Click here to see a complete list of reviews. Click here to see a complete list of interviews. Click here for links to artists and labels . Click here to visit our main menu page. Click here for email address.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ------Robert Rich - Echo of Small Things
STYLE

 

 

A collaboration of image and sound - although listed here as a CD by Robert Rich, the photography of David Agasi is an integral part of this work. Conceived as "a limited production of 129 custom boxes containing offset prints of ten photographs by David Agasi on heavy matte fibre acid-free paper, a signed and numbered page with artists' statements, and CD of music by Robert Rich" this album is also available in the usual format with the photographs replicated inside the CD booklet. The music is organic, melodic ambience with a variety of environmental sounds. Drones and whale-like shafts of sound slowly revolve with shifting densities whilst the musical surface is repeatedly ruffled by organic recordings. At times angel-soft and then gruff or thick, the aural mass is punctuated by muted chimes and a variety of less indentifiable struck objects. Nine tracks run seamlessly into one long whole and are set alongside ten images - this inequality of number works to dissuade the assumption that specific photographs illustrate particular passages of sound. Robert Rich is credited with MOTM modular, TimewARP 2600, Sculpture, lap steel guitar, flutes and small things.

 
MOOD   The value of the 'incidental' suffuses this package - the music often appearing effortless, almost like something happened upon, yet it is clearly steeped in purpose. The slow monumental nature of much of the composition is set against the close-up, transient nature of various shufflings, disturbances, found spaces and distant thunder. Sleeve notes talk of "beauty and depth of small things ... meaning in the poetry of the everyday ... meaning often waits at the periphery".
 
ARTWORK   Clearly the artwork for "Echo of Small Things" is fully half of the project. David Agasi's stills, made "without premeditation" help focus the shifting layers Robert's atmospheric music - whilst the music, in turn, channels the chosen perception of the imagery. Having the standard CD format version of this release I'm unable to comment fully on the photo prints, but in the context of the CD booklet, these ten monochrome shots frame the intimate and the everyday with the same sense of space and beauty developed in the audio section. The front cover image hints at the quality of the limited edition - a rich, sensual selection that is something more than black and white.
 
OVERALL    The promotional material for Echo of Small Things says "Longtime friends Agasi and Rich inspire each other with image and sound. Ten of Agasi's haunting sensual photos unite with Rich's calm reflective soundscapes in this unique creative meeting, focusing eye and ear on the beauty of the intimate and peripheral." On the back of the booklet we have three paragraphs from each artist discussing the project and the work of his collaborator. The imagery resists a narrative reading despite being laid out sequentially and although the pictures are strongly cropped, they aren't abstract - similarly the music has some definite melodic elements lifting it clear of minimal ambience, yet again, a narrative reading is too narrow for these interwoven pieces.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Ambient lovers that enjoy music as art, fans of contemporary photography that appreciate deep immersion into vision and sound. If you like ambient music with melodic patterns and plenty of shifts - try Echo of Small Things.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 ------The Glimmer Room - Tomorrow's Tuesday
STYLE  

Pure rhythmic, tuneful electronica. This debut CD from the Glimmer Room layers melodic synth lines and arpeggios over mid and downtempo beats with the odd sound effect and some strong clear basses. Andy Condon sticks to a particular formula throughout Tomorrow's Tuesday, but work plenty of variation into the fourteen tracks - mournful synthesiser washes and guitar textures are set up and adorned with well thought-out lead lines which often all shift together to form passages of a different character mid-track. The Glimmer Room, while conscious of the present EM scene, is happy to work alongside the main genres without trying to fit directly into any one current style, best you give it a listen - www.theglimmerroom.co.uk.

 
MOOD   Although leaning on the downtempo side, The Glimmer Room's music is intense rather than placid; likewise, despite some dark shadows the sound is dramatic rather than brooding. Tomorrow's Tuesday sounds like the sort of album that could well have developed out of early eighties synth music - but clearly in the setting of the new millenium.
 
ARTWORK   Front cover graphics feature a bold surrealist painting of a hairless female figure tightly boxed in a dimly lit room reaching out for a bare bulb. Indeed this image is repeated inside the CD booklet with framing variations. Subdued hues and tones fill most panels adding to the drama of the imagery. Information is functional - with a complete track list and relevant background information.
 
OVERALL    Fourteen instrumental (except one) tracks of a fairly consistent mood and method. Track titles such as Last Deep Breath, Borrowed Time, Without You I Would Have No One To Leave and Floating In Formaldehyde hint at the melancholy nature of much of the music. Clearly Andy enjoys synthetic textures and programmed sounds, but unlike many electronic artists, he takes the time to construct tunes and motifs that overlay or interlace where others go for repetition and cycling patterns.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Synthesiser music fans that want some pure electronica without the trance approach. If you enjoyed the melodic pieces being created in the early eighties and would like to hear where that could have developed two decades later - try The Glimmer Room.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 ------Angel Tears - The Dreaming
STYLE  

Multicultural lounge music with chilled beats, gentle guitars and world voices. This is one of Angel Tears softest albums - the abundant acoustic guitars and subtle electronics form a very natural sounding bed for the international voices and instruments that weave throughout. Wordless vocals and flutes are carefully placed against breakbeats rhythms with occasional hand drums hinting at the tribal but mainly restful.

 
MOOD  

Cool, gentle, exotic and peaceful. The Dreaming is probably the ideal album for playing at a tropical bar - or for playing at home and imagining you're there. The mood is consistently developed as voices chant and sing among some beautiful flute samples and performances by Shpatz. This CD is very smoothly produced and easy on the ears.

 
ARTWORK   In line with the previous Angel Tears releases, The Dreaming is fronted by the now-familiar floating ivory carving, this time set against a vivid red background. The back cover lists tracks and times, whilst inside the digipack we get a look at previous Angel Tears covers and some photographs of places both devotional and wild. Production is credited to DJ Srulik Einhorn and acknowledgment is given to Spectrasonics and Zero-G as sound sources.
 
OVERALL   

Angel Tears have appeared regularly on compilation CDs, but their music easily stands on its own. From Tel Aviv, Israel, Momi Ochion performs many of the compositional duties of the band along with Sebastian James Taylor (Kaya Project, Shakta and Digitalis) who plays guitar on many of the tracks. Vocal performances by Natasha Chamberlain, Zohar-Ben-Shitrit and Momi Ochion blend seamlessly with sampled utterances and Zohir Berada plays violin. Overall, this is Angel Tears at their most sublimely chilled - a warm, flowing album with a polished finish.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Someone looking for the ideal summer evening music - global fusion with a high sheen and comfortable vibe. Angel Tears are not a new-age act, but neither do they fall into the ambient trance category - inhabiting the space in between; they've created an exotic niche of their own.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 ------Achillea - The Nine Worlds
STYLE   As a writer and co-producer with Enigma - Jens Gad (the man behind Achillea) clearly contributed much to the Enigma sound ... that sound is apparent again here on The Nine Worlds under a fresh guise. Achillea though is no pale imitation, Jens' composition methods and solo guitar techniques work along with the heavenly vocals of Helene Horlyck to give this album a distinct character whilst at the same time professionally wielding a number of the sounds and techniques that Enigma fans will instantly recognise. The singing on Nine Worlds is crystal clear, pitch perfect and of angelic range, the beats are deep, imaginative and constantly evolving and the electronics are state-of-the-art yet subtle and engrossing.
 
MOOD   A sense of enchantment pervades Achillea as classical vocals and monks' chants embrace the theme material of Norse legends and Viking myths. There are moments swelling with beauty, heaven high in clouds of ethereal bliss and others spell-bindingly gentle, buried in magical twilight and timeless serenity. The promotional material aptly claims that this is a "sophisticated chillout journey" it is indeed emotional, uplifting, serene and sensual; Jens and Helene have certainly crafted a top quality product.
 
ARTWORK   A classical female figure draped in a diaphanous robe fronts this digipack with 'Achillea' in golden letters filling a sharp transparent graphic panel. Indeed the blend of the archaic and the modern permeates the whole package with track titles overlaying an antiquated world map and the seeds of ancient Scandinavian stories in juxtaposition with a cracked canvas close-up of the front cover figure's face. A small portrait photograph of Helene Horlyck is inlaid on one inner panel alongside a brief explanation of the Achillea project.
 
OVERALL   

Danish artists Jens and Helene "have combined their remarkable talents to explore their Viking roots and put it in a new musical perspective". So each track on the album carries a story rooted in Viking mythology and archaic poetry. Interestingly, Jens apparently had Helene improvise for long periods in Latin and in ancient Swedish in order to develop a basis for his sensitive compositions, forming his music around the vocals. Comparisons with Enigma are inevitable, but then, there is no reason why Jens Gad should avoid using and evolving the stylistic methods that he so clearly had a large part in developing. Personally I find female vocals ideally suited to this style of music and the choice of a classically trained singer was spot on, adding to a level of professionalism that Achillea exudes from every angle.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   The Nine Worlds is a classy, high calibre product that will doubtless fill Enigma fans with glee and will doubtless draw new fans. Soft enough to appeal to listeners at the 'new age' end of the spectrum but edgy and fresh enough to be of interest to chillout lovers that don't mind straying somewhat from down-tempo trance beats.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 ------Various - Earth Octave Lounge Vol. 2
STYLE   Shade shifting 'post lounge' and exotic world fusion music. There's quite a variety on this CD, from instrumentals with smooth beats and flutes, tribal drums and guitars, beatless ambient passages right through to arpeggios and chillout trance rhythms. There are tracks with voices, notably La Rosa from Aquila featuring Irina Mikhailova who you might well have heard with Kaya Project, Medicine Drum or Toires (among others). Some pieces are upbeat and danceable, although the majority of beats here are more varied than the usual down-tempo trance loops. Synths on Earth Octave 2 are not so much the arpeggiated type (with a couple of exceptions) - more melodies and washes with bright effects interwoven.
 
MOOD   Warm global breezes that range from blissed out and sultry to cool club and lounge atmospheres. A generally restful album that montages traditional Sephardic singing alongside downtempo ambience, classical Indian influences with 'Eno-esque' electronica, environmental sound recordings with echoing percussives and dub structures.
 
ARTWORK   I only have a promo copy of this CD - but what I have includes a deep tropical cover image with some nice graphics, a write-up on each track providing artist profiles and detailing the sounds they've created for Earth Octave along with all the relevant contact and website information. I imagine the commercial package will be well produced with plenty to read through.
 
OVERALL   

Eleven tracks from artists familiar and relatively unknown make up this second compilation from Interchill in the Earth Octave Lounge series. The great variety in stylistic approach threads together in the manner of bright beads on a string of lush global restfulness. Ballearic moments with relaxing beats, drifting synthwork and water sounds, female vocals, deep basses and world voices - each track carries us off in a new direction without losing the overall mood of the project.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Aimed at the chillout market and especially at lovers of ethno-electronica. Earth Octave Lounge Volume 2 will suit anyone drawn to hybrid ambient lounge sounds where each track is a new digital mood.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 ------Ian Boddy - Chiasmata
STYLE  

Pure electronica - ranging from gliding, beatless ambience to programmed rhythms and sequences - all brimming with feeling. A number of tracks on Chiasmata have a deep, haunting air either created by amorphous creeping beds of sound or by melancholy lead lines, plaintive and beautiful. Tracks one to nine interfade smoothly, forming a single suite of music where the style flows naturally through a broad spectrum of structures. Weightless and abstract to begin with, then as we move into 'Ecliptic', melodic elements draw in followed by a soft beat and we're gracefully floating on a cushion of echoing blips and synth chimes. The CD progresses on through poignant washes and celestial operatic voices, through passages of varying intensity - at times rigidly rhythmic with lumbering percussion and regular arpeggiation and then spacey, shapeless, finally leading into one of the most engaging and delicate piano solos - 'Still Point'.

 
MOOD  

The mood on Chiasmata varies constantly - shadowy, brooding then wistful and elegant. There is an overriding pathos and sense of mystery that that dissipates and reforms in different guises throughout much of the collection. A love of sonic technology is evident in Ian Boddy's music, embracing synthetic and programming techniques - yet the human aspect is also strong; clearly passionate, be it in twisting zones of darkness, heavenly ethereal drifts or in mournful melodic improvisation.

 
ARTWORK   Simple abstract imagery in turquoise sea blues fill all panels with soft effulgence - almost like a billowy eye of clouds on the front cover. Inside the CD booklet, the artwork maintains tonal consistency, but here appears to be a painting, reminiscent of falling lights. A plain graphic band forms a backdrop for the equipment list and sample credits inside and a similar arrangement works for the track list on the back of the booklet. On the back cover of the CD we're told that Chiasmata is a limited edition of only 1000 copies.
 
OVERALL   

Chiasmata is a nine track live performance recorded at The National Space Centre, Leicester, UK in 2003 followed by the encore piece 'Mechanic Organic'. Originally delivered beneath astronomical projections on the dome of the planetarium - this set was clearly going to be difficult to recreate for a studio album and so here it is in original form. Two of the tracks on Chiasmata did appear previously on the album Aurora where they had a slightly cooler personality - but here as part of this live arrangement they seem perfectly at home. Ian Boddy's multi-layered synths are fresh, clear and confident, rich in detail and depth - silken-soft and shimmering one moment, sinister, dark and disquieting the next.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

This live CD will likely be a must for anyone at the concert, however, the new material is of near studio quality and so if you like Ian Boddy's sound, don't miss these pieces. This is serious music and will likely appeal to lovers of the post-Tangerine Dream aesthetic. Fans of pure electronica will find plenty of variety on this CD - with beats and without.