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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Marconi Union - Weightless (Ambient Transmissions Vol. 2)
STYLE
 

September 2014
Minimal, ambient, downtempo.
Weightless (Ambient Transmissions Vol. 2) is an album of supremely serene relaxation music. However, this is by no means your standard 'relaxation music' - this scientifically researched project has none of the saccharine clichés often associated with this admirable pursuit. Rooted in ambient electronica, Weightless features shifting textures of finely crafted static sleet, simple melodic cycles and phrases, blurry drones and sparse, uncluttered beats. The six recordings are presented as parts 1 to 6 with the original Weightless recording being Part 1. Promotional material explains that Weightless Part 1 "almost appears to have a heartbeat running through it which slows down very gently throughout the piece, encouraging a deep sense of relaxation in the body.

 
ARTWORK   The Weightless digipack indicates the form of relaxation music to expect here: a hazy green to copper ground supports a fine, multi-star graphic that alternates between solid and broken lines. This floating form seems permanently on the edge of motion, about to fade, to lift, to coruscate at its junctures. The rear cover has similar visuals with an uncluttered tracklist running horizontally near the bottom. On a more heavily coppered ground, the inner left panel holds a smaller star and minimal credits. The disc sits in a plastic grip to the right.
 
OVERALL   

Marconi Union deliver this delicious other-worldly disc of Weightless variations, via the Just Music label, about two years after the original track was commissioned in collaboration with leading UK sound therapists. The track was created with the intention of subjecting the music to scientific testing, taking brainwave measurements and analysing the results. The process sparked more ideas than could be explored in a single composition and so Weightless (Ambient Transmissions Vol. 2) later came into being. Their seventh album since debuting back in 2003 with Under Wires and Searchlights, Weightless (Ambient Transmissions Vol. 2) consists of six pieces that could be viewed as a development from Beautifully Falling Apart (Ambient Transmissions Vol.1). Explore the Weightless experience via the Just Music website where you can listen to each track and read more about this interest9ing project.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Darshan Ambient - Songs From The Deep Field
STYLE
 
October 2014
Rhythmic ambient space music and melodic electronica.
Darshan Ambient turns his eyes skyward to look beyond the earth's atmosphere and into a small region of space. Where many see isolation or sci-fi minimalism Darshan Ambient finds inspiring beauty, warmth and (to quote promotional material) design. The resultant album of 'space music' is therefore not the oft-experience cold or bleak electronica touched with moments of wonder; no, here are effulgent synth and guitar melodies, euphoric beat-driven harmonies and beaming themes. From the opening Star Born, an inspiring optimism infuses the music: beats are gentle, smooth, distinctive; melodic forms are understated and uplifting, often evolving in subtle ways as tracks progress; elegant string patterns bring additional vibrancy. There are passages where the ambient nature of the music is allowed to blossom more fully: rhythmic restraint, light clicks and flecks, wistful piano touches and deep drone layers.
 
ARTWORK  

Inspired as it is by the Hubble Deep Field, Songs From The Deep Field features imagery that focuses on galactic star-scapes and the glorious colours of space. These strangely busy backdrops are montaged above earthen-hued landscapes, a barrier of drifting mist separating the two. The usual tracklist is present on the rear panel of this smooth gatefold digipack; each title has the timing alongside. Inside, the earth-space divide is presented again as a two-panel panorama. There is a brief dedication and credits to the left whilst words from Blake are quoted to the right. Significantly, a two-paragraph explanation of the Hubble Deep Field imagery and it's effects upon the artist hangs within the mists on the lower right - the words 'unbelievable' and 'humbling' lingering in the mind after reading...

 
OVERALL   

Darshan Ambient releases Songs From The Deep Field as his eighth album on the Spotted Peccary label. The album presents eleven recordings with track titles revealing something of the approach taken: Blue Lotus, Heaven in a Wildflower, Microlife, Sleepers Awake! Pieces range from the four and a half minute mark to the central You Will Never Be Alone at eight minutes thirty eight seconds. Promotional material explains: "One of the most famous images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope covers only a tiny speck of the sky, and yet it reveals a bewildering assortment of galaxies at various stages of stellar evolution. This mesmerizing image, known as the “Hubble Deep Field,” is the inspiration for" Songs From The Deep Field. You can find out more about the music and listen to each of the tracks at the Spotted Peccary website.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Druckfarben - Second Sound
STYLE
 

October 2014
Progressive rock.
Second Sound is an energetic, intricate album of well-crafted, contemporary progressive rock. Working with the best elements of this expansive genre, Druckfarben carefully balance deft musicianship, creative vocal harmonies and in-depth songcrafting. From the opening bars of An Answer Dreaming there is an elegant timelessness to the music: complex, fast and multi-layered; keyboards, and guitar weaving around drums and bass in a tight, ever-evolving tapestry building gradually without hurry to the vocal section. There is a very modern feel to Druckfarben, yet there is something very much rooted about their tracks too, clearly indebted to the early genre-defining bands of the 1970s. Thankfully, Second Sound seems little concerned with the neo-prog developments of the 1980's that, in my opinion, diluted much that was best of the genre. The short tracks Disbelief and Liberated Dream are adventurous, avoiding verse-chorus simplicity yet managing to include a string of hook lines and memorable builds. Although I'm a great fan of progressive epics, these relatively brief pieces seem to pack everything that makes a great track into just three or four minutes. The longer pieces really see the band open up with adventurous instrumental interludes and digressions climaxing in the near-nineteen minute title track. Here there are acoustic passages with multi-part vocal harmonies, electric violin breaks, an Irish reel section, enormous climactic builds, strong rock themes, a banjo wind-down, synth breaks and frequent time signature shifts.

 
ARTWORK   Second Sound is presented in a lush digipack (I wish all albums were) of two panels, disc held in a plastic grip on inner rightmost panel. Information is cleverly placed on the white backdrop behind the disc leaving the remaining space free to luxuriate in the imagery. When opened out the cover forms a panorama: a single tree clings to the surface of a shady planet, a bright star rise just peeping over the edge. The expanse behind is smooth and deep wherein track titles hang in subtle matching hue. Only track titles and two lines of information reside on the rear. Looking inside there is an indoor portrait of the band to the left - mostly dressed in black. To right can be found track-by track writing credits, additional credits, an instrumentation break-down and thanks from each band member.
 
OVERALL    Second Sound is the second full-length studio album from Toronto's Druckfarben and follow-up to their self-titled debut of 2011. The band have their performing origins around 2008 when they explored cover versions of some of prog's finest, their live DVD Artifact revealing just how adept these musicians are via a stunning rendition of the Yes classic here spelled Syberian Khatru. Clearly there are no passengers in the band and although multi-instrumentalist Ed Bernard (guitars, violins, violas, mandolins, banjo, dobro, etc.) takes the lead in writing, it is evident that each member brings technical competency, diverse musical development and vitality to the recordings. Singer Phil Naro has a distinct, dynamic voice that easily matches the dynamism of the players, able also to lead the high-register harmony sections that call to mind a more-muscular Yes. There is nothing of the tiredness that seems to have crept into some acts and no attempt to water-down the progressive grandeur of the music for Druckfarben, these guys clearly love what they do and do it with passion and verve. You can listen to the whole of Second Sound at the Druckfarben Bandcamp page or you can explore, read or buy from the official Druckfraben website. If you're looking for something that boldly progresses the spirit of clasic prog without becoming absorbed by metal Druckfraben could bejust what you need.
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Shane Morris & Mystified - Evolution
STYLE
 

October 2014
Evolving organic dronescapes.
Evolution is the final part of the Inspired Evolution series by Shane Morris and Mystified. In line with the title, the music has developed from the primordial Epoch where only natural sound sources were employed, via Emergence wherein electronica 'emerged' amongst acoustic material; now synthetic sound comes to the fore. The five tracks retain a similar minimal approach to that taken on the previous albums: mysterious drones, both deep and delicate pulsate with layered intensities; rhythmic flicks and rattles, percussive disturbances and bass throbs thread through the brightening terrains building into light beats in places. Warm swells, dramatic pads, metallic washes and synthesiser textures build and decay in gentle waves with an optimistic sense of progress. The final track The Trials of Evolved Man is perhaps the most contemporary in sound, twinkling faintly toward ambient downtempo before dissipating into lustrous, buoyant synth drones.

 
ARTWORK   As with Epoch and Emergence, Evolution is a vivid digipack presentation of two panels. A blue lake surrounded by rocky hills, flat beneath a grey sky is the subject of the cover art; a perfect place for people. On the rear the ripples of the lake shore coruscate in close-up ripples flinging track titles off to the left side. Each track has the time listed on the rear cover and there brief credits and label details here too. Inside is another image of the front cover lake - here straddling both sections - striking blue water centremost. To the left is a two-paragraph explanation of the project; to the right, thanks and website details. The disc nicely tucks into the sleeve, free of plastic and without disturbing the inspiring visuals.
 
OVERALL   

Follow-up to the 2013 Emergence and the 2012 Epoch, Spotted Peccary delivers the conclusion to this ambitious ambient narrative. Shane Morris and Mystified, having moved through the eras of the dinosaurs and early mammals now turn their attention to the arrival of mankind, symbolising this development through the increased use of electronic sound over the acoustic elements of the previous recordings. Promotional material reveals, "The music, sometimes rhythmic, opaque and mostly amorphous, is much like the swirling of the gene pool forming over a long period of time." The five tracks are all between ten and fourteen minutes in lengths - each one unhurried and subtle in development. You can sample the recordings at the Spotted Peccary website or you can try the Bandcamp page for the release. Both provide additional information and purchasing opportunities.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Spatialize - On The Edge Of Forever
STYLE
 
December 2014
Ambient and psychedelic chill.
On The Edge Of Forever is a transcendent new release from Spatialize that really shines within the downtempo genre: serene, dreamy and beautifully executed. Ambidelica is an aptly used tag for the album - very elegant, delicate and steeped in deeply saturated sonic colour. There is a consistent sense of effortless cool, languid wonder, restful drama about the album that easily holds the attention whilst inspiring blissful, drifting reverie - swaying, nodding, dancing... A number of world sounds inhabit the various tracks: sinewy throat harmonies, Indian female singers, sensual flutes, twanging wires, hard to place textures... Beats are intricate and engrossing with glitchy plips, clicks and flicks coruscating around the top end; a light real-drum kit sound often forming the rhythmic backbone and lush low thumps rounding out the bottom range.
 
IN DEPTH   On The Edge Of Forever ascends smoothly from silence with the opener Hancock Entity, a lustrous ambient introduction that soon picks up a light fleck of percussive clicks before building into a gliding beat with a nice sonorous bass boom. Exotic flushes colour the synth sequences and subtle global elements both instrumental and vocal drift into place cycling, repeating, shifting and dancing away once more. As the album progresses strongly effected international vocal snatches act almost instrumentally; soft spoken voices reassure, lull or inspire and male and female singers chant in soaring delight. Cracked features a warmly uplifting piano melody and distant voices that suggest summer evening laziness. Clarity winds around a brisk, blunt bass pattern introduced by a muted beat and glitch touches that edge close to drum and bass territory. The closing piece Godrevy is a shimmering, near-ambient composition where faint grooves hang deep within the mix rolling with the overall flow of waves and sequences rather than driving the track.
 
ARTWORK    On The Edge Of Forever is a digital-only release and so artwork consists primarily of the evocative cover image. Here a peaceful camel train rests beneath the rippled effulgence of the dazzling Milky Way galaxy. The depths and intensities of the beclouded central band soon give way to the greater brightness of a larger heavenly body aglow, white and central not far above the horizon. Finally a softer, fainter radiance of orange draws the eye to an unseen source somewhere beyond the horizon to the left.
 
OVERALL   One half of a twin Spatialize release, On The Edge Of Forever comes eight years after the 2006 EP In The Midst Of Myriads and sees the project soaring for greater heights. Based in Cornwall in the UK, Neil Butler hints at his inspirational surroundings through the concluding track title Godrevy, yet this is music that stretches far beyond that remote peninsula both in terms of musical flavour and contemporary edge. Spatialize employs a carefully-crafted clean approach that allows every layer of sound to sparkle within its own three dimensional space. A collaborative recording with Krusseldorf's Simon Heath provides a rather dubby penultimate piece in Great Prayer that moves toward the final wind down. Nine tracks in all that you can explore at the Spatialize Bandcamp page before downloading in your favourite format.
 
ARTISTS THOUGHTS    When I was searching for album covers I went through quite a few permutations and tried several different designs. When I finally found the present album, I knew right away that the camel train in the desert reflected the earthy, global, human, festival, exotic side of the music with the Milky Way representing the spacey, cosmic synth side. More than that it shows the world as a unique, fragile, beautiful entity with weird and wonderful lifeforms peering out into an endless universe. Having seen the photo, the album title came almost straight away; a world sitting literally On the Edge of Forever.

I completed the majority of the tracks on this album by the end of 2011 (apart from Great Prayer and Godrevy) and hadn't heard them for a long time, besides auditioning the tracks on laptop speakers when compiling playlists for the albums. So it actually came as quite a shock when I got the masters back from Gregg at Hermetech Mastering, sat back and cranked up the stereo.

Normally, it takes a few years to be able to hear your own recordings as 'music' and disassociate your own internal producers dialogue about it; wondering if, for instance, I should change the level of certain elements in the mix or add another synth part etc. So it was a very real pleasure, what with the artwork and very pleasing mastering job, to be able to hear the music afresh as a complete, finished work that I could enjoy in much the same as any other album I might buy.

 
PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL   It’s been 8 years since ‘In The Midst Of Myriads’ in 2006, but producer Neil Butler from the South West UK has not been sitting still as he returns with a very special December 2014 release of two stunning albums of sonic electronica, released via digital download.

On the Edge of Forever is a magic carpet ride through the exotic world of global, psychedelic electronica. Effortlessly navigating it's way through a variety of downtempo styles and featuring a track co-written with Simon Heath from Krusseldorf, the trademark Spatialize multi-layered space synths and high quality production carves out a unique, high-vibe sonic space that is at once earthy and cosmic.

Here’s what the Moensterhead review said about the album:

“On The Edge of Forever is made up of 9 tracks and have a very distinct summer-feel to them. From the first moments of the record to the last you are washed over with the festival-vibes we know and love from the summer time. Sitting in the setting sun on a festival chill-out floor, that’s what this sounds like! It is a work of classic psychedelia and chill-out music beautifully blended with sunshine beats to create an old-school yet timeless sound. It’s guaranteed to make you long for summer.”

First rate festival music.
 
AUDIO  
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Asura - [Radio Universe]
STYLE
 

December 2014
Psybient, downtempo, space music.
Radio Universe sees Asura deeply developing the more ambient, expansive and textural aspects of the project to great effect. This is a gorgeously cinematic collection of rich electronica that evokes all the best dystopian space opera imagery: wistful, shadowy, mind-bending, immense. Asura sounds more refined than ever drifting with classical elegance through these great vivid sound nebulae. The first five tracks are mostly beatless with only the occasional sequencer stream rolling into rhythmic flow. Here huge gaseous masses gather and blossom whilst plaintive synth touches lift or glide by like silent, slow-motion liquid-fireworks. Gaea (Transit) falls briefly through space for less than a minute between the epic eleven and a half minute Oblivion Gravity and the silky smooth Ascension In Blue, each seamlessly transitioning into the next. Farscape 7 opens a second chapter with a hazy, sibilant beat underpinning a lustrous chime theme - unexpectedly a female vocal swims into the mix with a peculiar sci-fi lilt to the song - very evocative, very filmic. The rest of the album retains this melancholy downtempo approach: a beautiful piano melody on Lonely Star; a little restrained global exotica on Illuminations; Back To Earth for track nine with the whirrs and chirps of night insects piercing the rain.

 
ARTWORK   [Radio Universe] is presented lusciously according to Ultimae's way: three panels of glossy eye delight and a generous booklet of photographic abstracts. Track titles on the rear panel are expanded within the photo-booklet with notes where relevant. Two sections of thanks join brief picture credits on the penultimate page with an artist portrait concluding the insert. Everything has a subtle low-light lustre to it, from the multi-textured rings and braille-blisters of the outer cover to the landscapes and macro images on the interior.
 
OVERALL   

Asura returns with a fourth full-length album and long awaited follow-up to 2010's 360. French composer Charles Farewell delivers [ Radio Universe ] through the highly respected Ultimae label who are promoting the album as "a renewed vision of the seventies Space Music legacy." This description focuses well on the point that Radio Universe is a 'renewed vision' since Asura has never sounded quite so contemporary as here. The ten tracks do as the promotional material claims sending one "drifting and spiralling through deep bass drones and multi-layered synth pads contrasted by the classic downtempo tracks the artist is famously known for." If you would like to hear the music, the Ultimae website has samples for each track and the album Bandcamp page provides streaming as well as download and purchasing options.

 
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