Fax label boss Pete Namlook has already proven that mass does not equal class with his own countless releases, but in the case of the Virtual Voice series with Wolfram Spyra, quality and joy of production do not seem to contradict each other. Episode 4 is not only their most balanced, but also (and perhaps because of that) their best work so far. Both musicians present themselves in a very coordinated dialogue with each other and meet high standards of virtuosity and aesthetics on their latest album.
While Virtual Vices I - III were already of above-average quality, the outstanding strength of this CD lies in the first 4 pieces, which at a good 11 minutes each are not only of equal length but also stylistically very closely related to each other.
to each other. The opening track "Femto" leans atmospherically close to Spyra ́s groundbreaking albums Sferics and Etherlands and leaves an impression of perfection as the last note fades away. Delicate melody lines correspond with cleverly chosen background sounds and are intricately interwoven with originally arranged rhythms. The second track "Sat Mute" reacts thematically very intelligently to the first piece, but has a little more drive and also shows clearer traces of jazz. Then follows "We Don ́t Mind The Rain", which proves in a very appealing way that both artists are also masters of the metier of Rhythm ́n ́ Blues, which gives their music very penetrating and smart accents. Finally, "Sons And Daughters" continues the direction taken by the previous title in a moderate attitude, whereby the stirring but unexcited guitar playing of Pete Namlook, kept discreetly in the background, must be emphasised on both titles, with which some compositions on the first three albums were already decidedly enhanced on the first three albums.
Unfortunately, Namlook and Spyra simply never tire of integrating an extended ambient track on their works. On Virtual Vices I - III this was quite understandable as part of the heterogeneous concept, but here the 17-minute "Philomela Nocturne" at the end of the CD seems like a disturbing foreign body. The first 4 pieces are too closely interwoven for this recording to be an enrichment. With regard to an unadulterated impression, it would even have been more advisable to do without this relic of improvised sound design altogether. Measured by LP standards, around 45 minutes of playing time would then still have been sufficient.
Also, the choice of rhythmic elements sometimes turned out a bit spiky and sharp-edged and the drums would have deserved a bit more fullness. But apart from that, Namlook and Spyra have succeeded in creating four cabinet pieces on Virtual Vices IV, in which they have taken up conventional structures with innovative flair and free spirit and integrated them into a modern electronic language. A benchmark achievement in the chill-out and freestyle genres, which distinguishes the two musicians as gifted innovators.
Stephan Behn (21.11.2002), translated by deepL
Recorded at Klanglabor, Traben-Trarbach.