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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ------The Glimmer Room - Grey Mirrors
STYLE

 

 

Atmospheric ambient music with rhythmic passages and environmental samples. Grey Mirrors is a forty two minute, twenty four second long narrative sequence opening with birdsong, soft synth drones and church bells. The sounds of the English countryside lead on into synth sequences, soft pads intertwining the dawn chorus as gradually the mood changes. Choral voices swell and blossom as though the church bells have drawn us inward. The smallest amount of percussion gives direction through the mists that engulf sections of Grey Mirrors - in other places, beats roll in like the tide, rising up even to a foot-tapping pace. Tonalities twist and revolve from ethereal to darker moodier drones, melodies twinkle and dissipate entirely, organic and synthetic colours merge and run down the page - it seems that a lot of feeling has gone into this work.

 
MOOD  

The mood of this restful piece shifts and morphs throughout its length - but the overriding tone is one of pastoral contemplation. One minute we're floating through clouds that at times darken and swirl, then the sound of planes overhead bring us down to earth, obscure atonal shiftings and melancholy textures give way to circling rhythms and clear melodies - there is a sense of the sacred bleeding into the profane, the great outdoors sheltered under arches. The cover art, title and electronic winds suggest wandering an overcast landscape with time on our hands.

 
ARTWORK   The Grey Mirrors CD is presented in a DVD case with a hand-sealed insert. Artwork consists of a single olive toned photograph of the English countryside - the picture is almost timeless, with a sense of measured solitude that is reflected in the music, possibly on the edge of a walled garden. The sleeve notes are on a folded sheet of paper fastened with a wax seal in a twining Celtic pattern. The information presented explains the development of the music and the intentions of the artist in approaching the piece. An unusual package that creates a strong impression.
 
OVERALL    This is a spacious, open recording where environmental sounds blend with emotional keyboard work, rhythmic programming and choral drifting. A single fluid journey through a series of seamless vistas where horses, planes and insects pass by incidentally, percussion ebbs and flows - enticing, lulling. The tenor evolves through minimal panoramas through stately structures and gentle warmth - but whether cloistered or wooded, hazy or clear, walking or gliding - the journey is serene and engaging.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Ambient fans who enjoy emotive meanderings with rhythmic accompaniment in places. If you're looking for a long-form piece of music in which to immerse yourself - Grey Mirrors might be a good choice. If you fancy something very English and atmospheric - why not have a listen to the samples of this CD on the Glimmer Room website.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Various - Chilling Goddess
STYLE   Ambient and downtempo psi-trance compilation with a mystical slant. Chilling Goddess runs through quite a range of styles within the genre, from the soft beatless introduction from Aes Dana, via the sitars and ethnic loops of Astral Waves into some darker, heavier pieces delivered with a ritualistic fervour. Capsula blends electronic shudderings and esoteric musings "...you see if you don’t remember anything, you don’t know you’re there. A person who has total amnesia and lived in a split second only, wouldn’t know he was there.” Tracks fade from one into the next - whispered or humming voices echo and reverberate among guitar loops and cycling synth patterns, clay pot percussion and finger cymbals blend with programmed beats, a few tracks are rhythmic yet almost without any percussive elements at all.
 
MOOD   Otherworldly astral chillout - dark in places, soft and caressing in others - but consistently emotive and evocative. Peak Records have put together an album that takes us on a journey through strange and foreign terrains - where unusual synth voices, tribal pulsings and rhythms, ethnic flutes and psychedelic sensibilities work together to send our imaginations reeling. The Peaking Goddess Collective perhaps typify what the album is all about with a track called You Are One, where a strong bass, ambient effects and a sampled voice are all swept up along with a smattering of world sounds into a sharp shiny package. From pumping global dub to spacey ambience, from organic waves to synthetic textures - Chilling Goddess delivers a deeply colourful ride for the mind ....."What I would like to see is the eye that knows me when I know that I know that I know”.
 
ARTWORK   Sky blue tones woven through with eastern motifs adorn the complete package, creating a balanced unity. The effect is one of looking into bright clouds where kaleidoscopic images form patterns of light - or afterimages on the retina. Inside the words: " - Equinox - Hope is the promise of spring - A petal blown - In the wind of new beginnings - Where day and night meet - In the quiet ecstasy of balance - The vision is alive - The heart is pure - The soul is free". White text, glowing against the cyan textures presents credits, thanks and a dedication along with track details and relevant web sites.
 
OVERALL    Chilling Goddess is the first of a series of chill out CDs planned by Peak Records. The album has been compiled by Master Margherita and mastered by Huby Sea and Vincent Villuis from Ultimae. This collection is less tightly bound than some, allowing for considerable variation within what is, nonetheless, a smooth flowing whole. The sparse piano tones of Electrypnose lean toward a new age sound, whereas Kickbong revel in a dark tribal groove with a throbbing bass and menacing chords, where circling voices fly through the air building to a ceremonial climax. Moments of more traditional melodic beauty lie among tracks that are seek to stretch the chillout formula beyond the usual bounds.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Chillout listeners looking for something that strays purposely from the beaten track. The usual regular beats are there in places, but some less structured passages lurk among the shadows. If you enjoy psy-ambience with Indian and Middle Eastern flavours and you're not afraid of the dark - this might be the CD for you.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ------Omnimotion - Omnimotion
STYLE   Dreamily slow dub, ethereal pads, vibes thick with distance and blurry, whispery voices combine to pour out a heady cocktail on a shimmering hot day. This restful yet evocative lbum avoids many of the clichés of rhythmic ambient music focussing on layered textures and subtle shades of tone. Ethnic voices occasionally float into the mix conjuring visions of far away places and twice the soft operatic singing of Jannica Hovenas invites us heavenward. Beats are a prominent feature but not domineering, at times dispersing or subsiding almost to nothing allowing the atmospherics to swell up and carry us willingly away.
 
MOOD  

Through the combination of cover art, rich flutes and warm undulating chords there is a sense of exotic heat haze and rippling sands. The dubby bass lines are supremely leisurely and swells of percussion wax and wane adding to the mood of idle peace. The low pace and sparing mix also suggest a sensuality that invites the listener to submerge and drift among the flowing liquid sands.

 
ARTWORK   I must say it was the artwork that first attracted me to this CD - cracked, baked sandy textures deeply embossed both naturally and graphically nestle within a generous black border (you can't go far wrong with plenty of black can you?). The back cover carries the words "Dreamy Scandinavian Designs" - which sounds about right. Behind the CD is, presumably, a photograph of Stefan and the inner booklet opens out into three panels that are monochrome within. Along with the credits, thanks and website details there is a page listing other Waveform Records releases.
 
OVERALL   

This is a gorgeous album of Scandinavian chillout that combines live instrumentation and singing with lullaby unhurried programming. Drones loop and revolve, thrumming under uncluttered melodies, deep, deep basses weight the low end and interesting percussive effects and voices hold our attention without detracting from the overall languid restfulness. Writer/producer Stefan Lundaahl has presented here a thoroughly understated CD - credits include vocals from Linda Martio, Muhammed Said Ali and flute/auto harp by Emil Lundaahl.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

I suspect this album would straddle the different listener groups that enjoy Enigma and world beat music on the one hand and chillout/downtempo listeners on the other. If you're looking for something very relaxing, something to drop off to - Omnimotion could be just the thing.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ------Collide - Vortex
STYLE

 

 

A hybrid collection that ranges from club dance-beats and world-beats through choppy, gritty, metal guitars, exploratory glitch and synth work, orchestral decadence to moody ambience and tragic darkwave - all the while lit up or else sweetly haunted by kaRIN's emotive vocals. Vortex (and the second disc Xetrov) is primarily a remix assemblage featuring the best of the huge number of responses to Collide's open call for inventive sound engineers to rework their back catalogue.

 
MOOD   The overriding mood is one of shady, industrial/gothic exploration with a very contemporary edge. There's an ever-present twisting darkness casting a shadow over trebly beats and electronica, thickening the sensuality of the more languid tracks and adding a chill to the pace of drum and bass. Darkness in all its forms - creeping and menacing, warm and embracing, cabaret gloom and decadence, futuristic cityscape murk - way down on those lower levels where it always seems to be raining just for atmosphere. So despite the vast spectrum of styles included on Vortex, there is a unity that makes each new turn feel just right (even if somewhat unexpected).
 
ARTWORK   The artwork is sharp and suitably wreathed in inky darkness. A photo image of black twigs against a red sky appears in variant forms on the front cover (behind kaRIN's face) on the inner booklet (as a backdrop to white lettering) and on the CDs themselves (pulled into circular form as if sucking down into the vortex of the central hole). Atmospheric imagery of the duo takes up two panels of the foldout booklet and the strong Collide logo lurks behind the discs in the jewel case. This is a well presented double CD package with all the appropriate info, credits and thanks - including Mike Fisher of Amish Rake Fight who got 'the ball rolling' on this remix project.
 
OVERALL   

Vortex presents Collide twisted and mangled under the expert hands of professionals like Rhys Fulber (Conjure One mix of Tempted), Charlie Clouser of NIN (Emirian Mix of Euphoria) and Mark Walk of Skinny Puppy (Orchestral Mix of Somewhere) alongside lesser known artists - such as Sensory Gate who have structured a beautiful middle eastern take on Halo festuring arabic percussion and luxuriant flutes (my favourite I think). There are, of course, some delights direct from the duo kaRIN and Statik themselves - a selection of cover numbers: Funboy Three's "The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum", Front Line Assembly’s “Predator”, Adam Ant’s “Feed Me To The Lions” and Love and Rockets’ “Haunted When the Minutes Drag.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you like almost any form of current electronica set against bitter/sweet female vocals - there'll be something here to delight you. I guess perhaps you should avoid this CD if you're into gentle, friendly music (but you knew that anyway) - Collide present the gothic aesthetic for sure, but these remixes are so varied that it's hard for anyone not to have a favourite somewhere on these twin discs.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ------Angel Tears - Way of the Mystic
STYLE   Mid to downtempo easy listening worldbeat with graceful breakbeats and smooth production. With the opening track 'Angel Tears' - Indian singing leads us through a scented doorway into a gallery of colourful sonic hangings where interwoven voices, infectious rhythms and instruments from around the world are on display. Heady flutes cut across fusion grooves where hand drums and programming come together, light guitar patterns and keyboard layers provide a backdrop for Angel Tears' brightly lit samples and recorded performances. The tracks here are less repetitive than much modern chillout and trance tends to be - often feeling a bit like the structures of songs but without heavily dominant singers.
 
MOOD   Worldbeat dreaminess or ethnic chillout. Tribal grooves at times darken the comfortable lounge lighting creating beguiling shadows and flickering sparks of exotic strings and reeds bounce before the eyes. The mood flows from that of a North African coffee shop, through an Indian bazaar, to an Arabic gathering where all are welcome to come and shelter, nod to the beat or dance - as the mood takes you. A warm evening under a setting sun (like the one behind the CD on the cover art), under the stars, under the influence of the Angel Tears.
 
ARTWORK   A simple black cover carries the ivory figurine common to all Angel Tears releases - floating in mid-air - either stationary, hanging or perhaps drifting past the viewer. Text again is simple, making for an uncluttered front page of this digipack that cracks open to reveal the colours and moods of the music. On the back cover each track title is followed by a quotation that encapsulates something of the intent of the music. Credits acknowledge the violin work of Zohir Berada and vocals of Adi Ochion and Sagit Even Chen.
 
OVERALL    This is Angel Tears' first CD, taking the listener on a whirling journey across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Good use is made of Spectrasonics' and Zero G's ethnic samples and the well travelled listener will no doubt find some familiar sounds here - but I don't personally find this disturbing - instead it's always interesting to note how another artist has made creative use of shared source material. Voices from across the globe intermingle and speak with each other through Angel Tears - frequently the voices take the part of instruments, acting as additional textures rather than singing to us in words we need to comprehend.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Global fusion fans will find Angel Tears worth exploring - especially if you're looking for something that could be danced to or just as easily used for relaxation. Angel Tears work on the softer, gentler side of chillout - possibly inhabiting a middle ground somewhere between ambient trance and worldbeat.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ------Spatialize - Dryad's Bubble
STYLE   Downtempo psychedelic electronica with a strong ambient quality below the beats. Spatialize weaves a variety of spoken voices among multilayered synth arpeggios, break beats and lumbering basses in what is a fairly dense mix. Cyclic melodies establish complex textures that are established and repeated until the introduction of fresh layers or different synth voices shift the texture into new tonalities. There are gentle pieces with bird song and relaxing synths, 'Lunar Space Dub' does what the title suggests and the final track 'Antakarana' clocking in at over ten minutes, presents a piece of rhythmic ambience reminiscent of Ishq with the smoothness of Thom Brennan in places.
 
MOOD   The mood is quite cerebral, one of exploratory mind trips with the rhythms occasionally hinting at tribal depths. Exotic vistas also are suggested through the use of ethnic percussion or samples - although this is done with subtlety as many of the world sounds lie somewhat below the surface of the mix rather than acting as lead voices. There is a sweetness woven among the layers but never so prominent as to become sugary.
 
ARTWORK   Artwork on this CD is simple and intentionally (I assume) low tech, featuring a graphic swirl that looks like a posterised representation of oil on water against a plain white background. The inner booklet contains only a further 'swirl' and the legend "don't burst your bubble". Additional musician Anna Naylor is credited with Voice and Violin and the usual thanks are covered in a list of names that will doubtless make sense to those included.
 
OVERALL    Dryad's Bubble has been produced in the grand tradition of Banco De Gaia and the Orb, and the result perhaps is reminiscent of a blending of such artists as Entheogenic, Rados and a more beat driven Ishq. Dryad's Bubble stands up well and has plenty to hold the attention with some interesting time signatures, intriguing effects where the sound seems to surround the listener, some deep basses and psychedelic imagery. Track titles lay out what to expect - Moksha Journey, Lunar Space Dub, Somuti.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Dryad's Bubble sounds like the kind of CD that would appeal to club goes in search of some chilled electronica but the gentler break beats employed across much of the album should also suit non club environments. Instrumental programming for those moments when you want something laid back but with enough beats to hold the attention.