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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Robert Scott Thompson - Frozen Light
STYLE  

Long form ambient mood music. Frozen light sparkles and glints with metallic tones and lush sonorous chimes delicately arranged across brooding ambient beds of sound. The underplay of dark undulating drones is at times even, smooth and silky, at other points akin to slow motion string phrases rolling out heaving oceanic themes. The semi-melodic percussives ring in bell-like clarity, reverberate in sustained textures or drop in muted, dulled clanks - peaceful, natural, lulling the mind into a blissful restfulness. Sometimes the notes are deep and huge, sometimes fleeting, clashing, sometimes light, tuneful almost resembling piano keys. Variation throughout each track is subtle, minimal, establishing relatively steady state listening zones. Very immersive, very transportational.

 
MOOD   Initially these four pieces appear dark, even tenebrous as the low drones stir into motion, lit only by softly coruscating chimes and peculiar textural material. But as the tracks unfold they begin to feel increasingly inviting, enveloping the listener as if floating weightless, intrigued by the constant surrounding bursts and blossoms of colour. The gloom holds heavenly tints and warm currents, the chimes at times falling into soft melody or tranquil harmony.
   
ARTWORK   Frozen Light comes in a jewel case with a single sheet insert. On the Front cover are four crisp graphic images relating to the four compositions on the album. On the back cover a closer image of swirling paint on a black ground fills the whole panel. The four track titles are here with timings alongside, Aucourant Records contact details below. Inside is a repeat of the tracklist against a different background image - here the colours appear as if glowing from behind a sheet of frosted glass.
  
OVERALL   

Released in 2008 Frozen Light is a set of four long-form ambient compositions works from American artist Robert Scott Thompson. The album is released through Robert's own Aucourant Records and sits atop an impressive discography of engrossing 'classical ambient' recordings. Promotional material explains that these pieces are "intended as a means to provide a sonic tinting to the environment, Frozen Light can be listened to at various levels of awareness, ranging from rapt attention to detail to background soundscape." That description sounds very apt to me - in fact this release is likely to lead you through some of those states of consciousness, setting powerful mindscapes of great depth and emergent beauty.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Frozen Light is an album for ambient fans that enjoy steady state sound zones with plenty to hold the attention, should you wish it to. The structure may be minimal but the attention to detail is not.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ---------Art Of Infinity - Endless Future
STYLE   Romantic electronic soundscapes and sweeping, imaginative songs. Endless Future is an ambitious concept delivered with an appropriate theatrical grandeur. Dramatic themes and passionate songs benefit from a stream of constantly varying vocalists and vocal styles including the sixty voices of the all male choir MGV Liederkranz Cleeberg, a broad range of world sounds, classical instruments and electronica. Whispered words (male and female) hang in the softer moments, layered and massed voices welling up in the crescendos. There is something of a contrast between the clarity and open singing of Alquimia and the thicker atmospheres created around the chants and words of Eva Wolf. These diversities are further enhanced by the musical genres drawn upon - at times leaning a little in the direction of lazy lounge, then toward rock musical pomp, and then pop ambience.
 
ARTWORK   Endless Future comes in a luxurious digipack of four fold out panels, revealing eight colourful surfaces in all. The front cover sees the backs of two shadowed figures apparently facing into a scarlet tunnel lit at the far end, or perhaps a deep red sky centred by a bright sun. The back of the package holds a timed tracklist against an enlarged version of the light source from the main cover image. Opening out like a book - the first two inner surfaces introduce a horizontal progression of track information: titles and credits; multilanguage lyrics; piece by piece images. Like a book within a book, the two panels open out once more revealing the rest of the track progression; a more detailed credit section and the disc itself.
 
OVERALL   

Art Of Infinity are producer musicians Thorsten Rentsch and Thorsten Sudler-Mainz, joined in this case by a broad range of guest instrumentalists and singers. The project was initiated around 1996 leading to a debut release back in 2000 - New Horizon. Dimension Universe followed in 2004 and now we have the third album from the project Endless Future released via BSC Music, Prudence/Rough Trade. The band obviously have wide ranging musical interests that show up to a greater or lesser degree here - the progressive rock influences of such bands as Pink Floyd entwine the ethnic neo-classical grace of Adiemus. Promotional material frequently uses the term 'ambient' in describing the more low key synthetics that underpin some portions of the album. This melting pot of stylistic sources complements the conceptual content that "deals with ancient topics and archaic dreams of mankind, cosmic journeys into the future and to magical mystic places".

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Antonio Testa & Susana Beatriz Alvear
STYLE  

Bright songs and instrumentals with abundant international sounds, relaxing world and breakbeats. The creative singing of Susana Beatriz Alvear features on five out of the twelve tracks here. Both classical and ethnic styles employed to equal effect - the former confident and soaring in operatic opulence, the latter often subtle, expressive and atmospheric. There is truly a wealth of global colour here, horns, flutes and drones, bouzouki, various sonorous percussives: talking drum, teponaztli, udu stones, shells, stalagmites, kalabash - most played by Testa himself. Additional musicians provide trumpet, keyboard work and guitars. Most tracks are built around mid-paced, infectious rhythms that could easily inspire dancing, however there are a number of more ambient compositions - lazy exotic arrangements imbued with a timeless beauty. Lush, diverse instrumentation and environmental recordings provide a constantly shifting soundscape where the human voice arises in distant choruses, spoken passages, multi-lingual songs.

 
ARTWORK   Ecosphere arrives in a tidy digipack with a cover image stretching across front and back. This panorama looks like a semi abstract heathland drawn out in pastels or chalks - bold horizontal strokes curving in hillside forms. Black borders hold the titles. On the back panel is a tracklist with times given for each piece. Opening out, similar imagery is presented between much wider borders. To the left credits can be found including the wide range of instruments played by Antonio himself. The lower section introduces the collaborating artists for each track and relevant website information for the project.
 
OVERALL   

This release comes to us via ExperimenTribe Records with the description "Ecosphere is an alchemic project of ancestral sounds full of tribal rhythms, performed for an underground language, creating a balance between biosphere and technosphere....." Adding to the extensive catalogue already under Antonio Testa's belt, this collaborative project is an inviting doorway to a melting pot of sound - worldbeat, ambient, dub and electronic influences - with a 'genuine' feel about it. Testa is not a dabbler with ethnic flavour, he clearly has a wealth of serious musical experience and an experimental fervour that channels his efforts in interesting directions. The Myspace page for the project features a number of tracks from the album - why not have a listen decide for yourself.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Erdem Helvacioglu - Wounded Breath
STYLE   Five electro acoustic environments. Wounded Breath delivers a rich montaging of lo-fi creaks, aural fractures, dull rumbles, crackling textures and semi percussive tones - many sounding as is they have been painstakingly collected rather than created. These 'natural' fragments are carefully built up into environmental structures underpinned by delicate synthetic drones and enhanced by deft digital processing. This method of arrangement means that the foreground sounds are largely atonal, whilst the subtle drones that hang in the background move in and out of consonance - sometimes soft musical washes, sometimes more like breaths of air, sometimes as devoid of tonality as the foreground noise. No beats, no tangible melody - the five compositions are unfettered by obvious structure - apparently freeform and loose - nevertheless, very tight and logical.
 
ARTWORK   Wounded Breath comes in a jewel case with a single sheet insert. The main cover image presents a soft liquid blue surface - hidden in the depths a shut eyed profile, lips parted, engulfed in the deep blue medium surrounding it. To the right five recurring wave forms move away from the face. These waves re-appear on the back cover where each connects to a track title. Here too are credits, thanks and website details. The insert holds a poetic accompaniment to each track - a mental image to give form to the sound. Also there is a paragraph providing information about the composer and his musical achievements.
 
OVERALL   

Turkish composer Erdem Helvacioglu returns here with his latest album, released via Aucourant Records. Promotional material explains "the works on this album each explore the capacities of sound design that is the hallmark of the current state of the art of electroacoustic music composition". Helvacioglu masterfully interweaves his peculiar found sounds with the effects of cutting edge technology to deliver some very personal recordings. Internationally recognised, Helvacioglu's music has been performed at prestigious festivals and broadcast all around the world. He has collaborated with a growing number of well-known musical figures and is also actively involved in composing for films, multimedia productions, contemporary dance and theatre.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Parallel Worlds - Shade
STYLE  

Pure electronica luxuriating in a broad range of synthetic analogue sound sources. Shade has a strong contemporary feel whilst drawing on the powerful musical heritage of Berlin school dynamism and ambient atmosphere and texture construction. The sound is very rich, varied and energetic as is true of much DiN output - sequencers percolate against programmed beats, setting up intricate rhythms that shift and evolve constantly whilst layered waves and washes of tone drift in heavenly light or groan in grey shadow. Melodies on the aptly named Shade are primarily sombre, serious forms sometimes with melancholic infusions or subtle touches of beauty. Peculiar sonic forms are everywhere: gutsy, plastic gurglings beautified by delicate chimes; shuffling beats and echoing sibilance with mechanical measure softened by warm melodic currents; hazy ambient introductions with clicking patterns and white noise dashes; sci-fi moods and night time spaces.

 
MOOD   The overriding tone of Shade is one of low light, techno-structure and flickering, colourful ambience. An organic-mechanic atmosphere pervades most compositions as burbling sequencer patterns and intricate grooves dance over melodic synth strains calling to mind Blade Runner-esque dark futures and complex, alien technologies. Indeed there is often a sci-fi soundtrack feel as Parallel Worlds build up their moody sound environments, sometimes with an air of tension hanging, sometimes a bathed in doleful melancholy, in other places driven along with an engine-like urgency.
   
ARTWORK   In traditional DiN style, Shade comes in a jewel case where an abstract image sits between pale borders. As if taken from a TV screen, the main image is cut through with fine lines criss-crossing a series of horizontal bands and colour blocks. This design runs across to the second panel of the CD insert and re-appears with a different crop on the reverse. Track lists appear both inside and out, each with times shown. The innermost section of this two panel insert holds a complete gear list, brief credits and generous thanks.
  
OVERALL   

Parallel Worlds is the combined project of electronica artists Bakis Sirros and John Sirros, originating in 1994 and releasing four albums prior to the current Shade. Very much in keeping with the label sound and ethos, Parallel Worlds have chosen to deliver this disc via Ian Boddy's DiN Records. The previous album Obsessive Surrealism was reviewed here at Morpheus on its release back in 2007. The ten tracks on this new product clearly exhibit a shared love of traditional hardware synthesisers and deep sound sculpture; exploring possible mental conditions and emotional states. The maturity of form and thematic content is strongly evident as Parallel Worlds continue their inevitable upward journey into the electronic halls of fame.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This album has been well chosen to appeal to the growing army of DiN fans. It is perhaps one of the label's more readily accessible products with plenty going on to hold the attention and a rich sonic chiaroscuro effect providing plenty of emotive ambience. If you enjoy brooding, dynamic electronica crawling with atmosphere - then this is a strong contender.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Various - Natural Born Chillers 2
STYLE  

Downtempo electronic dreamscapes. This collection brings together crystalline synth lines, burbling basslines and improvisational snatches touched with shadows of dub, lit with the warm colours of global dance and bathed in vapour-soft atmospherics. The lumbering basslines of OTT and Majan roll along beneath bright melodic phrases and acidic bursts; the world-fusion beats of Midival Punditz and Agalactia compliment voices and instrumentation from the Indian sub-continent; Pi and Hibernation deliver hypnotic digital beauty with liquid tones and blissfully easy rhythms. There are hints of a rather spacey form of rock in places - twisted guitars searing into grandiose crescendos among the more chilled elements. The collection concludes with a mesmerisingly restful semi-ambient track from Eitan Reiter where artificial sounds surround vibrant flute strains and delicate guitar patterns.

 
ARTWORK   Lush, lush colour and depth of imagery usually marks an Aleph-Zero release - this is no exception. Steeped in the most glorious yellow hues a series of petal-rimmed faces emerge from mandala-like layers of foliage. These blossoming forms hang in gorgeous curling growths throughout the whole package. Graphic embellishments, swirls, curves and curlicues are everywhere. On the back of my promotional two panel folder is a tracklist and an outline of the thoughts behind the project. Within, the track details are expanded against more rich golden blooms with associated credits and publishing details.
 
OVERALL    The second instalment of Natural Born Chillers has been a long time in coming, Aleph-Zero masterminds Shahar and Shulman stitching together a strongly coherent downbeat journey that follows the form of a gradual build from gentle beginnings into a wave of intensity that breaks toward the latter third of the album. Big names sit alongside less well established artists, Bluetech, 3 Wise Monkeys, Outersect, Interlaced and Tau Kita... The collection is presented as "a genre-breaking story" of "hypnotic rhythms, dubby moves, psychedelic adventures" that range into "different corners of our globe and into other dimensions". In general it's quite a beaty CD with plenty of musical detail and melodic content. There are passages that might well have you dancing with only the final piece having no obvious beat.