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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Ajja - Psychogenica
STYLE   A full on blast of psychedelic trance. Psychogenica has a strongly acidic feel - corrosive squirts of tone and wiry lead lines overlay bubbling bass lines that dance across regular thumping beats. Showers of electronic sparks and effected liquid noise rain down on many of the tracks in constant bursts giving everything a frenetic urgency. The bpm is a pretty constant 144 peaking at 146 later in the album, the steady kick barely stopping for breath as tracks morph one into another, the rhythm still hanging in the mind as the next piece gets underway.
 
ARTWORK   The artwork for this album is suitably dazzling and vibrant - glowing patterns of fluorescent colour bathe everything in multicoloured light leaving the listener in little doubt as to what to expect musically. Dragon drawings twine across the rainbow imagery clutching decorative orbs in their sharp claws. The tracklist for the CD is found both on the rear and within - bpm aside each piece. The innermost panels are given over entirely to the artwork of Ajja's brother Filip Leu - an acrylic design of twisting figures with a graffiti aesthetic.
 
OVERALL   

AJJA is the latest project of London born multi-talented Swiss Ajja S.F. Leu who works also a producer, dj, Peak Records label manager, graphic artist and tattoo artist. Syncronize Records is a brand new label from Ireland - indeed the first of its kind in the country. The label is founded by Dj Shore Bar Axel and states its purpose as aiming "to release quality psychedelic music from talented producers around the globe. Its long-term goal is to encourage local Irish musicians and provide a worldwide platform for their releases". This initial release from Ajja sets the tone for the company - a solid dancefloor filler from a the talented producer/musician known to many as half of Yab Yum and founding member of The Peaking Goddess Collective. Watch out for Hyper Frequencies' Phantasmatika and the label's first compilation soon after.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Various - [Oxycanta] Winter Blooms
STYLE   Lush, unhurried ambient downtempo. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor Oxycanta 2 is an elegant selection of meandering electronic moods that hang in the air like the lightest hint of frost. Gently heaving synths and environmental wavs ebb and flow against beats that are mostly minimal, stripped down to bare skeletons evocative of the season under investigation. There are some beautiful passages - notably Fläktsystem from Amos with delicate haunting piano melody and glitchy beat. The tempo shifts up a gear around the middle of the album as Malik Trey introduces a leisurely trance rhythm that is echoed by Aes Dana and Sgnl_fltr before dropping away again in the concluding pieces. Two brief interludes are included from Mahiane herself - fleeting atmospheric sound installations that enhance the loosely structured approach of much of the music.
 
ARTWORK   A delightful digipack presentation with the usual panoramic three panel spread both inside and outside. The outer imagery captures threads and filaments, leaf structures and stems of some grey/brown flora caught in the pale light of winter - details picked out in narrow macro depth of field. Titles and times of tracks are on the rear and a reminder is found on the third section as to whence the album title finds its inspiration. Within hoar frosted seed heads form the main visual attractions. Panel one extends the tracklist to include some credits, contacts details and label information below. Panel two holds the CD. Panel three holds a simple line of thanks.
 
OVERALL    Ultimae Records never fail to amaze with the quality of their releases, [Oxycanta] Winter Blooms being no exception. Mahiane (aka Sunbeam, co-manager of Ultimae, Dj and composer) has gathered here a powerfully harmonious selection of tracks to build a delicious downbeat seasonal mood. Some big names grace the album with their presence, but Winter Blooms is in no way dependent upon these favourites to accomplish its goal - each track is carefully chosen for the overall tone of the project and carries sufficient evocative weight on its own. This is a CD that deepens with each hearing and will certainly reward the active listener in this regard. Brimming with a restrained emotive richness - this is an album for chillout fans that are looking for something truly chilled.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Brian Parnham - Mantle
STYLE   Drifting beatless slow-evolving ambience. Mantle starts out as an inviting album of warm morphing drones that at times just barely fall short of melody. Harmonious flows of tone and leisurely progressions heave like a gentle oceanic swell punctuated by unidentifiable percussive effects that often hang deep deep within the mix. That is not to say, however, that everything here is placid, light. As the music progresses, there are passages of shadow, mysterious atmospheres that suggest solitary wanderings in unfamiliar places, there are uneasy pieces where layered low frequency drones roll with portentous purpose. The mid section of the CD grows increasingly cold and isolationist - reverberating, muted rattles and sonic turbulence stirring among beds of undulating darkness. Toward the end, the music lightens somewhat - something of a sense of wonder coming to the fore, replacing the discomfort of the previous material. The deepest journeyings now behind, the air freshens and the final sound space echoes with an expansive airiness - low metallic clangs and chimings, water like streams, hints of didgeridoo - and then everything is fading, evaporating like a dream on waking.
 
ARTWORK   The artwork throughout this package is all formed around Brian's own photography - colourful folds and twists of rock from the Utah slot caverns. Orange light bathes the etched surfaces throwing textures into sharp relief. The imagery has been overlaid in places so that the shots appear almost abstract - combed paint, rivers of light. On the rear of the jewelcase is a track list with times for each and an overall total. Inside the darkness of a cave acts as backdrop to a page of credits, background details and website information. Sam Rosenthal is mentioned here for his work on the design of the package.
 
OVERALL    Brian Parnham releases his fourth work via steveroach.com - indeed this album was commissioned by Steve and includes atmospheres, drones and harmonic waves from the master on as number of tracks as well as benefiting from production and mastering at The Timeroom. Mantle is comprised of twelve tracks, each in the region of five to seven minutes long - that said, the tracks bleed one into another so that the changes from one piece to another are only recognised by a subtle shift of mood. A medley from the album can be heard both at Brian's own website brianparnham.com or at Stevroach.com.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 ------Vitaly - Looking At The Stars
STYLE  

Ambient new age instrumentals. Looking At The Stars is an attractive selection of synthesizer compositions that range from spacey beatless sparsity to bright upbeat fairy tale melodies and even into some passages of almost driving rhythm. Indeed it is melody that Vitaly's arrangements centre upon - the layered electronica, the lowkey interludes, the constantly varying electro-grooves - everything works to highlight the passionate feeling and delicacy of the lead lines. Choosing unashamedly synthetic voices for most of his themes, the album delivers an impressively broad palette of programmed sound making for a lush pure atmosphere. Effected speech and alien environmental noises bring a touch of mystery maintaining the far from earth illusion. Beats are inventive when present - in fact these are actually one of the aspects that I most enjoyed - the fluttery laidback roll of Mechanical Feelings, the restrained lightness of Night.

 
MOOD    The mood fluctuates somewhat with the pace of the music - at times meandering almost floatational - at times leaning toward a more mechanical regularity of structure, softened somewhat by wispy pads and misty textures. Throughout everything though, the artist's interest in the universe is evident as is an honesty of approach - Vitaly seems genuinely engrossed in his galactic material, his view of the stars as 'an unsolved mystery'.
 
ARTWORK   As is appropriate Looking At The Stars comes packaged in a jewelcase adorned with images of stars, galaxies and nebulae. Fronted by a luminous circular formation dotted with effulgent star formations backed by the blackness of eternal distance. Track titles along with times are recorded or the reverse along with website details. Opening out - the case reveals a colourful disc laid against two more dark starscapes. Another tracklist is here above credits and mastering information and the legend - "No particular language was used for this recording. Any coincidence with the world languages is coincidental". The booklet finally opens out to reveal a glorious image of the Fairy of the Eagle Nebula - very fitting. Here too is a paragraph of the artist's musings that cast some light on the inspiration for the music.
 
OVERALL   Looking At The Stars is the debut album New Zealand based musician Vitaly Zolotarev. Presenting ten tracks ranging from the one to two minute interludes up to the eight and a half minute introduction - this is an album that has an unaffected honesty about it. Quite beautiful in places, especially during some of the quieter moments such as the wistful interlude Making Up that concludes with a beguiling exchange of feelings that transcend language. In his own words Vitaly explains "This album is my humble attempt to imagine the world of those who may look different but have the same feelings like you and me." it could have been cheesy - but it isn't, this guy pulls it off.
 
 WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM    This is an album for lovers of electronica that enjoy something on the new age side - quite sweet and graceful - emotional even. Space music fans might find this to their liking especially if appreciative of melodic harmony.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Evan Bartholomew - Caverns Of Time
STYLE   Ambient spaces and minimal texture sheets. Caverns Of Time is a beatless collection of tonal zones, reverberating expanses of smooth layered sound that heave in intensity and density whilst maintaining a relatively steady harmonic state. There is a lush richness and weight to much of the music by virtue of the multiple drones and the fact that an echoing expanse is suggested - beats softly arising as elements overlap and interfere. The drones are drawn out, unhurried, ebbing and flowing across a broad frequency range, constantly in flux yet static hanging like a fog in the air. Track four introduces toned pulses throbbing in loose patterns that call to mind a far distant memory of Bluetech soundscaping - but here everything is sparse, lonely, environmental - a faint hiss carpeting the emptiness. Descending Deeper In Search Of The Timeless is a much more strident composition, trumpeting synth strains and rippling scales pierce the atmosphere, sharp and contrasty compared to the previous tracks and then the velvet is back for the finale, an attractive misted flute, a wordless voice, appropriately titled Reborn, we fluctuate and fade.
 
ARTWORK   Hand crafted artwork creates the impression that this is something of an artefact - a monochrome graphic stamped on rough paper, rugged stitching forming an envelope, a unique number handwritten. The front cover imagery has an ouroborus encircling a rocky enclosure, a bare tree twisted, alone within the space. The package comes sealed with red wax and opens to reveal a tracklist and simple credits previously hidden beneath the flap of the cover.
 
OVERALL    Straying far from his Bluetech alter-ego, Evan Bartholomew releases here Caverns Of Time as Somnia 001. A confident tangential exploration that reveals a completely different side of the artist. The Somnia project has as its goal "to create music that values art above marketing, passion above product, aesthetics above excel documents, and a focus on individual expression over playing it safe and fitting things into nice little genre boxes". Appearing as a section of Native State Records, the Somnia label already has two releases offered (one as a guest presentation) and a follow-up from Evan Bartholomew is on the way. Caverns Of Time is a limited edition of 777 hard copies with a digital release to follow once these are gone. Promotional material explains - "'Caverns of time' is deep emotional and textural ambient music in the Eno, Roach, Rich school of sound design. Sine wave minimalism and DSP manipulation of organic source material create an atmospheric and spatial album of cavernous depth and underground emotional movements".

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Solar Fields - [Earth Shine]
STYLE   Lush upbeat trance electronica. Leaving behind the ambient excursions of his last couple of releases Solar Fields drives into higher tempo on Earth Shine, with bpm rates from 120 up to 145 this is something of a stormer. The trademark ethnic touches and richly colourful digital voices are still here though as are the usual gorgeous pads and silken sweeps. Mechanical arpeggios and repeating patterns ripple through many pieces adorning the measured pace of the beats. Occasional fleeting dispersal of percussion, some beautifully atmospheric introductions and the ongoing presence of airy expansive washes makes this album somewhat more dreamy and blissful than the norm. Tracks shift in nature frequently so that the mood is not constant although the rhythm is - fresh structures often arise midway, taking the music off into unanticipated directions.
 
ARTWORK   In a typical Ultimae letter box layout digipack Earth Shine folds out into three panels with a sprawling photomontage both inside and out. The front cover catches a bright arc of sunshine over an urban abstraction, passing through black the back cover presents track titles, times and bpms. The imagery fades here through a latticed dome into a moody two tree landscape on the final section. Inside this mixture of the natural and the man made is maintained across a second panorama. Brief credits and website info are found here.
 
OVERALL    Solar Fields releases here his fifth album on the French Ultimae label. Earth Shine sees the artist focusing on bright morning trance beats and dance floor tempos with a solid collection of heaving tracks that gradually peak in pace toward the end of the album. This hypnotic delivery presents eight compositions that are distinctly Solar Fields - masterfully recorded and excellently delivered.