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Neu Gestalt Reviews

Controlled Substances: Mat Smith:

Neu Gestalt is the alias of Edinburgh-based electronic musician Les Scott, whose fourth album Controlled Substances was created using a deliberately pared-back set of tools: a violin, a guitar, a modular system for processing source material, Akai samplers and an Atari computer from the late 80s to bring it all together.

The result is twelve tracks of extreme fragility, each and every sound within them processed and sculpted into their final form, and only occasionally betraying their original sources. On the standout ‘Kintsugi’, echoing temple percussion and glitchy rhythms provide a basis for heavily processed guitar patterns and frozen half-melodies, while on opening track ‘Machines Of Grace’ plaintive violins emerge as crackly, embrittled textures over a bass-heavy electronic dub rhythm slowed down to a glacial pace.

Scott is a fan of the way that timestretched samples have an inherently degraded quality, and you can hear that play out across the material here, providing an evocative fabric through which more clarified sounds are permitted to wend their way. The effect, on tracks like the mesmerising ‘A Glow From The Wreckage’ or ‘Drowned Worlds’, is like trying, and ultimately failing, to precisely alight upon memories from the gauzy mists of your past.

Mat Smith:



Weightless Hours CD

There is a remarkable beauty in the music of Les Scott, aka Neu Gestalt, over the course of his extraordinary new release Weightless Hours. Three years have passed since the debut of Neu Gestalt, the nearly pure electronica of Altered Carbon. With Weightless Hours, Les Scott has created an album of almost indescribable beauty. His use of field recordings, such as that of the rain and other elements, in conjunction with more traditional instrumentation, puts Weightless Hours squarely in the realm of what is generally referred to as “electro-acoustic” music. It is a recording with a haunting ambiance that I find myself returning to over and over again.

Weightless Hours begins with the sound of water flowing downstream, interspersed with various sounds that eventually resolve themselves into a wonderfully poignant piano. The title of this opening track, “Toxicology” is unusual to me, as the sheer, pristine quality of it brings to mind just about anything but something ugly and toxic. One of the greatest elements of instrumental music is that it really is in the eye of the beholder, and frankly, whatever Les Scott chooses to title his compositions is in a lot of ways irrelevant to me as a listener. I hear what I hear, and the tones evoke moods and emotions in me that may have very little in common with the composer’s intent.

As the above paragraph shows, the music of Weightless Hours is in many ways very difficult to describe. The simple reason being that mere words are not really sufficient to explain the various feelings that this recording evokes in the listener. The good folks at Alex Tronic Records were kind enough to send me a copy of Weightless Hours a month ago, and I have listened to it dozens of times already. And I still find something new in it every time I play it.

As the press release mentions, “There is a singular obsession with detail and surface [in Weightless Hours].” This is absolutely true. The 12 tracks run for just about one hour, and rather than a “mere” collection of songs, they serve to tell a story. It is as if they are chapters in a book, each moving the basic plot forward, but all in service of the overall tale.

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NEU GESTALT: Altered Carbon (CD on Alex Tronic Records)

This CD from 2008 offers 67 minutes of gentle amlbient electronic tuneage.

Neu Gestalt is Les Scott.

This music blends elements of ambient and contemporary EM with a touch of ilbient glitchiness to produce remarkably dreamy tuneage.

The electronics are gentle and slippery. Background tones manifest as barely audible textures, tenuous approximations of the noise found between spaces.

Keyboard-driven chords possess a languid presence, emerging in the sparse mix to express themselves with grace and generate soothing melodic enhancements.

Percussives are present, but not all of them are the conventional kind. Some rhythms stem from the applications of glitchy sounds looped to establish a tempo akin to flickering diode sparks. These beats are almost seductive in their softness. The more normal examples of percussion are similarly understated, relegated to a vantage deep within the flow where they flavor the music instead of driving it.

The ambient aspects exist in a carefully restrained equality with the other electronics. Their normal harshness is muted, making them immersed effects swarming under the surface.

These compositions are designed to induce passive contemplation. The melodies are pleasant and fluid, crafted to lull and open the inner mind to itself. The auxiliary effects serve to stimulate cognition during this meditative pacification.

Matt Howarth :Sonic Curiosity Website and Magazine .

Neu Gestalt “Altered Carbon”

(, 2008)

14 tracks, 67.29 mins

Warbling electronics fade in and out, with clicks of static. Warm pads add a smoother touch as they swell and slack. Punchy bits of percussion emerge. Added together they form “Between Her Dreams,” the opening track to Altered Carbon by Neu Gestalt, aka Les Scott from Edinburgh, Scotland. He calls his music “reductionist electronica,” a name I rather like. As more warm synths emanate from track two, “Glyph”, I have to say I like the sound as well. There is a glitchy vibe, with a dash of drum ‘n bass, but it is more leisurely, with engaging melodies. I hear some Saul Stokes-like sounds, classic influences like Tangerine Dream, and unique touches throughout from Scott himself. “Convergence” takes the relaxed tone down a notch, a more expansive, airy piece, though still with lots of little extras in the sounds that I really like. “Fissure” starts quite abstractly, more gritty textures than music before “normal” synths return. But my favorite has to be “Frozen Ground,” with relatively simple drums, bass, and melody. I really like the way it flows effortlessly by. The title track adds cool grainy elements to warm synths and sparse beats. “Trace Elements” switches halfway through from a bright piano lead to a very pleasing vintage synth sound. “Levitation” is more upbeat than most, a perfect one to crank up on the car stereo for a sunny afternoon drive. My only slight critique of Altered Carbon is that I sometimes wish the intentional sounds of static were laid to rest, to let the warm pleasant melodies shine through unfiltered. Still, this is a solid debut and quite enjoyable from start to finish.

© 2009 Phil Derby / Electroambient Space........................................................................................

Altered Carbon Review from Instant Magazine

OUT WITH THE OLD IN WITH THE NEU "Those of us at Instant House of a certain vintage and a penchant for that brand of electronic music in which Germans seemed to excel (Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream) have been delighting in the latest release from the Germanic-sounding Neu Gestalt – or just plain Les Scott to his friends – on his new release, Altered Carbon. He’s probably fed up with the comparisons to ‘Krautrock,’ but we found ourselves absorbed in his synth and sample-driven sonic landscapes."


'Altered Carbon' is a lush, musically ambient slice of electronica. It is three-dimensional in texture; each track almost feels tangible to me. As I type, I have "Frozen Ground" playing in my ears: I close my eyes and feel myself literally surrounded by the beats and tones. I am Alice in a gorgeous atmospheric Wonderland where the landscape is populated by lavish, lovely sensations that are heard as well as felt, where some beats grow larger as others shrink, some keyboards morph into blips and static and throughout I am falling down an endlessly awesome aural rabbit hole. These are mesmerizing sounds that will take you to a different place if you relax and let go.

'Altered Carbon' contains some of the most beautiful, hypnotic, intricate sounds I have heard in ages, that transcends categories and usual iPod tastes.

Give it a listen and allow yourself to be transported too










True story: Les Scott (a.k.a. Neu Gestalt) and I live in the same city, and worked in the same organisation, and yet we’ve never met. “Altered Carbon”, his début release, was an astonishing tour de force. Indeed, it’s one of my five favourite electronica albums ever. “Weightless Hours” has been three years in the making. That’s a long time by any standards. Given how much I love his first album, I hoped so much that I wouldn’t be disappointed. Thankfully, I had nothing to fear.

“Toxicology” begins with lapping water and breathy shakuhachi over band-passed crackles and phased synths. A glitchy pattern breaks out, underpinned by an immense bass. Simple piano notes are then draped over all of this, creating a fabulous contrast of acoustic and electronic instruments. It’s a cracker of an opener, signalling in advance how the album might develop. “Abandoned Cities” has a cinematic oriental feel, with melted shakuhachi notes warping themselves around a highly structured, intricate rhythm. On “Cold Wave”, a bright chiming pair of stereo synths lead us into a shuffling, loping beat, lurching relentlessly forward under reverb-drenched stabs and icy flickers.

“Saturn Park”‘ is the most rhythm-driven track here, liquid keys burbling as the beat is fuelled by odd synthetic springs and coils which fit perfectly. Again, there’s piano, though with much more reverb, and wide panoramic pads. Sublime music for daytime train travel, as the listener follows both an internal, and external, landscape. “Winter” is truly beautiful, soft notes suspended in pointed shards of ice as the music stutters and shivers; tiny aural snowflakes fall to left and right as a gentle beat builds. The half-way point in the album, “Sub Rosa”, is reluctant to give up its secrets; a pad shimmers above water and a highly complex organic rhythm, which crackles and spirals off into the distance, then somehow reassembles itself.

The second half begins with “Curtain of Rust”, which gives a nod to electronic music of an earlier decade, though this is dragged firmly into the present by an almost mathematical beat. It’s dense and multi-layered, with shakuhachi making a reappearance over a gentle series of metallic riffs, contrasting elegantly against the sound of water. “On Haunted Shores” evokes the ghosts of industry, as dead machinery pulls its sound across the decades into the present; it grinds and clicks, a forgotten memory projected onto a lonely, dark shore of minor pads. These two tracks together are the most reminiscent of “Altered Carbon”, albeit with more emphasis on rhythm, though with similarities in texture.

My favourite track here is “Aerial Eleven”. This is electronica at its most sublime and artistic. I defy anyone who says the genre has no soul to listen to this and not change their view. Beginning with a distant rumble, a muffled keyboard lays down a few plaintive chords. Suddenly we’re inside the most luscious environment imaginable. Fluffy pads push slowly forward and back against the gentlest of rhythms. Languid shakuhachi notes come and go. Metallic coils, organic noises and processed birdsong slither off to the sides. The effect is absolutely stunning, and unlike anything else I’ve heard.

“Metalline” has skittering, fractured textures overlaid with piano. Glitchy ticks zip off to the left and right, leaving the piano as a solitary island in a sea once calm, then less so. Metallic sculptures suspend themselves above the water, rotating and reflecting the light. Again, an extraordinary mix of acoustic and electronic instrumentation. “Sheltering Skies” is perhaps the most complex track here. An oriental rhythm pushes on through all manner of electro-acoustic sounds. Phased pads cluster thickly over a clean, delayed synth bassline. Layers of percussion are built up, and long notes are drawn out above these layers. It’s complicated and fascinating.

The final cut on the album, “We Who Walk Through Walls”, in contrast to the album’s title, is drawn in thick, heavy pulses of colour, with iridescent tendrils swaying above their roots in a futuristic glimpse of something unstoppable; never menacing, never rushing, but pausing for nothing and no-one. Dense pads are glued to an organic bass, and the music threatens to break up, but instead grows even more insistent. It’s a fitting conclusion to an absolutely stunning album. The visual icing on the cake is the sumptuous fold-out cover design, which carries some fascinating background sleevenotes together with black and white photography from Les, all wrapped up in an extraordinary design. It’s simply beautiful.

Many thanks to Les for supplying me with a promo copy of the album, which is due to be released on 22 June.

Label: Alex Tronic Records Cat: ATRCD 143 Artist: Neu Gestalt



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