"...jazz-inflected, often minimalistic...foreboding soundscapes...classy
...offers mature musicianship without pretentiousness"|
- John Collinge - Progression (US)
"..intense and blistering lead work...amazing loops and shimmering
textures that are at once haunting and dreamlike...worthy of
- Peter Thelen - Expose (US)
"...an impressively performed
foray into progressive music."
- Music Monthly (US)
"This is a rare example of a rock band whose extended solos are a
- Mark Jenkins - The Washington Post (US)
"...delivers what the demanding progressive rock fan wants: a unique and
original product, dexterity, a sharp musical flair and the ability to play
with the listener's emotions."
- Cyclone Magazine (Quebec)
"I'm blown away. This is - forgive my colloquialism
- some serious shit. ...an absolutely
- Larry Nai - Progression - (US)
- The Gentle Art of Firewalking
- Music Monthly (Vol. 19, No. 2):
Another Maryland based band is the Dark Aether Project, an ever-mutating
musical entity founded by touch-style guitarist Adam Levin in 1997... In
October the band settled into Levin's home studio in Severn, MD to record
their third CD, The Gentle Art Of Firewalking. It's an impressive album
that pulls on influences such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd and the
Mahavishnu Orchestra. Joining Levin on the eight song disc (four are
vocals, and four are instrumentals) are Allen Brunelle (drums/keyboards/
background vocals), Jennifer Huff (vocals), John McCloskey (guitars), and
Marty Salerra [sp: "Saletta"] (keyboards, stick), making The Gentle Art Of
Firewalking an impressively performed foray into progressive music.
Click here for the review
- Prog Archives
Click here for the review
- Traverses (France)
Click here for the review
Click here for the review
- Feed the Silence
- Progression: The Journal of Progressive Music - Issue 31:
The Dark Aether Project: Feed The Silence (CD, 51:57); Dark Aether DAP2.
It took about eight minutes before I was convinced that Dark Aether Project was
onto something with their second disc, but convinced I remained. They open with
what sounds like a sample from an old atomic-bomb scare documentary, out of
which comes a heavy wave of wind. A Floyd-ish keyboard figure emerges, then
leaves as, even more in the Pink, guitarists Adam Levin and Yaman Aksu play a
wonderfully spacey duet, one flanged, the other more pointed, sustained. Aksu
switches to Hammond organ, Brian Griffin kicks in with nicely restrained
drumming, and by this time I'm blown away. This is - forgive my colloquialism
- some serious shit.
"Nightmare" has Levin dragging a Warr 8 String Touch Guitar loop across a
"Not Fade Away" riff variant, in a lumbering dance groove that supports
strong melodies, and a compelling vocal line sung by Ray Weston, ex of
Echolyn. "Stages" cites Three of a Perfect Pair-era Crimson, but takes
the influence into some interestingly different areas over its near nine-minute
length. The band's ability to balance written material with kick-ass
jamming fervor is very apparent in this piece. Warr loops are back on "Building
the Worm" as Levin provides some beautiful space for he and fellow Warr Touch
player Markus Reuter to land on, circle each other in a pas-de-deux of
wild serenity, and end with a touch that'll take your breath away.
Convinced yet? Weston's voice gets a marvelous showcase on the title track,
with imaginitive vocal writing, and some hair-raising, Jim Morrison-like
screams. Feed the Silence also shows the band to be very adept at
developing long-form compositions, with a harmonic distinctiveness and
sensitivity to mood that recalls the late-1960s West Coast band Love.
A nine-minute, live bonus-track, "Out of the Dark/Dark Aether" (I love a
band with a theme song) opens in outer space, wah-wah'd, fuzzed out, and
all but strained through a Leslie. Around three and a half minutes, there's
a tantalizing hint of a move into tempo, but drummer Brian Griffin delays
gratification for a while, finally ushering in a huge bass figure around
which the loops bob and weave. The performance ends just as it began, Aksu
and Levin sparring, circling, throwing flames of electricity at each other.
The tune also shows that these guys can reproduce their studio genius with
satisfying accuracy onstage.
Dark Aether Project hits a lot of progressive rock pleasure points with
Feed the Silence, but make no mistake: this is not another derivative
band with little new to say. They are there, Bud, and this is an absolutely
fabulous album. Go for it. - Larry Nai
- The Washington Post - Friday, Jun 25th 1999:
Essentially an instrumental trio, the Dark Aether Project draws on the style
of latter-day King Crimson, especially in the percussive playing of guitarists
Yaman Aksu and Adam Levin. The latter uses a Warr Touch guitar-bass,
an eight-string instrument that requires no picking, so he can play separate
parts with alternate hands. Ray Weston adds vocals to two of the six
tracks on the Maryland group's "Feed the Silence," but even those are
designed principally to showcase Levin, Aksu and drummer Brian Griffin.
There's plenty of room to do that, since the average length of these
compositions is almost nine minutes. The music is most engaging at its most
Crimson-like, notably the chiming, cyclical "Stages." Elsewhere, the band
shows a weakness for bombast, from the sci-fi-soundtrack overture of
"Building the Worm" to the rock-operatic balladry of the title track, which
suggests Yes fronted by Roger Daltrey. This is a rare example of a rock
band whose extended solos are a strong point. - Mark Jenkins
- The Dark Aether Project
- Expose - Issue 15, July 1998:
Dark is right, but not in a conventional sense. This trio of stick, guitars
and drums plays a very direct and oft-times sparse music that seems to be
vaguely under the influence of eighties King Crimson. DAP guitarist Yaman
Aksu either plays it straight with no effects, or craftily treated for some
intense and blistering lead work. Stick player Adam Levin does a commendable
job at the high end adding texture to the sound, and at the bottom end
providing contour and dimension to the rhythmic patterns with drummer Brian
Griffin. In addition, Levin creates some amazing loops and shimmering textures
that are at once haunting and dreamlike as on "Heavens Descent". Guest
vocalist Jason Wilson (Emerald Tiers) joins the project on three of the discs
seven tracks, and breaks up the otherwise intense block of instrumental
material in a good way that makes it overall more accessible. There is
some uncredited sax and trumpet work (samples maybe) that punctuates several of the tunes,
but otherwise it's just the trio. "Bitter Harvest", the final vocal tune,
opens with some nice acoustic work by Yaman, later augmented by some
intense electric textural development. The closer is an unlisted eleven
minute track consisting of three or four loosely structured improvs
spliced together, nothing stellar mind you, but not a bad way to end the
album either. In all this is a solid first effort, worthy of attention. - Peter Thelen
- The Washington Post - Friday, July 3rd 1998
Click here to read a joint review of Anekdoten's Live CD and The Dark Aether Project's debut CD.
- Progression: The Journal of Progressive Music - Volume II, Number 26:
The Dark Aether Project: The Dark Aether Project (CD, 43:00); independent release DAP1.
This Baltimore-area trio - Adam Levin, stick/loops; Yaman Aksu, guitar; and Brian Griffin, percussion - appears to draw inspiration from the Robert Fripp/King Crimson/Guitar Craft tradition in this seven-track debut. The overall tone is jazz-inflected, often minimalistic progressive, altered by two foreboding soundscape cuts: the title track and "Heaven's Descent."
Emerald Tiers vocalist Jason Wilson guests on "Out of My Head," "In Memory Of..." and "Bitter Harvest," while uncredited trumpet and sax players add color. Highlights to these ears include the exotic, ethnically tinged guitar solo on "Zenne" and the surprisingly uplifting lyrical message of "In Memory Of...," an ode to perseverence.
This album has a classy, homemade feel that offers mature musicianship without pretentiousness. A good first outing. - John Collinge
- CFLX 99.5 FM Quebec's Delire Musical Monthly Report - March 1998:
- "THE DARK AETHER PROJECT vient de lancer son premier CD, autoproduit. Un trio formé à la fin de 1997 par Adam Levin (stick), le groupe a rapidement évolué et
présente un mélange de psychédélique, de progressif et de soundscapes. Les compositions varient des envolées crimsoniennes aux improvisations avec boucles rappelant
certains soundscapes. Jason Wilson (de Emerald Tiers) chante sur quelques pièces."
- Roughly translated: "THE DARK AETHER PROJECT has just launched its first self-produced CD. A trio formed at the end of 1997 by Adam Levin (stick), the group evolved
quickly and presents a mixture of psychedelic, progressive and soundscapes.
The compositions vary with flights of crimson-ish improvisations with loops
pointing out some soundscapes. Jason Wilson (of Emerald Tiers) sings on some