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MACLEAN, STEVE: Universal
Nine pieces that form a science fiction suite of whole-scene cues – in wide-screen, with movie-sound depth - on a wide canvas that features action, robots, the endless reaches of space, galaxy formation, Brownian motion, hallucinatory drifting, and sleep – and which navigates a wide variety of styles and registers, bringing together Team Real - contra-bass clarinet, contra-alto clarinet, English horn, alto sax, electric guitar, lap steel, fretless and acoustic slide guitars, sitar, bass, hammered dulcimer, kalimba, voice, whistling, piano, drums and percussion, with Team circuits - synthesizers, computer percussion, performance interface for modules and controllers, voice controlled synthesizer, super monophonic vocoder, finger controlled horns, processing and effects, with Team Third Body - field recordings and an embalming machine with tape FX. Every record Steve has made for us so far has investigated some new musical possibility, or technology, tackling different musical problems, so it’s impossible to compare them; they just accumulate as a set greater than the sum of its parts. On Universal he gets to unite broad structural ideas with a deep focus on the phenomenologically local, making the journey enigmatic but, on occasion sublime: at the very least a research paper for the sonically curious. Particularly eloquent for me are The Great Attractor, Fly By, Back Home on Mars and Space Pod Dreams. Steve’s work doesn’t really ‘fit’ anywhere, but it’s a hymn to restless investigation, high focus on detail and inspired interpretation.