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act 206 · s:cage · madness turns to glass · cd

madness, vapour, collapsing breath, gone (undone), inside this, surfaces, intrusion, sprawling - endless cities..., hideous out loud, glass.

(sprawling, endless cities... features voice and lyrics by cordell klier)

it has been two years since 'remote' and now s:cage has returned with 'madness turns to glass'. with this release stephen seto has achieved the emotional response that he is known for; accomplished via his unique mixture of melody, aggression and iciness. that is, he has continued on the path he started with his debut.

what's astounding in s:cage's work is the ability of mixing various moods through the assemblage of sounds. there is beauty and aggression at the same time but there is no disruption; which is perfectly exemplified by the13+ minute track, 'madness'. a kaleidoscope of melodic keyboard lines, enriched with disturbing samples and sudden broken beats - it could be the symphony of an awakening megalopolis; a million individuals living their daily lives at the same time. rhythm is ever present in s:cage's compositions, but rhythm is not just a carrier of a 'beat' - in 'collapsing breath', the structures change constantly, keeping the mind and ear busy. the manipulated voices seto collected are never overbearing, they are a part of the instrumentation. as seen by cordell klier appearance as a guest musician and vocalist in 'sprawling, endless cities'. in s:cages sound space nothing is as it seems - take 'vapour', a dreamy soundscape where voices from the real world and fast rhythmic textures interfere and affect the dream.

when the record is over and 'madness' has finally turned to 'glass', you will realize that you have to take another listen right away. so that you can get a deeper understanding (and pleasure) of this work.

digi-sleeve special cardboard packaging

s:cage discography. 10.2k6:
s:cage. madness turns to glass. cd. ant-zen act206. 2006
s:cage. remote. cd. ant-zen act156. 2004
splintercage. stillmovementbliss.ep. k7. plan 11 records. p11-c04. 1996

s:cage websites:


s:cage, or splinter cage, is a project of stephen seto. this is the second release on the ant-zen label and his music can best be described as a caleidoscopic dark ambient sound experience in which beats in all sorts and variations are combined with melodic synthesizer melodies, to which the rhythm patterns are constantly changing and do not only support the beats. another nice part are the manipulated voices integrated in the music. you will hear the voice of cordell klier pass along in 'sprawling, endless cities'. the music of s:cage sounds like a city awaking where everything starts to move, and millions individuals devote themselves to their daily lives. yet all is played in ultra-speed modus. dreamy sounds, and even some piano, create a soundscape that is constantly rudely disturbed by fast rhythmic assaults. the music of s:cage is futuristic and post-apocalyptic in atmosphere, and reminds of japanese animation movies such as ghost in the shell or like i earlier said, a recording of a megalopolis coming alive, played in high speed. nice release! (teknoir)

vital weekly #501
stephen seto had his debut as s:cage released on ant-zen recordings back in 2004. the album titled 'remote' was an impressive combination of harsh electronics and gently floating ambient-scapes. now two years later stephen seto is ready with his follow-up titled 'madness turns to glass'. it is a perfect title to the album that takes its starting point in the 'aggression meets fragility'-expression. opening with the 13-minutes long track 'madness', fragile tunes of sweet piano melodies walks hand in hand with spheres of distorted noises and broken beats. the beautiful opener is followed by another atmospheric piece: being an otherworldly exploration into neverland, 'vapou' goes into deeper and more dreamlike territories with grandiose ambientscapes and distant voices. the latter represents the only signs of life from the real world. third track titled 'collapsing breath' moves a step towards reality with more focus on rhythm texture, though the rhythms are kept in the lower levels of expression suppressed by floating ambient and tense samples of human breathing. fourth track 'gone (undone)' is another piece of electronic art built on ambientscapes reminiscent of aphex twin from his "selected ambient works" period assisted by sharpcut yet distorted electro-beats. final track on titled 'glass' takes us back to the beautiful sounds of piano added atmospheric ambience and thus putting end to another great work by s:cage! (nmp)

der medienkonverter
stephen setos debut vor zwei jahren war ein traumgebilde, düster und fordernd. sein neues album "madness turns to glass" ist dagegen mehr wie ein lebender organismus. s:cage fängt verschiedene stimmungen ein und formt daraus einen soundtrack des modernen lebens. auffallend sind die unterschiedlichen stimmen-samples, die den eindruck vermitteln, in einer menschenmenge zu stehen und das treiben um einen herum zu beobachten. piano-klänge zeichnen eine allumfassende melancholie. hinzu kommen industrielle beats, etwas verzerrt und trotzdem schneidend. "madness turns to glass" wechselt daher ständig die gefühlslage, springt von ambient zu industrial, wieder zurück und legt schliesslich beides übereinander. dieses wechselspiel ist in fast jedem song auffällig zu hören und zu spüren. die melodien erklingen mal hell, mal dunkel und darüber herrschen die beats. so als ob man in einer grossen stadt durch verschiedene gebäude laufen würde, riesige bauten, die entweder still und verlassen dastehen oder sehr belebt sind. zwischen diesen gebäuden muss man ab und an wieder auf die strasse, über viel befahrene kreuzungen und durch menschenmassen hindurch. natürlich lasst sich s:cage's neues album auf verschiedene art interpretieren, etwa als anspielung auf paul austers "stadt aus glas", aber hier sollte man lieber nicht zu weit ausholen und seine eigene auslegung finden. denn im prinzip lässt sich auch "madness turns to glass" genauso auffassen wie bereits der vorgänger "remote", als fiktives aber sehr emotionales bild oder eben als traumfänger. nur ist das neue album nicht mehr ganz so unterkühlt. vielmehr strahlt es eine verhaltende wärme aus, die zwar nicht wirklich warm hält, dafür aber umso mehr einlullt. ein mehr als würdiger nachfolger zum debut.

cold room
deuxième production cd chez ant-zen pour s:cage qui propose un album plus fouillé et touffu que le précédent, plus complexe dans ses structures, plus expérimental et donc peut-être moins accessible de prime abord mais savamment construit et particulièrement intéressant. ambiances sombres tantôt, mélancoliques par moment, rythmiques hachées et dévastatrices, nappes éthérées, samples indistincts... quelques ingrédients efficaces qui composent les 10 pistes de cet album qu'il est difficile de ranger dans une catégorie précise, car puisant ses influences dans divers domaines, allant du break beat à l'indus en passant par l'électronica. un mélange subtile que s:cage met à profit dans ses travaux pour parvenir à un résultat de première qualité, devançant bien des formations en manque d'inspiration. madness turns to glass est un disque dans lequel il faut se plonger corps et âme pour l'apprivoiser. une première écoute en voiture, comme moi par exemple, n'est pas une bonne idée... il est nécessaire de se mettre en condition, de se créer un environnement adéquat pour en saisir les détails et les profondeurs. un très beau travail que l'on souhaite voir se reproduire plus souvent. (py)

to my mind, it's impossible to listen to this original album of ant-zen (released in a special cardboard package) in normal state. such listening will, of no doubt, fail and give no impressions to the listener. to understand and feel the album madness turns to glass of the project s:cage you need either to be deep in your thoughts or take certain substance, nevertheless any 'substence' doesn't guarantee your understanding of such highly artistic project. in consideration of all musial characteristics, we may say for sure - it's an extremely complicated theme - superconceptual pie filled with explosives. these explosives are ready to detonate at the most appropriate moment. i like such odd incomprehensible projects as they demand special attitude, you must think much and search for the wright key to follow your way to such music. very often it happen so that our beloved music becomes boring, that's not characteristic of intelligent, complicated music. it con?erns not only music, but also any equivalent of such complicated creativity of high quality - films, books and so on. just imagine that you are looking through the musical kaleidoscope with psychological sound pictures changing each other by turn. some pictures are anxious, some are kind, several pictures with original syncopated rhythmical beats. each title of the track is a picture of such kaleidoscope: "madness", "vapour", "collapsing breath", "inside this", "surfaces", "glass"... the author of this sound experiment is stephen seto. judjing by his creative work, we may say, he's a rather dangerous character. maybe he can be even called a professional shot-firer of the modern society. though any society needs such personalities, without them our world would be not so interesting and unique. after numerous listening to the album madness turns to glass and 'catching on' you really feel the desire to know more about such music. and the intrusive thought of listening to its previous album remote follows you all the time.

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