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 ------V/A - Sub Signals - Volume 1
STYLE   Urban dub and bass soundscapes selected and mixed by Gaudi. Sub Signals is a gutsy collection of instrumentals lumbering along with a low, low centre of gravity - blunt bass lines swaying and nodding deep under the influence of a strong dub and reggae heritage. If these low frequencies don't set the whole space around your speakers vibrating uncontrollably then they're probably switched off. Hypnotically languid downtempo beats and various off beat stabs naturally feature as do strongly reverberating hits and echoing incidentals. Melodic material is downplayed in favour of rhythm and atmosphere - brief phrases and repeated snippets slipping in and out whilst energetic electronic effects and peculiarities swirl, flash or well up in turn. Voices float frequently to the murky surface - appropriate spoken bytes or clipped bits of chat all with the right cultural bent.
ARTWORK   Black and white, gritty and steeped in the ashen tones of the nocturnal city. A grey tube train makes a dwindling diagonal triangling into the front cover centre, fluorescent lights contrasting the dense shadows of an almost empty platform. An advisory panel declares 'WOOFER ADVISORY - EXPLICIT BASS'. Another monochrome train maintains the urban theme on the rear, track titles running down its shadowy door. A four panel sleeve presents more cityscapes heavy with gloom hazed with artificial light. Here inside there is an expanded track list with full credits and website details for each artist. The insert also holds an explanation of the Sub Signal project on the back and generous thanks from both Interchill and Gaudi.
OVERALL    Sub Signals - Volume 1 is to be the first of a series from Interchill Records 'dedicated to the sounds of dub'. The tracks on this CD are mostly unreleased pieces compiled and mixed by Gaudi. Although harking back to roots laid down over decades, Sub Signals - Volume 1 has a very contemporary sound, the programming and digital structuring establishing a sound that is both sharp and technologically polished whilst keeping an acid, organic edginess that matches the visual presentation admirably. If you enjoy downtempo dub music that surges forward on huge waves of bass and aren't afraid of the dark or the streets - then this is an album you'll want to hear.




 ------Ohm Spirit Sound - Mantra Chillout
STYLE   New age chill with female vocals and bright, clean instrumentation. Mantra Chillout features lucid acoustic guitars, pianos, strings and flutes all warmly combined along with soft electronics to form tuneful backdrops against which Julia Claire's gentle voice echoes and breezes. There are instrumental passages where perhaps an electric guitar works an emotive lead or a doleful flute hangs in the air. Mostly the music is easy listening and restful - lyrics built around Indian teachings and beliefs are accompanied by English language (or occasionally Spanish) musings. All the tracks are carried by prominent beats that I assume to be programmed, but nonetheless are arranged in the style of live drumming. These beats are relaxing downtempo rhythms that maintain the inviting tranquillity of the music and words.
ARTWORK   In colours and imagery similar to the twin album Celestial, Mantra Chillout features soft focus shots of the artist, endless white skies above, beds of petals below - a luminous tangerine glow bathing everything in summer warmth. A track list appears on the rear with timings against each title. Inside is a generous eight page booklet where five panels are given over to lyrics set out against more hazy, translucent artist and petal imagery. A sepia toned studio portrait of artist and producer backs an explanation of the project in Spanish, the final page holding another shot of the duo, this time above credits and contact details.

This CD is a 'popular' version of Sirisat's Celestial album with shorter radio friendly versions of most pieces plus a couple of extra tracks by producer Carles Reig - "Vidas Plateadas", in Spanish, and "Ohm Spirit Sound" with English lyrics. The album falls primarily into the 'new age' category and will appeal to listeners fond of Asian imagery and the female voice.






 ------V/A - Polymorphic Convolutions

Downtempo beach party environments with abundant global elements and a heady digital/organic atmosphere. Polymorphic Convolutions opens with combined synthetic and Indian string drones, twinkling bell trees and exotic percussive ephemera - a wordless female voice vocalises over a measured beat and the tone is set. Thick, heavy flute work, sitar strands and tabla loops bring the mystique of the Indian sub-continent to the project, but the multicultural sounds are by no means confined to one location looking both Eastward and to the West. There are pieces that hang on a dub framework, others that owe more to downtempo trance and psychedelic influences, rippling arpeggios and bright digital effects lighting up the air like sonic fireworks, voice snippets swirling in and out of earshot. The tracks on this CD all work around solid beats, chilled for sure, but with sufficient pace to dance to - fusion beats in many cases - studio drums, programmed grooves and traditional rhythms.

MOOD   A mystical tone pervades this CD where tribal beats and strong atmospheres suggest low light and late hours. The wealth of ethnic material conjures up visions of a multicultural melting pot - the arrival of colourful caravans from the four corners of the globe, unpacking hi-tech stage gear alongside traditional instruments and performers. The powerfully hypnotic effects of evolving repetition are put to good use whilst (as the promotional material claims) the generally restful approach "acts as a soothing remedy to everyday's fast paced demanding responsibilities in life. Listeners will be able to take a deep breath, elevate their thoughts to a more chilled profound perspective and re-connect with their psyche & essence".
ARTWORK   A sharp package fronted by a montage of a wooden row boat on a sandy, pale horizon buoyed up by a series of concentric graphic ripples. A small orange panel holds the title - an orange that explodes across the rest of the artwork, every remaining surface being bathed in the colour. The jewel case rear holds the track list and the legend "alternative chilled beats from the samothraki dance festival". Inside we find an eight panel fold-out full of information. Each artist is introduced in a series of lengthy personal sections with accompanying photographs. Thanks and credits are generous and extended.

Polymorphic Convolutions comes to us via Electronic Soundscapes Records having been compiled by Arash Atman. This is in fact the first release from this exciting new label and is designed as a tribute to the Samothraki Dance Festival Chill Out Stage. The album consists of nine previously unreleased tracks from some big names in the genre including Adham Shaikh, Zen Lemonade and Ishq. In order to celebrate its debut release, Electronic Soundscapes offers 2 exclusive free goodies, included with every original CD ... a special collector's transparent label logo sticker and a special unique 4 digit code number, which will grant access to unlock, 2 exclusive previously unreleased tracks from Ishq's Live Performance in Tokyo.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Anyone present at the Samothraki Festival will surely enjoy this reminder of the event and anyone that would have liked to be there might well find this album to be a suitable consolation. If you enjoy worldbeat chillout this is a strong album and well worth a listen.




 ------Ruxpin - Elysium
STYLE   Digital themes, hazy elektro arrangements and bright mid/downtempo grooves. Ruxpin delivers brief sparkling synthetic gems where airy pads float behind electronic melodies and intertwined phrases of great beauty and warmth. Beats are programmed affairs bringing together real drum sounds and an array of clicks, squirts, swishes and crackles. The music is strongly synthetic - little organic material interfering apart from the odd voice - yet there is plenty of feeling here, the artificial/emotional interplay highlighted by titles such as 'Creating Artificial Machine Love', 'A Puppet's Dream', 'You Look Lovely in This Spacesuit' and Routine Retirement of a Replicant'. There are tracks with a hint of melancholy where wistful leads juxtapose flickering techno percussion, others with an unself-conscious sense of rejoicing and some that simply revel in a carefree playfulness.
ARTWORK    A unique package  constructed only of card - no plastic parts to this tidy digipack. The front cover features a design made up of curling green synthetic strips - they almost meet in the centre, instead bending outwards toward the viewer a nebulous green glow suspended in the dark space behind. This image is continued across the other external three panels of the unfolded package - the green strips flattening out and running together into graphic abstraction. Track titles appear on the rear with timings included. All remaining text is fitted into a black border below these titles - brief credits and contact information. Looking inside - not a word breaks up the sharp imagery - more green curves, closer here, like plastic ribbons overlaid one upon another. The central section holds the CD in an ingenious pair of card flaps - well designed, attractive and peculiar.

Back in 1999 the initial Ruxpin release was an EP entitled Mission on Uni:Form Recording, his first LP Radio following in that same year. Now Elysium is the fifth studio album from this prolific Icelandic artist AKA Jonas Thor Gudmundsson and his reputation seems to be growing nicely having remixed other artists and appearing on a number of compilations including the classy Sutemos Intelligent Toys series. Elysium is released through Mikrolux a sublabel of the highly acclaimed Elektrolux and takes its title from the paradisaic island of Greek mythology for heroes who were made immortal by the Gods. There are no less than eighteen tracks on this disc, most somewhere around the four to five minute mark.





 ------Carbon Based Lifeforms - World Of Sleepers
STYLE   Dreamy pads and luminous shades against rhythmic sequences and distinctive downtempo beats. World Of Sleepers drifts from weightless ambient mists where synthetic minutiae hang on the artificial air like sonic spangles through to climactic driving structures where circling arpeggiators and steady beats reach almost anthemic intensity. Crunchy loops, distorted crackles and percussive ephemera are laid against low bass kicks in restful downtempo structures frequently interlocking with sequencer patterns and rubbery, pulsing basses. Male and female voices populate a number of the tracks - whispered, softly spoken, recurring, spelling obscure formulae, murmuring thoughtful musings. The electronic atmospheres that float in the softer interludes are cleverly spun into organic complexity. multi-layered and painstakingly punctuated with intriguing detail.

World Of Sleepers maintains Carbon Based Lifeforms almost scientific precision and amorphous drifting transparency - the sound is classy and incredibly well-produced. The mood passes from beatless pools and fogs where everything is hazy and soft-edged through subtle rhythmic passages where a low volume beat way back in the mix or a simple bass throb carries the current forward, sonic peripherals meandering, spiralling past the ear, then we're into percolating cycles where bass riffs and sequenced motifs build into mechanical regularity.

ARTWORK   In traditional Ultimae fashion World Of Sleepers' artwork threads between two bold black borders adding to the mysterious depth of the graphics. This is a three section digipack with a luxuriant sixteen page booklet and a coherent visual theme running throughout. On the front three transparent jellyfish seem to be attracted to a partially visible backlit window - indigo purple in the shadows, turquoise sky blue in the light. Some barely visible technical graphics overlay part of the design - hexagons, triangles. Once opened out, jellyfish bell forms of similar hue move across the remaining external panels - insubstantial, dark and cool. But inside the tone shifts - everything radiates glowing shades of amber and sepia. More jellyfish, closer here, details highlighted, streamers and tendrils trailing. The booklet has a page for each track, a few tantalising words accompanying evocative photography and credits. There is a generous full page given over to thanks from both the band and from Ultimae, these inner pages book-ended by close-up portraits of Johannes and Daniel. All in all a terrific item that should hold pride of place for visual impact as much as musical content.
OVERALL    World Of Sleepers expands the garden initially planted on Carbon Based Lifeforms' debut - the sound is very familiar and the musical approach similar. Indeed this expansion of the previous project is acknowledged in that the track titles begin here with number twelve and run up to twenty two - a continuation as opposed to a new concept. Not that this is in any way a negative thing, there is so much to explore in this nocturnal world, the deliriously dreamy title track, for example, exploring a depth previously unfathomed - gloriously soporific and lazily buoyant. Most tracks interfade - only a couple of pieces isolated by brief silences. Then we have the penultimate track Betula Pendula trailing off into nothingness midway through its nineteen minute forty four second length - a sure sign of a hidden track. Static noise eventually slinks into earshot, muffled voices garbled and unclear and then the air clears and like an encore there's that one more track.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you enjoyed Hydroponic Garden, you will surely adore this development of the Carbon Based Lifeforms sound. All the strongest elements from the debut are still here in new arrangements, new themes - plus some fresh directions, some deeper dives. If the band is unfamiliar to you - this is an album for fans of strongly atmospheric music that straddles the region between ambient and down tempo chill.





STYLE   Cool, melodic electronica featuring a number of female vocalists and one male. Ror-Shak have a clean, slightly moody sound that explores territory ranging from drum and bass dance beats through to shadowy, urban touched down tempo. There are what appear to be a couple of instrumentals on the album - (no vocalists credited) although I haven't heard these as yet, but most pieces are structured in such a way so as to place the singing at centre stage. Instrumentation doesn't compete for prominence yet the arrangements are inventive and have plenty to catch the ear - warm basses, strings, electric guitars, deep pianos and some well placed atmospheric static. Drum and bass aesthetics colour most pieces although presented in a form that could be approach mainstream accessibility. Some gritty experimental peripherals and an overall brooding tone give the music a tasty dark edge that complements the vocal style nicely.
ARTWORK   To date I've only seen the cover image shown above since the album is initially released as a digital item. This sharp piece of black and white art work centres on a skull surrounded by curling scrollwork and a mirrored ambiguous ink-blot like shape.

Ror-Shak take their name from Swiss psychiatrist Dr Rorschach of ink blot fame - just as each viewer sees something different in the images, in Ror-Shak's case "everyone hears something unique" in the music. The band is basically made up of artists DB ( & Shaun Morris AKA Stakka ( The album follows up the success of the duo's first project together - the dancefloor oriented single 'Groupies' which was released by Breakbeat Science. On the twelve track 'Deep' the band is joined by guest vocalists Julee Cruise, Lisa Shaw, Chantal Claret, Wendy Starland and Mark Holmes. Inspired to a degree by Zero 7, Ror-Shak might well appeal to fans of Massive Attack, Carmen Rizzo or even Nicola Hitchcock. This is a well produced collection of tracks that I look forward to hearing in entirety soon.