Listening to State Azure is always a pleasure. Whether it’s the improvised live performances, the epic generative ambient soundscapes or a studio album, there seems to be something for everyone. And for me, with my tastes in electronic music, nearly all of his output has hit my ears in a pleasurable way.
It’s a short album in track count, but at a playtime of 1 hour and 28 minutes it’s certainly got a lot of sonic exploration for the ears. It’s also a tribute in a way to Klaus Schulze, who sadly passed away on 26th April 2022. The simple, minimal notes on the Bandcamp page are:
Latest album featuring 4 semi-improvised tracks, first performed for YouTube, including a tribute to the late Klaus Schulze.
Let’s get into this album, starting with…
- Cave of the Crystal Harrier 16:24
- Lacus Temporis (Lake of Time) 22:48
- Ascending the Jupiter Terminus 36:44
- Cinnamon Bay 11:39
The opening track ‘Cave of the Crystal Harrier’ is a pleasant start, gentle sequencing with subtle ratcheting effects and delicate almost gossamer melodies laid over the top. Eventually after a while a deep percussive element comes in with a solid kick and echoing rhythmic elements which give an even larger sense of scale and space. I love the various clicks and pops that are used here, none of which are overpowering but provide moments of audible distraction as my ears shift between all the layers going on. I’ve loved listening to this track during the later evenings and sunsets as I’ve taken a walk and looked at the often dramatic colours in the late evening sky. It just seems appropriate to accentuate this particular mood. The track length is just perfect for music like this, and reminds me very much of the feelings and expressions I hear in ‘Eternal Twilight’ from the ‘Cepheus Origin’ album released back on the 22nd April 2022.
‘Lacus Temporis (Lake of Time)’ is the second track and increasing in length. This one is more mellow and dare I say it – modern. It features a much more contemporary sound design than the previous track, as well as incorporating a couple of layers of guitars above the high-pitched pad synths and gossamer sequencing. About halfway through some strong percussion and drum patterns kick in, along with an absolutely sublime baseline that pulls everything tighter, before everything starts to fade out during the end section. Overall, despite sounding quite different, it works well in the whole album, piquing the interested ears and keeping you listening.
‘Ascending the Jupiter Terminus’, the third track is probably the most ‘Schulze’ inspired one on this album and definitely the tribute track. This one starts with some classic Berlin-school sequencing, before building up to something very akin to the classic Schulze improvisation melodies over the top. A driving rhythm keeps the pace and energy of the track high, but not in a way that makes it overpowering. In that regard, the track is very listenable either as a piece you put on and focus your ears to or to have on as the background. I often play this track whilst working things out in various games I play, and it works brilliantly for that. Once I have my idea set in my mind, the music can instantly switch as I begin to execute the idea.
‘Cinnamon Bay’ is the final track, and it’s a doozy to describe. Imagine the previous three tracks, and smash it all together. You’ve got the vintage-style sequencing, the 80’s BladeRunner inspired pads, along with some great electric piano/vibraphone style sounds, and the modern percussion elements bringing it all together. It really sounds like it shouldn’t work, but this is State Azure, and he’s become somewhat a master of this kind of music. A great, complex track which at the same time is also very easy to listen to, or simply to have on in the background.
Overall, a diverse sonic palette should deter me from listening to music but somehow this really works. My standout track is ‘Ascending the Jupiter Terminus’, but overall the album doesn’t disappoint. If you’re a fan of later Tangerine Dream, or the sweeping synths of the Blade Runner soundtrack, or just like sequenced electronic music in general, you’re not going to find a lot wrong here. Great work by the legendary State Azure.