S O U N D S C A P E S

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Here is the archive of Soundscapes Concert #3 featuring Orbital Decay and Tom Shaw.   It took place at the City of Bethlehem's IceHouse on Saturday, February 22, 2003.   The doors opened at 7:00 pm when the crowd was greeted by live ambient music played in the lobby by Tom Shaw and Moe Altamura.   The free dinner buffet catered by Chef Jeff of Cosmic Catering was enjoyed by all.   Thanks to Oscar van Loveren of Wooden Shoe Music who co-produced this concert with me.   Thanks also go to the volunteers who make Soundscapes happen: Otto Bost, Alison and her kids, Nancy, and George "OK so far" Libricz.   Thanks also go to Bob King of 5000 Forms for supplying tickets, Dave Sneed of Dave Phillips Music and Sound for loaning the subwoofer, and to Clark Ferguson of Bearswamp Studio for financial aid.

ORBITAL DECAY

Orbital Decay consists of electric guitarist Scott Watkins and synthesist Terry Furber of Quakertown, Pennsylvania, located north of Philadelphia and south of Allentown/Bethlehem.   Originally founded in 1979, the year when Skylab's orbit decayed, returning it to Earth in a firey display, Terry and Scott formed a band influenced by the likes of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Shulze, and Pink Floyd.   Today, Terry and Scott make improvisational electronic space music with the energy of fusion styles from the 1970s.   This means that Orbital Decay charts unexplored territory of sound and mood. Orbital Decay
Orbital Decay at Soundscapes #3
Photo 2003 Howard Moscovitz
Scott Watkins - guitar
Scott Watkins - guitar
Photo 2003 Howard Moscovitz
Terry Furber has the keyboard chops of a progressive rock keyboardist, enabling him to play soaring synth solos over a classic Berlin School sequence.   Yet he can display the restraint required for a deep space excursion in the darker, more introspective moments of his music.   In addition to being a player, Terry also builds and programs his own synthesizers and computers, sometimes using older technology obtained at bargain basement prices.   He then proceeds to squeeze every ounce of music possible from his concoctions.   An example of his ability in this area is his minimoog and MOTM modular synth which was Keyboard of the Month in Keyboard magazine.
Scott Watkins was another founding member of Orbital Decay.   Due to other life commitments, Scott had to leave the band temporarily, making way for Tim Richardson who performed at last year's Orbital Decay performances at Soundscapes and on WDIY's EMUSIC spacemusic program.   Since then, Scott has returned.   Together with Terry, Scott, whose influences include Robert Fripp, has performed twice on WXPN's Star's End spacemusic program and released three self-produced albums featuring their prolific studio work. Terry Furber - synthesizers
Terry Furber - synthesizers
Photo 2003 Howard Moscovitz
Event review: Soundscapes #3

Soundscapes #3 at the Ice House in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on 2-22-03, was another brilliant success. The featured artist was Orbital Decay, a two person electronic music ensemble that plays exquisite evolving sound structures that can best be described as, well, "Soundscapes." Orbital Decay would have been enough, but there was more!

Tom Shaw, an ambient music artist, peformed for about one hour before the concert. His music is certainly not mearly background music to be ignored. Tom Plays the guitar, keyboard and assorted electronic gizmos. He was playing last night with a percussionist whose name I unfortunately didn't get. [Editor's Note: That was Moe Altamuro.] Tom sets up very relaxing ambient textures which are very beautiful. Many people stopped to listen carfully. I hope he performs again at future Soundscapes.

Orbital Decay, Terry Furber on synthesizers and Scott Watkins on electric guitar, has been performing since 1979. Influenced by such bands as Tangerine Dream, Klaus Shulze, and Pink Floyd they have developed their own style of "space music." They performed two wonderful sets. Each set was a contiunous uninterrupted wash of harmonious sounds. Sometimes the music became quite rhythmic. People were tapping their feet and nodding their heads with the beat. I was very pleased that the beats weren't the often-heard drum sounds that less imaginative electronic groups seems to find unavoidable. OD's beats are very pleasant snappy electronic sounds. They appear to be mostly modulated resonant filters, possibly made with Terry's vintage Moog gear.

When Orbital Decay drifted into sections where there was "no beat" we heard deliberate harmonic structures which create very long phrases. These phrases last minutes, not a few seconds as they do in most music. There wais more going on than first met the ear. Sometimes there are startling glides, or glissandos, that seemed to bend the sound field. These always resolved in a satisfying way.

Each set lasted about one hour. Afterwards I felt like I had been on a very well guided sonic journey which left me relaxed and refreshed. My wife, Juli, commented that this music reminded her of Indian Ragas. This is right on.

Terry and Scott are mature artists exploring new musical forms with every performance. I look forward to hearing them again.

As has become a fabulous tradition at Soundscapes, Chef Jeff provided a delicous buffet dinner at no charge. He does this because he loves electronic music. It's his way of supporting it. Chef Jeff is a classic patron of the arts.

We should all thank Bill Fox and all the volunteers for their efforts at producing the Soundscapes concerts. For those of us lucky enough to be in Eastern Pennsylvania we are in their debt because Soundscapes greatly contributes to the quality of the artistic life in our community.

Howard Moscovitz
as posted to the Soundscapes Forum
Tom Shaw and Moe Altamura in the lobby
Tom Shaw and Moe Altamur in the lobby
Photo 2003 Howard Moscovitz


Orbital Decay
Orbital Decay
Photo 2003 Howard Moscovitz

Happy Host
Happy Host
Photo 2003 Howard Moscovitz



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