Eban Schletter Three Payments, 1998 Netherota
"A composer for several TV shows, including "Casper - the Animated Series," and one-time Emmy nominee for his music, Eban Schletter is an unlikely country singer. Yet, Schletter has substantially more respect for old-time country than most artists on country radio.

Many songs here, with titles like "I've Got Better Things to Drink About Than You" and "If You Hear Me Playin' George Jones," are straight-ahead, tear-in-your-beer country music. But Schletter also displays a quirky sense of humor with "The Most Socially Accepted Mental Disease," and "Rain Dance" has an intriguing lyric and Native American feel. The album's closer, "At Least You Won't Be Lonely," treads closest to mainstream country, as Schletter sings the pretty tune backed only by acoustic guitar and harmonica.

Schletter self-produced and recorded this album, playing all of the instruments and singing the lead and backup vocals in a Hollywood studio. He doesn't have the best voice, but his songwriting and arrangements are creative and fresh while retaining ties to the honky tonk of yesteryear."

(Brian Wahlert)

Ambientrance (8.5 out of 10)

Eban Schletter: Frontiers (Netherota - 1998)

"If the pieces on Frontiers by Eban Schletter sound like the score to a spooky movie sequence, that's probably because of Eban's background in film and TV. And here's an interesting special effect - instead of relying on extreme processing and bizarre sounds, Schletter creates his magically dark atmospheres with expressive arrangement of relatively straightforward instrumentation. Mood music (with an emphasis on the music) for twisted times.

Entering passages, the listener finds an eerie atmosphere with sparse musical effects and hissing breath. A flourish of synth chords erupts, as do subtle tinkles, and later, brassy swells. Other sounds are worked into the ever-changing mix, including bells and a wavery, theremin-like oscillation. Quite theatrical in presentation, the woodwind and brass sounds which lead to discovery (5:01), set another stage with ominously-lit apprehension. Strings join in the form of frantic little plucks and sonorous sheets. The brass re-enters in a majestic layering, like light cascading down upon some incredible find, which may or may not be something wonderful. A chorus of female ahhs close the piece.

Rhythmic and rousing, spirit dances (11:28) passes through many variations in its evolution. The track opens on staccato percussion and a spritely xylo-tune, which leads to powerful strings and a grandly blaring pipe organ. String and flute delicately take their turn with the main phrase. Flutes of all varieties gather to form their own little babble, followed by spacey whistlers in the night. Harpsichord passages add finely-wrought pre-colonial touches, before the automated rhythm and string section return to finish what it started, in a stirring crescendo which degenerates into scattered twinklings. Subtle metallic tinklings add even more mystery to the darkly looming swells of brass and strings in transition, another cinematically unfolding musical scene. In the disc's "weirdest" interlude, a shimmering electronic miasma is accented with tiny horn honks and sweltering vocal ahhs. The waves of brass again roll like a cold, powerful sea, and a flurry of icy tinklings fall to close the track.

Whistles, bells, clunks, a shaker rhythm, bass, hawaiian guitar and harmonica/accordian lead come together in a sultry outing, the delusion dance. A smooth intro, despite so many bits and pieces stirred into the mix, at least until the layered horn blares and bongos muscle in. The track returns to its original hazy state with lots of pattering beats scurrying about. Very interesting! Long flows of vocal ahhhs (contributed by Laura Milligan, Schletter's collaborator on other projects) and a dreamy keyboard riff with light brushy percussion give excavation a dig-ably lounge/Twilight Zone feel. Laura's oohs and ahhs are layered and relayered for a closing chorus of resonant siren sounds.

Perhaps my ears have grown unaccustomed to overt "musical instrument" sounds; it took a few listens to allow Frontiers to truly work its magic upon them. Schletter's arrangements are evocative and interestingly structured... and garner a well-deserved 8.5 for his talent and efforts."

(David J. Opdyke March, 1999)

Ambientrance (8.3 out of 10)

Eban Schletter: The Civilian (Netherota - 2000)

"If your mental movies are in black-and-white (and lean toward the horror genre...), Eban Schletter's got the soundtrack for you... decorated with intricate structures, 51-minute-long The Civilian is rendered entirely in the bold churning monochrome of old-fashioned church organ sounds.

Cinematic atmospheres of chiming activity lead into Metropolis, to be juxtaposed with brooding organ drones, interlaced with finger-exhausting acrobatics, which set a mood of busy intrigue. Softer chords trill and glide through Humble Beginnings while Calling delves into spookier keyboarding sleights-of-hand.

Reverberating layers ring out in different directions as Decision (7:10) explores multiple sonic possibilities, most of which are ominous-sounding. A bit of majesty and medievalism dances through the darkly sparkling activities of Undead (2:53). Twinkling Momentum gains a chilliness from swiftly rotating note-cycles and multi-level tones.

The deep spookshow blasts of Undercurrents and the trepidatious lilt of Metamorphosis precede the final act; Epilogue points toward a happy ending, with brighter gleams and peppier stroking of the keys

No beats. No fancy effects. No guitars, samples or voices... it's all organ-ic! The disc is appropriately packaged in tasteful gray on black, and the liner notes include a bit of poetry for each track.

Using only old-timey cathedral organ sounds,Eban Schletter does his own Phantom of the Opera thing, painting grayscale soundscenes of Gothic grandeur, sweet sorrow and imminent danger. Not ambient as such, but decidedly picturesque and moody, The Civilian offers an often-edgy 8.3 getaway into the darkened recesses of your imagination."

(David J. Opdyke May, 2001)


Eban Schletter: "Frontiers" 1998, Netherota Records

"#1 - "Passages" - Melodic theme established, no beats, large washes of synth elements. Full sound, thick, but not dense and very colorful. Chime elements, large bells.

#2 - "Discovery" - Much more distant ambient, conventional sound elements (strings, horns), ambient on a symphonic scale, with large, organized elements of sound. Some parts on a grandiose scale. If this is discovery, it feels like we've found something really, really big. The vocals at the end return later...

#3 - "Spirit Dances" - Percussion, light, playful but somewhat serious. great big church organs blast in dramatically around 1:15. this is quite a track...the melody carries throughout and in many different forms. Impressive, lush, and beautiful. Slows down a bit in the middle, moves along for awhile on a harpsichord, sounds build up around the harpsichord, slowly becomes more dense, back to the light percussion from the beginning and the opening themes repeat.

#4 - "Transition" - There's that theme again, over deep, sustained chords, played likely on a french horn. Vocals return - a series of "has", "aaahs". Sounds like they're allowed to repeat, echo off each other. Sort of like a cacophony of lost souls. Eerie with a capital E...exquisitely abstract as the theme on the french horn returns through the voices.

#5 - "Delusion Dance" - Abstract percussion, bass notes plucked out on a bass guitar. Sand shaker, bongo(?), native drum with echo, southwestern guitar (a-la Twin Peaks), and a Parisian-sounding harmonica. All kinds of good stuff. An there goes the theme from before. Completely far out, cool.

#6 - "Excavation" - Here comes those voices again...feels bright...just the voices...chorus. Then around 1:45, a dark marimba plays a melody, very light drums and bass guitar play out a slow, wispy, shifty glide...only the solo voices from before now, along with the parisian harmonica. A whistler duets with the solo voices. A revelation of sorts. Dissolves back to the voices.

Comments: It's ambient music played with conventional sounds, and that's where the bounds of normalcy are left far, far behind. Parisian harmonica (I think...unless that's an accordion), Southwestern US electric guitar (played sparsely), native drums, stringed instruments from Japan, a chorus of female voices...strings and horns...towering pipe organs...all brought together for an exquisite journey to, perhaps, the edge of the universe. Quite an interesting adventure."

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