Artist: Gemini Tri
Release Date: 2014 April 29
Genre: Dream Pop
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Label: Archaic Horizon
Any release that starts with the sound of soft flutes playing behind what initially sounds like lightly plucked strings on a harp which in a few bars reveals itself to be a ukulele has a pretty high possibility of grabbing my attention. Who would think to use a ukulele in a way that it sounds like a harp? Well, apparently Gemini Tri made that connection, and it’s a real ear grabber of the reflections in the Gemini Mirror.
Reflections In The Gemini Mirror
But while this is an ear-grabber of a release, I have to start off being a bit picky about part of the release: the vocals. This is a vocal heavy release. However, the vocals are electronically processed (through a vocoder style processor, and not an autotune processor thankfully), which I think was a decision to make the vocals blend in with the music (I’ll explain that more in a moment). The problem is, the vocals blend so far into the music it’s difficult to make out the lyrical content. Of course this could be due to my aging ears, however on similarly engineered / produced releases (such as Planet Boelex with Lisa’s Antenna) I haven’t had this kind of difficulty in picking out the lyrics.
However, this isn’t such a big issue that it takes away from my enjoyment or appreciation of this release. Instead, I just end up treating the vocals on this release as another instrument in the songs. And with such a musical palette to work with, treating the vocals in this way is not problematic.
That is the first thing that I want to comment on in this release: the technical aspects of the recording. The engineering and production of this release are gorgeous. There is a consistent layering to the soundscape this release. It is an enveloping experience that draws you in from the opening strains of ‘Silence Of The Universe’ and doesn’t let you go until the closing of ‘Pioneer Badge’.
As for the music itself: here there is unity was well. This is an album about reflection, contemplation, and introspection. This is the kind of subject matter that might turn some listeners off to this release, but in this case it shouldn’t be taken from a negative perspective. Instead think of it as a quest into understanding ourselves. Looking at our past for clues about who we are, and how are past forms who we are now. This isn’t the kind of release that is dwelling on the past, it’s an affirmation of where we are going. It’s a quest to find that best version of ourselves.
I have difficulty with singling out any stand-out tracks on this release. The reason is my listening sessions have gone something like this:
- ‘Silence Of the Universe’ Oooh – I need to single out this track.
- ‘Mirror’ Oooh – I need to single out this track.
- ‘Childhood’ Oooh – I need to single out this track.
- ‘Dream Is Destiny’ – Oooh – I need to single out this track.
You start to get the idea – every track I listened to on this release I wanted to single out. And that has happened every time I listen to this release. And the inverse idea – singling out the weaker tracks – doesn’t work either. There just isn’t a weak track on here, and I wouldn’t want to take any away from it.
So, I think I have hit a point where I can summarize this release. It’s a gorgeously produced reflective work that creates a space for the listener to examine how their past selves relate to their current selves. This process of introspection isn’t about being gloomy, it’s about understanding what things the listener needs to carry forward to become a better version of themselves.
Through an interesting choice of instrumentation (ukulele, guitar, bass) with a plethora of electronic beats, samples and vocals Gemini Tri brings a soundscape to life around us. It’s a soundscape that encompasses daydream pop, glitch, ambient and other styles that add texture to his world, and make for a non static environment for our ruminations.
Now if I could only understand the vocals.
[Ed Note: As of September 2018, it appears the Archaic Horizon website is down, but not completely gone. We’re including a link to this release on Internet Archive as an alternative to the Archaic Horizon website.]
well, transferring music into words is none of my virtues, really.
In short, I don’t appreciate music that has nothing more to it than sounding nice.
Childhood, Dream is Destiny – clean, antiseptic arrangement. gives me the same uneasy sticky feeling as when forced to listen ‘easy listening’. kicked that instantly.
Split Personality – builds up some tension, then goes nowhere.
Pioneer Badge – another soft pampered nothing.
As for this Travel release:
Colombo, and to an extreme extend – Green Faith, Grids. feel suffocated by it’s eternal softness. Get me out of here. Creepy.
Both releases are entirely great production-wise and work well as background music, but as soon I start paying attention to..
Okay, I think I hear the problem — and it isn’t an unfamiliar one. I think you are a little too focused on the production, and missing the underlying style(s), which sometimes happens with some production styles. I noticed this back during the ECM days when Pat Metheny’s Full Circle came out, and later with the Clannad’s Magical Ring release (although I might even point back to Jon & Vangelis’ Private Collection as a precursor to these releases) as having such strong style that it can (to some degree) obscure the music.
This release is full of all sorts of styles: folktronic, glitch, etc. but it’s necessary to listen past the production to hear them.
Of course, it could also be that these are some of the styles that you aren’t as open to (like I don’t care for House & Techno all that much).
Let’s see what happens when I review another release from this label. I have a couple more in the queue, and they are fairly different production-wise.
voice/lyrics. I wouldn’t have thought about until you mentioned. I mostly recognize voice first and do not care right away about the lyrics. A matter of being a native English speaker or not, perhaps? Voice is sound, primarily evoking emotion, while lyrics is rather linked to information. Meaning, voice can be treated as an emancipated part of the composition, like noise too. Thinking about an example with a somehow similar aesthetic, Labradford comes in to mind. Sure, there are plenty of other examples too. 90’s home recording style, sometimes tagged as Lo-Fi.
My conclusion: they did that fuzzy mumbling on purpose, it’s less a matter of production skills. And for my ears it’s ok. And also for my crappy speakers. All’s fine with me..
My only critic for this release is that it’s just a bit too nice.
Same goes for the release you revieved earlier from that label, btw.
“…it’s just a bit too nice.”
Care to elaborate on that comment? Do you meant that in terms of production, or the music itself?
Yes, the processed vocals are deliberate, both as a stylistic choice, and as a matter of blending the sound into the recording. There’s been quite a few releases that intentionally process vocals in this manner… But that doesn’t mean that the content of the vocals aren’t important, or any less important than the sound of the vocals.
FWIW – vocals are going to come up a few times this week. 😉 Different points to be made about / with them.
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