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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Falling You - Adore
STYLE
 
March 2012
Ethereal, dreampop-electronica with female vocals.
Adore sees Falling You warming their sound up somewhat and introducing more prominent guitars and 'live' drum sounds to the traditionally quite minimal palette. That said, there are a number of tracks that are essential Falling You: the ten minute plus Firestorm drifts in ambient weightlessness for two minutes, then ticks along with a light programmed beat and sparse guitar textures for a further five minutes before bursting alight with distorted guitar chords and stronger beat; the opener Blessed hangs in misty floatation - beatless and dreamy. Tracks like Champagne, Adore and Moving One, on the other hand, have a bright shoegazer nature with layered electric guitars and upbeat drum grooves. The three minute nineteen instrumental Bloom sees Zorko exploring echoing distortion leads upon a bed of celestial keyboard pads - harsh and delicate at the same time. The concluding track is a delightfully languid song of hypnotic reverie - intimate, understated and unique.
 
ARTWORK   Adore sees Falling You turn to a rich digipack presentation and a significant change in tone. In keeping with the shift in sound, the image features a blissful female figure bathed in warm light rather than the brooding deep blue abstractions of previous covers. The outer three panels unfold into a bright spread whith track titles and relevant musings on the central (rear) part. The remaining leftmost panel lists the vocalists and other collaborators; provides a paragraph of thanks; contact and website details as well as a dedication to "the memories of loved ones and all who have experienced loss, yhet still find reasons to live... and love... being alive." Inside can be found lyrics to each song set upon a textured fabric backdrop lit by a different light source - glowing yellow flames - burning upward.
 
OVERALL   

Multi-instrumentalist and producer, John Michael Zorko returns with the fifth album from his evocative Falling You project. Whereas previous albums revelled in moody shadow and cool, sparse instrumentation; Adore steps hesitatingly into soft sunshine - the title track dreamy and full of understated pop-touched optimism. Many of the trademark elements are still clearly in evidence: distinctive, elegant, feminine vocalists; restrained electronic instrumentation; plaintive, blissful, introspective arrangements. The impressive roster of singers for Adore includes Anji Bee, Suzanne Perry, Aimee Page, Victoria Lloyd, Erica Mulkey, Dru Allen, Summer Bowman and Kirsty Hawkshaw. Currently, the album is available from Magnatune where each track is available for preview, CDs can also be ordered through CD Baby.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Various Artists - Lost In The Humming Air - Music inspired by Harold Budd
STYLE
 

March 2012
Expressive ambient, neo classical minimalism: Harold Budd.
The artists contributing to this subtle collection have offered a series of impressions responding to the brief: to create something that "resembles the music of Harold Budd or channels the influence he had on them as musicians." In keeping with their muse, many employ sparse piano chords thrumming with reverb, airy touches and ponderous fingering lingering around pregnant spaces. Beds of sonic mist and environmental sound enshroud much of the melodic material. Some tracks meander lazily with wafting drones and swaying hazes; others crackle with static flecks or aural sleet. A faint beat gently propels Andrew Thomas' Hushhh (Variation 2) where cricket-like chirrs throb against a dense atmospheric fog. Ringing chimes tinkle and clang against soft focus ambience in Taylor Dupree's Sleepover. Liquid lapping and sonic disturbances establish a disquieting backdrop for the echoing ivory forms laid down by Rafael Anton Irisarri

 
ARTWORK   Lost In The Humming Air is presented in a jewelcase with gate-fold inset. Artwork is built around swirls and layered curves of grey. Upon the differing neutral densities float and flutter delicate threads of colour; fine twists of yellow, orange, red. Text is of a heavier grey: small, simple elegant fonts. Track titles with artist names and writing credits are on the rear cover. Within can be found a paragraph from compiler Martin Juhls on the inception of the project and a further two paragraphs from Rafael Anton Irisarri discussing the inspiration behind the project and Irisarri's own initial reactions to the music of Harold Budd.
 
OVERALL   

Oktaf Records delivers this engrossing tribute as a way of "paying respect to Budd in some way, to give something back to him." An apt goal in view of the immense influence that Harold Budd has been for many modern musicians. Conceived initially by Marin Juhls (aka Marsen Jules) and Rafael Anton Irisarri in the spring of 2009, the pair along with Sebastian Maetje set about compiling the album and found themselves surprised by the positive response from so many contemporary artists. The roster is impressive: Deaf Centre, Loscil, Martin Fuhs, Biosphere, Xela, Marsen Jules, Andrew Thomas, Mokira, Christopher Willits, Taylor Dupree, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Sword Tobacco and bvdub & Criss Van Wey. All participating artists donated their tracks to the release. The surplus of the sales will be given to a charity project to be chosen by Harold himself. The music can be experienced via the Oktaf website as well as the label's Soundcloud page. There is also a free track to download from Christopher Willits entitled Olancha Farewell which can be found at:
Direct Download Link:
http://www.oktaf.com/sketches/oktaf-sketch05-Christopher_Willits-Olancha_Hello.mp3
Soundcloud Link:
http://soundcloud.com/oktaf-records/oktafsketch-05-christopher

 
SOUNDS  
 
FREE  
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Peter Westheimer - Tranzworld Express
STYLE
 
March 2012
Global psychill journey album.
Tranzworld Express is a transporting experience that whisks the listener away from home on a speeding dream train breezing across musical, cultural and technological borders. The pace is mid-tempo - a comfortable dance groove with a locomotive-like regularity suggestive of casual speed and passing vistas. Western soul sounds and club elements get the party going, but soon the scene has shifted and a Middle Eastern dub beat drives Peacedance further from home. The sense of the exotic is heightened as the album progresses: international instrumentation and diverse voices interwoven among bright recording effects, vocoder snatches and lush strings. "I know everything about nothing!" declares a lively voice at the opening of Virtually Enlightened; multinational hand drums and twanging plucked wires here juxtaposed against subtle sequences and brash brass flourishes. Peter Westheimer clearly enjoys a rich melting pot of music without the encumbrance of genre restrictions. China India (as you might deduce) fuses the colours of these two evocative Asian sources of mystique - bells trees and electronica; er-hu and sitar; expressive tablas and programmed beats; piercing pipes and soft female vocals. The binding factor for the album is the relatively consistent beat - wheels on tracks, hypnotic patterns, express rhythm.
 
IN DEPTH  

Peter Westheimer brings a sense of global responsibility to his music, dealing with such important themes as the planet's growing population, finite resources and climate change challenges; East-West relations and the struggling of peace processes; religious enlightenment, fundamentalism and media control; ecologically friendly transport modes and natural energy sources. These serious concerns thread the music of Tranzworld Express with a dynamic urgency: stirring beats, driving basslines and insistent melodies. The tightly woven multinational instrumentation (Westheimer himself plays a wide range of instruments, ranging from keyboard to sitar, with much in between) highlights a vision of potential global harmony and cooperation. That said - this is by no means merely a gloomy presentation of cerebral ideals - the music is full of emotion: ranging from the blissfully ecstatic through lively, vivacious and inspirational to somewhat threatening and disquieting. The artist's website explains that he sees music as an agent of change - unlike much of today's 'worldbeat' music this is an album with an authenticity born from genuine passion and actual familiarity with many of the locations aurally conjured "inspired by travels through Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the USA in 2009. Its' rhythmic energies and perspectives come from the moving scenery of contemporary communities both rural and urban, and a retracing of family history."

 
TRACK BY TRACK  

CHANGE NOW
The album opens with a flush of multinational warmth - plucked strings, Western and Eastern, fusing together, leading into the traintrack beat that will draw the listener throughout the journey. As lush orchestral bowings flow in layers a female voice whispers, "Change the world" signalling Westheimer's underlying theme. The mood is upbeat, positive and lively - throbbing bassline driving the central section of the track. The melodic motifs are taken up in varying forms by different instruments - Eastern organic, Western electronic - with lush washes and pads behind.

DANCING HEARTS ORCHESTRA
Whilst maintaining the rhythm established by Change Now, this track has more of a Western soul dance floor vibe. Piano stabs, disco guitar chord flicks and deep synth patterns form the backbone whilst a female voice wordlessly soars and further piano melodies dance above. It feels as if we are still not so far from home, hints of the city still glimpsed through the window as the journey gets well under way.

PEACEDANCE
Here the beats shifts from the measured locomotion of the previous two tracks to a lilting dub rhythm - still at similar pace however - danceable and energetic. Opening with phased guitar and a blunt bass - Middle Eastern flavours soon start to appear. Inspired by the struggling peace processes in the Middle East - sonorous wiry scales twang against smooth synthetics; hints of Arab wails and a subtle female moan waft through the dance. A joyous piece of optimism.

CHANCES OF A LIFE
A low heartbeat drum introduces a rich bowed string melody, building rapidly to that now-familiar mid-tempo pace. Vocoder vocals and international chanting entwine upon tone shifting arpeggios and gutsy bassline; "I could have been born anywhere, somewhere, into times of novelty (innovation) or times of fundamentalism." Briefly the intensity dissipates, the heartbeat returning - more strings and we're off again hurtling further and further from home.

VIRTUALLY ENLIGHTENED
"I know everything about nothing. I am totally light," an oriental voice announces upon a bed of twinkling synthetic arpeggio - weightless for a moment. Soon our train-like beat whisks us forward - hand drumming and programmed grooves in perfect tandem, the electronic arpeggios shifting and morphing, embellished by the hypnotic wires of the East. Virtually Enlightened builds into mesmerising regularity as the track progresses, trance-like and very rhythmically impelling. Brash brass phrases, electric guitar touches and the occasional return of the opening speaker hold the attention and deepen the colour.

iRAN
An electronically altered vocal wail introduces iRan - a dramatic, low chord beckoning the beat to roll in: a clatter of hand percussion, thumping kick and bright hi-hats. Middle-Eastern instrumentation again features here in keeping with the theme: "I ran from Iran. I ran and I ran and I ran." Westheimer's concern for the oppression and tight media control within the country lend this piece a slightly brooding tone - that said the album's over-riding sense of optimism is present here too especially within the cavorting leap of the beat.

KARMA THAN CHAOS
Playing with the words 'Karma makes me calmer!' Westheimer here develops a smooth East-West fusion where sitar phrases dance against reverberating gongs and soft female whispers. Dreamy and blissful, beaten strings and twanging plucks contrast rubbery bass lines and Western drumming. The gradual massing of layered synth pads toward the end of the track lifts the music skyward, fading into heavenly light.

TRANZWORLD EXPRESS
The title track opens with the voice of a station announcer and the clutter of environmental sound whilst a cycling arpeggio gradually builds, surrounded by atmospheric pads. As the arpeggios morph and flow a thudding bass and kick rhythm starts up and the train is on the way. Tranzworld Express has a somewhat more urban electro feel than much of the rest of the album - passing briefly though another station interlude before rolling on - environmentally concerned: clear, clean, fresh and transporting.

CHINA INDIA
Two ancient civilizations steeped in tradition and colour. Westheimer draws on the richness of the sonic histories of these two countries to paint his picture of cultural/political contrasts and shared beauty. The light boom of tablas and the trill of bell trees merge with subdued Western beat material. Chinese er-hu, Indian santoor, keening pipes and a range of other evocative instruments join with plodding bass in what is the most concentrated world beat track of the album so far.

RENEWABLE ENERGY
Opening to the heaving of waves, Renewable Energy soon rings with bright Indian strings then an upward fading marimba sequence and vocoder voice. Almost imperceptibly the marimbas are thickened with complimentary synth patterns - warm layers lifting the mood high. Double bass steps in at the low end, hand drums and rattling percussion take up the beat. The boom of thunder and atmospheric disturbances recall again the theme of this positive composition - "100 percent of the world's energy, for all purposes, could be supplied by wind, water and solar resources." The piece ends with the gentle trickle of water.

GHOSTS OF THE FUTURE
A dark echoing motif sets up a moody tone which is soon developed further by some shadowy synth waves laid down upon a booming Middle Eastern beat. The clatter and thump of Westheimer's, by now familiar, amalgam of percussion patterns takes a prominent role on this final recording - an interlude of resonant tablas, a squelching synthetic bassline and programmed effects broadening the rhythmic appeal - intense and urgent. Peter's website refers to the seriousness behind this composition "Toxic legacies of the future like nuclear waste dumps, extinct species and genocide leave ghosts that fade very slowly." A fitting conclusion to Tranzworld Express - something to think about - an infectious rhythm within which to become absorbed - plenty of international instruments and sparkling effects. The set concludes with a struck metallic bowl - its ringing tones fading away into light.

 
ARTWORK   The front cover of this eco-friendly digipack depicts a young woodland of muted colours and delicate slender birches as seen by a fleeting railway passenger. Faint reflections haze the view and suddenly the stark visage of a tribal mask looms in the lower right. Drawn to peer at the ghostly face a bird form is discerned, gliding vertically; eyes stare fixedly through arched curves in the wings. The package unfolds into three panels with the disc held neatly in a plastic free-central grip - at last a CD case with no plastic at all! Track titles are on the rear of the cover with track times alongside. The third outer panel holds sleeve notes and a scattering of inspirational images. Inside each track has a space of its own with a connected image and brief explanatory notes.
 
OVERALL   

Peter Westheimer delivers the aptly titled Tranzworld Express through Integrity Music Records as his sixth full length album and follow-up to the 2004 release Music Sculptures. Based near Byron Bay, Australia, Westheimer has embarked on supporting his music with multilayered videos of all tracks and performing audiovisual shows live incorporating his interests in video art, renewable energy, biodiversity & rail transport overall highlighting music as an agent of change and joy. A classical background in early life, performance with bands & theatre and recording material for soundtracks, documentaries and multimedia installations (to cover just part of the CV) provides a broad musical foundation upon which to draw.
Thus Tranzworld Express has arisen "inspired by travels through Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the USA in 2009." Promotional material explains that "Its' rhythmic energies and perspectives come from the moving scenery of contemporary communities both rural and urban, and a retracing of family history." The music is available for exploration at the Peter Westheimer website where, as well as the audio, verbal explanations of number of the recordings are provided.

 
SOUNDS  
 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS  

The Tranzworld Express album's energy and consistency has been enhanced heaps from my work and collaborations with Dave Basek and Tone Wonderland. Dave over a 6 month period coproduced and engineered the music with me then did my website. Tone overviewed this process ,contributing bass lines and creative advice into the mix and then together we coproduced the visuals for each track and for the videos and performances.. As happened so often with this album, the results of music & video production sessions exceeded my expectations and gave me so much of a buzz that it made the whole long process of producing, releasing, promoting this my sixth album even more worthwhile than I had imagined. For me the nexus between music and art/video has become more entwined. Lots of positive comments from listeners & fans has given me the confidence to move into new audiovisual performances as well. I pay my respects & thanks to them and to the gods of creativity !

 
 PROMO BLURB   The Tranzworld Express is an imaginary train of the future seamlessly crossing borders, 'expressing' the rhythms, melodies, harmonies and politics of changing cultures.

This album with its' eleven track music menu was inspired by travels through Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the USA in 2009. Its' rhythmic energies and perspectives come from the moving scenery of contemporary communities both rural and urban, and a retracing of family history.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Steve Roach - Back To Life
STYLE
 

April 2012
Tranquil, silken deep, medium and long-form ambient.
Back To Life is a two CD package that Steve explains as entering a new phase of his long-form symphonic ambient works; an arcing trajectory that follows on from such previous albums as The Magnificent Void, Mystic Chords and Sacred Spaces, Dynamic Stillness and Sigh of Ages. Opening with Where Rasa Lives, a fine cloud of sound rises up out of nothingness, expanding into hazy enormity. Initially the music might appear minimal in its dream-like, drifting tranquillity; yet there are many depths and layers to these recordings. The almost fifteen minute opener wafts and swells beatless for much of its length then - almost imperceptibly as if maybe the listener merely imagines it - a faint beat of soft padding pulses arises - the effect is a little like hearing the body's internal sounds, shifting as the ear focuses and refocuses. Tranquility Base segues gently in from its predecessor with a lazy sequencer pattern and heavenly pads. A sense of wonder, of disquiet even, sets in as distantly voice-like threads haunt the drone mists. The lengthy Mist of Perception is a meandering ambient symphony that moves from cavernous expanses through dull throbbing rhythms to weightless floating and deep submersion. This is a monumental creation that will either hang in the air, delicately scenting the atmosphere or engross pull you in, revealing constant subtle or hidden aspects depending upon how you choose to listen.

 
ARTWORK   Back To Life is a beautiful three panel digipack with panoramic imagery spread across the outside. Bright bubbles gleam with an almost metallic clarity, sharp highlights and multitudinous beaming arcs. Thrown into attractive bokeh, the more distant water droplets take on increasing haziness as they recede, eventually softening so much as to merge with the ultra-blurred background Track titles are on the rear section of the cover with track times alongside - little other text. Within, again information is sparse: the left panel reveals that Steve's gear employed included Analog and digital hardware synthesizers and processors as well as Eurorack analog modular system. The remaining two inner sections hold the discs in plastic frames.
 
OVERALL   

This latest Steve Roach release is delivered through the Projekt label as a twin disc pack, however, it is also available from Steveroach.com as part of a box set with Groove Immersion - the website explains that this latter presentation is an "elegant German-made black box with faceplate, containing BACK TO LIFE and GROOVE IMMERSION. Each box is signed and numbered, limited to 500 copies. Includes cover art micro posters exclusive to the box. Unsigned copies also available by special request." Back To Life itself is comprised of one disc with seven compositions ranging from four minutes seven seconds to sixteen forty one and a second disc with an enormous long-form piece of sixty nine minutes fifty nine seconds. You can listen to the music at the Steve Roach website or at Projekt.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------The Pels Syndicate - Chemical Inconveniences
STYLE
 
April 2012
Downtempo electronica and melodic chillout.
Chemical Inconveniences has a strong melodic content any highly contemporary style. Light digital beats click, tap, crunch and thud against liquid clear synths whilst complementary washes, arpeggios and electronic embellishments flush and drift in harmony. The rhythms range from the languid, dreamy laziness of A Beautiful Mind and Trying To Remember to the dynamic mid-tempo artificial hi hat flutter of Mersik and Boomchik Dancing and the synth-pop drama of Transition Zone. Tending mostly toward the lower end of the bpm spectrum, the album has a delightful laid back vibe that can function either as relaxing background music or as a rewarding headphones exploration. The eleven compositions here have something of the immediacy and catchiness of mainstream pop, yet they manage to retain a pleasing air of dignity and sharp IDM credibility. Glitchy tendencies, intriguing peripheral effects and crisp production steer the music deftly away from new-age cheesiness, ensuring that the harmonious warmth and tranquil appeal of Chemical Inconveniences don't become too sugary.
 
ARTWORK   Chemical Inconveniences is a jewelcase presentation which is also available in electronic format. The front cover homes in on an image that recurs throughout the package, namely a mechanical-looking molecule structure with planet earth as the central sphere. Radiating metallic arms support shiny projections in diminishing fractal variety. This artificial contruct hangs upon a turquoise-indigo backdrop that is of similar organic-mechanic ambiguity: liquid ripples and perfect graduated sky. Track titles along with their associated timings are found both on the rear cover and within the two-panel inset. Contact information and brief credits are also to be found within.
 
OVERALL   

Dutch soundtrack producer/musician Frank Pels follows up Cinematic Blue with this latest album Chemical Inconveniences. A musician from an early age, Pels has toured and recorded with various pop bands as well as having composed music for numerous commercials, TV programmes, films, fashion shows, laser shows, etc. etc.. This solo release sees Pels' pop-honed skills and keen cinematic sensibilities working in tight cohesion; the result is an unusual hybrid of melodic hooks and electro-chill with some very blissful vibes and rapturous presence. The technical quality is fantastic and there are layers to the music that might not be immediately apparent. Released via the AD Music label, tracks can be sampled via the AD website or The Pels Syndicate site own site.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS   After the very successful album ' Cinematic Blue', I now move on with 'Chemical Inconveniences'. Eleven original tracks emerged from my work as a professional producer and composer for media and multimedia, covering all kinds of musical styles. 'Chemical Inconveniences' is meant just to be beautiful, ear-candy to listen to over and over again and never get bored. Every track has melodic, harmonic and rhythmic development, complex evolving arrangements, and a big wide HIFI sound. But...you might as well want to play it as background music, and also leave your player on repeat play. Enjoy !!!
 
SOUNDS  
Go to Beatport.com Get These Tracks Add This Player

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Hasse Fröberg and the Musical Companion
STYLE
 
May 2012
Progressive rock in the grand tradition of the early nineteen seventies.
The first thing that struck me about Powerplay is that this album proudly builds upon the towering heritage of original prog - no apologies, no watering down, no inconguous blending of more recent genres to 'update' the music. This is the album that Yes should have released: glorious, expansive, energetic, fragile, huge. I have to say that Fröberg and company have restored my interest in the genre to a degree far greater than I would have imagined possible forty years down the line. The melodies are strong and complex: the structures effortlessly encompass dreamy rock meandering with slide guitar, smooth synths and soft drums; aggressive sections with pleasingly astounding fiddly guitar work, squealing moog, heaving bass and multiple vocal harmonies; acoustic twelve string passages and a voice with the occasional broken delicacy of Jon Anderson.
It's important to point out though, that working within a genre established decades back has not resulted in an album of rehashing old material or imitating the sounds of others - no, Powerplay feels one hundred percent fresh and authentic, somehow like this band was there at the time, riding the crest of the prog wave, only somehow they're doing it now. An incredible feat to achieve - wow!
 
ARTWORK   Powerplay comes in a glossy grey digipack. Cover art is of simple graphic shapes and text highlighting the embossed titles - Powerplay in deep purple. On the rear, track titles scatter in the same purple hue among the larger grey letters of Powerplay. The inside spread is a grungy monochrome montage of urban degradation. A sixteen page booklet lurks inside the left panel, with matching cover. Within, the layout is again of glossy metallic grey: lyrics to each track are presented in full; portrait photographs of the band, each sliced vertically in half edging the pages. The central spread holds an orb-like image of the whole band with thanks and credits on either side.
 
OVERALL    Powerplay is the second album from Flower Kings vocalist Hasse Fröberg and his group Musical Companion, released on Reingold Records. The Swedish band are well known to progressive rock fans, carrying on the grand tradition of seventies giants Yes, Rush, Queen and of course The Flower Kings. What immediately appeals to ears familiar with the original prog rock era is the commitment to the seventies ideal - that ambitious grandeur that many of the pioneering acts seem to struggle to recapture now decades later. I can honestly say that I am completely blown away with this reawakening. Clearly accomplished musicians in standard five piece format, this band have high ideals and all of the skills necessary to deliver. The band's website plays the music for you and the label page provides additional info.