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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Jonas Kroon - Melo
STYLE
 

April 2011
E lectronic world and chillout music.
Melo is a broad album of emotive songs and dramatic instrumentals wherein male and female vocals soar and chant. That said, many of the songs fall into the voice-as-instrument category that is so beloved of global artists such as Deep Forest and Enigma. The album has a cinematic, epic quality that recurs throughout many tracks with an orchestral approach often building into climactic passages and passionate crescendos. Quieter interludes and exploratory introductions provide some appealing moments of tranquillity and mystical beauty. A couple of beguiling, beatless short recordings She and Her Again revealing a blissful sensitivity that allows the synths to briefly sparkle. Most pieces are driven by mid tempo programmed beats with international percussion skillfully interwoven, restful grooves that occupy that tranquil region between downtempo and lazy dance music. Piano, gypsy violin, cello, guitars, flutes and Celtic whistles, oud, didgeridoo and tambura are among the instruments filling out the lush sound palette.

 
ARTWORK   Melo is packaged in a sleek digipack with a matt sheen. The three panels open out into a panoramic whole: a photograph of the artist on the cover which ends up far right, abstract shades of green, blue and maroon bokeh on the rest. Titles on the rear section unfold into the centre, each has time alongside. The left panel holds a small information area where recording details and credits can be found. Flipping the whole package over, now the disc is central with an expanded track list running either side. Here are explanatory notes on some tracks as well as more detailed breakdowns of collaborative artists and composition info.
 
OVERALL   

Norwegian composer Jonas Kroon delivers his debut album in the form of Melo. Released via independent record label Amadea Music, Melo looks set to be a powerful addition to the labels' growing roster. The fourteen tracks are all short to mid length pieces ranging from one minute twenty five through to seven minutes twenty seconds. Having worked in the music business full-time as a composer and producer for film and television since 2008, Melo provides an outlet for Kroon's own creative concepts that have been crystallising since 2005. Over the years there have been many attempts to work the global fusion genre, Jonas Kroon seems to be one the success stories with Melo providing a high quality aural trip around the planet. You can find audio samples to explore both at Jonas Kroon's own website and the Amadea label site.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS  

I started making Melo in 2005 without actually knowing it. I was into producing other artists at the time and I had an idea for a solo project. The purpose was to create a space where I could put the music I wrote when I was all by myself, the me-music. The songs for the project were to be composed without taking any external factors into consideration, like trends and taste and the expectations of my surroundings. I was living in world where I was often expected to please my clients by copying the sound of a famous band or analyze the production aesthetics of the hippest acts of the time. I didn't mind doing that, but I developed an urge to sit down and just be brutally honest with myself. What kind of music will come out if I allow myself to just be me? The first songs were Zanzibar and The King. I thought for a while that the project would only spawn epic music, but other pieces came along. Her Er Eg was made during the first sessions at the cabin in Sweden. I recorded birds on the lake to capture the magic that was going on there. Later on, in 2007, I did a showcase based on the songs I had come up with so far. It was a grand concert in a great hall and it took a lot of preparation. It had a 13-piece orchestra that brought the music to new hights. At that point I knew I wanted it to be an album. Four years later it is here. Melo is a beautiful thing; human, quirky, melodic, dramatic, and best of all - completely honest. For this type of genre I like it when the music sounds like it comes from a different place or time, like a parallell universe created by the imagination of the composer - you get sucked into another world much in the same way as when you are reading a novel or watching a movie. I tried to compose Melo so that listening to it would feel like opening many small windows into another world. The great thing about this world, this imaginary space, is that there is so much music in there. All I have to do is enter, listen, and bring something back. As long as I don't outline my findings in too much detail, the listener can add the power of their own imagination and the experience becomes unique. I listened to Deep Forest and Enigma this way and I loved it.

     
AUDIO  

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Indidginus - Sofa Surfer
STYLE
 

May 2011
Dubstep, dub, dancehall, world-fusion, electronica and dance.
Sofa Surfer is a lively album of dense beats and lumbering basses that wanders confidently across a range of associated genres. There are passages of slick chillout with stratospheric pads and vivid synth melodies such as the Indidginus/Tripswitch collaboration Sunrise Over Sapporo. There are international elements arising frequently in the form of global percussive flourishes and fusions or effected chants and instrumental samples. More prominent though are the gutsy dub/reggae features and brutally insistent dub/dance grooves where zapping synthetic bass lines underpin the 'riddims' in prowling, languid dominance and gravelly male rasta rhymers growl round the centre stage. There are vocal tracks such as Dark Sky Island featuring Francesca Krnjak and Riccardo Moretti where a lush feminine voice sings a lazy, sensual lyric over the echoes and stabs of an edgy soundscape; Madam Blertas Carnival also features a female chant repeating and morphing upon a thumping dance extravaganza courtesy of Indidginus and OOOD.

 
ARTWORK   I have a digital promo copy of the Sofa Surfer album and so have only seen the jpegs included in the package. The cover art (seen above left) features a monumental mechanoid comprised of musical elements and global motifs ankle deep in a grey pool somewhere in the wilderness. A twin beam emanates from the chest proclaiming the title of the album.
 
OVERALL   

Originally from the UK Michael Martin works from the South African base of Cape Town and is known throughout the dance music world as Indidginus. A multi-instrumentalist with a passion for the didgeridoo, Michael has worked alongside many familiar names in the business such as OOOD, The Orb, Ishq and Eat Static over the decade and more that he has been involved with music. Sofa Surfer brings together collaborative projects with Teba Shumba, EJ Von Lyrik, Steve Newman, Fletcher, Raggasouljah, 7Ft Soundsystem, Francesca Krnjak, Riccardo Moretti, HFB, Seb Taylor, Suns of Arqa, Tripswitch, Colin Angus and OOOD. The nine powerful tracks of high quality downtempo dance can be explored at the Indidginus website via Soundcloud. There is also a shop there where you can purchase the music directly.

 
AUDIO
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Ian Boddy & Parallel Worlds - Exit Strategy
STYLE
 
May 2011
Beat driven brooding ambient.
This is a collaborative album centred on the lush sound palettes of analogue modular synths. Gorgeous abstract introductions of shadowy drones, lustrous overlays and prowling pulsations unfold in gradual revelation. Rhythmic structures often flutter, ripple or boom like distant orc drums during the lingering openings, establishing regularity of motion amid meandering ambient expanse. Most pieces build restlessly into programmed grooves of intricate form and variation: sometimes harsh and demanding as in the opener Portal or muscular and plastic as in Impressario. But there are gentler beats too: Soliloquy rolling along at a restful, chilled pace, almost settling into lounge mood; Hidden revealing a percussive delicacy that compliments the stratospheric, airy soaring of the pads and washes. Track four Entwined seems to become so engrossed in the introduction that it retains its loose nature for the full seven minutes twenty seconds.
 
ARTWORK   Exit Strategy maintains the current DiN format of white and grey borders with sharp, gritty imagery central. The front cover shows a metal barrier sealing off the only visible exit from a massive blue-lit cavern. When the insert is opened out, this subterranean space is mirrored on the second panel, the symmetry of imagery almost completely altering the perspective, spatial impression and light. A different pairing is made by the repetition of the cover image on the back cover; side by side when the jewel case is extended. Track titles can be found in the grey border at the rear as well as within; times are shown in both instances. The inner section of the insert holds a photograph of a stone arch with verdant woodland beyond - no obstruction here. A gear list is presented to the left along with brief credits.
 
OVERALL   

Greek electronic musician Bakis Sirros (Parallel Worlds) and UK's Ian Boddy share so many musical commonalities that a collaboration was almost bound to happen sooner or later. Ian's record label had brought Boddy and Sirros into contact a number of times, DiN releasing Parallel Worlds' albums Obsessive Surrealism and Shade. DiN has always fostered joint ventures through its releases and Sirros has previously worked with Italian ambient master Alio Die, IDM/electronica artist Ingo Zobel and ambient/experimental musician Steve Law; so it was natural that this pair of analogue synth lovers should form a working creative relationship. Seven tracks make up Exit Strategy with the title track sprawling across ten minutes eight seconds; others ranging from four forty four to nine forty four. Promotional wording explains how the duo developed the album: "Sirros started the ball rolling with the composition of a series of both ambient soundscapes and more structured multilayered compositions. These featured his unusual pulsing, throbbing analogue percussion layers, warm soundscapes and beguiling melodies that are in many ways a signature sound of Parallel Worlds. Boddy took this raw material and shaped, arranged and sculpted it into a series of seven inter-linked tracks that form a musical narrative that runs throughout "Exit Strategy". Adding his glissando keyboard sound that was premiered on his album Slide."
The DiN website provides samples of all tracks to explore if you would like to consider buying the music. Bear in mind that the CD is limited to just 600 copies.

 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Janet Robbins - Song of the Gypsy Tree
STYLE
 
May 2011
Ambient, cinematic electronica and female vocal.
Taking a similar compositional approach to Janet's trilogy of instrumental releases under the theme Carrying the Bag of Hearts Interpreting the Birth of Stars Volumes 1 - 3, this latest release is a lush, freeform album of meandering, mystical beauty. This time, however, the compositions are songs: ambitious lyrical arrangements, exploratory narrative journeys. The album opens with voice and wistful piano, delicate synthetic strains wafting, welling up behind. A couple of minutes in and the track morphs: a brooding beat, whispered words and electronic elements unfurling into fuller form. There are dark, ominous passages of instrumental space where Janet's voice floats like spectral threads in the air; points of emotive piano and melancholy song; rich, dreamy pieces with strings, synths, world elements all entwined in heady mix. The longest track Egypt has a brighter, more upbeat feel with mid-tempo programmed groove, layered vocals, twinkling arpeggios, heavy drones and flutes. Slowly, the seventh track, introduces a jazzy aspect with a live drum sound, intricate fingered bass lines; a little of this mood overflows into The Meaning, but Janet's sound is so varied, so colourful that other moods soon arise, shift and shift again. The sense of being carried along on an unfolding trip into beguiling soundscapes of a highly personal nature is constant; beautiful at times, deeply introspective at others, then full of shadow, then vivid hues and warmth.
 
ARTWORK   Song of the Gypsy tree is delivered in a rather unusual, attractive card digipack of four colourful panels. The four sections unfold into a long, slim panorama with the disc held in a plastic square that is clipped to the end of the final section rather than glued and obscuring the surface as is often the case. The front cover holds a mysterious, twisting tree image overlaid with scarlet blooms. The rear cover shows the artist in verdant, leafy surroundings; track titles with timings to the left. The impulse is to open the whole four panels next; revealing that remaining space is given over to lyrics from the eight tracks. Words are laid out upon a rich montage of foliage, blossom, figures and faces. A small section in the corner of the ultimate panel provides brief credits.
 
OVERALL    Janet Robbins returns three years after the release of Carrying the Bag of Hearts Interpreting the Birth of Stars Vol. 3 with her latest release Song of the Gypsy Tree. The album is released via Star 7 Records and holds eight tracks ranging in length from The Meaning at Four minutes twenty eight seconds through to the eight minute, twenty one second Egypt. There are samples at Janet's website http://janetrobbinsmusic.com as well as links to a range of purchasing options where you can choose to buy the whole album or singles if you prefer.
 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS  


     
AUDIO    

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Jon Anderson - Survival
STYLE
 

June 2011
Eleven songs from one of the world's most distinctive singing voices.
This album is all that is Jon Anderson, concentrated, refined and fresh. The music here carries echoes and back-references to much of Jon's incredible five decade plus career as well as exploring much new territory. The opening track sees Jon in fine vocal form set against a full and powerful rock sound with lush strings and thunderous drum punctuation; New New World would easily fit seamlessly into a Yes album. The next track, by contrast, has a simple acoustic guitar accompaniment and has a recording quality so intimate that you might imagine the singer to be right there alone in the room with you. Subsequent pieces introduce serene electronic grooves, gentle synths, delicate piano, beatless cinematic soundscaping, international flavours. There are moments recalling Jon's earlier solo recordings: beautiful hints of the ambitious vision of Olias of Sunhillow: echoes of We Have Heaven, some familiar phrases freshly entwined into new setting. The album freely ranges between solo performances and ensemble pieces in lush lustre; each track a testament to an artist as vital now as at any point in his life.

 
ARTWORK   Survival and Other Stories arrives in a jewel case of rich amber hue. The front cover presents a lone green tree on a smooth landscape against a luminous earthy sky. A familiar circle, square, triangle logo that appeared back on Olias of Sunhillow sits almost central. The rear cover is almost identical, except that here the trees are two. Titles and times along with relevant logos are here also. A generous twelve page booklet is within holding lyrics for each track in order and an explanation of Survival's inception. Relevant credits, thanks and appreciation appear on the final page; but perhaps most intriguingly, Jon has included a revealing biography section of three and half pages chronicling his initiation into music and those very early days before the name Jon Anderson became at all well known.
 
OVERALL   

If Jon Anderson needs introducing to you, you've missed so much. The legendary vocalist with Yes began attacking a washboard in a skiffle band back in the late fifties before moving into rock and front man singing duties with an assortment of line-ups (read the unfolding story in wonderful detail among the sleeve notes). His work with Yes has been punctuated by various solo and collaborative projects, notably with Vangelis and Kitaro. Too, too much to sum up here. This project followed a period of life threatening illness in 2008 and fruited from a 'musicians wanted' ad placed on Jon's website. Subsequently, via the internet, Jon worked with musicians the world over compiling this celebration of love, life, understanding, healing and survival. Yes fans will love the music for sure - it touches all the right nostalgia buttons and even sounds gratifyingly like Yes in places. But this is no revival album and although Jon's fans from most periods will find plenty here to appreciate, Survival & Other Stories is fresh, vibrant and original. If by some chance you haven't yet heard this amazing singer - do yourself a favour explore this album as a springboard. If you know Jon's work - this release is essential, really it is - try the samples on Jon's website. Excitingly the abundant ellipses on the project notes imply more yet to come...

 
AUDIO  
   

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Kamil Kowalczyk - Aurora
STYLE
 

June 2011
Minimal spacedrone, ambient abstract.
Aurora is made up of two longform recordings; dark, isolationist and spacey. The first of these beatless compositions fades in gradually as a single undulating thread of tone. Almost imperceptibly, additional elements trickle into the mix, percussive clicks and mechanical blip-click patterns thickening the sound. This relatively high pitch ambience alters little for almost eleven minutes before the central drone is joined by a deeper note an octave or two lower. Around the twenty two minute mark a second notable drop in pitch occurs. Gossamer electronic flutters dance faintly through the shadows and other distant sounds appear to hang deep within the music on the edge of hearing. Track two likewise fades out of nothingness to morph and evolve in ponderous, pulsing sparcity. Low beds of shifting tone writhe uneasily: clean and glassy here on 'plasma' as opposed to the more matt textured sound of 'model II'. The dominant texture-drones undulate in subtle rhythmic form, layered with surges and infusions of higher sound; pattered in places establishing partial cadence; atmospheric in others suggestive of faint nebulous colour.

 
ARTWORK   Artwork for Aurora is as minimal as the music: black and white graphics presented in a standard jewel case. The two-tone front cover image centres on the circling dots and blots of what appears to be a spiral galaxy. A second, more intense whorl is contained within two horizontal lines on the rear cover. Here beneath a repetition of the main title are track titles and brief website, email and writing/production details. The insert is a single sheet: the flip side repeating the letterboxed galaxy design with only the two track titles above.
 
OVERALL   

Of Polish origin, writer/musician Kamil Kowalczyk currently resides in Scotland. An early interest in unusual audio and experimental synthetic sound led Kamil to begin recording his own music in 2002 resulting in a series of albums, six released in mp3 format on US Zenapolae net label. More recently he has begun taking on live performances and has established his own record label Prototyp Produktions Ltd. Aurora is Kamil's debut CD album on his own label, containing two long tracks, “model II” and “plasma” at thirty two minutes eleven seconds and twenty five minutes eight seconds respectively. Promotional material explains: "The main concept for album was conspiracy theory about Aurora – a top secret, ultra fast US Military aircraft, also called TR-3B, which has very advanced technology, and special engine driving by plasma… I have used almost exclusively Virsyn Tera for most sounds, which I create from scratch on this stunning synth."
You can hear the music at Kamil's record label website Prototyp Produktions Ltd.as well as purchase the CD.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS   A debut CD album from sound artist/composer Kamil Kowalczyk. It contains two long tracks, “model II” and “plasma”. The main concept for album was conspiracy theory about Aurora – a top secret, ultra fast US Military aircraft, also called TR-3B, which has very advanced technology, and special engine driving by plasma…
     
VIDEO  
     
AUDIO