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Heavenly Music Corporation

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Heavenly Music Corporation
country of origin:
Ambient techno/trance, environmental, psychedelic

essential releases:
In A Garden Of Eden (1993, Silent Records)
Consciousness III (1994, Silent Records)
Luna Phase (1995, Silent Records)
Anechoic (1996, Silent Records)


Reviewed by Mike G


The four albums that Silent Records founder Kim Cascone recorded as Heavenly Music Corporation are creative highpoints in the rebirth of ambient via the burgeoning rave scenes of the 1990's in the USA, Britain, Europe and the Asia Pacific. The San Francisco-based Silent came to epitomise for many the open spirit of ambient techno's "golden era". Although the prolific Cascone has recorded much experimental electronica before and since, HMC offers by far his most accessible and uplifting music and arguably his most enduring.

In A Garden Of Eden and Lunar Phase are blissful "environmental" ambience of a rare standard. Imagine the surface attractions of the best new age music married with depth and substance, music that actually delivers its promise of tranquil gardens, esoteric worlds and psychedelic mind trips. On both these albums a myriad of sound pictures - gardens, oceans, forests - are created with exceptional skill. The rich, floating harmonies slowly build and dissolve in the most intoxicating way, a blend of spiraling tones, floating chords, nature sounds and occasional feather-light percussion or gently throbbing bass patterns. On Eden the liquid sounds of the chill room at early rave parties are are a tangible influence. The music was originally created for a "technomystical" chill room in Goa India, once a popular party destination for Westerners and not incidentally also one of the birthplaces of psy-trance. The slow ebb and flow of Lunar Phase takes its inspiration more directly from nature, based on a 24-hour ambient radio station in Japan that soundtracks the movement of the tides.

Consciousness III leans more heavily on the drum programming and motoric pulses of early techno, or at least an ambient version of it. Cascone at the time called it "a gentle kick against the aural ambi-niotic sack that encloses us all". For sheer mystical power the title track is unrivalled in Cascone's work, a series of exquisitely beautiful pulses and melodies built around a single minor chord and simple snare/kick pattern. Although this albums structures are clearer and sharper than Garden Of Eden or Lunar Phase, texturally and melodically it's just as rich. It's not really techno; it's more a the rebirth of ambient trance for the techno age, owing as much to the German psy-ambient of the 70's as it does to the early dance music of the Detroit or Chicago.

Some of the music on the final HMC album Anechoic is quite abstract, with intriguing alien soundscapes and atmospheres that anticipate the composer's move back into more avant-garde territory and experimental computer music. Other tracks, however, are more tonal and euphoric. The endless swirls of "Octal" particularly show HMC's genius for relaxing the body while stimulating the mind. It's an underrated release and one of the last great albums on Silent Records, which passed from Cascone's hands in 1996 and disappeared into financial oblivion a few years later.

Although long out of print, Heavenly Music Corporation's releases remain classics of ambient techno's first wave, after which the genre gradually drifted towards digital glitches, clicks and abrasion. The transcendental sound of classic Silent does live on in other ways, however, notably in the trippy sounds of downtempo psy-trance and exotic dub.



  All written content on this webisite is copyright 1992-2013 Mike Watson