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 ------ Lorna Lee - Rendezvous
STYLE   Light, bright electronica with a lounge aesthetic fronted by warm French female vocals. Lorna Lee sings songs about love, desire and yearning with a slight hint of the mystical - her voice is clear, precise and gently sensual, the latter a quality surely enhanced by the romantic beauty of the French language. Lorna's singing is re-coloured in places using various effects - sultry interludes, spatial backing vocals. and Instrumentation consists of plenty of soft strings, electric pianos, comfortable bass lines and feather light beats - acoustic guitars, wah electrics and a smattering of brass further expand the textural range.
MOOD   The mood is primarily one of European lounge music - jazzy influences bring a night-time sensuality through the use of double bass, a slower pace, lazy piano. Most tracks are downtempo and easy on the ear - cool relaxation music. There are tracks, however, where the tempo lifts a little - some urban suggestions, some pieces evoking balmy summer afternoons.
ARTWORK   Rendezvous comes in a glossy digipack - a three-part gatefold. The front cover showing the singer gazing at the viewer over a pillow backed by the Eiffel Tower with a pristine inset of a bright padded rest area. Titles are on the back along with contact details. Inside panels carry more shots of Lorna Lee, Parisian landmarks, a deep red rose and a brief description of the project.
OVERALL    Rendezvous is the debut album from Lorna Lee, aimed, as the accompanying promotional material explains, at "capturing the Parisian spirit". Track titles Es-Tu Sincère? Jalousie, Désiré and Can't Get Over You indicate the moods explored here. This CD maintains the focus developed by Intentcity over their last few releases - a house sound honed through the compilations Lovers Lounge and Chillounge.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you've enjoyed Intentcity's output over the past year or so, Lorna Lee might well appeal to you. Jazzy electronica for lovers and cafe society.




 ------ Bruno Sanfilippo - Anthology
STYLE   Regal, cinematic instrumentals with synthetic and orchestral soundscaping. Bruno Sanfilippo presents here a collection of more than a decade's work - sounds range from delicate baroque style harpsichord, ambient restfulness and gentle new-age melody through weighty, grandeur with tolling bells and processional solemnity. There are plenty of layers, arraying flutes, pianos, guitars, strings and choral effects - some tracks with drums, some completely without. This is a strongly melodic album with sweeping electronica and some delicate acoustic instrumentation - beats are frequently subtle and secondary, a means to propel the music rather than contending for the focus of attention.
MOOD   Anthology is an album of drama and emotion - often one of stately opulence, frequently very beautiful always fervent, full of feeling. Many tracks are suggestive of majestic scenery, important events or strong passions. Bruno Sanfilippo creates quite a weighty sound both in sonic density and harmonic structure. There are passages of placid calm - dreamy pads and slight pizzicato effects, breeze born voices hanging in the air. There is a Middle Eastern tone to Visualia, an ambient fluidity to Intention, whilst Oniria presents an attractive piano melody brimming with passion.
ARTWORK   Plenty of black as a backdrop to photographic images of the artist and accompanying text. The tracklist on the rear of the jewel case provides the year each track was released and the album it comes from along with timings. Explanatory notes on the sleeve mention the artist's obsession with "the amazing, magical and deep" - "In dreams" he tells us " there's no imagined thing that's too absurd, too strange" - the music comes from these sources.
OVERALL    Buenos Aires born musician Bruno Sanfilippo has been producing music for many years now - his output concentrated here into a selection of some of his finest moments. Influenced early on by classical composers and modern masters like Oldfield and Vangelis it was in the early 90s that he studied programming, sampler, synthesizer and MIDI techniques. Collaborators involved in this selection of pieces include Jorge Alvarado on acoustic guitars, Gato' Urbaski on electric violin, Manuel Miranda on piccolo, Vanesa Tomas vocal treatments and Roberto Gandini also on electric violin.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   The combination of synthesisers and organic instrumentation here might well attract instrumental lovers that enjoy soundtrack music. Anthology will appeal to fans of Vangelis and perhaps those looking for a somewhat heavier Amethystium.




 ------ Robert Rich - Electric Ladder
STYLE   Electronic ambience running from sequential rhythmic arrangements into meandering floatation. Beginning with a rising tone that blossoms into the first synthetic sequence Electric Ladder sees Rich exploring the relationship between cycling lattice works and the keening strains of steel guitars, various drones and flutes. Light beats provide momentum - flickering alongside tumbling patterns and haunting whale-like melodies. Elements flux and morph - trickling like sonic streams, sometimes one aspect coming to the fore then another. As the album progresses - the cyclic structures recede, flute and guitar harmonics taking on larger roles. By the final tracks most rhythmic material has vanished - an Indian sounding flute with electronic support swirling attractively over a single booming drum.
MOOD   Electric Ladder is a beautiful discovery- jewel-like synth work twinkles and coruscates in revolving patterns bringing movement, skimming the music onward. The drawn out steel guitars and drones have a wistful tone - tugging at the heart sending the listener into peaceful reverie. For the most part this is a restful album, suggestive of wondrous places, luminous atmospheres, delightful wilderness zones.
ARTWORK   Vibrant greens of a kaleidoscopic forest are spread across all panels. On the front cover strong boughs twist upward before a gleaming sun, twigs tipped with delicate pink. A similar image adorns the rear of the jewel case - a backdrop to track titles and a gear list. Inside the booklet and behind the CD more dream-like forest imagery appears - here reflected repeatedly creating glorious organic mandala designs. No text anywhere apart from on the outside.
OVERALL    On Electric Ladder Robert Rich builds upon the work done on previous albums Numena, Geometry and Gaudi - employing motm modular, sculpture, timeWARP2600. metasynth, wavestation, steel guitars and flutes, he is accompanied by Paul Hanson on bassoon and soprano sax and Haroun Serang on acoustic guitar. In all there are seven pieces built into a musical progression - hypnotic and blissful, full of sonic colour and grace.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Electric Ladder is a lush ambient CD for those enjoying sequential arrangements softened by mournful overlays. The later pieces are almost ecstatic - dreamy, drifting and transporting.




 ------ Ryan Farish - Selected Works
STYLE   A selection of melodic instrumental tracks with gentle electronic arrangements. Ryan's distinctive piano leads most tracks here supported by flutes, world voices, children's voices, guitars and a variety of appealing synthesiser layers. Blissful, dreamy melodies range from comforting, tender, soporific to euphoric, inspiring and upbeat - often reduced to the simplest, most sparing series of notes, pieces are uncluttered and graceful. There are tracks with beautiful chord progressions or tripping arpeggios, there are also pieces without a piano, carried instead by subtle synthetic voices. Drums are programmed into light, uplifting beats - most comfortably occupy the down to midtempo range, occasionally ascending up into the realm of a low-key dance beat.
MOOD   The mood is overridingly one of light and beauty - Ryan Farish creates some strikingly attractive themes that are inviting and easy on the ear. Moods established are largely peaceful, restful and optimistic. There are some compositions among the collection that are lush twilight atmospheres, lustrous, deep and dramatic where the introductions and interludes are allowed to explore the crepuscular, more moody side of Ryan's musical personality. The additional compositions of the Xpanded version especially cover some wider ground.
ARTWORK   Since this is primarily a download album of MP3 tracks - I have only the cover shown on Ryan's website. Fronted by the artist in monochrome head down, looking thoughtful. The effectively simple RF logo to the bottom left being the only other item apart from the text.

Selected Works is an MP3 download album available in two formats - the standard version and the Xpanded version. Xpanded comes with twenty-five tracks - an additional twelve to the standard versions thirteen. The albums can be ordered directly from the Ryan Farish website. The tracks include "rare and selected songs you have heard from Ryan on TV,, or from Ryan's now rare and classic self-released CD, Daydreamer".

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you are familiar with Ryan's albums from Neurodisc - the quality of these tracks will maintain the high standard that you've come to expect. If you know Ryan from back in days - here's a chance to get hold of some of those tracks that made him one of the site's success stories.




 ------ The Sound Gallery - Phos

Long-form, minimal ambient guitar drones, largely beatless and mostly without melody. Opening with a long, low, smooth drone phos takes on extra layers as it progresses, constantly shifting - notes fluctuating subtly, weight shifting almost imperceptibly. There are gradual variations in the texture of the drones, morphing delicately, slowly - the sound open and immersive. The three tracks each have a different nature - phos II opening with reversed effects and voice, a heavy percussive boom leading into a tranquil wash of tone. Gradually the repeated booming recedes leaving a soft evolving bed of sound. Chordal changes are more evident here, yet still far short of anything recognisable as melody. phos III sees the inclusion of some fragile piano notes and at times a faint effected beat.


The mood develops with each track - initially somewhat dark and drifting, building into phos II - powerfully introduced and in constant flux. At times this piece is forlorn and haunted - a relatively dynamic sound considering the restrained movement, the ever so gradual alterations in tone. phos III is restful and optimistic - serene and comforting whilst maintaining the undercurrent of loss and sadness established from the start. phos is somewhat like a colourfield painting - although the music has it's own character, one's own mental state strongly affects perception of the music - leading it either toward the tranquil, placid and calm or toward the brooding, introspective and lonely.


The deep red abstract design on the front cover well captures the nature of this CD - smooth, dark and drifting. Elegant typography and graphics work in appealing harmony with the main image - panels of streaked colour reappearing throughout the package. The track titles can be found on the rear cover with credits, thanks and a gear listing appearing within. Behind the CD is an explanation of the project - adding another dimension to this emotive music.


The Sound Gallery is the solo project of Herb Grimaud Jr. and phos sees him now doing away with the collaborative approach used on the debut Designed for Reading. Sleeve notes explain, "My brother-in-law's friend died a very tragic death. Upon hearing the news I felt words were a bit trivial. The music on this CD was written as a humble effort to give him comfort during his grieving". On the reverse of the inner booklet are the words - phos (fos) n. Light - a well-chosen title highlighting the levels of well-employed sonic darkness running throughout the album.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Imbued with passion by its very nature, phos will appeal to ambient fans looking for something with an emotional impact. Although this CD maintains the brooding nature of Designed For Reading - the musical approach is very different, phos is for minimal fans, lovers of subtlety.




 ------ Steve Roach - Immersion:One
STYLE   Minimal long-form zonal ambience. There is no melody of any sort here, no beat, no progression, no percussion - simply uninterrupted scintillating sound. A lustrous sonic sheet, a warm current in an ocean of music, a slowly revolving stream of light. Just as the sky doesn't need to be dramatically animated to be beautiful - Immersion:One is delightful in it's simple individuality. A gently whistling tone repeatedly catches the attention as it rises and falls, as if played by the wind. Smoother layers flow around this fluctuating thread, slowly, comfortably, imperceptibly morphing. I'm reluctant to pull this woven thread too far apart in order to examine it - the appeal of Immersion:One lies in its twisting undisturbed whole.
MOOD   Restful and completely immersive. There is a deeply fluid momentum here that suggests floatation on a drifting river of tone. The artwork aptly pictures this impression - showing an effervescent stream of green light, luminous against a black background. This visual accompaniment strongly affects one's mental imagery - a flow, a cord of music - however, this 'steady state' sound zone eventually absorbs the attentive listener, leaving one afloat on an endless expanse of oceanic drift.
ARTWORK   A beautiful digipack carries this CD - deepest glossy black shot through with a jet of light. Multilayered, aglow and bearing multitudinous motes of brightness - this emerald band runs centrally across every panel. Text is minimal - only titles and brief credits - nothing superfluous - focus on the stream. On the reverse, the stream is magnified, each detail sparkling before the eye, carried along on currents unseen. A very pleasing package - a nice object to own.
OVERALL    IMMERSION: ONE is one of Steve Roach's most intentionally minimal recordings, as promotional material explains this album is "Gently immersive and especially effective at low volume, the non-dynamic nature of this space can support sleeping as well as creative states, reading and other functions where "music" is considered invasive." Truly beautiful and potentially absorbing - the sound subtly attracts the ear, recedes into the background, resurfaces and holds the attention once more - all with effortless fluidity. Released on Projekt IMMERSION: TWO will appear later in 2006.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you want something to see how far ambient music can go and still be elegant, something to reduce harmony to its most basic elements - this is the album for you.