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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Sync24 - Comfortable Void
STYLE
 
July 2012
Ambient soundscaping and downtempo electronica.
Uncomplicated, unhurried, smooth and highly contemporary. The music of Sync24 is very evocative and moving; introspective downtempo minimalism with space to imagine. The album ascends slowly from silence with crunching movements and silken light-drones. In time a blunt pulse bumps into place, complementary arpeggios, subtle and graceful rolling around the periphery. Finally a distinctive, understated programmed beat begins a lulling rhythm: a delightful forest dream. As the album unfolds, Daniel explores themes both natural and artificial: night time visions and semi-waking experiences; stories of dancing droids and swarming nanites. The music often meanders in lazy eddies, suggestions of speaking voices, natural sound snippets and peculiar effects enlivening the sonic spaces. Beats are mostly supremely laid back and deeply cool - confident constructs of crunching hits, layered, muted patterns tightly entwined around throbbing bass lines. Tracks like Comfortable Void, Something Something and There Is No Spoon are delicate reveries, transporting the listener - drifting, luxurious. Others such as Dance of the Droids and Oomph have a more acidic nature and mechanical meter.
 
ARTWORK   Comfortable Void is delivered in a beautiful, sleek digipack of three panels. Natural olive green hues and velvet shadows act as backdrop to twisting, curling stalks and bent stems that loom in and out of bokeh haze. Outside, the creeping tendrils are stark and heavily textured; within finer smoother grass-like. Track titles are on the rear section, with little other information on the sleeve itself other than essential credits and contacts. The booklet is of sixteen pages and holds a page for each track: associative photography, title, track time, writing details and fascinating explanatory anecdotes of dreams, inspirations and visions. The central double page spread is pure imagery - gorgeous poppy seed heads in earthy russet. The final two pages hold a portrait of the artist, thanks and photo credits.
 
OVERALL   

SYNC24 is Swedish composer Daniel Segerstad aka Ringström who will be well known to downtempo fans though his work as one half of Carbon Based Lifeforms. Here Daniel releases his second solo album and follow-up to the 2007 debut Source. The ten tracks of Comfortable Void run one into another forming a continuous listening experience with each section lasting between around six to ten minutes. This powerful solo project will delight fans of CBL as there are many elements in common - a little less ambient perhaps than their last release; it will also provide enjoyment for those looking for a slight change of character, promotional material drawing attention to what is "truly intimate and picturesque album. " You can explore the album at the Ultimae Records website or the Sync24 official website.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Caul - Let The Stars Assume The Whole Of Night
STYLE
 
July 2012
Melodic brooding ambient with occasional beats.
Let The Stars Assume The Whole Of Night is not one of those ambient albums of drifting, minimal drones or spacey expanses and tribal beats. Actually Caul here reminds me of some of the experimental music of the early 1980s on labels such as 4AD - individual in nature and quite personal; unfettered by genre limitations; dark and mysterious; more guitars than most ambient. Opening with mournful cello strains and strummed chords, A Clear Eye Loves The Shadows As Well nicely sets the tone for the album: melodic and harmonious yet restrained and simple. Track two opens with a light beat and the kind of baleful bassline that would be at home on many a goth-oriented 80s piece developed with delicate chiming tones, and lazy electric guitar. At times prowling through shadows and cinematic in scope; sometimes isolationist and bleak with haunting mechanics and sonic disturbances; sometimes nostalgic and dusty with reverb, sombre piano phrases repeating and evolving. This is a unique album, carefree and confident in its expression.
 
ARTWORK   Let The Stars Assume The Whole Of Night is a tidy digipack presentation of two panels; disc held in a plastic grip on the rightmost panel. Artwork is a grainy still life photograph of wooden boards, folded drapes and thorny twigs cast upon with stark shadows. A flat black border running horizontally along the top crosses both front and back when opened out. The rear mirrors the front cover in a more subdued, ghostly hue of pale green. Track titles with times alongside are here. Inside the left section provides minimal information: brief credits, contact details and thanks. The inner imagery is of a more abstracted nature - corrosive colours and ragged textures - intriguing shapes.
 
OVERALL   

Caul has been around since the mid 90s delivering quite a range of limited-number self-released albums as well as collaborating with other like-minded souls. This latest offering is on the Hypnos label and contains twelve shady compositions of ethereal, ghostly beauty. The tracks are all relatively short, most around the four minute mark. Titles well reveal the tenor of the music We Are Like Heartless Shadows; She Is Holy To Those Who Are Lost Or dead; Bells Ring Softly In The Twilight Air... You can explore the album further at the Hypnos website and at Caul's own official site - both offering sound samples and Hypnos displaying the cover art both insdie and out.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Amongst Myselves - Ambient, Landscape and Space
STYLE
 

July 2012
Ambient landscape and space music.
As the title suggests, this album explores broad panoramic audio vistas both earthbound and bound for the infinite. There are vast landscapes where wide open skies stretch forever and ever-changing cloud patterns twist and flow over lonely horizons; there are immense galactic expanses of dense darkness and evolving, colourful nebulae. Amongst Myselves delivers an absorbing package that constantly changes character: one moment the music meanders with sighing pads and slowly heaving drones - smooth and open; then it is dense, dark, faintly percolating with synthetic twinkles and punctuating bird calls; then the drones take on a multi-layered celestial spacey tone - a contrasting tribal beat of sonorous electronic drumming reverberating among the stars; technical computer sounds and electronic chatter; disturbing zones of peculiar tension and unsettling shadow. Never settling for long into a particular mood - this is an ambitious release that boldly transports the listener from light to dark and from warmth to lonely cold.

 
IN DEPTH  

For this album Steve Roberts is joined by with Bernard Haseloff on guitar synth and Garry Roberts on electronic percussion. The sound is accordingly colourful and varied: Shoreline Fading fills over a minute with the sibilance of waves breaking upon a shore; Interstellar Message is a fifty one second stream of flickering blips and bright bleeps upon a mechanical bed of noise; at almost ten and a half minutes, Up Into The Air And Over The Edge (Between The Trees And Clouds Mix) opens with a sonic stream consciously reminiscent of air movement and proceeds to fly the listener through harmonious cloud banks and brooding atmospheric regions. The darkest passage on the album ventures into a cold place of alien sound forms and abrasive textures - a punchy beat stabs then thuds for a while before being shredded apart by distorted bell tone and squealing noise. Possibly evocative of dank subterranean caverns but equally suggestive of wet night air and exposed insecurity. Rain and thunder, whistling winds and the clank of untuned bells forms the main fabric of Interlude - The Dark And Cold; strange disturbances and disturbing strangeness eventually displacing the elements. There passages of more structured music, where guitar textures lazily waft or electro-beats clatter in time with ponderous bass lines - a fresh terrain at every turn.

 
ARTWORK  

Ambient, Landscape and Space is presented in a double disc jewel case with a folded insert of three panels. The front panel contains no text - just a section of a time-lapse rotating light image that spreads across all three outer sections. Titles are neatly confined to the transparent spine of the case. When opened out, brief creation, mastering and contact details are found on the central section. Flipping the insert a second, soft focus version of the light rings form a backdrop to a series of small performance photographs on the right. To the left performance credits list the gear employed by each of the contributing musicians. Track titles are on the back cover.

 
OVERALL   

Steve Roberts' Amongst Myselves project here delivers a self-released twin package of DVD (with audio in both stereo and 5.1 surround) and Audio CD. The DVD holds a morphing visual presentation of attractive time-lapse movie footage; grainy black and white statuary; vividly lit performance recordings; moving viewpoint oil painting imagery and 3D graphics. Roberts gathered the material over a four year period collaborating with artist Bernard Haseloff to create a seamless visual accompaniment to Amongst Myselves audio. There are three new compositions here as well as remixes of older tracks, all strung together into a single listening experience. If you visit the Amongst Myselves website you can explore the music and experience a taster of the kind of visual material found on the DVD.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS  

Interesting Fact: -
Steve designed and built the computer controlled camera used in the videoing of Syene and Tales. It's also used for some of the timelapse footage.

Description of moods created by Amongst Myselves: quasi melodic landscapes to convey you from the cold abyss of outer space to the distorted recollections of your inner world.

Origin of Artist's Name: Track title from Future Sound of London’s “Lifeforms” CD

 
VIDEO  

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Bruno Sanfilippo - Urbs
STYLE
 

August 2012
Experimental ambient and expressive field recordings.
This deeply evocative album centres upon carefully selected urban field recordings gathered by Bruno Sanfilippo from such diverse locations as churches, train stations, subway platforms, streets and bars. Apart from sounds of Grand Central Station in New York, the recordings were obtained within the cities of Europe using just an iPod Touch. Not just textures to add interest to the more crafted sounds of music; these ghostly audio presences are the main forms within these blurry ethereal soundscapes. The opening track blends intriguing noise and dream-like musical abstraction from the very start: delicate tonal swells, twinkles and electronic burbles harmonise with soft footfalls, percussive disturbances, metallic clatter and echoing human hubbub. The second track The City Reflected has a somewhat harsher sound for the first fourteen minutes or so than its predecessor - distant voice fragments and turbulent movements hang among dissonant bell tones and uneasy synth pads. The conclusion softens into hypnotic harmony and leads comfortably into Chaotic Order a twenty-five-and-a-half minute nocturne of welling beauty and environmental sounds presented as if refracted through a heavy veil of sleep. The relatively brief end piece drifts in elegant meandering half slumber - muted chimes and far-off social interactions beclouded by sonic fog.

 
ARTWORK   This glossy two-panel digipack follows the current Hypnos format: broad black upper border with expressive photo-imagery below. Ambiguous urban abstracts of turquoise and red light patterns fill both inside and outside spreads. Repeating fluid swirls pool and flow in and out of shadow like a night-time city in the drenched in rain. Cover notes reveal that the imagery was "captured inside a bus in Berlin City." The rear cover lists the four tracks against their respective times with a quotation from Aristotle musing upon the relationship of an individual to society. Inside, the right panel supports the disc in a clear plastic grip; the left delivers recording information; thoughts on the nature of the music and relevant contact details.
 
OVERALL    Bruno Sanfilippo plunges further and further into the abstruse depths of ambient experimentation with this new release - leaving his more melodic new age origins far behind. This is the first release by the Spanish musician on the renowned Hypnos label and a mighty introduction it is: bold, confident, luxurious and expansive. Here Bruno Sanfilippo has softened his sound palette into such subtle tones that it is pleasingly difficult to define "the boundary between [musical] sound and noise." The usually inexpressive noise of the city becomes another instrument in the arsenal of this skilled audio-sculptor. The four tracks are of fourteen minutes forty-one; twenty minutes twenty seconds; twenty-five twenty-nine and six minutes fifty-eight seconds respectively. You can explore the music at Hypnos or the official Bruno Sanfilippo website.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Seren Ffordd and Oöphoi - The Martian Chronicles
STYLE
 
August 2012
Immersive ambience.
The Martian Chronicles is based upon Ray Bradbury's story collection of the same name. The opening track ascends slowly out of silence like a swarm of dark, twisting air currents rising from an abyssal chasm. The Long Years is an expansive zone of shadow wherein musical tones are mostly subtle and sparse. Passing through throaty voice-like textures, the tenor of this piece shifts toward the latter section, warming somewhat, drones taking on a harmonious nature like light penetrating dense cloud. Subsequent tracks see sonic winds sweep and curl across bleak landscapes, spacey effects echoing deep within the turbulence; passages of tranquillity and sighing light occasionally coming to the fore; amassing susurrations gathering into dense banks; peculiar, alien noises thickly layered upon evocative atmospheric environments; lustrous, heavenly pads hinting at the sulphur and brown hues of the red planet. Tracks segue one into another retaining a unified character throughout whilst moving comfortably from tenebrous gloom to softly glowing brightness.
 
ARTWORK   The Martian Chronicles is presented in a twin panel digipack. Sharp and glossy, the package is dark, looming out of blackness on the outside; warmer within, streaked with amber and orange. On the rear cover are track titles set against their running times and a paragraph taken from Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles saga. Inside, opposite the plastic disc grip are brief credits, recording details, a gear list, thanks and contact information.
 
OVERALL   

The Martian Chronicles is the first collaborative album from Italian ambient drone artist and editor of Deep Listenings magazine Oöphoi (aka Gianluigi Gasparetti) and Welsh soundscape composer Seren Ffordd (aka Andy Benford). Released on the renowned Hypnos Records label, the disc has six mid-length pieces of around ten to fifteen minutes each plus the fleeting two-minute-forty-nine End of a Changeling. The drawing together of synthesizers, Oöphoi's treated acoustic sources and field recordings with Seren Ffordd's sampling machines and percussion has resulted in a rich sound of considerable depth. You can hear samples and read further reviews at the Hypnos website.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS


 

 

 ----------Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe - Live at the NEC 1989
STYLE
 
September 2012
Progressive rock archive concert.
Yes men Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe reunited back in 1989 following a series of band departures, line-up changes, side projects and solo projects. With a vibrant collection of new material that revisited a more 'traditional' Yes sound, the four released a self-titled album and engaged in a series of concerts under the name "An Evening of Yes Music Plus". The live set captured here includes plenty of unhurried soloing from each of the band members, a number of tight live renditions of crucial Yes compositions and five central tracks of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe material. The first track from the then new album is Birthright and it follows directly after Bruford's solo performance with its tribal rhythm and understated instrumentation. Disc two begins with Themes which opens wide toward the end into a rhythmically dynamic duet between bassist for the project Tony Levin and Bill Bruford. As this section of the concert builds to a crescendo Heart Of The Sunrise Roundabout and Starship Trooper build into to Order Of The Universe highlighting the fact that the ambitious early progressive heights were still being scaled.
 
ARTWORK   In standard DVD plastic case Live at the N.E.C. comes nevertheless with rich visual content: cover insert printed on both sides and twenty eight page booklet. The artwork holds much of Roger Dean's trademark imagery: bold graphic designs, intricate lettering and absorbing paintings. All track titles are listed on the rear, inside the cover is a page of information on the Evening of Yes Music Plus. The booklet is huge, beginning with the original tour dates and personnel. A comprehensive band members 'family tree' traces the musical careers of the quartet. There is a description of the project's inception and development; photos of relevant curios and ephemera; performance stills and promotional photography; brief biographical sections for the players along with portrait imagery; Dean's cover art and inspirational landscapes conclude the package.
 
OVERALL    This three-disc set presents a concert recorded Live at the Birmingham N.E.C. on October 24th 1989. Discs one and two are audio discs of Yes classics and ABWH tracks with plenty of space given over to virtuoso soloing: Steve Howe plays Clap and Mood For A Day, Jon Anderson sings a medley of three favourites over a single guitar accompaniment, Rick Wakeman delivers a passionate rendition of a medieval influenced synth montage, Long Distance Runaround provides a springboard for Bill Bruford to showcase his considerable percussive talents as does Themes. The Julian Colbeck video that fills disc three is an intimate monochrome look at the band in informal backstage setting and pre-concert rehearsals. In this way angles and details not easily found in live performance footage are explored and lingered over. Eventually, snatches from the concert itself are stitched into a compact whole leaving the impression that the viewer has shared something of the whole experience rather than simply a recorded concert. All in all this is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy this unique phase in the varied history of Yes - a package with a sense of souvenir about it. The collection can be ordered directly from the Gonzo Multimedia website, where you can also find the DVD An Evening of Yes.