"Live on Earth" is a brand new live album by UK synthesist Phobos (aka David Thompson), which was recorded October 22, 2011 at the Awakenings festival in the UK. Self-released by Phobos, the album is available via download and for a limited time as a physical release on very professionally packaged CDR. I would highly recommend the physical edition, with superb quality booklet, cover art, disc label, lots of gig photos, in a jewel case. Fantastic job! Phobos I think is known to most here and has been quietly gaining momentum over the last few years with several releases, including for labels like Ambientlive and Dark Duck, and now this, his fourth self-released project. His musical influences/inspirations (Oophoi, Steve Roach leading the pack) are no secret I think to those familiar with his work. With this phenomenal live album, Phobos is proving to be a major force among the "heavyweights" in the deep space ambient style perfected by those like Oophoi, Tau Ceti, Seren Ffordd, and of course Steve Roach.
Consisting of one long 50-minute track with seven movements, the album explores the most ethereal and quietly intense realms of the cosmos. This is no "background" space music, but rather seriously deep listening that engages and rivets the listener from start to end. I can't emphasize "quiet" enough, as well. In fact, upon the first few listens, I found myself thinking the recording levels should have been louder, because I really wanted to crank this up, the music is so amazing. But I really think the somewhat low volume was intended to suit the mood of this recording, and it is actually quite effective.
Opener "ECG" is appropriately named as the track begins with a heartbeat sound. Soon, spacious drones and spiralling deep space sounds enter the mix, and I am reminded of Redshift's recordings starting in similar fashion, where you know you are in for a deep space ride. Unlike Redshift, however, this music doesn't get bombastic; you remain in the float zone for the duration. Tracks "There's No Place Like Drone" and "Spacial Awareness" slowly unfold from here with continued hovering drones. "In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry" (great title!) contains a stunningly beautiful section of deeply expansive synth harmonics, with a yearning quality to it like the best space music. "A Moment of Abnormality" begins with heavily distorted but melodic piano chords in reverb; soon space drones return to the mix with the piano. This sounds like a piano player performing in Zero G. It's lonely, mournful, yet peaceful. Excellent track! "There May Be a Storm Coming" begins with faint storm/thunder sounds. Things get spooky now, with metallic-like whispers, eerie, cavernous moans, and echoed organic creaks. This track is the closest the album gets to "dark ambient." Finally, we conclude this fascinating journey with "A Kind of Peace," a masterpiece of a space hymnal, of a quality on par with Brian Eno's "Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks." Here the previous "storm" is over and we float blissfully on a calm sea of black space, protected by an unseen cosmic intelligence. The album concludes with audience applause and announcer (I'm assuming it's John Sherwood, organizer of "Awakenings") proclaiming "A magnificent piece of music there." And he would be exactly right.
I loved everything about this release, from the fantastic artwork, gorgeous music, even the track titles (something I normally don't care about these days, but these track titles are exceptionally great and fit this release). "Live on Earth" gets my highest recommendation. Don't miss it.