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 ----------Amethystium - Transience

April 2014
Ethereal downtempo instrumental.
The unique and visionary Amethystium returns with the latest of his enigmatic, twilight meanderings. Sticking true to his roots, the lush Amethystium signature sound has here been further refined to a delightfully high degree: haunting, cinematic soundscapes full of wistful choirs; hypnotic strings and imaginative electronica; delirious, blissful melodies. Øystein Ramfjord clearly produces music for the love of it and here fully realises the evocative beauty that his special approach is capable of conjuring up. If anything the edges are more subtly blended on this latest work, the shadows more softly textured, the sighing, climactic melodies even more passionate. Delicate, echoing piano touches of the kind that Øystein does so well are still present as are the sleepy, programmed beats that carry the music along in lazy, drifting tides; peculiar world music elements, employed with tasteful restraint inhabit both the rhythmic and textural aspects of the mix. This might be Amethystium's most transportational album to date.

ARTWORK   This digital release comes with a truly gorgeous cover from Marcela Bolívar. Wisps of aurora dance in a night sky above a deep valley of twisted trees and intricate stone architecture nestled among curving rocks. Warm lights shine from a number of windows echoing the brimming moon above. Falling leaves, twinkling stars and water reflections all join the motion of the green skylight. The music and the image work together so well - you'll be losing yourself in the beauty of this beguiling scenery in no time.
OVERALL    Coming six years after the Neurodisc release of Isabliss back in 2008, this independent Amethystium album shows that Øystein's commitment to his project is pleasingly unwavering. The eleven compositions of Transience remain firmly within the lustrous, crepuscular, fantasy world that he has built up over the years since his early days with where he debuted with Odonata and the lovely Autumn Interlude. Get along to the official Amethystium website where you can preview the music and explore the complete discography. If you are a fan of Amethystium then Transience will fill the yearning that this six year wait will surely have created. If you are new to Amethystium - this is a great starting point: if you enjoy restful music that will have you dreaming whilst still awake or you want something to fill your room with aural incence - this is probably just what you need.






 ----------Various - Passages [Ultimae - framed by Nova]

April 2014
Ambient downtempo electronica.
A sonic trip through soft-focus urban vistas beneath the shifting colours and forms of London skies. Nova presents a gathering of subtle atmospheric zones and pulsing rhythmic ambience that rises lazily out of soft fogs and glitch-specked minimalism, breezes through fresh city greys with muted-crunch beats, lingers in sunlit beauty spots and concludes with a blissful wind-down into the final Northern Wind from Zinovia that literally aches with wistful melancholy piano and drifting vocalisations. Passages delivers some of the most inventive, contemporary electronic music currently available - there is absolutely nothing inferior here, everything has an air of refined sophistication, sensitive restraint and underplayed intricate detail. As the latest in Ultimae's catalogue of various artists releases, fans of the label will surely love this album - Nova knows what to pick and how to present it.


The James Murray track Passing Through Walls opens the set in a haze of delicate, layered textures that gradually fleck with tinkling chimes, rising steadily in intensity until Cygna's exquisite contribution creeps in - this piece clicks, lightly pops, creaks and flicks drips of static over a gentle throbbing bass line and weightless gossamer pads. By the time we reach track four from Brando Lupi the density of sound has amassed somewhat into a ponderous, more deeply saturated sound. Murya provides one of the more overtly beautiful compositions - Der Blaue Engel drifts effortlessly under its sweet xylophone melody and string backdrop, nodding digital groove maintaining easy onward momentum. The trance elements that scatter the mid-regions of the journey are pleasantly understated and fragile - the reverb-eroded piano interludes of AES Dana's Unlit providing an appealing complement to the thrum of the beat. In competition with Der Blaue Engel for lush hypnotic charm is the Cell remix of Connect Ohm's 9980 - this track ascends from silence with an unhurried yet brittle grace into buoyant rhythm and burbling bass languidly heaving beneath lightly elegant textures and chime touches - lovely smooth exit too. Zinovia's outro is perfectly chosen: beatless but for slight percussive effects, the piano melody is deliriously dreamy and punctuated by a slowly developing dramatic bass and bass piano stabs.

ARTWORK    This section coming soon.
OVERALL   London-based DJ Nova follows up his previous compilations of tastefully selected downtempo for French label Ultimae with the gorgeously subtle Passages. 2005's Albedo and the 2009 selection Imaginary Friends set a high standard of transportational grace and Passages, if anything, exceeds expectations. The artist list explores talents well-established and raw, feeding off the musical visions of James Murray, Fingers In The Noise, Cygna, Brando Lupi, Miktek, Murya, Martin Nonstatic, Lars Leonhard, AES Dana, Connect.Ohm, Max Million and Zinovia. Passages consists of twelve tracks in all that can be explored via the Ultimae website, via the Ultimae Bandcamp page or there is a teaser video on YouTube.

Collaborating with Massimo, as always, has been a great pleasure, because we love the man and have full trust in his artistic choice. He has the ability to scout new talents and select some of the finest ambient / electronica productions of today.
Working on [ Passages ] was a slow process, it took a while to get the right tracks for this new story but there was no rush, we push artists to take their time so the outcome is mature.
We have always worked with various photographers on artworks and Nova offered the possibility to collaborate with Giovanni Calemma which was a brilliant idea as his photographic perceptions fully catch the mood of the compilation.
All in all we’re genuinely happy and proud about this release.
Sandrine - Ultimae







 ----------Rudy Adrian - Atmospheres
May 2014
Drifting ambient atmoscapes.
Rudy Adrian's latest release Atmospheres explores sonic associations of natural spaces. The tranquillity of landscape, the heaving lentor of open sky, the sense of awe experienced simply by being a part of the world - Atmospheres captures these elements and gracefully alchemises them into beatless, atmospheric musical sound. The recordings establish that contented serenity that comes from enjoying the environment: smooth textures, delicately layered, waft, meander, lift and soar inhabited by well-chosen field recordings and subtle melodic forms. There are faint percussive touches, often deep down in the mix; hints of enormity in low bass exhalations; human vocalisations that curl and reverberate and peculiar flute-like notes. Not a minimal album quite, but one where lush ambient pads and harmonic currents softly outweigh melodic suggestions.
ARTWORK   Atmospheres is presented in a pleasing card wallet (card sleeves are so much nicer objects than plastic cases) of two panels. Each section holds an expansive landscape photograph of wind-blown grasses, distant hills and beaming sky. On the nearly-square outer panels grass detail holds centre stage, sky lighting a narrow upper band with angular horizon arcing between. Inside, however, the horizon is dropped allowing the sky of this panorama to stretch out majestically. Little text is on the outer cover - track titles on the rear and label info. The inside left section has a couple of paragraphs from the artist explaining some of the inspirational aspects of the music as well as a touching dedication. The inside right provides some insight into the instrumentation used in the making of the music and an invitation to make contact.
OVERALL    Rudy Adrian follows up his 2010 release Distant Stars with this inherently more earthy collection - Atmospheres. Sleeve notes reveal that the music was created "in an attempt to evoke the quiet open space that can still be found in the south of New Zealand." Taking the paths laid down on Desert Realms and Moonwater, Adrian here refines his organic ambient approach in to a fine degree - very calm, very thoughtful, very deep. Although the music here has been recorded across a period of many years (Dream of Subantarctica having been part of a CD-R album back in the 1990s) the feeling of natural continuity is powerful: the nine tracks flow in an easy drift from the lapping water motion that opens Apple Tree Bay to the fading tides of the final wind-down. Find out more by visiting the Spotted Peccary website or the artist's own official site where listening and purchase options can be found.






 ----------Circular - [ Moon Pool ]

July 2014
Ambient, downtempo electronica.
Delicate, gossamery, smooth: these hi-tech, hazy soundscapes manage to be both eminently restful and yet full of engrossing detail at the same time. The fragile complexities of Circular's shifting ambiences seem to hide or fade in and out of perception within these liquid sonic soundscapes so that the listener can either focus in on the interplay of intricacies within the current or drift along on the overall flow of the tide. Much of the music has a lustrous, radiant quality to it: plenty of sparkling patterns and warm, weightless pads that create an uplifting mood, a sense of exuberant rest. Beats come and go; some are at the edge of awareness; some tracks build into solid downtempo momentum; Imbrium (a collaboration with Aes Dana) even gathers into a mid-section of ephemeral drum and bass. Voices feature frequently on Moon Pool: snatches of sentences; wafts of words; effected phrases; airy vocal pads. The concluding track with its mournful piano and sequencer ebb and flow ends the set with an aching wistfulness that will almost certainly set you returning for more...


Sleek and subtle - the muted blues of this glossy Ultimae package deliver the visual equivalent of the musical content really well. A glassy, bubble-filled abstract fills the front section; a form that can be admired both for its elegant whole or its multi-layered minutiae. The three-panelled cover is more simple on the other sections - lush blue expanses with minimal text in white font. Track titles are on the rear and each is represented within the sixteen-page booklet tucked into one end of the sleeve. The photography revolves very much around textural features and macro exploration. A shot of the artists fills the last two pages, crossing rocks by the sea.


Bjarte Andreassen and Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik return with their third Ultimae full-length release (previous albums began with a debut on Origo in the mid-nineties). Based in Norway this duo have gradually developed their craft such that this current blend of ambience, idm, downtempo and "ambidrum'n'bass" flows with a near-perfect balance of aesthetic beauty and professional mastery. This is high-quality music at the very cutting-edge of contemporary progress: you get a sense that you are listening almost to a feed of the future. Nevertheless, Circular manage also to pack their compositions with timeless emotive content that touches all the right places. The eight tracks of Moon Pool can be previewed at the Ultimae website or you can find out more about the album by visiting the Ultimae Bandcamp page dedicated to the release.