steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Magwheels / Stone Glass Steel

"Pane" CD

Ad Noiseam

Genres: industrial, ambient

Ad Noiseam
c/o Nicolas Chevreux
Postfach 55 01 22
D-10371 Berlin

Mar 22 - 28 2004

Pane, the new split album between David Sullivan (Magwheels) and Phil Easter (Stone Glass Steel), represents the ambient side of German noise and experimental label Ad Noiseam.  Though Sullivan and Easter frequently use abrasive textures and abstract atmospheres to create their music, for the most part this material is remarkably 'soft.'  Both artists use lots of soothing drones and reverb to establish dark, refreshing ambiances not unlike some of the less recent Fennesz work.

Pane starts off with seven new compositions from Magwheels.  They are, for the most part, a collection of short ambient clips.  Each one has a unique sound, but they come together perfectly as a whole.  "Phantovm" is an amazing soundscape, whereas "Monolithic Songbird" takes a bit of a noisy approach to things, coming at the listener with a chugging, loud, yet still relatively conservative assault of experimental abstraction.  "SSmokes" is also impressive, in its own pretty, guitar-injected way.  The exception to the album's general formula is "The Only Window Is So High Up," which is just over eight minutes long but still perfectly engaging and almost ritualistic.  Slight tunefulness is introduced by way of some jarring guitarwork.

The second half of the disc comes courtesy of Stone Glass Steel, who brings us two twenty minute compositions using the entire Magwheels discography as source material.  This makes for dense listening for those unaccustomed to the sound, but any true ambient fanatic will fall in love with SGS's mind-expanding, powerful atmospheric compositions.

Pane is definitely a success.  As far as ambient music goes, there's lots of really awful stuff out there - fortunately, this incredible split release proves that there is still lots left to enjoy on the scene.


Fun Fact: A "mag wheel" is any time of auto wheel made from a magnesium alloy. 

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 61 minutes, 9 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2003]