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 ------Mythos - Live
STYLE   Strident Berlin school electronica. Mythos Live has a clean dynamic sound, sharp synth melodies and deft keyboard work driven by energetic programmed beats and pumping basslines. The mix is a muscular, sinewy affair - overlaying pure synthetic patterns of a clearly European nature. There are euphoric builds and climactic chorus sections with frequent shifts and variations as tracks progress. However, the chances are that you know that already if you're looking at this classic re-release ... originally described by the press as "a short, but inventive and shining jewel in the swamp of everyday music" - this might be the only way you're going to get your hands on this music presently.
MOOD    The three tracks here have a similar nature - energetic and sweeping with propulsive beats. The dramatic phrasing and disciplined arrangements push forward with powerful momentum almost suggestive of a militaristic structure at times.
ARTWORK   This is a mini disc in a card envelope protected by a plastic blister. The card envelope has a front opening flap forming three graphic surfaces in total. The cover imagery is simple and graphic - a bright green structural venue outline supporting the contrasting pink Mythos logo. That said - the re-release of this music is intended for digital release in download form available from the Mythos website or from Kazzong - both locations offer a prelistening feature.
OVERALL   This maxi single is a re-release of the Mythos Live album that sold out quite some time back. Due to frequent demands from fans the music is now delivered in download format. The original discs are currently collector's items with only a few copies in circulation making purchase prohibitive for most fans due to high pricing. Should this approach be what the fans are after, you can expect more downloadable music in the near future.
  WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM    Mythos fans need no introduction to this requested re-release - for the rest - Mythos live will appeal to lovers of Berlin synthesiser music with plenty of dramatic rhythm and pacey percussion..




 ------Blind Divine - Music For Unmade Movies Volume 1

Art music sketches and scenarios - mostly instrumental but a couple of tracks featuring female vocals. This album reads like an intimate collection of keepsakes and personal treasures - brief fragments and atmospheres each full of character - you never quite know what the next piece will be like. Scratchy sound canvases, wistful piano lines, cinematic strings, delicate chimes, sampled noises are laid out like memories in a scrap book. The downbeat drum lines are still here in places as are some snatches of Paula Catherine Valencia's vocals - indeed the sound is still very much Blind Divine, yet the feel is heavily one of hazy nostalgia as though each composition were a distant memory of the band, faded, tinted with time. Spoken voices - effected and pitch-shifted, the occasional ethnic element, moody synth work and material that sounds like it has been recycled from old films all add to the effect.

ARTWORK   Delivered in a matt surface digipack Music For Unmade Movies is presented as something of a worn artefact. The imagery has been distressed, aged, built around timeless elements. A weary man in the moon pierced with nails fronts the package surrounded by graphic motifs and scrolling decoratives - muted, textured brown. The reverse holds the timed tracklist. Opening out, the CD sits on a black panel, facing this is a section of credits, source information and contact details. Again the impression given is that this is a document from the past - creased and lined - somehow preserved.
OVERALL    Blind Divine make something of a departure from their usual sound here - the doleful trip hop songs of the previous albums loosened up and allowed to meander where they will. In all thirty nine tracks make up this fascinating collection of snapshots into the imagination of the duo. Ranging from nine seconds through to four minutes plus you could easily hear these pieces as soundtrack material - indeed a number have already been used on the feature film Orphans and Angels.




 ------Hol Baumann - [Human]
STYLE   Clean downtempo electronica with organic embellishments.
Hol Baumann’s sound has a meloancholy, sombre air to it, European dignity and gravity shrouding the album like a heavy urban mist – steady measured rhythms with the low weight of somewhat mechanistic basslines, driving, downbeat arrangements that deliver plenty of shadow. Sparse melodic phrases and themes of synthetic tone and lush chimes repeat and evolve interwoven with international vocal lines – spoken, up-close, almost touching the ear; sung, lightly distorted, thickened. Bright acoustic guitar lines and subtle global instrumentation bring shafts of sunlight to the mix and glitchy details enliven the drum programming. Intense at times, occasionally introspective, contemporary nocturnes – Human is a high quality debut with plenty of hidden depths.
ARTWORK   Human comes in standard Ultimae format – gorgeous panoramic visuals framed with broad black bands. Sharp photo-imagery presents urban scenes enhanced with the atmospheric effects of water – many of the shots are inverted reflections in puddles, rippled, lightly distorted, edged with street surfaces, littered with fallen leaves. Inside is a generous sixteen page booklet with shots of the artist and a full page evocative image for each track footed with only the briefest of background details. Indeed text throughout the package is kept to an elegant minimum encouraging the eye to linger on the pictures.
OVERALL    Hol Baumann is well known to Ultimae fans prior to the release of this debut solo release, having appeared on numerous collections
Human delivers a powerful, consistent series of new compositions that demonstrate a sure mastery over the digital tools of the trade, the tracks sounding technically advanced whilst maintaining a vivid musical vision throughout. Less drawn to the ambient side of downtempo, Hol works with a gritty sound that owes a little to Berlin synthesiser music, that said the Ultimae house sound is more evident.




 ------Bruno Sanfilippo & Mathias Grassow - Ambessence : Piano & Drones
STYLE   Beautiful, beautiful, soft, elegant piano melodies and subtle, enveloping drones. Ambessence piano and drones sets a new level of blissful dreaminess. Hazy, gossamer breathing strains with the lightest of touches hang weightless, shapeless as if the very air itself has been transformed into to music. Sometimes the underlying sonic textures are so transparent they might simply be environmental recordings, a thickening of emptiness. From within come the most exquisitely delicate piano lines you might imagine, the most sensitive of fragile forms, muted phrases and dulcet progressions that seem to have all the time in the world in which to unfurl - each fresh piece as beguiling, as graceful as the last. The balance between melody and ambient space is expertly worked so that you never quite feel that you are listening to 'tunes' as such, yet the gradual, spacious unfolding of these melancholy arrangements has you captivated - pulled along like a fallen leaf on a stream.
ARTWORK   The album cover features a photograph by Dianne Owen of what appear to be Anton Gormley's Another Place figures from the Mersey Estuary. Sculpted sentinels stand upright gazing through waves of digital mists - serene, dignified, bathed in grey - attentive, absorbed. This image recurs throughout the package in varied form. On the reverse is a timed tracklist and a recommendation on how to listen to the album. Within we find a portrait of each musician set against a panel of credits, website details and a breakdown of instrumentation.
OVERALL    Released on Ad21 on the date of the label's 10th anniversary, this latest release sees Argentinean Bruno Sanfilippo in collaboration with the prolific German drone and overtone musician Mathias Grassow. The seven tracks vary from just over six minutes through to just short of fifteen - a total of one hour, one minute and fifty seconds of pure escape. This release could easily become a tranquil backdrop to your day should you wish it - but if you actually give yourself over to it and listen completely you will be transported, so far from daily life is this musical place, a place of lightness, sleepy introspection and safety. Such economical, fragile keyboard work inevitably calls to mind the gentler compositions of Satie - yet these musicians somehow manage to free their pieces almost of all gravity altogether. I can't recommend this CD highly enough.




 ------Robert Rich & Ian Boddy - React

Rhythmic electronica and meandering abstraction. Two powerful musicians come together to intermesh their sonic personalities - here are drifting, keening threads of 'gliss lap steel guitar', serene, wafting breaths of earthy flute, synthetic soundscapes of intricate, morphing mists broken by glitchy fragments, digital disturbances, exotic peculiarities - alien yet distantly familiar. Sequential patterns ripple and propel; bass notes, acidic pulses, sonorous blips intermixed - shifting beats arise gradually into subtle regularity or at times into driving energetic zeal. There are passages of spacey expanse where static fragments breeze through amorphous folds of tone. There are vaguely tribal beats - rough drum forms and weighty ethnic chimes deep in the mix - a lot of sound and variety for just two performers.


In usual DiN format React comes in a clear jewel case with a single fold insert. The cover imagery is an ambiguous series of photographs appearing to be filaments of cloud combed across a backdrop of restless indigo waves. No words disturb the visuals - text is instead laid into white strips bordering the package. Within we find a low light shot of the artists in performance filling a whole panel - below another white border of information. This time we get a repeated tracklist (each timed) recording information, thanks and a brief list of instrumentation for each artist.

OVERALL    Ian Boddy and Robert Rich have, of course worked together previously delivering two studio albums - Outpost back in 2001 and then Lithosphere in 2005. This time we have something different - a live performance from the duo recorded in June 2007 for the Star’s End Radio Show 30th Anniversary Celebration Concert in Philadelphia - their first! Eleven tracks of medium length (from something over two minutes to just short of eight) that go some way to covering the broad range of styles explored by Boddy and Rich over the course of their rich careers. The sound quality outshines expectations of live recording - audience presence forgotten apart from the final fade.




 ------Various - Tranchillizer

Downtempo trance chillout compilation. Ethnic instrumentation punctuates lazy electronic tapestries - as synthetic arpeggios and cycling phrases wind around their measured rhythmic core, didgeridoos, twanging Asian strings, voice snippets, natural sounds and international drums thicken the mix. Much of the musical structure here is atmospheric - melody lines are brief and circular, rolling and layering into intricate textural forms - smooth pads and airy strains drift through the air particularly in evidence as tracks open or close. There are a lot of quite acidic tones, psychedelic squirts and pithy synthetic stabs here producing an overall sound that is often sharp and fizzy, bubbling under as if ready to overflow at any moment.


The hazy lilac hue of the cover puts the listener in mind of scented smoke and gradually unfurling psychedelic imagery. The feel of the music is overwhelmingly synthetic and contemporary full of technical trickery and impressive sound sculpting, yet there is also a lot of mood building going on here, sonic forms slowly coming together, establishing patterns, repeating into familiarity and then shifting.

ARTWORK   Complex graphic designs overlay and fade into the fabric of the package - everything tinted pale lilac. The impression is one of timeless tribal influences transported into a modern framework - polished and delivered afresh. The tracklist for the album appears on the rear of the jewelcase and within on the booklet. The innermost section features an illustration of a sleeping goddess surrounded by floating phrases designed to set the mood - BE STILL - LET TIME FLOW - GLIDE TO REST.
OVERALL   Tranchillizer is the latest downtempo offering from Switzerland’s psychedelic trance label Peak Records. Label masters Ajja S.F. Leu, Master Margherita and Tanina Munchkina all appear on the album along with a variety of other familiar names. We have tracks from well known chillout artists and some unexpected contributions from others better known for their more upbeat output.
  WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM    Tranchillizer will be welcomed by fans of chillout that enjoy the approach of psytrance music delivered with a lower bpm. Not aiming at ambient groove or melodic downtempo this album is uneasily tranquil - its heart touched by the things of the higher tempos - lingering for now, 'tranchillized' revelling in the current reverie.