Node - s/t. 1995 Deviant CD + LP
Node - Node 2. 2014 DiN
Before AirSculpture, Radio Massacre International, Under The Dome, and Redshift, there was Node - the group primarily given credit for kicking off the entire retro-Tangerine Dream movement in the UK. As with most pioneers, I don’t think they were as cognizant of recreating a style as they were compiling a vast array of influences and then proceeding to move them forward in an exciting way. As such, this isn’t nearly the dead-on "Rubycon" meets "Timewind" sound the others have striven so hard to emulate. A full four member group with Modular Moog, Ring Modulated trumpet, "The Putney", and "Interactive Phase Synthesizer", Node engage in all sorts of random possibilities that the style affords. Radical, groundbreaking, richly produced, rhythmically interesting, and brilliant.
I wrote the above (with a bit of recent editing) about a decade ago and I never expected we would hear from the band again. Fortunately I was wrong. The Node quartet are back after nearly 20 years (with a slight adjustment of personnel replacing Gary Stout with Hollywood composer Mel Wesson), easily at home on Ian Boddy's DiN label. The band's core premise is intact and they're still with all analog gear in tow, including a full array of fun toys like the ARP 2600, SynthiA, modified Mini-Moogs, PPG Modular, custom built synthesizers, along with well placed guitar (including some wonderful phased electric soaring over the full blast sequencers in the best Edgar Froese tradition) and other keyboards like Fender Rhodes, piano, organ, and Mellotron. The very detailed chronological Ultra-Technical Music Geek Notes (AC's trademark pending) gives us a glimpse into the world of Node. Each track has a melodic, tempo, and chord base from which to base their programming on. From there it's pure improvisation. If it works on try #1, it stays in. Otherwise they adjust a few things, and give it another whirl. It's 100% democratic and independent - 4 seasoned musicians each adding their own personality to the composition. When all is recorded, it's edited (filtered) down for the best possible listening experience.
For me, this is the most exciting Berlin School album since the heady late 90s days of Redshift. The sheer amount and variety of analog synthesizers, combined with a fully participating quartet, allows for unlimited possibilities in a genre that can easily grow stale (i.e . turn on the sequencers and beats, get a cup of coffee, then noodle for a bit). It's nigh impossible to even pick one track, as each one is brilliant, and yet very different. If you're a fan of the style, it's almost impossible to fathom not absolutely freaking over this album. It not only lives up to the promise of the debut, but exceeds it. Pure genius - a definitive statement. The bar has been reset.