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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Various - A Magical Journey 2
STYLE   Deep, dark, and laced with mysterious atmospheres, the first half of A Magical Journey 2 is an evocative tapestry of imaginative explorations into classic psy-chill. From the etheric lead-in track 'Nabuconodosor' we are lead beyond the familiar into subterranean territory before emerging at the delicately crafted piece 'Sky Path'. From here the journey again dips below the surface into a haunting but gentle psIDM interlude which flows onwards into an open space of more upbeat elements and building cascades of emotive synth melodies and organic accents.
 
MOOD   Adventurous while still being laidback this collection of tracks offers several peripheral journeys into the wide open terrain of downtempo music. There's plenty for the senses here, ranging from quasi-shamanic, meditative spaces to blissed out, floating moments with much in the way of abstract form and texture in between.
 
ARTWORK   The front cover is a panoramic look across a watery surface to the ghats and white templescape of an Indian city reminiscent of Pushkar in Rajasthan. Inside we find the tracklist and credits layered over a greenly treed countryside setting with further images of the surrounds making up the back tray panels.
 
OVERALL    Ajana Records have defined their sound with this second chill out release. Overall, a vibrant, and sometimes edgy, odyssey of Goa-influenced ambient trance, this compilation brings together label artists along with some new talent to the chill out scene. Highlights include the opening track by Electrypnose vs. Ecalypt, 'Technical Illusions' by Unstable Elements and 'Dice Man' by Capsula who released his full length album with Ajana in late 2005.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

A Magical Journey 2 is sure to appeal to fans of the first volume in the series and aficionados of the Ultimae Records' Fahrenheit compilations. Well-suited to those seeking a good dose of psychedelia with their chilled moments this album, as the title suggests, sets the space for late-night reclining into a visually rich world of rhythm and sound.

Review by naasko - interchill.com, nativestaterecords.com

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Tor Lundvall - Empty City
STYLE   Shady ambience blown along by restless wafts of percussion. Empty City is a brooding album of overcast horizons and muted tones reverberating to lo-fi beats, dull chimes and shifting, moody washes. These elements are brought together into ponderous, murky visions inspired by cityscapes and urban atmospheres. Remote voices chant, clangs of bells and whale-like strains float occasionally into the foreground. For the most part rhythmic material is subtle and subdued, at times pulsing rather than percussive - beats often distantly mechanical, suggestive of train activity running through the mists
 
MOOD   Empty City is a sober album, caliginous ambient clouds hanging over leaden regularities and disquieting synths. The music doesn't ever descend into blackness or despair though - a forlorn calm, a reflective stillness pervades, tracks hovering somewhere in the twilight or predawn dusk. Some of the later pieces have a distinctly mournful character - beautifully dolorous, plaintive.
 
ARTWORK   This digipack is tastefully adorned with Tor's own paintings - grey city shapes made alluring with the colours of evocatory skies and the latticeworks of foreground twigs and branches. Track titles fill the senses - 'Scrap Yard', 'Buildings and Rain', 'Early Hours', 'Clearing Sky'. Everything is enclosed in broad borders of pale yellow, uncluttered, simple. Additional information is hidden behind the CD itself - credits, contacts, thanks.
 
OVERALL    New York based artist Tor Lundvall is an accomplished musician and painter with a series of powerful albums to his credit. Empty City is released on the adventurous Strange Fortune label where Tor is understandably one of the featured artists. This CD, whilst working within the ambient genre, doesn't follow the crowd - Tor Lundvall clearly has his own objective, perhaps best appreciated in the context of his powerful visual imagery (see the gallery here).
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Ambient lovers looking for something visionary and hauntingly beautiful. Empty City is quite an accessible collection of ambient tracks and so might well be enjoyed by those newly exploring the genre as well as seasoned addicts.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Kelly David - Angkor
STYLE   Dramatic, rhythmic ambient music with intense atmospheres. Angkor is comprised of a series of aural environments - where sequenced tones in structured latticeworks are juxtaposed against seemingly random notes, deep clouds of sound, dreamlike effects, birds and bells. The moods created are incredibly emotive, evocative of Eastern mystery and templescapes with oriental chimes clanging against blissful pads and synthetic air movements disturbing gentle cycles. Although Angkor doesn't focus on melody there is nonetheless plenty of structure, a fractured beat booms ominously overlaid by a rippling groove, percussion builds and spins away into open vastness, carefully constructed layers tinkle, swirl or groan at different distances. Kelly David's music here is rarely static - new elements occurring constantly, refreshing the ear leading us down endless twisting, overgrown paths. A number of pieces establish dense zones in motion - suggestive of great space and vast shiftings, others create intimate areas absorbing the listener in beautiful detail.
 
MOOD   As one would expect, Eastern atmospheres suffuse this whole CD - organic instrumentation working effectively against programmed material and field recordings. Kelly David opens up a deep dark palette heavy with expectation like stumbling upon something greatly significant - pregnant spaces and portentous expanses - the dull tolling of weighty metal sets off corroded echoes of ancient rites. Birds and light inhabit the more floatational passages where gusts of instrumental hot air and sonic mists leave us hanging in the heat. Very powerful music - thick with time and mystery.
 
ARTWORK   Images of Angkor Wat, carvings, engravings and fallen stones litter the package, monochrome photographs hand-tinted in shades of green and sepia. Exotic faces and unfamiliar scripts harbour shadows in bold relief - a sunset silhouette of spires hidden behind the CD itself. Titles are on the rear and within accompanied by track times. Inside is some fascinating information about Angkor and the Khmer civilisation, project details, thanks and credits.
 
OVERALL    Angkor is released on Rocky Mountain Records as the follow up to Kelly David's impressive debut Broken Voyage. Once again Steve Roach masters the music - doubtless recognising powerful talent in the artist. Angkor was "realised primarily on analog modular synthesisers ... with a little assistance from ... digital synthesisers, home-made samples and field recordings". The album does a fine job of portraying Angkor not as it once might have been, but as it is now - remote and crumbling, beguiling and exotic, rich and awe-inspiring.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you enjoy ambient music that draws on unique geographical identity, that transports you to far-off places, that fills the senses and colours the mind - Angkor won't disappoint.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Kuba - Inside Out
STYLE   Smooth ambient dance instrumentals with scattered world sounds. Kuba has produced an eclectic downtempo album peaceful enough for your grandma's approval, hip enough to go down well in any current chillout environment. Melodies here are subdued, underplayed, taking little more prominence than the overall atmospheres and harmonic patterns. Flutes, ethnic violins and voices chanting, speaking, strongly effected entwine electric pianos, acoustic guitar leads and orchestral synths in downtempo bliss. There are varying degrees of global percussion incorporated into the dreamy beats - tablas weaving their soft spell - deft programming maintaining a fluid sharpness. Where some artists like to build tracks around samples, Kuba uses ethnic material primarily to embellish and progress his own themes.
 
MOOD   Restful, easy arrangements with sufficient rhythm to dance to, tranquil enough to function as background atmosphere. There are touches of dub, although largely not dominant, elements of Latin music, deep house hints, plenty of guitar textures and expansive atmospheres. Kuba focuses less on psychedelia than some chillout acts, instead producing beautifully laid-back tracks that would enhance a lounge or tropical coffee bar - exotic yet serene, inviting sonic groove environments.
 
ARTWORK   A pleasantly simple grid of coloured squares weaves a pattern through which a graphic bird drifts - hanging in imaginary space. The same idea is re-presented on the reverse of the package, track titles white against the brightly coloured framework - the bird much closer, dominant.
 
OVERALL    Laurence Harvey aka Kuba releases Inside Out on Liquid Sound Design as his debut album. Liquid Sound Design is a sister label to the enormously popular Dragonfly Records - here concentrating on 'chilled out soundscapes , sonic beats and mellow grooves'. Having worked with Youth and Humphrey Bacchus on tracks for Mana Medicine as well as a string of international collaborations Kuba's sound is suitably mature and individual to present a complete CD.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Kuba will be appreciated by chillout lovers enjoying less psychedelia and more sensuality - the psy elements are there, but second to the lilting musical developments. Give this one a try if want something beguiling to dance to, something charmed to relax with. something magical to establish a mood.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Adham Shaikh - Journey To The Sun
STYLE  

Heavenly ethno-ambient chill. Journey To The Sun features Indian voices, bansuri flutes and indigenous wires lost in reverb, there are expansive drones both organic and synthetic, misty pads and lush atmospheres all steeped in Asian mystery. Sounds from the Indian sub-continent infuse every aspect of this CD settled deep within electronic sound beds. Multilayered hazy visions work here for the most part without beats, but when percussive elements are introduced, their presence is as restful as the harmonies they propel. On occasion different elements rise to the surface - chants, recorded environments, spoken voices - like the contents of a liquid dream of far off places and remote memories.

 
MOOD  

Meditative and timeless - Adham Shaikh here creates an idyllic Indian fantasy dipping into drifting pools of sound and gently swirling currents. Brief interludes of echoing flute and a child's voice lead the listener onward through shifting sonic images rich with associative imagery. Water effects and the drawn out twang of tanpura maintain the overriding tranquillity of the album hand drums and subtle percussion loops only softly disturbing the surface.

 
ARTWORK   A bright disc of light encircles a radiating graphic of blue skies and golden shapes - establishing an effect akin to looking into the sun. Indeed cloudscapes and skies consume every panel of this package - acting as ethereal backdrops to text and transparent line art. In addition to the usual track titles and contact information - the inside of the single panel sleeve contains an explanation of the project and generous credits.
 
OVERALL   

Journey To The Sun is a re-release originally appearing on Instinct Records back in 1995. The album emerging largely as the result of Adham's visits to India, featuring a number of recording he made whilst there. A merger of Eastern history and Western technology - this CD nicely introduces Interchill's Spectrum Series dedicated to 'the exploration of global ambience. Apart from a series of successful solo albums Adham Shaikh is also known to many fans through his collaborative work under the title Drift and Ekko.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you enjoy Indian sounds and are happy at the most fluid end of the chillout spectrum this CD will appeal to you. It does for chill music what Steve Roach's Mantram does for ambient and Karunesh's Way of the Mystic does for new age.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 
STYLE  

Electro-organic performances, ambient passages and downtempo worldbeats. Gathering the Tribe features a variety of ethnic instrumentation - sitars, flutes and alongside strummed guitars, pianos and brass ensembles. The result is an eclectic mixture full of energy and passion. There are lot of 'live' drum tracks here as opposed the commonly used programmed grooves - hand drums and real percussion are the order of the day - shakers, rattles, cowbells - Latin influences, tribal borrowings. Chants and whispered female voices drift on the breezes, singers take the lead or float in the sonic depths, players yell and wail their enthusiasm. A number of pieces are full blown vocal tracks, although still rich with international instrumentation.

 
MOOD   The mood is upbeat and positive full of danceable beats and colourful motifs. The spirit being one of musical unity - a coming together, a sharing with the optimistic vision of a united humanity. Thanks to the number of live bands involved, t here is festival feel to the album, capturing well the distinct mood that live performance often delivers.
 
ARTWORK   Native American imagery recurs throughout the package - a colourful floral face adorning the front panel with indigenous graphic markings laid behind. The three panel fold-out booklet contains plenty of information - an explanation of the project from Neerav, detailed track information and credits along with personal thanks. Websites and contact details are given for all the artists where possible.
 
OVERALL   

Gathering the Tribe is compiled by DJ Neerav and released through Interchill Records. The album contains tracks from Interchill mainstays Kaya Project and Adham Shaikh alongside other familiar names Antonio Testa, Alex Theory and a number of less well-known global artists. Inspired by memories of Latin American travels, journeys to summer music festivals, and the joyous meetings of friends and fellow travellers, the musical focus is that of the Californian / West Coast festival sound.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Gathering The Tribe will appeal to anyone looking to capture the sound of the outdoor stage. This CD is one for bringing the sound of a 'live' summer into your personal sound system.