely. This Bad Sounds writer can’t pretend
to know a lot about this kind of ambient electro, but there is some quality
here. I could imagine this music accompanying, dark suspense tv, nature shows,
or dark strange gothic bars. Its quite possibly been played in several organic
food and/or holistic stores around the states as well. With words like
“Destination”, “Travel Time” and “Manipulation of Time and Mind” written on the
cd, Cyberchump seem to want to take you for a spiritual journey into the unknown
wilderness. Sounds like hippie bullshit right? Well, it doesn’t really come
across as that.
Basically it’s nice background music for most people. For fans of ambient
music, it might be more interesting. I generally don’t have time for 5+ minute
songs (with the AA meetings and all). I’d be more into it with less guitar and
more beats; still it’s worth a listen.
Favorite track: the more upbeat title track “Flutter and Flow”
Cyberchump, according to their website, ‘is an electro-organic duo
that explores aural soundscapes of rhythm and moment’. While my rarely dormant
inner pedant is keen to learn what other kinds of soundscape might exist, this
gives a fair sense of the textures to be heard on Flutter And Flow. The
music is far from ambient; it has a strong skeletal structure, but it is clearly
directed at the exploration of atmosphere, rather than the articulation of
narrative, or the erotic power of groove. There are plenty of signs of
instrumental agency remaining in the music, which risks an audience focus on the
self-expressive aspects of performance as against the evocative characteristics
of the sound, but the payoff is a human and organic feel, where broadly ambient
approaches to music-making can sometimes feel impersonal and detached. These are
human-made moods and places that the soundscapes evoke, carved out by a
cumulative, collaborative process of composition. Although they don’t specify
where they obtained the source files, Cyberchump explain on their
Bandcamp page that these tracks are built around timestretched audio, to which
each of the musicians added their contributions, passing the work back and forth
until both felt it met the criteria for completion. Those contributions include
electro-acoustic materials generated by various instruments, synthesis, field
recordings, and the results of various forms of processing applied to those
sources; at times it is clear that a bass or a guitar is playing, and at others
it’s anyone’s guess what’s making the sounds in play. It is also explained that
each musician recorded their parts with the intention of responding dynamically
to the other’s work, in a sort of delayed response jam session; there is
certainly an improvisational vibe to the music, an open feel, a sense of
possibility rather than one of compositional closure. The music evokes a sense
of place, but it is, unusually, a social space that its tones and textures
The time-stretched audio backgrounds against which these seven compositions
are articulated may or may not have been subject to some additional processing;
all I know is that they have been edited, short sections selected for their
usefulness as a setting for all the subsequent creativity. These short sections
are predominantly soft-edged, tonal drones, lacking hard attacks and resembling
synthesizer pads in most particulars. Against these backdrops of aural colour
various elements do their thing. There is percussion, which is occasionally
rapid-fire, as in the partially submerged drum ’n’ bass rhythmic stylings of
‘Flutter And Flow’, but which mostly adopts a tribal feel, with solid, cyclical
grooves and tempi that evoke a human heartbeat. There is bass, sometimes
decorating the soundscape, and sometimes grooving hard, but always deep-toned,
earthy and grounded. There is electric guitar, which sometimes produces drones
and washes of sound, and sometimes hard, distinct notes. There are keyboards,
which given the vast range of sounds they can produce and the potential of
processing to warp them are practically impossible to isolate or distinguish;
there are a wide variety of synth-like sounds, and also many other sounds that
might be from field-recordings (such are credited on the CD inlay), but could as
easily be artifacts of the time-stretched source audio, or might have been
elicited from any of the other sources by audio processing. What is common to
all of these pieces is that the background audio washes, together with the other
environmental sounding sonic elements, create a sense of a space or medium in
which all the more hard-edged elements are immersed.
It could be some kind of amniotic fluid; it has the liquid feeling common to
much ambient music, but the human musicians that are clearly creating the other
sounds are not drowning in it. Instead it seems to nurture and support them.
Perhaps it’s a cave: a large, reverberant space, enclosing and limiting, but
also protecting and enabling. There is a curious combination of limitless vistas
and a sort of claustrophobia. Affectively, it is an enveloping and gently
invigorating atmosphere, but symbolically it seems to me to speak of a social
context. The music is trance-inducing, and it has a powerful ritual, tribal
feeling. What seems most remarkable to me is that, although it has been made in
a technologically contrived and solitary (if collaborative) manner, it has an
unmistakeable sense of communality. This partly springs from the associations of
aspects of its language, the percussion rhythms that would be at home beside a
festival campfire (or supporting the trans-cultural musical utterances of
Afro-Celt Sound System), the trancey colours that might not sound out of
place in space rock, or some kinds of New Age music. But both musicians are
clearly creative enough to transcend the associations of their materials and to
generate a language of their own; the sense of communal music making springs
largely, to my ears, from the interactive and responsive approach they have been
so careful to nurture and preserve throughout the process of composition and
production. This is a music without a distinct sense of the individual; there is
a strong sense of the particular, creative subject, but as a component of a
greater whole. The music feels like the utterance of a group, the common ground
between a range of artistic sensibilities, or the aural equivalent of a sense of
social cohesion. It’s not the soundtrack to domestic life, or necessarily, on
the other hand, to party-time, but it evokes a sense of coming together for some
broad, transcendent purpose. The striking combination of grounded bass and
ethereal soundscape speaks of the natural world, of roots connected to leaves,
and of people seeking their apotheosis in some kind of union therewith. Two men
made this, not simultaneously but separately, in what they refer to as the Alpha
and Omega Chump Labs; but it sounds for all the world as though a whole clan of
hippies made it in a moment of spontaneous ritual out in the woods somewhere.
Flutter And Flow offers the listener a beguiling and immersive experience,
an energising and confirmational atmosphere of colour, connectedness and
Inveterate sound-tweakers Cyberchump (aka Jim Skeel and Mark G.E.) are also
apparently avid recyclers. For their new release, Flutter and Flow, the
duo took existing tracks, used the PaulStretch software program to pull them out
to 30 minutes, then listened for “sweet spots”–rhythmic passages that sounded
ideal to jam over. The result is a seven-track, 45-minute psychedelic groove
replete with wailing guitar, easy downtempo beats, and wavering washes of sound
out to hypnoptize you. One of the things that immediately catches my attention
is the abundance of thick, meaty bass lines courtesy of Eberhage. It’s a hefty
anchor of sound, heavy on the funk, and I can’t get enough of it. I quite like
it strolling its way through the title track, accompanied by a heart-pounding
rush of glitchy percussion and Skeel’s guitar, or its casual lope as it anchors
“When Time Was No Time.” Skeel’s leads are another obvious attraction,
alternating between gorgeously drawn-out howls and wails and fiery slashes of
rock-soaked guitar joy. He fires it up on the deepest groove here, the 12-minute
“China Dreaming.” It’s got something of a Berlin feel to it, roaring along on a
steady low-end sequencer riff in a toe-tapping time signature. Analog-synth
whooshes shoot through the backdrop. A rewinding-tape sound makes for a
funky break early on. In among all this, the guitars (may I assume they’re from
both of the gentlemen?) launch sustained chords and soulful riffs in equal
measure. This track, particularly, is signature Cyberchump.
I like the concept at work on Flutter and Flow, and Skeel and
Eberhage make it more than just a curious little experiment. The extended
sound-beds give everything a floaty edge and retain hints of their melodic
origins, so they are also, in a slow-motion kind of way, dynamic. The improv’d
jams have an ear-pleasing rawness to them and never lose their way. Blend all
that with the easy cool that pervades these tracks, and Flutter and Flow
quickly locks itself into a repeat-play slot. An excellent release from
Cyberchump. They just keep getting better.
News have it that the US-american band outfit
CyberCHUMP has released a new album a few months ago on which they keep
exploring the realms of Deep Listening Music and Ambient, following their very
own path of experimentation and - most importantly - keep always keen and hungry
in terms of musical progress. This means, referring to their latest longplay
work named "Flutter And Flow", that they're fusing Electronica and Ambient
spheres referring to space as what might be named as overall audio topic not
only due to the album cover artwork with some Dub-references and the use of
trippy, psychedelic Kraut- and ArtRock guitars, creating a calm but still
thrilling sound architecture that even turns into a feverish Glambient vision
with the use of ancient drum rhythms in "Neon" and trips out advanced
dancefloors with the all embracing AmbientDub waves of "China Dreaming".
This release from 2013 features 48 minutes of quirky
Cyberchump is: Jim Skeel (on warm guitar, keyboards, field
recordings, loops, time stretching and other manipulations) and Mark G.E. (on
bass, angular guitar, keyboard, accordion, weird sound generator and loops).
They are joined on certain tracks by: Jeanne Marie Vielleux (on voice) and J.
Karl Bogartte (on Uilleann pipes).Quirky electronics, striking guitar, and agile
e-perc produces a selection of lively electronic tunes.The first track allows
strong guitar and ponderous bass to usher in accompanying rhythms, at which
point the guitar notes begin to bend amid a fog of droning keyboards.In the next
piece snappy e-perc and twirling tonalities conspire with dreamy keyboards,
until strident guitar enters the mix to boost everything skywards.Followed by a
song in which cranking gears and spinning wheels are attended by thumping beats.
Eventually, piercing electronics emerge to flourish and provide a stage for
guitar sustains.Track four offers a chorus of bell-tones and deeper drones in
tandem with some tribal rhythms, leading to the sneaky rise of a treated voice
dogged by shrill effects and a bass rumble. Some guitar embellishment appears s
things all sloosh together.A shorter piece, track five pursues a realm of gritty
mechanical devices. The clanking is punctuated by sweeping clouds and guitar
notes of a penetrating nature.The next piece (the longest on the album, at
nearly 13 minutes) features piercing tones trying to drown out a thumping impact
that swiftly expands into a complex tempo of blooping beats. Additional
electronic threads seep into the mix, thickening everything until a twangy
guitar can offer a slithery melody. Some regal keyboards strike in the
background, lending the flow a certain nobility.For the final song, a more
somber attitude is adopted, as guitars grind out spiraling chords and a pensive
bassline winds through a nest of extended keyboard tones.A satisfying excursion
into a realm of weirdness, where melodies are crafted from edgy sounds.
Our Wizards of Earth (2008)
Cyberchump - consisting mainly of Mark G.E. and his compagnon Jim Skeel plus
a bunch of guest musicians contributing parts to this album - are back with a
new album due to be released on august 12th, which is quite different compared
to their Ambient / Deep Listening-flavored "Sankhara" released in 2006. With
"Our Wizards Of Earth" they explore a terrain to be described as more epic, more
spaced out and for sure more organic than their last longplay work - although
they tend to work more loop-orientated as they've come to a play, record, loop
and re-play structure when they've been recording recently the whole album and
its songs sound more like played in one go by a real band like all the great
Kraut- and Psychedelic Rock outfits of the 70s did, first of all to mention Pink
Floyd, but also the likes of Magma or Popul Vuh to name but a few whose fans
might be touched by this one that refers to those times but still is not playing
the copycattin' game here. But also fans of the so-called Cosmic movement are
recommended to check out "Our Wizards Of Earth", which is not necessarily
dancefloor focused but still contains some dance-compatible parts that mostly
are connected to what often is wrongly named as World Music, a term usually used
when there is some eastern or ethnic percussion like tabla involved and
harmonies seem to refer to other notation systems than our common western. But
don't get me wrong, this is no kitschy music for down-nested, more esoteric moms
but an album for those who like a deeper listening experience than the usual
that provides new aspects even to those who've been following
Cyberchump for a while as it is their first long-player to feature vocals in
at least some of their new tracks although both of the main protagonists have
used their voices in other bands than their own outfit.
Dave Lurhssen - Shepherd Express
Milwaukee’s Cyberchump is an
electronic duo crafting wonderful melodic soundscapes. Drawing from a wide
palette of instruments and influences, Cyberchump summons Pink Floyd in a mellow
moment, ambient chill room electronica, moody low-key art rock, whoosing spacey
sounds of Krautwerk, Near Eastern strains and echoes of psychedelia. Our
Wizards of Earth works as an album rather than a series of disparate
numbers; the music flows from track to track in a running sonic stream.
Cyberchump is: Jim Skeel (on guitars, keyboards, loops, voice,
laptop and manipulations) and Mark G.E. (on keyboards, bass, loops, voice,
guitar, laptop and tweaks), with contributions by Hafiza Capehart on flute,
James Finlayson on hand drums, David D. Gupta on Indian tablas, Tim Higgins on
drum kit, Jason Loveall on violin, Neal Rops on chump sample harvesting, and
Jeanne Marie Vielleux on voice.
An electronic sensibility dominates this music, infusing the
rock undercurrent with a dreamy disposition that softens the percussion, lends
the guitars an astral flavor, and transports the vocals to a mystical realm.
The electronics appear in textural layers, sidereal effects
and serpentine keyboard riffs, the latter establishing an eerie tableau for the
The percussion is steadfast, durable and well integrated to
the music, supporting with beats that do not disrupt the music’s overall
Guitars provide snarling embellishment, sometimes in a spacey
mode, other times indulging in a growling moodiness that evokes a portentous
Vocals are present in several tracks, presented in an echoing
fashion that enhances that mystical quality, as if the lyrics are communicating
dire secrets that are risky to share.
The guest instruments tend to flesh out the tuneage’s sound
with ethnic seasoning.
These compositions are a crafty blend of ambience and soft
rock. While the instruments strive to boost the music into a substantial state,
the general motif of the music maintains an atmospheric mien that makes these
tunes stand out from conventional rock fare.
Jamie Lee Rake - Shepherd Express
The Milwaukee/Kansas City aural sculptors (as Cyberchump calls itself) decided
to remix the electro-acoustic amalgamations of their first two CDs. Enter
Milwaukee laptop music-maker Janzyk. The collaboration birthed a collection
of eccentric ambient and intelligent dance tracks—or, rather, beat-driven
tracks. Their danceability isn't a forced quality, but one that allows ReGrooved
to work on the disco floor or in the chill-out lounge with roughly equal
The duo known as
Cyberchump has always had a certain chameleon-like sense of identity. They’ve
dabbled in IDM with thick beats, they’ve quieted things down to a meditative
flow, they’ve strapped on guitars to revel in their prog-rock roots. After years
of inventive reinvention, Jim Skeel and Mark G.E. had a chance to let someone
else figure out who Cyberchump is, so they naturally took it. They handed tracks
from their first two albums over to “laptop tweaker” Janzyk, and the result is
ReGrooved, a club-friendly, funk-laden joyride that neatly (and wisely)
retains at its core the smart synth-and-guitar blend that is signature
The source albums came
before my initial introduction to Cyberchump (2004’s Scientists in the Trees)
so I can’t cogently comment on what Janzyk did re: the originals. What I can say
is that it’s an early Saturday morning as I write this review and three tracks
in it’s all I can do not to get up and start dancing around the kitchen. This is
potent stuff, beat-wise, and packed with lots of extra ear candy that make it a
pleasure to drop into. Highlights for me include the smoky, sort of John
Klemmer-ish sax that writhes through the bass-thick “Space is the Case,” and the
punchy dancefloor attack of “Love Offering.” By contrast, Janzyk slows things
down with “Dreams Groove,” a sparse track that rides largely on a cool backbeat
and occasional chordbursts of guitar. This one takes its time, doesn’t cram in
any excess sound, and comes off as one of the slickest tracks here.
ReGrooved is a disc that really shines in a shuffle, pulling an immediate
energy into any flow. It’s just plain fun to listen to, track after track, and
quite nicely put together. In outsourcing their latest incarnation, the lads of
Cyberchump chose wisely.
Their Moment of Perfect Happiness (2011)
Milwaukee’s Mark G.E. and long-dis- tance
collaborator Jim Skeel record together under the name Cyberchump. Playing with
electronic tex- tures on their latest CD, the two-disc Their Moment of
Perfect Happiness, the prolific duo makes music in which the humanity isn’t
lost amid the technology. The clang- ing, trippy beats and synth melodies sound
rough-hewn and artisanal as they travel across lively instrumental techno-pop,
moody soundscapes, ambient journeys and even the deep echoes of dub. Cyberchump
employs instruments old and new, including kalimba, tape loops and laptop, in a
bracing collection. —David Luhrssen
The gentlemen of Cyberchump know that your musical mood tends to fluctuate.
That’s why their new release, Their Moment of Perfect Happiness, gives
you two discs–one for those times when you need it uptempo and loud and another
for your darker, more contemplative moments. The first disc, the upbeat one, is
also for those of you who, like me, are suckers for a sexy, thick and chunky
dose of window-rattling bass. With heavy dub influence entwined with ripping
prog-rock guitar, this disc wastes no time in getting its funk on. “Every1”
wah-wahs its way into your face and gets you moving while guitarist Jim Skeel
unleashes a stinging swarm of notes. From there, he and Mark G.E. refuse to
relinquish their hold. “Learning to Breathe,” which is so pleasantly trippy it
should be called “Learning to Inhale,” offers harmonics pinging over a reggae
bass line amid a butterfly stampede of electronics. And really, how can you miss
with a track called “Interstellar Dub Station Freakout”? This one solidifies the
duo’s dub cred, complete with scratchy guitar, a beat you can’t refuse and
perfectly executed drops where the sudden silence just echoes through your head.
The lads pull a nice tonal switch with “In Tension,” curving the flow into a
Middle Eastern groove. Familiar territory for them, it must be said, and they
hit it neatly here.
The second disc is interesting for its linear movement from beat-based pieces
that carry the energy of the first disc, down into misty ambient flows. Along
the way the route passes through some intense, if not sinister-sounding, places.
There’s a lot of minimalist construction here; simple phrasings and unchanging
beats drive pieces like “Darling Don’t” (which, I have to tell you, can be a
little creepy at times while also being a steady groove) and “Dread.” But in the
almost unmoving constancy of these tracks, G.E. and Skeel manage to infuse a lot
of activity and plenty of ear candy. These pared-back riffs manage to be no less
infectious than the straightforward pieces on the first disc, which speaks
volumes for the power of restraint. The last 20 minutes, beginning with
“Floating” and on through the superb quiet wash of “In the Time of Gone,” find
Cyberchump smoothing things out, calming the beats a little further and just
letting the glide take over. Muted guitar notes hum their way through
“Floating”; “Wind in Sleep” has a lullaby quality to it and a sense of easy
patience. It’s spacious and in no hurry. Wind chimes ring quietly, pushed by a
synthesizer breeze. “In the Time of Gone” is a classic ambient piece, all drones
and pads edging toward the close of the disc. A truly beautiful piece,
thoughtful and calm.
Cyberchump manage to do what they set out to with this disc. The one proudly
stamped “Loud” excels when played loud. It’s been the soundtrack of many a
morning commute since I received it. It’s feel-good dub that just seeps into
your soul. Disc two takes up residence in your darker psychic spaces, churns up
some stuff and talks to you about it, then hushes the conversation to let you
think and leaves you alone with your thoughts. An excellent release from
Cyberchump; probably my favorite of theirs so far.
Our statewise friends named
Cyberchump a.k.a. Mark GE and Jim Skeel have done it again and released a
new album named "Their Moment Of Perfect Happiness" via their very own Internal
Combustion-imprint. Well, not an album exactly but a double album - that means
two full hours to be spent in your personal armchair listening to deep, slightly
playful Ambient, some decent partly Dub-influenced Downbeats and other warm and
embracing musical wizzardry that makes you feel at home like a baby feels at
home in its mothers womb. As you can guess from this description - we do like
"Their Moment Of Perfect Happiness", not only for being classy but for fusing
floating classic Ambient with some live elements which hasn't been done for
quite a while now. Provide a copy to Ambient gods like Mixmaster Morris and I'll
be they'll playing tunes like "Interstellar Dub Station Freakout" forever. Fully
George Bass from Coke Machine Glow on Ocean Wrecking
It’s only natural that a duo should halve honours on a double album, and
ambient noodlers Cyberchump have done just that, cutting Their Moment of
Perfect Happiness right down the middle. The first half: playful
electronica, friendly clicks. The second: hangover tunes; barely audible drone
tracks that you could put yourself in suspended animation to. Mark G.E. and Jim
Skeel seem to be preparing themselves for the ultimate night out, giving equal
time to both optimism and recovery. It’s conscientiousness like this that drove
Gary Langan, founder of Art of Noise, to describe their debut Dreams Groove
as “one of 88 albums you must hear.”
Both Skeel and G.E. use the dark tracks to soon produce jewels like “Ocean
Wrecking,” written to highlight marine noise pollution for the 2009 Hydrophonia
festival. However, the Rainbow Warrior vibes end there: “Wrecking” is designed
to scare any noise polluters swiftly back to shore, descended from the same
drone horror as Xela’s The Dead Sea (2006). Featuring gull caws,
plucked strings, and everything else you’d expect of a sea shanty, there’s about
a minute of calm before the sea sucks back, petering out into black mud.
Dolphins scream while guitars float in a tide pool, tangled with squid and
contemplating revenge. It’s an original, unnerving sound—not as engaging as,
say, a Drew Barrymore family film
about the plight of innocent sea life, but a neat way of repelling pirates
if you didn’t pack an RPG-7.
Cyberchump is: Jim Skeel (on processed electric and Ebow guitars. synthesizers,
processed kalimba and bass, laptop, field recordings, loops and other
manipulations), and Mark G.E. (on 5-string fretless bass, long guitar,
synthesizer, weird sound generator, multiple configured effects, things that
shouldn't be plugged into one another, laptop, loops and voice). Additional
voices on one track are provided by: Theresa Ala Mode and Alexander M.E.
Contemporary electronics is given a multi-genre bump, resulting in tuneage of a
highly intriguing nature.
The electronics are versatile and slick, blending atmospheric texturals with
lead synthesizers in a fashion that produces a tight flow of inventive music.
Haunting auralscapes provide mysterious clouds which roil and seethe in the
background, while additional electronics generate lavish riffs of particularly
Keyboards initiate a majority of the electronics, spawning a flurry of ambrosial
riffs that unfurl with stately grace--only to be warped by other instruments
into passages that defy classification.
Guitars provide a tasteful twang that fuses space attributes with an assortment
of alternate styles, ranging from country to jazz to rock to experimental. These
diverse approaches achieve a unique presence that defies expectations and
burrows into the listener's psyche with rewarding results.
Percussion is featured and contributes locomotion of an engaging variety. The
rhythms alternate from raspy jazz riffs to peppy techno tempos to sparse garage
Basslines rumble throughout, establishing more than just foundational support.
At times the bass stands in as a lead instrument with dazzling consequence.
These compositions are too varied to be covered by a single description. While
contemporary electronics is the main motif, the songs accumulate diverse
influence like a rogue magnet tumbling through a machinist shop, picking up
manifold mediums and applying them with inventive abandon. Cyberchump succeed in
molding everything into a glorious union that sparkles with infectious charisma.
The tunes are snappy (when they're supposed to be) and mesmerizing (when the
intention is more sober), but either way the songs maintain a steadfast degree
of handsome zest.
While the tracks on the first disc are imbued with an energetic temperament, the
music on disc 2 is moodier, a darker slice of ambience. Haunting tones are
accompanied by spooky percussives, lending a portentous to the tuneage.
from Forest on Starstreams
Cyberchump is Featured Artist
on Startsreams - They say, "We share in the headtrip of the duo Mark G.E & Jim
Skeel aka Cyberchump, with their curiously titled double CD, Their Moment of
Perfect Happiness. It's available on their Internal Combustion record label.
Disc 1's groovey psy-tronica nestles well with Disc 2's cinematic stillness.
It's for sure, like totally, trippy!"
Another new artist to me is cyberCHUMP – the duo Mark G.E
and Jim Skeel. They describe Sankhara as a collection of tone poems, and aural
sculpture; and indeed it is. To achieve their sound a lot of sources are used
from treated guitars and keyboards to Uilleann pipes and digeridoo, plus a
voice. It's a rather abstract work and sonically clever because often the
sources aren't obvious to the listener - even the voice is used very subtly.
The overall feel of the album is set in the first track
“Anticipation (Something Out There)”. Humming drones create a backdrop over
which resonant flutey refrains add to the pensive atmosphere. A variety of
washes and almost melodic sounds fill out the soundfield.
An exemplar of the cyberCHUMP sound can be found on the
longest track “Lay Your Head”. Warm tones like embers from a fire form a subtly
shifting background in a way reminiscent of an Exuviae track called “Silencia”.
Against this plucked guitar, gentle tinkles that echo off to the distance, and
bass notes all go to create a slightly spooky yet calming mood.
Most of the time the mood just about stays on the vaguely
unsettling side of things. The album rarely becomes dark per se, instead it
tends to hint and look toward those aspects rather than forges ahead to explore
them. What also works for me is how a mystery is hidden by the music, indeed the
piece “Tremor” with its ghostly teasing melody, brief use of voice and rhythm,
and spooky effects hints at all kinds of things without revealing them.
Sankhara is a pleasing and intriguing work from an artist
I'll be looking out for in the future. It should have plenty of appeal to those
who like amorphous ambience with little in the way rhythmic structures.
Secrets to Tell You (2005)
It's always a treat to see a new
cyberCHUMP album, another transmission from a project that melt different
sources and styles into a unique and exotic mixture. Jim Skeel (guitars,
keyboards, loops, samples, manipulations) and Mark G.E. (bass guitars,
keyboards, loops, samples, background voice) form the core of cyberCHUMP. On
this outing they are assisted by Jason Loveall (violin), Jason Todd
(saxophone), Jeanne Marie Viellux (lead voice), Theresa Ala Mode (background
voice), and Neal Rops (sample harvesting). Very capable musicians, they have
also sampled previous cyberCHUMP works to further enhance the vision of this
The album begins with the soft launch of "Plateaux", swirling mystery with bass guitar pluckings, drones and cricket
glitch. "Lighten" follows, a soft chiming melody with dark organic rustlings
underneath and power drones coming in later. The beats arrive in track 3, "The
Atmosphere Next Door", nice synth, tasteful guitar, and heavenly vocals over
chugging trip hop rhythms. "Healing Time " is next, swirling keyboards and
soloing guitar dancing with metronomic hi-hat sounds and percussion. The fifth
track, "Among The Islands" features a tribal rhythm section, keyboards, and
rock guitar building repeated crescendos. Ambient jazz fusion describes the
blend of guitar, percussion, keys and drum loops in "Boogie Caravan". Next is
"Tango", downtempo ambient funk anchors a Middle Eastern melody with some
smooth violin. The title track "Secrets To Tell You" has chiming bell like
synths dancing over an electro rhythm with some svelte, whispery female
background vocals and soloing guitar. The ninth track "Achu" is a robotic
jewelry box mutating into a shuffling rhythm with synths and electro bass.
"Spanish Funk" is next, a loping fusion riddim with synths, violin and buried
male vocals. The album finishes with "Yearning", dubby bass anchoring grainy
pulses, drum sticks, samples and keyboards.
This is an album that cuts across many
genres, and the variety of sounds and textures makes for exciting listening.
Not content to repeat safe formulas, cyberCHUMP is about exploring and fusing
different elements. It sounds like the musicians had a lot of fun making this,
and that positive energy is felt by the listener! Recommended, especially to
lovers of fusion and rhythmic ambient, this is a great addition to any ambient
- Dodds Wiley on Ambient.us
As your digits fidget to open cyberCHUMP's fifth collection of ambient music,
Secrets to Tell You, you'll notice the statement on the disc reading,
"Somehow a travelogue." Milwaukee's Mark G.E. and Kansas City's Jim Skeel, the
duo behind cyberCHUMP, attempt to prove that ambient can not only create an
environment, but also shuffle you through it. The album begins on a calming
note, with the prolonged opening, "Plateaux." At the same time the sound of a
skipping record needle beckons you to sleep, the motion starts: A feverish
dream with dark riddles and eerie mutations of man and machine that could only
take place in the intense stages of REM sleep, plus a dramatic avant-garde
score coated with textures that give winks to Eno, Bowie and Tangerine Dream.
Skeel's tendencies to jam are an intriguing counterpoint to Mark G.E.'s
methodical experimentation and provide an emotionally rewarding payoff, but
the album's low point, "Among the Islands," seems inappropriate given the
record's otherwise ultramodern feel. The song has value as a piece of '90s
new-age instrumental nostalgia straight out of the video Beyond the Mind's
Eye. Since listening to the music was the best part of watching that
long-forgotten chestnut anyway, this small misstep can be forgiven.
- Jason Keil : The Shepherd Express
Secrets to Tell You Liner Notes by Bill Binkelman - Wind and Wire
Music critics all look for different things in judging the
recordings they receive for review. Some of us value originality above all else,
while others prize recording technique, musical talent, or artistic vision.
However, imagination in the service of poorly recorded music results in sloppy
zaniness, while meticulous engineering and production of mediocre "safe" music
is like vanilla ice cream without any toppings (or even a cone)! Raw talent can
only go so far if the artist has no vision other than to stay on tune, and an
overly ambitious idea without the chops to back it up ends up in a brave but
totally inadequate if not unlistenable mess. Pity us poor critics the most,
though, when we are confronted by a combination of ALL the above traits. We are
left to scratching our heads, reaching for thesauri, and retreating to our
copies of Lester Bangs anthologies for literary inspiration!<
This now leads us to Jim Skeel and Mark G.E., the brains,
brawn, guts, and spirit behind cyberCHUMP, one of the most intriguing,
unpredictable, and (most gratifying to yours truly) ENJOYABLE recording acts in
ambient music. With the music of cyberCHUMP, (whether it be the globe-hopping
fusion funk of Inner Grooves, the sample-fest of electronica on Dreams
Groove, the smooth flowing ambient soundworlds of Abstract Air or the
mind-blowing genre-smashing bravado of my personal fave, Scientists in the
Trees) these two guys throw the listener more curves than a Cy Young award
winner on his best day. Yet, their tongues are frequently tucked neatly in their
cheeks, so you can count on a "nudge nudge wink wink" attitude to surface now
and then, as well as some deliciously subversive musical elements. However, they
can also steer straight-ahead and craft wonderful ambient music too, which is
where Abstract Air shines brightest. Skeel and G.E. are the definitive
renaissance men when it comes to integrating musical explorations into an
accessible framework in such a way that the timid are comforted with "just
enough" accessibility while the courageous are rewarded with idiosyncratic
So, now they have released what is arguably their most
diverse work yet, namely the CD you hold in your muddy little paws,
Secrets to Tell You. The CD kicks off with the subtly scratchy sublime
floating caresses and pinging echoes of "Plateaux" (reminiscent of Pink Floyd's
Meddle) and then heads into mysterious territory on "Lighten" with its
cyber-lounge opening which transforms into a miasmic whirlpool of drones and
textures. cyberCHUMP fans (would they be called CHUMPETTES?) who are wondering
"Hey, where are the beats?" need wait no longer than track three, "The
Atmosphere Next Door" wherein glitch beats meld with electric guitar, Jason
Todd's sultry saxophone and the voice talent of Jeanne Marie Vielleux yielding a
neon-tinted 2 am whisky glow awash in futuristic textures. "Healing Time"
explores that lush beautiful electronica exemplified by fellow ambient artists
Crown Invisible and Dome (from the Cursor Club consortium), as waves of synths
ebb and flow underneath gracefully chattering beats. Of course, Skeel and G.E.
are just warming up, and soon head off into familiarly bizarre rhythm fests like
the playful "Boogie Caravan (Stratosphere Mix)" with an explosive eruption of
trap drum loops in the latter half of the song. The title track pulses and
twinkles and whirrs and buzzes with more electronic sounds and effects than
you'll ever be able to keep in focus, which is the point, right? "Spanish Funk"
finds a perfect midtempo groove, plants its happy feet, and then proceeds to rip
up the place, thanks to Jason Loveall's flights of fancy on his violin, soaring
and dipping over the bed of percolating rhythms.
Oh hell, there's plenty more pleasant musical
mayhem awaiting you on Secrets to Tell You, but there's no sense in my
going on further. CHUMPETTES know what's in store and you rookies will just have
to earn your stripes by playing this until your synapses fire in time with the
beats, buoyed along by layer upon layer of flowing electronic melodies. Prepare
to be dazzled but not dazed. After all, cyberCHUMP are not out to scare you.
Maybe shake up your timid narrow view of ambient music a bit, but that's a good
thing, yes? No, in fact, it's bloody brilliant. Dive in and enjoy, pilgrims!
- Bill Binkelman - Wind and Wire 4/05
Scientists in the Trees (2004) - Wind & Wire Top Ambient Release of 2004
"One of the most rewarding aspects
(yet arduous tasks) of being a music reviewer is reviewing music which is
innovative, creative, and difficult to describe using ordinary methods.
Such is the case with this, the latest
release from the duo cyberCHUMP (Jim Skeel and Mark G.E.). Trying to sum
up this brilliant and highly infectious recording, I found myself stymied at
every attempt: Funky rhythms meet cinematic melodies? Kinetic cyber-organic
beats meet catchy refrains? Crisscrossing drum kits meet swirling tonalities?
Constantly shape-shifting micro-sonic landscapes that fluctuate between
whimsical, haunting, trippy and intelligent?
As they say in Minnesota, "Whatever!" Scientists in the Trees is a party
and a half, a CD comprised of ten selections that never wear out their welcome
even after numerous playings. Drum loops, snippets of melody on assorted
real and sampled instruments, electronic textures, memorable refrains, cascading
rhythms, and adventurous turns onto unexpected pathways, each one of the ten
tracks offers the listener something new to delve into and
"Signals" blends sonar-bleeps, trap kit drums, hand percussion and electronic
beats, swirling synths, and a plaintive undercurrent of sparse piano, all of it
added a layer at a time and building into a nice alchemical
infusion of rhythm and slightly foreboding melodies. "Pressure Tactic" adds some
scratch noise effects to echoed chimes, bass beats, and glitch textures,
anchored by trap kit drum loops (lots of the rhythms on this
recording are based on real drum kit sounds) and buoyed by flowing tones. The
title track is one of my favorites, opening with an Asian-flavored tubular bell
reverberating over a pleasant drone, morphing into a bouncy
jazz/funky trip-out piece, via great cymbal rhythms, a truly inspired electric
bass riff, cascading synth bells, and beautiful underlying floating chords.
"Sarin" (the next song) drastically changes the mood from the
previous light-hearted piece to one of somber and menacing slow tempo scratch
effects, electronic swirls, booming bass rhythms, and eerie upper register
church organ chords and what sound like shakuhachi flute samples. That even this
quasi-experimental tune still carries an element of accessibility is a testament
to G.E. and Skeel. "River of Doubt" reverses field and traipses over into
pounding tom-tom led beats, soaring electric
guitar lead lines, a percolating bass line, and furious tribal rhythms that
erupt and then submerge beneath a gentle miasma of amorphous textures and bloops
and bleeps, only to reemerge now and then, amidst much drama and forceful
drumming. Things get slow and quiet down with "Presidents from Another Planet" a
funkified bit of dissonant textures, snappy snares, heavy bottom stand-up bass,
kinetic cyber-beats, and coming from almost out of nowhere, a delta blues
acoustic guitar riff!
By now, you can understand why this is a confounding and almost irritatingly
complex recording to review in concrete terms. These tracks are so continuous in
their evolving characteristics, so unusual in how they mash
genes together in creative ways, and yet so professionally accomplished that my
brain gets tired just contemplating finishing this review. Suffice to say
that Scientists in the Trees will delight you if you are open to music that
breaks rules while still retaining a strong hold on accessible melodies, catchy
rhythms, and a blend of high tech futurism and back-to-basics instrumentation
(the drum kit loops are fantastic, conducive to all manner
of ass-shakin', foot-tappin', and general body movement). Never too slick,
never too "out there," never crossing over to outright pretension nor wandering
over to "safe" territory, this is music that will challenge you even while it
entertains your "inner child" that only wants to have a funky old time (the CD
itself is imprinted with the following: "Lay Between Speaker System and Crank it
Up!"I'd heed that advice, if I were you!Highly recommended!"
Binkelman - Wind and Wire
When we last heard from our intrepid ambient music explorers Jim Skeel and
Mark G.E., known as cyberCHUMP, they were making deep ambient music of a
haunting, mostly beatless nature. Things have changed however, and this
release brings a lot of beats to the party and gets things moving in a lively
Track 1, "Signals" has a percolating beat with a beeping pulse and a recurring
piano figure, topped off with some nice synth work. It's a great opening
track. "Pressure Tactic" follows, a jagged drumkit rhythm with some layered
effects and a recurring middle eastern melody fragment. The third track,
"Helium Device" starts with bell like tones and synth, as a jazzy fusion
rhythm emerges to push things along. Next is "Scientists In The Trees" , a
pulsing beat with a very cool jazz rock electrobass, with guitar floating on
top and some wild jungle vocals. "Sarin" is fifth, creepy layers of synth and
effects, with some panning beats. Tribal drums and sweeping effects begin
"River Of Doubt", which slips into still heavier beat territory with guitar
sounds and synth bass. The seventh track "Presidents From Another Planet" has
a skittering beat that changes up, with some bluesy acoustic guitar and flute
sounds. "Vulcan's Forge" follows, with gently distorted, glitchy rhythms and
recurring tympani with some horns. Next is "Glimmer" a start/stop rhythm with
strings, percussion, snare drum, bagpipe sounds joining in. The tenth and
final track, "The Charmer" has futuristic beats, percussion, guitar, deep
bass, and Andean pipe sounds swirling in a dervish dance.
Throughout this disc Jim and Mark put forth some strong, innovative
arrangements and some masterful playing. The surprising combinations of
instruments and sophisticated rhythms create an intoxicating blend. These
guys are very good at what they do! Enough said, the play button needs
to be hit again.
- Dodds Wiley
"A blurb on the back of this CD refers to the music as "aural
sculpting meets the beat," but that doesn't quite come close to describing this
infectious blend of funky grooves, downtempo luster, and a playfully
experimental sensibility. cyberChump (secret identities: Jim Skeel and
Mark G.E.) know the value of a body-bouncing bass line and how to blend it with
floating melodics for a smooth ride--check out the CD's title track, a fine
example of a perfect sonic cocktail. They also know when to darken things
up, as with the grim "Helium Device" and "Vulcan's Forge," or to slam the
listener with solid drum 'n bass, as in the excellently assaultive "River of
Doubt," one of the highlights of this very good CD.
Scientists also slips in plenty of interesting rogue
sounds, from a twangy slide guitar to nearly buried jazzy horns making
brief-but-effective cameo appearances in the midst of pure electronica.
Each track is expertly crafted, with sound-layers existing in perfect symbiosis,
and the flow from one track to the next is flawless. Perfect for up-front
listening or an unobtrusive ambient experience."
"From the opening bleeps, minimalist techno may spring to mind,
but jumping to conclusions can be the inappropriate thing to do as this
instrumental develops into quite a melodic outing that has a decent beat with
drums. "Signals" contain the notations that are just short of being
totally melodic and therefore remain within the contemporary regime. It
blooms when the speakers are allowed sufficient power to do justice to the bass.
A complete change of tempo is to be found on "Pressure Tactic" where slightly
distorted sounds flick between the speakers and the drums are recorded
with excellent clarity. It is certainly an interesting track as there is a
lot to take in on the first listening session, but you're hooked instantly.
The gongs announce the arrival of "Helium Device" onto which precisely
controlled feedback and lo-fi drums are included. The drums do change into
a top-heavy sound with distortion and the haunting melody has a slightly
unsettling edge to it. The title track consists of a very powerful bass
line, easy listening acoustic guitar sections and strange noises all
contributing to a great instrumental. Another brilliant track is
"Presidents from Another Planet" with its distinctive modified sound of
something vaguely similar to opening a gate along with the rolling bass notes
all contributing a very intriguing instrumental that has many musical twist and
turns. Described on the sleeve as aural sculpting meets the beats is a
very fair account of this marvelous CD by Jim Skeel and Mark G.E." (Brooky)
Abstract Air (2003)
"The approach to atmosphere on this album is very refreshing and intriguing.
The combination with different elements and instruments lifts the overall
strength of the album to a higher level, and the repetitive and thematic
structure on tracks like 'Amniotic World' is strong and focused. Excellent
It is a wonderful cd! "The Kursk Suite" is a phenomenal set dedicated
to the Russian submarine. Highly recommended!
- Jim Brenholts - Ambient
Flowing in on a glistening sea of fizziness, The Darkest Hour/Dawning
(14:19) spreads across a vaporous expanse, with assorted timbres of rarefied
guitar and voice occasionally seeping into its gauzey everdrone. Ripples,
tinkles and twirls, oh my... the translucent waveforms of Overlook
perform soft, slow-motion acrobatics in the sky.
A potentially morbid theme is rendered in feathery abstractions as three-part The Kursk Suite submerges for nearly 20 minutes of hazily ringing spirals;
Amnionic World glows amid a rhythm of softly thumping blurts, subsequent
The Infinite Now goes into deeper and darker, yet still-ethereal
waters. Elastic streamers and low pulsations color Requiem for the Kursk
(4:32) with more beauty than sadness.
The last of seven, the title track billows in sublimely gentle
cloudmotions, steaming with pretty tonal whiffs, and closing the 56-minute disc
with nearly 11 minutes of stunningly sweet stuff!
A beguiling detour from cyberCHUMP's "normal" more-overt output.
Just-right amounts of tonality and ephemera make Abstract Air appropriate for superbly soft listening
This is the third outing for this duo, but the delightful ambient themes are a departure from their normal
Electro sound. Mark G E and Jim Skeel have put together a 7 track CD with a
difference. Three of the pieces form the Kursk Suite, which graphically displays
in the aural sense the tragedy surrounding the sinking of the Russian Submarine.
The opening track, The Darkest Hour/Dawning naturally starts very quietly with
the gentle stirring of the deep-water chasms, which gives a distinct feeling of
isolation. Overlook is more upbeat with short notes that resemble sonar blips,
but does not sound like them. The slow moving moody theme portrays an underlying
powerful theme. The first of the suite is entitled Amniotic World with deep
notes and loud chord structures to imply the mighty almost regal and certainly
untouchable nature of this mysterious product of creation. The middle section is
much quieter and again more traditionally ambient and perhaps remaining bold on
the outside, but with a vulnerable section. I could easily become engrossed
listenening to The Infinite Now on a pair of headphones in a dimly lit room. The
finale of the suite is Requiem For The Kirsk and contains solemn themes. Calling
was recorded back in 1985 and so it's interesting to note that there's no sign
of a dated sound. The use of vocal sounds to enhance the mood is alluring. The
very mellow title track is one of those rich textured pieces that are a true
delight to listen to when you're feeling knackered. Although this is an ambient
product, the textures and sound layering produce a dark and very moody feel.
This is no lightweight trip into happy melodic tunes for kiddies, but rather a
mature, thoughtful and ultimately pleasing album for grown ups.
- Modern Dance
cyberCHUMP is the vessel of Mark G.E. and Jim Skeel and this cd is a collection
of "experiments in aural sculpture". Spooky synths ebb and flow on top of
a low rumbling drone announcing the beginning of this disc. Far off noises
and distant chiming guitar add to the feeling of "The Darkest Hour/Dawning".
This track captures that time of night when one's perceptions strain to
comprehend, as darkness gives way to the light of a new day. Next is
"Overlook" where guitar and synth weave and churn with each other,with
electronic percussion and some far off saxophone. The next three tracks form
"The Kursk Suite". Repetitive bass tones form an engine like presence as
drones swirl with layers of synth in "The Amniotic World". Very
immersive.In the fourth track,"The Infinate Now",a melancholy bass guitar
wanders as metallic wind sounds and mournful synths drift in and out. Next is
"Requiem For The Kursk", a gentle, haunting melodic figure with a soaring guitar
above a low drone. This three song suite is a fabulous work.
"Calling" has wordless chant vocals with a jagged guitar and some splintered
keyboard sounds all colliding with each other in a very intriguing composition.
"Abstact Air" closes the album,with gentle contemplative keyboards and a wistful
synth melody,underpinned by some tasteful, minimal bass guitar. A feeling of
peace and transcendence prevails. cyberCHUMP have fashioned a remarkable,
first rate work. The quality of the compositions is strong,sound quality is
excellent,and the sequencing of tracks is perfect. This disc is a real gem and
fans of darker ambient should definitely seek it out.
- Dodds Wiley on Ambient.us
Something tells me this
recording slipped underneath everyone's radar screen as one of the top
drifting ambient/spacemusic releases of 2003. From the duo also known as
cyberCHUMP (Mark G.E. and Jim Skeel), who usually are ablaze with kinetic energy
and fusion elements galore, Abstract Air presents seven selections of
smooth ebbing and flowing ambience, sometimes neutral in mood, seldom what I
would call dark, and usually exhibiting a warmth that is uncommon in this type
of music, as well as some characteristic quirks (which are the hallmark of their
alter ego cyberCHUMP).
Take "The Infinite Now" for
example. Buried deep within the haunting drones and reverberating tones are a
laid back thumping bass and what sounds like mystical wooden flutes. The washes,
textures and drones alone make this an excellent drifting soundscape. The
addition of the other two elements elevates it into something magical. I
imagined myself walking through a fog-shrouded forest, bathed in diffuse light
and not the least bit afraid but keenly aware of my insignificance in the
cathedral of trees.
Abstract Air has plenty
to offer in the way of slowly developing ambient and spacemusic. Rhythms are,
for the most part, noticeably absent except those that derive from things like
the pinging tones in "Requiem for the Kursk" (by the way, that track, "The
Infinite Now" and "Amniotic World" are all parts of what is labeled "The Kursk
Suite"). "Requiem..." combines the aforementioned tones with long drawn out
processed electric guitar and a gently throbbing drone underneath everything
else. One of the best cuts is the closing title track, which also appeared on
the excellent Spiralight Recordings compilation Ambienism Volume 1. Sounding
more than a little like Harold Budd, a warm and friendly series of notes played
on what sounds like a Fender Rhodes electric piano repeats over and over against
a gently floating wash along with sustained bass notes. The track is about ten
minutes long and, later on, other musical elements are brought into play, but
mostly just doing yeoman's duty as decorative touches (such as some beautiful
flute work towards the end). In contrast to the enveloping warmth of the title
song, the CD opens with "The Darkest Hour/Dawning" which, while darker than
other pieces here, is still not intimidating or scary, being more along the
lines of the deep space music from Michael Bentley (i.e. whooshing textures,
humming drones, and ebbing and flowing synth chords, as well as some rustling
effects now and then). At fourteen-plus minutes, placing this selection first is
a bold move, but I would expect nothing less from Mark G.E. and Jim Skeel. This
song does contain some percussion, by the way, but its muted and you'd need
headphones to pick it out, I think. Later in the track's development, electric
guitar and synth chorales take over as the main ingredients for awhile. Things
get a bit intense and loud eventually, but the overall feeling is still not
overbearing. In fact, the amalgam of drones and chorales reminded me a bit of
Ligeti's music from 2001 at times. It had that same sense of grandeur
without going over the top (no doubt, these moments in the song are meant to
convey the "dawning" of the title).
Other songs include the
desolate but not forbidding "Overlook" (love the twinkling tones later in the
cut), "Amniotic World" (which has a fluid, if not viscous, sound and a beathing-like
rhythm to its repeating tones and washes) and "Calling" (far and away the most
abstract piece here, consisting of assorted wordless vocals, skittering noises
that pan left to right and kalimba samples that repeat in the background). With
its darker-tinted character, the piece reminded of Jeff Greinke's In Another
Place to some degree, although Greinke's music evolved more than this does.
"Calling" is probably the only cut I would consider weak on the album, and even
then it suffers more simply by comparison to the other selections here.
For whatever reason, the
huddled masses of drifting ambient and spacemusic lovers seem to have missed
this recording when it came out. I'd urge them to seek it out now. It's a
first-class collection of excursions into slowly shifting and repetitive musical
worlds that retains a human sense of warmth and friendliness without crossing
over into being "pretty." Exercising an uncanny sense of restraint, G.E. and
Skeel display their talent for painting in subtle soft colors that evoke a sense
of well-being even when the predominant nature of the music itself is
emotionally neutral, if not even a bit dark. Highly recommended.
- Bill Binkelman @ Wind and Wire
Inner Grooves (2002)
Jim Skeel and Mark G.E. get together to play with a bunch of friends;
it sounds like they had a blast with the jam-sessions of Inner Grooves... Sprawling,
guitar-led excursion DistortoGroove heads into smoother vibes of
faux-ethno-influenced Desert Keys, still quite bouncy in its demeanor. A
misty entry into Space is the Case turns prog-jazzy as spattered cymbals,
radiant sax streams, cool bass and more, smoothly jam. Spirited rhythms stomp
through a dreamworld of musical styles as The Orbulon takes the sci-fi
road to a rocking good time.
Blurting out buzzy streams of retro-movie horns as well as lounge-o-tronic
vibes, and glaring surf guitars, warm We mixes and matches instrumental
types with playful abandon and skill. Eloquently sawed strings add a sensual,
semi-symphonic wang to Reflecting Pool, while Inner Core is marked
by a murkier cyclone of sweetly somber swirls.
Dreams Groove (2000)
Cyberchump: Dreams Groove (Internal Combustion - 2000) (8.2/10)
Dreams Groove contains a lot of both... I want... brainwashing is just one of
the messages conveyed through wacky samples in NerveNut, a jammin' slab of
electro. Quietly pattering tribal beats lead into Drums in Sleep to be joined by
swaying bass lines and hypnotizing guitar duets. Backed by beats and
static-blasted radio voices, transcendentally serpentine bass and guitar weave
through Stalking (3:09), heading into tropical territories.
The Force offers some jangly, rockin' fun; in this track and others, borrowed
samples appear, often to amusing effect. Soft freeform soundstreams
flow through Crystalize (7:35), buoyed by big lolling bass waves peppered by
Besides the panoramic guitar-meets-electronics tune-scapes and clever
musicianship therein, you've got to give Jim Skeel (High & Low Guitars,
Samples, Loops, Machines, Manipulations, Keyboards) and Mark G.E.
(Keyboards, Monster Bass Keyboards, Accordian, Theremin, Machines,
Noises, Voice) some credit just for possessing the cojones to name their project
"Funky Experimental Electronica"
- Milwaukee Orbit, Issue Six August 2000