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Barry Adamson + Pan Sonic + The Hafler Trio - The Hymn Of The 7th Illusion

The Hymn Of The 7th Illusion features a collaboration between Barry Adamson, Pan Sonic and an Icelandic choir, with a remix from The Hafler Trio. The Hymn Of The 7th Illusion was originally issued as as on the Icelandic label Kitchen Motors. As an insert on the original CD edition stated "The idea of Motorlab is to create a new kind of electricity between musicians/artists by introducing them to elements they had previously left untouched. The result is then documented during intimate live performances or in the case of Motorlab #3 by throwing ideas between different artist's studios." Motorlab #3 was originally released on Kitchen Motors a label co-run by Jóhann Jóhannsson (along with Kristin Björk Kristjansdottir and Hilmar Jensson) and it was he who commissioned and produced the work with Barry Adamson and Pan Sonic, who worked together in a studio in Iceland, before sending the tapes to Andrew McKenzie of The Hafler Trio to remix.

Those expecting a Barry Adamson styled film soundtrack with Pan Sonic's minimal techno infused industrialism will be sorely disappointed by the minimal score produced. The collaboration bringing together choir and electronics certainly achieved the labels intent: a fresh and unexpected twist to the works of both.

'The Hymn Of The 7th Illusion' opens to several minutes of graceful wordless arrangements from the Hljómeyki choir before the thrum of low electronic tones emerge and throb repetitively over slight textured atmospherics, bringing with it a sense of tension that is continually built upon. The choir reappears at first in a lower male register, that is contrasted with higher scale female voices as Hördur Bragason guides the rising voices as they converge and soar heavenwards and fall into silence. Returning with a series of successive moaning aahs, Pan Sonic's electronic tones re-emerge beating harder and more prominent than before; their erratic rhythmic pulse inducing a panic stricken tension as an undercurrent of drone layers sweep up the wordless choir and swell into an ominous crescendo before dissipating into a pulse of deep bass tones. A sense of unease and unfulfilled tension runs throughout the minimal 12 minute score.

'The Illusion Of The 7th Hymn' is an extended and more expansive remix from veteran itinerant UK experimentalists The Hafler Trio, now the solo project of Andrew McKenzie. At first, they offer a richer and fuller sound blending the choir into drone based atmospherics. Tones shiver, quiver, and quake as a waspish treatment buzzes throughout. Textured and chattering digital processing leads into the realms of glitchiness with a heavily chopped-up treatment flickering between choir and electronic tones. From then on it loses it focus somewhat as the sound construction becomes more abstract dissolving into its constituent sound parts with quieter passages and even moments of silence. The remainder of the remix is much more experimental in nature, even highlighting their industrial past as it erupts with ringing tones, stuttered frequencies, static tones before returning with added creakiness to the ominous drone atmospherics for the final few minutes of this absorbing and challenging remix. It's maybe worth pointing out that Andrew McKenzie exposed Jóhann Jóhannsson, who commissioned this, to many new musical, spiritual and philosophical avenues which may have seeped into the compositions of his later and much acclaimed soundtrack works.

Housed in a sleeve featuring Iceland's foremost electronic composer, the late Magnús Blöndal Jóhannsson pictured having a brain scan while listening to the Barry Adamson and Pan Sonic composition this vinyl edition of The Hymn Of The 7th Illusion is something of an unexpected release from Cold Spring but it is a worthwhile one. The two tracks - track two,"", features only silence - offer a minimalist score and abstract experimentalism and is much better than when I first heard this on its original release in 2001. It may not be what you expected from either Barry Adamson and Pan Sonic but it is tension filled and well worth your time if you missed this first time around or are looking for a heavyweight and fine vinyl edition. For more information go to Cold Spring