Expanses Remixes by The Green Kingdom

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The Green Kingdom | Expanses Remixes
Dronarivm (2xCD/DL)Michael Cottone has been steadily releasing albums of ambient electronic music under the guise of The Green Kingdom for many years.  Five years ago he issued Expanses on the Dronarivm label, his nod to classic ambient techno, with a personal twist of soft beats and gentle guitar strums.  This has now been reissued as a double disc, the second part being a suite of remixes by fellow ambient travelers, and it’s this extra section of new interpretations that I’ll be reviewing here.  Expanses has, well, been expanded.

The album of untitled material begins with a reworking by Fingers In The Noise, who steer very close to Cottone’s brand of pastoral melodic music.  Guitars are looped under atmospherics but it’s the rhythms that take things in a new direction, with the inclusion of beats that wouldn’t sound out of place in a micro house track.  This clicky percussion adds some high end to the warm textures and washes of synths.

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Roel Funcken, no stranger to beats himself, slows things way down on his contribution,  with down tempo rhythms tangled in arps and bright, melodic synth parts that propel along parallel bass lines, hinting at electro.  Halftribe brings the ambient back to the fore, a sustained synth drone and a simple chord melody that sounds lush and emotive. Halftribe released a remarkable album of his own on the Dronarivm label last year, and is an ideal artist to reimagine Cottone’s work.

Tobias Hellkvist is known for his slow-burning drone works, and he applies this to his remix, but after a few minutes the track builds in intensity and a strong pulse becomes a propulsive beat.  Philadelphia’s ambient trio Hotel Neon offer a respite from the beats, as they conjure a gorgeous and restrained soundscape of rustling textures, guitar drones and found sounds put through long delays.  This is minimal ambient music at its finest, simple but evocative.

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Cottone gets to contribute a remix himself, serving up an “ambimix” of the original material.  It’s sparse, with long guitar lines dissolving over long loops of what sound like processed field recordings.  As the track unfolds, a marimba melody is plucked out and treated guitar parts are reversed and finally overtaken by strings.  Superb stuff.

Finally, Warmth offers his remix, and it’s the perfect choice as a closing track for this collection.  His signature sound is present here: deep synth drones cascading into each other, creating dramas in slow motion, the final few minutes becoming deeper and lower in frequency until the tones ebb into an aching silence.

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