Vermilion Sands

posted: 2023-12-30 Blood Music: Pentamerous Metamorphosis Global Communication

released: 1993-12
on label: Dedicated
genres: Ambient TechnoAmbient
with some: Space AmbientDowntempo
listen at: Apple Deezer Spotify YouTube Music

In an interesting move, Pentamerous was not available for some years as a true Global Communication stand-alone release, for the very reason that it was never intended to be that in the first place. Instead, this five-track effort (thus the name) was in fact nothing less than a complete makeover of the duo’s labelmates Chapterhouse, specifically their second and final album, Blood Music. Chapterhouse had taken its incipient interest in ambient and generally calmer techno music to a certain extent on the album, resulting in some intriguing fusions, but entrusted Global Communication to do a remix job that originally appeared as a bonus second disc with the U.K. CD version.

Happily one doesn’t need to know or be immediately familiar with Blood Music to enjoy Pentamerous as it is. While the album is now inevitably a product of its time through and through – progressive techno crossed with polite breaks and beats and a dab of dark, moody atmospherics – it’s still an enjoyable-enough listen. Chapterhouse’s presence is mostly suggested by the very occasional vocal sample or hint of melody elsewhere – the original album itself has more than five tracks, and there’s no real sense that Pentamerous follows Blood Music point for point. When used, those original parts can have very interesting effect – a heavily processed guitar part becomes the central melody on “Gamma Phase,” surrounded by both despairing, alienated sonics and a straightforward, lovely synth string arrangement. Some of Global Communication’s efforts seem to reach even farther – the In the Nursery-reminiscent piano parts on “Alpha Phase,” hints of Aphex Twin-style electronic spookiness at various points (little surprise, of course, given Middleton’s background).

Ultimately, Pentamerous Metamorphosis feels and sounds like a footnote for both bands, but it’s a footnote worth taking the time to consider.