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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Shen - Outlines
STYLE  

Lucid electro chill-out and downtempo IDM. Outlines is a fairly minimal album melodically speaking built around punchy programmed beats, repeating evolving structures and simple morphing motifs. There are some ambient sections (moslty introductions apart from the final track 'Onflow') where ethereal sound clouds and bright turbulence underlay some interesting synthetic tonal touches or subdued sequenced phrases. The sound is clearly created using the cutting edge of musical technology so that each sonic item hangs in its own frequency space clean and clear. Although the album is primarily instrumental there are a couple of songs, a strongly effected female voice echoing over the dub stabs and blunt bass lines of 'Causation' and the lazy 'Embrace' where a low looming bass buoys up a more wistful vocal performance. The music is warm, vibrant and full of dynamic optimism - downtempo yet upbeat and with a gentle urgency.

 
MOOD  

The mood on Outlines is one of clean, technical artistry - the sonic palette is sharp and well-defined. Although a downtempo album, the music is quite lively and busy, percolating patterns and electro beats in constant flux - that said there is a minimalist structure and sparse melodic approach that smooths out the surface into restful terrain, well reflected in the stark landscapes of the cover imagery.

 
ARTWORK  

Some beautiful photography adorns this jewel case package. A stunted tree leans out from a rocky crag in monochrome on the front cover, smooth sky featureless and flat. Similar images of stone wood and sky appear on most panels - abundant white borders and backdrops keeping everything light and clean. The rear cover tracklist neatly lines up in white text against a pointed ridge, website details below. Inside is a three section fold out where pride of place is given over to more stunning scenery. There are thanks, credits and two more tracklistings found on different sections here.

 
OVERALL   Outlines is the latest release from Native State records. Here Noah Pred appears in his chilled incarnation Shen, a name taken from the arcane Taoist term for 'refined energy' or 'depth'. The album comprises fourteen tracks that might well be energetic enough for the dancefloor with plenty of rhythm and energy - that said there is sufficient detail for the home listener, elegant subdued melodic elements and abundant peripheral aural architecture holding the attention. Guest appearances come from Kinnie Starr who sings on two tracks and JefeWillital whose delicate flute strains can be heard bringing a slightly wistful touch to 'Broken Jade'. Although this is Shen's first full length album, he is familiar to many listeners through his appearances on 'Leftcoast Liquid Vol. 1', 'Floating Point 3' and various Green Samurai Clan compilations.    
 
 WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Shen comes from the Native State label and is stylistically well placed there. Fans of Bluetech and other artists on the label roster will likely find Outlines to their liking. Shen is a strong contender for chill fans, leaning perhaps a little more toward a technical, mechanical sound than some of his fellow artists.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Sleepy Town Manufacture - Inspired By You
STYLE  

Dreamy electronica with inventive digital rhythms and a keen sense of beauty. Sleepy Town Manufacture creates what are mainly restful synthetic mood pieces where tinkling sequences and bright melodies are driven by glitchy programmed beats that range from almost ambient to recycled drum and bass. That said, a number of tracks have understated electro energy behind them flickering casually along as if only using a fraction of available energy. There are some guitars present in the mix courtesy of Alex Kozmidi, some doleful strings and for the first time a couple of vocal tracks are included - three female and one male. The voices fit the mood perfectly - light Russian syllables, gently delivered with an almost unreal edge at times. At their most tranquil STM are truly transcendent, beaming with that delightful aching melancholy beauty that touches the emotions directly.

 
ARTWORK   Since this is a digital release there is no cover as such. But the musical download is accompanied by a series of nine intriguing graphics credited to Serge Danyshevsky - photos and no_joy - artworks. The images combine photographic content, computer manipulation and hand drawn elements that result in an otherworldly surrealist impression - stills from a dream, imaginary places and presences. If you download the album the pictures arrange themselves into a folder of their own - cycle them to the music.
 
OVERALL   

Sleepy Town Manufacture has been in existence now for around eight years. Originally the joint project of Alexander Ananyev (AKA Beautumn creator of some delightful ambient music) and Anton Lukoyanychev, although I understand that Anton only takes an infrequent role nowadays. To date there have been three previous albums and something like ten virtual singles - in addition to this STM is a regular on the impressive Sutemos compilations. This album, as indeed most of STM's output, is available for free download, via Sutemos in this instance HERE. The singers that you hear are Inna Nega on Komnata, O Nei and Long Time No See (Inna providing lyrics and melody) and then Evgeniy Gagarin on the track So Soft. This is a rare thing today - an artist committed to delivering quality music without cost - here are eleven gems ... do yourself a favour get downloading.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Tor Lundvall - Yule
STYLE  

Hazy ambient winter music with some subtle beats and evocative tonal punctuations. Beneath a sonic fog indistinct shapes drift by or loom out of the air. Melodic patterns and simple musical phrases hang in the mists whilst unobtrusive percussive rhythms thick with distortion or implied distance at times suggest remote urban machinations. There are even some vocal tracks here - a male voice introspective and low key, almost spoken delivers pensive verse on three tracks. The only overtly seasonal reference comes in the form of a sleigh bell rhythm on 12:00 AM - regular and measured sleeting against an amorphous backdrop, the rest of the suggestive elements are less obvious, very atmospheric and individual drawing on the unnoticed aspects of the time. The ambient fabric is often quite dense, the thickening effect of reverb and the atonal nature of some of the combined textures laying down a muffling blanket. Most melodic material is somewhat muted or understated - chimes, bells, guitars, synthetic strains gently breaking the grey. The various tracks here read like a narrative, a soundtrack, the lengthy 'Falling Snow' especially telling a story all of its own - varying densities and depths, musical structures floating up like phantoms then lost again in the weather.

 
ARTWORK   The version I have of this album arrived in a simple colourful card sleeve. Both front and back feature Tor's distinctive paintings - evening blues and multicoloured lights glowing against the snow. The front cover is undisturbed by text apart from the title - a solitary figure motionless at the edge of the scene. On the back is a tracklist and some brief information about the compositions. A complementary image appears on the disc itself - another lone pedestrian here stands beneath a bright mass of trees - the sky yellowing and pale.
 
OVERALL   

Yule consists of nine short compositions of about three minutes each all recorded around the same time followed by one long piece entitled The Falling Snow which comes in at just over twenty minutes long. This latter track was recorded some years prior to the rest and is presented here in full - previously this was only available in a much shorter, remixed form on the Cynfeirdd "Eisteddfod" compilation. The CD is a limited edition EP of 333 hand numbered copies. Tor says of the project that the "time period following Thanksgiving through early January carries a unique and strange mood to it other than the obvious stress of Holiday madness. With a handful of recordings, I have attempted to capture another side of the Holiday season. The settings range from slushy, illuminated train stations, to the lonely trees of January still entangled with blue lights long after the season has ended.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------V/A - Light Aromas - Chillcode Music
STYLE  

A light and colourful selection of psy-chill and dub with a soothing synergy of accompanying acoustic instrumentation including piano, guitar, and strings in addition to the occasional use of vocal samples. Steady grooves maintain an introspective depth, postively enhanced by etheric textures and lush, organic accents.The intermingling of prominent rhythms and smooth, minimal melodies throughout creates an intricately contoured environ for both body and mind.There's nothing too dark here to disturb a deliciously relaxed and cozy journey into world class downtempo.

 
ARTWORK  

A macro look into the petals and stamen of a vibrant white flower with bold red and golden patterning. This is a snap shot of the summer's peak with a hint of blue sky and seasonal rich green peering through between the petals.The title sits elegantly scrawled center-right.

 
OVERALL   

Light Aromas is courtesy of the psy-styled downbeat label Chillcode Music. Laidback, programmed beats and basslines roll beneath drifting, iridescent atmospherics, transporting you into a nostalgic realm of warm memories and serotonin-infused imaginings.With refreshing new and previously unreleased tracks from Enterprise, Kuba, Ten Madison, Vibrasphere, Jong, Aural Float and Saafi Brothers, this well-crafted compilation is a lucid and welcome excursion away from winter's grip.Perfect for late night listening sessions or a quiet afternoon alone.

Thanks to Naasko @ Interchill for that review.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Falling You - Human
STYLE   Ethereal, passionate female vocals and subtle shadowy electronica. Falling You create moody synthetic soundscapes of drifting tonal beds, lonely strings, dark washes and haunting drones punctuated by the odd piano - sometimes beatless, carried sometimes by programmed percussion. The various voices are often given plenty of space, instrumental accompaniment tending to be low key, tastefully sparse - almost ambient in places. Plenty of atmosphere thickens the air, touching the words with colour and building an aura around each vocalist. Beats don't dominate when they are present, rather they work to drive the smooth instrumentation into motion - simple rhythmic structures that maintain the focus firmly on the singers. There is a strongly cinematic thread running through many tracks that at its most brooding might suggest a gothic influence, but more accurately reflects the luxurious appeal of darker tones and sombre atmospheres, the drama of eventide, the mystique of ambiguity.
 
MOOD  

Human is a subtle, serene and captivatingly heady album, one of misted expanse and uncertain depth. The sound often has doleful classical elegance about it - ambient drones wafting in ethereal strands that evoke the same low blue light as the cover art, vocal deliveries that range from lonely angelic weightlessness through to emotive human expression that seems at times to be drawn up from the depths of the soul. The words are poetic and deeply personal, the music sorrowful, beautiful, transporting.

 
ARTWORK   Beautiful chiaroscuro photography tinted blue - a female torso fronts the package strongly lit from a sharp reverse angle, minimal text hanging silver in the darkness. Behind, the image is repeated and rotated ninety degrees. A script style font lists the track titles. Below is a two paragraph discussion of human nature and its dual capacity. Opening the insert we find the front cover figure completed - knees drawn up, lying in shadow. A third panel holds a small credits section and a paragraph of thanks. Turning over we find another backlit blue model, this time silhouetted from neck to nose tip - alongside are listed the vocalists and John Michael Zorko's instrumental equipment. The remaining two panels present lyrics for each piece - everything tastefully laid out in silver and pale blue. Overall a classy item that contributes nicely to the mystique of the album.
 
OVERALL    Falling You is primarily John Zorko's project - he produces the music and collaborates with a series of talented singers that each bring their own unique personality within the fold. Contributing both lyrics and melodies are here - Dru Allen (of This Ascension, Mirabilis), Jennifer McPeak, Erica Mulkey (Unwoman), Aimee Page and Suzanne Perry (of Love Spirals Downwards) bringing the Human touch, each uniquely brimming with feeling and melancholy beauty. Aimee Page employing oriental style inflections that invoke exotic association, Dru Allen soaring, touching dramatic heights, Suzanne Perry concluding the album with gentle, emotional softness. Zorko's arrangements range from delicate melodic themes to textural layers and atonal noise - deeply saturated mood pieces, beguiling and absorbing. Human is the band's follow-up to 2005's Touch - the band having started out in 1996 releasing their debut Mercy back in 1998.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Human will appeal to fans of electronic female vocal music with a leaning toward the darker tones. If you enjoy Lisa Gerrard, Delerium's moodier material or the kind of soundtrack music that establishes wistful, dreamy atmosphere then this could well be one for you. Falling You have pretty much captured the Morpheus acronym: Music of relaxation - passionate, heavenly, earthly, unearthly, synthetic.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Enigma - A Posteriori DVD
STYLE   Visually the approach taken on the A Posteriori DVD is quite simple ... initially there is an attractive interface similar to the cover artwork - the model's eyes holding your own, nautical equipment and esoteric embellishments overlaid. Four options are possible from here The Songs, Gallery, Interview and Bonus. The bonus material consists of four remixes - Eppur Si Muove, The Alchemist, Dreaming Of Andromeda and 20,000 Miles Over The Sea. The Gallery consists of a brief slideshow of images of Michael Cretu all alone and in contemplative mood. The Interview is available in German or English and sees the artist discussing the current album and Enigma music in general.
 
ARTWORK   Once past the interface and into the music, the DVD takes a single approach through each track - kaleidoscopic images constantly folding into each other. Sometimes space, sometimes digital graphics. These circling patterns recede, shift, cycle through the visual spectrum and move in and out of focus. Each track (including the bonus remixes) has its accompanying kaleidoscope that runs from start to finish in a fixed order.
 
OVERALL   

The latest DVD release of the 2006 A Posteriori contains all of the album tracks plus a number of remixes. See HERE for our review of the musical content. Visually the kaleidoscopic effect is calming and keeps the mind focussed on the music - the abstract nature of the imagery allowing it to fall into the background quite easily. Not so much a DVD to sit down and watch - more something to listen to with accompanying incidental eye candy. There are only slight deviations in musical content from the audio CD, most significantly Message From IO where some alteration of the original is readily apparent.