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John DuVal - Cassiopeia's Playground (2008)

Earth Mantra #earman065

Format:  256Kbps MP3
Number of tracks:  8
Genres:  Ambient, Electronic, Abstract, Experimental, Modularism

Direct URL:  earthmantra.com/cassiopeiasplayground
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Earth Mantra is proud to bring you the long-awaited new release by reknowned analog synthesizer guru and electronic musician John DuVal.

For those who might not be familiar, John is the one-time owner of one of the largest Serge analog modular systems ever assembled, a system nicknamed Fist of God. We have seen pictures of this beast, and believe us when we say that the name is completely appropriate. John is widely regarded, both for his 2003 seminal analog modular epic entitled Hell's Canyon, which is very nearly the textbook example of a perfect analog modular sound painting, as well as for his work with ambient supergroup Dweller At The Threshold, and for his own solo music before that.

So we were pretty excited at the prospect of releasing another collection of John's analog synth creations. After hearing the cuts, however, we went from pretty excited to utterly freaking stoked, because with this album he might just have exceeded his own magnum opus. Put simply, we think this this album, entitled Cassiopeia's Playground, is nothing less than a masterpiece.

The recordings on this release were made between 1996 and 2005, primarily using John's massive Serge modular system. No computers of any kind were used at any stage of the process except for the final mastering of the recordings themselves. In essence, most of this release is a free form live jam, recorded in real time, with most of the cuts being improvised and recorded on the spot in one take. For the hardcore gearhead, John has provided more juicy details about his rig in the album liner notes.

But it is not the gear or even the fact that John performed it in real time that makes this album so special. It is the music itself. Suffice it to say, the music in this album completely blows us away. Where Hell's Canyon was a deep dive into analog modular wonderland, Cassiopeia's Playground is a stunning example of the artist's virtuosic synthesizer skills; but even more so, it is a breathtaking showcase of the sheer variety of musical forms and structures that can be constructed using nothing more than circuit boards, transistors, and knobs. It is here that John DuVal's singular genius can be most fully seen and appreciated.

It has been a long time since John DuVal has released an album to the world. But folks, the wait has been worth it. John DuVal is back, and we look forward to more music from this brilliant artist.

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August 03, 2010 - Richard VFA
Experimental analog-style space-ambient. It is a very playful and creative album that is both interesting and fun to listen to. One of my favorites, very unique.

December 08, 2008 - Modulator ESP
Great stuff. Very nice analogue soundscapes, quite experimental sounding in places, just how I like it :-)