System 7 ‎– Phoenix

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The title of the opening track Hinotori (火の鳥 - literally "bird of fire") means "phoenix" in Japanese.

Tracklist

System 7 Hinotori 5:45
System 7 With Jam El Mar Space Bird 7:16
System 7 With Slackbaba Scramble 8:13
System 7 With Jam El Mar Masato Eternity 7:17
System 7 Song For The Phoenix 7:52
System 7 With Daevid Allen Strange Beings 5:52
System 7 With Son Kite Chihiro 61298 10:35
System 7 With Mito (4) Makimura - Space Pilot 7:18
System 7 With Eat Static Wolf-Head 8:00
System 7 Hinotori 3:00

Versions (5)

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
AAWCD012 System 7 Phoenix(CD, Album, Enh) A-Wave AAWCD012 UK 2008 Sell This Version
WKYCD013 System 7 Phoenix(CD, Album, Enh) Wakyo Records WKYCD013 Japan 2007 Sell This Version
WKYCD013 System 7 Phoenix(CD, Promo, Smplr) Wakyo Records WKYCD013 Japan 2007 Sell This Version
AAWCD012 System 7 Phoenix(CD, Album, Enh, Unofficial) A-Wave (2), Music Robita (2) AAWCD012 Russia 2008 Sell This Version
AAWCD012 System 7 Phoenix(CD, Promo) A-Wave Records AAWCD012 UK 2008 Sell This Version

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chischis

chischis

April 19, 2012
edited over 4 years ago
referencing Phoenix, CD, Album, Enh, AAWCD012

This was a pleasant surprise. Ever since the very poor Seventh Wave, System 7 has pursued a path of "power trance" that emphasised mindless beats over the synth atmospherics, leads and fantastical "spaces" that Steve was always so fond of.

Phoenix still has heavy trance / techno beats in abundance, but there's a touch more melodics present here than the last few albums and it works wonders. Sometimes.

Hinotori starts things off very well, that rising arpeggio and very simple but effective guitar riffs (when was the last time Hillage tried to write a RIFF on a System 7 tune? Far too damned long ago.) above some spacey trance. The video is gorgeous anime art that works perfectly with it. Chihiro is a touch overlong but a powerful slow-burning trance piece that has some beautiful rises and synthery that falls away in a very blissful way.

I shouldn't like Space Bird, but damn it has one hell of a perfect minimalistic groove. Subtle guitar flecks pepper the tune, and rises and drops are so strong that I'm left feeling its lack of real melodic composition isn't missed all that much in this case. However the best track has to be the absolutely astonishing big-beat piece MakaiMura Space Pilot. Again, more guitar riffs! Very memorable ones too, some great soloing, and some powerful beats and synth work make it immediately the best tune on the album.

The problem is, that's only about a half of Phoenix. The rest of it, Scramble, Wolf Head and the rather poor Strange Beings (Daevid Allen sounds very off the boil here), are undercomposed trance pieces that don't really go anywhere or do much beyond the usual mix tricks and sfx. Song For The Phoenix is a pleasant enough ambient piece though, and any more guitar presence is appreciated amongst all the endless boom boom.

Overall good, a welcome comeback. Occasionally too club-friendly and undercomposed, but worth hunting down. Listening to Up, though, somewhat cements the idea that System 7's best years are well past them, so this was a short-lived return to form at best.
fabriknos

fabriknos

October 8, 2008
referencing Phoenix, CD, Album, Enh, AAWCD012

Steagle's Condensed Review (click "More" for the full one): Like a fine wine, System 7 keeps getting better with age. Phoenix takes the best elements from their last two studio albums - Encantado and Seventh Wave - and adds an even cleaner production quality and increased dancefloor sensibility. Creating music together for almost two decades now, it's clear that these two know exactly what buttons to push (no pun intended). There is a high degree of energy and detail to these tracks and it's hard to sit still during the journey. Like they have always done, Steve & Miquette bring on some new collaborators that compliment their style wonderfully, including the venerable artists Jam El Mar & Eat Static, so as you can expect Phoenix ends up weaving a beautifully diverse tapestry that ranks right up there as one of the best and most complete System 7 releases yet.
fabriknos

fabriknos

October 7, 2008
edited over 6 years ago
referencing Phoenix, CD, Album, Enh, AAWCD012

Like a fine wine, System 7 keeps getting better with age. Phoenix takes the best elements from their last two studio albums - Encantado and Seventh Wave - and adds an even cleaner production quality and increased dancefloor sensibility. Creating music together for almost two decades now, it's clear that these two know exactly what buttons to push (no pun intended). There is a high degree of energy and detail to these tracks and it's hard to sit still during the journey. Like they have always done, Steve & Miquette bring on some new collaborators that compliment their style wonderfully, including the venerable artists Jam El Mar & Eat Static, so as you can expect Phoenix ends up weaving a beautifully diverse tapestry that ranks right up there as one of the best and most complete System 7 releases yet.

The opener "Hinotori" will get any jaded techno or trance fan off their ass and back onto the dancefloor. I don't know how you couldn't dance to this. A perfectly killer opening track, just like how they opened Encantado, with that thick atmospheric techno knocking you right in the face. "Space Bird" keeps the pace going and explores an even richer collage of sounds and directions, thanks to the contributions of Jam El Mar. What can I say except this will probably go down as the most accessible track on the album, which is definitely not a bad thing. Completing the trio of peak hour opening tracks, "Scramble" employs the skills of Slackbaba, an artist relatively new to the psychedelic downtempo scene but with a lot of talent to offer. Although a little more formulaic than typical System 7, it is still a great slab of dark crunchy psytrance and would be killer on a nice outdoor sound system.

Then we get a nice change of scenery as Jam El Mar returns with his second contribution on "Masato Eternity." Leaving behind the peak hour sound, the trio of artists embark on a decidedly ambient trip. Deep pad backdrops and nostalgic synth patterns of the '90s return for a classic System 7 track. But it's a very new sound for System 7 at the same time, which is why I have to say again that the band is still maturing and not repeating themselves. "Song For The Phoenix" follows with some truly mindbending effects layered over deep, slow breakbeats & glissando guitar. Once again we are treated to another "new classic" System 7 track. What a joy to hear this music in 2008 when everything seems so stale and digital. This track is one of the strongest on the release and just goes to show how accomplished Steve & Miquette have come in their old age ;)

But as we have come to expect with the duo, you can only sit there nodding away to the dubby ambient rhythms for so long. "Strange Beings" brings us right back to dancefloor territory. The intro with the vocal sample build and ensuing techno crash is pure bliss. I encourage any techno or tribal DJ out there (not of the minimal breed, mind you) to drop this track in your next set. The crowd reaction can only be full adoration. "Chihiro 61298" starts slow, building up intensity as Steve's guitar and loop layering start working in tandem. The dominant synth sound, courtesy of contributor Son Kite I'd imagine, is a bit tough on the ears and will certainly make you think "electro-clash." To me, it is the only element in the whole album that seems out of place and kind of disrupts the flow in the track. There are still some interesting moments, so it's not altogether a bad thing.

The last two tracks deserve their own paragraph as they are so unlike each other, and unlike most of the other tracks on the album. "Makimura - Space Pilot" is one of the few System 7 tracks I can think of that combines an electric guitar playing rhythm sections and a bass guitar. The structure is definitely rock-oriented but I enjoyed it for being quite different than typcial System 7. Steve's guitar takes center stage after the intro and it's great to hear him in the spotlight. I think Miquette backed off a little on this one ;) While not one of my favorites, it's a well produced track with a happy vibe to it that will please many listeners. Finally, we close the disc with "Wolf-Head" which features one of my all-time favorite acts, Eat Static. These two acts overlap in so many ways, it's inevitable that they end up contributing to each others' releases. "Wolf-Head" is psytrance in the most classic meaning of the word - dark, otherworldly intro, sound effects from the deepest reaches of the studio, heavy duty drums optimized for physical impact, and unrelenting energy. It's no surprise this is the closer of the album, with two of the scene's most influential and important artists joining forces to finish Phoenix with a flourish. It's actually surprisingly noisy and hard, much more so than any of the previous tracks, or perhaps any System 7 track to date. Yes, Eat Static seemed to take over the reigns in the studio and we have Steve and Miquette struggling to keep up with the pace ;) Just kidding guys, this is a nice balance of both bands and a treat for the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of fans around the world. It begs the question - when will there be a REAL collaboration between System 7 and Eat Static?

All in all, Phoenix is one of the strongest System 7 releases yet and although fans of their more dubby, ambient sound may not find as much to like here, it is an undeniably strong album from one of the scene's longest lasting and most important contributors.