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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Visions - Lapse
STYLE  

Solemn, thick, dark ambient - beatless and abyssal. From the low groaning opening bars the pattern is established for Lapse - dolorous drones and scraping, writhing overtones build into ponderous melodic patterns and pensive atmospheres. Some tracks are softer than others welling up into a bewildering obscurity that threatens to engulf the listener in cloudy folds and curves of tone. At times dense layers of sound roll in repeatedly like waves accompanied by atonal sweeps and strains on the upper register or shrouds of lower sound rumbling, shuffling.

 
MOOD   The mood initially appears bleak and grey - like churning mists at night, somewhat unsettling and portentous. Deeper listening reveals further depth and colour - suggesting abstract, spacey imagery drawing the minds eye outward toward ever-evolving visions of distant nebulae and immense starscapes.
 
ARTWORK   The vertically opening gatefold artwork is sharp and classy, no plastic, rather a simple high quality card wallet. Front cover imagery shows a menacing, smouldering dark volcanic star hovering close over the surface of a grey/blue planet. Sweeping fiery emissions flung from the core of the former are matched by bright turquoise evaporation rising from the lower body. A starscape bright with blood red nebulae fills the rear cover with the Cyclic Law logo and website details neatly at bottom centre. Inside the gatefold is mainly black as is the CD itself - a stark red arc and out-flung traces carrying the only colour. Here we have the track list, credits and thanks.
 
OVERALL   

Visions is basically Frédéric Arbour owner of Cyclic Law. This is the debut album under the project name; built around intense multi-layered drones of unrecognisable origin, no bright synths here or cheap keyboard presets. Lapse is relatively melodic for an ambient album and although it could be used as mood music to set a suitably shadowy climate, this is an album that will be most rewarding given some attention. The gatefold edition of Lapse is a limited edition of only 1000 copies.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Lapse will suit fans of melodic dark ambient - someone looking for a strong shadow and heavy mood. Find it here - Cyclic Law.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ vidnaObmana - Noise/Drone Anthology 1984-1989
STYLE  
Harsh tones, experimental ambience and dark atmospheres. vidnaObmana chooses to open this latest collection with an aggressive assault of rhythmic noise, multi-layered and dense with distortion. The following pieces range from piercing and gritty, mechanical looping structures to fluxing, evolving drones - often overlaid with atonal strains, darkly attractive and mysterious. Mangled voices gargle deep within the mix or skitter across the surface as damaged transmissions. Unidentifiable sources combine with electronic weirdness and twisted textures that sometimes attack with artistic shock tactics or entice with seductive shadowy grace. This appropriately named Noise/Drone Anthology is bold and uncompromising showing further roots from the luxurious growth that has become vidnaObmana - hinting at the maturity that produced the Dante Trilogy.
 
MOOD   Grey and industrial like the cover imagery. This collection smoothly flows from grim and acerbic to languid and indolent - yet even in these low-key passages, still suggestive of coiled strength as if threatening to snap plastic muscles into action. Haunting, desolate tracks maintain a mechanistic undertone as if under the shadow of some ominous factory, meditative moments are brooding, unsettled often with an accompanying sense of a vast scale.
 
ARTWORK   Imagery throughout centres on the twisted beauty of derelicts - broken windows, glass cracks, concrete and girders all in shades of grey. The front cover forms a single image with the other half of the inner booklet allowing distorted text and indistinct edges to intermingle freely. A clear track list appears on the rear of the jewel case with an extended version inside the booklet - here track origins are presented with dates and cassette sources.
 
OVERALL    Noise/Drone Anthology dredges up vidnaObmana's underground compositions from the mid to late 1980s when cassette releases and indeed cassette masters were the order of the day. These have all been carefully remastered with a lot of effort put into establishing a high quality product that faithfully maintains those early sounds. The press release tells us to "expect a provoking combination of early drone and atmospheric pieces with sonic assaults of noise and vocal experiments". Track titles Proto Anguish, Cry Of Despair, In The Mouth Of The Reptile, Techno-toxic Embryo set the tone. There are a few collaborative pieces with PBK, Kapotte Muziek and Big City Orchestra.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Nostalgia hunters with a taste for industrial ambience, fans of vidnaObmana wanting to know a bit more about how it all began. If you enjoyed the approach taken on Anthology 1984-2004 then this present collection will likely be right up your street.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Pathaan (various) - Global Sunset
STYLE  

Well described on the cover as "a sophisticated selection of exotic vibes and balearic grooves from around the world". This lush collection is more focussed than the eclectic follow-up Universal Sunset - here we have a consistently downtempo assemblage where the beats are restful and the instrumentation chilled yet deeply colourful. Most tracks are vocal and the voices are multilingual, as one would expect from an album entitled Global Sunset. Flutes, bells, violins, didgeridoos and guitars seamlessly blend with influences from Africa, Brazil and the Middle-East to create a laid-back extravaganza of ethnic lounge music.

 
MOOD  

From Balearic to Bollywood the mood is leisurely and seductive - danceable at a gentle pace. Both discs maintain the mood of late night exotica that the global gatherer Pathaan has become so adept at tracking down. Pathaan says - "I have had the privilege of soundscaping the sun either setting or rising in some of the world's most magical places" .... Global Sunset is this soundscape concentrated and distilled.

 
ARTWORK   A bright orange sunset hangs in its final moments over a globe - all bathed in evening hues - the card sleeve carries the titles and a few enthusiastic quotes, whereas the jewel-case cover simply presents the image free of text. Inner booklet aside - the rest of the artwork is of a deep olive, textured and rich. Track titles appear against this backdrop on the rear sleeve and jewel case as well as inside. We get a few words on each piece drawing attention to a relevant highlight - further details and credits are found within the inner booklet.
 
OVERALL   

This album follows in the footsteps of Pathaan's Stoned Asia compilations and the first in the 'sunset' series - Indian Sunset. This tight vision includes contributions from such names as Massive Attack, Natascha Atlas, Transglobal Underground, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Leftfield as well as Pathaan's own Orchestral World Groove with like-minded collaborator Gaudi. The list of artists goes beyond the obvious with many coming from beyond the usual borders of clubland and peppered with a few rising stars - a truly global collection of performers and writers.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Global Sunset is aimed at the world chill audience - ideal for end of the day, end of the evening, end of the night atmosphere.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Frech - Frechbax
STYLE  

Pumping basses, transparent synths and a range of esoteric effects - Frech's promotional material describes the sound as a "minimal progressive style with psychedelic influences". Moody openings and flute like tones give way to bright beats and airy electronics with deeply effected vocal bytes and a solid bottom end. The tempo is generally a fairly pacey mid-dance beat with mechanical, regular kicks and crisp snares and hats. The synth voices are quite acidic on the whole thin and squirting, but compared to the rhythmic elements, melodic and ambient features are relatively lazy and drifting in nature.

 
MOOD   Dark atmospheres and shady moods combine with upbeat percussion and driving loops to create an overall mood of simple clean psychedelia. The clarity of the mix suggests contemporary technoscapes or cyberdreams. The emphasis on Frechbax is primarily on the beats - repeating, cycling, thudding deep enough to feel.
 
ARTWORK   The artwork is similarly clean and light - a computer-generated life form of curling copper tendrils supports a spiralling brainlike growth in contrasting sky-blue. This structure is repeated in variant forms throughout the package - on the rear of the booklet closed tight, behind the CD in close-up, inside the inner booklet wide open and spewing its contents skyward. Apart from this artificial creature everything else is a flat white. Text, a functional turquoise, provides credits, contact details and track information.
 
OVERALL   

Frechbax is Sebastian Auer who, I understand, has been DJ'ing and performing live in Germany for some years. This debut album is released on Ajana Records, a sub-label of Trishula Records. Apparently the voice samples on track nine Suendenbock are of Klaus Kinski speaking in German. Overall a trancey, acidic collection of uncomplicated electronica.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Fans of psychedelia in favour of airy, understatement and minimal melody. Frechbax will be appreciated by downtempo fans who prefer beats at the upper limit of the genre.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Various - Chillounge (Intentcity)
STYLE  

Sultry collection of chilled electronica with restful lounge beats and plenty of twinkly vibes, light electric pianos, sax and wah wah guitars. Most tracks feature suitably dreamy female vocals in different languages - there are just a few male backing voices - much of the lyrical content romantic and enticing. There are hints of Latin influence in the percussive layers and some unobtrusive ethnic sounds on a few tracks notably from Govinda, Ikarus and Jasmon - these, however, don't shift the focus away from the late-night soulfulness pervading the collection. Only a small number of pieces are really instrumental, most are truly songs - although presented in such a manner that the singing doesn't dominate the trippy instrumentation or overshadow the lazy grooves.

 
MOOD   Chillounge has a warm summertime feel to it - conjuring up images of coffee/cocktail bars even without seeing the cover art. The polished finish is silky and deep adding to the languid easiness of the sound. There is a clear European flavour inhabiting much of the disc stirred up by language or instrument. Chillounge would work well as the backdrop to a lovers' night out - slinking comfortably into the background, lively enough to maintain attentiveness yet seductively soft enough to allow the attention to rove elsewhere.
 
ARTWORK   Glossy and rich in russets, red-browns and soft yellowy pools of light. Chillounge comes in a three panel digipack with a candle-lit lounge bar adorning the main face. Graphic discs in regular arrangements thicken the imagery - some with inset photographs of slinky figures or clear cocktails. A simple track list is presented on the rear cover and again in expanded form inside, this time with credits and source info..
 
OVERALL   

The promotional information sent out by Intentcity talk of "downtempo excursions ... with silky beats" describing the intent of Chillounge as a journey into "chilled electronica, nu-jazz rhythms and smooth sensual vocals". The artists highlighted on the cover sticker are Lornalee, Govinda, Hilton FM and Radiophonic - I guess these well encapsulate the essence of the album. For me Al-Pha-X's aptly entitled 'Chilled & Lush Mix of 'Solar Ascension' with its ethereal Hindi singing is a stand-out track, dreamy and floating on clouds of sonic incense - so too Radiophonic's 'Last Thing I Do', another blissful piece of insubstantial musical mist with Maryann Leone's delightful feather soft vocals lulling the listener into bright tranquillity. Mysteria presents the track 'After The Rain' - hinting at what we might expect from his full-length release due out in September.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This is an album that proclaims its purpose through its title, artwork and sound - "late night beats and cool morning sensations". Promotional materials suggest in-store play as another avenue that would suit the content well. If you heard anything of Intentcity's 'French Kiss' released earlier this year - you'll have an idea of what to expect.
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Various - Left Coast Liquid Vol.1 (Native State)
STYLE   Liquid clear downtempo electronica alternating between lush melodic pieces and sparse, spacious beat driven tracks. Atmospheric introductions build into intricate arrangements around bright digital beats where the snares and hats are crisp, the basses and kicks intestinal. Harmonic developments are generally unhurried, with less cycling arpeggios than some of the other current chill output - emphasis is instead on development of ambient moods and engrossing percussion. Shulman's colourful opener although rhythmic, is beatless for much of its length, twinkling and constantly changing; Bluetech's 'Leaving Winter Behind' has a classical elegance with wistful piano and vivid synth work; Rena's 'Autumn' features some beautiful cello playing - serene and absorbing over a contrastingly fresh programmed groove.
 
MOOD  

Cool and oceanic with a very polished interface. Left Coast Liquid Vol. 1 is certainly a downtempo album but it maintains an energetic, emotive edge throughout its length. The clarity of the mix and originality of the ambient effects alongside graceful, nimble compositional structures create a mood of contemporary elegance, delicate and flickering one moment flowing and rich the next.

 
ARTWORK   An organic psychedelic aesthetic permeates the packaging of Left Coast - graphic spirals and sparkles overlay anemone fronds and fragile ripples of water - all tinted pale blue against an infinite blackness. The booklet is a three-panel foldout that carries its lush imagery on the outside and all the text on the inside. We have a full-page statement on 'Left Coast Liquid Polyculture' and a poetic offering entitled 'Life Craft'. The final panel contains track info with full credits and website details.
 
OVERALL   

This compilation coming from Evan Bluetech's Native State Records explores 'global ambient realms' through 'glitch dipped melodies' and 'polysignature soundscapes' aimed at embodying the warm and spacious elements of the West Coast. This is certainly one of 2005's best collections in my opinion - worth owning for Phutureprimitive's remix of Bluetech's 'Oleander' alone. This track reminds of all that I love about Phutureprimitive's confident, sleek, prowling style. Nevertheless, this whole CD flows nicely, maintaining the high grade from start to finish.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Anyone familiar with Bluetech's field of PsiDM and exotic chillout will be surely be pleased with this album. If you enjoy instrumental electronic music that focuses on atmosphere whilst providing moving beats and cutting edge effects - Left Coast Liquid Vol 1 must be worth a listen.