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Messages - Joe LP

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Hello Seren,

Your comments are well taken. As a simple listener with no musical training, I try to avoid descriptions such as "meditative", "ethereal", "mind-expanding", which would convey the way I feel about the music, but which are plainly vague and devoid of substance. It's basically a non-communicable experience--or at least any words would sound silly from someone like me. Besides, the box set spans the whole range of Austere's work, which is pretty diverse; it affects me differently depending on which "persona" I happen to be listening to, and so even if I could describe my feelings adequately, it would make the review too long.

Perhaps the best I can do in this regard is to mention other music that I like and build recommendations from these, for example: if you like SOTL (especially "Avec Laudenum"), you'll like this music; if you like Oophoi, this work is highly recommended for you, etc. My apologies if all this sounds cliche or like something you could have just learned from amazon--that's why I omitted it from the review.

Incidentally, the Austere work might also be of interest to those (such as myself) who liked very much "The Martian Chronicles", and indeed thought it was a masterpiece. (Congratulations on that wonderful release!) But lest I be pointed out again for overly effusive remarks, I will end this post here, and also all further posting on this topic.

Thanks drone on, you voice of reason! It's not everyday that I get practically accused of being a shill by simply writing a glowing review, so I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed until your post. I have bought several Austere items from the Hypnos Store, but only joined the forum yesterday for the purpose of writing my review. Recently, I bought the box set at a significant discount from Austere itself, who mentioned to me that it had so far not sold well, and so the review was my way of expressing thanks and generating some interest in the item.

All: It was not my intention to create such a fuss. I was just attempting to communicate, perhaps too zealously, my enthusiasm for the Austere box set. After all,  I was expecting to get only 'leftover' tracks of sub-par quality, but found some excellent music instead. I suppose the great difference between my previous expectations and my delight at being proved so roundly wrong made me a bit too generous of praise. In the future, I will try to limit my glowing reviews to the Buddha or Jesus Christ.

Self-promotion it it is not... it's just a "glowing review". I regret if it sounds like self-promotion. I'm only an Austere fan who feels that his favorite group has not gotten the exposure it deserves. If a "real" review must say something explicitly negative about the product (instead of just hinting at it), then here's the missing part of my review:

The mp3 player sucks--although it works, there's constant hissing in the audio.

The 3" disk with drivers did not work for my drive; I had to dig out an old cd-r card reader from my closet to transfer the tracks to my laptop... and this took me quite a while!

Some of the tracks sound "raw" and unedited, like they were recorded out of a small garage with a bus parked nearby.

The box definitely looks homemade and put together with scissors and glue from someone's bedroom.

The band suffers from an overactive spaced-out, possibly drugged-out, imagination. Their fans likely suffer from the same, and therefore their reviews should not be taken seriously.

If you were to be  exiled to a desert island and, as an Austere fan, were allowed to bring with you only one work by the ambient master duo, you could hardly do better than choose "The Sound of Silence I" box set.

Commemorating the group's 10th anniversary in 2008, TSOS1 is designed as a standalone "music kit" showcasing the astonishing breadth, vitality, and  creativity of Austere's ouevre in their first decade of existence. The box set is subtitled "An Unnatural History of Rare and Orphaned Tracks"; still, it contains more than three hours of aural inventions that strongly evoke the spirit of the group's more well known released work--from their inimitable etheric floating atmospheres to "psybient" to dark esoteric  drones and ambient rock.

The box set is both sonic euphoria and beautiful, nostalgic, design. It consists mainly of  a 500 Mb San Disk (flash memory card) containing the rare/orphaned tracks in 320 Kbps mp3 format, an mp3 player and usb cable, a 3" and a standard cd rom disk (for the mp3 player drivers) featuring Zen-inspired artwork, a copy of the Austere manifesto and proof of authenticity, and a mysterious set of randomly-selected photos of the band members. As a work of art, this assemblage works wonderfully well--if you've seen Joseph Cornell's surrealist boxes in an art museum, you'll get an idea of TSOS1's effect on your Uncollective Unconscious. (And if TSOS1 one day gains a spot in some museum of contemporary art, I will not be surprised.)
Although the included mp3 player is serviceable, you will certainly want high-quality equipment to do the musick some justice.  I recommend transferring the tracks to a hi-fi device and listening to them from there while visually and tactilely savoring your prized Austere box (a unique one among a limited edition of 50).

The tracks are divided semi-thematically into folders, for example:
1. Drone Download Project - Austere's contributions to Stephen Phillips' Drone Download Project; fantastic drifting drones for unforgettable waking dreams.
2. Live - Contains the single track "Shadoworld", a unique and luscious psybient piece, apparently in praise of the "Shadow" superhero of 1930's popular fiction.
3. Compilations - material previously released in compilation albums; some highlights are the incomparably satisfying floating track "The Cuce" and the unforgettable "Big Bang Into Particle Acceleration", a triumph of sonic stimulation.
4. Unreleased - some of these unreleased but well-crafted tracks seem to be takes on material from the albums "Mirror" and "Fade".

In conclusion, the unique box set TSOS1 shows that much of Austere's best work remains "rare" or "orphaned".  Yet while this is an unfortunate state of affairs, it is more than compensated for by the heightened pleasure and appreciation of the group's genius among the magic box's lucky owners.

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