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

 

 

 ------ Various - Namaskar
STYLE   Mid-downtempo instrumental chill-out with a variety of global flavours. Namaskar opens with Cell's processional 'Zaz', rich with Indian female vocals and then progresses on through acoustic guitars and some trebly, d'n'b loops spluttering across half paced electronic sequences and vocoder voices. Tikal's 'Canicule' with its flutes, environmental samples and blunt bass line is somewhat reminiscent of Delerium's Terra Firma from Poem. Flutes, strong basslines and skittering d'n'b percussion feature on a number of tracks here along with ethnic and other vocalisations processed and mangled beyond recognition mouthing unfamiliar utterances. Wire, skin and breath combines with circuitry and programming to create a strong CD with minimal filler.
 
MOOD  

Energetic and solid - Namaskar is a relaxing album, but at the same time it's stirring rather than soporific. The mood is positive and grounded, emphatic beats beckoning from the dancefloor, with sub and deep basses moving the listener somewhere down near the bones. Some pieces are dark and rolling, others relaxing and blissful. Whispered words and ethnic chants soften beats that at times mimic tribal rhythms, some subtle hints of dub are here and there, notably in the twinkling 'Peace Of Mind' from Vibrasphere.

 
ARTWORK   A luminous digipack featuring a front cover photograph of sunlit doors within a shadowy temple. The intricately graven structure glows with colour hinting at the tone of the musical material. The simple text 'namaskar' appears in both English and Hindi. The back cover highlights some complex wall decoration and provides the usual tracklist. Inside the theme of eastern architecture is maintained with a second extended version of the tracklisting, this time detailing the artists behind the names. Contact information is provided as always - but unnecessary verbiage is kept to a minimum.
 
OVERALL    “Namaskar” is a Sanskrit word meaning welcome but the original meaning is: "I bow to God in you, I love you and I respect you, as there is no one like you”. The album contains nine tracks and features some big names and a few I've not encountered until now. Compiled by Josko and Edoardo at Indica - this is a more consistent compilation than some others that are about. A number of tracks feature slow, moody introductions with long build-ups, and atmospheric interludes, but most could certainly be danced to (which isn't surprising since many of the artists here are known for their trance creations). Although aimed at the chill-out market, this album has a lot of pace and substance.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Namaskar will appeal to the downtempo audience that doesn't like to get too downtempo. Less ambient than many chillout releases, but rich with global flavours and enjoyable throughout.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ dbkaos - Art of Sacrifice
STYLE  

Long pieces of pure electronica where, smooth synth lines and prowling nebulous pads repeatedly give way to dark electronic rhythms and gutsy beats. Percussive loops are a major feature on Art of Sacrifice paralled by well-crafted sequences and deep basses. Breathy airy effects swoosh behind the arrangements where melodies range from delicate to menacing. Tracks at times drift off into indistinct darkness only to return more emphatically with a shift of nature - seething, boiling, bubbling. Mangled electronic gongs morph in distorted patterns, turbulent bruised soundscapes fold in on themselves and reform, aquatic sonic assemblages and dreamy abstractions all take their place in this remarkably modern sounding flight of fantasy.

 
MOOD   The mood created by dbkaos varies considerably throughout this album - expansive and spacey, bleak techno-futuristic, ethereal and meandering. Many passages are dark arrangements with melodic patterns tending toward brooding shadow. Ponderous developments and slow progressions with subtle nuances create an unhurried impression even when beats are taking the forefront - at any given moment though something is shifting, evolving, taking new shape. There are moments of heavenly light and clarity, but grit and swirling density has the dominant hand.
 
ARTWORK   A striking graphic that resembles a wound-up bouquet of frosted barbed wire sits boldly on the front cover. The image is repeated throughout the artwork in different colours - but here it rests in a deep grey-green - threatening and beautiful at the same time. Tracks are listed on the back cover and within, alongside their respective timings. Inside the CD booklet aside a hazy monochrome abstract is a complete breakdown of gear used on the album.
 
OVERALL    dbkaos is Dave Hickman who lives in the South-West of England and has built up a reputation programming synths and sound effects for Zero-G sample CD's, a background that has clearly stood him in good stead for the amazing sonic textures and layers on this album. I would say that Art of Sacrifice is definitely a rhythmic album - it has its interludes of drifting cloud and drawn out introductions where lush aural environments are set up and explored - but electronic percussive loops and sequences form the backbone of the majority of tracks. Interestingly Dave lists the Casio MIDI guitar among his equipment, an instrument that converts pitch to MIDI, 'deriving the pitch information from a magnetic hex pickup next to the bridge'.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

As is the purpose of DIN releases, Art of Sacrifice forms a bridge between "electronic music's analogue ancestry" and "cutting edge digital soundscapes". dbkaos has a moody sound that will be appreciated by synth fans that appreciate a strong beat and some dense breathing atmospheres.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Shpongle - Nothing Lasts....But Nothing Is Lost
STYLE  

Longform psy-trance with frequent shifts, colour changes and ambient interludes. Nothing Lasts... feels like something boiled down, distilled, in concentrated form - the energy spread among these twenty tracks (or is it just one?) is infectious and mesmerising. Chaotic processed vocal bytes and global acoustic performances constantly spring up among the pumping beats, basses and synths that propel this album forward. Probably one of the richest sonic tapestries in the genre, Nothing Lasts... is definitely 'feel good' music and not afraid to apply a good dose of silliness where appropriate. Middle-eastern patterns, ethnic voices, guitar solos and trippy psychedelic effects pepper the mix alongside a vast array of tonal shifts, morphing voices, filter sweeps and other arcane audio processes.

 
MOOD  

An unbridled, frenzied lightening-fast tour of the combined imagination of two of Twisted's clearly colourful minds. Not a chillout album - the pace is too fast, most tracks have tribal intensity and a tempo to match, skittering up to the edge of drum and bass in some places before falling away again. The mood is certainly exotic passing through salsa rhythms, flamenco fingering, beautiful flute passages and some unusual time patterns - Shpongle sound like a runaway carnival, careening through a funfair and liable to spill over at any moment.

 
ARTWORK   The multifaced Shpongle idol beams out from a front cover as intricate as the music. Vivid yellows and greens of hallucinogenic circuitry form a glowing backdrop and a complex skin for the disembodied head that floats centrally. The booklet is a three-panel fold-out with track-listing and credits on one panel and some glorious graphics on the others. An aged stone edifice carries the trade-mark triple face in monochrome and a delirious jungle scene in rainbow colours becomes the setting for another apparition. The words "Dedicated to the memory of Terence McKenna" are printed near the base of the page - referring (like the album title) to one of the bands big influences.
 
OVERALL   

Nothing Lasts... is a very busy album with a huge variety of collaged and juxtaposed elements - despite this, however, there is a surprising unity to the whole. This is something like the unity of a photo-mosaic - made up of myriad tiny images, yet viewed from the right distance these resolve into a single satisfying picture. Among those familiar with the genre this has been a highly anticipated release. Shpongle are held in reverential awe by many fans and it's pretty certain they'll love this CD. Simon Postford and Raja Ram are the names behind the sound with Pete Callard credited on a couple of tracks for his guitar work (of which there is more than the usual here). These guys obviously have access to a state-of-the-art studio since the production is glassy and bright - no mean feat considering the density of sound - it could so easily have become muddy - but not so.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

If you fancy licking some brightly coloured sonic frogs, these come fresh from the rain-forests of Outer Shpongolia sugared with rainbow sherbet. Exotic trance lovers will surely go for this album, too pacey to be called ambient in any way except for a few passages - but brimming with life and sparkle.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Robert Scott Thompson - At the Still Point of the Turning World
STYLE   Ambient soundscapes with subtle brooding shades and gentle pianos. Still Point feels almost orchestral at times, empty and drifting at others. Melodic pads, dissonant ripples and dense currents of sound mingle with plucked tones and deep, deep drones. Processed pianos and chimes present a simple harmonic foreground bringing light to clouds that occasionally harbour ethereal voices hidden somewhere within; metallic clangs and bell trees along with noises that resemble huge plucked springs stir the mix bringing variation to an album that constantly changes and alters its path.
 
MOOD   Serene, drifting sonic densities that are mostly shadowy and overcast - yet often backlit or silvered at the edges. Still Point often has a plaintive tone, becoming increasingly poignant toward the final tracks. Robert Scott Thompson takes us from low, fog-thick banks of mist high into the sky and into clarity - panoramic and angelic. The shifts of mood across this album are quite dramatic - allow yourself to be immersed and you'll find moments of that aching beauty that pulls at the heart and passages of moody ambience, folding in on themselves, heaving, breathing.
 
ARTWORK   A latticed cloudscape adorns the front cover, heavy and luminous at the same time, against blue sky. The faintest crescent of a moon gleams through the brightest section of the cloudbank, enlarged and presented again on the back cover as a backdrop for a tracklisting. The sleeve booklet is backed by a cloud image of a dramatically different hue - the deepest of oranges, brighter and more saturated still within. Here inside are publishing details and contact information - simple and white, making the eye tend to keep drifting across the mass of colour filling two whole panels.
 
OVERALL    This is a strong album of slow drifting melodies and washes, well captured in track titles - Water Out of Sunlight, Tinted in a Temporal Hue, Figured in the Drift of Stars. The longest piece on the CD is ten minutes fifty nine seconds long - the shortest one minute forty seven, this great spread mirroring the variety of sound within the individual pieces. Robert Scott Thompson is no newcomer to the ambient scene having a large number of releases under his belt as you can see from the website at Aucourant Records.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Ambient fans who enjoy music without a beat - quite melodic in structure, not really minimal and with plenty of shifts in atmosphere. Moody music with passages of melancholy and intense beauty.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Various - A Magical Journey
STYLE  

Truly a magical journey, in two halves - the first mainly spacey, dark and ambient, the second pulsing with chilled arpeggios and downtempo trance beats. The voyage begins with a voice philosophising about the nature of the universe and its relation to information and code and then we're off into downtempo psychedelia grounded in deep dub basses, lulling grooves, flitting synth patches and airy arrangements. Voices come and go; spoken, ethnic chants, wordless utterances; hand drums and programming intertwine; whirling effects sweep the air and prowl the shadows.

 
MOOD   As you'd hope - this CD transports the listener to strange sonic landscapes and mental sceneries but things are kept user friendly and familiar with a clear contemporary Western chill-out aesthetic. The mood is often dark and enigmatic with alien cultural references running throughout.  Introductions are especially rich with global colour and ambient texture - there are rapturous sections that make you float heavenward and brooding passages full of dubbed out delays and thick basses that send you tranceward.
 
ARTWORK   The artwork I have is from the promotional package - a folded sleeve booklet featuring a suitably esoteric temple that looks to have been photographed in the mists of dawn or early evening. The tracklisting is inside with details of writers and production alongside. A verse about the lotus fills the second inner panel with the legend 'Not Knowing, Cuckoo'.
 
OVERALL    This compilation is from Ajana Records, put together by Mouka and Rudra. Artists from such diverse locations as Israel, Chile, France, Sweden and Russia come together - familiar names like Cell, Kukan Dub Lagan and Electrypnose sit alongside some that are newer to the scene. Tracks do not interfade - each one sits within its own space creating a unique atmosphere - dark, mysterious, dubby and cool like An Ancient Tale by Derango or rippling with cycling sequences and regular kicks like Cell's Asian Morning. The combined drones of acoustic instruments and modern technology create a timelessness throughout - but well exemplified in Terra Nine's Axiom.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Aimed at the ethno-chill audience and with more atmospheres and scattered weirdness than most A Magical Journey will appeal to anyone looking for something with a good beat to lie back and travel to. Ambient, downtempo goa-trance thick with brooding trippy exotica and tropical environments.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Pathaan (various) - Tandava
STYLE  

Global fusion with focus on the Indian sub-continent drawn together by UK DJ Pathaan. Here the softness of hand drums and shakers reverberate over deep basses and smooth synths to create "an energizing mix of sensuous rhythms, meditative riffs, and world music". Indian voices distant with reverb contrast acoustic guitars, thudding drum loops fuse with tablas and sinewy Eastern violins meet smooth, clean synths. tj Rehmi's 'You Are We Am I' features some nimble fingered guitar work, reversed notes and a warm evening sensuality, Govinda presents a crunchy beat littered with Asian sound snippets and swirling programming and Ikarus blends a striking Thai vocal with a deeper Indian voice along with a strong fusion drum track.

 
MOOD   A chilled but brightly daubed blissful vibe is consistently established right from the start. Running from the deep dub of Gaudi's 'Dub It' to Karsh Kale's drum and bass oriented 'Letting Go' the album suggests a spiritual aspect that listeners can take or leave as they see fit. Steeped in the wires, bows and flutes of India, the Western ear can't help but sense the exotic nature of this collection. Generally restful and serene, but not sleep-inducing.
 
ARTWORK   A card sleeve hugs the jewel case with a reproduction of the same painted idol graphic that sits inside. The back of the sleeve tells us about Pathaan and his DJ background his connection with Shiva Rea that led to the creation of Tandava. On the jewel case reverse is a complete track-listing complete with timings. Inside is a sixteen page booklet with a page explaining the CD title, another outlining Pathaan's discussion of the project and a more detailed track-list with full credits and contact information.
 
OVERALL   

The rear cover text proclaims "In the realm of electronic world beat, Pathaan is arguably the singular choice. Truly the ambassador of international sounds..." being "one of the very few UK-based DJs to have truly crossed the dance/world divide". Judge for yourself - Tandava is a clear vision that flows naturally through the combined talents of Amniotic, Abakus, Prem Joshua (remixed by Sean Dinsmore), tj Rehmi, Gaudi, Govinda, Ikarus, Karsh Kale, Sonik Gurus, Ma Faiza & Veet Sandeh, Bahramji & Maneesh De Moor, Abhijit Pohankar and Adham Shaikh.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Global dance fans that appreciate the sounds of India should go for this one. More emphasis on breaks and fusion rhythms than most of the ambient-trance collections being released at the moment.