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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 


 

 ----------Various Artists - Greenosophy II (Collected by Mizoo)
STYLE
 
February 2017
Ambient electronica.
Greenosophy Chapter II ascends smoothly out of silence into a mesmeric, drifting zone of sound that is Algun Dia, lit by soft, gentle, repeating electronic chimes, revolving around in soothing repetition. Since each track segues into the next, this initial tranquillity is gradually developed and bolstered across the breath of the collection: a muted, padding beat in the second track, a more lively downtempo groove in track three, a tripping train-like rhythm to Security that eventually pumps into Aes Dana's pair of tracks in the middle of the journey. The second half builds more of a weighty sound, darker in places, more strident, delicate interludes though at every corner. Greenosophy Chapter II has a sombre tone to much its serenity well captured in the shadowy cover image, restricted melodies, throbbing rhythms, dark drones. The whole album is very hypnotic, only infrequently lifting slightly out of this lulling spell such as during the somewhat climactic surge and the driving beat of I Awake feat. Hybrid Leisureland's Metaworld.
 
ARTWORK   This is a truly beautiful package, tactile, engrossing, beguiling. Greenosophy comes in a three-panel digipack with imagery that is an absolute delight: complex, organic forms, their fragility softened by tight depth of focus spread out across the whole panorama inside and out. Myriad little bulbs on the finest of stalks form fields of strange intrigue, variations in the theme running throughout the glossy booklet tucked into an end of the sleeve. Track titles are on the rear cover and again on page one; no text mars the imagery of most of the booklet. Information is found inside the back cover aside a portrait of the curator Mizoo.
 
OVERALL    The follow-up to 2012's original Greenosophy assembles Ultimae and downtempo regulars with less well-known artists Aes Dana, Cell, Miktek, Scann-Tec, I Awake, Ovnimoon, Claudio Prc, Mystic Crock and Ascendant for a serious-minded excursion through some rather cerebral ambience and low-bpm flow and pulse music. Ten tracks that demand close, attentive listening for greatest impact (head phones certainly reward the effort), very clean professional sheen and technically flawless. If you enjoyed Greenosophy Chapter I this is surely an automatic purchase, if not have a listen at Ultimae's Bandcamp page or the official Ultimae website.
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 


 

 ----------Max Corbacho - Nocturnes
STYLE
 
May 2017
Smooth, drifting ambient electronica.
Nocturnes sees Spanish ambient master Max Corbacho delivering some of his most silken, airy ambient fabric to date along with some uneasy dark shrouds that lift and curl in the unseen slow-motion currents of the night. The enormous opener wafts by in delicate filaments of sound, overlaid one upon another, hypnotically heaving, becalmed, meandering. This is a tranquil composition that naturally wells up and over the listener, submerging, buoying up, carrying one afloat... Subsequent tracks see what had until now been background shadow bleed forward, building an uneasy weight that gathers subtly in Stellar Time and more prominently in Ghost of the Moon. There is a distinct sense of infinite space and the immensity of empty sky that is obviously heightened by the accompanying artwork and track titles revealing the inspiration for this rather personal project. Nocturnes is an ambient work of the highest calibre that rewards a full and persistent immersion.
 
ARTWORK  

Nocturnes is presented within an elegant digipack of twin panels adorned by Max's own atmospheric imagery captured over a series of night photography sessions. An otherworldly panorama spreads across the outer cover - the enormity of the bejewelled night sky acting as backdrop to the album and track titles. Within, another crepuscular vista glows with curious nocturnal warmth, credits and background information once more set out upon the sky. The disc is clasped upon the right inner panel repeating the cover art in reverse. The engrossing beauty of the visuals enclosing this music invite the listener to experience something of the wonder that lead Max Corbacho to compose the music of Nocturnes making the package a pleasingly tight whole.

 
OVERALL   

The discography of Max Corbacho has grown into an impressive body of work over recent years, given weight by the artists' obvious depth of commitment to the genre. Here Max Corbacho presents a complete musical/visual experience inspired by after-dark excursions into wild open spaces. The soft-edge subtleties, the serenity of after hours and the feel of the vastness of the open air are all threads picked up and woven into this enveloping production. The three tracks range from the huge Dark Sky Opening at fifty two minutes fifty seconds through the eleven forty four Stellar Time to the concluding piece Ghost of the Moon at just over nine minutes. Promotional material explains, "In this new work, Max Corbacho vanishes edges and shapes of sound to introduce the listener to a surreal landscape of ghost textures, blurring time and projecting a new world, hidden before the sunset. The characteristic elements in the sound depth of Corbacho are firmly present: dense harmonic layers of synthesizers combined with rich overtones flow freely in time like shadows in a dreamlike, fuzzy blooming of colorist chords and textures." Why not listen for yourself at Max Corbacho's extensive Bandcamp page or explore more of the release at the official Max Corbacho web site.

 
AUDIO  
 
ARTISTS' THOUGHTS  

"Nocturnes is the first episode of a trilogy inspired by the long hours lived on many night-time excursions, often photographing the places visited. Over the years I have never lost the excitement and joy of these nocturnal walks. In one of the viewing sessions of these photographs, I came up with the idea of creating a series of albums with these night landscapes as the background theme. Showing the photograph of the place where I have been in the artwork is, as I perceive it, to share with my listeners a complete experience, a way of connecting the music with the place where it was inspired. The most vivid memory of these nights is silence, stillness, the twinkling light of the stars and the sweet fragrance of thyme that impregnates everything in these regions of Aragon in Spain. "

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 


 

 ----------The Samurai of Prog - On We Sail
STYLE
 

June 2017
Progressive rock.
The Samurai of Prog deliver another quality package of unashamedly vintage progressive rock with all of the required boxes thoroughly ticked. The nine adventurous compositions here are full of colour and variety of pace, with delicate acoustic passages nicely complementing a powerful electronic core. At times there is almost an orchestral approach, at others just a good solid rock combo feel, now and then solo interludes, folk touches, manic digressions. Over Again is a delightful piano piece reminding me how I enjoy certain styles of music all the more when threaded into the fabric of a large-scale progressive rock album. Instrumentation generally is lively and varied with flutes, violins, pianos, classical and steel string guitars tastefully arranged against synths, moogs, electric keyboards and guitars. The central three members of the band are joined by a wealth of guest players bringing additional virtuoso talent to many of the tracks - lead lines really sparkle: intricate stabbing piano on Elements of Life, lilting violin weaving among synth lines in the title track; delicious languid, spiky guitar at the end of Theodora. Growing Up effectively combines a Tull-like playfulness and childhood theme that really takes you back to bygone days.

 
ARTWORK  

On We Sail benefits once again from the gloriously colourful cover artwork of Ed Unitsky, an artist that perfectly matches the vivid music of TSOP. The digipack layout is deliciously lush and engrossing with rich, bright, nautically-themed visuals brimming throughout: panoramic three-panel cover; generous information booklet; extra card sleeve enclosing the CD which is itself printed to resemble a vinyl disc. Cover art shows a wave-battered galleon struggling against a series of gargoyle-like sea monsters - opening up to the inner vista we find immense skeletal remains and the wreckage of a ship stranded in sand - no words here, just the evocative imagery. This theme of battling the waters recurs on the sleeve insert and some of the booklet. Other pages within hold atmospheric photos and photomontages as backdrops to the lyrics. The twenty-page booklet sits in one end panel providing lyrics, band and guest photographs, explanatory details and extensive credits. The whole package is so well put together it has the feel of something released back in vinyl days when many of us looked forward as much to the extravagant gatefold sleeves and inserted extras just as much as the music itself.

 
OVERALL   

On We Sail is the fifth album from multinational progressive band The Samurai of Prog. The band started out around 2009 with a strong focus on covering tracks by other well-known progressive acts. Since then a series of albums has seen the project write more and more of their own material whilst at times revisiting their love of old progressive masters. Consequently I suspect, On We Sail doesn't travel the progressive metal route taken by many contemporaries, instead building cleverly constructed melodic progressive music more in keeping with much of the 70s blueprint - and this for me is certainly works a treat for this band. Whilst TSOP have clearly developed their own distinct style, their choice of genre naturally stirs up reminiscences - I'm pleasantly reminded of artists such as ELP, Jethro Tull, The Band, Genesis and a rather soft-focus blur of others. That said, On We Sail deftly avoids sounding like a band trying to imitate past glories, the personality of the project is strong and distinct. Explore more of the album at the official Samurai of Prog website where you can listen to samples of the music and discover previous releases or go to Seacrest Oy.

 

VIDEO  
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 


 

 ----------Various Artists - Polarity (Mixed by Focal)
STYLE
 
June 2017
Dark ambient, downtempo and electronica.
Polarity presents a pair of discs labelled Ambient side and Techno side. Poles apart yet tightly bound, this large collection is united through minimalist structures, smooth forms and attention to the finest of details. The ambient disc sets brooding drones against sparkling texture flashes and undulating patterns of great subtlety. Beats are present amongst the pads and effects, but sparse, full of space, hints of rhythm. Tracks fade easily one into another maintaining the flow; tropical birds and echoing thuds passing into sci-fi noises or suggestions of tribalism and through dark expanses of sonic haze and tonal densities. On opening, the Techno side drifts in as though a part of the preceding tide of ambience, yet a regular beat sets in fairly soon and begins to drive this second collection from track to track. Dynamic elements gather around the beats as the CD progresses, never becoming strident or bombastic, yet danceable, propulsive.
 
ARTWORK   Polarity arrives in a brilliant white three panel digipack filled with images of mineral shadow, monochromatic crystalline forms reminiscent of graphite desert roses. Artwork for the album was created by plasticians Suzy Lelièvre and Raphaël Kuntz who designed a parametric deformation protocol for a decomposition of shapes in several stages. Promotional material explains that "the goal of both artists, especially for this project, is to invent new processes that invite a reconsideration of our attitude to shapes". This complements the musical approach of a flowing modulation of pads, rhythms and frequencies gradually shifting and morphing in and out of form and regularity. A glossy booklet tucked into an end panel provides credits for each track, explanations of the project, thanks and a selection of peculiar, angular 3d forms.
 
OVERALL   

Arnaud Galoppe is sometimes known as Focal and sometimes known as Kinosura, for this assemblage he has chosen and mixed a fluid stream dark minimal techno and shadowy ambience. Released on the ever-evolving French Ultimae label this double disc draws on contributors from from all over the world. The twenty six recordings gel perfectly in seamless progression whether you prefer to float in beat-scarce space or to move in nodding intensity or even to jump from one to another. Bookended by Ultimae mainstay Aes Dana many of the artists appear on both discs revealing different polar aspects of their musical personalities. Check out the Ultimae website for more information and purchasing options or visit the Bandcamp page to listen and download.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 


 

 ----------Hasse Fröberg & Musical Companion - No Place Like Home
STYLE
 

August 2017
Progressive rock - live.
Hasse Fröberg and Musical Companion deliver a blistering set of some of their best compositions including some new pieces not previously released. Powerful, tight and clear, the band sound excellent live and have an obvious love of their craft. Watching the band perform gives a great concert experience for those not fortunate enough to catch the shows of the European tour this year. With the lights down low and the speakers wound up high the camaraderie, excellent musicianship and joy of performing shines through as the guys go from light acoustic interlude, virtuoso solos and heaving peaks and choruses. The thus far unreleased Valleys and Fields is a hypnotic track of wordless vocalising over picked acoustic guitar patterns - very atmospheric and hopefully the core of something to come. Chasing A Dream is a strong piece of shifting, heavy progressive rock with anthemic dynamism and delightful light moments bound together with warm slide guitar and passionate vocals.

 
ARTWORK   In DVD size digipack packaging this neat DVD and twin CD set is laid out in a generous four-panel card fold-up with plastic disc grips. The first panel holds a twelve page concert booklet full of performance photography and behind-the-scenes shots. A personal note from Hasse occupies the first open page spread whilst credits take up the later pages along with website and contact details. The rear of the pack presents the track list for the concert both for the audio on the CD pair and for the film footage on the DVD. Front cover imagery captures Hasse Fröberg haloed by upflung mane, guitar striking out to the band logo behind.
 
OVERALL    No Place Like Home captures a band at the height of their game with three ever-improving albums to select from and a season of successful performance across the continent behind them. The sixteen tracks here run from the debut Future Past through Powerplay and HFMC highlighting the breadth and vitality of the band's broad repertoire. In addition The Flower Kings' classic Stardust We are is briefly visited and new pieces Chasing A Dream and Valleys and Fields are presented for the first time on disc. The DVD includes interviews and additional off-stage footage and extras for a well-rounded band experience. You can find out more about No Place Like Home via the official website or the group's Facebook page.