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Illusions of Move - Chapter Red

Starfish Pool

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Album Review

Part of a series of titles under the Illusions of Move rubric, The Golden Cycle continues Lybaert's dual fascination with rhythm and, for this sequence in particular, color. The Golden Cycle itself features Lybaert working mainly with two collaborators, Chantal Yzermans in New York City and Esther Santoyo in Mexico City, both of whom contribute found sound recordings. Rather than aiming at a consistent fourth world style of avant-garde jazz/electronics, for all the city themes and occasional explorations of darker sonics, Lybaert creates some fine variety, with serener numbers suggesting the early-'90s ambient techno of Biosphere and similar acts. Nothing is in-your-face or explosive, neither is it explicitly doom-laden in overall approach — subtlety is the key here, both in music and in singing. The singing, mostly by Laura Rebutinni and Ivy Smits — both have attractive voices, gently smoky and passionate — softly echoes through their respective songs, gently verging between functioning as another instrument and a more direct clarity. The Smits-sung "Break the Sea Below" is the most conventional song in this regard, a bit of a torch song effort relocated into the future (and, to Lybaert's credit, sounding nothing like a Portishead rip-off). "Hide and Seek" introduces a light, persistent loop, which then continues on the following "Sinked," appearing in slightly different guises but otherwise making for a gently meditative musical core, the more so because it's a synth-tone loop rather than, say, a breakbeat. Where Lybaert does introduce direct percussion beats, again the effect is more implied instead of slammed out of the speakers, the combination of cylical melodies and backgrounds emphasizing the rhythm as much as the drum sounds. 2001 may seem a bit early for the 1993 electronic revival in the end, but Starfish Pool make a good case for such a thing here.


Formed: 1993 in Belgium

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Belgian acolyte of dark ambience Koen Lybaert formed Starfish Pool after an unsuccessful stint in a noise-rock combo called Starfish Enterprises. As guitarist in the original group, Lybaert gradually moved away from rock and into electronic composition, dissolving Starfish after several years and reworking an old band piece into his solo debut, 1994's Chill Out'N Confused. Along with occasional help from DJ PH (an associate also affiliated with Starfish's Nova Zembla label), Lybaert issued two EPs...
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Illusions of Move - Chapter Red, Starfish Pool
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