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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

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 ------Amethystium - Evermind
STYLE

 

 

Progressive, elegant new age electronica. Amethystium has created a hauntingly distinct sound built around wistful voices, twinkling chimes, bell trees and seductive synthesizer melodies. The overall sound of Evermind is more opulent, more cinematic, thicker than previous Amethystium releases, the world sounds of the last two albums are less in evidence here, the piano melodies less dominant. There are soaring ethereal female singers, synthesised strings and woodwind along with effected and reversed guitars - all captivated under the same heady Amethystium glamour. The beats on Evermind are subtle, gentle, downtempo backbeats rolling, deceptively puissant, like the undertow of the tide. Evermind has an almost timeless lullaby beauty that suggests a conclusion, the end of an enthralling journey - the intimation of new paths ahead.

 
MOOD  

Evermind feels like the soundtrack to a fantasy where everything is drenched in moonlight and mystery, fireflies flitting among whirling mists, a sense of wonder and enchantment everywhere. Slower in pace than Aphelion or Odonata, this CD delves deeper into Amethystium's fragrant dreamlands exploring melodic territories previously hinted at. The overall mood is uplifting, optimistic with soaring themes, yet the low key sections contain some charming moments, indeed some of the most alluring passages on Evermind are the soft, shadowy interludes between the major themes. The tempo is largely on the slower end of the spectrum; there are some pieces with more rapid percussion, but even these patter across the surface of languidly rolling undercurrents, retaining the overall downtempo mood.

 
ARTWORK   The artwork maintains the high standard set by previous releases - deeply atmospheric and moody. A new element is the cover illustration of Silas Toball which thickens the connection with fantasy and introduces a narrative aspect to the dragonflies that have adorned Amethystium releases from the start. The digipack is attractive and contains an eight-page booklet with some of the most beautiful landscape/woodland photography I've ever seen, courtesy of Fred Strømme. Track titles such as Into The Twilight, Reverie, Arcus and Fable establish the thread from which the album is woven.
 
OVERALL   

Brimming over with atmosphere, passion and optimism, Evermind is a lush soundtrack to Øystein Ramfjord's personal world. A refinement of the now familiar Amethystium sound, the production is stronger and the presentation more confident. We're told that this album is the finale to the 'dragonfly trilogy'; fittingly a wistful tone floats beneath the generally positive note set by this conclusion. Despite the melancholy elements, however, this is in no way a sad album, neither a dark album, except lit by shafts of luminescent moonlight. The vocals of Lee Nisbet of Animus Mundi and Martha Krossbakken (who appeared on Aphelion) thicken out the already rich layering of ethereal sound with voices floating deep within the mix. The evolving, unusual beats are one of Amethystium's strong points; languid breakbeats full of blunt reverberating thuds, soft crunches, reversed hits and delicate variation.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Anyone wanting more of Amethystium's gentle dragonfly beauty will enjoy this album. If you enjoy lush fantasy music, dreams of fairy rings and twilight woodlands - this CD will delight. In parts Evermind is reminiscent of Mike Oldfield's sound, taking an almost orchestral approach to composing with non-orchestral instruments.
 

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 ------ePHeMeRiD - Lost In Dust
STYLE   Elegant and sensual, Lost in Dust is the third studio album from UK artist Ephemerid who creates a dusky musical admixture of ethnic vocals and instruments, electro-world beats and rich textures to produce something akin to early Deep Forest or Loop Guru. Yet, Ephemerid isn't afraid to delve deeper and darker, as many of these tracks have a slightly haunting edge. Traditional instruments with their exotic sounds and voices are mixed with electronics to create a very contemporary sounding fusion album that can take the listener to different parts of the world without him having to leave his [or her] armchair. Like Ephemerid’s previous two releases, Icarus Wings and Sleeper on the Sea, this album touches on many global territories, unearthing treasures like “Seventh Moon” with its use of Native flutes and cries, although as a whole a stronger focus has been placed upon more Mid-Eastern and Asian influences.
 
MOOD   There is an overall tribal feel to the album due to the rhythms and chanting that occur in many pieces. This album is not heavy going though, because in some tracks, such as "Bamboo Bridge", epHeMeRiD demonstrates a deft touch - in this case with an oriental flavour of sounds incorporating flutes, tinkling bells, and oriental strings (possibly including the Erhu). Lost In Dust is among the more tenebrous and thickly layered ethno-techno albums, with dense electronic weavings and beautifully recurring piano washes! Its music to get utterly lost in, music to surrender to. It is, quite simply put, a soundtrack to an inevitable seduction.
 
ARTWORK   The lush glowing colours of the cover imagery well match the exotic musical tones of Lost In Dust. The inner cover montage presents a grotesque deep-sea fish that saw the light of day briefly once before on an Ephemerid compilation CD "Still Waters".
 
OVERALL    Middle Eastern sounds, with danceable beats wrapped around delicate, masterful piano work and whirling vocal samples. Just over an hour of music is split across ten tracks, most of which are around five to six minutes long; this is about right for an album like this which seems to want to convey a different mood, theme, or experience of a place in each piece. Saying that, Lost in Dust is not disjointed because overall it has sounds that make the listener think of Asia and Africa. What strikes me about this album is the adroitness with which the sounds of traditional instruments from around the world are blended with modern beats and rhythms.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

I can recommend Lost in Dust for anyone seeking a relaxing, but also upbeat and occasionally haunting, musical trip to various places - as though one is briefly looking in on exotic parts of the world. Worth checking out if you're a fan of cross-cultural electronica with modestly dark undercurrents.

This CD review is a montage of reviewers' comments from Wind and Wire, Ambient Musings, Hypnagogue and Global Trance.

04.11.04

 

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 ------Phutureprimitive - Sub Conscious
STYLE   Phutureprimitive employ dark, haunting, extended, introductions that gradually build into equally brooding down-tempo tracks. Very strong basslines drive many of the pieces with blunt, gut thumping, dubby patterns creating a powerful low end. Layers of synth arpeggios and chord developments are laid over the top with excellent attention to detail, clarity and quality of sound. There are tribal hits and beats in places with sparingly employed ethnic flutes, didgeridoos and yells adding to what feels like a lush, thick sound.
 
MOOD   A consistently moody yet refreshing tone is carried throughout most of the album, supported by deep, evolving laid-back beats. Sub Conscious feels like contemporary music of substance, it is cool, unhurried and passionate. Tracks slowly build into rhythmic passages; the beats shift and at times are gone, before dropping back in with new elements added. There are moments of ambient, environmental sound, unplaceable mechanical noises and droplets of water and even some flamenco guitar - yet the overall mood of 'subterranean electronic tribalism' is never lost.
 
ARTWORK   A close up primitive human face with hi-tech camouflage and blue unblinking eye fills the front cover. Variations of this same image reappear on some of the other panels. The booklet is of three folded pages, dark on the outside with minimal text - monochrome grey on the inside with text of a simple font laid out in the shapes of an eye and a spiral. Text on the back cover proclaims "A cinematic journey through 'sub conscious' sound. Deep swirls of rhythm meet phuture dub. Vibration arouses the imagination. Find comfort in the darkness." The Phutureprimitive logo is effective and distinctive - I expect to see a lot more of it as word gets around.
 
OVERALL    A strong, atmospheric album of electronica laced with female and ethnic spoken and harmonic vocal snippets. There's a lot going on in the low frequencies where weighty, hypnotic bass and beats form a rolling canvas for some bold synthetic structures. The synth work is engrossing - full of filter sweeps, gate effects, morphs and arpeggios. Melodies are frequently understated, almost arpeggiated, with the sensuality of the chord developments being sufficient to carry the compositions.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Electronica fans who prefer exploring the dark to the sunshine. This is deep ambient dub for down-tempo dancers. If you enjoyed Delerium's Semantic Spaces album this CD is a possible development from there.

 

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 ------Entheogenic - Spontaneous Illumination
STYLE   Seven extended, mid tempo mixtures of electronica, ambient, chill out, ethnic influences and intelligent electronic dub. The Entheogenic sound is a rich electro-acoustic melange designed to transport the listener to esoteric, psychedelic, imaginary environments. There are deep blissful, atmospheric passages full of reverberating, floating sounds - some familiar, others intriguingly otherworldly. There are restful rhythmic sections where vocals samples, various flutes, chimes and synths play off one another. There are pieces with light, driving beats, acidic software effects and swirling sonic manipulations.
 
MOOD  

The mood is generally bright and inspiring yet well suited to relaxation. Tribal voices and world instruments lend an exotic air to the constantly bubbling synth-arpeggios, melodies and under-washes. The production and sound quality is beautifully clear, comfortably facilitating the smooth psyambient transportation of the listener.

 
ARTWORK   Sharp, busy psychedelic imagery with ethnic symbolism matches the densely packed mix of the album's seven tracks. The largely green, purple outer imagery conceals a comic luminescent lilac sunburst within. The booklet further opens out into an eight panel folded sheet, the innermost surface filled edge to edge with a swirling lilac mini-poster. Text on the cover is largely functional, apart from the bold Entheogenic logo, with a generous section devoted to the band's thanks. The inside cover warns "Please do not listen while driving or operating heavy machinery and tools. c.o.r.n. recordings do not take any responsibility for any unexpected perceptions". The CD is enhanced with mp3 copies of all seven tacks.
 
OVERALL   

The seven pieces are all quite long, allowing for drawn-out, hypnotic introductions and an unhurried building and evolution of each theme. Sounds range from an abrasive crow on track one, streams of water and real world ambiences through bells, monks, tablas and world voices to every imaginable form of electronic melody and effect. The CD was composed and produced by Piers Oak - Rhind and Helmut Glavar at the Entheogenic Soundlabs in the southwest of France.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

This is for electronic psychonauts, anyone enjoying lively, groove oriented synthesiser music heavily laced with global samples. If you want music with trance roots but a lowered tempo somewhere in the mid-range, music with a new sound around every corner, music that comes and goes in waves of ambient intensity and danceable drum loops - try Spontaneous Illumination.

 

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 ------Thom Brennan - Satori
STYLE

 

 

Long-form ambient sound environment. Satori is simply one 71.49 minute track of immense flowing beauty. A huge, undulating sonic plane of sound with barely the subtlest of tone progressions creating a sense of movement. The most obvious evolution throughout the piece is the almost imperceptible variation of chordal emphasis and the gradual oceanic heave in the level of frequency sheen or depth.

 
MOOD  

This CD conjures up a vastness more completely than some of Thom's other pieces and not just by virtue of the length of the piece. The ambient soundfield presented here is achingly deep, soaringly grandiose, transcendent, enormous. The listener is enfolded, dwarfed by tectonic drones stretching off beyond distant horizons. The usual shimmer and sheen of Thom's music is present - but on Satori these are merely part of a more profound trajectory. The idea with Satori is 'to create a piece that is both bliss, and a has sense of tension at the same time'.

 
ARTWORK   Mist laden scenery anchors music to landscape. On the front cover panel the view is of a medieval bridge in Japan tastefully framed within a broad white border. The bridge aids a traveller in making a crossing, Thom tells us that image this was the starting point for the concept. Other graphic panels present details of the same scenery; filling the inner booklet and rear jewel case insert right to the edges, with the Kanji symbol for the word Satori lightly superimposed. The main text is gracefully composed and of a simple elegant font. We're told inside the cover that Satori 'was realised as part of a live studio improvisation' recorded at The Rain Garden, Thom's own studio.
 
OVERALL   

With few aural landmarks, you could come in at any point of this silken, ambient infusion and not know where you are. Broad scintillating tones fade in, sustain and slowly expand into infinite space and timelessness. After some while of listening the mind gives up hunting for detail, submits to the peace of sensual indulgence and drifts. This is fully in keeping with the title - Satori. Free from the clutter of detail there can be a shifting of awareness, a sense of enlightenment a feeling of infinite space. Thom explains "the music however, like most of my music, has no solid references to either the concept or the photo. The music was to create an extended state of mind".

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This CD will appeal to someone looking for ambient music with minimal structure. Music to create and fill it's own space, to become your whole environment.
 

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 ------vidnaObmana - Legacy
STYLE

 

 

This conclusion to the Dante trilogy maintains the restlessness and gloom that vidnaObmana has carefully built up through previous chapters 'Spore' and 'Tremor'. Tension and distortion pervade the whole of this trilogy; Legacy is no exception, with speaker-abusing beats, drones and electrical energy inhabiting each and every shadow. There are sections of heavy, post-industrial drumming pounding over some of the most edgy, scratching, crawling ambience that you've ever heard. Moments of haunting, lugubrious tonality wander some of the emptier passages, but for the most part Legacy is invasive and cogent. Sounds attributed to vidnaObman include electric guitars, rhythms, various fujaras, overtone flutes and percussion, recycling & abstract mutations, voices and Ebow harmonics. There are also guest contributions by Paul Van Den Berg (recycled electric guitar), Tex (recycled electric bass) and the 'recycled' voice of photographer Martina Verhoeven on 'the Virtual insomnia'.

 
MOOD  

The tone - set from the opening by the utterances of singer Steve Von Till intoning the chosen monotone excerpt from Inferno - is dismal, exploratory and riddled with neuroses. The sound often suggests the wielding of deranged sonic engines, sound mangling devices or the cross-breeding of musical abnormalities, tonal deformities. As unrelentingly uneasy as the earlier chapters, Legacy has a desolate beauty, a troubled allure - but is never, never restful.

 
ARTWORK   The highly textural, bleak, pale, silver/blue/grey photography of Martina Verhoeven fills the graphic panels like documented artefacts or field recordings. Obscure holes and debris litter an abandoned wasteground, ambiguous rubble and earth surface act as a monochrome backdrop for sharp, functional text. Titles are indicative of musical content - 'bloodshift', 'sinner's tongue', cycle of agony'.
 
OVERALL   

VidnaObmana's web site explains that this series of CDs 'plays with the duality of choices - covering the conflict of opposites, between good and evil, black and white'. This is achieved through a collage of foreboding musical mutation pulling together sound sources spanning vidnaObman's considerable history - we even have a morose, whining lead guitar break, performed by Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, echoing on the final track. The trilogy concludes appropriately spiralling off into oblivion.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Those who are not afraid of sound, those with an open ear. This is a brooding music, a music that explores the uncomfortable, the more challenging alternatives, the path that others avoid. Music without melodies, but coursing with dense droning texture, charged brittle rhythm, charting obscure, bewildering depths.