Synergy 2002 / Esoteric 2017
Rest with a twist: Crystal Machine lands in the heart of the Pyrenees to transmit sonic pictures to the outside world.
Commissioned by the Caldea Spa center in Andorra, this is an unusual album for an artist whose cosmic aspirations have always offset tranquility with intrepid charge into the unknown. Yet maybe that request to write music for the resort was the unknown for Tim. It’s something as far removed from his stints in GONG and HAWKWIND as possible but just as alien in earthly ways – albeit, Blake being Blake, crystalline vistas of the healing place, refracted through the veteran’s imagination, gave birth to much more than a simple landscape designed for listening and letting go of worries.
Less adventurous in sonic terms than his previous opuses, the suite is performed solely on a less varied synthesizers set than Tim’s usual keyboards rig, but while fitting into new-age category, it rarely exudes relaxation and oozes class instead. Like the resort’s premises outer look, the sounds of opener “Caldea” are glassy, or even glacial, as the piece’s piano chords create a foundation for reflective ripples of aural rays over which Blake’s fingers paint, in broad strokes, a multi-layered melody – folk-inspired if gloriously ethereal. Further down the line, “Floating”- that features Christian Boule’s glissando guitar – is a pellucid, stricken with eerily warm effects, yet almost static, although ever-shifting, image of the compound’s inner sanctuary.
Still, it’s 20-minute “The Great Pool” that takes pride of place in the spa – and on the record: the tune’s glimmering snippets dance around in slow, cinematic motion but remain elusive nevertheless, and the futility of effort to focus on the epic’s details is gradually becoming the source of mental balance. This is the album’s ultimate point, such a hypnotic immersion in one’s own soul via translucent structures, tentative instrumental voices and hazy buzz, and “Across The Sea Of Dreams” – arguably, the only track on display which is pregnant with progressive intent – intensifies it immensely. More sprawling, the ghostly throb and spiritual splinters behind “Jacuzzi Surfing” seem to pacify psyche, only to give way to a new dynamic surge, but Catalan bagpipes and flute inform the finale of “Caldea II” with a sense of time and space, thus ruining the serenity, while lending the music additional gravity.
Don’t be confused by the “II” in the album’s title, by the way: the first record was written by someone else. Tim Blake’s picking it up, made the series special, though.