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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Deep Brasil
STYLE  

Lush worldbeat electronic-organic fusion. Deep Brasil builds on the legacy of Deep Forest, employing many musical devices that fans of this archetypal project will instantly recognise. The vocal talents of Flávio Dell’Isola and Michel Villain take the lead amid a colourful sonic tapestry of smooth synths and inventive technical effects, pianos and a wide range of global instrumentation. Naturally much of the musical accompaniment stems from Brazil and South America - lively Latin percussion, flutes and breathy pipes, Spanish guitar melodies; there also the familiar European/French elements that have frequented much Deep Forest material from the start. Songs are delivered mostly in the Portuguses language - with additional male and female vocalists in broad chorales, solo snippets full of character, children's expressions full of wonder. Indeed the singing throughout the album is performed with a touching sincerity that we have come to associate with Mouquet's music over the years. The mood is mostly down tempo and relaxing, that said, there are some uptempo tracks with a more theatrical and dramatic air about them bouncing with Latin rhythm or almost tribal fervour, beatless passages too - piano, strings and human voice; nonetheless Deep Brasil shines with greatest lustre when lazy and chilled - the sounds of the forest dancing in the dappled sunlight.

 
ARTWORK   The packaging of Deep Brasil is exquisite - an Amazonian green digipack full of attractive rain forest imagery. A young face marked with tribal designs peers from the front cover; broad bangles and heavy beaded necklaces adorning smooth skin. Everything is steeped in hues of green - a typical Deep Forest style logo backing the album title. On the reverse is a timed tracklist as well as a brief discussion of the project. Opening out into three panels - other surfaces hold: a sun kissed lizard half obscured by a veined leaf, its dark shadow soft edged in contrast to the sharp scales and black eye, a glistening tree frog - huge red eyes slit with upright pupils, spreading orange toes clutching a leafy platform. If this isn't enough - a sixteen page booklet accompanies the main pack full of French language information and words along with more attractive photo images. Finally - this glorious presentation arrives in a card sleeve that mirrors the front and back of the digipack design.
 
OVERALL   

Deep Brasil is not strictly a Deep Forest album, having been put together by Eric Mouquet & Flávio Dell’Isola. This is, however, a revisiting of all that made Deep Forest such a popular project - emotional themes both serene and moving, unique international vocals and engrossing instrumental combinations. There is even a Brazilian version of the iconic Sweet Lullaby track from the initial Deep Forest album. The Deep Brasil CD is one of a series planned to be showcased via the relatively new Deep-projects website and released primarily as an internet edition. There are already sections set up on the web site with the labels Deep Africa, Deep China and Deep Sky - so there is much to look forward to. You can listen to the music at the site and even take part in an ongoing remix opportunity. If you enjoy worldbeat music Eric Mouquet at his best is essential listening - here he seems on a wave with Brazilian born partner singer/composer/guitar Dell’Isola bringing some genuine warmth and character to the vocal content.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Will-O’-The-Wisp - Long Sleep Plain
STYLE  

Electronic soundscapes with deeply chilled beats. Long Sleep Plain gradually unfurls a series of very dreamy downtempo trance tracks that have a hypnotic, psychedelic quality about them. Long unhurried builds and fluid sweeps of tone underpin slowly evolving, liquid synth phrases and rolling bass arps and pulses. Skidding across the surface electrical effects and turbulence crackle like static or swish like disturbed air. Dramatic climaxes characterise a number of pieces - tracks building to measured crecendos as the various layers all weave together. Like light on coloured water Long Sleep Plain has a lustrous sparkle about it - a low light crystal effulgence. Some tracks are especially attractive - Sweet Stolen Song with Zero Cult is blissful and beautiful; the almost beatless Like A Leaf In The Wind with its cinematic broad panorama and delicate piano phrasing buoyed up on undulating bass being another stand out arrangement.

 
ARTWORK  

My promo copy includes only the front cover art seen above - a moody blue montaged image that ambiguously suggests multiple readings. The kind of dreamscape image that an album of this sort needs. Framed by dotted borders overlaid with graphic swirls - the lower rim bears the legend "The soundtrack of the deep dreaming landscapes". The label logo sits on the lower right corner.

 
OVERALL   

This release comes from the brother of Nick Miamis - perhaps better known to many as Side Liner or label manager of Unicorn Music/Cosmicleaf Records. Younger sibling Vassilis Miamis working under the moniker Will-‘O-The Wisp delivers his album via the family label. This debut follows appearances on compilations such as Nova Natura and Fragile Life. The eleven compositions here include collaborative contributions and remixes from such notables as Cydelix, Side Liner & Zero Cult. The Cydelix remix of Echoing Melodies with its oriental touches is a great coming together of talent - gorgeous sleepy intro and dnb flickers to the beat - the sweet piano theme here is delightfully tranquil. Clearly not content to hang back in the shadow of others Will-O'-The-Wisp has put together a strong product that will appeal to fans that enjoy the more ambient end of the chill spectrum.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Maps and Diagrams - Smeg
STYLE  

Glitchy down tempo electronica with an air of melancholy serenity. The music of Maps and Diagrams wanders between wistful beauty and pensive solemnity. There are some passages of intense bliss; flickering, static infected zones where swells of luminous tone rise and fall, underplayed harmonious touches and liquid synths release tantalising snatches of touching melody and streamers of effected noise flutter and flash. Beats for the most part are not strongly regular, rather they are scatty, fragmented affairs strewn with electronic detritus. In fact, the percussive aspects are among the most engrossing - incredible multi layered arrangements where deep kicks fluctuate and pulse beneath an array of lighter sounds made up of both structured clicks, crunches and crackle as well as seemingly random hiss, disturbance and interference. At times these elements disperse into beatless clouds like dust motes in sunlight. I'm especially drawn to the warmer tracks on this album - the lazy effected electric piano phrases and nodding groove of Walnut Creek, the delicate vibes and deliciously morphing rhythm of Henna, the raindrop-like echoing, chaotic percussives and moody bass of Kuahaa. As is often the case, these attractive pieces are all the more poignant for being set among the other slightly harsher, darker compositions.

 
ARTWORK   Since this is a download album artwork consists only of the main image seen above. This appears to be a mixed media design where line drawings of amoebic cell forms curl across a blotchy red, green, beige ground - grunge effects and careful damage forming lush textures. A single line of text delivers the album title and the Maps and Diagrams moniker.
 
OVERALL   

Maps and Diagrams has been in action since around 2002 and is the project of U.K. artist Tim Martin. The project now has an extensive discography released via such labels as pause_2, static caravan, arable records, smallfish, moamoo and (as with this current album) Cactus Island. The Cactus Island label has actually just awakened from a semi-dormant state and redesigned its website - Smeg being the first fresh delivery. Smeg is released in FLAC and mp3 formats, contains twelve tracks and includes cover art by Malota. If you haven't already heard Maps and Diagrams - this is digital glitch of the highest order; very inspiring, very cutting edge, absorbing headphone listening. There are a number of samples to listen to on the Cactus Island website as well as the label's Myspace page.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Carmen Rizzo - Ornament of an Imposter Remixed
STYLE  

Chillout and ambient electronic dance reworkings. Seven of the original eleven tracks from Ornament of an Imposter get the remix treatment here - a number by Carmen Rizzo himself. The strong structures of the source tracks are eroded away here in various ways - a number of pieces leaning toward ambient fluidity, less measured; beats having been stripped away completely on some tracks, rhythm carried by the rippling motion of synth patterns alone. Other remixers have worked around the beats themselves allowing freedom of form to flow around the drums - reverb and airy effects dotting the soundscape. The Jason Bentley and Smitty remix of Écouter is one of the pieces to retain the full vocal track as main focus - a smooth, dreamy chill mix with a relaxing dancefloor pace. The intensity of the music generally builds as the album progresses - the ambient openers passing via softer dance tracks into some heavier pieces later on with cut and paste effect trance elements, sweeping synths and thumping grooves. From start to finish though, the powerful, lucid electronica of Ornament shines through these new versions reminding us of the solid foundation that supports all of these extra perspectives.

 
ARTWORK  

Ornament of an Imposter Remixed retains most of the original visual elements from the digipack. My promo copy with a simple card insert mirroring the original rear cover design minus tracklist - a photograph of the artist in cool muted hues set below a graphic silhouette of twig tips and leaves. Here the new tracks are found recorded on the flip side. Each has a timing alongside and a credit for the remixing duties. The only other information on this package is a list of website and email details.

 
OVERALL   

Ornament of an Imposter was released just recently on Carmen's own Electrofone Music label. As is traditional - the remix album comes hot on the heels of the original. The ten restructured tracks here break the original compositions down quite dramatically - perhaps only a vocal phrase or melodic motif indicating the source in some cases. Two tracks receive repeated attention - All Is Forgiven appearing in two variations, Écouter f/ Jem three versions; these being laid out one after another highlighting the dramatic difference in takes from one artist to the next. The new arrangements have been created by Telefon Tel Aviv (Charlie Cooper), Jason Bentley and Smitty, Morgan Page, Ramin Sakurai (of Supreme Beings of Leisure), Andy Gray, Tony Estrada and Carmen Rizzo himself. Indeed Carmen has reworked four of the tracks here - clearly enjoying the freedom that these looser structures allow.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Numina - Symbiotic Spaces
STYLE   Smooth flowing synthetic ambience. The twenty tracks here include both beatless drifting drone zones and pieces carried by gentle swaying percussion. In between there are rhythmic compositions stirred onto motion by the regularity of sequential structures or subtly cycling tonal motifs. Numina's music generally has a silken flowing nature - delicate gossamer sheets and fine sweeping layers filling the mindspace from one horizon to the other. December Sky is a fine example of beautiful, immersive minimalism - graceful, gentle strains in slow motion oceanic undulation. Other passages have a spacey coldness about them, with slight sci fi effects twinkling in a broad expanse, there are even places of abyssal darkness, lonely and mysterious with tribal drums looming up from somewhere far below. Numina demonstrates a visionary ability to establish evocative mood music and to build very expressive narratives in a broad range of emotional contexts - soothing and pensive, floatational and blissful, unsettling quietus, enigmatic isolation...
 
ARTWORK  

Symbiotic Spaces comes in a twin jewel case adorned with soft focus jellyfish photography. Orange pink translucent hemispheres trailing strands and streamers swim through the space of the various panels. Bodies aglow, their inner parts revealed - these beautiful creatures appear as if carrying their own luminance. The rear cover has the jellyfish back lit, partially silhouetted, curling pennants catching the light. Here track titles appear in white font with thick black edges. Within, the tracklist is repeated with a key to the original release details for each piece. The second inner panel holds a brief explanation of the project along with thanks and website/contact details. Behind the CD itself, one more image hints at another side of Numina - a tenebrous monochrome picture. Here the surging medusae appear weightier, deeper, darker.

 
OVERALL   

Symbiotic Spaces (Rare and Unreleased 2000 - 2007) is a double disc collection that brings together twenty compositions that were released via mp3.com, E-dition and the Drone Download Project as well as a number of previously unreleased tracks. Written, as the bracketed title points out, between 2000 and 2007, this pack takes in much of Numina's musical history and gives a broad insight into his range of ambient creation. We see the artist variously exploring panoramic sonic starscapes; beguiling, sonorous subterranean depths; crepuscular vistas under open skies, and bathing his listeners in luxurious sunshine sheets and veils of coloured light. Despite the varying source material - here the tracks work with surprising coherence - each running naturally into the next as if the artist had intended it that way all along.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Various Artists - Music For Contemporary Living #1
STYLE   Easy listening chillout music from a broad selection of like minded musicians and singers. Music For Contemporary Listening 1# is very much a collection of smooth lounge music compositions - the seductive international vocals often soft and whispered, the beats having a hint of global influence softened by plenty of congas, the choice of instrumentation blending organic acoustic guitar fingering, bright saxophone riffs and languid piano phrases with synthetic pads and strings. There are jazzy pieces, light dance tracks, arrangements that sound just made for a dimly lit bar room, new age and Celtic Enya-esque vocal tracks and tracks with a leaning toward worldbeat. The melodies are very accessible yet not too dominant, meaning that you could very well use this album as background or mood music.
 
ARTWORK   My promo copy of this album comes in a card sleeve with a bold graphic structure on the front - deep purple discs and blocks of colour on a black ground. The section of the title'1#' picked out in sharply contrasting green. On the back is the complete list of track titles with writing and instrumental credits alongside each. A selection of the cover images of releases from the Tantajo catalogue surround the text accompanied by website and contact details.
 
OVERALL    This collection of fifteen tranquil songs and instrumentals is released through Tantajo Records. Fifteen different artists come together with a common vision showcasing what Tantajo is all about - lush, relaxing chillout for the twenty first century. Some of the names might be familiar, others somewhat less well known - Ultramarin, Sunseekers, Maria Sanchez, Terra Del Sol and Freud to name just a few. Aimed at the same listening field as Cafe Del Mar and Buddha Bar - Music for contemporary living 1# is the perfect soundtrack to a summer evening or for recapturing those warm nights by the sea.