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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------DiN30 iNDEX03
STYLE   Showcase of electronica from the influential DiN label. DiN30 covers a wide range of contemporary electronic music, from the deep ambient glitch of Tetsu Inoue, through the sombre rhythmic muscle and slide guitar beauty of Robert Rich and Ian Boddy to the Berlin school sequential energy of ARC. Most pieces here are beat driven - programmed grooves combining digital blips, twitches, grit and splashes with more traditional percussives - some tripping lightly, many striding forward with plastic, sinewy intensity, beatless passages are here too and compositions carried solely by sonorous synthetic sequencing. The mood and technical approach alters, at times dramatically, from track to track - often shadowy, brooding and gutsy, at times delicate and touched with fractured beauty. The tone soars up into climactic grandeur in places - emotive and passionate. Analogue vintage sounds work against the latest digital soft synth technology to deliver a very lush sound palette broadened further by the inclusion of diverse manipulated voice samples, unidentifiable environmental enhancements and effected guitar work.
 
ARTWORK   DiN30 iNDEX comes in a sharp card wallet that has a fold over flap to protect the disc. On the front is a typical DiN piece of futurist abstract imagery that calls to mind an industrial or technical surface - horizontal bands and graduated tones filling the whole panel. On the back a painted concrete or plaster wall holds the track list, each title displayed alongside the album from which it was taken. The wallet opens out gatefold style to reveal another pair of panels; one similar to the front cover minus text, the other presenting the artwork from the nine source albums with titles below. A nice touch is the fact that the inner surfaces of the wallet, wherein sits the CD, are not left blank - peering inside you can make out the dials, jacks and switches of suitably technical looking piece of kit.
 
OVERALL   

DiN30 iNDEX03 is the latest compilation from Ian Boddy's DiN label and the third in the series. The collection includes two tracks each from the titles DiN21 - 29 featuring such artists as Robert Rich, Ian Boddy, Tetsu Inoue, Radio Massacre International, Surface 10, Parallel Worlds, Hoffmann-Hoock/Wöstheinrich & ARC. The album though does far more than simply express highlights from recent DiN releases, working as a strong item in itself iNDEX03 sees each track run smoothly into the next, cross fading from one stage of an evocative journey into the next. Here removed from their original context many tracks exhibit a fresh beauty, another lustre - a new juxtaposition drawing a different aspect to the surface - label owner Ian Boddy having done a masterful work in selecting, arranging and presenting the eighteen chosen compositions.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Sempervirens – Dirge of the Dying Year
STYLE   A stream of evolving, experimental ambient terrains. Dirge of the Dying Year presents a series of detailed, shadowy ambient environments that flow naturally from one state into another. Field recordings fracture steady synthetic textures; interference, indistinct disturbances and peculiar shufflings hazy presences emerging variously from the omnipresent dense sonic fog. Even drones both tonal and atonal stretch into indefinite planes of sound, often somewhat muffled or distant – thick with atmospheric density. In places melodic forms arise as if encountered incidentally, captured in passing before lost once more to distance - far off transmissions, dimly recalled, musical fragments, a lone guitarist idly fingering. A voice murmurs faintly, a few words, is gone. Metallic clinks, tinkling chimes, a tolling bell, creaking patterns, liquid burbles and bubble motion – just some of the characters caught up in the constant stream.
 
MOOD   In keeping with the title Dirge of the Dying Year is both weighted with gloom and touched with beauty. The over-riding tone being one of dusky density – sonic murk and careful weathering spreading an ashen shroud as far as the ear can see. Everything has soft edges, the soundscape having eroded away into crumbling decay and lonely grey. The album though is not so much dark or uncomfortable as hazy – in places the warmth of the sun filters through the cloud mass or the air thins out suffieciently allowing the listener to focus for a while on the different elements within earshot.
   
ARTWORK   The album comes in a jewel case with additional visual inserts. The artwork throughout the case is engrossing and attractive – as moody and emotive as the music. The track list is found on the rear as is usual – black font against the bright red, yellow, orange of the imagery here (which I will come back to presently). Most appealingly the package contains a series of eight artworks each from a different graphic artist inspired by one of the tracks on the disc. These are gorgeously impressionistic affairs and interact delightfully with the music if held in the hand and absorbed whilst listening. Damaged photomontages, heavy oil paintings, mixed media combinations, graphic elements alongside photographic material. Abstract and figurative, from pastoral to apocalyptic. These images have also been taken and combined on the rear cover into a single construct capturing something of the project overall – fiery, textured sky, stark silhouette of a tree, a lone hazy figure, graphic eye.
  
OVERALL    The album comes as a limited edition jewel case package of only 300 copies released via New Age Dawn/Stellar Auditorium Productions. Sempervirens (meaning evergreen from the Latin, semper - always, and virens - green) is Estonian musician Margus Mets, an artist having honed his skills through the creation of a considerable catalogue of mostly unreleased material – six albums and other uncompiled compositions to date. Dirge of the Dying Year comes as the pinnacle of this previous material – an ambitious and visionary project. Margus Mets is clearly more than a musician as one of the images within is credited to himself.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   The sound of this album calls to mind the blurry, crepuscular feel of Tor Lundval, the experimental freedom of Alio Die. You will likely enjoy this release if you like dark ambient music, since although the music is not primarily bleak or brooding, it does share much in common with the genre – sombre, minimal, often melancholy. Have a listen to some tracks at The Sempervirens Myspace page.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Mystical Sun - Energy Mind Consciousness (EMC)
STYLE  

Deeply chilled electronic downtempo. Mystical sun really takes the pace down here - the music is quite minimal compared to much current chillout - almost ambient for much of the journey, very ambient for some parts. Smooth oceanic swells and pads, ethereal washes of tone and spacey expanses form atmospheric soundscapes upon which are laid out some attractively understated melodic synth lines and tranquil sitar phrases. Environmental sounds mix with the synthetics - forest sounds, storm rumbles. The beats when present drift along with idle indifference, sleepy, far off affairs that set the arrangements gently nodding with rhythm. The album darkens considerably in the latter half becoming tenebrous and brooding such as on the track Dark Energy, where moody, almost atonal drones, swirl across a throbbing bass like the welling up of night. The following Expansions sinks perhaps even deeper into gloom - an intense beatless ambient zone that is suggestive of an abyssal space. Subsequent to this loss of light and tangible form the final track Sanctuarium restores the warmth with a dreamy piece of relaxation music - drifting sitar motifs and falling strums over luminous waves and lustrous drones - willingly we float into etermity.

 
MOOD  

EMC has a restless calm to it - a prowling downbeat cool that suggests huge reserves of hidden strength. Although deeply chilled and at times, almost ethereal, there is a muscular quality to the music. There is also a significant ongoing shadow that lends a certain mystique; the artist expained to us that "Expansions was mixed during a full moon eclipse and I think that added to the mystery around it. The eclipse happened in August of 07 in very early hours of the morning around 3:00 AM". So the absence of light mentioned above is pretty much factual, "as when the song was made, the moon was gone. It was a very magical time. I had full view of the moon while mixing. It just happened to be in the studio window at the right time..."

     
ARTWORK   Energy Mind Consciousness comes in a slick card wallet with a fold over flap that keeps the disc safe. The prime image is of a checkered plane falling away into an imaginary vortex - the blacks and purples of the pattern illuminated by a bright burst of light emanating from within. No text at all on the front - just the picture. On the back the surface is plain black with a simple tracklist, decorative titles and glyphs. Here too are website details for the artist and label. Opening up we find another image similar to the front cover only closer and flipped horizontally - this fills the left hand panel whilst the right holds thanks and credits plus a larger sun glyph. Nice package - so much more individual and pleasant to hold than a jewel case.
 
OVERALL 

Energy Mind Consciousness arrives as the third full length album from Mystical sun on top of a huge list of compilation appearances. The album is released via the eclectic Cyberset Records who also released the previous Deeperworlds. Here Mystical Sun wind down much further than before with what is probably the strongest CD from the project to date, certainly this disc refines the artist's unique sound taking it in a direction that avoids following the crowd of the genre. The label promotes the release saying “EMC is a post electronic, post ambient and post millennial magnum opus of transcendent soundscapes". If the success of this recording matches earlier heights, Mystical Sun's reputation will be most firmly established - over two million track downloads surrounding the debut Primordial Atmospheres and album of the year status for Deeperworlds.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This album strays a little further into ambient chill than many albums in the genre - if you enjoy spacey synths and very unhurried downtempo beats with a leaning toward the dark side - then this is one to try.
 
VIDEO  
 
LINKS  

Mystical Sun Website
Mystical Sun at Myspace
Mystical Sun at Last FM

Mystical Sun at Cyberset
Cyberset at Myspace

Listen to / Buy CD at Cyberset
Buy CD at Amazon
Download album at iTunes

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Procer Veneficus – Saltwater and Glassmoon
STYLE   Oceanic ambience with subtle orchestral melody softened by atmospheric distance and disturbance. Procer Veneficus Swaying themes of neo-classical solemnity drift on dense currents, muted, weighted with textural drones. Dream-slow adagios drift on unseen currents, sluggish and undulating with low heaving swells of intensity. Leaden strings brood within the undertow of massive darkness yet the mindspace created by Procer Veneficus here somehow avoids any sense of the oppressive, any malevolence, all is beautifully melancholic. Deep, deep wistful nocturnes touched only by the faintest shafts of weary light. An explanation of Procer Veneficus says "This project’s purpose is to convert dreams (both waking and sleeping) and an attitude of absolute dedication to the whole of nature throughout the universe into an audio format so that the end result may be conveyed to other individual organisms capable of receiving and interpreting such information".
 
ARTWORK   Saltwater and Glassmoon comes in a simple card sleeve, uncluttered, no front cover text. The prime image is of a moonlit shoreline, white lunar effulgence touching the water, fringing the tide. Everything is steeped in indigo grey – night tones. The back of the sleeve is matt black with blue text – titles, a tracklist, credits, label information. I understand that the package includes a postcard too.
 
OVERALL 

Procer Veneficus is Dereck Schultz otherwise known as Night – an American ambient artist influenced by the landscape of his homeland and currently especially enjoying forming quite minimal acoustic and organic compositions. This release was originally composed and recorded in 2005, delivered now as “an obscured gem” in the first series of release from New Age Dawn/Stellar Auditorium Productions. I have to say that I have never heard anythng quite like this before - the ambivalent middle ground between classical form and ambient deconstruction is masterfully laid down. The artist himself talks of the album in terms of a drowned orchestra “silver oceanic melodies waning into sleep, slipping softly over the continental shelf into the enveloping refuge of abyssal silence.” A fairly substantial discography exists under the Procer Veneficus title in CD and CD-r formats - why not visit the artist's website for more information.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Underjordiska = Spectral Lore
STYLE   Dark post-metal ambience. The disc opens with the tranquil sounds of the sea and rolling guitar arpeggios - gulls create an air and wheel within it. After a brief pause as if catching breath in readiness, synth strains ripple over the guitar and little by little lap over the melody. In time the atmosphere cracks somewhat - more distorted guitar massing up into a denser sound. Then as if dropping off the continental shelf - all rhythm is gone and the soundscape opens up into a reverberating expanse of multilayered drones. Deep gloom and low thrumming tones dominate. In time melodic hints suggest underwater forms and fluid motion - drifting, meandering - picked out as if by the slightest touch of light. The intensity builds in places to a weighty mass of sound and then falls away once more into abyssal emptiness. Track one drains away into the second half - faint sonic turbulence marking the shift. This latter section gradually wells up - shadowy drones fractured with distortion thickening ultimately into heaving density. At the crescendo of this colossal build once more a falling away into uncharted depths - brooding, very low. The ambient space ebbs and flows - points of softness disturbed by immense distant agitation - smooth submersion swaying with occasional warm currents. Melodic elements pass by, the outlook brightens and we're near the surface once more - echoing mandolin patterns leading the way. Eventually a tide of dreamy pads and sparse harmonious notes throws us onto the shore.
 
ARTWORK   I have only a sample of the artwork for this release. The website explains that a four page booklet accompanies the disc in its jewelcase. The front cover that I have features a montage of photographic and drawn elements. Against the billowing clouds of the early evening sky a silhouetted figure seems to be waiting out on the water, a drifting row boat away off in the foreground. The reverse of this single sheet is darker - the figure here standing within the boat, the sea grey and heavy, the sky a foggy accumulation of ashen tones. Here too are the two simple track titles - part 1 and part 11 - along with brief credits and website details.
 
OVERALL   

This release comes from the Stellar Auditorium / New Age Dawn Productions label as a limited editon of just 300 copies. It brings together two artists Underjordiska and Spectral Lore in a split disc arrangement. Two passages each longer than half an hour make up the two parts of the album. The tone of this recording varies considerably during the journey from sea shore to ocean bed and back - melodic moments interspersed with amorphous freeform - restful consonance running into dissonant noise and back once more. Promotional material points out that the disc features "actual underwater recordings, aquatic drones, unique instruments (from a mandolin to a duduk) and even melodic post rockish moments". Right now you can listen to samples of the album on the label's Myspace page (30.09.08) not sure how long those will remain in place.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Falling You - Faith
STYLE  

Dark melodic ambient with ethereal female vocals. Faith is a hauntingly beautiful collection of very contemporary electronic songs. John Zorko has a sensitively restrained touch - forming uncluttered, panoramic soundscapes of cinematic elegance shot through alternatively with touching melancholy and honest warmth. Clean electric guitars, reverberating pianos and smooth strings build most of the instrumental melodies, but if anything, the wonderfully subtle, delicately shady synthetic work is the most stirring. Little touches of tone, delicate textures, fleeting peripheral effects and aural turbulence, swells of shadow and layered drones. The vocals are as personal and sincere as we have come to expect from Falling You - each singer distinct and differently focussed, perhaps none more obviously so than the instantly recognisable Aimee Page; her oriental voice inflections and gossamer tones all the more human against the deep cello sweeps of Erica Mulkey on Freefall. Tracks range in length from brief glimpses into beguiling sonic vistas through to a couple of quite lengthy compositions that evolve as they progress - starting beatless and freeform, then shifting shape and eventually flowing, carried by programmed percussion. The intensity of the album varies too - meandering ambient and heavenly one moment, tenebrous industrial grit on silk the next, then dreamy and blissful, late night lounge music - although never straying beyond the unity of the discreet Falling You vision.

 
MOOD   Faith has the familiar pensive melancholia of previous albums, although this time the theme material is more consciously consistent. Vulnerability, trust, self awareness and hope are recurring subject materials reflected in the meditative approach to much of the music. So too the singers variously display aspects of intimate self expression, wistful deeper musing, joyful soaring and heavenly siren song. Elegant and graceful, Falling You often reveals a cool, rolling cinematic breadth that is evocative of stormy skies and dramatic monochrome landscapes.
    
ARTWORK   Faith arrives in what has become Falling You tradition - a jewel case package filled with low key blue and black imagery and a five letter title. This time tumbling glass star spangles glimmer in the darkness of the front cover. On the back these are seen to be emptied from a crystal goblet caught by a gleam of light. Track titles are here. Inside the disc hides a shot of an upturned palm - a scattering of sparkles stark on the skin. The insert shows the goblet now shattered and jagged - credits laid out alongside on a track by track basis. Pleasingly the insert opens into three panels - the inner three given over to lyrics - each track listed with writing and performance information and words set out below. The rightmost section includes a dedication and thanks. One remaining section holds a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche - "Woe to the thinker that is not the gardener, but only the soil of the plants that grow in him," followed by some words musing on the album's theme. One phrase asks - "when life tests us and we fail, will our faith save us, or shatter like a sheet of glass as we plunge through it?"
 
OVERALL   

This is the fourth album from Falling You, the project having debuted ten years ago now. Faith is released through Magnatune as were the last two albums Touch and Human. Promotional material explains that Faith explores "what we humans do when life's experiences shake the foundations of whatever beliefs we hold, 'faith' asks the question, 'What do we do when everything crumbles around us?' ". However this is not a religious record (although not necessarily anti-religion, either). The list of vocalists this time sees the return of Dru Allen (currently singer with Mirabilis), Jennifer McPeak (the original Falling You vocalist), Aimee Page (previously with ethereal / goth band Vishnu's Secret) and Suzanne Perry (currently with MelodyGuild). In addition two new singers bring fresh talent - Android Lust vocalist Shikee and Amanda Kramer (used to sing with Information Society, The Golden Palominos and World Party -- she now performs with The Psychedelic Furs and Siouxsie). Faith builds very satisfyingly on the Falling You foundation, all the best elements are here once more, the new material everything that we might have wished for and just that bit more.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Falling You do an excellent job of sounding different from the rest. Darker and more freeform than many electronic female vocal projects. This album will doubtless delight previous fans - especially those that enjoyed the less beat driven tracks. For the uninitiated - lovers of the darker aspects of such acts as Delerium, Balligomingo and Sleepthief will likely be drawn to Faith.