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Michael Thomas Berkley - Images From Earth (Numinous)

Michael Berkley has created a collection of music that puts across his environmental message more strongly that words ever could. The album is "A musical interpretation of the spiritual, geological, biological and anthropological evolution of Earth", begining at the very start, year 0, and interpreting every stage of evolution - early plant life, through dinosaurs, mammals, primitive man, modern man and finishing up with a look at the future.

As well as being a musical work, it is a work of perspective, where arbitrary dates, like the year 2000, are insignificant in the face of over 4 thousand million years of development. Musically, it is a very successful attempt to express the sacredness and numinousity of the earth in some of the oldest forms of expression we have, melody and rhythm. It begins with ambient soundscapes, mixing the sound effects of chaos with streams of melodic elements.

The music progresses as life did, bringing in more complex elements, such as 'primitive' tribal rhythms, more complex melodies with violin, flute and finally voice. The modern world is represented by "Between Terror and Hope" returning again to ambient soundscape laid under a vocal sample of an environmentally conscious lecture by Thomas Berry, warning us of the crisis we have created.

Finally "Beyond" wraps it all up, mixing elements of all that has come before - an ambient soundscape, featuring natural sound effects and more complex musics - marrying the modern with the natural.

Musical influences are obviously drawn from artists like Eno and Dead Can Dance, but also from the sources on which they originally drew. This is a powerful and evocative collection, which would make a perfect soundtrack to a brilliant concept film.

by Donnacha DeLong