I met up with John Lyell (and Brent A. Reiland) at the Robert Rich/James Johnson/Ma Ja Le show last month in Milwaukee. Their deep, dark and deliciously spacey sounds lead to various celestial destinations, from the more abstract to the more musical. Tracks like Wormholes, Abandon Soul, Machine Shop Pluto and Star Child remain intriguingly unfathomable, writhing in shapeless electronic soundwaves, interstellar drones and other sci-fi effects.
Others are more overtly musical, though still spacious in nature...New Worlds retains Earthly ties with slow beats, synth streams and exploratory Floyd-ian electric guitar. Twinkling notes spiral through the slowly revolving audiocosmos of Quasar Planes (5:04) while Remember recalls a spacier "Chariots of Fire" with beats, analog drifts and echoey e-piano. Oriental-ish strings are plucked amid soft electronic waves and low rhythms in the calmly expanding Rain harp Horizon (10:04).
With 10 nicely rendered tracks adding up to more than 70 minutes of spacemusic, this shuttle makes stops at several different stations, reflecting various moods and styles of this extraterrestrial genre. It's recommended that you get your own boarding pass and other deep space information at the Wormholes website.
~ David J. Opdyke, AMBIENTRANCE Rating: 8.4
NEW AGE VOICE Magazine (June 1999)
The accompanying press release told me that Wormholes is the debut of instrumentalists Brent Reiland and John Lyell, but I have to believe that these two composer/musicians have been at this for quite awhile. That's partly because they have successfully mined some of the conventions of the ambient/space music genre, and partly because they seem so adept at what they do.
The CD opens appropriately enough with the title track, which successfully establishes the ambiguity and uncertainty that would naturally accompany a traveler's journey through space utilizing the still theoretical method of opening and passing through wormholes. By track 4, "Traveler," you begin to sense the direction this disc is taking and also to revel in its simple evolution. You also begin to feel a bit like a traveler yourself with a need to stretch your legs or see some new scenery.
Reiland and Lyell quickly accomodate those needs in track five, "Quasar Planes." With its droning guitar and repetitive undercurrent, this cut quickly re-energizes the listener and prepares her/him for the rest of the disc. The next track is a little bit Vangelis and a little bit Tangerine Dream. I kept wishing that the percussion tracks were more forward in the mix on "Remember" and that there might come some more dramatic developments, but as the track droned on I understood that there really was no need for drama or electronic hyperbole. Reiland and Lyell simply are not overtly dynamic composers. The simple evolution of these tracks is what makes them refreshing in their own way.
Frequently in this genre, there is too much clutter on the tracks, but Wormholes does not suffer from the "more is more" problem. Reiland and Lyell have found their voice and it sings the poetry of the heavens. With all of the subtlety and unseen beauty that one might imagine in uncharted space, and with glimpses of the stark and unimaginable darkness as well, Wormholes provides wondrous passage to places unknown.
~ Ken Masters, NEW AGE VOICE
Eclectic Earwig Review (November 1999)
Cool, slick, hip, spacey, ambient, classy electronics, great guitar, dreamy transports of sound textures just beyond description, droning grooves, reverby, overdriven, oscillating, phasing, pulsing, throbbing, your aural synapses on overload and all those dopamine receptors in blissville--this is Wormholes. I am amazed at the quality of material these two guys have served up as their debut release.
Ten tracks run the gamut of well-honed Serrie-ish space music to Floydian space-rock without ever going overboard, they balance dynamics in perfect restraint. This is ancient darkened cathedral ambience or atop the Great Pyramid at sunset, soul-flight music. Take the journey, discover the rim of another galaxy, twist time into a sonic superstring but remember to turn your phone ringer off first before you leave.
I positively guarantee that anyone who knows ambient synth, space rock, or any such eclectic electric genre needs this CD in their collection. Reiland and Lyell's Wormholes is one of the top ten space music/ambient electronic releases Eclectic Earwig Reviews has been sent in 1999. I highly recommend this debut release as being up to snuff with the established greats of the genre.
File your future copy right next to Serrie, Roach, Eno, Wavestar, and early Tangerine Dream. A cohesively cool synth and spacey guitar experience. I am eager to hear their next offering.
~ John W. Patterson
WIND AND WIRE Magazine (Fall 1998)
From its first cut, where dark ambient meets deep space rumblings, Wormholes is a good debut from the duo of John Lyell and Brent Reiland. Occasionally venturing into progressive electronic and prog rock, this recording promises a good future for these two in the realms of deep space, floating ambient noir and progressive soundspaces.
The opening title song leads into the ultra-progressive "New Worlds" which will grow on you, trust me. When I first heard the lush keyboard and synth drums, followed by Pink Floyd-like guitar lines, I thought, "Oh no, what have they done?" But, in the scope of the whole CD, this is actually a nice touch. One reason is the high quality of the technical aspects of Wormholes. Synth drums appear off and on throughout the recording and they are so well done I had to call John and find out if they were the real thing or not."Abandon Soul," the third cut, returns us to dark deep ambient soundscapes (which is where about half ot the CD resides). Synths float and rumble in disturbing patterns that intermingle and shapshift in the shadows. "Traveler" is a tad warmer as bass flute-like synth chords soar in and out, counter-balanced by a metronomic repetition of notes. "Quasar Planes" with its high synth notes and underlying washes may remind you at times of Tangerine Dream or other Teutonic EM artists, until the guitar cuts in that is. Then we are in some hybrid vein, mixing space with progressive elements again.
This blending of genres is one of the interesting aspects of Wormholes, as it is not easily pigeonholed. While the ambient and space music elements sometimes take center stage, if you have a real aversion to drums or progressive elements being anywhere near you, you may have to think twice about this release. If you like a space music CD to pick an atmosphere and stay there, this is not for you.
With that said, though, if you do elect to pass on Wormholes, you'll be missing some good stuff. Lyell and Reiland have infused their debut with moments of passion and imagination. I'd wager we've not heard the last from this pair.
~Bill Binkelman, WIND AND WIRE
SIGHTINGS (Fall 1998)
As a listener of diverse and obscure musics, especially electronic, "WORMHOLES" by Brent A. Reiland & John Lyell struck me as being extremely listenable as an exploration in sound. When one can put on a CD and enjoy it straight through in this genre is somewhat rare. I appreciated the connectivity that WORMHOLES carries from track to track.
Though each piece is entirely different, one doesn't feel like one has 'exited the ship', so to speak. It's a journey, a flight in sound through New Worlds, but carried along by Reiland and Lyell's singular vessel, in recognizable style and emphasis.
Unlike much "New Age" or electronic/intuitive music, WORMHOLES has not dismissed the nature of music itself; rhythm, harmony, melody, construction. These guys bend the fabric of music, but don't break it. The CD recording quality itself is superb, and I've found it useful for directing my focus when working, or relaxing. It allows the listeners imagination to roam, or drop back into the distance and remain disconnected without alarming or striking notes or shocks. Versatile, flexible, remote and yet intriguing, Wormholes gets an A+ in my book for a CD I keep on nearby.
This isn't Kraftwerk, or Walter/Wendy Carlos, or even Eno, though they certainly have their place in the electronic music field. And it's definitely not Yanni! Reiland and Lyell have found their own sound and resonance worthy of an audience sophisticated enough to explore their musical dimensions.
~James Neff, Sightings Webmaster