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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Resonant Drift - Full Circle
STYLE   June 2013
Intricate ambient beatlessness and tribal groove.
Full Circle is a captivating journey through delicately shifting organic atmospheres. For the most part the music here is tranquil, drifting, lustrous and full of wonder. Yet this is not an album of simple synthetic serenity - right from the opening bars there is a sense of something deeper, more disquieting tones lying in the lower shadows. Emerging Currents rises up out of silence like ominous winds ushering in storm clouds across a darkening landscape - yet within the mass of unfurling turbulence there are bright strains. As this opening track progresses the dissonance falls away, bird calls join the more radiant sounds and an immense bank of tone dominated by lighter intensities develops setting the scene for much of what is to come. Track two fades directly out of track one - low, wafting textures thickening into dense currents, again with brighter threads lifting the mood, painting fine mists upon the scene. A silence introduces Aurora Breaking, the warmest track so far. The mood alters significantly on Cross Communication - a brooding zone of sonic breezes and reverberating peculiarities. Track eight sees the first beat of the album roll into place just before the one minute mark - a languid muted affair, crawling across an uneasy surface of keening, haunting electronica. The set concludes full circle back into beatless layered effulgence; floating in reverie; bathed in gentle sunlight; fading into silence.
 
ARTWORK   This three-panel glossy digipack declares its intent via the front cover image: radiant light beams piercing and illuminating the verdant complexity of a dense forest. Rippled reflections on a foreground body of water melt the sharp edges and blur the intricacies into liquid zigzags. The rear cover presents a different forest scene, light rays here falling diagonally in mist banks onto a profusion of curling foliage and tangled undergrowth. Track titles with respective times hang in the pale haze. The third outer panel gives more space to the water surface of the front cover, here thrown out of focus to act as backdrop to a quotation from Lakota Leader Black Elk musing upon the ubiquity of circle forms. Inside is close-up of the rear cover image fading gradually from luscious green on the left to faded pallor on the right: brief quotations, credits, guest musicians and thanks are all here.
 
OVERALL   

Full Circle comes as the fifth full-length release from Californian duo Resonant Drift. Released through Flow Space Music/FloBob Music this album benefits from 'mastering and sonic enhancements' by Steve Roach as well as electric upright bass and five string electric bass by Rod Ratelle. There are eleven pieces here that follow a restless course through expansive, atmospheric ambience, heaving drone beds and subtle tribal beats. Promotional material talks of the music moving "in and out of quiet ambient places, most ... vast and airy and soaring" but that it "also grinds its way through some grittier environments" wherein Resonant Drift's experimental leaning more obviously becomes prominent. You can learn more about the music and listen to each track via the Steve Roach website or you can visit the official Resonant Drift site to uncover more of the project's output and background.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS   The concept behind the "Full Circle" release was about new beginnings. Humankind and society, through technology, has removed us in some ways from what makes us human. The music is about returning to one's roots and coming back full circle to where one should be. Musically we expanded and used additional instruments including Kitara and Theremin. In addition, we enlisted the creative talents of Steve Roach and Rod Ratelle to add additional textures to the sound. The CD starts from winds of nothingness and evolves linearly through each track to evoke the progression of coming full circle back to one's natural state.
 
VIDEO    

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Shane Morris & Mystifed - Emergence
STYLE
 

July 2013
Ambient drone and moodscape.
Picking up where Epoch left off, Emergence progresses the Inspired Evolution trilogy into its second phase. Once again, evocative, primal atmospheres are created using a wide variety of sonic sources: trombone, woodwinds, acoustic percussion and 'other various sounds'. The majority of these, as before, being nigh on impossible to recognise as coming from the instruments named. There are insectile clicks, susurrations and flickers; liquid motion and fluid suggestion; air movements, heaving turbulence and drifting dark winds. Sleeve notes reveal something new to this release though - synthesiser; this element infuses Emergence with a shifting tide of warmth beyond the bleak, reptilian textures of Epoch. Dissonant noise and complex drone beds are lightened by the inclusion of electronic tones; A Struggling New Form Of Life has a softness and beauty that almost floats. There are rhythmic structures driving a number of passages: stick patterns and shakers; muted clunking and rain sticks; cicada-like creak rhythms as well as less regular clicks, clatters and disturbances.

 
ARTWORK  

Emergence is naturally packaged in similar format to Epoch: a neat card wallet free of plastic. The wallet has two panels, the disc itself slipped inside one end. Rock forms are the main subjects of the art work with mossy coatings, moist surfaces and mysterious depths. Scuff and scratch marks are superimposed upon the photography to produce a worn, neglected look and pleasingly, the sleeve is printed within too - on the inner surfaces where the disc resides. Track titles and times are on the rear along with brief credits and website information. The two inner panels reveal a shadowy cave backdrop with a paragraph explaining the aim of the project. Instruments employed are listed here also along with thanks and links to further information.

 
OVERALL   

Shane Morris and Thomas Park of Mystified come together a second time to deliver the sequel to Epoch - Emergence. This is part two of a three disc series exploring our planet's ancient prehistoric past. Previously the emphasis was upon the age of dinosaurs and reptiles - deeply primitive and raw. This time the focus is upon the emergence of a new form of life - mammals. Promotional material explains, “Emergence takes Epoch further. Now more direct predecessors to Man are emerging on the planet; early mammals surviving in diverse primal ecosystems. Each track has a title and theme that corresponds to a different ancient location or environment.” There are five tracks this time, all close to the ten minute mark (give or take a minute or so) and the Spotted Peccary website allows listeners to preview each of these. You can also explore the music of the duo via the Shane Morris website or the Mystified site.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS


 

 

 ----------Craig Padilla / Zero Ohms - When The Earth Is Far Away
STYLE
 
July 2013
Space ambient electronica.
When The Earth Is Far Away is a tranquil, drifting album of expansive, harmonious ambience. The warm synthetic layers and fascinating effects fuse together into broad panoramas that beautifully evoke sensations of the track titles: Timelessness, Strange Storms, Blue Distance, Dream Travel... Zero Ohms provides the primitive tones of the Anasazi flute as well as Hawaiian nose flute and tin whistle; set within the framework of meditative electronica these organic elements acquire a timeless, dream-like quality. Sleeve notes refer to other beguiling sonic sources: genetically altered audio manipulations; wind-controlled synthesisers and scientifically mutilated sound processing - I assume that some of these might have been employed in what the artists describe as a unique aspect of this release. This time each musician processed, manipulated and sculpted each others contributions 'bringing out qualities in each other's tracks that that the creator had been completely unaware of.' The resultant music feels as is the metaphorical sound blender was left running a long time - fluid, soft, delicate variations.
 
ARTWORK   Attractively packaged in a simple card wallet joyously free of plastic When The Earth Is Far Away parades its deep space theme on every panel. The front cover image sees a graphically enhanced earth planet enshrouded in swirls of bright light; arcing threads of effulgence whip and tangle, some beaming in gentle curves away off into the void beyond the scope of the image itself. The rear cover presents track titles and times along with credits for each piece. A gear list for each artist is also laid out here. The inner two panels present a blue/black space panorama that fades into a breaking wave closest to the viewer. The left section contains an explanation of the project from the standpoint of Zero Ohms; the right section presents Craig Padilla's perspective.
 
OVERALL   

When The Earth Is Far Away sees Zero Ohms (Richard Roberts) and Craig Padilla in collaboration for the third time - previous work together resulted in the 2005 release The Path Of Least Resistance and the 2009 Beyond The Portal album with Skip Murphy also credited. Skip Murphy, although not included in the title once again has a part in both writing and performing the tracks Timelessness and Terraforming. There are six compositions here: the shortest at four minute forty three; the longest at eighteen minutes one second. As the only three time collaborative project for Zero Ohms, he says in the sleeve notes that this had to be 'uniquely special or it wasn't going to be at all'. Craig Padilla observes that their work together happens 'quickly and (most importantly) naturally', expressing his feeling that the album 'seems to halt all sense of time when I play it'. A great result for an eight year project where the pair has never yet met in person. Find the album at Spotted Peccary where there are sound samples and information on both this release and associated others.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS


 

 

 ----------Mythos - Grand Prix
STYLE
 
September 2013
Berlin School electronica from the archives.
Mythos re-releases the 1981 album Grand Prix: a genre-straddling extravaganza of synth and flute-lead instrumentals. The early elements of Mythos' progressive Krautrock sound are here giving way rapidly to synth-pop influences: vocoders voices and clean electronic tones combine with uncluttered arrangements and more dance oriented beats. Mythos has not abandoned the roots of the project though; the spirit and individuality of the original band remain even though carried forward at this point by the talent of founder member Stephan Kaske alone. The synths twinkle, zap and beam clearly over light, programmed beats that display an obvious like-mindedness with fellow-countrymen Kraftwerk. The gutsy flute playing tends to recall the seventies more strongly since acts like Mythos and Tull had stamped their personalities on the rock scene of the time with abundant flute use and abuse. The inventive employment of vocoders though is more contemporary - growling, computerised or ghostly - these allow the instrumental imagery to be given lyrical direction without becoming songs.
 
ARTWORK   Grand Prix is a pleasing digipack release with minimal plastic. A booklet sits in a neat notch on the left panel, the disc gripped to the right. The original artwork is enhanced and updated providing a vivid window into the past. The front cover holds a motion-blurred formula one racing car bearing the Mythos logo; background simple, soft focus. The rear cover holds the usual track titles and a portrait photograph of the artist that recalls the spirit of the age nicely. A second monochrome portrait is found within. The booklet is the usual generous Mythos/Sireena collaboration, filled with studio and gear imagery, lyrics and credits.
 
OVERALL   

Mythos albums are proudly listed as "long-seller" releases, many having been re-pressed again and again, Grand Prix (originally released via Sky Records) has been absent for a while but now Sireena Records fills the gap. Follow-up to the 1980 disc Quasar that saw Mythos streamline the project from a band to a man. Stephan Kaske was by 1982 working as a solo artist and Grand Prix is a nice opportunity for fans to see with clarity the just how much the powerful character that the band had previously built was dependent upon Kaske's musical style and vision. Shot through with the pervasive imagery of the time: apocalyptic robots, plastic people and clone policemen sit well within the electronic soundscapes crafted by the new Mythos. There are ten tracks here in all, including two bonus tracks that Kaske found in his archive. For more information visit the Sireena Records website or the official Mythos site.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Darshan Ambient - Little Things
STYLE
 

September 2013
Melodic rhythmic ambient.
Little Things has a delightfully gentle mood that strays from aching, melancholy beauty to drifting, soaring serenity. The sparse, delicate opening bars of muted piano brim over with emotion - slow and insistent - leaching out into the heart, radiating, diffusing. This patient, loitering introduction builds gradually into swaying motion a subtle, sublime beat and echoing chords drawing the motion onward. There are passages of haunting, glitchy minimalism: the lovely title track featuring a sleet of static, looming electronic waves and dreamy piano. Michael Allison has refined his style now to a high degree of purity - an eclectic sound gatherer, he effortlessly blends together instruments and stylistic elements from diverse places and genres. There are soft flutes, Indian sarangi phrases, trumpet flourishes, weeping steel guitar lines, orchestral strings and dense beatless ambient zones. Country roots sometimes surface in massings of natural passion - the blissful reverie of Watch Your Step demanding complete submission to its heavenly gaze.

 
ARTWORK   Little Things is delivered in a plastic-free card wallet of twin panels; the CD is tucked neatly into an end. Artwork features crepuscular vignettes of quiet, waterside scenery. Red cloud glow silhouettes black foliage; an umber-orange atmosphere soaking everything. Track titles in elegant white font sit alongside their timings on the rear cover - the panorama continued from the front cover here fading and softening into a smoother ground. Inside an image of similar nature fills both panels - sharp centre quickly blurring into obscurity toward the edges. Here are brief credits, a dedication and website details.
 
OVERALL   

Little Things sees the maturing Darshan Ambient sound exploring a little more darkness than normal, looking back somewhat to ambient-country origins and stretching forward into stirring glitchy textures. This is the seventh album from Michael Allison's uniquely tranquil project to be released via the Spotted Peccary/Lotuspike label. The twelve tracks here have much to attract Darshan Ambient fans of previous releases - the lazy, melodic ambient groove is strongly in evidence - yet the innovative departures and inventive juxtapositions are what lift this album beyond the norm - a fact highlighted by the wise choosing of the title track Little Things. Visit the Darshan Ambient website for more information and reviews or check out the Spotted Peccary page for sound samples and purchase links.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Oxycanta III - Various (Ultimae)
STYLE   October 2013
Downtempo naturally-oriented ambient collection.
The third in the Oxycanta series continues the thread of intricate beauty begun in 2006 by Ultimae curator Mahiane. The elegant blend of neo-classical ambient drifting and tasteful downtempo idm exerts a powerful influence - transporting the listener, infusing a coherent, shifting mood... From its gradual ascent out of minimal ambience, through dreamy soft-crunch beats, cerebral urban electronica and wistful piano nostalgia through to the blissful reverie of the wind-down tracks, Oxycanta III cleverly maintains a sense of musical quality and vision rarely matched. Luxuriating around the less beat-driven end of the chill-out spectrum and brimming with ambient zones, Oxycanta III is ideal headphones listening; late-night head-space material; intelligent atmosphere music.
 
IN DEPTH   The opening Drone Flower is subtle: soft, undulating electronic tones with echoing field recordings floating in slow-motion, building gradually to a plaintive piano/acoustic guitar refrain, lulling beat pulling in toward the end. Track five, Plenitude, from Fingers In The Noise is a serene piece of weightless digital beauty - layers of light crackle and sleeting static lifting a simple repeating blurry-chime motif as if bobbing on a mote-flecked ocean. Tracks seven and nine both come from I Awake feat. Björn Berglund - Morning Drops part1 and part 2 - these pieces feature a timeless piano that conjures up visions of deserted old houses, dust and cobwebs; the first meanders hauntingly amid hazy synthetic tones and faintly glowing drones; the second rises out of stillness and into a very, very restful beat. Scann-Tech's glowing Phaeton Remains (track 10) has a wonderful sense of uplifting warmth that carries on to the penultimate Complex A by Circular - breathy vocal sighs and synth swells building like a sunset tide.
 
ARTWORK   Following the pattern of previous Oxycanta releases Oxycanta III comes as a three-panel panoramic digipack - however, this is the first in the series to include a booklet insert. Cover imagery focuses in on dark, curling winter plant forms - furred shells and stretching filaments spreading across a smooth grey background. Track titles are laid out on the rear cover whilst inside can be found contact and label information. A track to a page, the sixteen-page booklet presents natural vignettes, city abstractions and intimate macro-details each with title, track-time and brief credits. The final pages reveal a portrait of Mahiane, some words on the project, dedication and thanks.
 
OVERALL   

After a six year gap Ultimae's Mahiane follows up on [ Oxycanta ] Winter Blooms with the third Hawthorn-inspired assemblage of top-notch organic electronica. Although the personality of the series is beautifully maintained, the roster of artists is different: only Aes Dana appears as a constant feature. New contributors are: Miktek, Mer-A, Lars Leonhard, Muridae, Finger In The Noise, I Awake feat. Björn Berglund, Scann-Tec, Circular. The album is released as a delightfully packaged CD or it is also available in a broad range of download formats. Twelve tracks in all are here and you can sample before you buy at the Ultimae website or the Ultimae Bandcamp page.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS    
 
VIDEO