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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Dymons - Druid's Brew
STYLE  

Dub chill electronic instrumentals liberally coloured with ethnic sounds. Druid's Brew is heady twilight collection with a tribal bent nodding along to infectious dub-reggae rhythms. The synth work on the album is largely comprised of a fairly acidic, effervescent sound palette - squirting, burbling arps and phrases that are often strongly effected and constantly morphing. Underpinning this techno tapestry are bobbing, gutsy bass lines that drive the offbeat keyboard stabs and downtempo beats. Global instrumentation comes in the form of live performance and sampled sound - flutes, strings, guitars and glissendar as well as various percussives: congas, shakers, bells, djembe, darbouka and so forth. Some strong vocal performances from singer Amina Djahnine grace two of the tracks here. Other voices float musing through the air whilst a variety of natural sounds - water, birds, night time ambiences - add to the late hour atmosphere that pervades the whole CD.

 
MOOD  

Druid's Brew delivers a mix of deeply saturated sonic colour - fresh exotic patterns and flavours bubbling up at every new turn. The global material complements the electronic aspects of Dymons' music creating a juxtaposition of sound that blurs the placement of the album both in time and place - stitching diverse cultures and eras into unity. The nocturnal fireside suggestion is particularly strong conjuring up the same indigo and orange hues of the cover imagery in the mind. If you have a real fire you'll probably want to dance round it.

  
ARTWORK   A tribal psychedelic montage fills the front cover with masked figures glowing in firelight against a star encrusted sky crisscrossed with radial lines. A graphic diamond sits centrally mirroring the artist logo. On the rear, the star theme is further developed, glowing brightly in kaleidoscopic regularity here as backdrop to the tracklist. The inner sleeve of this jewelcase package repeats the tracklist along with a full list of credits and contact details. Opening out, this two panel sheet reveals a generous full spread given over to thanks.
 
OVERALL   

Daniel Symons has worked with drums and global music for many years now playing with various music, dance and trance therapy workshops around the globe. His solo project Dymons is primarily a live dub act, but he also works under the psytrance title Dragons and performs with The Peaking Goddess Collective. This release comes via Elestial Records billed as "Music for the Body, the Soul and the Spirit - a digital & ethnic dub journey". There's naturally plenty of rhythmic action here featuring drums and percussive instruments from around the globe.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   

This is a chill album that is strong on rhythm, percussive aspects of the mix driving the sound. Go for this one if you enjoy vivid colour and international fusion to dance to.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Rodrigo Rodriguez - Across The East
STYLE  

Restful, uplifting crystal clear instrumentals. Rodrigo Rodriguez delivers a delightfully buoyant collection of beautifully executed compositions that feature acoustic instruments from East and West. There are tranquil guitar tracks - some solo, some with the wafting breath of a shakuhachi flute or a resonant clarinet, so delicately played as to suggest morning mists or drifting floatation. On a more exotic note Rodrigo's masterful shakuhachi performance is supported by samsula (an African thumb piano somewhat similar to kalimaba), wind chimes and harmonic tube. Turtle Ceremony sees the artist combining Indonesian gamelan instruments saron, kenong and bonang to create a softly ringing hypnotic sequential piece that conjures up visions of the Far East in sparing elegance. In addition oud, whirling drums, sheng, kena, shurti and fujara - not to mention 'guitar case' round out the sound palette for the album. Created with Eastern sparcity and grace this CD not only contains thirteen attractive melodies, it places the instruments themselves on pedestals allowing the listener to luxuriate in the individual qualities of each sound source.

 
ARTWORK   At atmospheric monochrome photograph of a low sun on silhouetted horizon landscapes the front cover velvet clouds in contrast to the fractal tree forms that just barely finger the light of the sky. On the reverse is a full track list that details the instruments used for each piece. Inside is a three panel fold-out with two more monochrome images - this time of the artist at work. Here is another track list, contact details and thanks. Credits are also given to collaborating performers. One interesting feature is a list of each instrument explaining a little about what it is and from where it originates.
 
OVERALL   

Across the East is Rodrigo's the second album, following in the footsteps of Inner Thoughts. The music comes as the culmination of the artist's own journeying across the East and reflects his personal interest in and study of Eastern musical form. Recorded between studios in both Spain and Japan, the CD is released by Rodrigo himself.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Various - Chiller Vol. 1
STYLE  

Downtempo instrumental electronica from the Chillcode stable. Chiller is mostly a languid, beaty collection of low bpm pieces that draw together sharp synthetic programming and a variety of moody sonic embellishments. Indian and other world voices; a mother and child talking, a female singer, a choir bring touches of the exotic along with flute sounds and other global elements. Philosophising intellectuals their utterances drifting on the air, thunder, bird calls, sibilant effects and digital alchemy further colour the musical mix. Entheogenic present a couple of wistful arrangements - with dreamy piano lines, international vocal samples and rubbery, sinewy electronics. There are warm electric guitar passages, some tropical dub reggae influences and a couple of lush digital arpeggio centred soundscapes from Zero Cult. The album concludes with a less percussive track from Saafi Brothers - guitar harmonics and simmering synth cycles bleeding peacefully away into an imaginary sunset leaving the listener blissfully at rest Under The Stars.

 
ARTWORK   Chiller Vol. 1 comes in a sharp package fronted by a pale dew dropped flower fading into an effulgent whiteness. Crisp borders and titles add to the classy presentation that continues across to the back panel when the case is opened. Here the traditional track list appears. Inside the imagery is repeated only without text - a luxurious two panel spread of heavy blossom and smooth light. Opening the inner booklet we find an extended track list - this time track lengths are shown and writing/remixing credits. Once more the cover bloom provides the visual appeal here laid out below the information that fills the upper half of the sheet.
 
OVERALL    German ambient label Chillcode continues its delivering of high quality releases with this latest offering that serves up six different artists both from Chillcode history and some that are new to the label. Names like Kick Bong, Kuba, Enterprise, Entheogenic, Zero Cult and Saafi Brothers will be suitably appealing to chillout fans - with some immersive excursions described in promotional material as "light, warm and soft ambient ... spaced sounds with an ethnic touch".

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Shulman - Endless Rhythms of the Beatless Heart
STYLE  

Lush downtempo electronica laced with international instrumentation and vocal performance. Endless Rhythms of the Beatless Heart effortlessly strays across genre boundaries, drawing together elements of ambient chillout, contemporary jazz, downbeat psychedelia and global fusion. At times there are even suggestions of prog rock as keyboards or sax are allowed to luxuriate in extended improvisational breaks. There are acoustic and synthetic sound sources used throughout the album in tight complement - Middle Eastern strings, electric guitar, violin, soprano sax, shahnai, zorna, ney bedded into a smooth sound canvas of warm washes and digital tinklings, gutsy bass lines and bright drumwork. All of the tracks feature the expert sonic manipulation techniques in which Shulman excel, lending a polish and luminance to the music and filling the air with sparkling peripheral effects. The percussive arrangements especially benefit from the richness of all the various hi-tech blips, bleeps, squelches and pulses woven in among the more traditional drum sounds, making for an engrossing rhythmic side to the album.

 
MOOD  

Shulman introduce a worldly/other-worldly dreamy vibe right from the outset. The interplay of sharp, swirling effects, laid back grooves and international elements establish a mood that is both on the cusp of the breaking wave between contemporary and futurist as well as being somehow enigmatic and timeless. Echoes of the past haunt this ultra modern aesthetic - acoustic wavs from distant memories, vocoder voices and multilingual singing. Unlike many chillout releases Endless Rhythms of the Beatless Heart doesn't rely upon morphing repetition and simple variation of motif - rather these tracks are strongly structured with plenty of melodic detail and constant digression from the central theme.

 
ARTWORK   I have a partial version of the artwork for this album hinting at the attractive quality of the full package. The front cover sports a moody surrealist montage where a sand timer endlessly flows, pouring the dunes of a digital desert down into a single mound. A one-eyed face glowers from the lower globe lusciously tinted a deep bottle green. The seemingly abstract background suggests further horizons, a Dali-esque figure barely discernible in the lower left corner. This cut-down promotional sleeve provides credits and instrumentation information for the various tracks along with an explanation of the project, band history and all relevant contact details.
 
OVERALL   

The highly respected Shulman duo returns with a completely new album following last year's compilation of oddities under the title Random Thoughts. This latest offering, once again released by the renowned Aleph Zero label comes as the culmination of four years extensive work in the studio. The album has a crisp digital edge that gives everything a sharp punchiness, a fine, clear sheen. The international acoustic sounds sit comfortably amid the electronic programming, so carefully crafted that the listener is mostly unaware of the cross over from live performance into synthetic artifice. There are meandering passages of almost abstract ambience, some driving beat music and everything in between - Shulman at their creative best.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   

Shulman fans won't need me to tell them that this album is a must for them. For those not yet in the know - this is a keystone release on this year's downtempo calendar. If you enjoy blissful, ethnically oriented electronica from the cutting edge - don't miss this one.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Tor Lundvall - "The Seasons Unfold" Sampler
STYLE   Reverb drenched melodic ambient. These four tracks feature some gorgeously lush misty atmospherics that bathe everything in a dreamy haze. Effected piano patterns roll in colourful waves, enhanced by additional layers and echoes. Guitar harmonics and chimes join the sound palette as Tor's own voice half chants, half sings poetic lyrics slowly, wistfully. The music is quite rhythmic even when percussion is minimal, vocals and instrumental cycles establishing lazy patterns - there are some subdued beats too, gently hanging in the background. Tor refers to his music as 'ghost ambient' drawing attention to the otherworldly sense of quietude, the thick sonic air that pervades his compositions.
 
ARTWORK   This release comes in a full colour card sleeve featuring art work from the artist himself. On the front cover is one of Tor's paintings - elegant long necked birds framed in decorative foliage, a subtle face in the background holding the viewer's gaze. On the reverse aside the tracklist is a sketched figure combed by driving rain heavy with shadow. Credits are here as well as a reference to the forthcoming 4CD set The Seasons Unfold.
 
OVERALL    Tor Lundvall here presents a follow-up to the successful Empty City album, once again in collaboration with Strange Fortune Records this release is a special sampler CD that presents a selection of pieces from Tor's earlier music. The sampler comes as a forerunner to next year's intended delivery of a deluxe four CD box set entitled The Seasons Unfold. These discs gather together Tor's first four ambient albums as a solo artist. The tracks on the sampler are exclusive to this release and will not appear on the box set. Strange Fortune are giving it away too! It comes free with all orders placed at strangefortune.com, from the first day of Autumn 2007 until supplies run out.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Blind Divine - Devouring The Beautiful
STYLE  

Shadowy, quirky trip hop with imaginative female vocals. Blind Divine create tasteful electronic arrangements full of individual sounds and evocative peripherals. Pianos feature strongly in the melodic aspects of the music - tinkling effected background echoes, moody lead lines and supportive ivory beds. Chimes, synthetics, guitars, crackling static, eerie string strains, unidentifiable noises all get the Blind Divine 'treatment' so that compositions all have a peculiarity setting them suitably apart from the mainstream. Paula Catherine Valencia's vocals are lush, low-key and steeped in emotion. She sings from the heart and uses her voice in a broad range of styles - spoken, close-up intimacy, impassioned outpourings, strong choruses, dreamy backing vocals. There are some inventive interludes and digressions among the songs - wistful piano meanderings, snippets of speech or what appear to be incidental recordings - sometimes tracks wind down into abstraction and a kind of distracted freeform. There are, of course, also some downright strong songs, well constructed and delivered with feeling and panache. The tracks don't overstay - tightly cut into a brevity that has the listener caught by the hooks and embellishments yet wanting more. For an album with so much packed into it, the highlights arise with surprising frequency.

 
MOOD    Sultry, brooding and murkily opulent - this album is a very powerful debut from a band that will go on to refine their sound into gathering beauty. The short tracks nearly all have catchy hooks that work in delightful counterpoint to the lulling nocturne approach of the instrumentation. Arty soundscapes with a gothic touch where languid layered guitars and carefully chosen supporting sounds at times call to mind a darker Mandalay.
 
ARTWORK   The artwork here is quite dark - mostly in shades of deep red on black with an overall gothic impression. A portrait in an oval frame is centred on the front cover, monochrome, looking like something from a bygone era. Decorative borders, characters and various motifs litter the design establishing a gloomy opulence. This card digipack opens into three panels with lyrics laid out inside - black on red - small font - graphic backdrop. Credits, thanks and contact info all are fond on the central inner panel.
 
OVERALL    Twenty three pieces of otherworldy beauty make for a debut album that really catches the attention. Released in 2005 via Mysticus Publishing Devouring The Beautiful has similarities with the work of Shelly Harland, Maple Bee and perhaps a more introspective Collide - brooding, aching, at times dreamlike and strange. Blind Divine's sound has been described as 'art music' - which sounds pretty apt to me. Their haunting soundscapes and poetic musings wander unfettered through whatever structures take their fancy - yet throughout everything their trip-hop aesthetic remains intact holding the album in clear cohesion. The band has since released a number of other recordings which can be sampled on the official website.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM    Blind Divine's first release bridges the fields of trip hop, art music, shoegazer and ethereal dream pop. Give this one a try if you enjoy sensually lazy female vocals and inventive downbeat instrumentation.