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Music Releases (more headlines) 12-12-2013

Anno Domini - Parallel. A Colossus In Music.

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Website: http://www.anno-domini.co.uk
Anno Domini released their 4th studio album on 11/12/13 (Dec 11th 2013), entitled Parallel.

From the cover alone, there are hints about the content of this album; parallel lines of punched computer tape on a black background, "Parallel" written in Morse code across the centre. This opens the listener's mind up to the opus which follows.

Parallel is an 80 minute piece of dance inspired electronica, aimed at the home listener as much as the production market (Film, TV and advertising executives take note). Its opening and title track whisks you back to the 1940s, snippets of garbled radio communications break through the static and a Morse code signal is clearly heard. Then, as order starts to appear, the main track begins.

The track, Parallel, is named after the parallel processing procedure of Colossus, the wartime electronic code breaking computer built by Tommy Flowers and used at Bletchley park, is a regimented take on this groundbreaking and, until the late 1970s, secret machine. The contribution of Bletchley Park, its code breakers and especially Alan Turing is well documented; however Tommy Flowers stunning creation of a valve driven electronic computer in 1944 still goes almost unnoticed by the general public today. This track is inspired by the rebuilt machine, currently on show at The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park (TNMOC). The band members, Andy Dundas and Richard Massara, were greatly inspired by the operation of this machine, from the input punched tape, running at some 5000 characters per second, to the valves, relays, lights and printer which all assemble make this mighty machine. The noise of the machine is echoed in the track, but its the pure mathematics and parallel processing power which really inspired to bring this track on. A hypnotic bounced lead mimics the valve operation, relays click as echoed by the drums, and the drama of the track highlights the vital role Colossus played in WWII. The track fades back to static and radio messages - much as the Colossus machines were hidden in secrecy until very recently. A moving piece, and worthy of the title name and position.

As the album progresses, the themes of conflict and technology combine again. For example Synth Drive, which was released as a single by Anno Domini in 2012, is a high energy high tempo track, with overtones of the internet and modern life. The Other Reason is a masterpiece, combining technology and modern warfare with an alternative view on the recent conflict in Iraq. The overriding question asked then is, does technology make warfare better? Of course the simple answer is there is no such thing as better warfare, but in this album, Anno Domini seem determined to ask the question. There can be no doubt that Colossus shortened the second world war, did drones and satellite controlled weaponry shorten the recent Iraq war? Tony Blair seems to believes so; and "The Other Reason" explores that view too.

"So Many, So Few" follows on from the earlier themes of Parallel. In this case, the speeches of Winston Churchill are again utilised (much as Anno Domini previously have achieved with "Conflict" from their Overture Album in 2010), to underline the contribution of the RAF. If electronic technology is to the fore in Parallel, this track represents old fashion brute force. Screams are heard, the mania of war is flowing through the piece; yet ultimately to what end? Victory here only means and end to the fighting, but is there really a winning side?

In slight departure to the main theme, two other tracks worthy of note are Lunar Eclipse and the final piece, Feeling Proud (Olympic Mix). Lunar Eclipse is just electronica, off tuned synthesizers play havoc with your ear at first, but soon the track settles into its rhythm. This is the type of work Anno Domini describe as their bread-and-butter, and they certainly excel at it. Listening to it, you wouldn't really know it was originally recorded in 1994; yet that is the effect the band are striving for. Feeling Proud (Olympic Mix) is a remix of the seconds track on Parallel; however this 7 minute take is pure dance inspired, pulsating synth music. From small beginnings, the track bursts out of the blocks. The nod to the London 2012 Olympics and to Vangelis is clear, with a "Chariots of Fire" style fanfare. However this is no clone, its racing off to new ground rapidly. Driving music at its best.

Anno Domini are always looking for new inspiration, here computing infancy and warfare, sporting prowess and celestial occurrences combine to make a slice of modern (old) electronic art.

Anno Domini are Andy Dundas and Richard Massara. They have been friends since the 1970s and have composed music almost as long. Their other recent works include Overture, Revival and Progressions.

With thanks to The National Museum of Computing (@TNMOC), Bletchley Park, UK for their help and inspiration.

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