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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------SYNC24 - Source
STYLE  

Downtempo electronica at the very edge of ambience. Smooth, shimmering pads float up and vaporise into the air, swirls of pure electronic atmosphere slowly curl through the gossamer soundscape, delicate melodic phrases forming and unforming. A soft female voice whispers dreamy musings deep within the mix, a male voice equally low key and edge of hearing touches the ear with subtle breaths of humanity. When the beats occasionally roll in they throb with prominent muted kicks - often quite minimal in structure - repeating dull thuds, resonant pulses sometimes in tandem with undulating bass lines. At times the rhythm is held completely by low sequencer patterns blurring the boundary between beat and melody. Wispy effects and dimly perceived sonic forms hang in the suggested space, some distant and barely discernable, others a little closer - organic or synthetic. 'White Pixels' lifts the pace into blissful downtempo chill toward the latter part of the album - a relaxing, flowing composition with the most complete groove on the album and a memorable hook. The CD winds down again into gliding, tranquil grace once more as the end approaches.

 
ARTWORK   Source comes with the full Ultimae treatment - a glossy deluxe digipack with 16 page booklet. Presented all in sharp monochrome, the front cover features a macro water shot, frozen in its instant, an after-plume rising from the spot where a clear droplet has just fallen. The rear cover closes in even further on a similar liquid disturbance - now glassy and solid looking in extreme close up ... the track list is also here, each one timed. Inside, the imagery is quite different, again in shades of grey, but here a panoramic montage of natural forms - leaves, berries, butterflies, mushrooms, blades and veins with a running silhouette along the bottom edge. The booklet holds a page for each of the eleven tracks - inspirational photographs with credits and lyrics, there is also a page given over to special thanks and another to a portrait of the artist.
 
OVERALL   

SYNC24 is the solo project of Carbon Based Lifeforms partner Daniel Ringström. Having appeared on various compilations over recent years, Source is the debut album solely under the SYNC24 title. Naturally there is a similarity of sound carried over from Carbon Based Lifeforms, but SYNC24 is more minimal and meandering - luxuriously unhurried, drifting and immersive. That said, this is clearly an ambient creation that has filtered down from distant trance origins as opposed to having arisen from among the likes of Steve Roach, Brian Eno and Robert Rich. Released on Ultimae Records, Source is very much in keeping with the label's aesthetic and maintains the high standard the fans have come to expect. Promotional material encourages listeners to "discover [ Source ] like an environmental concept album, soundtrack for inspired moments, sonic background to a quiet way of life....Step by step, layers of listening experiences and secret perceptions will unfold".

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Natural Frequencies aka Andreas Leifeld - Tranquility In Motion
STYLE  

Clean relaxing electronica with emphasis on sequential structure and silken atmosphere. Tranquility in Motion is aptly named since this album is comprised of gentle rhythmic compositions - programmed sequential patterns and smooth waves work in harmony to produce lucid synthetic soundscapes, sitar drones, flutes and hand drums bring organic textures into the mix - once again in delicate rhythm. As well as the percussive tracks there are passages of beatless weightlessness - drifts of air and soft swells at times suggestive of an 'above the clouds' clarity. Melody is mostly in the form of repeating motifs and understated phrases taking second stage to pattern and progression - yet there are also some elegant tracks of buoyant pads and undulating washes where touches of tone and faint notes produce beautiful loose arrangements of harmony and warmth.

 
ARTWORK   Plenty of sky blue adorns the artwork on this jewel case package. The front cover is two thirds sky - the other third a series of curving glass panels reflecting the expanse and alternately holding images of the artist. On the reverse is another sky and glass photograph bathed in blue, tidy tracks titles in a small font to the left each with times shown. The inner booklet unfolds into a two page cloudscape - a heavy mass touched at the edges with light, rays brimming over into a fine fan. Here we find overlaid a series of portraits of the artist over the years going back to childhood, the only text being a list of musical instruments and equipment used on the album. A vivid green strikes the eye on removal of the CD - a verdant tree alone, simple against the ubiquitous sky and clouds.
 
OVERALL    Tranquility In Motion is the second Natural Frequencies album following the 2006 release Ornamental Journey (both via Ozella Records). However, these are not the only works available from Andreas Leifeld - prior to Natural Frequencies Andreas recorded a number of other albums working in a variety of electronic styles. As well as recording he also performs live and works as a DJ. This CD will appeal to anyone that is looking for something between Berlin school synthesis and ambient groove.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Netherworld - Mørketid
STYLE  

Isolationist ambient ice music. Morketid presents spacious drones and atmospheric textures that combine muffled cotton wool softness with cutting frost and the tingle of light. Often these are woven into repeating phrases where reverberating sparkles and cloudsounds are occasionally accompanied by a pulsing percussive thud. There are distant voices echoing in the spaces where tracks fade in and out or somewhere behind the music - yet these suggest human distance and the solitude of the listener rather than company or proximity. The track Jøkul has a sibilant spoken voice running throughout reminiscent of a dimly perceived radio transmission. Morketid has a warmth that was absent on Cryosphere - although maintaining the arctic emptiness and frozen stillness, this album reflects the colour and delicacy of the landscape, the fragile blanket softness of cloud and snow.

 
ARTWORK   Mørketid comes in a sharp digipack - well presented and in close keeping with the musical side of the product. The front cover image is a totally barren landscape, flat horizon, sheetlike surface - however this minimal scene is beautifully lit, steeped in blue/purple hues, faint clouds hanging in the rich colour of the sky. A single disc of white gold punctuates the emptiness. On the reverse is a timed tracklist on a frosty grey backdrop. Within a snowscape backs an explanation of the project whilst the CD sits atop a dark cloud shot.
 
OVERALL   

Mørketid comes as the second release from Alessandro Tedeschi's own Glacial Movements label. The excellent sampler "Cryosphere" setting the tone in 2006. Apparently Mørketid is a Norwegian term for a certain period in the year when the Arctic winter cold encases everything and the sun doesn’t rise over the horizon at all. Alessandro explains that "into the deepness of my essence there is a wired, dark, silent, glacial and eternal place. This imaginary place contains a sort of parallel reality that I've named Netherworld. I switch, shift and record (with my microphones) environment's sounds and sibilance: a subterranean noise, ice blocks in motion, gongs and crystals while broken. Through my music, I would like to play the quietness of the silence, desolate darkness and glacial landscapes". Netherworld's resulting sound is a broad, understated richness that captures the mood of the globe's uninhabited extremities masterfully.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Mythos - The Modern Electronic Kamasutra
STYLE  

Global fusion electronica with a rich sonic palette and powerful rhythms. The Modern Electronic Karma Sutra brings together a variety of colourful global vocalisation and instrumentation and a wide range of vibrant synthesiser sound. The electronic aspects are doubtless the foundation of the music - dramatic themes led by exotic melodic tones, underneath liquid arpeggios bubble and squelch softened by the broad spreading textures of smooth swells and light floating washes. Indeed Kaske's employment of current sound synthesis is masterful and absorbing in itself. Embellishing the main structures are a wealth of international performances and samples - Indian female vocals, Pygmy calls, tribal chants, Chinese er-hu, finger cymbals along with some soulful brass and wordless singing. Beats on the album are frequently a fusion of deft programming and global percussion loops - tablas and other hand drums along with twinkling metalics and bells.

 
MOOD   The mood is one of theatrical vibrancy - strident beats drive romantic compositions with lush layers of synthetic-organic tone where different world flavours gracefully appear and perform almost like characters in a dream pageant. The sound is one of many interwoven layers and of deeply saturated colour that calls to mind the coloured lights and bold make-up of the stage. Many passages have an oriental feel - not simply because of the use of Eastern samples, but the synthetic voices and the musical modes chosen work together to evoke the atmosphere and mythos of distant Asia.
 
ARTWORK   The CD comes in a two panel glossy digipack with a 32 page booklet. The imagery throughout the package is primarily taken from original Indian source material - a series of hand drawn illustrations. The front cover presents an embracing couple framed in double decorative borders with the simple title 'The Modern Electronic Karmasutra'. The reverse contains the only musical information - a track list with full times, all composing, performing and programming credited to Stephan Kaske, contact details are here also. Within all remaining space is given over to pictures and information from the source material.
 
OVERALL  

This is not the latest album from the Mythos / Stephan Kaske catalogue - originally released in 2002 it was followed by The Dramatic and Fantastic Stories of Edger Allen Poe in 2004 and Mysteria - An Electronic Journey Into Sound in 2006. The music, however, is still fresh and clearly contemporary. For those that don't know Mythos began back in 1969 with multi-instrumentalist Stephan Kaske, drummer Thomas Hildebrand and bassist Harald Weiße. Kaske went solo around 1980 Kaske with the album Quasar and worked extensively producing other artists and writing for TV, radio, film and commercials.

 
 WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This album will appeal to fans of European synthesiser music that enjoy traditional international elements fused with cutting edge technology.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------V/A - The Sound
STYLE   A selection of downtempo and lounge tracks from artists on the Ozella Records label. The stylistic approach is eclectic ranging from smooth jazz, through bluesy male vocals and world music elements to cool electronic chillout. You'll find plenty of slick electronic piano lines and dreamy vibes here laying down comfortable melodies with enough gentle rhythm to dance to. The tracks are mostly driven by relaxing beats and nodding basslines with a crepuscular langour - spoken female vocals, meandering saxophone lines and lazy piano all add to the low light atmosphere, even including some pool table sound effects at one point. On the more exotic side there is some evocative flute playing on the orientally inclined Shan Qi track Avalon and some clean spacey synth work from Natural Frequencies.
 
ARTWORK  

The Sound comes in a bright jewel case presentation with a front cover photograph of an aqua sky over a glassy lake where distant buildings hug the tip of a bar of land. Between the two white English words 'The Sound' are three multilingual titles in black fonts. Opening the inner booklet we find that the outer scene is smoothly stretched out into a horizontal pattern of banded colour that runs into abstraction across three full panels. Turning over we find a list of tracks detailing writers, performers, gear used and original CD sources. The back of the case is bathed in the pale liquid blue picked up from the rest of the package - here is a simpler track list alongside publishing details.

 
OVERALL   

The Sound is a strong sampler album from German based label Ozella Music. This is the company of musician, producer, composer Dagobert Böhm who appears himself on this collection for a brief two minutes thirty eight seconds with the blissful guitar instrumental Far Away. Interestingly Carsten Menzel’s project Stardelay delivers four tracks including a cover of the Portishead track It Could Be Sweet, demonstrating that this is not simply a showcase of the label's varied talent - the flow and mood of the album being carefully considered and constructed. Overall this is an easy going CD well introduced by the front cover sticker that proclaims "new excellent downtempo lounge tracks in the style of Air Zero 7 and Portishead" - although there is a little more here in terms of variety.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Netherworld - Kall - The Abyss Where Dreams Fall
STYLE   Experimental ambient noise. Netherworld has created a world of expansive, hazy grey, a lurching, fogged space of dense, sound clouds. Sonic turbulence and heavy surging air movement heaves restlessly, reminiscent in places of the sound of one's own muffled breathing heard under water - the sound of an uneasy sleeping landscape. At times the ambience is cavernous as dense waves of sound reverberate in rhythmic regularity, at times intimate, faint, close to the ear and then thunderous - a huge vacuous rumble. Irregularities constantly break up any pattern that might have formed, diminishing any suggestion of organic origins - more like the shiftings of wind or the straining of huge ice formations. Tonal drones distantly touch this overwhelmingly grey noise with periodic hints of colour - sparse, retiring - sometimes like gossamer siren voices carried across great distances, echoing off the landscape. Percussive disturbances frequently arise, some muted, dull, uncontrolled others clearer like splintered shells, metallic like tumbling steel tubes or tingling bell trees, at one point an impact like the striking of a snare drum full of sand comes close to establishing a beat and then it's gone again.
 
ARTWORK   Kall - The Abyss Where Dreams Fall comes in a 'deluxe cardboard sleeve' of textured white. A single sheet folded into three sections with thin spines - the CD itself is held neatly on a small plastic disc in the centre of the package. Imagery is minimal - fine silvery grey lines radiating in a broken ring like dropped shards of glass fibre. A light title completes the front cover - the rear holds the titles, brief credits and website details. Inside the whole space is given over to another line image mirroring a similar design on the CD itself. Mondes Elliptiques label information appears on the third outer panel.
 
OVERALL   

angleREC here makes use of the parallel Mondes Elliptiques label to release "the first official CD production of Italian project Netherworld". Alessandro Tedeschi has previously delivered his music via CDR or mini-CDR releases through such labels as Umbra, Gears Of Sand and Taalem/Kokeshidiski. This album sees light of day around the same time as Alessandro's own Glacial Movements label releases Netherworld's Morketid. Of the two, Kall is far colder, greyer, more lonely. This CD is limited to only 441 copies and is comprised of four movements simply titled part 1, part 2, par t3, part 4. Go for this album if you like isolationist music at its most desolate, if you enjoy the bleaker side of Netherworld.