Vapourspace - Sonic residue from Vapourspace - 2002


Magna Carta is an interesting American label that mostly represents the current leading edge of prog metal. With "Sonic Residue From Vapourspace", the label seems inexplicably to explore the world of trance, dance and Electronica. This a compilation of various bands on the label, each represented by re-mixes, variations or special songs for the collection.


To me, Electronica can be one huge step away from the prog rock genre, and even further from the prog metal scene. The extreme difference comes from the fact that prog metal is an extremely hand-crafted approach to music, focusing mainly on musical virtuosity while Electronica has an essential "let the machines/computer do it" approach.

It seems that all the artists represented here wanted to do this because there seems an absolute commitment to the Electronica style with each song. Not being a fan of Electronica, it is almost impossible to offer an unbiased opinion of this album.

The first semblance of any melody comes with track 3, Steve Morse's "Led On". Explorer's Club offers vocals and acoustic guitar and variations on popular themes. It perhaps can be considered the most creative approach but the conflicting elements seem to be at odds.

The disk is interesting in that Liquid Tension Experiment -normally a bombardistic group- sound very mellow on their track "Osmosis". The employment of human percussion and acoustic instruments is again a welcome element to this song. They provide a second atmospheric piece called "Melt" later on in the disk.

Kansas' Steve Walsh provides a vocal track called -fittingly- "Kansas". This is more minimalism here than electronica and the song displays ample emotion, considering the genre. It's certainly an interesting track.

The rest of the material found on this disk left me cold. I suppose there are artists out there trying to perfect the genre of Electronica and must utilize some skill in doing so. The bands featured here - Attention Deficit, Niacin, Steve Morse, Explorer's Club, Liquid Tension Experiment, Bozzio Levin Stevens, Steve Walsh and Tempest - all do something better. They rock. By the end of this disk, I was dying to hear the wail of an angry guitar, the sharp kick of a snare drum, or the heavy thump of a bass pedal.


While I agree atmosphere should be an important aspect of all good music, in Electronica atmosphere seems to be a contrived, yet ambivalent BI-product of experimentation. The tracks here offer - at times - interesting exploratory techniques. Even for Electronica, there can a progressive tendency. However, the genre is a limited one. And to my mind, its place in progressive rock can be ultimately questioned.

author - date - rating - label

Richard Zywotkiewicz - May 2002 -   - Magna Carta