To understand the life and work of Mark Shreeve you must acknowledge the fact that a person can be utterly transformed by listening to the right piece of music. Falling silent in wonder, hearing Phaerda (by Tangerine Dream) may have been the first time in any of our lives any of us had ever beheld true inspiration. Finding himself forever changed after passing through the transmission carrying these unearthly waves, Shreeve channeled an innovative current of thought to convey the storm of feelings from his mind to ours - in an epic sonic adventure which transpired over a lifetime of creative integrity.
Shreeve's realizations are sometimes described nebulously as "cosmic" or "spacey", but for those that understand the specific language in which innovators speak the message is completely clear. Providing uncanny voyages across a decades-long career he embraced the roles of thinker, composer, performer, and showman through projects meant to celebrate the human spirit in a defiant message of hope. From the headlong momentum of Redshift (his evolving project with brother Julian) to the fine spun intensity of Arc (the duo with Ian Boddy) and his earlier solo endeavors Shreeve utilized the power plant of the mind to conjure a world, not of the future, but rather of the Now, our Now - the Now known especially to the lovers, makers and dreamers of Spacemusic.
Berlin - A Tribute Album for Mark Shreeve (157'25") presents 16 tracks, three featuring Shreeve himself, of works by friends respecting and commemorating the life and work of this beloved talent. The effort was assigned the title Berlin in recognition of the "Berlin-School" - that sub-category of the "Krautrock" movement of the 1970s by which Shreeve was so moved.
Quenzer by Redshift and the Mark Shreeve solo piece The Battle Files will seem familiar to the initiated for their proficient sequencer agility and execution, while Fractured by Arc plays right from the stage of The Gatherings Concert Series in the transient magic of live performance. Where To the Bitter End by ['ramp], You Trailblazer by Oscillator_three, Memory Lane by Ian Boddy and In Transience by Jason Martz may emanate from different corners of Electronic Music, each contributor has made a rare connection with Shreeve through collaboration. Ashok Prema had the good sense to release the early Redshift albums, and his Sailing flows comfortably along the quiet backroads of contemporary EM. On this same byway, but in a much faster lane are also Elemmirë by David Wright, A Call to Arms by Wavestar II, Where Are They Now? by Ron Boots, with AirSculpture splitting the difference through On Writing, their dual zone delivery of motorik mechanics into sequencer intensity. Listeners are then onboard for the darker tones and cerebral mysteries of Bombshell by The 5th Manikin, Anenome (remix) by Radio Massacre International, Inerinnerung by Ode and Nightshift by Chuck van Zyl (the full-blooded homage to Redshift by the author of this review).
Arcing from his initial impulses, Mark Shreeve has left us with a wealth of music to which we will return over and over - for its impact, but also for its craft. As breathtaking passages of monumental proportions beckon us to enter, Shreeve delivers an overall sound that is spectacularly mobile across all registers of his instruments. Remote and forbidding, then shining brilliantly from above, no matter how far out we travel, along whatever unique contour, he always piloted us towards a resolution - and a soft, certain landing. Those close to musicians taken by this most innovative of music will know that the homeland of this type is somewhere else. Known only in visions of a higher, remarkable realm just out of reach, it calls to us - to imagine the possibilities of what lies beyond, and what our world could be.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 7 September 2023