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Numina "Symbiotic Spaces"
a double disc collection from Numina featuring rare and unreleased tracks! Stunning work!

With the release of the double disc collection "Symbiotic Spaces", Jesse Sola of Numina has given his audience a fascinating glimpse into both his past and his future. Featuring music from the last seven years, "Symbiotic Spaces" presents older tracks, newer material, and work that spans the years, all of it sharing the style and sound that have made Jesse's work so beloved by his fans.

Disc one opens with "Waves of Reflection", a majestic opening, suitable space music for long establishing shots and expanisive vistas. A wonderful way to start the collection with pads and sweeps and sound all around. Beautiful.

"Broken Silence" begins with a quiet hum that slowly gains in volume, eventually leading into a windtunnel drone effect. It's an effective opening, a slow movement from one space to another that happens so gradually that you only notice it once you've reached your final destination. After a short time a sparse percussive pattern begins, something to anchor the movement of the song, a place to put one's attention. It's all done with tremendous care and effort and despite its apparent simplicity, it reveals a sophistication and talent that Jesse has become well known for.

"Death of a Sun" sounds exactly like I would image a star dying would sound, a sweeping sine wave that leads into and weaves around a huge, pulsing synth tone. There's a mournful quality to be sure, a feeling that this is the end, but there's also a feeling of celebration in the song, something to suggest that it's the end of a significant and spectacular life. And as the song fades, suggesting an absence of light and life, one can't help but recognize it as something special.

"Space Lilt" opens with a steady drone building in strength. As it grows in volume, other tracks become apparent, sweeps and drones and surprisingly playful arpegiated synths. As time passes, these aditional tones take centre stage shifting the tone and feel of the track while maintaining its heart. A fine example of Jesse's mastery of the soundfield.

"December Sky" utilizes a number of sweeping pads to create an interlaced pattern of sound that weaves in and around itself. Rising and falling, tones shift around throughout the soundfield to create a beautiful, womb-like environment for the listener. Stunning.

"Unearthly Destination" follows a space theme, oscillating tones blended together to suggest a panorama of stars. Musical themes and phrases come to the fore in the soundfield creating a subtle musical space that draws the listener in very effectively. Another testimony to Jesse's sense of space and time.

"Aleph-Zero" strikes me as a rather Gibsonesque title, and to some degree the track meets that expectation, effected and processed percussion adding a decidedly futuristic approach to the track, while a bed of pads play overtop.

"Dronecoil" creates a sense of oblique motion through a steady drone paired with a sparse sweep phrase. It's a subtle track, but further listening reveals greater depth to it, a level of sophistication that lies just below the surface revealing a complex pattern of tones and sound sculpture.

"Cells" has a drifting sound to it, a feeling of inner space as implied by it's name, a feeling of fantastic voyages and miniture adventures. Tones drift and slide throughout the track, a feeling of motion and exploration created through a clever use of drones within the soundfield. As the track progresses, a percussive element is introduced, adding a layer of mystery to the track, a feeling of shared genetic memory. Very powerful and very effective.

"Anemone (version 2)" begins at a microscopic level and grows from there, a drone building in size and volume. Shapes and movement become distinct as the track builds, taking form, becoming more clear until such time that they become clear to the listener. A fine example of sonic soundscaping.

Disc two begins with "Moonrise" which uses a subtle percussive track to keep time with a slow building melody. It seems simple at first, but as the track progresses it becomes more complex, more developed as time goes on. Phrases and melodic patterns become evident and new sounds rise up from the track helping to more clearly define the space. Quite wonderful work.

"In the Shadow of Machines" has a very dark sound to it, a post-apocalyptic tone suggesting sunsets over decaying metallic ruins. It's the sound of the end of an era, an age that has passed it's time. Tones move slowly throughout the soundfield, each adding to the imagery of the track. Very powerful work.

"The Sea Beyond" has a twinkling sound to it, tones ringing and chiming like the sound of raindrops and falling tears. Thick analog synthlines play throughout, giving the track a very 70's cosmos sound. It's a loving recreation of style, a well crafted tribute to work that has inspired so many.

"Monuments in Darkness" is an epic track clocking in at well over ten minutes, a study in the creation of atmosphere and space. Drones build and swell throughout its length, while other tones pulse and click alongside, adding to the space, providing definition. As the track continues more sounds are added, more tones appear in the mix, creating a dense and rich soundfield. Beguiling.

"Delphinium" blends organic synth sounds with minimal tribal percussion to create something rich and deep in tone. The soundfield is especially wide on this track, giving a really expansive tone to the track, a real feeling of space within the music. A fine example of Jesse's attention to detail within the mechanics of a piece.

"Black Shores and Blue Waves" uses the sound of wooden chimes as an anchor for a deep and rich drone that rolls throughout the track. As the piece progresses, fuzzy stabs roll throughout the track eventually becoming a focal point. Admittedly I'm not too fond of these particular sounds, they distract my attention too much from the more appealing parts of the piece, but I can't deny that they're an interesting sonic element.

"Theme for the Goblin King" has a very theatrical theme to it, the sound of hollow logs struck percussively paired with the sounds of twinkling stars and fairy wings in the moonlight. It's a highly evocative track, a piece that clearly suggests a moment in time in very rich detail.

"Saturnine" sees a return to the celestial themes of earlier tracks on the compilation, a pad-driven journey through the stars that brings to mind the work of Bradbury and more. Something wonderful.

"Alternate Unreality" is a study in alien harmonics, a track where pulses of feedback bubble around and slight melodies and phrases play in the background, helping to define a space in the track. It's an interesting take on an otherworldly music that fits well with the other work on the disc.

"Anabiosis" closes the disc, a blend of synth tones and melodic work. It's a very dense sound, a rich wall of tones and noises that appeals on many levels, something to suggest a barrier at the end of the cosmos. A lovely way to close such a wonderful collection of space-y tracks.

Compilations are often judged by their ability to represent the work of an artist as a cohesive whole, showcasing the highlights and priming a new audience. Without doubt "Symbiotic Spaces" meets that criteria, providing a wonderful look at Jesse's body of work, both as a starting point for new fans, and as a continuation of journeys that older fans will no doubt appreciate. As with all of Jesse's work, "Symbiotic Spaces" comes highly recommended.

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last updated 08/26/08