Album: Shades of Orion
Artist: Pete Namlook and Tetsu Inoue
Label: Fax +49-69/450464, Ambient World
Year: 1993
Rating: 4/5
Summary: Relaxing ambient techno music that washes over you.

The first track, Biotrip, is a hazy soundscape of outer space style beeps and effects. A sample and hold based murmur keeps you grounded while calming, downward sweeps wash over you. These sounds are so relaxing that you may drift off too much to even notice the arrival of the sequenced synth and subtle four-to-the-floor kick drum a few minutes later. Despite the rigid nature of this middle section's programming, the overall feel of this track is still laid back. Towards the end, the beat and sequenced part leave again, and the journey leaves you back where you started, peacefully drifting aimlessly through space. Biotrip is as sublime as it is original.

Next up is the title track Shades of Orion. Here, the bleepy space sounds are accompanied by slow pads and what appears to be a synthetic emulation of wind. The resulting track is far darker and colder than Biotrip, as if one represents basking in sunlight and the other nightfall.

The Blade Runner sampling third track, Did You Ever Retire a Human..., seems slightly out of place. It grabs your attention and wakes you back up, featuring deep sub-bass playing an upbeat bassline accompanied by a drumbeat throughout the track. Once a pad joins the mix, however, it starts to blend in more with the rest of the album.

The last track, Liquid Shade, calms you back down again. It's just as far removed from the first two tracks as its predecessor, only in the opposite direction. In my opinion, there isn't really enough of a melody or harmony to qualify this track as music, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's a pleasant background noise that helps shape your mood.

If you were going into space and could only pick one album to listen to while floating around in the spaceship, you could do far worse than choose this one. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes ambient or ambient techno music and has a long enough attention span to bask in slowly progressing tracks that are each over ten minutes long.

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