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DESCENT magazine, UK
More People Have Been To The Moon - Steve Thomas


It's not often that a CD of cave related instrumental music comes along; the Carlsbad Caverns track, featured on Desert Vision by David Lanz and Paul Speer, comes to mind, but that's all. There are plenty of classical scores of course, but little else in modern times. Now, we have More People Have Been To The Moon from composer and cave diver Steve Thomas. To cavers, the title will hold immediate relevance: this is a CD not only related to caves, but to exploration. To pushing the limits. To the excitement of discovery, to the quiet of relaxing after a long, hard trip. On general release in the big wide world, much of the fascination of the cave environment will no doubt pass by its listeners. However, cavers are sure to appreciate More People to the full as Steve has gone to extreme lengths to record in-cave sounds and integrate these within the tracks. The CD opens with reverberating splashes as the voyage begins and a diver enters the water; Steve says he sweated somewhat when taking his hi- tech stereo recording equipment underwater, protected with extra strong condoms. The result certainly adds something to the album: fifteen tracks are presented here, each encoded so that tracks can be individually selected, but in fact the music is continuous.

People tend to have considerably different tastes in music, but there is a lot of variety within More People. In the past Steve has collaborated with Steve Jolliffe of Tangerine Dream and also taken credits for working on such TV programs as Tommorrow's World and Open Space - so it is quite possible you have already heard some of his varied work. The track names reveal some of the evocative nature of the music: Ether Black with its sombre sound effects is particularly telling, The Aquanauts in dark mood building to a dance track, the gentleness of Snow Melt and Michaela, Heartbeat (Into The Dark) for its choral atmosphere, and the hypnotic sounds of a cave streamway coursing through the deep with Mellow Pebbles.

The album sleeve is covered with Gavin Newman's cave photographs and this gives the production a superb finishing touch. More People is ... well, close your eyes, sit back and let go as rock, blues, synthesized sounds and the thrill of exhaled bubbles from a long dive blend together and roll past. The telling fact is that my copy has been left on continuous replay.

If you enjoy listening to music, this result of Steve's two-year project to elicit the the gentle feel of the underground is an oppotunity not to miss.

Chris Howes


VENUE magazine, UK
Steve Thomas - 'More People Have Been To The Moon' (Heliotrinox Records HTX 9701)


The more "mature" Venue reader may recall a bunch of degenerate hippies called Indigo Listen, who were famed for their wild parties in the woods and proggy Here and Now-style dance music back in the mid-'80s, when such things were not considered to be cool at all. Alas, Indigo Listen are no more, but their most musical member Steve Thomas has forged a successful career as a producer, working with ex-Tangerine Dreamer Steve Jolliffe among others, and writing music for TV. More bizarrely, he's become a qualified cave diver with the British Cave Diving Group, drawing on his experiences for this seamless, 64-minute, unique aural experience, which can only be described as a concept album. Taking its title from the observation that more people have been to the moon than have explored many of the world's most inaccessible caves, this is a collection of atmospheric, richly textured, largely sequencer-driven soundscapes with a contemporary edge, punctuated by the sounds of foolhardy cavepersons descending into dingy waterlogged holes in the ground (all in genuine digital stereo). Obvious reference points are latterday Tangerine Dream and Porcupine Tree's trippier instrumental workouts. If that sounds as good to you as it does to me, skin up, whack on the headphones, and you won't even have to get your feet wet.

Robin Askew


GAJOOB magazine, USA
http://www.gajoob.com
Steve Thomas - 'More People Have Been To The Moon'


This CD has been a major player in my rotation for many months. Synthesist Steve Thomas manages to blend many approaches into a cohesive album that flows naturally. From the opening introduction where Thomas takes us diving into underwater caves -- not just spurious sound effects, but real-life cave diving recording (that in itself is quite a story, I'm sure) -- to synthstrumentals combining a huge range of styles from R&B-oriented workouts to soft, jazz-tinged improvs, space-rock and pensive ambience. It comes as no surprise that an album with this much depth comes from a person with Thomas' background, including work with such pioneers as Tangerine Dream. This album works on many levels, and leaves me with different impressions with each listen (makes for difficult reviewing, by the way). Write to Steve right away and get a hold of this gem.

Brian Baker


CAVE DIVING GROUP, UK
More People Have Been To The Moon - Steve Thomas


I wondered at first how a combination of music and sounds recorded in caves would blend together; the answer is an excellent combination of electronic sounds mixed with the rattle of Posidons, rumble of exhaust bubbles and sounds we associate with cave diving. Steve somehow manages to portray all the pre-dive tension, the pleasure of cruising along in control and thrill of laying line up a virgin passage on a record.

The fusion of the Tangerine Dream / Ozric Tentacles style of music and underwater potholing is impossible to describe here but has rapidly become addictive after the first hearing.

Steve deserves a great deal of sucess with this release so go and buy it!

For further details contact Steve or check out the web site at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages.steve_musicave.

Russell Carter


CAVER'S DIGEST, USA/Worldwide
More People Have Been To The Moon


Allow me to introduce Steve Thomas, professional musician and cave diver from then U.K. Steve is one of those lucky people who seems to have the ability to combine business with pleasure; he has just produced a remarkable music CD called "More People Have Been To The Moon" (on the Heliotrinox label). This combines electronic music with authentic in-cave sound recordings - resulting in a refreshingly different 64 minute album which will appeal both to cave divers and non diving cavers alike.

The music is continuous but each of the the 15 encoded tracks can be accessed directly. Steve actually took his (very expensive) recording gear underwater to capture the real life sounds experienced by the cave diver; I am one and it sounds pretty authentic to me! His professional approach is obvious and the result is a unique audio experience which shouldn't be missed. The front cover of the inlay booklet carries a stunning photograph of Steve diving in a well known underwater cave in Wales - other shots (together with some innovative graphics) portray the cave diver's world to good effect.

It's virtually impossible to describe in words so you'll just have to get yourself a copy won't you? I don't think you'll be disappointed. The easiest way for British cavers to obtain one is with the special offer via "Descent" magazine no. 136 (June/July 1997) page 2 at £12.90 inc. p.& p. For cavers in The States the main outlet is from Speleobooks, New York - at $15.00 plus $2.00 carriage.

For those who'd like more info. about Steve's work you can "hook up" direct via e-mail at: steve_musicave@compuserve.com or there is a web site address giving loads more information at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/steve_musicave. Go for it!

John Cordingley


NSS, USA
http://www.caves.org
More People Have Been To The Moon


This is probably the world's first music CD inspired by cave diving. Uniquely, it integrates recordings made during sump dives (above and below water) with synthesizer music of the "Tangerine Dream" style, achieving an ethereal-sounding mix. Some of the in-cave audio is straight recording from sump dives while others of the cave-sounds have been processed in the studio to be part of the synthesized music itself, which varies from rock to blues styles, some of it with a hard dance beat.

My favorite pair of short tracks were "Mellow Pebbles", which begins with sounds of moving cave waters, rises to a trendy beat, then fades into "Ether Black" with its tidal-sounding pulsations. The cave recordings were done on location during actual sump dives, recorded on digital stereo 48kHz recorders. Apparently "extra strong condoms" were part of the technology used...

British cave diver-musician Steve Thomas had previously collaborated on two albums with ex-Tangerine Dreamer Steve Jolliffe and records music for television as well. Electronic music is not everyone's cup of tea, but if you enjoy well-done, upbeat synthesizer music and enjoy the unique acoustics of the underground, you'll find this an interesting addition to your collection. And for listening to on those long drives to caves, it's definitely not a sleeper. For more on the album and Steve Thomas, visit his web site at: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/steve_musicave.

Dave Bunnell


INTERNET HERALD, USA/Worldwide
More People Have Been To The Moon


When I first saw this CD, I noticed that there was an underlying theme, which was that every picture, on and in the CD had to do with a scuba diver. This perplexed me, because I thought it was an 'artsy' type statement. Oh, how wrong I was. The theme to this CD was actually underwater diving. At first, the thought of what this might mean frightened me. The noises of waves, the sea rushing in, fishes talking to each other and sharks tearing flesh was not my idea of good listening. I was, however, delightfully surprised by the music that is on this CD.

One of my favourite types of music is ambient music. I particularly enjoy listening to 'Goa Trance', which is something you hear at raves. The CD has many nods in the direction of Goa trance. I find that, by using keyboards and layering samples, Steve Thomas has done quite a good job at making the quality very thick and full-bodied. This enables the listener to 'groove-out' to the 'hip sounds'.

More people have been to the moon, is a relaxing CD that encompasses a few genres of music that combine to give the listener an audio experience. If you enjoy very relaxing, 'trip'-nautic music, I would suggest you pick this up. If your fancy is in original electronic music, or you thought that you would be listening to dolphins or water cascading over the sands of the Bahamas, this one isn't for you. I'll give this CD 'two beers', because I really enjoy electronica, and especially trance. All in all, way to go Steve, I put your CD in my player when I need to relax and watch the clouds go by.

Ed Lui


AQUAMARINE, UK
More People Have Been To The Moon


The title is a reference to cave diving, which is the theme to this album, and there are some genuine recordings of cave atmospheres incorporated into the music. It's electronic music, and there are dancey elements, but this is much more listening music than dance music. There are rock, pop, and blues elements to the music too, all played on electronic instruments. The fact that Steve Thomas also writes music for TV and films comes as no surprise as many of these tracks sound like they could be themes from TV programmes or films. I'm no expert on the electronic music scene so this is very unlike anything I usually listen to but I found this album an interesting and enjoyable listen, particularly the laid-back track Mellow Pebbles.

Kim Harten


MIDAS Music, UK
More People Have Been To The Moon


At last a new name to our scene but one which comes to us with an excellent background and pedigree. This is a tremendous debut album from the person who produced and engineered the very well received Zanzi Project with Steve Jolliffe.

Track 1   The title track starts quietly and mysteriously, deep resonant sounds and atmospherics. A slow build up with voice samples before a drum and bass launch into lively electronics.
     
Track 2   "Snow Melt" is a gem - soaring synths, prominent piano, laid back female choral voice samples - a complex composition that Chris Franke would have been proud of.
     
Track 3   "Space Haze" is an uptempo busy track which flows powerfully with Shreeve-like influences, sequences and Hammond organ flurries.
     
Track 4   "Connections" is a very lively sequencer track with hints of Ian Boddy in places, eastern influences and electric guitars.
     
Track 5   "The Aquanauts" is very dramatic - the sinister feel at the beginning soon gives way to melody, crazy synthesiser effects and dance/high energy beats.
     
Track 6   "Solo". Hemisphere would be pleased with this one, dark and moody - form your own images in your mind if you prefer but the music is inspired by the real sounds of a cave diver as he swims through a flooded cave - contains synthesiser and vocal effects.
     
Track 7   "Pushing the Void". A piano leads into a tremendously positive and uplifting track with panning stereo vox-harp, guitar and atmospheric synth sounds.
     
Track 8   "200 Bar Blues". Synth blues or what! A very heavy roots track with, surely, tongue in cheek melodies - modern electronic music meets the honky tonk blues.
     
Track 9   "Michaela". Contains rhythm and bass in the best German School tradition - relaxing melodic and full blown synth orchestrations that even Edgar Froese would approve of. The compositional structure is very reminiscent of the rich sounds that Robert Fox or Dave Wright produce.
     
Track 10   "Mellow Pebbles". Begins with a guitar intro blending into piano, strings, pan pipes and flute which combine to induce a feeling of mellowness and relaxation - lots happening.
     
Track 11   "Ether Black". Eerie synths and dark soundscapes reminiscent of the sci-fi territory soundscapes of artists like Biosphere.
     
Track 12   "Mercurial Spheres". Smooth gentle grooves with Hammond organ and a laid back bass line - fairly flies along with incredible gusto.
     
Track 13   "High Planes Drifter". Very pacey "Strange Inside" style classic rock guitar sounds - this is exciting, direct and unforgettable - one of the best tracks on the album.
     
Track 14   "Heartbeat (Into the Dark)" Choral masterpiece of immense power and scope, a gradual builder of pure beauty and emotion with delicate flute, liquid cymbals and a memorable melody that stays with you long after the music is finished.
     
Track 15   "The Journey Home" wraps up the album - a smoothly acoustic piece with spacey synths winding to a satisfying conclusion.

A super release of immense vitality and variation - do not miss this CD.