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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Capsula - Synthesis of Reality
STYLE   Psychedelic downtempo trance. The album opens with a female voice bemoaning "I don't know who I am," quickly progressing into a frenetic collage of synthetic ephemera in all manner of sonic shapes and sizes. Sequenced phrases, voice samples, squirting-echoing effects and strong rhythms are propelled by bright basses and busy percussion patterns - all stirred into a heady electronic brew. Capsula is not really into melodies you can hum - his creations are more of a dizzying auditory experience. There are a lot of staccato sounds on the top level - gated, generated rapid-fire, repeated, delayed - all adding to the complexity of the mix. On the other hand there are a few more organic sound sources such as the oriental violin on 'Human Mentality' laid out alongside an eastern scale, juxtaposed to the squeal of computer created effects.
 
MOOD   Colourful and hypnotic, Synthesis of Reality presents myriad swirling minutia where fleeting spoken extracts float disembodied through the music like random thoughts drifting up from the subconscious. Reality is presented as a dream from which we are encouraged not to wake up - just one aspect of a cluster of consecutive worlds.
 
ARTWORK   In synch with the music, the artwork is a busy synthetic collage - a broken capsule spills white granules from which spring fantastic growths that burgeon out to become fractal spirals and webs. Butterflies flit across the surface of the front cover whilst a colourful laboratory adorns the reverse - doubtless in the process of synthesising an alternate dream-reality. Within, two spread palms offer a computer-generated vista as backdrop to a manifesto based of the ideas of Carlos Castaneda.
 
OVERALL   

Capsula is Yosi Shamay a young music producer from Israel. This is his debut album released on Ajana Records. Capsula will not be a new name to chillout fans having released tracks earlier in the year on Peak Records and Ajana Records. Clearly a CD offering food for thought - Synthesis of Reality includes the voices of Allan Watts, Art Bell, David Icke and Terrence McKenna.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

If you enjoyed the Capsula tracks on earlier compilations - this album solidifies that distinct style nicely. Chillout music with plenty to hold the attention - downtempo, but very buoyant.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Various - Dissolving Clouds
STYLE   Largely downbeat fusion instrumentals. A voice with an American accent worrying over flying saucers leads us into an ethno-chilled beat with a didgeridoo type drone - and the scene is set. Dissolving Clouds makes ample use of trance-inducing recurring patterns where simple chordal structures are set rolling and then embellished with diverse musical flavours. Brief echoing melody lines are enhanced by a sprinkling of ethnic samples and there's a dub aesthetic to much of the content. Female wails and reggae influenced voices float across some rich synth work and Gaudi vs Tripswitch introduce a bass that carries that visceral depth you sometimes hear when someone in another car really pumps out the low frequencies.
 
MOOD   There is an earthy tone to this CD - yes, the usual psychedelic paraphernalia is present, but Dissolving Clouds has a more fervid grit than many 'chill' compilations. The range of influences fused here makes this a CD that bleeds across genres, resisting easy classification. The tone suggests smoke filled clubs on one hand and a tribal campfire atmosphere on the other.
 
ARTWORK   A fairly simple design for this package. Distant hills barely topping mist pools - everything of the deepest red on front and back. Inside a contour-line graphic forms the backdrop to the relevant information - all in just two colours. The usual tracklisting, credits and extensive thanks inhabit the inner booklet. Contact information likewise for the folks at Interchill can be found here.
 
OVERALL    Established names Gaudi, Tripswitch, Legion of Green Men, Kaya Project and Eat Static perform alongside some newer talent in what Interchill refers to as "a left-of-centre collection loosely based around the evolution of the dancehall beat." This is certainly an eclectic assemblage with lots of dub-oriented material and dense beats bound up in a mind-expanding quest for rhythm. Compiled by Andrew Ross Collins and Nick Edell, this intense album is as likely to invigorate as it is to chill.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

This is for downtempo fans who like something with a bit of drive and weight. A crossover collection that serves up psy, dub, ethno and jazz-influenced electronic in a gutsy manner.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Blue Stone - Breathe
STYLE   Laid-back electronics and choir-like female vocals laid out over enigmatic beats. Breathe interweaves synth washes, delicate chimes, soaring strings and gentle piano melodies with a variety of voices - whispered words, monks chanting, heavenly singing and plenty of breathed oohs and aahs. The grooves are light with a smattering of ethnic percussion, muted hits and echoing effects. This is a very melodic album with piano taking much of the lead - opulent themes, dreamy interludes, classical nuances ... pretty arrangements often drenched in reverb. The mix is lush, alternately beguiling and soft - angelic and soothing - warmly seductive and deep. Everything seems steeped in enchanting colour, wrapped in velvet folds, bathed in twilight hues.
 
MOOD  

Blue Stone are aiming for an easy-listening mystical tranquillity. Their carefully woven spell works best when the vocals steer away from arrangements that are too song like - instead acting more as additional instrumental layers. There are dramatic moments, pretty passages and reflective lulls - all set out under that twilight twinkle and glow when masked balls might be held. Romantic, mock-classical - nothing harsh or acidic - Breathe has a slight wistfulness at times, almost nostalgic.

 
ARTWORK   Having a promo of this album - I can only tell you that the front cover photography makes full use of chiaroscuro to present a silver ball mask shrouded in a saturated blue feather boa. The dark background carries across to the rear panel where gossamer folds soften the outline of a lady's legs - titles snake through this image and the Blue Stone logo glints at the top as it does on the front. Looks like an attractive package that complements the music well.
 
OVERALL    Blue Stone is the current project from producer/programmer Robert Smith (previously behind Bella Sonus) and producer/multi-instrumentalist Bill Walters - the two are joined here by the soaring soprano vocals of classically trained Darcy. Blue Stone cite such influences as Pink Floyd, Jan Hammer, and William Orbit to Delerium, BT and Afro Celt Sound System. Record label Neurodisc is beginning to develop something of a home sound among Blue Stone, Ryan Farish and Amethystium - each offering a different aspect of serene instrumental music.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Breathe will likely appeal to fans of Neurodisc artists Amethystium and Ryan Farish. Ethereal electronic pop for those that enjoy a cinematic journey over a club or lounge sound.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Solar Fields - Leaving Home
STYLE  
Intricate ambient environments carefully built up and then lifted, carried along by beats as soft and shifting as summer evening breezes. Little by little tracks well up into blissful rhythm, establishing mesmerisingly recurrent themes and building to exquisite climactic releases. Solar Fields layers many levels of electronic sound, dense tonal masses, all manner of crystal clear sonic peripherals, constantly evolving loops - these are variously embellished with hazy voices and acoustic instrumentation. Magnus himself plays Veena, sitar and guitar among other 'harmonical acoustic instruments', weaving ethnic, otherworldly and exotic sounds into his percussion patterns and sound beds. Although repetition of themes frequently occurs, this is never employed idly, each element mutating, altering - [Leaving Home] feels like a very detailed construct. Added to this Magnus has a feel for a pleasing sound - nothing grates here, even when abrasive or acidic settings are chosen, the balance retains an attractive elegance. Everything flows into one united suite where tracks develop one into another passing through low-key lulls into melodic motifs that lodge in your subconscious such as the masterful Air Song and Monogram.
 
MOOD   Deliriously serene and graceful. [Leaving Home] has an emotional weight that a lot of electronic music lacks, I suspect that this has been a true labour of love. Restful currents, light hypnotic percussion and masterful experimental excursions presented with top-notch production - all make for a beguiling journey (without ever laving your home). There is nothing here that appears to have been done before or that follows a trend - Solar Fields blazes a trail of 'sonic chromatographies' that others will doubtless follow at a distance.
 
ARTWORK   This is an Ultimae package so we know we can expect a quality product - added to that [Leaving Home] features Magnus' own photographic imagery collected during his travels. This is a three-panel gatefold digipack with a 16 page booklet included. The outer cover holds a trio of atmospheric urban imagery whereas inside we find two intensely organic shots cast with green and orange - a third picture is hidden behind the CD - Magnus with sitar in hand and glowing computer screens at his back. The glossy booklet has a page for each track with a complementary image and some brief notes, thanks and credits at the end.
 
OVERALL   

The previous two albums, the H.U.V.A. Network material, compilation appearances - everything Magnus Birgesson produces seems to be something rather special. Now to cap everything he releases two full length albums simultaneously! [Leaving Home] and the aptly titled [Extended] where meandering explorations of Magnus' themes are set free of many structural bounds. There is an incredible attention to detail that elevates this album although the sound is never cluttered and is very beautiful. I found myself wondering just how much time this guy must have spent tweaking small points, polishing minor facets to get this high finish - [Leaving Home] is certain to become the standard by which much future music will be judged.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Chillout fans that can cope with shifting beats that come and go will likely be drawn to [Leaving Home]. But this is a genre breaking release - anyone that loves beautiful music should give this CD a listen - it is ambient electronic music, but it's also passionate, enthralling, unique. A sublime album, classy and very professional - don't miss this one!

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Kirsty Hawkshaw - Meta-Message
STYLE   A variety of styles ranging from club/dance-floor and moody downtempo to almost mainstream guitar driven pop-rock. There is some fine electronic composition and performance here from such names as Tiesto, Delerium and Hybrid (among others) - but primarily, of course, this is a showcase for Kirsty Hawkshaw's incredible voice. Kirsty is clearly adaptable, sounding equally at home with the sing-along energy of the current single Reach For Me, wispy and wistful for Delerium's lush Nature's Kingdom, overcast and emotional for Tiesto's Battleship Grey, suitably gentle for the concluding Whisper written by Slovo. Not only can she reach unbelievable heights and convey emotions such as melancholy, tenderness, otherworldliness - Kirsty has an attractive voice, a delight to listen to.
 
MOOD   This is a tasteful collection of tracks - clearly this singer doesn't lend her name and vocal talent just to anything. There is plenty of feeling here since Kirsty sings with her emotions near the surface - the lovely downtempo tracks Split and Beautiful Danger, where Kirsty's poignant approach and tonal reach are allowed free rein highlight this nicely. Understandably the mood shifts across such a collection of tracks - All I Want carries some aggression in the music, warmed by the vocal content, Just Be Me and Walking On Clouds raise the tempo into some atmospheric dance beats.
 
ARTWORK   Portrait photography forms the basis of the artwork for Meta-Message. The singer's face tightly cropped on both sides of the booklet - blue eyes emphasised, clear and bright. On the rear of the jewel case an introspective silhouette faces the tracklist where times are all included. Within, credits are extensive and thanks copious - attention also being drawn to the website - www.kirstyhawkshaw.co.uk
 
OVERALL    From the days of Opus III in the early 90s through to the current Reach For Me - we've pretty much got a Kirsty Hawkshaw's greatest hits here. Singing with Mr. Sam, Lange, Hybrid, Slovo, Delerium and Tiesto - Kirsty's undeniable talent has her clearly in demand ... soon to appear on the Sleepthief album Dawnseeker too. Her own material on this album stands solidly alongside the collaborations - equally professional, equally emotive and hopefully the bones of a solo album?
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If, like me, you've discovered Kirsty Hawkshaw through her collaborative work - there's much more to enjoy here that will probably appeal. Fans of electronic music and female vocals have top quality combinations here. Needless to say Kirsty's fans will have this already.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Various - Sanctuary
STYLE   With abundant flutes and plenty of eastern instrumentation - Sanctuary sets out to be a "meditative and tranquil journey into the uncharted territory of the imagination". Opening with a blend of synthetic and Indian acoustic stringed drones - we're introduced to an ambient beatless space where chanting voices waft in and out. Building on this exotic opening, tracks flow one into another with voices and water effects acting as links - the ubiquitous Indian and oriental sounds are joined by tropical birds, finger cymbals and subtle electronics. Beats are generally gentle or absent, often a fusion of indigenous hand drumming and light programming. Much of the ethnic material was recorded on location - talking drum, kalabash, Pygmy flute, marimbas and oriental strings being among the varied sound sources present.
 
MOOD  

The mood is consistently one of meditative ethno-chill, heavily steeped in Asian influences and so carrying the associated mystery and cultural colour of that continent. Exotic and reflective, the tribal aspects of beat and melody are low key and trance inducing. Frequent water effects add to the calming nature of Sanctuary - beds of dreamy, mystical sound giving way briefly to Gaudi's global dub and Kaya Projects rhythmical Slide - named after the slide guitars on the piece.

 
ARTWORK   A blue-tinted temple building flanked by feathery trees floats on an azure pool below the suspended title. Inside, a three-panel booklet presents a bamboo motif in soft greens where the relevant artist information can be found - each piece is listed alongside credits and the original album from which the piece was taken. Track lists are on the rear jewel case and within.
 
OVERALL   

Sanctuary comes to us from Interchill, compiled by DJ/multimedia presenter and Native State Record label manager Naasko. Subtitled "a shanti mix from the Interchill garden" (shanti meaning peace) this is a sort of 'best of Interchill records’ compilation from the last 8 years featuring well known downtempo artists from the Interchill catalogue. Familiar names include Ishq, Gaudi, Kaya Project, Adham Shaikh and Shakatura among others - the vibe is consistent, the vision a shared one, the quality high.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Sanctuary will suit chill-out fans that enjoy a deep floating mix and a dense ethnic atmosphere. With a similar flavour to Karunesh's Way of The Mystic and Steve Roach's Mantram - this CD brings organic East-West fusion to the downtempo and ambient audience.