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Stephan Thelen

Fractal Guitar 3

Review by Gary Hill

Stephan Thelen music is always high quality. It's also always interesting. I think this might be my favorite release from him, though. The music has a 80s to modern era King Crimson vibe to a large degree. It also has symphonic and cinematic angles, along with moments that feel electronic. Like space music, this often evolves slowly, but surely. All in all, this is a classy set of instrumental music.

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Track by Track Review
Through the Stargate
The album opens with a nearly 16-and-a-half-minute epic. This rises up with some noisy vibes and drives outward from there getting quite intense as it does. This works through a number of changes, but they tend to be gradual. There are some decidedly spacey parts of this. It gets into some trippy mellower electronic zones later, and then works toward ambience from there. A symphonic movement that feels both menacing and symphonic brings a cinematic texture to the ending. Some more pure symphonic mellow sounds make up the actual closing.
Morning Star
At nearly ten-minutes long, this would be the epic on many albums. Here, it's the second shortest piece. This rises up gradually with mellow space-based sounds driving it. The cut works to an intriguing groove in a very measured way. It gets harder rocking at times. There are hints of King Crimson-like sound on this.
This is the shortest piece here, and it's over nine-and-a-half minutes long. It feels a lot like Discipline-era King Crimson, but with some 70s electronic textures added into the mix. This is quite a moving song, and it manages to cover quite a bit of territory.
The mellow tones that bring this in definitely make me think of the mellower side of the Discipline-era of King Crimson. I'm thinking specifically of "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)." Gradually the track starts moving in more rocking ways. It gets pretty intense and driving before its over.
Black on Electric Blue
There is definitely a symphonic and menacing vibe to this track as it gets going. It has some cool King Crimson-like rhythmic grooves. This eventually works out into some pretty heavy and intense stuff, but it drops late to ambience that takes the track out.
Bonus Track


Through the Stargate (J. Peter Schwalm mix / edit)

This version of the cut shares much with the original recording. Of course, that makes sense. This feels a little more immediate and direct.

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