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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Kaya Project - Desert Phase
STYLE  

Worldbeat downtempo with a Middle Eastern focus. The immediate impression from the opening clatter of the desert drums and Arabic female vocals supported by vivid string swipes and pumping bass is one of lush colour and global brilliance. As is the trademark of Kaya Project, musical influences from unrelated genres and locations are woven into the primary mix: along with the sounds of such exotic regions as Rajasthan and Morocco are harmonica, slide guitar, jazzy double bass and some very European sounding wordless female vocalisings; contemporary chillout grooves and dance music forms juxtapose timeless flute and hand drumming; subtle electronic atmospheres work in tandem with sandscape winds and evocative field recordings. Desert Phase is all you hope for from Kaya Project - a powerful musical vision full of authentic recordings and genuine insight; enjoyable tunes, well structured and absorbing; a transporting experience that will brighten the dullest Western day.

 
ARTWORK   I have only a digital promo copy of this album and so haven't seen the actual art work. However, a look at the Kaya Project and Interchill websites show that this is a digipack release with plenty to look at and Interchill has an impeccable reputation when it comes to packaging. The band's blog at the first of those two sites has a video presentation that shows most of the panels of the digipack in close up - so you can see for yourself what you're getting whilst listening to a montage from the album.
 
OVERALL   

The deserts of Northern Africa and the Middle East are conjured up alongside the wilderness regions of North America on this latest album from the prolific Seb Taylor and Natasha Chamberlain in their Kaya Project guise. This is now the fourth Kaya Project album building upon the high quality sound that we have come to expect from artists also associated with such acts as Angel Tears and Hibernation. Interchill remains for now the label of choice and so anyone possessing the previous 2008 release ... And So It Goes will have a good idea what to expect. An array of guest musicians contribute their talents, promotional material credit Shahin Badar, Sabiha Khan, Irina Mikhailova and Deeyah with vocals; Riad Abji with upright bass; Deepak Pandit with violin; Omar Faruk Tekbilek ney and zourna.

 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Bruno Sanfilippo + Mathias Grassow
STYLE   Delicate Old Lady Grand Piano impressions and subtle, air-filled drones. Mathias Grassow lays down a series of gossamer drone textures reminiscent of distant fogs - hazy, grey beds of transparent tone with shifting densities that seep into the consciousness softening the atmosphere, drenching the soundscape. These electronic formations at times recede and hang in the background allowing Bruno Sanfilippo's piano work to dominate, but in other places they well up and fill the senses becoming dense, intense, engrossing. The piano parts are achingly beautiful and melodic on some tracks - sparse, unhurried developments that seem to pour straight from the heart of the player. There are also darker passages of finger runs looming from the relative stillness of the synths. Sometimes the ivories sink deep within the mists, reverberating gently, becoming a part of the air or are so heavily effected as to merge with the backdrop.
 
ARTWORK   CROMO is a jewel case presentation with a fold-out insert. Cover art is all comprised of soft shades of grey with abstract light patterns arcing and streaking the surface. The front cover holds a central image between broad bands of grey and simple titles. On the back the tracks are listed against respective times. The sleeve insert opens out to reveal a page of credits and a gear list for both Grassow and Sanfilippo. Here too are web site details and contact information. The innermost double page spread is given over to a glassy abstraction in grey with the legend CROMO = Cr as the only text.
 
OVERALL    CROMO [piano & drones] is the latest collaboration from Bruno Sanfilippo and Mathias Grassow released via Bruno's own Ad21music label. The album follows up the highly respected Ambessence: Piano and Drones album of 2008 (also reviewed at Morpheus Music). This current work delivers six mesmerising compositions ranging in length from just over seven minutes to the powerful nineteen minute nineteen second conclusion - sixty two minutes in total. The melancholy grace of the first release is once again present but this time there is a darker tone tugging at the music a dramatic sense of anticipation. The music can be sampled both at the Ad21 website and at Bruno Sanfilippo's own site.
 
 


MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Krusseldorf - Bohemian Groove
STYLE  

Electronic downtempo with dub ambient and global chill elements. Krusseldorf delivers a bright, colourful sound brimming with interesting effects, dreamy melody lines and a very lush sound palette. You'll hear ethnic violins, recorded voices, synthetic themes, acoustic guitar, silky washes, piano phrases, programmed creaks, flutters and clicks. The beats are mostly of a restful nature - digitally constructed affairs of light electronic ephemera interlocked with soft blunt bass lines that add a nice weight to the low end. The music is appealingly harmonious and melodic with repeating phrases interlocking and layering upon one another - the ethnic performances skillfully juxtaposed or deftly blended - complementary arpeggios weaving around the main lines and smooth pads lifting everything into pleasant buoyancy.

 
MOOD  

The emphasis here is one of exploratory bliss; Bohemian Groove being one of the most consistently magical-serene albums I've heard in a while. Krusseldorf avoids the trap of sounding like he's trying too hard to be mysterious or exotic - the sonic formations having a natural flow and genuine warmth that draw on the best of many contemporary styles without becoming a shallow mishmash of influences. Very beautiful in places.

   
ARTWORK   Having only the promo copy I can't fully describe the packaging for this release - but the two panel insert in my possession indicates a high quality item. The moody, grey industrial feel of the cover imagery hints at a seriousness found in Krusseldorf's musical quality - a grunge textured logo on a metallic plate structure. Within, a similar backdrop of corroded steels and rust flecked surfaces holds track titles and an explanatory paragraph on the left; credits, thanks and contact details to the right.
  
OVERALL   

Krusseldorf is the solo project of Swedish born Simon Heath. Bohemian Groove is the second full length album from the project, a number of EPs having also been previously released. That is not to say that Simon is a relative new-comer to the scene, he has been involved in a list of other musical ventures such as Abnocto, Couchlock, Alembic, Sojobo, Dorf Unit, Preponderance and Knaprika. The fourteen albums under his belt include five from the black ambient / noise /industrial Atrium Carceri and eight as Za Frûmi Simon's classical music persona. The current release comes as the debut delivery from the new Beats and Pieces label (a label that promises to remain unrestricted by genre within the electronic field. The sound of Krusseldorf is generally of a dreamily chilled nature - a clean, lustrous sound with glitchy, effected sparkle. A very strong CD to launch the label - well worth listening to at the Beats and Pieces web site or Krusseldorf's Myspace page.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Bohemian Groove will likely appeal to the Cafe Del Mar summer chill audience as well as a more glitch downtempo oriented group of fans. The music has an inviting melodic nature whilst not becoming sugar sweet. If you appreciated the recent music of Seb Taylor's Hibernation - this will probably suit your tastes.
   
AUDIO
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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Various Artists - Chilly Peppers Vol. 1
STYLE  

Chilled electronic instrumentals. Beats & Pieces presents a collection of downtempo moods that range from the thudding regularity of the flick-specked To Hear and Listen from Agalactia via the rubbery, bouncy dub of Dumping Factor's Clouds in Open Sky and the sonorous tribal drumming of Sonic Logic's Life is ... to the laid back jazzy brushed Reminisce from Altair and finally beat free and meandering Fog by Eastern Spirit. The album opens with a rather dramatic, cinematic piece by Subterfuge - broad and shadowy with rolling guitar patterns and tinkling chimes. But as if to demonstrate immediately the scope of the album the more airy, mechanisms of Agalactia drift in, bending the mood elsewhere. There are some strongly dub oriented tracks gathered around the mid point as well as some rather serene trancey sections and lush soundscaping. Laid out in the form of a sonic journey

 
MOOD   Although the downbeat pace of Chilly Peppers Vol. 1 is consistent, the tone of this musical excursion is in constant flux. There are sections of mesmerising dappled light such as the dreamy Altair track, dancebeat reggae touched grooves and passages of twinkling, exotic ambience. Tranquillo from Anro has something of a gliding stratospheric lightness, whilst Bluetech's organ driven Abandon All Cities has something of a progressive feel to it. Capsula make use of affected voice samples and soft piano to hypnotise and lift the listener; this high up floatational feel is picked up by Lauge & Baba Gnohm in the restful The Day After Yesterday.
   
ARTWORK   My copy of Chilly Peppers Vol. 1 arrived in simple two panel promotional sleeve so I can't describe the complete package. But what I have indicates a solid presentation. The front cover well captures the contrasting musical content with a deliciously fresh, ice-crusted red pepper holding central position. The back panel lists tracks and artists along with relevant contact and production details. Inside, more frosted chillies lie behind an expanded track list - this time including writing and publishing information.
  
OVERALL   

New label Beats & Pieces present their debut compilation and the first in the Chilly Peppers series. Chilly Peppers Vol. 1 is compiled by the experienced DJ Shahar and (as the promotional wording outs it) "offers a great blend of relaxed beats with psychedelic flavours and swaying dubby moves". There is music here from Bluetech, Capsula, Anahata, Eastern Sprit, Tor.ma in Dub, Agalactia & Altair. The new project from Seb Taylor (Kaya Project/Angel Tears/Hibernation) also appears - Subterfuge as well as developing artists Lauge & Baba Gnohm, Anro, Dumping Factor & Sonic Logic. In all eleven richly flavoured pieces make up this collection that can be previewed at the Beats & Pieces website. A strong opener and well worth exploring.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Chilly Peppers Vol. 1 will appeal most likely to downtempo fans that enjoy the serious edge of psychedelic trance punctuated with some danceable dub. The narrative structure of the album makes it ideal as a headphones experience.
   
AUDIO
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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Alio Die | Parallel Worlds - Circo Divino
STYLE   Intensely personal ambient electro-acoustic soundscapes. This delightful album has a deep, mysterious beauty about it right from the first few seconds. It would appear that these two gifted artists compliment each other excellently, seamlessly blending their contributions into an intuitive flow. The highly detailed exploratory renderings of found sound, loops, drones, unusual effects and treatments of Alio Die seem to entwine the modular synthetics and analogue forms of Parallel Worlds and vice versa. There is so much intriguing detail here - from the light flickering beats that shift and morph, adorned with metallic clatter, percussive disturbances and rattling noise to the heady multi-layered atmospheres of smooth artificial tone and environmental recordings. There are dark passages of brooding strangeness where gutsy mechanical pulsing swells and ethereal electrical susurrus well up in tandem, barely discernible voices drifting within. There are places of light sonic ephemera and airy warmth where watery currents and bell-like chimes meander in exotic reverie. There are restful sections of drifting textural sound and muted rhythmic clatter. Melody is minimal, yet harmony is often present, many of the tracks establishing tranquil other-worldly meditative zones that almost have you floating.
 
ARTWORK   Circo Divino arrives in a richly coloured three-section digipack adorned with hand painted images. The surrealist designs feature vaulted tent structures that might be emerging from the neck of a patterned skin vessel set against red/orange skies. Mysterious figures lurk in the shadowy folds and corners of the imagery whilst pennants twist above. All information is inside: on the leftmost panel are credits, thanks and website details; on the right is a tracklist, a gear list indicating who created the various sounds; the disc sits centrally.
 
OVERALL    Circo Divino is the result of an interesting pairing: ambient experimentalist Alio Die (Stefano Musso) and electronic soundscaper Parallel Worlds (Bakis Sirros). The very different musical approaches of these two accomplished musicians, when combined, create a lush and unique listening experience that is quite special. Vocalist India Czajkowska from Poland adds another level of depth and beauty, her vocalisations often far away down among the musical elements. Released via Hic Sunt Leones, the six tracks here are of medium length and are available both on CD and as a limited edition of 500 vinyl copies. The album can be ordered via Alio Die's website or the Parallel Worlds site. If you'd like to listen to some clips first - there are some available at Junodownload.
 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Tor.Ma in Dub - Jump High (From the Roots to the Stars)
STYLE   Downtempo psydub and dub-reggae infused electronica. Jump High sees Tor.ma in Dub delivering what the name suggests - an album steeped in dub and reggae sound imagery. The lumbering bass lines and off beat drum rhythms of the genre drive many of the tracks and there are abundant electric piano and organ stab chords, echoing effects and rootsy vocal snippets. By way of contrast psytrance elements are also widely employed; slick digital effects, liquid arpeggio forms and some rather spacey synthetics. The compositions are very rhythmically impelling and ideal for dance floor whilst the exploratory nature of the electronica holds the attention sufficiently to make Jump High rewarding as a headphones experience too.
 
MOOD   Jump High has an understated exuberance about it; bright sound palettes and warm melodies with a lazy dance beat keep the album on a high for the most part. As with much downbeat dub a dreamy hypnotic quality tends to well up and leave the listener nodding in pleasant reverie. The sharp abstract peripherals and imaginative surface detail along with the atmospheric intros and outros lend a trancy sci-fi aspect to the music in many places. This is most strongly developed in the penultimate Biocircuit where a more overt trance approach is brought to the fore.
   
ARTWORK   The promo copy I have features a leaping figure silhouetted against a deep red/black space-sky. The ground beneath has tropical palms rising from the grass and a dark pyramid off to one side. The gold and green of this earthy section completes the traditional colour scheme. On similar hues the rear panel shows a tracklist along with relevant credits and website information. A small circular insert shows what is presumably the artist's recording studio. Within the pyramid form is repeated, only here it dominates - its large dark mass radiating beams of light that catch a group of leaping figures. Here are thanks and some brief thoughts from Tor.ma in Dub.
  
OVERALL   

Tor.ma in Dub is the current project of Mexican based Rafael Hernandez. Rafael is a musician/producer/DJ with an enthusiasm for most forms of electronic music: Psytrance, Goa, Progressive & Ethnic Trance, Dub, Ambient, Jazz and Reggae being cited among his interests. Many of these genres are employed to varying degrees in the Tor.ma in Dub sound where the emphasis is on the Dub-Reggae side of electronic dance music. Jump High follows the 2008 debut album Big Blue Story which was released via Iono Music. This time upcoming Beats & Pieces is the label of choice, Tor.ma in Dub joining an interesting roster of diverse acts there that hints at some further treats for the future.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Jump High is an album for dub lovers that enjoy the chillout and psychedelic end of the genre. If you want something downbeat to dance to - this might well fit the bill. Why not visit the Beats & Pieces web site and have a listen - all the tracks from the album are available there for preview..
   
AUDIO
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