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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Bruno Sanfilippo - Inside Life
STYLE
 

February 2015
Minimal, post-classical, ambient.
Bruno Sanfilippo delivers his latest album of deliriously, delicate piano and string music. All of the tracks here masterfully balance an exquisite classical grace with a strikingly contemporary aesthetic. Subtle electronics, understated drones and static textures underpin many of the tracks; the remote operatic tones of Mariel Aguilar haunt the air on Camille (which sleeve notes explain to be a tribute to Camille Saint-Saëns) and Bruno's own voice is discretely woven into the fabric of the concluding title track. Bruno's piano work is astounding in its artful restraint and poignant delivery as he unfolds some of the most elegantly wistful and subtle melodies you're ever likely to hear. Adding to the intimacy of the music, incidental piano noises of frame and mechanism are occasionally included in the mix. Julián Kancepolski's sublime cello enfolds, accompanies or leads the piano in beautiful accord.

 
ARTWORK   Inside Life is presented in a tasteful card wallet of two symmetrical, plastic-free panels; the disc is neatly slotted into one panel. Artwork is simple, a single curling line loops and twists into a loose tangle from which emerges an arcing arrow stabbing at the title. The rear imagery reflects the front cover, but here track titles hang vertically below the projecting tip of the arrow. The AD21 logo and web address are also here. Inside is a pale duplicate of the outer cover, lighter, fainter - the only difference being the replacement of the track titles with brief credits.
 
OVERALL   

Released via the artist's own AD21label, Inside Life is the latest album from Barcelona-based musician/composer Bruno Sanfilippo. The seven pieces here are all between five and eight minutes in length allowing for unhurried development of each concept, the hypnotic melodies gradually seeping into the consciousness like the formation of a blissfully introspective mood. Promotional material describes the music most aptly: "Inside Life immerses the listener into magnificently expressive modern classical realms, tranquilly minimal, yet exquisitely nuanced, abundantly poignant and delicately filigree, where stirringly pensive sadness is masterfully counterpointed with hauntingly embracing stillness, while intensely evocative ambient subtleties are deliberately permeated by yearning haze." Be aware that this is a limited edition of 500 copies although the album is also available for download via the usual digital outlets.
Discover more via AD21 or the official Bruno Sanfilippo website where you can see photographs of the artwork and listen to all of the tracks.

 
AUDIO  
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Hasse Fröberg and Musical Companion - HFMC
STYLE
 
March 2015
Progressive rock.
HFMC sees Hasse Fröberg and Musical Companion sharpening the energetic sound and complex melodic approach established on Future Past and Powerplay. Epic ten and fifteen-minute tracks sit among lively shorter pieces in a rich blend of stadium, pop and heavy rock - all bound together by the band's tight 'prog' sensibilities. The album opens with the ticking of a clock an atmospheric synth drifting in and introducing one of the main themes; track one segues directly into track two, the whole band thundering into action with a fast-paced and rapidly changing piece that sets the scene for what is to come. There are catchy hook lines, inventive vocal harmonies, virtuoso instrumental work and driving riffs arranged with frequent shifts of pace, power and structure such that it takes a good few listens to really appreciate the depth and complexity of the compositions - but then that's one of the most appealing aspects of this kind of music and what sets it apart from the bulk of disposable three minute pop songs.
 
ARTWORK   I currently have the promo version of this album and so can only comment on the main cover artwork although promotional material explains that the CD will be presented in a three panel digipack with sixteen-page booklet of lyrics and information. Cover art is comprised of a rather intriguing painting of dream-like composition and surreal hues. The painterly quality being carried over to the rear cover where track titles hang before the HMFC logo.
 
OVERALL   

The third album from Hasse Fröberg and Musical Companion is released via the Dutch label GlassVille Records. The album contains nine tracks bookended by a brief opener and closer where the ticks of a clock link the end back to the beginning in a constant cycle. The ambitious fifteen minute Pages covers a lot of ground as the musical themes transform from driving intensity to near-weightless drifting, acoustic interludes, moody solo guitar breaks and back again for a huge climax. There is a real sense of consolidation of the band's sound on this release, their retro influences propelling them into some really enjoyable experimentation. In The Warmth of the Evening and Someone Else's Fault are likewise given sufficient space to sprawl across multiple stylistic approaches and revisit previous themes. Pleasingly HFMC deftly avoids the trap of sounding like a collage of disparate ideas stitched together in length for length's sake - instead there is a strong unity and sense of overall direction not only within each track, but from track to track too as the album unfolds. Learn more at the band's official website or at GlassVille Records.

 
VIDEO  
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Frore and Shane Morris - Blood Moon
STYLE
 
April 2015
Electro-organic, tribal ambient.
Blood Moon as a title conjures up a wealth of rich association and colour which is pleasingly equalled here by this evocative, mesmeric set of deep long-form recordings. The mood is one of enigmatic reverie or timeless reverence where booming hand drums rumble against dense ambient textures; sonorous world sounds reverberate among synthetic drones and primal forms intertwine with contemporary aesthetics. Each of the recordings of Blood Moon is between nine and seventeen minutes allowing for a smooth, gradual progression of sound, hypnotic percussive repetition and evolution of structure. As well as keyboards and synthesisers, such gorgeously inspiring instruments as duduk, singing bowls, Anasazi flute, Navaho cedar flute, udu and didjeridoo fill the air with nocturnal wonder. Electronic drum sequences, frame drum and delicate shakers maintain the ongoing future/past juxtaposition.
 
ARTWORK   A beautiful card wallet encloses the Blood Moon CD (blissfully free of plastic) in one open end. Lush, vivid hues colour the bright red/orange lunar orb and spangled purple night skies that adorn every panel. Heavy shadows sink foreground rocks and trees into silhouette whilst white pin-points fleck the void. Track titles on the rear cover show running times with relevant web links noted at the foot. Opening the package reveals a panoramic moonrise of the same heady intensity as the outer cover, undisturbed imagery on the left side, notes on each of the artists to the right.
 
OVERALL   

Brought together by a shared love of the rhythmic tribal ambient genre and a tendency to delve into the darker corners of the musical world, Paul Casper A.K.A. Frore and Shane Morris deliver Blood Moon via the Spotted Peccary label. The album is inspired by experiences of eclipse wherein "the moon would grow dark and red, triggering panic, resolution, rituals and celebrations among many cultures around the world," Paul Casper explaining, “I really find the dichotomy between the ancient and the new very alluring, and I just want the music to inspire a sense that the world is still mysterious." The Spotted Peccary website provides a variety of purchasing options both digital and physical as well as allowing listeners the opportunity to sample each of the tracks and read about the artists.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Max Corbacho - Splendid Labyrinths
STYLE
 

April 2015
Atmospheric ambient electronica.
Vast beatless zones and undulating velvet expanses: Splendid Labyrinths is an album of ambient immensity and immeasurable time. Max Corbacho's latest release features heaving multi-layered drones that seem to drift in and out of focus and intensity like slow-motion sunlight filtering through gracefully moving storm clouds. These opulent sonic textures are of impressive fathomless density, they seem to stretch away into infinity and endless darkness whilst at the same time presenting more imminent audio formations that waft and furl like intangible filaments of smoke or warm currents in water. The ordering of the tracks is interesting: two long-form recordings on either side of the relatively brief Earth Womb and Wave of Reflection, this seems to reflect the cover image where a tight core is surrounded by larger structures. Much of the tonal nature of the music is uplifting, warm chords and heavenly synth voices suggestive of light and gentle ascendance holding the most proximate regions.

 
ARTWORK   The front cover of Splendid Labyrinths features a vivid yellow-orange, mandala-like multi-disc bloom comprised of overlapping labyrinth discs based on the classic design of the Chartres labyrinth, and rendered in a 3D software by graphic artist Michael Rodriguez Pletz. This is very much an image of many depths: the complexity of the layers revealing forms and patterns that arise and fall away according to one's focus. On one level, a simple flower design of twelve regular petals; on another level a three-dimensional bubble of infinite depths encircling a bewildering black hole.
 
OVERALL   

Inspired by the landscape and sky of his origins in southwest of Spain, ambient master Max Corbacho composes music that references "the essence of the great and ineffable mystery of our existence." Splendid Labyrinths perhaps manages this with greater effect than ever. Released on the heels of Future Terrain, a track that "emerged in parallel ...during the long building sessions for Splendid Labyrinths", this latest album holds six recordings, four of which all hover somewhere around the fifteen-minute mark. Two shorter pieces lie in the central hub closer to six and eight minutes each Promotional material talks of "an atemporal quality" explored in recent releases following "maybe only the breathing and the pulse of the artist," very apt here. Visit the Max Corbacho website or Max Corbacho Bandcamp page for more information and opportunities to listen to the tracks of Splendid Labyrinths as well as previous releases.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS  

The harmonic search is the part of my job I enjoy most. To experiment with different harmonic colors, tonal structures, mix, discovering new sounds and textures, is the foundation of my music, and especially of my latest works. Splendid Labyrinths is also a deep reflection on our journey through life, and it is about change, growth, discovery, movement and transformation at every step along the way.

 
AUDIO  
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Deborah Martin - Under The Moon
STYLE
 
April 2015
Melodic ambient and electronic/acoustic fusion.
This 20th anniversary special edition of Deborah Martin’s Under The Moon sparkles with a delightfully fresh verve and clarity. A rich acoustic palette embellishes the gently harmonious, reflective synth and keyboard foundation. Deborah Martin's own acoustic guitars, Taos drums and percussion are met by Native American flutes, electric double bass, ambient guitars and other guest performances. Lead lines on piano, deep flute or synth entwine with inventive fretless bass work, float upon warm, smooth pads or hang behind the hypnotic thud of hand drums. Spoken words from Edgar Perry of the White Mountain Apache Eagle Clan join with those of the artist herself to vocalise an emotive poem/story against a heady nocturne of drifting outdoor music in Gray Sky.
 
ARTWORK   This special edition of Under The Moon comes in a night-sky-blue card wallet with an eight page booklet enclosed in one end. Colourful, painted artwork spreads in a panorama across front and back panels: clouds forms against the moon resolve into galloping horses and bright stars dance beyond. A closer detail fills the inner section where brief credits and a monochrome portrait photograph reside. The booklet also explores sections of the main painting as backdrops to reflections on the 20th anniversary remaster, explanations on the music, poetic transcriptions, thanks, dedications and a more detailed credit list.
 
OVERALL   

20 years on from its original release, Spotted Peccary present Deborah Martin’s breakthrough album Under The Moon having been restored from the original master tapes. Ten relatively tight, brief recordings (ranging from just under three minutes to around five and a half minutes) make up this highly emotive album that might well sound familiar from its wide use at the 1996 Olympic Games. Guest appearances include Tony Levin, whose bass sound is instantly recognisable and Edgar Perry whose dulcet Apache voice adds to the sense of culture and history embedded firmly into many of the tracks. You can explore the album at the Spotted Peccary site where sound samples and a wealth of background information can be found.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Dan Pound - Change Of Weather
STYLE
 

May 2015
Dreamy ambient electronica.
Rising gradually out of darkness, change Of Weather is restful, near-beatless ambient luxury. The ecstatic, slow-motion introduction hints at possible storm cloud formation but meanders mostly ever-sunward. From here drifting pads and tidal drones often seem positively bathed in tropical sunlight, undulating lazily whilst percussive effects, faint vocal echoes and bright, delicate synth patterns twinkle upon the sound surface. There are rhythmic elements, but always very subtle, the music still having a beatless feel: light clicks and ticks distantly reverberate, gathering into slight beats in places; sequencer patterns at times form into rolling cycles and shorter flecks of regularity form and fade. Native American flute dances among the gentle arpeggios of Rain Forest, understated, mesmeric; harmonica so softly played as to be almost a part of the drone bed and a variety of human voice samples add further interest. Tracks seamlessly cross fade so that Change Of Weather works as a single experience.

 
ARTWORK   A jewel case is the chosen means of presentation for Change Of Weather - a single sheet inset and uncluttered graphics. The outside imagery consists of a luminous cloud bank on the front, amber and orange billowing out of grey; underwater turquoise blue on the rear with weed fronds drifting in unseen tides. Within, the change of weather is signalled to the left by a huge bank of shadow amid fiery red clouds - no text at all in here. Track titles with times are upon the back panel along with contact and web details.
 
OVERALL   

The latest release from multi-instrumentalist/composer Dan Pound is released via the artist's own PoundSounds label and consists of six beautifully complementary tracks. The long-form Through The Fog Part II at just over eighteen minutes is accompanied by ten minutes of Moon Tide Rising and four others pieces closer to five or six minutes. Promotional material forecasts "sustaining deep zone analog drones, sequencer based arpeggiating space synths, and spatial, undulating sound atmospheres; interspersed with occasional Native American Flute, Voice and a light sprinkle of Harmonica." You can visit the Dan Pound website for more information on this and other Dan Pound releases - sound sample are all there as well as purchase options and a wealth of additional information.