Under the Dome

Under the Dome features Grant Middleton and Colin Anderson on assorted synthesizers and guitars. The duo are based in Scotland and have appeared on several CD anthologies and released two acclaimed full-length studio albums: The Demon Haunted World (1998) and Bellerophon (2002) as well as Wot No Colin?; a live album which was released at their 13 September 2003 concert in Philadelphia. 
Under the Dome
Under the Dome - Bellerophon

Artist: Under the Dome
P: 2002
Deep analogue sounds abound on 'Liquid Sky'. Even though atmospheric it literally fizzes with pent up energy. Solar winds blow through the ether. The scene is set for 'Launch'- a sequencer driven stormer. And what sequences! A bass laden one thunders forth while a bubbly melodic one bounces over the top at 100 miles an hour. It's a track which works on every level, even the lead line is sensational. We are now in space, 'Drift' taking us on a beautiful relaxing journey through the cosmos. Darker drones take over on 'The Long Rain'. A little melodic tinkling sequence starts up as do yet more deep bass pulsations which make the floor shake. The tension is incredible but the pace sedate. I constantly expected things to explode but the awesome energy is kept on a tight leash. Vast pads swell like a wave swamping the sequences before they spontaneously combust. We finish on a more tranquil footing. Swirling atmospherics dominate the short 'Sun Dome' acting like a bridge to the melodically beautiful 'Return'. A rapid 'sequence', sounding like a lead line in its own right pulls at the heartstrings as does the stunning main melody. The sounds swell becoming rather euphoric before fading away to silence out of which the deepest and most awesome bass sequence emerges- could this have been responsible for the recent earthquakes in Manchester? More majestic lead lines are then brought in and I found myself pumping up the volume. Calmness returns for 'Nightfall'. Soft pads are punctuated by water droplet piano notes. More bass rumbles get 'Event Horizon' underway. It's like feeling the aftershock of some cosmic detonation. A massive wave of sound hits then slowly fades into the distance. Another bass sequence starts up then descends to almost below hearing though you will still feel its power. It momentarily disappears only to return with added vigour accompanied by yet another sequence just as uncompromising as the first. This track oozes malevolent power more than any other I have heard - it's quite an experience and not for the faint hearted but boy is it exciting! 'C-57D' is again melodic. This time it's an electric guitar which creates the melody. Another fantastic sequence joins the game and the lead is taken over by conventional synth. The sound chosen is exquisite overflowing with power but also emotion as it builds to epic proportions. It's really something of an anthem which is sure to be the highlight of every live performance they do from now on. 'Atair IV' swirls with sci fi type effects as if a spacecraft is landing followed by sounds of a strange planet. You can easily imagine the scene on the front cover. We finish with another sequencer romp 'Solar Gravity'. Actually on much of this album to call what you hear as sequences is so inadequate. It's as if Under the Dome are literally able to control thunder putting devastating power into every note, shifting it this way and that, obeying their every whim. As for the lead line- it's another corker. There isn't one meandering moment on the album. Each lead is exquisitely constructed, scorching, menacing or even very occasionally tender. It's as if the Gods themselves are hurtling bolts of pure energy. Inevitably the CD finishes with a massive explosion as the album goes super nova.This is a stunning album. It contains those trademark UTD style sequences as found on their first but it also shows a great deal of maturity, light and shade if you like. Equal attention is paid to the atmospheres and textures which balance the stormers. It also comes over as something of a concept album, right down to the early sci fi imagery of the artwork (think of Forbidden Planet).

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Under the Dome - Colin Woz Ere

Artist: Under the Dome
P: 2005
The first seven tracks were taken from their 'Gatherings' concert in the US 1n 2003.
'Meet Me In St Mary's' is basically an introduction of the band by the host 'Chuck van Zyl'. The first track proper is the fantastic 'Launch'. The sound of a space ship engine firing up gets things going then a ball breaking sequence blasts us off. A second splashing sequence engages the warp drive. Wonderful lead lines, some quite different to the album version, act like wondrous stellar visions seen from our craft's observation deck. Warp nine is reached as a rhythm materializes in the middle of the mix. Gentle guitar refrains float from the speakers as 'Dream Sequence' gets underway. This is a track which hasn't appeared on either of the band's studio albums. The sequence powers up, acting like a lead line in its own right, twisting this way and that wonderfully.
Bass pulsations let rip in almost Dr Who fashion for 'The Bridge'. This has always been an awesomely powerful track but during the gig they really let rip with some excellent electric guitar pyrotechnics courtesy of Colin giving that extra oomph. 'Event Horizon' is very different to the album version, with an even darker and moodier start than ever before. The sequence arrives after about a minute, as bass laden as in the previous track, rolling forward with steamroller power, explosions erupting in the background. This sense of power continues right through to 'Hell'. A synth lead line fairly bounces over the top then the guitar echoes it. Things build to awesome proportions, the synths and guitar dueling against each other as we go. 'Solar Gravity' is appropriately rather cosmic but also rather haunting, again very different to the album version. The sequences do of course break through mixing with the guitar lead perfectly. Things then start to go really ape and we end with the inevitable explosion.
The next two tracks were completely new to this album and haven't appeared on any other album since. 'Sodium Lite' starts with a slow brooding sequence which morphs wonderfully until a second sequence falls into formation. A bass pulse acts almost like an excited heartbeat. 'Philadelphia Experiment' is straight into sequence after sequence each bouncing off the other whilst melodic pads whoosh in and out of the mix. A lovely retro sounding lead line completes the picture. On the original 'Colin Woz Ere' the album finished with a twenty minute interview. Instead of that on this album we get three tracks from Under The Dome's 2005 National Space Centre performance and other than on the 'Virtual Ticket' to that event see the light of day for the first time. 'The Forest Road' is all new music and has never appeared on any other Under The Dome album before. Another slow deep bass pulse reverberates from the speakers. A mournful lead line cries out. It is all rather Tangerine Dream 'Sorcerer' sounding. A brighter sequence makes its entrance as the track gradually builds to become a melodic stunner. I believe that this is the most recently composed UTD track and if so it makes me completely desperate for the new album (which unfortunately isn't even on the drawing board yet). Speaking of melodic stunners though they really don't get much better than 'Return'. The sequence and lead line combination are exquisite, talking to one's very soul. When the second lead comes in simple words such as beautiful seem so inadequate. We finish this incredible album with the rather tranquil 'The Long Rain'.

Tracks 1-7 recorded live at The Gathering on September 13th 2003.
Tracks 8 & 9 recorded at Dome Studios North.
Tracks 10-12 recorded live on September 17th 2005.

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Under the Dome - Dome Roots Collection

Artist: Under the Dome
P: 2003
Ciaran Rooney joins Grant on the simply awesome opener 'Unit 2'. How dare Grant keep it hidden way from us for so long! A lovely deep lead line gets things underway then a classic mid 70's sequence literally thunders forth. Virtual guitar takes lead duties from time to time but other great stabs of wonderful analogue sounds are also used to fantastic effect. It's a hell of a way to start the album, 100% intense, 110% retro heaven.
Next up is the only track here which wasn't recorded pre- 'The Demon Haunted World' as it is a version of 'Flussiger Vier-Takter' the boys recorded for me for a project I had in mind which simply never happened. They have called it the 'Radioscope edit' though it sounds more like a re- recording. This time stunning electric guitar replaces the piano of the original giving a much more powerful, meaner edge. It particularly lets rip near the end. There are also additional lead lines from the fifth minute making an already exciting track even more so.
'Driftwood' gives us a little rest from the awesome mayhem of the first two numbers as we gently float on soft pads, wonderfully overlaid with an almost throbbing bass drone over the top giving added depth. 'All in A Mouse's Flight' has had an official release before but only on a very rare various artists promo given away many years ago to members of teh label. It takes us back to Tangerine Dream sequencer driven territory. Again the sound chosen for the sequence is extremely ballsey. It rumbles along quite nicely as lead lines weave their magic over the top. 'Metropolis' was recorded on a Roland 100m modular. Wailing sounds moan over the top as thick shimmers emerge from the gates of hell. A sequence, sounding more like an alarm siren is added and ominous bell tones ring out. It's a bit like a much darker version of something from 'Phaedra'.
'Strange Attractor' stands up as a track in its own right but Grant later used it as the basis for the middle section of 'The Aeon's Day'. The pattern of the sequence is similar but the sound chosen for it is a little different. It's basically a no holds barred sequencer romp being much greater in the power department than subtlety. 'The Messenger' on the other hand has a bit of a Tangerine Dream film music quality to it and like the preceding track was also used as the basis for some of the mammoth 'The Aeon's Day'. The last track is the fantastic 23 minute 'Half A Lifetime' and again I can't believe how Grant has managed to keep such a superb track under wraps for so long. It heavily features David McGibbon and is again very 70's Tangerine Dream influenced. A haunting lead line emerges from a rather abstract beginning. Things become quite gentle, beautiful even. A delicate electric guitar lead line emerges in the fifth minute over a deep dark drone. Then in comes the sequence- as always from Under the Dome its superb having a rumbling bass quality to it. It gradually increases in intensity, other electronic touches and stabs adding details here and there. Guitar is again added in the eleventh minute, little runs of notes acting as support and some brighter detail to the all dominating sequence. Things get chaotic in a rather good way with seven minutes to go. It sounds as if planes are screaming through the air crashing to the ground as the sequence becomes even more bass laden. A couple of minutes later we return to the calmness of rolling pads sounding like the breaking of the sea on shore. Through this a beautiful acoustic guitar melody emerges being in contrast to all that has gone before and extremely effective as a result.

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Under the Dome - Live@Hampshire Jam 7

Artist: Under the Dome
P: 2008
A pristine recording of Under the Dome's appearance at Hampshire Jam 7. Plenty of live variation and Colin's sublime guitar work feature during this superb hour-long set.
Grant Middleton - synths
Colin Anderson - guitar

 

 

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Under the Dome - Over the Pond

Artist: Under the Dome
P: 2003
This disc was recorded in the studios of WXPN in Philadelphia. They played two hour-long sets on Chuck van Zyl's Star's End radio show in the early hours of Sunday 14th September 2003. The best moments from those sessions have been condensed into this album.
A very special release which encompasses the best from UtD's appearance on Chuck van Zyl's Star's End radio show in the early hours of Sunday 14th September 2003. The cover is great, mimicking TD's legendary 'Encore'. First thing to say is that UtD produced music for the show which was very much in tune with the late hour at which it was broadcast, so don't expect traditional UtD fayre. But do expect a release of the very highest calibre.
The set opens with 'The Rhode Ahead' which is a delightful section played on a electric piano voice. The melody is subtle and brilliant, the atmosphere generated is perfect for (as the track suggests) the journey ahead. Next we get an 11 and a half minute piece called 'Wired Beneath the Hot Spot' which rides in on a syncopating sequence. Through headphones the stereo really plays tricks with the ears. This sequence remains the focal point, allowed to flourish in isolation for a significant period, but is does the job wonderfully well because it constantly mutates in shape and sound. Eventually subtle synth lines tentatively join in, but they are pitched carefully to meld with the overall nature of the piece. Latterly a choir style voice is utilised, again to great effect. I would have been happier had this track been 5 minutes shorter, but that's mainly because I can't wait to get to the next pieces which are breathtaking. 'Careful With That Patch, Jolene' features a steady, brooding, pulsing sequence backed by classic retro synth voices. The feeling of mid 70's TD is captured perfectly, and again a great facet of the track is the melodic content, deftly delivered via subtle riffs and themes. Again the clock runs to 11 and a half minutes but this time it's over in a flash, the piece slowly building anticipation which is delivered in exceptional style with 'Thunder Over City Hall'. The way the sequence emerges from the previous track and builds into a rampant wall of pulsations is pure genius. And the way it is achieved without the use of multiple layers is amazing. And to top it all we get the trademark UtD rasping synth theme thrown in for good measure. And the form continues right into 'Love Park', this time the sequence is transposed to produce an even higher melodic air. This is sensational stuff! Proceedings are then wound down and the melody picked out on electric piano. Cue shivers down the spine.
'Espresso Shake' is another sequence/synth delight, and the way all the sounds seem to shift and mutate constantly is fascinating. This is perhaps the most recognizable UtD section so far, whereas 'White Dog' is exactly the opposite. Minimalist atmospherics of the highest merit, it's a beautifully pitched piece which sent the tone for the very Eno-esqu 'Title10' which in the same vein as Eno's 'An Ending (Ascent)' deserves to be heard on TV far and wide. The guitar treatments are quite simply gob smacking. 'Beast in the Cellar' is another atmospheric piece but has a more edgy nature, leaving 'Morning Glory' to end with more of those brilliant guitar effects, touch of Vangelis too. The music brilliantly evokes images of the sun rising after a doomy night.

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Under the Dome - The Demon Haunted World

Artist: Under the Dome
P: 1998
The opener ‘Flüssuger Vier-Takter’ opens with a ticking clock closely followed by an acoustic guitar/piano section. This proves a brief lull before the storm however, which engulfs the scene in the form of a wall of classic analog sequencing. Insistent synth themes pursue the sequential trail which gathers momentum as it charts its relentless path. It’s classic EM in every sense and those in tune with this style will by now be settling back confident in the knowledge that this is an album which will enjoy many hours basking under their CD’s laser. The sequences fade to herald a return to piano themes.
‘The Aeon’s Day’ opens with dense pads and well placed effects which thin out at 3 minutes to usher in the sequence. Yet again its a superbly constructed rhythm embellished by bright synth themes which form an unlikely but hugely effective partnership with the moodier sequences. Another pleasing aspect is the subtle way emphasis switches between the sequences and synth lines, underlined at the 9 minute mark as the pulsations mutate and settle into a holding pattern allowing the lead lines to undergo a complimentary shift. At 15 mins the sequences fade leaving beautiful and poignant flute refrains to build anticipation again. That anticipation is duly rewarded in the shape of an explosive sequence which crashes onto the scene and transcends the piece to even greater heights. The supplemental patterns are also a joy to behold and the thematics are tremendous. Perhaps the highlight of the album.
‘The Bridge’ opens with atmospherics and then optimistic refrains which hint at sections of ‘Rubycon’. At 6 minutes the sequential wall hits home and again it’s another blistering section. Discordant synth-guitar style textures portray a harder edge and contrast well with previous sections providing balance and variety, and the overall result brings to mind TD in ‘Pergamon Part 2’ form.
Finally ‘Hell’ and at a touch under 24 minutes this is a substantial track in every respect. Surging synth pads open proceedings and a variety of motifs add detail before the touch paper is lit at the 7 minute mark. Sequencing is undoubtedly a strong feature of this album and the expert construction here does nothing to diminish that statement. Synth themes ebb and flow as different elements are introduced to ensure momentum is maintained. At 15 mins the sequences fade to be replaced by a collection of the choicest cameo roles - I picked up shades of Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond Pt 2’ and Vangelis’s ‘Spiral’ - before sequencing is reintroduced to bring the track to a close in fine style.
This is a marvellous debut album in every sense and a must for collectors of quality EM.

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Under the Dome - Wot no Colin?

Artist: Under the Dome
P: 2003
It combines tracks from both the Hampshire Jam 2 and National Space Centre performances played completely live without any pre-recorded backing. There are two new numbers plus the sequencer dominated tracks from 'The Demon Haunted World' and 'Bellerophon', most of the pieces running into each other without a break. Indeed it is a sequencer fest to end all sequencer fests!   Unfortunately Colin Anderson was not present on either of these recordings (thus the title) therefore the remaining band member Grant Middleton needed some assistance. Paul Nagle, Andy Bloyce (from Kubusschnitt) and Steve Jenkins were drafted in to help and because of the new line ups the tracks have quite a different 'feel' to the album versions. The sequences tend to be 'bigger', the mood meaner and melodies more intense, sometimes quite markedly so. What you don't get on this CD is drift; it is power EM almost all the way through. An example of the added oomph can be heard straight away with the opener 'Launch' sporting a new and additional rhythm which drives it forward with even more energy than on the original (which was pretty awesome anyway). 'Return' is extended by about 75%. The sounds used on the main melody sound quite a bit different making things seem more joyous and triumphant than before and a completely new more moody ending is added.

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V/A - GoldTri Volume One

Artist: Various Artists
P: 1998
LTD 500
This compilation GoldTri: what mean as "Golden Triangle" was released as limited edition 500pcs. on March 21, 1998, for the Alfa-Centauri festival in Huizen (The Netherlands)
and for that time all tracks was previously unreleased.


Here the last copy!

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Various Artists - Harmonized

Artist: Air Sculpture, Asana, Under the Dome,
Paul Nagle

P: 1999
'Harmonized' contains an otherwise unavailable track each by Airsculpture, Under The Dome and Asana plus the title track from 'Lore' by Paul Nagle plus another track each by Airsculpture, Under The Dome and Asana which are already available.
I.o.w. there are seven tracks in total on the CD. Total running time 69.52 minutes. The sampler comes in a jewelcase with really nice artwork.
This sampler is a solid showcase of the talented artists assembled on the Neu Harmony label, including Asana, Airsculpture, Paul Nagle, and Under the Dome. There are two tracks by each artist, with the exception of Nagle, whose 16-minute title track from Lore is featured.
Asana's "Re-Embodiment" is a fine starter, establishing the label's trademark modern electronic sound. Things then really kick into high gear with "Launch," a previously unreleased track from Under the Dome. High energy sequencers galore, this song will strongly appeal to Jean-Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream fans. Next comes "Pogofish," one of my favorite tracks from Airsculpture's "Thunderhead" CD.
Asana's second featured track on the CD, "Gold," starts with some surprisingly straightforward guitars. Though this song plays more like an instrumental rock song than the others, it is very good, and not at all out of place.
To my knowledge, Airsculpture's "Translucent Edge" is only available on this CD, so their fans will want to check out this thoroughly enjoyable 11-minute ride through their trademark display of energetic sequencers.
As near as I can tell, the songs that appear elsewhere are in their original versions here. It would have been nice to have alternative versions or remixing to make this more of a standalone compilation. If you already own Neu Harmony releases, you are probably going to already have several of these songs. Still, it is a solid overview of the material the label offers.

1999. © Phil Derby / Wind and Wire

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