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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Ian Boddy - Aurora
STYLE  

Deep pits of abstract sound, out of which arise rhythmic lattice-works, billowing cloud masses or twinkling shapes of crystal and light. The opening track is full of brooding mbience, roiling densities and weightless winds - in contrast, other pieces feature tonal blips, deep bass pulses or throbbing sequencer patterns. At times, grey and ominous like some huge musical engine lumbering out of the mists, at others with a reforming of the atmosphere, the prospect brightens and opens out into grace and beauty. Sequencer sections progress through some broad parameter sweeps that reach right to the very edge of perception, these are further enhanced by carefully placed percussive layers. Interestingly all of this variety is smoothly mixed together into one long mix with no gaps between tracks.

 
MOOD  

From serene and heavenly to regular and mechanical to ashen, austere, amorphous ... Aurora covers a lot of emotional ground. Out of shapeless, shadow and darkness, sparkles of light repeatedly hint at a beauty hidden somewhere within that arises fully only on the final title track itself - here, like a celestial dignity encircled with insubstantial geometries and vapour trails Aurora ascends amidst transcendent glory and effulgence.

 
ARTWORK   An abstract image with an uncertain background carries a bold gash of colour arcing upward, containing both brightness and darkness in its midst. The usual DiN format is followed with a track-listing on the rear jewel case encased in black and details of kit on a white panel within the CD booklet. The inner graphic is a blurred photograph of a repeating texture, presented as soft and natural, changed from its engineered origin.
 
OVERALL   

Aurora comes about three years after Ian Boddy's previous solo studio release Box of Secrets back in 1999. However Ian was not idle in the intervening years collaborating with other artists, performing in concert and developing the DiN label featuring some other imaginative electronic artists. Some of the material on Aurora - Gravity Well and Ecliptic reappear on the live album Chiasmata recorded in 2003. A sleeve note tells us that the title track is formed around a sixteenth century piece - Kyrie from Missa Papae Marcelli by the composer Palestrina ... it certainly is a powerful conclusion to a wide ranging CD.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Although Boddy produces some interesting collaborative material, his solo work has a breadth and depth to it that will enthral his fans. If you enjoy ambient music, but like the embellishment of rhythm or sequencer detail then - this might well be for you.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Kammarheit - The Starwheel
STYLE  

Beatless, cinematic, dark-ambient of an epic nature. Heavy swells and oozings of tone suggest a crawling viscosity, whilst minimal throbbings within the mass of the music hint at a living entity. Although ambient beds form the bulk of the sound, surface details in the form of tappings, wind sounds, muted chimes and echoing percussive structures add to the complexity of The Starwheel - often these are at their most distinct during the intros and outros. Pieces often seem to sway slowly or to rise and fall like an enormous breathing thing. Rumbles and dense currents of harmony create a powerful gravity throughout.

 
MOOD  

Weighty, shadowy slabs of sound - thick with layer upon layer of texture. Kammarheit's sound is a brooding, almost eerie one, yet not disturbing, in fact there is a serenity, a comfortableness here in this dimly lit world. The Starwheel is a suite of eight ponderous pieces mixed seamlessly into one, portending an unseen vastness, a monumental scale. Perhaps influenced by Kiktor Kvant's the inner cover art, associations with immense machinery, colossal wheels come to mind.

 
ARTWORK   Lovely classy artwork in a gatefold sleeve made from quality board. No plastic anywhere. On the front cover the moody ashen greys of a monochrome sky backlight a sinewy dead tree that looks to have been just left by a group of birds in flight. Silver embossed lettering sits regally within the broad black hillside below. This very attractive image is reproduced inside the package as a poster - again on quality paper. Minimal text interferes with the photography outside - track titles and credits being placed on the inner right panel. Here too all is grey, dark and heavy. Viktor Kvant's montage inside creates an impression that fits so well with the music ... you might well enjoy a visit to his site Dreamhours.
 
OVERALL   

Hailing from Sweden, this is Kammarheit's second album - released on Cyclic Law. A consistent CD with a profound mass full of emotive drones. Pär Boström produces aural environments that feel like soundtrack material - track titles 'A Room Between The Rooms', 'All Quite In The Land Of Frozen Scenes', 'Spatium' carry the same sense of the enigmatic that the music embodies so well. Whether the overall effect is one of melancholy, foreboding or simply drama depends as with much ambient) very much on the outlook of the listener.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Ambient fans who prefer no beats and like their landscapes bleak, impressive and moving. Kammarheit maintains a similar mood throughout The Starwheel and so try this CD if you prefer music with a strong focus rather than a ranging variety of sound. If you fancy checking this CD out pay a visit to Cycliclaw.com.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Chad Hoefler - Twilight In The Offing
STYLE  

Colourful, moody ambient music with some rhythmic and percussive features. Twilight In The Offing is built around gradually unfolding tonal layers and shadowy planes of sound - where beats are present they are gentle, within the mix, not dominating. Hints of melody lie in places deeply embedded in the dense sound base where the heaviest of shades thicken and subside being overlaid with eddying currents and swirls above. Gurgling effects at times ripple and murmur across the surface as the weighty lower frequencies rise and fall. The drones on this album are tenebrous, doleful in some places - celestial, ethereal in others.

 
MOOD  

In keeping with the title, Twilight In The Offing suggests something dimly lit, ponderous and shifting. There is a pleasing organic feel to this strongly electronic sound, emerging periodically into brightness, luxuriating under a luminous sheen, or shrouded in gloom with dense colourful entities turning somewhere within, at times even desolate even cold. Chad has said that the CD represents his attempt to sonically capture the concept of inevitability - darkness follows dusk, fall and winter follow summer, expiration of life being the ultimate certainty.

 
ARTWORK   Grassy blades against a darkening sky catch the passing light on the front cover - within a generous black border ... lettering minimal, simple, white. On the rear - the jutting blades are further abstracted, the background light almost lost; here track titles and timings are listed. Inside the cover booklet variations of the same imagery recur and once more in a plain white font credits, sample sources, thanks and contact details are presented.
 
OVERALL   

Released on the Hypnos label - Twilight In The Offings consists of seven lengthy pieces all between five and ten minutes long. This is Chad's debut release and has been mastered by none other than Robert Rich. Track titles reflect the idea of inevitability with some beautifully poetic terms 'Crimson Lost', 'Enveloping Shadow', 'On The Eve Of Plum Frost'. This is an ambient album that can hold the attention - from the beautiful 'In A Marooned Moment' to the disquieting 'Enveloping Shadow' the considerable variety of sound from one track to the next pulls you along, caught one moment by a percussive line throbbing way below the surface, swept up the next by cinematic undulations or uneasy in the presence of looming apparitions.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

If you enjoy sighing drones and atmospheric ambience - Twilight In The Offing might well be for you. Very much in keeping with Hypnos' emphasis on ambient/space/experimental music.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Various - Albedo
STYLE  

From fresh, sparkling ambient electronica to arpeggiated downtempo and neo-classical - Albedo is a journey of style as much as content. There are dreamy piano lines and radio static with fleeting operatic snatches, on Kalaallit Nunaat (the original name for Greenland) a manipulation of parts of Elgar's cello concerto combine with cool melodic electronic overtones and synth pads, Synch 24 establish an urban environment with murmured lyrics and insistent beats. There are subtle hints of ethnic sound among the electronics - percussion, violin - nothing too dominant. Voices whisper in undertones- chopped up, effected. The first half of this CD is exceptionally beautiful with the emphasis on natural elegance and crystalline grace - gradually the album progresses deeper into rhythm with pulsing basses and stronger trance influences until Vir Unis' crepuscular Light Curve leads us off into the impressionistic piano of Sunset.

 
MOOD   The changing mood of Albedo is set up by the underlying concept for the album - light beams falling on Earth reaching different corners of the planet. There is an initial fragility, gentle rhythm and oceanic smoothness where the sound equals the freshness of the gorgeous cover imagery. We pass from the dreamy pre-sun-up loneliness of Carbon Based Lifeforms' Digital Child, through Solar Fields' uplifting Fiat Lux (Latin for 'let there be light') we pass via Ishq's mid-day psychedelic drifting Ra (the Egyptian God of the Sun), visiting both natural wilderness and urban spread. The latter half of the collection sees the mood darkening with technology more evident in the sound, grey industrial smog tainting the atmosphere. The slightly sombre Light Curve written by Vir Unis specially for Albedo sees the sun slowly sinking once more into the final piece by ethnomusicologist/ambient composer Antonio Testa - the meditative Sunset where echoing piano drifts among ethereal slipstreams and flickers of haze.

 
ARTWORK   The artwork on this album is flawless, exquisite photographs of water surfaces and reflected imagery cover all surfaces. A three part gatefold format means that the visuals can luxuriously sprawl out between the traditional Ultimae black borders with plenty of room for track titles etc. and still allow some text free panels - these guys really know how to create a desirable package. In addition, a lush sixteen-page booklet sits inside. The opening page provides a definition of 'Albedo' - here again, attractive imagery is dominant and a full page is set aside for each track. Pictures of all the artists and generous thanks fill the final pages along with contact details and websites.
 
OVERALL   

'Ambient refractions and kaleidoscopic grooves' mixed by Nova. Albedo features artists both well established and relatively unknown such as Between Interval who provided the delightful track Wishful Thinking where the suggestion is almost that of a prayer for the day to come. Artists performed and recorded their contributions at diverse global locations such as Japan, Sweden, America, U.K and each is recorded with its latitude and longitude. Nova says of the idea behind Albedo - It’s simple but we don’t think much about the fact that we have just one Sun and it spreads its offering to the whole planet: cities, forests, North, South, countries at peace or at war. I think it’s a very democratic process or “routine” and we should be aware of its might.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Albedo will suit anyone already into Ultimae's trademark sound - ambient atmospheres and light percussives that often intensify into restful trance beats. If you're enjoying this year's exploration of chillout environments, you won't find anything much better than this CD - Nova tells a compelling musical narrative.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Marvin Ayres - Neptune
STYLE  

As with the previous Cellosphere Ayres continues his application of classical background to ambient experimentation. Processed electric violins, cellos and violas are here layered in waves of beatless tonality, not melodic as such, but often very harmonious with repeating motifs that gradually morph and alter form. Lengthy drones make up most of the substance of Neptune - at times these are clearly made by stringed instruments at others, the source is less obvious, the sound more ambiguous. Some pieces such as 'Upon' feature heavy eddying currents of sound others drift, meandering gently. Effects are employed generously to enhance timbre, bringing more colour and subtle nuance into play. Some pieces focus on one instrument, some on all three - including the seventeen minute twenty-eight second 'Drift'.

 
MOOD  

The mood on Neptune is serene, warm, hypnotic - like fluid beds of sound in which to sink or submerge. Ayres is a master of subtle variation of intensity and dynamics; his wandering tranquil mixes lulling the listener into reverie, some tracks being suggestive of solitude. Neptune has a dense structure in many places, sometimes weird, almost eerie where effects are most heavily applied. Tracks are in the main shorter on Neptune than on Cellosphere - ten in all.

 
ARTWORK   Sand patterns made by the movement of water cover all panels of this attractive digipack. The sand red and heavy, the surface etched, eroded into fractal grooves and runnels. The track listing is on the rear panel with sleeve notes and information inside. The CD itself carries the same imagery - a repetition of that on the case behind. A small orange-lit photograph of the artist sits on the inner left alongside an explanation of the inspiration for the album and the choice of instrumentation.
 
OVERALL   

Neptune includes two short videos on track one and so the track listing shown on your player might not match what is being played if you don't take this into account. The films are by Peter Gomes, one shows Marvin playing live at the Camden Remix Festival in 2001 and the other is a close up almost abstract recording of Marvin playing Under Blue (literally), which is also on the main album. Sleeve text includes the note "Within the process of writing this album I have tried to capture my personal reveries through the guise of 'Old Neptune'" this oceanic imagery adopted for the album works well - with titles such as Wave, Tug, Drift and Swell echoing the nature of the audio content.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Ambient music lovers who prefer shorter pieces with variety from one to another. Neptune will appeal to those with a taste for the minimal and an appreciation for strings.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Mingo - The Once And Future World
STYLE   Ambient drones and tonal layers with percussive rhythms on most tracks. The Once And Future World opens with some dramatic swelling synth strains and artificial plucked string effects, 'Between The Wave' developing into one of the few totally beatless pieces on this CD. As the album progresses there are parts with growling low tones overlaid with electronic flushes - sparse drum patterns sometimes establish a dynamic rhythm, but more often mark time with an uncomplicated regularity adding momentum to the music. Overall, Mingo maintains a simple sound with distinct layers and a clear mix.
 
MOOD   There is a sense of caliginous grandeur to this collection of pieces, the mood varying from oppressive and grey through to almost gentle, melodic. The Once And Future World maintains a fairly sombre nature in most parts although with an expansive air - and although the sounds employed within different tracks vary, the tone is consistent and united.
 
ARTWORK   A one-panel insert presents a solarised indigo image of wispy growths, luminescent in their half negative state. The rear of the jewel case presents the track list with times for each along with website and contact details. The front cover image reoccurs somewhat softer on the inside panel with another track list, recording information and artwork credits.
 
OVERALL    This is an ambient/space album of smooth analogue textures from a relatively new artist working in the same field as Steve Roach, Thom Brennan and Numina. Most pieces are around the six/seven minute mark apart from the title track that luxuriates in a full fifteen minutes. Track titles indicate the artist's intention of delving into the obscure and the cerebral - 'Hollow Ascension', 'The Infinite Deep', Complex Refraction'. Mingo is currently presented by Helmet Room Recordings based in Denver USA.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Ambient lovers looking for more in the vein of the less minimal sound worlds. The Once And Future World will suit those liking some percussion and rhythm behind the clouds and a weighty atmosphere to sink into.