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.





 ------Various Artists - Materia Musica

Extensive tranquil psychill compilation. Synthetic strains, soft washes and ambient textures laid out in delicate layers rippled with arpeggio patterns work in conjunction with a variety of relaxing downtempo beats. The sound is strongly electronic - there are a few embellishments - spoken voices, ethnic samples, female vocalising - but the main thrust of the sound is one of lush synthesiser tones, digital effects and attractive keyboard phrases. The album has quite a spacey approach in places, drifting and floatational rather than acidic or heavily tribal. At some points on the first disc the music becomes almost abstract - light freeform arrangements with fragile rhythms, touches of tone falling like gentle sunshine interwoven with subtle breezes of movement - very peaceful, transportational.

ARTWORK   Golden global symbols twinkle across the panels of this package lifted slightly above pale galactic filaments. The lettering stark in antique gothic font carrying the same bright sparkle as the imagery. On the reverse and inside we find the tracks listed - the inner list accompanied by brief credits. A generous list of thanks foots the inside double panel spread.

This latest presentation from Ajana Records comes as a two CD package - the first disc "contains tracks that are more atmospheric music, made for home listening ... while the second contains tracks that have a more uplifting style" more danceable. Many of the names appearing on the twenty one tracks here will be instantly familiar to chill fans - Capsula, Chronos, Kick Bong - others are newer upcoming artists. This is one for listeners that prefer something on the less beat driven end of the spectrum, certainly the chilled beats are there, lazily driving the music, but there is something of a late night sleepiness to this collection. In general the compositions are mid length - running up to around the ten minute mark.




 ------Vataff Project - Kalitz

Quirky downtempo electronica. Kalitz brings together some blip-punctuated lazy beats and ambient atmospheres that are inhabited by a variety of sharp digital effects - swishes, pulses, clicks, grasshopper flickers, sci-fi techno snippets, electro-squishes, bird-like twitters. There are also diverse fleeting enhancements to this primarily synthetic soundscaping - rich flute lines, peculiar vocal samples, traditional Bulgarian instrumentation. Ranging through chilled psychedelia, IDM, and rhythmic ambient, Vataff Project leaves a distinctive impression - slightly sombre, touched with enigmatic dusk.

MOOD   Kalitz has a cool, shadowy nature - comfortable, confident, relaxed - yet there is sense of mystery lurking in the depths. The melodic content of the album is suitably low key and spacious allowing the mind to fill in the gaps, the tendency toward almost ambient structure enhancing the evocative nature of the music. The choice of electronic tones making up the sonic palette is quite overtly synthetic suggesting programmed spacey, sci-fi environments.
ARTWORK   The promotional copy of this package that I possess hints at the usual high quality delivery we have come to expect from Aleph-Zero productions. The graphics are sharp and evocative - blue tinted forests overlaid with graphic elements and text fading to black across the lower half of the various panels.
Explanational paragraphs describe the musician, the origins of the project name and the artist's sonic vision.
OVERALL   Kalitz is delivered to us via Aleph-Zero Records and is the debut release from the personal project of Bulgarian musician Victor Marinov working under the Vataff Project title. The nine tracks here work as a coherent whole, an evolving journey - pieces cross referring, back echoing, gradually morphing and straying from the point of origin in a leisurely unfurling of compositions that tap into the mysterious qualities of the forests of Bulgaria for inspiration. Marinov's interest in ethno-musicological work is reflected here, aiming to evoke deep emotional reactions linking back to ancient times, imbuing the recording with a somewhat timeless feel despite its highly contemporary production.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Kalitz will appeal to listeners that enjoy exploring the realms between experimental downtempo and ambient groove. Very much in keeping with previous output from the Aleph-Zero label itself and like minded sources such as Native State and Ultimae.




 ------Muaxuam - Viceversa
STYLE   Gutsy downbeat electronic instrumentals. Mauxuam creates tenebrous techno chill compositions that hang around prominent bass lines. Indeed the low end rhythms and pumping phrases drive this album with a heaving urgency, a menacing purposefulness. Beats seem to be dancing around, radiating out from the basses, synthesiser motifs and effects next level up. The musical elements are pithy, acidic, often terse repeating chunks or snips of melody shot through with all manner of high tech peripherals and digital detail. A dub heritage is evident in places, but Mauxuam has come a long way from the obvious reggae structures and usual echoing stabs associated with the genre - Viceversa has a prowling personality of its own and a powerful one at that.
ARTWORK   Viceversa comes in a tidy digipack presentation that opens out into three panels. Ambiguous repeating patterns swirl across most panels looming out from infinite blackness - one moment resembling ammonite spirals, the next laser lights or plasma flickers. Complex graphic designs and some nice textures add to the overall visual impact. Inside the CD is held centrally flanked by two blocks of text. To the left a track list expanding the one on the case rear, footed by various credits. To the right some generous thanks and a dedication - 'to the ordeal of the children of palestine, darfur, kenya, tibet and so on...
genocides in front of our indifference...'
OVERALL    Viceversa furthers broadens the Interchill catalogue's bass heavy output with this gritty, individual release. This being the debut album from Mauxuam which is Maurizio Liguori's sonic baby - a musician known throughout global underground electronic circles. Mauxuam might well be known to many listeners having appeared on various compilation CDs in recent months. Promotional material describes this album as something of a nomadic diary with 'a multitude of influences' and 'free range electronica' - that description is apt as flashes of dub, breakbeat, glitch, dark chill and psychedelic downtempo alternately bubble up to the surface. Collaborators include such notables as Greg Hunter, Master Margherita, Shiranami and Craig Musham.




 ------Klaus Schulze / Lisa Gerrard - Farscape
STYLE   Smooth electronic soundscapes and beguiling female vocals. Klaus Schulze here brings his years of musical experience to building a series of warm synthesiser compositions that flow with confident ease, hang almost weightless or ripple with gentle harmonious muscle and sinew. For the most part his music is inviting and tranquil - lightly percolating arpeggios propelling swells and washes of tone into easy motion - in place beats well up and carry the music into rhythmic bliss. There are also generous pools of drifting beatless space too, ethereal expanses of subtle drones and transparent layers where sequential patterns cycle and roll. Occasionally these interludes wander into darkness, a faint menace or brooding uneasiness adding weight and gravity. The voice of Lisa Gerrard inhabits these sonic environments as a passionate presence - at times low, ghostly and mysterious, at times ecstatic deep in reverie, then soaring, heavenly high in the clouds. Lisa Gerrard's unique organic style and vocal stream harmonises delightfully with these synthetic arrangements. She is clearly steeped in the music, engrossed; her expressions unfettered yet closely bound to the sound, she is constantly within the structures of the tracks yet at the same time gliding far beyond them as if calling for everything else to follow.
ARTWORK   The artwork for this jewel case presentation is soft and understated. A grey/white gallery space illuminated by three rows of discs of light fills the front and back cover with geometric precision. Two simple cuboid forms are the only objects in the broad space. The inner panels contain a photograph of the duo apparently seated within the same ashen gallery on a large sofa - pale, monochrome except for Klaus' red scarf. Opening out the booklet we are treated to two sections of extensive text that provides biographical details and an explanation of the project from initial contact to realisation.
OVERALL    This is a unique album - not in that it delivers strikingly new elements, beautiful synthesiser music has been developing for many years now, with Klaus Schulze there pretty much from the start and Lisa Gerrard's voice has become legendary, familiar across the globe - but this coming together is where the special nature of this CD lies. The musical personas of these two artists are both powerful and individual - their immersion in their craft deep and passionate - when they come together, the result is moving, mesmerising. Fans of Lisa Gerrard will find this double album to be yet another quality expression of her incredible sound, buoyed up with the restrained dignity of the music. Lovers of Klaus Schulze will certainly be delighted by this collaboration - his vision having come to exquisite fulfilment. The album is released via Synthetic Symphony / SPV and can be found via a dedicated Myspace page here.




 ------Colourform - Visions of Surya
STYLE   Glittering raindrop electronica from the Vitual team. Visions of Surya is an exotic, artificial garden of sound - tinkling chimes delicately splash over synthetic streams and gentle currents. Global fragments blossom and fade - subtle female voices, Eastern instruments, breathy swells. The mood is one of blissful wonder, melodic structures very much underplayed in favour of atmospheric development. In places soft beats rise up and sweep everything into flowing motion - deeply, deeply chilled and airy.
ARTWORK   In keeping with the label's previous style Visions of Surya comes in a pristine white jewel case package - arcane designs and symbols dominating the various panels. On the front a familiar layout of discs and ovals linked by connecting bands - each a window onto an uncertain image beyond. Should you care to decode, the rear of the case is laid out purely in dotted symbols. Within is the tracklist and more circular windows onto little far off worlds. Text is minimal and simple.
OVERALL    This limited edition of 500 discs is the third release from the Vitual label - following Magik Square of the Sun and Infinite Garden under the respective project names Ishvara and Elve. This time the project title is Colourform - not that you will find this easy to conclude from the CD layout itself - the musicians involved (Jake Stephenson and Matt Hillier) are well known for their work as Ishq and Optic Eye. The music on this latest delivery maintains the otherworldly, ethereal eastern tone of previous work - much of it beatless, spread across seven tracks, the longest of which is an immersive sixteen minutes twenty three seconds, the rest somewhere between five and ten minutes. The album comes with a dedication to Jake as sadly he "moved into the invisible world himself sometime ago".




 ------I Awake - [The Core]

Lush, liquid electronica with lucid downtempo beats. The Core luxuriates in finely woven dense atmospheres of synthetic tone filled with smooth, attractive patterns and clear phrases that rise and fall in gentle harmony. The music interweaves beautifully chosen artificial sounds with a range of more organic sound sources - breathy flutes, affected guitars, human voices, subtle global snatches - although the production and composition is so polished that it's hard to be sure which aspects of the mix are digitally constructed and which are traditionally recorded. Despite being dreamy, warm and melodic, [The Core] is not sugar sweet or overly soft - there is a gutsy drive to the structures, a measured restraint to the beats, an ebb and flow of deliberate intensity - very Ultimae. Overall this is a superb debut from an artist that enters the chillout arena at a very high level - absorbing, transportational, soporific, colourful - everything a good electronic instrumental album should be.

ARTWORK   This album comes with the complete Ultimae works - vivid three panel digipack and accompanying 16 page booklet. The artwork blends dew drop foliage with glassy digital renderings all tinted in green pearl tones. The usual rear cover tracklist appears alongside minutes and seconds for each piece - otherwise text is minimal on the main structure. Within the glossy booklet a page is given over to each track - an evocative image, credits, additional track details. Concise thanks and a brief dedication round the package off.

This is the debut album from I Awake and follow up to the digital Ep release [Birth]. I Awake is primarily the work of Thomas Huttenlocher currently based in Stockholm, however, the album benefits from the collaborative input of other notables such as Krister Linder, Fredrik Lundberg, Tara Devi and Planet Boelex. Twelve tracks make up this release, each somewhere in the region of four, five, six minutes ... between me and you though - there's a secret track at the end after a suitably deceptive silence. If you are a fan of the Ultimae label this CD will by no means disappoint - right on the tip of music's constantly breaking wave.