Exposé Online banner

Marvin Ayres — Neptune
(Burning Shed bshed 0504, 2001/2004, CD)

Marvin Ayres / Pete Gomes — Sensory
(Burning Shed bshed-0704, 2004, DVD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2005-09-01

Neptune Cover artSensory Cover art

Marvin Ayres has a different approach to ambient music, using electric violin, viola, and cello instead of keyboards (with the exception of a bit of organ on one track). I suppose it’s a bit of a stretch to call this ambient music – maybe minimalist is more like it, though he goes in a different direction than Philip Glass. The electric strings are used mostly for long tones, and repetition does not figure prominently, at least not in a rhythmic sense. At times, a single note is sustained for many seconds, with the tone color changing subtly; at other times, layers of notes build up ambiguous tonalities that imply melodies without really stating them. The overtones fit together in such as was as to create the illusion of other instruments, so that sometimes you seem to hear a flute or something else. On “Chanty” the viola plays a plaintive melody backed by echoey notes reminiscent of seagulls. The tempo picks up a bit at the end for “Swell” (all the tracks on Neptune have nautical-related titles), where strangely distorted violins drift in and out of hearing playing fragmented arpeggios. Ayres has an interesting and different take on the usage of electrified string instruments, far removed from what has been heard in progressive rock and jazz fusion; his experiments in texture and tonality provide an interesting variation on the “chill-out” type of current electronic music.

Sensory is an Ayres project in collaboration with video artist Pete Gomes. Three pieces of music designed to be looped endlessly are accompanied by mostly abstract visuals, some computer generated, some manipulated from video of nondescript scenes. It’s not really the sort of thing you sit down and watch, but, in the true tradition of ambient music, you put it on and hear it in the background and glance at the screen from time to time.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 32, 2004 releases, 2001 recordings

Related artist(s): Marvin Ayres

Latest news

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

French TV - Virtue in Futility – French TV hails from Louisville, KY and has a handful of releases to their name since their inception in the early/mid-80s. Led by bassist Mike Sary, they play an aggressive, complex, and somewhat...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues