Click here to see a complete list of reviews. Click here to see a complete list of interviews. Click here for links to artists and labels . Click here to visit our main menu page. Click here for email address.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Various - Oxycanta
STYLE   "Electro atmospheric glides amidst emotional gardens" - moody downtempo environments with contemporary beats. Oxycanta is a delightful album opening with Ghostfriend's very languid 'Moist', a track that unfolds like a series of lazy waves swelling onto the shore of the senses accompanied by a soft ethno-electronic beat. The album progresses through undulating tempos - through low-key trance, beatless ambience and fractured lo-fi / digital fusion - Between Interval presenting a groove that resembles the rhythms of the body, Cell dabbling with light D'n'B hats and snares, Solar Fields managing to fragment even the most regular of rhythms into atmospheric space. There are chanting voices, environmental passages and moments of powerful drama, this is very beautiful music, expertly mixed - however, Oxycanta never become saccharine-sweet, always maintaining a slightly acidic edge.
 
MOOD   Spacious and restful - this is a CD of lush elegance reflecting the best of musical innovation - cutting edge sounds, artfully employed to create a sonic experience that is full of feeling. Dreamy beauty evolves into calculated fragility, steady ambient zones resolve into tranquil grooves - the sonic palette intense and colourful.
 
ARTWORK   Artwork is gorgeous - Ultimae's trademark borders of black letterboxing a panoramic photo-montage of hawthorn blossoms in pastel greens and blues. The tracklist is found on the back of the digipack and again slightly expanded within. Inside the hue is a sensual red - anthers, stalks, swirls - a thanks list and a dedication. You'll want to hold this package, explore it, return to it.
 
OVERALL    Oxycanta is mixed by Ultimae mainstay Mahiane - "The title [Oxycanta] derives from Crataegus Oxyacantha, commonly known as the Hawthorn, a tree whose leaves and berries are legendary for their heart-healing properties." As is traditional, the collection draws together names both familiar and fresh - Mahiane collaborates with Vincent Villuis and Cédric Desseaux under the project name Subgardens to present one the of highlights of the album - Listen To The Flowers Grow - an exquisite piece of delicate ambient groove with the slightest breeze of a beat, fluttering percussion a sleepy bassline and whispered vocals. Omnimotion returns on the final track with the bewitching 'Magic Tree' conjuring up visions of creaking branches or a suspended rope swing, a female voice ethereal, sensuous, punctuating the music.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Ultimae regulars will simply add this to their collection without much thought - Oxycanta maintaining the high standard they've come to love and appreciate. If you enjoy atmospheric electronica with very a cutting-edge approach - don't miss this one.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Synthetic Block - Escape Velocity
STYLE   Melodic beat-driven synthesiser music. Synthetic Block delivers multi-layered synth pads, sequences and leads laid out in careful arrangements that put emphasis on the development of tunes and themes above focussing on the clever effects or hazy atmospheres favoured by many of his contemporaries. Jonathan Block uses the term 'progressive ambient music' to describe his sound - his compositions here being uncomplicated with a regularity of structure, interest value often built up by developing one pattern into another, the mood shifting, steadily morphing. Clearly defined sounds overlaid upon one another are the order of the day; these include mellotron-type flute voices and sweeping drones that soften the sharp edges of many of the other programmed patches.
 
MOOD   Dynamic themes with a positive vibe - the clean synthetic approach suggesting a spaciness at times, more mechanical at others. There are passages of beatless drones and ambient planes notably at the introduction to 'Orbits' the album's central piece. Here rhythmic sequences gradually open up, cycle into beats and then run through no less than five distinct sections.
 
ARTWORK   A engineering fantasy fronts the package - gleaming plugs and castings wrapped up in a graphic burst of colour as if sputtering into flame. Outer cover text is minimal - providing titles and track information only. Inside and on the rear panel there are more sharp imaginary engine structures - the front cover reverse showing credits and website details.
 
OVERALL    Synthetic Block has a number of releases in the back-catalogue as a result of over 20 years of music making. Escape Velocity is released on Gears Of Sand Records and can be purchased directly from the website or via CD Baby. The album has a traditional electronic music feel to it - influence by the old school of synthesiser pioneers. Most tracks are mid-length with 'Third Force' running up to eleven minutes twenty seven and 'Orbits' topping twenty six minutes.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Escape Velocity will appeal to synthesiser fans that enjoy solid structures and plenty of rhythmic accompaniment. If you like the sounds of DiN or perhaps Zero One then this might be a CD for you to check out.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Sleepthief - Dawnseeker
STYLE   Lush synthesiser layers blessed with heavenly female vocals presented in dreamy, epic narratives. Most tracks work at mid to downtempo, such as the gorgeous, sensual songs 'Tenuous' and 'Entre Ciel Et Mer', nevertheless, there's also the light, upbeat drum and bass of 'The Chauffeur and the energy of 'The Metro' to break the mold. Sleepthief's music has a lot going on - bubbly arpeggios, soaring pads, acoustic instruments, strings and inventive percussion arrangements that never become repetitive. Having said this, the dense structures avoid sounding cluttered - frequent imaginative bridges, interludes and modulations maintaining variety throughout. Occasional ethnic sounds are woven tastefully into the mix and the vocals are second to none - writer Justin Elswick's dream list of singers having materialised into ethereal bliss. Gentle beats and low-key instrumentation featuring guitar and strings make up Nicola Hitchcock's 'You Did A Good Thing', Kristy Thirsk delivers multiple layers of angelic vocal highs on 'Sublunar (Sweet Angel)' and Kirsty Hawkshaw re-interprets a Duran Duran classic.
 
MOOD   Dramatic and romantic - Dawnseeker has something of the tone of the Pre-Raphaelites transformed into sound ... beautiful imagery, breathtaking settings and atmospheric environments centred on the female figure. The personality of the various singers highlighted and allowed full expression. Some of the tracks have an enchanting, plaintive feel, poetic yet with a pop sensibility, 'Afterthoughts' has a soaring majesty that would easily work as a soundtrack, others are just downright good songs, memorable, catchy and emotive. Sleepthief has masterfully captured that contemporary timelessness that all too few artists truly ever manage to grasp to full effect.
 
ARTWORK   Visual imagery is equally idyllic and timeless - the CD coming wrapped in an embossed card sleeve. The front jewel case cover features a low sun beaming through heavy cloud just above the ruined wooden frame of a beached shipwreck. Ghosted scrollwork hangs just within sight with only the barest minimal of elegant text completing the layout. The more observant viewers might just make out the artist if they look very carefully. The soft sepia tones chosen for the front are dominant also on the back panel where the dark silhouettes of outstretched branches form a backdrop to the titles and credits - each singer clearly listed alongside the track title. Inside is no less than a twenty page booklet - illustrated with classical elegance, containing all the lyrics and brimming with extra information. Overall - this is one of those packages that feels that bit special, one that will have you picking it up and flicking through frequently.
 
OVERALL    Dawnseeker is surely one of the most highly anticipated albums of the genre and Justin hasn't failed to deliver. The quality and reach of this album is excellent, tracks are sufficiently varied to hold the attention, yet the unity of sound is potent - nothing straying too far beyond the trademark identity so powerfully established on this incredible debut. Alongside writer/player/producer Justin Elswick is Israel Curtis sharing engineering and production duties - in fact Israel wrote the beautiful track Desire of Ages featuring Shelly Harland on vocals and a variety of world sounds that will doubtless touch the hearts of Delerium fans. Indeed Sleepthief acknowledges a musical heritage that builds on the work of acts such as Delerium and Balligomingo (and that's no bad thing), however, the Sleepthief identity is distinct and far too intelligent and compelling to be considered any form of imitation.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you enjoy female fronted transcendent electronica Sleepthief will not disappoint. If the work of more than one of the diverse songstresses involved appeals to you then this coming together of such talent can hardly fail to delight.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Slackbaba - ...and the beat goes om...
STYLE   Ethnic tinted dubby electronica with structures built around clean streaming synths and crisp psychedelic effects. Slackbaba functions at the more pacey end of downtempo, many beats nudging drum and bass territory although often exploiting the rolling half-time rhythms that drum and bass loops set up enabling the basslines to lag with idle joy. Ethnic material in the form of treated samples and Eastern/Middle-Eastern scales adds flavour whilst fragmented spoken voices populate a number of tracks - words of wisdom drifting through evocative sonic environments. Heavenly pads at times smooth out the mainly sequence and arpeggio based arrangements, the mood rising and falling in intensity, vibrant patches and frequent shifts in rhythm maintaining Slackbaba's absorbing spell.
 
MOOD   Bright and danceable, ...and the beat goes om... is an optimistic, dynamic slice of fluid energy. Driving beats and gutsy basslines make this a music for the body, the low frequencies incredibly intense on some tracks, internal and throbbing. The dub aspects of the music are stronger in places and almost absent at times, flickers of d'n'b scattered over off beat stabs and lumbering bass.
 
ARTWORK   The spirals of a pale chambered shell front this package as if cast in sand. Graphic scrolls echoing the natural structures surround a juicy logo of green tubework. Similar imagery re-appears on the jewel case reverse with matching green text laying out the titles. Contact info and website details take up the lower left corner.
 
OVERALL    Slackbaba is U.K. artist Jonathan Smith - based in Brighton and currently with Liquid Records who released the track 'Drink More Tea (Herbal Mix) earlier this year on the downtempo compilation Psymeditation 2. Years of live performances have ensured that Slackbaba is one of the stronger new comers to release an album, this being a solid selection of pulsating tracks guaranteed to get the adrenaline going.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Slackbaba is a downtempo artist but certainly not one for inducing sleep - this is a vigorous, spirited album that defies stillness. Give this CD a try if you enjoy imaginative psychedelic synths and edgy tribal downtempo.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Androcell - Efflorescence
STYLE   Colourful, psychedelic downtempo laced with organic world elements. Efflorescence opens with low, dark drones and a philosophising voice hinting at the deeply atmospheric approach taken with this album. The synths here are bright and riddled with effects, smooth deep basses spread their roots into the soil of dub and lively, multifaceted beats explore the full range of chillout tempos. Variation is constant, new pads and programmed voices at every turn joining flutes, Middle-Eastern wind instruments, twinkling water droplets, chimes, bells, rattles, birds and crickets. Tracks interfade creating some attractive low-key interludes, linking the album into a whole - the interlude structure itself becoming the centre of focus on the final track 'Dub Crickets'.
 
MOOD   Androcell takes a contemporary tribal approach to his sound, with a resulting mix on the darker side of the genre. Psychedelic material is plentiful, strewn throughout thickly detailed pieces featuring lots of intersecting layers and evolving melodic patterns. The donwtempo trance classic Aes Dana's 'Natti Natti' from the album Season 5 is beautifully remixed here with a lazy rhythm, attractive female vocal and lush ambient spaces.
 
ARTWORK   Delightful artwork (by Quasga himself) presented suitably in digipack format features a half submerged girl's face adorned with succulent tongues of green foliage. Graphic waterfalls empty into the pool somewhere in the distance - everything drenched in tones of leaf green. The rear panel is more heavily comprised of graphic design - black and white lines enclosing a series of spaces - track titles and a definition of the term 'efflorescence' to the right. Within, black is dominant - a silky backdrop for further track details, and various 'love, respect and gratitude'. Included is an eight page booklet of striking digital imagery - one image for each track of the album ... the final cricket image steeped in purple is incredible.
 
OVERALL    This is the second album from Androcell AKA Tyler "Quasga" Smith, solidifying the vibrant approach set out on the debut Emotivision. The sound on this outing is more focussed and clearly defined than ever, the increased exploration of shade bringing a welcome variation to the current world of downtempo Goa, and ambient dub. The Aes Dana remix is tastefully presented and features some delightful vocals from Shenyah Webb. Released on Celestial Dragon records.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Androcell will continue to draw fans within his chosen genre since both of his albums are among the more absorbing releases out there. This CD might well appeal to listeners that like the darker, tribal aspects of their music.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Entheogenic - Golden Cap
STYLE   Global sample encrusted downtempo psytrance from leaders of the field. Entheogenic employ a wealth of squeaky, squirty, squelchy synth sounds of the highest quality providing a bright tapestry that is underpinned by solid, punchy basslines and flickering percussion. Nothing repeats too often here - frequent variation driving the tracks ever onward. Golden Cap once again brings together voices from all over the planet along with diverse instrumentation and rhythm loops. Other vocals are time-stretched, repeated, deeply effected - wailing soloists, impassioned folk singers, expounding philosophers - all are transported into another context, turned around and absorbed into the effervescent melting pot that is Entheogenic.
 
MOOD   Like an aural light show - Golden Cap projects rich associative imagery into your skull shot through with bright laser synthesisers, clouds of tone and strobe beats. The band's busy sound is softened by the relatively low BPM they enjoy, nevertheless the overall effect is one of constant change, dizzying at its most pacey, restless subliminal almost, dreamlike in the more languid passages.
 
ARTWORK   A more pastoral approach than on the other recent covers - here two peaceful figures stroll across a rugged hillside into the rays of the sun, a golden glow bathing the scene. White borders add a touch of class - borders that carry across onto all the other panels, linking the presentation. On the rear cover we come to realise that the pair are none other than the artists themselves, their grassy location bracketing the tracklisting in green. Other images within the booklet, on and behind the CD show the duo in a variety of scenic locations not the least of these being a country pub.
 
OVERALL    Entheogenic continue to deliver the kind of quality chillout that has made them a top name in the genre. This being their fourth album - or third if you discount last year's Dialogue of the Speakers which was really a remix and collaboration special. Entheogenic again release this album on Chillcode Records - nine tracks of highly professional material that continue to revel in the sonic sweetshop of ethnic-synthetic flavours available to the third millennium artist. There's a bit of dub, some truly laid back moments like the final 'Ju' and plenty of simmering pieces working in the middle tempo region.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This is surely one of the year's big downtempo releases - if you're into chillzone sounds with plenty of colour and presence, don't miss this one. Golden Cap will delight anyone into trance/dance music at the slower end of the spectrum - Entheogenic know how to bring all the right ingredients together.