The latest CD from Thought Guild, [context] is an exciting retro-synth CD that showcases a talent for creating live electronica and an extensive knowledge of classic synth music.
Thought Guild is made up of Gregory Kyryluk and Christopher Cameron. Kyryluk also records as Alpha Wave Movement and Open Canvas. Johannes Neuer plays guitar on one track.
On [context], the tracks capture the group’s live performances and sequences. This was the approach taken on many classic recordings by artists like Tangerine Dream and Vangelis. By recording this way, Thought Guild seems to be challenging themselves to create interesting music using the same tools and techniques use by the early synth gods. The result is an exciting CD that should appeal especially to fans of synth music from the late seventies and early eighties.
Thought Guild’s list of equipment for this CD includes many of the highlights of the early days of synthesizers, including the Ensoniq ESQ-1, Korg MS-20 and Wavestation, Maestro Rhythm King, Moog Prodigy, Oberheim Matrix 6, Roland TR 606, and Yamaha CS-50. All this vintage gear helps contribute to Thought Guild’s retro-synth sound. An out-of-tune synth line even rears its head occasionally, which you don’t hear much on most modern recordings. These quirks are part of the charm of the CD, though.
In addition to a museum’s worth of classic synth gear, Thought Guild brings an encyclopedic knowledge of early synth music to their work. It’s clear that Kyryluk and Cameron know the innovative 70’s work of Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Klaus Schulze and Michael Stearns. Listening to the CD, the influences melt together, as if you’re listening to a lost collaboration by some of these synth greats.
The CD starts of with Distant Star, with drones, chimes and a synth solo that immediately brought to mind Vangelis’ work on Blade Runner. The track gets things off to a great start, because it establishes the retro-synth sound, and highlights the musician’s talent for this style.
Several other tracks stand out on the CD. Semiotic Sequence takes things to Berlin with its percolating sequences and distorted lead lines. Silicon Alchemists explores a meditative soundscape not unlike those pioneered by German synthesists Klaus Schulze. It evolves from a mellow, almost ambient texture into sequence-driven, old-school trance.
In addition to more driving tracks, [context] includes some beautiful slower or pulseless tracks, including Lifepools, Leviathan’s Lament, and Memento. These tracks bring to mind early American space music pioneers, such as Michael Stearns. They are drone-based pieces, with synth strings and ambient washes that seem to surround you.
The CD is very good overall, and especially impressive since it is recorded live. The CD does have a few transitions that seem abrupt – probably a side effect of it being a live recording. Also, while Thought Guild does a great job of evoking the past, they don’t do as good of a job at carving out their own unique musical identity.
[context] is powerful electronic music that evokes the synth gods of the seventies. Full of interesting synthesizer and electronics work, it’s a must-have for fans of early synth music.
- 1. Distant Star
- 2. Moebius Phase
- 3. Semiotic Sequence
- 4. Lifepools
- 5. Leviathan’s Lament
- 6. Silicon Alchemists
- 7. Cathedrals of Stone
- 8. Tetrahedral Anomolies
- 9. Memento