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The spirit of improvised EM is alive and well and residing in the British trio Air Sculpture. The three musicians in the band -- Adrian Beasley, John Christian and Peter Ruczynski -- perform their music live in the studio with as little preprogramming or preparation as possible. All of the sequencing is done in "real time", which results in occasional mutations within the sequences. To date they have released 6 CD's, each of them on Dave Law's Neu Harmony label: Impossible Geometries, Attrition System, the live Europa, Thunderhead and the live Fjord Transit and Quark Soup. The last of these is a double album.

Air Sculpture cite 1970s Tangerine Dream as their most significant influence. One can also discern a trace of Klaus Schulze from the same era in the group's music as well. Regardless, this sort of bracketing only gives a vague idea of what Air Sculpture sound like. What they achieve is nothing more than taking the 1970s EM textures and attitudes and running with them to a different destination from where the well-known names from that period wound up. Air Sculpture have been compared to Radio Massacre International and indeed the two bands get along quite well. The only rivalry between them, so says John Christian, is "who can drink the most beer!"

Adrian Beasley and John Christian met while studying at a British university and discovered a mutual interest in Tangerine Dream. Later, they met Peter Ruczynski and discovered that he had the same musical interest that they did. The first Air Sculpture CD, Impossible Geometries, came out in 1995. The album was conceived, recorded and mixed in just one 8-hour studio session. And the result put the trio in the forefront of the "revival" of the improvised, analog style of EM. Peter Ruczynski finds that categorization interesting, because even though Air Sculpture produce music that sounds "analog", almost all of their equipment is digital! As Adrian Beasley once told Synth Music Direct, "When we go into the studio we're not bothered if a synth is shiny and new. We are only interested i n the sounds it can produce." And John Christian's comment is, "You can really reproduce what an analog synthesizer does if the software is clever enough."

1996 saw the release of the highly acclaimed Attrition System. This album contains extracts from three different rehearsal sessions, all done spontaneously in one take, each session lasting one day. The band approached choosing the material as if they were doing so for a live album. Listeners may find some occasional minor recording flaws present, but these certainly do not detract from the beauty, much less the feeling, of the music. And the Sculpture boys did not want to throw away an entire piece on those grounds.

In the liner notes to Attrition System, Air Sculpture express hope that their next "live" album will be performed in front of an audience. Well, in 1997 that hope was realized with the CD Europa. This disc was recorded live at the Alfa Centauri festival in Huizen, Amsterdam on March 1, 1997 and released later in the year. As with Attrition System, no editing or overdubbing was performed post hoc. The performance itself was well received, with some attendees commenting that the musicians got into their sequences a lot quicker than in the past. According to Adrian Beasley, the band had been rehearsing with that in mind. And the results are readily apparent in Europa, a CD whose music is spontaneous yet focused, and also with some incredibly searing melodies.

Also in 1997, Air Sculpture contributed some music to two compilation CD's. The first of these was Truth or Dare, which was the third in Groove Unlimited's series of CD's of X-Files-inspired music. The trio teamed up with Kees Aerts for a track called "Crossing the Road (Running Frog)". (The "Running Frog" refers to the name of the studio where Adrian, John and Peter do most of their recording.) Later that year saw Air Sculpture contribute "Krell Metal" to the sampler CD Is There Anybody Out There?, a disc released jointly by Neu Harmony, Champagne Lake Productions and AD Music, Ltd. and made available for a bargain price.

Building on their live CD, the Sculpture boys released the appropriately titled Thunderhead in 1998. Here the increased focus results in some more turbulent and dynamic sequences than on previous efforts. Even though some minor overdubs and edits were done after the recording, the improvisational basis is left intact. This CD was unveiled at the E-Live festival in Nijmegen, Holland in October 1998 and approximately one out of every 10 attendees purchased it!

Shortly after the release of Thunderhead, Air Sculpture contributed a track to yet another compilation CD, this one called GoldTri: Volume One. Their input was a previously unreleased piece called "Sargasso Sea".

On July 3, 1999 Air Sculpture performed at the Euro-Sonic festival on the island of Valö in Sweden. They recorded the gig and released it as Fjord Transit in October, just in time for another concert of theirs, this time at E-Live. One of the tracks is strangely titled "Traditional Folk Music". Dave Law of Neu Harmony explains it by saying, "I think they just take the piss."

In May 2000, the Sculpture boys performed at Jodrell Bank Planetarium in England. This gig was also recorded and, along with the aforementioned E-Live show, released as a double CD called Quark Soup in the spring of 2001. One might look askance at the tendency of this band to release two consecutive live albums, but since all their music is basically live, it doesn't matter much anyway. The improvisational nature of Air Sculpture is paramount.

Shortly after Quark Soup John Christian recorded a solo track called "Heathkit Interociter" for a various-artists CD called Beyond Me on Neu Harmony. In the liner notes John thanks Adrian Beasley "for unclogging his studio." But this doesn't mean Air Sculpture is breaking up, however. The band continues to perform live in England whenever possible.

 

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