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 ------ Dean De Benedictis - Salvaging The Past
STYLE   Rhythmic instrumental electronica blending synthetic and acoustic sounds to produce an exotic ambient edge. This is a varied album with beats and rhythmic passages, flutes, cello, voices, guitars and plenty of dense, bright atmospheres and sequences. Salvaging The Past has a powerful sound for environmental music, beautifully melodic and poignant at times - in places with beats clear and solid, although too ambient in nature to be beat-driven music. Dean De Benedictis has certainly produced a staggeringly professional sound, musically very mature and moving. The mix is generally lush and rich, the odd voice swimming in the mix, delicate piano chords in places, keening cello - but primarily delivering all manner of synth sounds - choral effects, crystal arpeggios, smooth drones, aural cloudscapes. Where Is The Northern Sorrow brings a female voice to the fore - heavenly, ethereal and warm - courtesy of Cathryn Deering.
MOOD   Dramatic and expansive through light and serene - from deep piano stabs with a Middle-Eastern slant to clay drums and reverberating flutes - from floational weightlessness to percussive restfulness - from electronic sound synthesis to organic acoustic performance - this is an album of artful contrasts. Nevertheless, everything ties up effectively into a coherent whole. Colourful patches twinkle and bubble, ambient atmospheres drifting like oil on water - little is still for long. A compelling listen.
ARTWORK   The artwork for Salvaging The Past is sharp and atmospheric - water and cloud dominating the series of landscapes spread across the package. A dead tree, black against storm clouds fill the rear jewel-case panel alongside track titles and times. Grey water floods the inner booklet, a widening ripple pattern of elongated ovals spread out before half-submerged rocks - here we have notes to the listener explaining the project, credits, thanks and a list of inspirational artists.
OVERALL    Salvaging The Past is released by Spotted Peccary Records as the latest of Dean De Benedictis' offerings - having produced previous compositions in a variety of styles including IDM, tribal ambient and space music. Here he employs a variety of electronic tonalities, samples, and acoustic instruments such as mayahachi flute, bamboo flutes, cello, piano, voice, guitars, hand drums, and percussion. Promotional notes explain - "Our physical realm is comprised of drastically separate entities mix-matching and ambiguously aligning into one harmonious collage. Such is the underlying principal behind "Salvaging The Past.” The album brings together pieces written between the years 1992 and 2005.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This CD will appeal to electronic fans at the ambient end of the spectrum - but contains sufficient melodic/harmonic content to appeal to electronic fans that like to have a clear tune to hold on to, an occasional beat to carry the mix and plenty of variety to hold the attention.




 ------ Gustaf Hildebrand - Primordial Resonance

Thick, dark ambience - timeless and grey. Having said that - Primordial Resonance is far from tuneless or dull. Tonal sound sculptures twist and curl deeply enshrouded in atonal textures and synthetic air movements - deeply atmospheric as pure if atmosphere itself had been gathered, distilled and released into a new space. Crashing, coursing, shifting winds roll and howl, breeze borne chimes and percussive strikings reverberating in the middle distance. Uncertain voices - pitch-shifted and deep, children, a crying baby, others wander lost in the veils of dense haze. Industrial peripherals clatter, shake and grind - the clangour of beaten objects piercing the mass of ambient cloud. Ruins of a Failed Utopia contains monastic chanting drifting and moaning somewhere above set against the scuffings and abrasions of metal and the wide-open rushings of empty enormity.


This is a thick smoke of music. The mood is initially dark and desolate - industrial, derelict as if eroded and ancient. There are suggestions of an old power now buried, lost, forgotten - yet still heaving within. Despite the intense shadow Primordial resonance isn't spooky or scary - instead we have the beauty of the unilluminated, the monochrome aesthetic of fog, the sense of being something small in the presence of infinitely larger and greater things.

ARTWORK   As with all of Cyclic Law's CDs the packaging is first rate - the first 1000 copies come in an oversized fold-out cover of three panels bathed in glorious graphic imagery. The front cover presents a grey photomontage of decaying boat hulls on a beach with immense planetary sphere looming in the gulf above. A spacey-organic abstract texture floods the rest of the outside - blue-black - as the inside, where a second textural creation fills all available space papery, ink washed, ill-defined scripts lurking in the gloom. Text is functional - titles and label details only on the outside, within a tracklist and credits.
OVERALL    Released on Cyclic Law Gustaf Hildebrand's Primordial Resonance is in the company of like-minded artists. The label specialises in heavy shadow and ambient viscosity. This is Gustaf's follow-up album to Starscape, his second solo offering, having also released music under the project name Lithium (CMI) and in collaboration with Karjalan Sissit, promotional material explains "Gustaf's second full length is a unique, evolved experience offering you to embark upon an odyssey through ancient and lifeless surroundings. Sweeping ambient soundscapes and delicate textures mingle with the distant shrieks of surreal machinery - conjuring up images of abandoned and forgotten places, clouded skies and dead cities where time has been standing still. A captured moment from a strange no man's land lit by a perpetual gloom, Primordial Resonance is a voyage only limited by the imagination of the listener."
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This is for fans of beatless ambience that prefer minimal melody and abundant shadow. There's ample detail here though to hold the attention - Gustaf Hildebrand masters the genre well, providing sufficient harmonic content to keep the album from grating, yet exercising restraint, maintaining the sombre mood and bleak imagery throughout.




 ------ Netherworld & Fiorenza Gherardi de Candei - Lost

A single long-form piece of swaying beatless ambience. Low roars of sound are accompanied by moaning tonalities and amorphous wails. A metallic squeak like the creak of a swinging chain marks time, eventually vanishing to be replaced by tide-like swelling of the deeper drones. A humming voice alone and lost echoes somewhere way down in the mix - the oceanic ebb and flow hinting at floatation - indeed when the darker elements subside, the music is almost ethereal. Snippets of spoken words, a woman's voice, emotional, fevered appear with increasing frequency as the piece develops - like someone talking in their sleep - as if the mist were singing to itself.

MOOD   Very lonely and bleak - like the mist of the cover imagery at its densest where all is unfamiliar and uncertain. The fog banks feel as if they are lit by a ghostly light - indeed the aural hazes appear to be living things - rising and falling, organic, sentient. The use of various field recordings gathered in the Scottish Highlands during August 2005 and Fiorenza Gherardi de Candei's vocal utterances add to the sense that this is not a synthetic production -
ARTWORK   A simple package consisting of a single sheet of card and a clear wallet together inside a larger DVD sized sleeve. The front cover presents a deserted road vanishing gradually into a heavy fog. Everything has a pallid lilac-grey tint - the eye drawn irresistibly into the translucent middle-distance. Text is functional - title only on the front, within are relevant credits and recording information.

Alessandro Tedeschi records as Netherword on the Penumbra label which is a sublabel of Oophoi's Umbra. On Lost we have a single twenty-two minute track bringing together Netherworld with processed field recordings, loops and voice and Fiorenza Gherardi de Candei with chant and text. Information can be found at the website Deep Listenings or Gears of Sand have some additional details on their website.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Ambient fans enjoying haunting isolationist soundscapes with no beats and minimal melodic content. Lost will appeal to those wanting something deep and absorbing to sink into - something to challenge the senses.




 ------ Karunesh - Global Village
STYLE   Worldbeat music with comfortable rhythms and warm electronica following in the footsteps of Global Spirit released back in 2001. International vocals with an Indian emphasis lead many of the tracks with flutes and other global instruments providing a varied and vivid accompaniment. Some sounds are sampled, others are played live - guitar and oud by Govi, bansuri by Bikram, Indian violin by Avinash and lute by Gerhard Frankenhauser. Bell trees work alongside rolling arps, finger cymbals with fusion beats, There are some electric guitar solos tastefully employed, synthetic textures and sequences along with easy nodding basslines - all bound up into a collection of pleasantly emotional arrangements.
MOOD   The mood is consistently inviting and restful. Global Village presents an optimistic vision of shared cultures and a colourful interplay of musical traditions both Eastern and Western. There is an earthy richness that lifts the album above the blandness of much New-Age relaxation music - the deeply ethnic introductions atmospheric and suggestive, the insistent percussion sections stirring and moving the feet.
ARTWORK   The front cover contains a drawing of a small hut circle under the shadow of a delicate tree - the circle is laid out on the surface of a hand-drum surrounded by clouds. A sunburst rainbow emerges from behind the scene arcing over a pale sun. The imagery from this picture re-appears in various forms throughout the packaging - the tree, the huts, the sun. The booklet contains a lot of information, informing us about Karunesh and his musical vision, about the project Global Village and there is also a little about previous Karunesh releases. All the usual track-lists, credits and contact information are present and we even get a glimpse of the artist himself on a small black and white portrait photograph.
OVERALL    In many ways this album is a follow-up to Global Spirit which was released both under the name Karunesh and Global Spirit. The tempos are faster than 2004's Way of the Mystic - but again Karunesh looks primarily to the East for musical inspiration. Promotional notes point out the "Global Village represents the vision of a united world - a world free of nationalities, borders and racism. A world where all the different cultures can meet and merge, supporting and enriching each other". Noble sentiments that are developed through the juxtaposition of African tribal voices, panpipe effects, electric guitars, Middle Eastern vocals, Indian drones and gentle danceable grooves.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Karunesh will appeal to worldbeat lovers that enjoy a soft approach to the interweaving of multicultural source material. If strong rhythms, rich colours and ethnic vocals are your thing - give this CD a listen.




 ------ Various - Cosmik Chill "Red"
STYLE   Mid-downtempo chillout excursions. There is quite a variety here from pieces where the melodic content consists of minimal cycling motifs set against hazy pads, to tracks of ethnic richness fused with western electronica and passages of lush synthesiser layers ebbing and flowing one into the other. We have Disham's blend of guitar, violin and female vocals where a wandering bass, trippy beat and synthetic soundscape produce a strongly Eastern European feel, Solar Fields' deeply chilled Small Little Green Cubes gradually building from restful reverie to trance inducing repetition and Aes Dana's mesmerisingly steady paced Transit - thudding kicks beating against ambient waves.
MOOD   The mood ranges from beat-driven psychedelic regularity to ethnic exotica. Moody, atmospheric introductions build into acoustic performance or programmed precision - gentle interludes build climactically into passages of rhythmic intensity before winding down again into blissful serenity. International voices and artistry suggest a coming together of cultures - a new world vision developed through music.
ARTWORK   Punkadelik's artwork on this colourful digipack was inspired by the late Jim Leon an English pop artist having produced work for Pink Floyd and Oz magazine. The front cover shows an exploding volcano flinging out burning rock and smoke. Hovering way above a swirling green sea, a spout of magma shoots into the flying structure from below. The bright blue background of the sky floods the remaining panels where track titles and background information can be found.
OVERALL    This is the first CD to come from the newly established Electrik Dream label - based in the U.K. The collection is brought together by label manager Tajmahal who includes his own debut downtempo offering where a ritualistic Native American voice juxtaposes floating tones and a danceable beat. As is the tradition Cosmik Chill "Red" brings together musicians well-known and those less familiar - from such diverse locations as Bulgaria, U.S.A., Russia, France and Portugal. Promotional material proclaims "Electrik Dream will introduce productions by the best artists of the moment from visual to musical and also performances!"

Cosmik Chill "Red" will appeal to downtempo fans that are happy to include a bit of progressive and morning trance in their mix. If you know any of the major names here, you'll know what to expect - the other artists creating harmonious completion.





 ------ Mikronesia - Tissue Paper Ghosts
STYLE   Glitchy ethereal ambience - beatless in places, carried by programmed percussion in others. The album opens with twinkling electronics and reversed notes all crackling with jumping static as if the signal has met with interference. There are effects like distorted little Chinese gongs, voices swirling and echoing as if captured from a broken radio broadcast, montaged cuts and snips of sound, there are softer tonal washes below - wistful and meandering. On the third track an electro-groove is introduced, light and graceful - stronger rhythms carry track four 'Del Rio' where a pumping synthetic bass drives reverberating chimes and some strongly effected spoken voices. Mikronesia use a number of repeated loops to ghostly effect - indeed there are some hauntingly beautiful passages especially toward the end of the album where synthetic strains gently intertwine, wavering somewhat unsteadily as half-remembered speech flickers in and out of earshot.

The mood is one of lonely introspection - the frequent echoing effects adding to the sense of emptiness and isolation. Nevertheless the sound is largely light and airy - melodic motifs often weightless and vaporous - gossamer layers glinting, delicate. There is a restful sense of closure in the closing sections of the album - a reflective feeling of submission - letting go - suffused in a translucent glow.

ARTWORK   The front cover image is a negative photograph - spectral figures hazy and insubstantial against a dark background. The rear jewel case provides a track-list set within a montage of graphically enhanced images - conveying the same otherworldly impression as the front. Within are brief credits and contact information.

Mikronesia is Philadelphia based musician, composer, producer, performer and DJ. Michael McDermott. He explains that Tissue Paper Ghosts is a concept album: "I envisioned the album as a concept album about someone dying in a car crash and then reflecting on life and interacting with the material world as a ghost. Thus, the sounds of sirens and the throbbing nature of the first track, 'Slow Bleeding' which is the last couple minutes of this man's life as he slips away at the scene of the accident. . . "Remember / Home" is the final long track, it is a deep meditation which, I hope death feels like." This CD is released on Gears Of Sand records

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Tissue Paper Ghosts is primarily an ambient album - although it will appeal to fans that enjoy plenty of detail to explore. There some light beats and a largely ethereal tone - have a listen at the Mikronesia website.




 ------ Elve - Infinite Garden
STYLE   Beat-free, lush, bird-inhabited ambient zones. Infinite Garden brings together a variety of natural outdoor recordings, synthetic effects and delicate musical elements to produce a strongly environmental series of soundscapes. Many passages are gentle, faint - almost subliminal in effect. Rhythmic material is subtle, often emerging gradually, never dominant and mostly without percussives. Voices play in the digital undergrowth where plenty of tinkling bell tones and fragile washes work together like sunlight twinkling on rain droplets. Cyantium Flower has a somewhat different character from most of the other tracks - here a choral voice rises out of flowing water breezy and angelic, shrouded in smooth folds of tone and light plinking notes. Infinite Garden is not a collection of memorable tunes - rather an absorbing musical experience that perfumes the mind and transports the consciousness.
MOOD   Truly a musical garden, a sonic cultivation of exotic voices, chimes, airy drones and sensitive field recordings. Birds and water join with synthetic sound effects and bright motifs in a myriad little details winking in and out - there is an oriental feel to the choice of sound and the fine, elegant arrangements. A balmy hothouse stillness pervades much of the album - laid out with Zen-like precision. Very magical, very beautiful.
ARTWORK   In keeping with the Virtual house style - Infinite Garden has a pristine white surface with a graphic construct in the centre that looks part synthetic, part organic. Discs and ovals appearing like miniature windows into various verdant beauty spots are linked by lines that suggest the mystical or maybe the technical? Track titles - Sycamore Breeze, Mozaic Rain, Luminessence - maintain the light and graceful imagery of the natural world as if seen through revolving faceted glass.

Elve is a side project of Ishq, following the path set by the earlier diversion Ishvara - Elve wanders still further, deeper into ambient floatation and misty experimentation. A kaleidoscopic sound montage - this CD is a limited edition of 500 copies only. Promotional material aptly describes the music as having a "green and pastoral sound" - having been inspired by the English countryside. This is music to close your eyes to and dream "perfect for the early hours between night and day". Released on Ishq's own Virtual label - you can find out more here.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This is for ambient fans that enjoy abundant detail brought together into relaxing, stilling tranquillity. Anyone drawn to the most immersive, meandering aspects of Ishq or Ishvara will love this material.