Click here to see a complete list of reviews. Click here to see a complete list of interviews. Click here for links to artists and labels . Click here to visit our main menu page. Click here for email address.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------The Strato Ensemble - Drawn Straws
STYLE  

Electronic jazz oriented improvisations. Drawn Straws features the combined sounds of electric guitar, keyboards, sax, bass and drums & 'glitch pads'. The ensemble strings together well delivered instrumental riffs over a rhythm section that follows in the nineteen seventies prog rock tradition. There are spacey sections of expansive electronic pads where the music seems to hang almost weightless for a while before the pace leaps up a gear and the whole arrangement is hammering along, fingers flying over rapid scales. The exploratory approach is initially given free reign through a series of lengthy passages that eventually have been edited down to the set of tracks here presented.

 
MOOD   The mood is quite a serious one, the melodies quite challenging at times, the rhythms intricate and varying. Performance is the root of the sound, this is music clearly played by musicians enjoying the process.
 
ARTWORK   The CD comes in a jewel case with a single sheet insert featuring a striking front cover image. An organic cliff face perforated with oval openings and indentations tinted green, slightly reminiscent of Roger Dean's painted scenery for such artists as Yes. Turning the insert over we find a sepia tinted portrait of the band set above credits and overdub information. On the jewel case rear each track is set out with the initials of the players involved and there is a lengthy paragraph explaining the project in terms of inspiration and intent.
 
OVERALL  

Drawn Straws is the culmination of a series of sessions from Autumn 2003 through to late 2004 involving Dean De Benedictis (Surface 10), Giuseppe Patane (Maata Haari), Andrea "Jako" Giacomini (Socadia), and Takeshi Nishimoto (I'm Not A Gun). The album pulls together the highlights of these sessions, presenting them with certain overdubs into a listenable, coherent whole. Promotional material explains that this is "a project based on the principal of liberation through improvisational flow. Rather then take that same atonal, sparsely-punctuated path into experimental jazz, so thoroughly explored and exploited through the generations, we decided to indulge our genuine interest in a modal, melodic-ambient approach, so as to allow for extra-aesthetic qualities such as mood, expanse, and build". Track lengths range from over twenty four minutes to around three and a half.

 
 WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This album will appeal to lovers of 'live' sounding electronic music given to a bit of jazz with a strong retro-rock edge.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Various - eMotive
STYLE   A varied selection of electronica and world sounds. There are ethnic rhythms, global voices and world instruments alongside smooth synths, nylon guitar melodies and delicate pianos. Tablas cross paths with oriental violin sounds, synthetic choral voices give way to acoustic plucked string effects and almost orchestral arrangements - the mood ranging from neo-classical to new age optimism through world fusion exoticism and on to Celtic emotionalism. Despite the variation in style, nonetheless, the album maintains a consistent voice throughout - attractive harmonies and restful settings elegantly performed.
 
ARTWORK   The front cover depicts a piece of golden musical notation against a bright graphic design that radiates with an overlaid spiral pattern. A black background draws stark attention to the legend that this is a Non Profit Music CD (the profits all going to Doctors Without Borders). On the rear is a full track list with cover shots of albums by each of the contributing artists. Inside a two page booklet opens out to provide information on the label and its purpose on one panel and a detailed paragraph on the four artists on the other. When the CD is removed an attractively dark image is revealed of waterfall sheeting across a cave mouth.
 
OVERALL    The compositions on this collection are all the work of four artists - Grundman, Gnomusy (David Caballero), Joaquin Taboada and Eduardo Laguillo. The pieces are mostly instrumentals of a gentle nature and 'almost all of the works have been previously published by Non Profit Music with the exception of Cliodhna by David Caballero (Gnomusy) and The Girl With The Stolen Smile (Nanjing, 1937) by Jorge Grundman, which are extracted from the upcoming albums by these composers'. This tranquil collection will appeal to lovers of dreamy melody and light new age serenity.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Asura - Life²

STYLE  

Atmospheric downtempo electronica and global chillout. Life² opens with a dramatic track of tribal intensity, swelling synths and moody duduk phrases - establishing a somewhat timeless cinematic space threaded through with a cutting edge contemporary aesthetic. Laid back trance beats and rippling sequencers appear on track two, introducing an undulating rhythmic terrain that lumbers into thudding regularity one moment, smooth synthetic sheets and mists hanging in the air, before evaporating away into ambient floatation and beatless space. This varied approach produces some beautifully unhurried passages of meandering mystery and exotic mood in among the more danceable grooves where pulsing basses and gated vocals rise to the fore. Vocal snatches echo and spiral on turbulent sonic drafts, rich marginal effects gushing against choral beds, Indian female lyrics woven among lush strings, fluid pads and swells buoy up philosophical musings, middle eastern percussion meshing seamlessly with programmed beats. In short the sound palette is luxurious and diverse, yet strung together with tasteful restraint into a powerful listening experience.

 
ARTWORK  

Ultimae presentation guarantees a sumptuous package with tasteful imagery - Life² being no exception. The front cover photograph shows an arcane device of concentric rings and slots which reappears on the back in enlarged form and again on the cover to the accompanying booklet. Spread across the full three panel panorama within is a broad shot of grassed horizons and heavy skies centred on a gleaming sun - the artist looming in silhouette on the right. The sixteen page booklet follows the Ultimae tradition of laying out a full page for each track - a well selected series of beguiling imagery holds a brief credit at the foot of each. At the rear of the booklet is a page of French text and another English language page of thanks.

 
OVERALL   

Asura has been around in various incarnations since around the year 2000 when the debut album Code Eternity was released. This album accompanied the birth of Ultimae Records and became one of the landmark albums of the genre. Code Eternity was followed up with an altered line up in 2003 releasing Lost Eden and now the team has been further distilled down to founder member Charles Farewell as a solo project. This latest offering is something of a rebirth, seeing the initial sound revisited and developed into a dynamic, finely honed fusion of ethnic warmth and technological liquid. Beautifully produced and brimming with aural colour, Life² fits into the Ultimae catalogue ideally, bringing with it a distinct personality and confident vision that will doubtless further broaden the appeal of this flagship of modern electronic music.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Gaudi + Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Dub Qawwali
STYLE   Dub drenched fusion bringing the inimitable vocals of legendary Pakistani singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan into a fresh context. UK artist Gaudi has taken a selection of original songs and worked his studio magic around them presenting them in a twenty first century framework of digital dub styling and infectious reggae rhythm. Low bass lines roll and lumber against the stabs and echoes of the genre, a pop lightness and uplifting warmth pervading much of the collection including some distinctive Kraftwerk borrowings from the classic track The Model. Retaining something of the flavour of the source material heady sarangi, unfurling flute lines, harmonium and tablas are all woven among the synthetic content. The title says it all really - dub meets Qawwali - deftly crafted, bewitchingly blended, exquisitely produced.
 
ARTWORK   I have only the promotional card sleeve for this album - but this shows the attractive cover imagery that you can see above - a rich melding of graphic elements and textural surfaces that centres around Gaudi's own human figure logo. Lush natural hues of green, brown and red make up a design that combines some effective aging techniques and sharp modernising. The reverse presents a timed tracklist and all relevant contact details.
 
OVERALL   

Gaudi's latest collaborative project makes able use of a series of rare (and in some cases unreleased) studio sessions from the late 60s and early 70s - these vibrant recordings are here carefully reworked in memory of the singer on the tenth anniversary of his death. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan needs no introduction to much of the world - he was born back in 1948 in Lyallpur, part of the Punjab Province of Pakistan. His first commercial recording is generally considered to have been made in 1973 in Pakistan with a huge number of cassette albums following and a wealth of remixes aimed both at the Western and Indian markets following that. Something in the region of 125 albums make up his current catalogue. WOMAD and Real World did much to expose the singer to the West experimenting with a variety of styles and approaches and such talents as Bally Sagoo and Massive Attack have brought their creative talents to this incredible voice. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan died in 1997. Such a heritage makes it all the more remarkable that Gaudi's project is so effective - his respect for the songs is evident in his delivery, his masterful studio skills evident in the quality.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------The Peaking Goddess Collective - Organika
STYLE   Deep downtempo atmospheres and lush progressive organic/synthetic colour. Organika brims with all manner of sonic ephemera - breezy flutes, didgeridoo, dreamy guitars and ethnic percussion - swirling, spiralling electronic effects and mangled voice samples- lapping water, birdsong, finger cymbals. A lot of work has been put into the percussive side of the music, smooth hand drums and clattering stick work interweave the downbeat dance grooves and imaginative bass lines that drive the music making for a rhythmically engrossing experience. The band's live approach beams clearly through the sharp programming and sparkling mix, performance elements smoothly complementing the digital aspects. Poetic words from artist Alex Grey and Peak’s own resident poet Tanina Munchkina highlight the collaborative vision that the project shares, drawing on the skills of a widely varied pool of talent.
 
MOOD   The Peaking Goddess Collective have put together a striking album of chillout mood music - blissful and floatational whilst at the same time heaving with some driving beats. The psychedelic side of the music is ever spattering and layering the tracks with peripheral detail, aural air movement and sonic turbulence. Music to brighten your dreams or to fuel the dance floor, the eclectic aesthetic that the band works toward establishes a timelessness and a trans-cultural sound that works to great effect.
 
ARTWORK   Artwork for the album brings together a similar blend of the synthetic and the organic as can be found in the music - circular mandala like patterns overlay or lurk within luminous photographic imagery. On the front cover half of a rising/setting disc hangs against a sky flushed with rainbow glows, within another disc echoes the shape of the CD. The track list can be found both outside and inside noting key contributors alongside. A full list of guest performers is found on the inside of the sleeve bathed in graphic light.
 
OVERALL  

Advertised under the genre 'psychedelic chill' Organika comes as the debut album from The Peaking Goddess Collective. The band has contributed to a number of compilations and have self-released several of their live performances. Obviously released via Peak records - Organika benefits from the mixing skills of Master Margherita. The collective is described as a "four-piece live digital & organic band known for its outstanding and longstanding performances" comprised of guitarist Ajja S.F. Leu, bass-player Master Margherita and percussionist Dymons joined most recently by flutist Flooting Grooves. Like minded musicians bring digeridoo and tabla, dholak, dhol sounds to the mix as well as the afore mentioned poetic lines.

 
 WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Organika will doubtless delight the band's fans gathered via their live shows - maintaining something of the feel of improvisational performance whilst building in a carefully crafted studio sound. Organika is for chill lovers that enjoy some powerful rhythms and 'real' instruments against imaginative synth programming.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Artemis - Gravity
STYLE  

Female vocals and cool beat driven electronic soundscaping. Artemis employs a range of synthetic instrumentation along with live performance - arpeggios and sequences ripple across softer washes and plenty of melodic synth lines - flute, cello, guitar and harmonium are among the more organic sounds - spoken voices, processed utterances and layered singing further broaden the sonic spectrum. The beats here are varied and inventive - sometimes gritty affairs plugging along at a medium pace, sometimes prowling downbeat trip hop grooves - tonal shifts and structural variations constantly renewing the rhythmic palette. Artemis, however, is centred on the distinctive vocal lines - frequently understated, the singing drops down at times to an angelic whisper or an ethereal silk, but then rises comfortably to an anthemic soaring. Creatively executed and delivered with confident panache, Artemis makes full use of her vocal range, delivering absorbing lyrics in emotive arrangements.

 
ARTWORK   Gravity is well packaged featuring a front cover image of the artist suspended in black space over-haloed by burst of blue that seemingly centres on a vivid red orb held out at arms length. A small bird perched on one toe completes the layout. This front cover actually opens out into a six panel fold-out sheet where montaged photo-imagery steeped in deep shades of red, yellow and blue attract the eye. One set of three panels forms a luminous panorama that is footed by a list of credits for each track along with design and artwork acknowledgements. One open fully the innermost six panels present an enlarged version of the main cover design. There is a tracklist both inside and on the rear of the jewelcase. Behind the CD is a dedication and a generous list of thanks.
 
OVERALL    Gravity is the follow up to Artemis' 2001 debut album Undone. Released through rtfm Records, this album has been followed recently by a strong remix collection entitled Orbits. Comparisons might be made to Lamb or to a more lounge oriented Delerium, but in reality Artemis has a unique sound that has plenty of its own strength. For the most part there is an attractive intimacy to the voice quality of Gravity matching the warm romantic side of the music. From fairy tale dreams and blissful, nocturnal moods to rolling, urban drum and bass laziness this is a solid, well produced CD that will appeal to a wide audience.