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Album Review

Stoneface & Terminal are a German producer/DJ duo consisting of Matthias Gierth and Henry Nix, who prior to this release, in 2005, garnered lots of attention with the European club hit "Incognition/Drowning Sunlight" (with fellow German Ronski Speed). Both sides of that hit make this collection, which is their debut full-length, and in revised, "special" versions on Wide Range one can certainly hear the appeal of the tracks. (A version of "Venus" had also appeared previously and prominently, in 2006, on one of European trance tastemaker Armin van Buuren's compilations.) Stoneface & Terminal produce electronica fare that is very accessible, extremely melodic, and not overly beat-heavy, and there is a lot of attention to the high end: the orchestral touches, plunks of piano, and melody lines. This is definitely music of the "trance" ilk, but it is often quite emotive and euphoric in approach, and not simply mindless throb. "Drowning Sunlight" could conceivably be a pop hit. ("St. Francis Foley" even has a hint of a latter-day New Order remix.) The pretty "Incognition," reels out its celestial melody on wordless, syncopated voice echoes, while "Arrival" generates a great deal of excitement with its crystalline washes and pretty throb. And therein lies the appeal of Stoneface & Terminal: because they are so concerned with creating melodic and pretty soundscapes — and because they do it well — this is the kind of electronica album that isn't prohibitive to outsiders, or to the kind of listening that might happen outside the club and away from the stacks of speakers. The duo also chooses some fine vocalists to round out the tracks, including newcomer Sylvia Brandse (on "Drowning Sunlight"), Dutch singer Denise Rivera, and the Los Angeles-based Alexander Perls.

Wide Range, Stoneface
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