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 ------Master Margherita - Mastura
STYLE   Electronic downtempo with hints of dub and psytrance. Mastura delivers quite a varied sound palette and explores a wide ranging sonic terrain. There are a considerable range of moods from restful ethnochill where waterfowl samples and vocal snippets embellish gentle synthwork to some acidic rhythm pieces where fermenting arps and gurgling cycles work in conjunction with hypnotic beats. The album concludes with a drifting soundscape of alien territory where corrosive pools and liquid luminosities decorate an undulating plane of drones and swells. There are guitar lines both electric and acoustic and harmonic plucks, spoken philosophies and female vocal bytes. Where global instrumentation is used it is carefully interwoven into the fabric of the sound - flutes, international drum sounds, didgeridoo - never just tacked on as a quick bit of colour.
ARTWORK   A green man image of synthetic leaves stares from the front cover of this digipack. Opening into two panels, the rear features another leaf design - this time hazy yellow with a detailed track list accompanied by writing credits and a bpm for each piece. Inside the hue is verdant once more with overlaid leafage, veins and twigs. One inner panel contains extensive thanks - the other, the CD and behind this, contact info and web addresses.

Mastura is Master Margherita's first Solo album where four tracks are solo productions (with some instrumental collaboration) and the rest are joint compositions featuring the creative talents of such masters of the genre as Electrypnose, Cell, Flooting Grooves, Morphonix, Tajmahal and Kali-Frogz. Promotional information explains that Mastura "from conception to completion has taken three years" all tracks being finalised during the spring of 2006. The CD is released via Electrik Dream Records and draws on the mastering experience of label master Tajmahal as well as Ultimae's Huby Sea.






 ------Mythos / M.A.S.S. - Mysteria
STYLE   An impressive three CD collection of melodic electronica with programmed beats and occasional world elements. Mythos delivers here a suite of fifteen synthesiser compositions evolved out of Berlin school origins. The musical approach is dramatic, energetic and colourful - strong programmed rhythms propel multi-layered electronic arrangements where imaginative themes luxuriate among swirling effects, morphing sequences and delicate textural films. Lending an additional range of expression there are oriental er-hu violins, emotional female vocal utterances that suggest the Middle East and a number of other global influences. The variation here comes primarily from fluctuations in intensity and layering rather than chordal arrangements, repetition is well employed and cycling, developing motifs build into vibrant compositions.
MOOD   The mood here is one of exotic digital professionalism - Kaske delivering some evocative compositions that wring surprisingly passionate responses from the wires and circuitry at his disposal. Mysteria is unarguably synthesiser music in the grand tradition, twinkling with inviting artificial light and rippling in sequenced regularity - yet the music here is certainly not mechanical or predictable. Monumental and imposing at times, many of the tracks have a regal quality about them as if drawing on a distinguished and extensive history.     
ARTWORK   Mysteria comes in a double opening digipack that unfolds into four sections. Three hold discs and the fourth pockets a twenty eight page booklet that charts the history of the Mythos legend. A series of double page spreads describe the origins of the band, the development of their sound and the albums that have spanned almost four decades. Swirling fractal images accompany the information both within the generous booklet and the digipack sections themselves. The front cover puts a beautiful computer graphic to the fore - the words "Music is both an art and a craft based on acoustic principles yet subject to various interpretations hence its artistic merit" lurking to the bottom right. The rear cover contains a track list with timings and relevant contact details.
OVERALL    Mythos (not to be confused with the Canadian duo of the same name) was founded in 1969 by the multi-instrumentalist Stephan Kaske along with Thomas Hildebrand (Drums) and Harald Weiße (Bass) and was one of the original bands on the famous German Ohr label. The band gradually slimmed down so that currently it is a solo project of Stephan Kaske. M.A.S.S. - Mysteria comes two years after the 2 CD set Edgar Allen Poe ... but there is a large discography preceding these that points to a powerful sonic heritage. Promotional material suggests "You must listen to this music on a SA(SuperAudio)CD-Player to hear the full range of this melodic, rhythmic modern electronic journey into sound".

Mythos / M.A.S.S. is an act well known to electronica fans and this three CD set will doubtless delight those already in the know. Mysteria is a must for lovers of German synthesiser music with its roots in the seventies, delivered here with a new millennium clarity.





 ------Alidan - Nebulae

Bright synthetic soundscaping where brassy phrases, programmed guitars, chimes and sculpted slipstream noise float across an airy, expansive space. The sound has a new age, ambient approach for the most part, gentle and clean as if constructed somewhere high in the stratosphere looking down on the clouds, bathed in sunlight. At times more upbeat arrangements dominate, with percussion and sequenced patterns supporting melodic themes, these also are tranquil, listener friendly affairs that maintain the almost weightless clarity of the drifting introduction.


A winglike graphic fan of colour fills the front cover in shades of turquoise and blue - hanging backlit over a black void. The reverse contains a similar image, this time bathed in violet - here is the track list along with brief contact details and web addresses. Inside is a contrast - the booklet black with a repeated tracklist, the CD support stark white, a hairline diagonal breaking the flatness. The booklet opens out to reveal an artist portrait and three lines of text ...." a journey around the universe, a journey across the stars, a journey into your mind".


Alidan is a synthesizer player coming from Madrid, Spain. Nebulae is his third full length album, following up 2001's Noosphere and Immersion released in 2003. This latest CD is released through Margen records and comprises ten quite varied tracks. Not as spacey as the artwork and title might suggest - Nebulae does have many space music elements, but Alidan presents these in a more down to earth new age context. The music here is relaxing and tuneful with some beatless passages where structure is somewhat looser, edging toward soundtrack territory.





 ------Loop Guru - Elderberry Shiftglass
STYLE   Psychedelic sixties montages embracing the spirit of the decade and given the distinctive Loop Guru treatment. Here are recollective elements of all sorts - mellotron flutes, retro organ lines, Sergeant Pepper cellos, dreamy head in the clouds melodies - like dimly recalled memories, everything is steeped in nostalgic familiarity. That said, Loop Guru have taken this rich source and spun it into new life - the trade mark beats and cut and paste aesthetic maintain the unique identity of their previous releases, although the global sounds are now mostly absent. Spoken voices muse between tracks, introducing or concluding with snatches of thought, puddled in small ambient pools. Sampled peculiarities and sonic ephemera are woven into the music in a lush tapestry of borrowings and rampant juxtaposition.
ARTWORK   In keeping with the temporal context Elderberry Shiftglass is fronted by a striking piece of op art - purple circles, transparent circles laid out on purple squares upon transparent discs - concentric, dwindling into eternity. A fat, rounded sixties font delivers the main titles - the subtitle 'Soundcakes From The Universe Next Door' runs vertically down the clear spine of the casing. On the back we have a James Bond/Tales of the Unexpected female silhouette alongside the tracklist. Opening the jewel case we find a three panel fold out where each track is detailed, on a separate panel are three silk screen type images of the band and a paragraph of 'shrinic blessings'. As is their tradition, the guys list their inspirations at some length - and here we see the raw material for this journey back in time.
OVERALL    Loop Guru have been around for some time now - their debut album The Third Chamber appearing in 1994 and their individual take on electronic music remains distinctive and fresh. Now on their own label Elsewhen, Elderberry Shiftglass is a natural progression from earlier releases, the musical collage approach and bizarre gear lists falling perfectly into this new framewrk. In addition to the period imagery and associations, the twenty tracks here are served up as dishes on a sonic table - with titles like Strawberry Girl, Pineapple Puppets on a Sandy Shore, Hundreds and Thousands: A Hip Odyssey, Doughnuts for Da-Da. The suggestion is that everything here is consumable and temporary, to be tasted and enjoyed as part of a marvellous musical menu.





 ------ Beta Two Agonist - Zero Point Field

Gentle, melodic ambience with subtle beats, frequently morphing patterns and fragile rhythm. Attractive sonic mists overlaid with chiming, dripping or percussive notes hang in the air - everything crystal clear, moist and buoyant. Dissonant tones like an overcast sky at times well up and absorb the light, random variations rolling in altering the mood, introducing fresh associations. There is a sense of journey about the construction - the music drifting from one form into another, at times shifting suddenly, altering like the view from a train window. Rhythms are set deep into the music, soft, glitchy affairs, crackling with static, coming and going - sometimes there without the listener realising.

MOOD   Most of the time Zero Point Field is warm and fresh - lucid droplets of sound delicately embellishing light breezes and spring washes. Frequently suggestive of water in all of its forms - vaporous, frosty, fluid, ice forms, tiny droplets. Atmospheric with a touch of dawn ambience Beta Two Agonist establishes beautiful fleeting synthetic environments and then lets them wistfully drop away replaced by others of equal appeal.
ARTWORK   Zero Point Field travels in a slim line jewel case - a light, uncomplicated package that seems right for the music. The single sheet insert is fronted by an image of abstracted cables and diagonals white on blue grey - broad white borders sanitising, isolating, framing. On the reverse is a degraded version of the same image, details falling apart into blobs running into one another. Here we have the legend - "dedicated to the unbearable lightness of being...". There are also brief credits and thanks as well as web site details.

Beta Two Agonist is of Spanish origin born in Barcelona in 1976. His music makes use of field recordings, percussive objects, 'circuit-bent toys and contraptions', synthesisers, various effects pedals and software. Zero Point Field is the first full length album from the project and is released via the well known ambient label Databloem. Promotional material from the artist himself explains "My music could be described as minimal ambient. Minimal glitchy atmospheres complimented by soft rhythms and gentle, yet moving, shades of melody". There are samples of the album on the label site at

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you enjoy digital soundworlds with plenty of detail, minimal arrangements and constant variation - this is an inviting album. Zero Point Field is a bright sensitive album, yet full of brooding grace.




 ------ Blue Stone - Worlds Apart
STYLE   Organic, electronic blend with abundant layered female vocals and lush soundscaping. Blue Stone employ synthetic arpeggios, washes and melodies along with pianos, world touches, rich international percussion and soft voice effects to create charming arrangements with a cinematic depth and inviting warmth. Most pieces feature female vocals - whispered phrases, soaring wordless utterances, semi-classical performance, complete songs - various well chosen effects drape the singing in misty reverb, spread a heavenly gloss or add contemporary twists. The beats are chilled and restful but with sufficient detail and variation to make them absorbing rather than simply soothing, ambient interludes break the melodies open in places allowing the atmosphere to well up and float heavily into the air.
MOOD   Blue Stone establish a magical, romantic sound of classical beauty that hangs perfectly in the beguiling twilight between soundtrack moodiness and accessible downtempo vocal music. With a nod toward the likes of Delerium, Worlds Apart luxuriates in low light moodiness, steeped in sonic colour and passionate expression. This is an album brimming with magical, atmosphere and delicate beauty.
ARTWORK   Thick shadow and pooled luminosity shroud a crouching winged female figure, her dress spread wide bringing a pink glow to an otherwise grey blue gloom. The layered folds of clothing reappear throughout the package among other strong textures - everything lying in abundant darkness with sparse lighting effects. Inside is a generous sixteen page booklet that contains lyrics to each song along with writing and vocal credits. The last pages contain portrait photographs of the singers alongside thanks from the band and from Bob and Bill individually. A tasteful item overall in keeping with the musical content.

World's Apart deepens and consolidates the sound Blue Stone established on their debut Breathe. Here though the band brings a little welcome shadow into their world of magic and sparkle - the result is breath takingly effective, this album really lifts this band into the top level of the genre. Producer Robert Smith and producer/multi-instrumentalist Bill Waters have worked here with vocalists Sheyenne Rivers, Samantha Sandlin and Maura Hurley - a collaborative approach that clearly works well. The diverse delivery of operatic polish, breathy wisps, sultry pop and catchy choruses shifts frequently enough to draw the listener deep into the music whilst maintaining a solid identity that unifies the album tightly.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Blue Stone will doubtless delight their previous fans with this release and will surely win over many more - fans of Sleepthief, Delerium, Baligomingo and Enigma will probably appreciate Worlds Apart. Give this one a listen if you fancy a delightful collection of seductive electronica with just the right blend of serenity and darkness. A strong contender.