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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Janet Robbins - Carrying the Bag of Hearts ....
STYLE   Lush electronic instrumentals ranging from beat-driven structure to formless, moody ambience. Janet Robbins presents here a powerful cinematic sound exploring twinkling arpeggio cycles, brooding panoramic synths and evocative rhythmic arrangements. The range of sounds on the album is broad, programmed with deft sensitivity and full of feeling. Where the beats are at their most solid, sweeping pads and frequent rhythmic fragmentations soften and deepen the sound. When percussion is absent and the music drifts in amorphous space, compelling expectancy hangs on almost every tone. At times dramatic and exotic, at others magical and intimate - Janet Robbins masterfully makes good use of varying intensity, special effects and thematic development to fill her compositions with passion and colour.
 
MOOD   The mood sprawls across a considerable spectrum - but always with an underlying air of charmed mystery. From heaving shadows to sparkling moonlight Carrying The Bag of Hearts Interpreting the Birth of Stars Vol II fills the air with a sense of the exotic - fairy tale atmospheres from beautiful places, vivid dreams of light and darkness.
 
ARTWORK  

Illustrated by the artist herself - the front cover features a hand-drawn image of surrealist peculiarity. Floating female figures hang above a cracked landscape; a black panther with mouth to the ground might equally be attended by smaller figures or about to consume them. The reverse graphic is of a more abstract nature - 3D blocks bursting forward against a bright light - verdant with all shades of green. Track titles are here along with website info. Inside is another female figure - this time in simple outline with words and monochrome textures filling the spaces.

 
OVERALL    This is a three track EP with two pieces of around six minutes each and the opener at almost thirteen. Sadly I don't possess volume one of this series in progress - but if this volume is anything to go by, something monumental is underway here. A solo album from an artist that explores more deeply than most - no self conscious effort to sound like someone else, no simple playing with or combining easily found sounds - Carrying the Bag ... is an amazingly well developed composition musically, with a depth lacking in so much of today's output. Janet desribes her music "a little bit lo-fi, sci-fi ... a music encounter with reverie, dissolution, noise and symphony."
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This CD might well appeal to fans of Delerium, Amethystium and other such exotic soundscapers as well as ambient fans that like plenty of structure and musical progression. You really should listen to this one of you like atmospheric flights of fantasy.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------William Fields - Timbre
STYLE   Glitchy synthetic soundscaping giving the impression of crafted arbitrary sound. Timbre is carried along on peculiar rhythms sounding like braids of randomness, desultory waves, oceanic swells of tone. Soft harmonic pads undulate among bright sound effects, blips and flickers, crackles and disturbances. Field mangles and twists notes and noise into patterns that range from restful and sleepy to pieces that appear only incidentally musical. There are passages of low volume with fluctuations on the edge of hearing, muted drones and subtle harmonies, then there are deep basses anchoring some tracks in tuneful, attractive, lulling sonance. Little on this CD seems to have escaped heavy processing - Fields snipping, echoing, eroding, degenerating original sound sources into a distinctive sonic fabric all his own.
 
MOOD   The mood is predominantly one of warm cerebral serenity, although rhythmic at times, still quite floatational, drifting and weightless. There are haunting moments, ethereal and hypnotic where ghostly themes hang among static turbulence. A wistfulness waxes and wanes in pace with the rise and fall of the more melodic aspects - harmony lonely and light among atonal scatterings and interference. Timbre has also a very contemporary feel giving a sense of technological ephemera diverted unto the purpose of artistic abstraction.
 
ARTWORK   Heavily textured wood, pitted, cracked and skeletal fills most panels - graphic enhancements filling the shadows and creeping in multiple overlays. Text is kept to a minimum, apart from the tracklist the rear cover carries only simple credits and contact details. The inside of the front cover is wordless - imagery filling the eye.
 
OVERALL    Introspective, ambient and crystalline, William Fields has produced a unique sound that transcends its digital origins - emotive and compelling. Ten tracks in all, with intriguing titles - 'fwoado', 'seaglass', 'hivernal'. Fields is no new-comer to this field, having a string of releases under his belt. He has been writing music and experimenting with sound since 1993, his work covering a wide range stylistically, but always warm and melodic. Timbre comes to us via Gears Of Sand a non-profit independent electronic / electro-acoustic label based just outside of Philadelphia.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Timbre will appeal to ambient fans that enjoy plenty of movement in their music and a somewhat spectral melancholy tone. If you enjoed Mikronesia form GOS - this CD might well suit you. Not worlds away from the more ambient end of the output from Virtual's Elve or Ishvara.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Catherine Duc - Visions and Dreams
STYLE   Warm electronic instrumentals laced with world sounds and an ethereal new age aesthetic. Visions and Dreams carries generous amounts of flutes, wordless voices and smooth strings that soften and enhance the basic musical arrangements. Enigmatic beats and basses throb at a comfortable mid to downtempo pace. Harps, pianos, ethnic percussives and global samples work together as colourful threads in Catherine Duc's listener friendly sonic tapestries. For the most part a lead keyboard voice carries the main melody -
 
MOOD   Exotic fantasy compositions that draw on elements of Celtic, global mood music and melodic ambient. Visions and Dreams is an easy listening CD of relaxed flights of fancy, comprised mainly of gentle summery harmonies and tender glowing themes. Pan pipe voices and acoustic guitar patterns lift electronic pads and strings into dreamy reverie.
 
ARTWORK   A deep orange sunset is montaged against a folded drapery for the front cover - golden text hanging in 3D relief. On the reverse - the shiny red drapery alone forms a ground upon which titles and credits are laid. The reverse of the single sheet cover page presents simply the folds of red cloth once more - lush and vivid.
 
OVERALL    Australian musician Catherine Duc has been releasing her own music for some time - appearing on mp3.com some years ago. Her sound "melds ancient Celtic melodies with contemporary electronica rhythms, creating a unique and exciting hybrid on Visions and Dreams". Originally classically trained Catherine Duc developed an interest in electronic music and so her sound bridges the ancient with the up to date on Visions and Dreams. Track titles 'Midsummer Twilight', 'Incense', 'One Autumn Day' hint at the intent of the album.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   I suspect Catherine Duc will appeal mainly to new age fans or those enjoying the gentler side of Amethystium or Ryan Farish.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Bob Holroyd - Hollow Man
MUSIC   Mostly instrumental electronica and guitar arrangements with moody sounscaping and downtempo/trip hop beats. Opening with delicate guitar harmonics, soft drones and an unobtrusive beat 'Will You' is the album's only vocal piece with a sweet jazzy female voice broken by trumpet lines. From there the sound explores gritty beats, sub-bass rumble and urban visions through to almost floatational harmony and gentle light. The album has an unhurried, languid cool about it, at times comfortably inhabiting that twilight territory that so many struggle to work with (you get the feeling that Bob is capable of mustering up some deep brooding darkness and ambient dissonance when he chooses to) as a result, the passages of beauty on the album are all the more attractive set against hints of such crawling uneasiness. There are some restful tracks of delightful melody, soaring vocalising and hints of ethnic sampling - sensitively employed so as to avoid the cliches of world music flavouring The CD progressively changes character throughout, becoming increasingly tranquil and sleepy toward the end.
 
ARTWORK   Front cover artwork is laid out simply, directly - a solarised photograph in shades of grey overlaid with rainbow swirls resembling liquid marbling effects. Titles here are also grey - uncomplicated. The reverse carries a tracklist, contact information and another rainbow/grey graphic.
 
OVERALL   


This is Bob Holroyd's fifth CD to date (a series of twelve inches appearing before these) and it retains most of the character of previous material whilst featuring less of the global elements of recent recordings. Nevertheless some lush flutes and Middle-Eastern pipes thicken the atmosphere still in places. For the most part compositions are unhurried, given space to unfold with gradual introductions and lazy progressions. The music here has more of a 'live' or perhaps 'hands on' feel than most material in the genre, at times approaching the format of a traditional performing outfit - strummed guitar, drums, bass, piano. Other tracks, however, sound quite unconventional and individual, utilising some inventive programming techniques. There is no doubt from the opening that this is a solid album from an obvious professional.
I understand that Hollow Man also includes a bonus CD - "an epic 23 minute ambient journey called 'All Colours' ".

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Mask - Heavy Petal
STYLE   Deep ambient sound zones and electronic songs centred around the orchestral string manipulations of Marvin Ayres and the inventive vocalisations of Sonja Kristina. Mask meander through a series of strongly atmospheric compositions ranging from floating beatless clouds of shifting sonic haze, through rhythmic electronica, effected and trance inducing to ethereal singing, digital beats and guitar accompaniment. Sinewy violin strains cut through cinematic environments brimming with colour, haunted by Sonja's wordless vocal tones - rich and sonorous. Gentle electro-grooves propel warm harmonies and dreamy words thick with emotion. Subtle piano, overtone singing and imaginative sampling extend the range of sounds employed - yet Mask maintain a delicate, heavenly unity throughout the whole CD.
 
MOOD   Blissful reverie and the drifting of aural vapours - Heavy Petal is full of diffuse light and slowly swirling colour. Whether presenting beat-driven downtempo featuring Kristina's clear voice or exploring semi-improvised instrumental brain installations, Mask have an enchanting other-worldliness about them. Angelic utterances, grasshopper strings, viscous synthetic layers - everything works together in a dignified vision of tenebrous/luminous grace.
 
ARTWORK   Mask have chosen a visual approach that captures their sound well - against an unfathomable blackness rings of colour are overlaid, heavy with texture - orange, pink - blues, greens, yellows. Tinted portraits of the artists reside in the centre - flushes of various hue and a secondary title sharing the space. Other panels of this glossy digipack are of psychedelic brightness - like a lightshow snatched form the air and forced into two dimensions. In addition to the usual tracklisting, credits, thanks and contact information there are excerpts from a journal of two fictitious characters crated during the project - Jack and Virginia ... the subtitle to Heavy Petal being 'The Tenebrous Odyssey of Jack and Virginia'.
 
OVERALL    Heavy Petal is an unusual album, bringing together diverse influences: Sonja Kristina having sung for some years as far back as Curved Air bringing folk origins and a gypsy aesthetic along with her experience in the fields of sound healing and overtone chanting; Marvin Ayres contributing his able violin and cello skills along with ambient, cinematic sensibilities that expose classical, jazz and experimental leanings. Mask will deliver sounds that you haven't heard before and then will flex into a different form, suddenly familiar and warming. The disc is double format - CD on one side, then DVD on the flip side - three video presentations of suitably abstract imagery to the tracks Free, Lambent Spire and Healing Senses.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Mask will delight fans of ethereal electronica that enjoy plenty of ambient wandering. This album will likely be enjoyed by those drawn to soundtrack CDs - the range of instrumental and vocal pieces is not dissimilar to that found on many film releases.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Perpetual Loop - Universal Flow
STYLE   Downtempo ethno-electronica brimming with dusky tribal atmospheres. Perpetual Loop presents a somewhat more moody global ambient trip than usual - brooding arrangements with broad spatial expanses swept through with smooth synths, reverberating effects and voices. World samples and deep lumbering basses provide a somewhat primal air where didgeridoos, chants pianos and various voices interplay. Even where no organic global elements thicken the sound, Perpetual Loop still manages to deliver a dense sonic chiaroscuro - shadows and passion hanging in the pregnant air.
 
MOOD   Universal Flow establishes a mesmerising gloom where shifting shadows and fluttering lights alternately hold the attention. An emotive twilight of gutsy electronic exotica. Sinuous and sensuous, the music nods and flows with hypnotic rhythm without becoming repetitious. One minute dancing on the digital cutting edge then luxuriating in a nomadic timelessness.
 
ARTWORK   Placed between a golden fractal sky and an icy vaporous foreground a shady figure hold centre stage staring forward through the elements. Only basic titles disturbing the cover image. Beyond this you'll have to find out for yourself as I have only an advance copy with minimal artwork.
 
OVERALL   

Perpetual Loop is Charles Massey from Manchester UK. Although he's released a number of tracks on compilation albums, Universal Flow is his first complete album. Charles has a classical background, trained on both the cello and piano, as a result "he combines the smoothness of that genre with the harder edge of electronic music, creating his own organic style, embracing computer technology to create Balearic sounds, Tribal beats and Symphonic arrangements". This CD is released through Organic Record and has the Organic signature sound through and through. Personally I think this album is a cut above the standard ethno-chill fare and well worth a listen.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   I suspect Perpetual Loop will appeal to chill fans on the darker side of the genre, if you enjoyed Phutureprimitive, then this might well be one for you.