The second release from the re:discovery records crew introduces us to the incredible tones of Dominic Woosey under his Mysteries of Science moniker, who's music remains a key definer of the 90s ambient trance sound.
To soundtrack the wonderings, that so many undertook through the ethereal realms when under the influence of music, became a real draw for many producers during the 1990s, as the electronic subscapes shifted endlessly in an effort to uncouple the mind from earthly bounds and project us to spaces only imagined in fleeting glimpses before. Detroit Techno kicked things off during the mid to late 80s, as the first generation mixed gritty realism and urban reflectionism with the power of thought and gaze, a deft blend of context paired with the endless depths of space and the oceans. It sparked so many into action, encouraging others to conceive interlinked or somewhat differing approaches to exploring as deep into the astral plain as possible, be it by either bringing the galaxies down to earth or lifting listeners up beyond the clouds and into the deep abyss of the heavens. Dance music without words relies heavily on the application of synths to convey mood, tone and atmosphere, a wordless narrative that associates swells and pads with words, scope and depth with environment, and texture and feel with an emotional engagement, in letting us know what the outline of the soundscape is that we find ourselves within. The emphasis might be on the purity in rhythm, an ever flowing pulse that closes our eyes in order to reflect the energies that are presented to us, or there might be a focus on the manner in which keys weave and bend around our peripheries, content to fill up the spaces that present themselves to us as the boundaries of possibility extend outwards in all directions. It was a time of great leaps and bounds forward, with due considerations taken to really delve into the magic and the bliss that can be replicated by the utilisation of chordal arrangements and their application, a focus that drew much attention to how people were willing to let themselves be carried away from the ills and worries of the world to places where they could dwell with infinite peace of mind. Ambient leaning soundscapes always contained this kind of intrigue that invited listeners to imprint themselves within it, to get to know all the little changes and flickers that occured with the deep consistency of the synths, but during the early 90s many became concerned with applying its aesthetics within this new era of exploration and genre blending, and the results across the board were utterly sublime. The introduction of acid lines here and there, a sprinkling of techno leaning key lines, the application of soft drumming rhythms akin to IDM or soft trance, it was a moment where ambient leaped from its back drop slumber and catapulted it to centre stage as the binding agent that held all these new concepts together. It filled the space with more intensity and meaning than ever before, not just a mere consistent prop but a catalyst for vastness and scope, a blend of mesmerising tones that did wonders to the brain in relation to moving us to spaces and places of great intrigue and emotional investment. It became something new, something bold and invigorating, soundscapes that blew everything out of the water and became an integral feature of the 90s dance music narrative, finding its way into many producers and labels sounds that remain to this day utterly compelling, to say the least.
Whilst not strictly adhering to ambient music when releasing records, Dominic Woosey certainly knew how to paint the most compelling musical narrative imaginable whilst harnessing the genre's core environmental capabilities. Between the late 80s and early 90s, Woosey moved succinctly within the various bridges that criss crossed the narrow divides between techno, ambient and trance with extraordinary capability, with a modest yet highly compelling discography that holds together with such strength and meaning. The soundscapes that flow from each cut remain as fascinating as the last, with Woosey utilising the capabilities of synths and drum machines to full effect in relation to diversity and mood setting. Listening to one of his tracks feels like being welcomed into a multiverse of light, colour and texture, an all encompassing plain filled with places to which you are called towards by the next audial adventure that swings by your way. The world contracts and expands once you become locked into whatever journey you undertake, as the tones grip you by the hand and descend deep into the realms of the imagination, flicking on lights within the consciousness along the way for good measure. It was perhaps the manner in which Woosey navigated the swarm of electronic music during this time period that allowed him to craft such interesting music, as much of his trance, techno or ambient work verves away from the instantly recognisable and more into the unexpected side of things, a highly refined sound that still sounds groundbreaking to this day when holding it up against other producers from the time. Intelligent, full, and perhaps most importantly bold and progressive, Woosey made music that felt equally at home at the club or at home, traversing the plains to bring us to places of boundless energy or to sombre sunsets that frame up our peripheral visions. This notion of diversity is felt so strongly on all his records, reinforced by the wonderful inclusion of multiple aliases on singular releases that kept pushing the universe a little bit wider and further in regards to sonics, atmosphere and story telling. It wasn't just a sound, or even a diverse morphing of genres that Woosey was selling, it was an accumulation of essence and feel, a spiritual aspect that leaps out from within and glides through the mists and veils of beats and keys. Its a series of self contained journeys, where we see and experience so much over the course of lengthy track times and multiple deviations, and its surely something you won't forget in a hurry. Looking back through his works, as mentioned Woosey released numerous records with varying aliases on, which in turn presents to us a significant amount of material to choose some favourites from, and we'll start off with the gorgeous mind melting trance found within the four 'United Frequencies Of Trance' compilation EPs, with 1 and 2 arriving in 1992 and 3 and 4 coming in 93 - Volume 5 was released under the name Brute Phorce in 1993 also, which featured Woosey alongside producer Henry Leuschner; the weird and wonderful bleeps that resonate from the 'Subsonic Bleeps Sampler', that arrived in 1990; and finally, both the sublime 'The Green House Effect' LP the excellent record 'Lady Burning Sky', which was released alongside producer Aaron Greenwood as Neutron 9000, with the former a more traditional tech soul upbeat affair and the latter correlating very much so with Woosey's own ambient trance work. Woosey presented to us a mind map of routes, vistas and paths, all of which spread outwards from the spot we find ourselves currently and branched out into a complex hybridised sound that made far flung sounds feel alive with interconnectivity, merging the audial frequencies of such magnitude into a melting pot that continues to enrich all who come across it. Woosey bridged the divides, traversed the realms of musical potential and bought back a sound to really revel in, to loose yourself inside and outside the boundaries of imagination and explore a road that may lead you to a new state of being. If you wish to travel through the cosmos with unwavering glee and euphoria, then Woosey's back catalogue is the place to be. Truly exceptional music, on every level.
And now, we turn our attentions to the subject of today's review, a new self titled compilation album which contains some of his finest works under the Mysteries of Science name, that arrives via the Re:discovery imprint, with this being the very first time that many of these tracks have been put onto vinyl. The Mysteries of Science moniker was very much aligned with the United Frequencies Of Trance records, with Woosey channelling his ambient and trance adorations into a sound that continues to expand minds to this very day, a highly expressive sound that accommodated pulses of epic proportion. Woosey released two records under the alias, the 1994 self titled LP, and 1995's 'The Erotic Nature of Automate Universe', along with an EP, 'Tranceplant', that arrived in 1992 as a versus match against his other alias, Neutron 9000, all of which bring together and amplify the sound in which he was aiming for with this moniker, one of delightful intricacies, transitions from mellow to fullness, and daring compositions that flow like water and caress like the breeze. This compilation reissue brings together the best from the small but highly significant discography, with the label really capturing the diversity and complexity of Woosey's sound via a selection of cuts that showcase his greatness to the fullest extent. Its a beautiful meander through the sites and sounds of 90s ambient driven electronica, and an experience that remains certainly one of 2020's best in relation to reissues. So, without further delay, lets dive into the forward thinking mind of Woosey, and delve through his Mysteries of Science moniker......
Up first comes 'Virtual Wake', that was originally released as the opener on his 1994 self titled LP, and it couldn't begin in a more sonically mesmerising way. The almost whirring key sound spreads itself over the bottom end of the track, feeling the grooves and topography that make up the lay of the land, and before long we are joined by the plodding bass line and flickering keys, with both elements looking to establish their own groove within the soundscape. Deep set synth swells start to fill up the backdrop with conviction and purpose, moving gracefully between the lines as they create this deep background filler for us to marvel at, with their sequence soon complimented by further melodic touches that keep the intrigue perked very high indeed. The background chordal arrangement occasionally fluctuates through the mists in the foreground, creating a real sense of sonical dynamism, and this is when the track removes its somewhat rhythmic foundation in favour of drawing focus to the main chordal arrangement. Its a stunning vista, as the notes and chords reverberate off one another as they jump from side to side along the mountain sides, and as we move further through the view the song looks to build itself up once more as the rhythmic elements build and build some more with each passing moment. The feel of this movement differs ever so subtly from the previous full bodied arrangement, with the sonics remaining just as compelling but bringing into view slightly faster paced arpeggios and key lines, with the bass line during these moments particularly powerful in crafting a rich underbelly of sound. The intensity drops as the bass line moves away, with the sweeping tones that greeted us at the beginning emerging once more to carry us away into the ethereal zone, one characterised by rolling flows and continually sweeping landforms, in a sonic landscape that knows no limits to its expressiveness. Truly excellent. 'Technological Womb' arrives next, and it begins in similar surroundings to the previous cut. Swirling key lines cascade and align themselves with the slowly forming subscape, as gorgeous chordal lines resonate from within the mid section of the horizon off in the distance, slowing growing in tone and depth as the seconds pass by. Weaving and dipping around one another, the arpeggio and chords work beautifully together in crafting a two fold experience, with variations coming through via the softest of bass lines which helps to move the track through new realms of place and presence. The track recedes and flourishes with movements through the notions that gather pace with each passing moment. A series of big sweeping key lines signal into motion the chiming key line that dominates the front view, allowing our vision to swell and multiply with the times as the space becomes illuminated by light and colour. Its the build up that made this moment so very special, drawing us closer and closer into a world that feels as compelling now as it did when the needle dropped, with the final third section of the track dedicating itself to highly melodic overtones, as we move succinctly through the lines with purpose and presence. The track then finally recedes into its eternal journey, powerful by its contents that will lead to it moving further and deeper into the dusty backdrops of our mind, able to understand and flourish in whatever environment it needs to with its excellence and softly undulating nature. Bliss.
Up next comes 'Diffusion', and this one begins in very soft waters indeed. The deep chord line runs through the core of proceedings, acting as a foundation for little additional keys to flutter and revolve around the core ethereal sound, acting with such impervious meaning and emotion, its hard to not immediately close your eyes and drift. The manner in which the chords sweep and wash over the mind and the body, an experience that lifts with such fever to the point of floating blissfully into an imagined place high above, a star glazing soundtrack that does much to transport you way into the outer atmospheres. The track slowly builds and builds in rhythmic frequency, moving through the motions to becoming denser as time passes by, glistening in the moon lit night as tones of such beauty continue to flow our way. Its a sound that remains cohesive yet highly dynamic at the same time, allowing for all manner of serves and deviations to occur, and as we write that it all drops out to leave a singular drumming element, crafting a pause in the flow of energy, and before long we arrive right back into the mix, and it remains as glorious as ever. For the next few minutes, its simply about going as far into your mind as you wish to go, guided by the cosmic sweeps of the keys and the soft embrace of the rhythm. Amazing, truly. Up next comes 'Chaos Pleasures', and this one starts off with real intrigue indeed. The droning tones of the synth line leads the way, as it gradually becomes intertwined with a repeating two key line and piano, all of which work alongside each other to craft a spell binding feel and tone, moving through the lines expertly in crafting a sense of dynamism through melody and sequence. A sweeping pulse then runs across the tundra, giving further depth to the cut as it embraces its transitions and movements through differing structures, as key lines drop in and out of view like pieces of a puzzle returning before removing themselves, creating an illusion of a picture bigger than the one presented. The structure then comes together beautifully with the addition of a piano line, that gracefully glides across the top end of the track with meaning and purpose, lasting for a few moments at a time before slipping away into the undertones of the track, waiting for its moment to shine once more. The track then begins to fill up with further expressions and sequences as the layering becomes more dense and intricate, with full piano chords making an appearance as Woosey really shows off his dexterity on the keys, with the track then seeing the piano solo line come back into view, and it remains as glorious as ever. The track is beautifully composed, combining elements of classical undertones with the stars above, two lines of inquiry that are blended together here so damn well. Its simply brilliant, and its a track that could last for numerous lifetimes and still channel such a vibe. To wrap things up, we have 'Stranger In A Strange Land', and this one begins with once more in a swell of engagement. The twinkling of keys resonate across the soundscape, as the traditional swells begin their journey through the ethereal plains of human existence, with the movement into the fullness occurring as the pads grow and grow some more, with a violin thrown in for good measure. As a picture, its utterly transfixing, and not for the first time we find ourselves growing into the track, eager to explore and stumble across the path that leads us deeper into the matrix of tone and feel, with the greatest jump happening when the arpeggio bass line lifts the track to new heights. Then, as if that wasn't enough, we experience the only full drumming sequence of the compilation, a hazy breakbeat structure that tugs at the heart strings with all its got, and the picture is now complete. It remains the final statement of a brilliant collection of tunes, a blend of all the excellence that Woosey pushed under his Mysteries moniker, and its a light that shines so brightly in this day and age. A real treasure.
You might find yourself floating, you may experience a sense of gliding, you perhaps feel the hand of the universe pulling you in closer, and that is where the magic lies in this record. Woosey was a master at tonal world building, creating environments that drew from the atmospheres of ambient and re contextualised them within a wider setting, allowing us to not only relax but drift through dreams too. He achieves this musical nirvana perhaps most successfully with Mysteries of Science, with the alias' excellent blend of trance, ambient and techno crafting a sound that emboldened the mind and encourages the sonic explorer in all of us. This comp simply highlights a mere glimpse of this musical universe, but each cut shows a differing side to the story, highlighting Woosey's ability and creavitivity in pushing this sound to its greatest limits. There are moments here that take the breath away, whether its the smallest detail or the mightiest vista, the sky remains limitless and very much within our reaches, if only you want to jump out and touch it. And when this record is on, you will very much feel the need to absorb yourself into something greater. Utterly stunning.
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