The least that can be said about The Gasman’s second album, The Grand Electric Palace Of Variety, is that it is a truly ambitious project. Thirty-four tracks scattered over two CDs, totalling well over two hours of processed beats, flamboyant orchestral moments and delicate constructions.
Hailing from Portsmouth, Christopher Reeves developed an interest for electronic music while at a very young age, and began experimenting with tapes of old classical recordings, slicing them up and reassembling them to form intricate and often slightly dark constructions. While Reeves’s first offering for Planet Mu, Remedial, was assembled by Mike Paradinas from a handful of demos, this new album demonstrate a more focused approach. Still very much under the influence of Aphex Twin and µ-ziq, whom he often references, Reeves is given the opportunity to let his personally filter through more openly. The sonic palette used ranges from deep isolationist moments to beautiful melodic compositions to fractured beat constructions, yet remains extremely consistent all the way through. Often playing with loops and repetitions, Reeves creates a series of disturbing pieces by using recurring themes, from dissected choir and strings sections to melodic patterns, which are occasionally set on a collision course with more traditional electronic forms.
The tone is set from the beginning of Hump, which opens The Grand Electric Palace Of Variety, and the listener is then sucked deep into Reeves’s obsessive universe and pushed from pillar to post as each new track evolves in a new environment. If, on Bifidus, Reeves sounds very much like a cross between Plaid and Orbital, he turns all isolationist on Fingis, evoking the earthy mood of Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2, while he injects a serious dose of humour on the tongue-in-cheek Pirates Reeve and crafts a truly inspired moment with Fridge.
This announced variety however ultimately plays against the general focus of this record as Reeves rapidly looses touch with substance. This album then becomes little more than a pretty structure with very little content to satisfy. Despite some interesting moments, The Grand Electric Palace Of Variety is far too spread out for Reeves to keep the interest going all the way through, and each track eventually merges with the next until this album becomes a blur.
Stripped of its excess baggage, with only a fraction of tracks to concentrate on, The Grand Electric Palace Of Variety would have been a true celebration of Reeves’s talent and vision and an imaginative take on a genre first shaped over a decade ago. As it stands, this album unfortunately ends up feeling a tad over-indulgent and heavy-going.
- Shitmat - Full English Breakfest Vol.3
- Shitmat - Full English Breakfest Vol.1
- Various - The Sacred Symbols Of Mu
- Venetian Snares - Meathole
- Luke Vibert - Lover's Acid
- Frog Pocket - Gonglot
- Phthalocyanine - No One Said You Didn't
- Various - Amµnition
- Electronic Music Composer - Abandon Music
- The Gasman - The Grand Electric Palace Of Variety
- Chevron - Everything's Exactly The Same
- Julian Fane - Special Forces
- Kid Spatula - Meast
- Shitmat - Killababylonkutz
- Venetian Snares - Huge Chrome Cylinder Box Unfolding
- Datach'i - Mmale And Ffemale
- edIT - Crying Over Pros For No Reason
- Remarc - Unreleased Dubs '94-'96
- Remarc - Sound Murderer
- Urban Myth & Steve Beresford - Live At The Friends Meeting House
- dDamage - Radio Ape
- OOO - Upon Cycles
- Venetian Snares - The Chocolate Wheelchair Album
- The Gasman - Remedial