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Thread: Featured album: Tim Blake - Crystal Machine

  1. #1
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Featured album: Tim Blake - Crystal Machine

    http://www.progarchives.com/progress...13372019_r.jpg

    Tim Blake - Crystal Machine

    blake.jpg

    Tracks Listing:
    1. Midnight (7:40)
    2. Metro Logic (8:07)
    3. Last Ride Of The Boogie Child (9:43)
    4. Synthese Intemporal (19:30)
    5. Crystal Presence (3:11)

    Musicians
    Tim Blake / synths (EMS Synthi A, Elka Rhapsody, Minimoog), Fx, composer & producer
    With:
    - Patrice Warrener / on stage laser lighting


    Here is what Thomas Szirmay had to say on ProgArchives:
    While Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Kraftwerk are considered as the initiators of electronic-rock (as opposed to Stockhausen, Glass, Cage, Wendy/Walter Carlos , who are pure electronic pioneers) , this album remains , in my opinion, the birthplace of ambient- electronica, mainly because of its spacey feel (No, not Kevin) . I have played this to many younger fans/experts of house-trip , who proceeded to kneel in respectful prayer, when I gave them some historical background. Clearly, having played with the classic Gong line-up made quite an impression and Hi T Moonweed , as Tim Blake was known then , was featured prominently on the by now mythic Trilogy. This is supremely delicate music, quite minimalist with its overtly languid textures, lucid whisps of cosmic colouring and serene astral explorations.
    First, let's get one thing straight, this prog sub-genre can never sound dated (especially in view of the current popular aversion for synthetic and synthesized sounds, relying more on today's image re-hash and fashion attitude: aka Black-Eyed "Piss" and Maroon feces). Electronica will always be a futuristic horizon, regardless of what new gimmick hits your Ipod. This glazed and fragile masterpiece will stand the test of time and it will require some very devoted concentration the first time around, so PLEASE, do not attempt a "background muzak-while I'm cooking some risotto" initial run through, it won't work! Perhaps long after dinner's end, on the deck with a fine armagnac & gazing up at the midnight stars, that's when you will reach the promised euphoria of stellar atmospheres. Definitely, a personal fave. 4.5 galaxies


    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  2. #2
    Member Munster's Avatar
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    I love this album and play it regularly, especially the magnificent, 19-minute long Synthese Intemporal. The album has traces of Tangerine Dream in it, so is not totally original, and has few of the "bubbling" sounds that marked Blake's time with Gong. But I still think it is great. It also has less vocals than some of Blake's other albums, which is a big plus for me as I find his singing an acquired taste. The CD reissue on Estoeric has some bonus tracks, but these are not particularly noteworthy. However, the bonus tracks on Blake's New Jersualem, the slightly inferior (IMO) follow-up album, are worth getting.
    'There are no certain answers and no time to understand / The goal's a changing paradise, a moment out of date'

  3. #3
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Wouildn't the bubbles thing come from his time with Clearlight ?
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    No, I don't think so. Clearlight had an album called Forever Blowing Bubbles but Blake did not play on that. He had played on one side of the earlier Clearlight Symphony album, which is excellent (particularly the side where Blake, Hillage and Malherbe contribute). I don't think he was ever officially a member of Clearlight. The "bubbles" I am referring to are particularly evident on versions of the Gong track Other Side of the Sky. Perhaps "bubbles" is the wrong word; perhaps "swooshing" would be a better one .
    'There are no certain answers and no time to understand / The goal's a changing paradise, a moment out of date'

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    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    For me this is a really great (and unique) 70s electronic / synth album. It's a shame that this is the only one he did in this vein and that there wasn't more released at the time (the DVD that comes in his box has some amazing stuff too).

    It's a real favorite work album.
    Steve F.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post
    For me this is a really great (and unique) 70s electronic / synth album. It's a shame that this is the only one he did in this vein and that there wasn't more released at the time (the DVD that comes in his box has some amazing stuff too).

    It's a real favorite work album.
    Agreed 100% with your statements above. I purchased the vinyl import from Intergalactic Trading Company in 1977 and have loved it non-stop since then. Other than the silly vocals on "Boogie Child" this is a quintessential electronic experience for my money. I rate it right up there with some of KS and TD/EF's releases, although I realize that it is of a more ambient approach. However, it was before ambient meant sleepy silence and it keeps its "spacey" (as the reviewer noted) elements always up front and it your face.

    As stated above, if only this had been the start of something beautiful for solo Tim Blake, but it was not to be.

    Outstanding featured album, Trane, and I like the review that accompanied it.

  7. #7
    My favorite Synth player
    His contribution to Gong were pure magic

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Udi Koomran View Post
    His contribution to Gong were pure magic
    There was a set of electronically minded synth/keyboard-sideplayers active in (relatively) advanced rock groups during the 70s, most of whom contributed a rather "additional" role to the melodic setup; Michael Hoenig in Agitation Free, Schulze with Go, Baffo Banfi with Biglietto Per L'Inferno, not to mention mavericks like Morgan Fisher (with Morgan, Mott etc.) and Larry Fast (Synergy, Nektar and more).

    But arguably, none of these inputs truly transcended the source material and essentially reformed its entire appearance. Blake's with Gong did, and I think this was a major reason why You came out as such a timeless masterwork. Rarely, if ever, have I heard such mastery of analog synthesizers in an intricate "rock" environment. It's still an incredibly impressive listen, also from a technical viewpoint, even today.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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    Casanova TCC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Udi Koomran View Post
    My favorite Synth player
    His contribution to Gong were pure magic

    +1 !
    Agree 100%

    Good call Trane !
    Pura Vida!.

    There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind. ∞
    Duke Ellington.

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    I'm a big fan of almost everything Blake has done including his stints with Gong and Hawkwind. Even the odd later albums like Magick and Noggi Tar are so warm and phat. Love 'em.

    But Crystal is still probably his best, particularly the wonderful "Synthese intemporel". Definitely a great work track but also nice for spacy relaxation on a quiet evening.

    As some of you have noted Blake is obviously influenced by TD/Berlin. Yet personally I like Blake's music so much more than most Berlin School albums. They seem so cold, interesting maybe but cold, whereas Blake gets a lot of warmth out of those same synths and sequencers.
    Last edited by arturs; 1 Week Ago at 04:28 PM.

  11. #11
    I took forever to check out Tim Blake because of the warnings about "cheese", but I'm glad I finally did. Both this album and Blake's New Jerusalem are quite enjoyable to me.
    Infinite Ceiling on www.ckcufm.com every Thursday night at 8:30 with me or Mark Keill, archived shows: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/112/...tml?filter=all
    Electronic Meditation on www.ckcufm.com archived shows: https://cod.ckcufm.com/programs/462/...tml?filter=all

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    There was a set of electronically minded synth/keyboard-sideplayers active in (relatively) advanced rock groups during the 70s, most of whom contributed a rather "additional" role to the melodic setup; Michael Hoenig in Agitation Free, Schulze with Go, Baffo Banfi with Biglietto Per L'Inferno, not to mention mavericks like Morgan Fisher (with Morgan, Mott etc.) and Larry Fast (Synergy, Nektar and more).

    But arguably, none of these inputs truly transcended the source material and essentially reformed its entire appearance. Blake's with Gong did, and I think this was a major reason why You came out as such a timeless masterwork. Rarely, if ever, have I heard such mastery of analog synthesizers in an intricate "rock" environment. It's still an incredibly impressive listen, also from a technical viewpoint, even today.
    Totally agree
    And would like to add that he is very different then almost all of his peers cause his contribution was not based on melody or harmony or virtuosic playing but rather in texture timbre a rare talent
    Sure there were others Klaus Schulze Tangerine Con but he was different probably due to the context- he was a part of a band that had a psych foundation and strong jazz rock pillars but what set Gong apart from countless others was the spiritual dimension that was based on the Glissando and Spacewhisper but then came TB and added a further essential element that made it a trinity
    As much as I am fond of his first solo albums they show that composition was not his forte

  13. #13
    1975
    "Surf", 7" A-side issued under the pseudonym Saratoga Space Messengers, a spacey new wave pop slab, with the designer and singer Brigitte Perron whispering tripping digits

  14. #14
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    Some lovely 'swooshing' sounds here, just the thing for a long weekend. Apparently this track was intended to NOT sound like Crystal Machine or Gong, but I would say that the synthesizer sound is unmistakably the synthesizer sound of Gong (although, clearly, the song itself falls far short of what Gong was putting out). This track can also be found as bonus material on Blake's Esoteric release of 'Crystal Machine' and in the very good boxset 'Lighthouse', released by Esoteric in 2018 and mentioned above. Presumably Brigitte Perron is the same 'Brigitte' pictured in some of the photographs of Gong found in the book accompanying the 'Love From The Planet Gong' boxset.
    'There are no certain answers and no time to understand / The goal's a changing paradise, a moment out of date'

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    I was listening to ‘New Jerusalem’ again (still don’t think it is as good as ‘Crystal Machine’), but on the Esoteric release of ‘New Jerusalem’ there are 35 minutes of bonus material that is pretty good. There are three bonus tracks; ‘The Woodland Voice’, which is the B side of the Generator (Laser Beam) single; then 19 minutes of ‘From Outer Space’; and 16 minutes of ‘Jupiter to Jerusalem’. These last two tracks are taken from the ‘Waterfalls in Space’ album recorded by Tim Blake & Jean-Philippe Rykiel during rehearsals for their first Japanese tour. This music was initially released only on cassette in 1979 but then was available digitally in 2006 (although in the digital version ‘Jupiter to Jerusalem’ is 23 minutes long and ‘From Outer Space’ is 20 minutes). It is worth buying the Esoteric version of ‘New Jerusalem’ for these two tracks alone. They do not appear in the ‘Lighthouse’ boxset (which also has bonus tracks, totalling about 60 minutes of music titled ‘The Birth of Crystal Machine’ and ‘The Forgotten Tapes’). The boxset is worth buying if you do not have any of Blake’s stuff. However, ‘Crystal Machine’ is the pinnacle (IMO), although bizarrely its bonus tracks on Esoteric are nothing special.
    Last edited by Munster; 1 Week Ago at 02:00 PM.
    'There are no certain answers and no time to understand / The goal's a changing paradise, a moment out of date'

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    Thanks for reminding me about this album, I nearly bought it back in the day but never did, will give it a listen.

    Sent from my SM-T290 using Tapatalk

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    Member Piskie's Avatar
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    You certainly notice when he isn't on a Gong album.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    They do not appear in the ‘Lighthouse’ boxset (which also has bonus tracks, totalling about 60 minutes of music titled ‘The Birth of Crystal Machine’ and ‘The Forgotten Tapes’). The boxset is worth buying if you do not have any of Blake’s stuff.
    Can anyone comment more specifically on the quality of the box set "bonus" material? I've got all the Blake studio discs (and the Gong and Hawkwind...) so the first two discs of the box are completely redundant for me. If the bonus material offers something different and interesting, in good sound, I think that and the DVD would be worth the $30 something for the box.

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    Bought the LP on the Egg label when it came out, was really excited by the prospect of a Tim Blake solo album since his sounds on the Gong albums were so distinctive. Was kind of disappointed (as others have mentioned, it doesn't sound much like the stuff he did with Gong), even more so when I got his next album and heard subsequent releases. However, I bought the CD version on the Mantra label when it came out and gave it a listen just the other night. Really had to EQ it, but otherwise enjoyed it. Definitely a Schulze/Ashra vibe at times.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    I was listening to ‘New Jerusalem’ again (still don’t think it is as good as ‘Crystal Machine’), but on the Esoteric release of ‘New Jerusalem’ there are 35 minutes of bonus material that is pretty good. There are three bonus tracks; ‘The Woodland Voice’, which is the B side of the Generator (Laser Beam) single; then 19 minutes of ‘From Outer Space’; and 16 minutes of ‘Jupiter to Jerusalem’. These last two tracks are taken from the ‘Waterfalls in Space’ album recorded by Tim Blake & Jean-Philippe Rykiel during rehearsals for their first Japanese tour. This music was initially released only on cassette in 1979 but then was available digitally in 2006 (although in the digital version ‘Jupiter to Jerusalem’ is 23 minutes long and ‘From Outer Space’ is 20 minutes). It is worth buying the Esoteric version of ‘New Jerusalem’ for these two tracks alone. They do not appear in the ‘Lighthouse’ boxset (which also has bonus tracks, totalling about 60 minutes of music titled ‘The Birth of Crystal Machine’ and ‘The Forgotten Tapes’). The boxset is worth buying if you do not have any of Blake’s stuff. However, ‘Crystal Machine’ is the pinnacle (IMO), although bizarrely its bonus tracks on Esoteric are nothing special.
    You have to love a world where Generator (Laser Beam) could be a single! I was a big fan of Tim’s albums in the 70’s, the fact he played in Gong drew me towards him, and I liked the cheesier New Jerusalem. Today this album is the clear leader though. I do have a CD of Magick but it’s so long since I even span that, I have no recollection.

    I saw Tim live when he toured as part of Hawkwind and had a featured solo spot, I’m thinking this much have been 78/79 as I remember still being an Afghan coat wearing schoolboy Hippy, straight out of central casting to play a commune dwelling Gong dreamer. Thereafter I went off to Uni in my coat and with an acoustic guitar, and promptly had my hair cut by two drunk girls at a party... but that’s another story

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by arturs View Post
    Can anyone comment more specifically on the quality of the box set "bonus" material? I've got all the Blake studio discs (and the Gong and Hawkwind...) so the first two discs of the box are completely redundant for me. If the bonus material offers something different and interesting, in good sound, I think that and the DVD would be worth the $30 something for the box.
    There are eight bonus tracks on Lighthouse; three grouped under the title ‘The Birth of Crystal Machine’; three under the title ‘The Forgotten Tapes’; and two live tracks. The live tracks, recorded in 2006 and 2009, are not played on analogue synthesizers, the other bonus tracks are. The recording quality on all the tracks is excellent, except for one, but, unfortunately, there is no indication when any of the bonus tracks (other than the live ones) were recorded. Two of the analogue bonus tracks are very good. One, Oming In (on ‘The Forgotten Tapes’), uses lots of loops and appears to be taken from the period when You was recorded with Gong (although there are no Gong members other than Blake on it). It lasts about 12 minutes and is very reminiscent of Magick Mother Invocation (without the vocals) and A Sprinkling of Clouds (without the additional instruments). The other long track (on ‘The Birth of Crystal Machine’) is Forteresse/Crystal Mirrors to Infinity. It lasts for about 20 minutes and is very much in the style of early Tangerine Dream (Alpha Centauri/Zeit). The remaining bonus tracks under the ‘The Birth of Crystal Machine’ title are interesting and run for a total of about eight minutes; those under ‘The Forgotten Tapes’ are longer and run for about 18 minutes. However, one of these, Mirrors of Light (eight minutes), has some (very slight) distortion on it and the other, Metro Poly Train (ten minutes), seems to be a (very similar but longer) version of Metro/Logic, which is on Crystal Machine.

    The DVD is taken from a French television programme recorded in 1979 and is comprised of Blake miming to four songs – Generator (Laser Beam), Passage Sur la Cite des Revelations, New Jerusalem and Lighthouse. There is some dialogue from Blake too, in French. The entire DVD seems to be available in bits and pieces on YouTube (using Esoteric-sanctioned extracts).
    'There are no certain answers and no time to understand / The goal's a changing paradise, a moment out of date'

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    ^^^ Thanks very much for posting that detailed info. The third CD in the box does sound very interesting! Dunno about the DVD; I did check out a few of the YT clips. Not sure how much mileage I would get out of that.

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