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  Review 23/Feb/03  
Soundscapes #3 at the Ice House in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on 2-22-03, was another brilliant success. The featured artist was Orbital Decay, a two person electronic music ensemble that plays exquisite evolving sound structures that can best be described as, well, "Soundscapes." Orbital Decay would have been enough, but there was more!


Tom Shaw, an ambient music artist, peformed for about one hour before the concert. His music is certainly not mearly background music to be ignored. Tom Plays the guitar, keyboard and assorted electronic gizmos. He was playing last night with a percussionist whose name I unfortunately didn't get. [Editor's Note: That was Moe Altamuro.] Tom sets up very relaxing ambient textures which are very beautiful. Many people stopped to listen carefully. I hope he performs again at future Soundscapes.

Orbital Decay, Terry Furber on synthesizers and Scott Watkins on electric guitar, has been performing since 1979. Influenced by such bands as Tangerine Dream, Klaus Shulze, and Pink Floyd they have developed their own style of "space music." They performed two wonderful sets. Each set was a contiunous uninterrupted wash of harmonious sounds. Sometimes the music became quite rhythmic. People were tapping their feet and nodding their heads with the beat. I was very pleased that the beats weren't the often-heard drum sounds that less imaginative electronic groups seems to find unavoidable. OD's beats are very pleasant snappy electronic sounds. They appear to be mostly modulated resonant filters, possibly made with Terry's vintage Moog gear.

When Orbital Decay drifted into sections where there was "no beat" we heard deliberate harmonic structures which create very long phrases. These phrases last minutes, not a few seconds as they do in most music. There was more going on than first met the ear. Sometimes there were startling glides, or glissandos, that seemed to bend the sound field. These always resolved in a satisfying way.

Each set lasted about one hour. Afterwards I felt like I had been on a very well guided sonic journey which left me relaxed and refreshed. My wife, Juli, commented that this music reminded her of Indian Ragas. This is right on.

Terry and Scott are mature artists exploring new musical forms with every performance. I look forward to hearing them again.

As has become a fabulous tradition at Soundscapes, Chef Jeff provided a delicous buffet dinner at no charge. He does this because he loves electronic music. It's his way of supporting it. Chef Jeff is a classic patron of the arts.

We should all thank Bill Fox and all the volunteers for their efforts at producing the Soundscapes concerts. For those of us lucky enough to be in Eastern Pennsylvania we are in their debt because Soundscapes greatly contributes to the quality of the artistic life in our community.

As usual, I shot a few photos. I've posted them here. Check out Orbital Decay's web site for more information. In a few days you'll be able to purchase their disks on-line at the electro-music.com on-line store. [Editors note: they are at the store now!]
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