Context, the debut CD by Thought Guild is an exciting
retro-synth CD that showcases a talent for creating
live electronica and an extensive knowledge of classic
synth music. The music is composed mostly on vinatge
analog gear with a nod to classic Tangerine Dream,
Jarre, Kitaro and Vangelis, with an original style as
well. Featured on Hearts of Space and radio
worldwide, Thought Guild is made up of Gregory Kyryluk
and Christopher Cameron.(Kyryluk also records as Alpha
Wave Movement and Open Canvas.). This is great music to take a nic elistening journey into the deep landscapes and star lit night skies. Pure electronic bliss!
Thought Guild are Alpha Wave Movement (Gregory Kyryluk) and Christopher Cameron. The promotional material states that it 'draws on mid 1970's European electronic music with a contemporary feel' and to some extent this is true but I have received loads of CDs from the States which claim to have a mid 70's European feel but they all end up adding a pleasant subtlety to proceedings at the expense of the raw energy that some of those original recordings contained.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing of course. As is this case here the music can stand up perfectly well on its own merits just don't expect a stonking retro blast. 'Distant Star' begins with something of a fanfare over which lonesome solar winds blow. Darker drones are added along with contrasting melodic bell chimes giving something of a spaghetti western feel. The mood changes somewhat at the two minute mark as a nice bass sequence rumbles from the speakers. It's an energetic number made even more so when rhythms are added to the sequence just over a minute later. It should be right up most SMDers street. The sequence mutates beautifully keeping the interest throughout. 'Moebius Phase' is a very short and rather curious piece made up of what sounds like looped heavily processed metallic vocals.
'Semiotic Sequence' is a melodic, rhythmic, sequencer driven piece. The lead lines have real bite as it chugs along nicely. 'Lifepools' begins with the distant sound of waves (or it could be the wind coming in gusts). Little melodic touches add to the rather tranquil feel. It's all very floating and relaxing. For the first two minutes 'Leviathan's Lament' continues this feel but even more so, just lie back and drift until a hypnotic rapid sequence enters to dominate proceedings. The first half of 'Silicon Alchemists' uses cosmic effects and twitters over which a brass tinged lead line floats. A plucked string melody then replaces the earlier lead over a gentle rhythmic backing. It's all change however for the second half as a rather good sequence enters adding a lot more oomph. Dripping water effects get 'Cathedrals of Stone' underway. Soft glistening pads are then added creating a blissed out floater. 'Tetrahedral Anomalies' begins with similar pads to the previous number, in many ways initially a part two having an almost identical mood. Things do change a little however with the introduction of a subtle rhythm but it is still fairly relaxed. 'Memento' finishes the album in dreamy fashion with more float and the addition of gentle guitar work.
Dave Law, Synth Music Direct
Combining elements of classic spacemusic, Berlin and European (e.g. Jarre-like) EM, and modern-day electronic ambient music, the duo who call themselves thought guild (Gregory Kyryluk and Christopher Cameron) have released [context], a remarkable synthesis of older and newer styles of electronic music. Moving effortlessly from pulsing neo-Germanesque thumpers (like the opening track "distant star") to the drifting cosmic spaciousness of "lifepools" and on to the warmly dramatic analog synths, spacy effects, and eventual propulsive sequenced beats (reminding me a bit of Vangelis-meets-Jarre) on "silicon alchemists," thought guild are master craftsmen of EM. The album holds nary a misstep and contains a few surprises, too. Some tracks start off deceptively in one vein and then swing onto another musical path altogether, such as "leviathan's lament" (from floating serene ambience to rapid-fire sequencers, crashing cymbals and thundering timpani).
This all adds up to an equal dose of fun and excitement. Listening to [context] each time was like opening yet another present from under a perpetually replenished Christmas tree. I kept hearing more cool stuff that I had missed on previous listenings. The mix on this album is outstanding. Every delicious analog note, every synth wash, sequenced beat, pulse, or key is in crystal clear evidence. In fact, this CD mirrors a comment that is sometimes made about special effects movies. When a reviewer is dazzled by such a film, she or he will remark "It's all up there on the screen." (meaning that the money was well spent and is evidenced in the production values). Well, in the case of [context} it's all there in the bits and bytes!
Those of you who know their artists will, of course, recognize Gregory Kyryluk as the "man behind the curtain" in Alpha Wave Movement (EM and spacemusic) and Open Canvas (tribal/ambient world fusion). Amazingly, he has released another stellar recording closely on the heels of his amazing spacemusic opus, A Distant Signal. Since he and Christopher Cameron collaborated on this album, equal credit must go the latter as well. As to "who exactly did what" on the album, it doesn't matter in the long run. Major kudos are owed both of these fine practitioners of electronic music magic. Whether the soaring grandeur of "cathedrals of stone" (reminding me a bit of vintage "desert" Steve Roach from the mid to late '80s) or the kinetic electronic pulses/rhythms, Tangerine Dream-like electric guitar samples and classic spacemusic melody lines of "semiotic sequence", Kyryluk and Cameron have offered up a veritable treasure house of EM. It's a spot-on perfect blend of the old and the new. There's even a quirky (and short) ending track ("memento") that incorporates crickets, softly sighing synth washes, and gentle forlorn guitar (well-played by guest artist Johannes Neuer) in a great ending slice of minimalist ambience.
If you love all manner of "music electronic," especially from the days when glowing tubes and analog circuits lit up the night in artists' studios around the globe, latch onto [context] and prepare to be delighted and dazzled. From Germany to the Milky Way, thought guild are expert pilots for many a musical voyage of discovery and delight. Highly recommended!
Bill Binkleman, Wind & Wire
The latest CD from Thought Guild, [context] is an exciting retro-synth CD that showcases a talent for creating live electronica and an extensive knowledge of classic synth music.
Thought Guild is made up of Gregory Kyryluk and Christopher Cameron. Kyryluk also records as Alpha Wave Movement and Open Canvas. Johannes Neuer plays guitar on one track.
On [context], the tracks capture the group's live performances and sequences. This was the approach taken on many classic recordings by artists like Tangerine Dream and Vangelis. By recording this way, Thought Guild seems to be challenging themselves to create interesting music using the same tools and techniques use by the early synth gods. The result is an exciting CD that should appeal especially to fans of synth music from the late seventies and early eighties.
Thought Guild's list of equipment for this CD includes many of the highlights of the early days of synthesizers, including the Ensoniq ESQ-1, Korg MS-20 and Wavestation, Maestro Rhythm King, Moog Prodigy, Oberheim Matrix 6, Roland TR 606, and Yamaha CS-50. All this vintage gear helps contribute to Thought Guild's retro-synth sound.
In addition to a museum's worth of classic synth gear, Thought Guild brings an encyclopedic knowledge of early synth music to their work. It's clear that Kyryluk and Cameron know the innovative 70's work of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Klaus Schulze and Michael Stearns. Listening to the CD, the influences melt together, as if you're listening to a lost collaboration by some of these synth greats.
The CD starts of with Distant Star, with drones, chimes and a synth solo that immediately brought to mind Vangelis' work on Blade Runner. The track gets things off to a great start, because it establishes the retro-synth sound, and highlights the musician's talent for this style.
Several other tracks stand out on the CD. Semiotic Sequence takes things to Berlin with its percolating sequences and distorted lead lines. Silicon Alchemists explores a meditative soundscape not unlike those pioneered by German synthesists Klaus Schulze. It evolves from a mellow, almost ambient texture into sequence-driven, old-school trance.
In addition to more driving tracks, [context] includes some beautiful slower or pulseless tracks, including Lifepools, Leviathan's Lament, and Memento. These tracks bring to mind early American space music pioneers, such as Michael Stearns. They are drone-based pieces, with synth strings and ambient washes that seem to surround you.
The CD is very good overall, and especially impressive since it is recorded live. The CD does have a few transitions that seem abrupt - probably a side effect of it being a live recording. Also, while Thought Guild does a great job of evoking the past, they don't do as good of a job at carving out their own unique musical identity.
[context] is powerful electronic music that evokes the synth gods of the seventies. Full of interesting synthesizer and electronics work, it's a must-have for fans of early synth music.
Synthtopia/ Ambient Visions Review