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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 


 

 ----------Aes Dana & Miktek - Fragments 1 and 2
STYLE
 
May 2015
Important notice!
This release is not a new album from AES Dana & Miktek but a sample library.
Fragments is ultimately intended to become four complementary Audio Samples Libraries for use by electronic musicians working in ambient, industrial, downtempo and similar electronic genres. If you enjoy the cutting edge audio of the Ultimae label, then this is a dream release. There are some highly contemporary drum loops and drum hits on each library from across the whole digital kit so that some very modern sounding percussion can be constructed with minimal effort or, if you prefer, built up or enhanced bit by bit. There are simple loops and patterns suitable for mixing and layering and then there are lush, detailed, atmospheric grooves just ready for musical embellishment. Beautiful, long atmospheric loops occupy a major part of each collection, deep, evolving pads drenched with reverb and space: some of these are so expressive and vibrant that they are almost complete in themselves, very suggestive of arrangement possibilties. That said, the sounds are not too fully developed or at all musically restrictive and could easily be bent to myriad compositional purposes. Coil sounds and interferences round out the packages delivering both brief glitchy elements and extended evocative effects.
 
PROMOTIONAL DETAILS  

Promotional material explains that "most of these sounds were created with several types of contact microphones and scanners (Coil pick-ups), picking up electronic signals generated by the internal sounds of smartphones, laptops and magnetic fields from wi-fi transmitters and high-voltage lines... The main leitmotiv of the sonic search came from the belief that everything around us sings. The composers carefully captured these magnetic fields which were then restructured and harmonized to offer a palette of abstract interferences, massive distorted impulses, electroshocks in ricochets, reverbs with undefined transients, redesigned electric / electronic signals, dark, deep and wide harmonic range climates and a solid series of heavy drum sequences. This bighearted Audio Samples collection took several months to be released and could be the perfect Swiss Knife for any electronic producer searching a way to disturb his conventional way of composing.
The samples are properly looped and key parameters included for an ease of use: .wav loops and one-shots, ready to be hosted / tweaked into any music software / DAW.

 
OVERALL   

Since the content is designed and put together by Vincent Villuis (AES DANA) & Mihalis Aikaterinis (MIKTEK) you can be absolutely certain that this is to be a quality product. The series obviously comes together eventually as a complete entity that covers all of the musical bases of the genre, but each of the libraries alone provides more than enough to create some great music: FRAGMENTS 01 holds 809MB whilst FRAGMENTS 02 holds 622MB
The libraries each include 200 24bits .wav samples along with patches for Kontakt & EXS24 (Logic Audio) soft samplers broken down into the following sections:
41 long Atmospheric Loops
43 Drumloops
44 Drum Elements
44 Coil Sounds
28 Atmospheres of interferences
One difference in the content of Fragments 1 and 2 is that library 2 provides a range of deep and gutsy bass sounds suitable for filling out your lower frequencies, whereas 1 has a selection of bright and ethereal hi-hats for the other end of the sonic spectrum.
You can visit the Ultimae website for a teaser sample from each library - Fragments 1 and Fragments 2 giving an idea of just how much depth these sounds contain. The sounds are also availablw for preview via the Ultimae Bandcamp pages Fragments 1 and Fragments 2.

 
AUDIO   
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Bruno Sanfilippo - Upon Contact Reworked
STYLE
 

June 2015
Ambient piano and subtle electronica.
Upon Contact consists of the Bruno Sanfilippo original recording followed by six re-imaginings of the piece by various renowned electronic/ambient artists. This format provides the album with a striking unity of sound that is further maintained by the remix/rework versions not straying too far from the original - just far enough to provide sufficient variety. Bruno Sanfilippo's own Upon Contact is spacious, elegant and beautifully melancholy. Notes hang in ample space, reverberating introspectively, unhurried and brimming with emotion. Francesco Giannico, Olan Mill, Leonardo Rosado, Jorge Haro, Quivion and Hior Chronik each then present their unique takes on this delightful source material. Atmospheric disturbances and crackle along with voice fragments embellish the dreamy piano; soft drones and more sonorous resonance seep into the emptiness; the notes are elongated, effected, eroded, repeated; bright beeps, faint creaks, moving water and industrial atmospheres enfold the melody. This is a highly absorbing neo-classical release that will fill your late nights with gentle wonder.

 
ARTWORK   A refined card wallet presentation, Upon Contact comes in a single-panel sleeve with a simple insert. The warm grey cover presents title information aptly amid a graphic design of musical symbols both traditional and contemporary. Contributing artists are listed on the front and again more prominently on the reverse. The single sheet insert has a repeat of the bold cover graphic on one side and track details with timings on the other. Brief thanks and recording information complete the layout.
 
OVERALL   

This gracefully serene thirty-seven minute release follows on the heels of the recent Inside Life album. In general, classically trained Spanish musician/composer Bruno Sanfilippo focuses his attention in varying degrees upon minimalist piano music and electro-acoustic experimentation. Upon Contact draws these threads together neatly through the contributions of some top names in the ambient-electronic field. The six reworked tracks add or subtract little in the way of time from the original, all running less than a minute variance. The CD is a limited edition of 500 and there is unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads available in MP3, FLAC and more. Explore this delightful project via Bandcamp or Bruno Sanfilippo's own official website.

 
AUDIO  
 
RELATED  

BRUNO SANFILIPPO - INSIDE LIFE BRUNO SANFILIPPO - CLAROSCURO

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 


 

 ----------Aes Dana feat. Miktek - Alkaline
STYLE
 

June 2015
Downtempo ambient idm.
The music of Alkaline is delightfully refined and ultra smooth; there is a constant sense of polish and sheen across the three tracks here. Ambient drones and subtle beds of tone are lit up with a wonderful array of percussive effects. Flecks and clicks, heaving swishes and white noise currents provide a surprising variety of focal points punctuating the music. The beats are vibrant affairs, evolving structures lush in low-end depth with bright intricate snaps and hits that somehow fall into lazy downtempo patterns that seem much simpler than they are. Drifting around the edges of drum'n'bass freneticism in places, barely swelling into the most fragile of rhythms in others, the shifting grooves on Alkaline are a real highlight.

 
PROMOTIONAL DETAILS   I have the digital promo of this release and so have only seen the strikingly sharp cover art. A ruptured tessellation of rock fragment polygons criss-crosses the cover in almost artificial precision. Each piece is exquisitely textured and is either lifted or angled from its flat bed into apparent explosive motion. A small title bar runs in from the upper right edge.
 
OVERALL   

Ultimae's AES Dana (Vincent Villuis) and MIKTEK (Mihalis Aikaterinis) release the Alkaline EP as the second a series of three exciting collaborations. This pairing of artists is guaranteed to result in a high quality sound second to none both technically and in terms of musical sensibility and Alkaline really does deliver. Promotional material talks of "granular soils, earthy glitches, oxydised rhythms & basslines flowing into diaphanous & breathing pads." Well put I thought, reliably indicating the sophisticated, ultra-cool nature of the three mid-length tracks. You can hear and read about the project at the Ultimae website as well as the relevant Bandcamp page.

 
AUDIO   
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 

 ----------Chad Kettering - Pathways
STYLE
 

July 2015
Cinematic ambient and electronic groove.
Pathways is a beautiful album of monumentally broad scope, ambitious musicality and moments of mesmerising tranquillity. Orchestral elements, world sounds and soaring vocals combine here with various acoustic performances and electronic soundscaping to great effect. Chad Kettering is joined on Pathways by his wife Kari on cello and vocalist Francesca Genco - these two female performers bringing additional passion, character and elegance to the mix in a way that vibrantly deepens and personalises the sound. Pathways shifts frequently in intensity and complexity throughout its course, a technique that effectively leads the listener on a journey of exploration and wonder from start to finish. Some of the delicate piano melodies, found in tracks such as Vanished Dreams, are very moving, and, once joined by achingly melancholic strains of cello, powerfully transportational. But there is a pervasive sense of enormity about Pathways in addition to its appealing intimacy that nicely enhances the experience of this album as an epic magical journey.

 
IN DEPTH  

The music of Pathways ranges from beatless melodic ambience where strings or piano gracefully sing; through restful, dreamy downtempo passages to expansive, dramatic sections with tribal drums and climactic surges of feeling. A rather exotic sense of connection with nature is developed through the use of recordings of deep water drops and fluid motion, bird sound, voice snatches and bright chimes - these especially catch the imagination in the more gentle interludes. There is something deeply evocative about pathways both musically and visually that fills the imagination with powerful imagery - this is an album of intriguing detail to listen to intently or equally to relax to, allowing the journey to unfold of itself and to carry you far far away.

 
ARTWORK    Pathways is presented in a luxurious three-panel digipack of crisp, evocative artwork that beautifully complements the sense of awe and mystery that infuses the music. Michal Karcz' surreal photomontages are given generous space on each panel. The front cover centering upon a bright archway amid mountains accessed only by means of an enormous maze-like pathway. Other dramatic openings can be found on the remaining outer sections - each leading to or from colossal maze forms. Track titles are on the rear panel and a quote from Buddha states that "No one saves us but ourselves..." The inner cover opens out to form a shadowy panorama that appears to be an immense rock cavern wherein a lone female figure catches the scant light running in beams from above; flying birds, tiny in the expanse, also are caught within the light. Here are brief credits, website details and a dedication.
 
OVERALL  

Chad Kettering is a professional trumpet player (among other instruments) composer and electronic sound designer from America. He released his debut album Into The Infinite back in 2008 and followed up with Voices of the Ancients. Pathways continues to draw upon "techniques used in film sound design and musique concrete along with the deeper listening experiences of ambient music" to deliver a truly high quality listening experience. The album is available to hear, purchase or explore further via the official Chad Kettering website or there is also the Bandcamp page for the project where you can listen to each track or discover previous releases.

 
ARTISTS THOUGHTS  
I am very excited to present my third album Pathways. This album pushes the sonic boundaries by fusing orchestral instrumentation with modern electronics. It is filled with soaring epic and grandiose passages that could be categorized as cinematic ambience. I welcome you to take the journey and explore Pathways for yourself!
 
PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL  

Grandiose orchestral passages combine with modern electronic ambiences establishing a new sound to Kettering's repertoire. With Pathways a more melodic approach is taken throughout the album to convey a positive perspective to the complex journey of life. Beautiful solo contributions are made by cellist Kari Kettering of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and vocalist Francesca Genco. After a 20 year hiatus from playing trumpet, Kettering returns to the instrument in a special song featured at the end of the album.

 
AUDIO  
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 


 

 ----------Howard Givens & Craig Padilla - Life Flows Water
STYLE
 

August 2015
Ambient electronic.
Rising out of silence in a smooth, dark drone Opening To New Perspectives announces its introspective context with the deep chimes of a Tibetan bowl. Minimal, silky and drifting this beatless music delightfully shifts in texture, density and intensity across its expansive breadth with light sequences dancing at times in the depths or upon the surface. These seasoned musicians deftly interweave electronic sound sources of a variety of forms, contemporary software gear alongside vintage and modular synths in subtle arrangements calling upon elements of modern ambient, Berlin School electronica and sparse space music. The tone is mostly one of gentle wonder and meandering calm, the tidal flow ultimately leading to a concluding series of bowl chimes.

 
ARTWORK   Life Flows Water is presented in a pleasing card wallet of two panels. The understated macro imagery enhances the meditative nature of the music: a pebble stack, a serene statue, grass blades and lilac sunset hues. Track titles are to be found on the rear cover each with running time alongside. Unfolded, the package reveals a monochrome portrait of each artist in action on the left and recording details, credits and web addresses to the right.
 
OVERALL   

A collaborative album, Life Flows Water sees the founder of Spotted Peccary Music Howard Givens working together with electronic-ambient composer Craig Padilla. The seven tracks here range from the nineteen-minute-plus opener to the relatively brief five and a half minute Awakened Consciousness; most falling into the mid-length region necessary for the lush, unhurried development of such contemplative material. If you wish to listen to the tracks, each can be sampled at the relevant Bandcamp page as well as at the Spotted Peccary label site where discographies and biographical details can be explored in greater detail.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 


 

 ----------Various Artists - Strange-Eyed Constellations
STYLE
 
August 2015
Downtempo, global chill.
This is a highly evocative, collection of lush, languid tracks curated by master of the genre Toby Marks (Banco De Gaia). The heady atmosphere and almost processional pace of the music sets this album apart from many other compilations. Tracks sway and nod in deliberate reverie, blissful serenity, sombre ritual; synthetic waves and drones seamlessly combine with performance recordings. There are occasionally vocal elements: international song; meditative chant and spoken word - all employed with suitable restraint, retaining an overall impression of instrumental music. There are a few rather cerebral, beatless compositions interspersed among the downtempo tracks - these nicely heighten the introspective sense of wonder and mental drifting that the collection builds so well.
 
ARTWORK   Strange-Eyed Constellations arrives in a three-panel card wallet, plastic free and softly glossy. The disc sits in the third panel, folded inside so as not to be at risk of falling. Paintings by Andrew and Zoe Heath as well as muted, textural photographs provide the visuals, elegant script fragments barely visible beneath the surface. Track titles with times are found on the rear cover, expanded within so as to cover all three inner sections: credits, websites and recording details provided here. The remaining outer section presents thoughts on the collection by Toby Marks and a dedication.
 
OVERALL    Released on the pleasantly intimate Disco Gecko label (home to much of the Banco De Gaia catalogue), this is the first compilation of its kind by label master Toby Marks. Promotional material explains that this long-term goal took seventeen years to come to fruition: a "down-tempo, left of centre" compilation of "beautiful and uplifting" music harking back to the early nineties 'Ambient Dub' series that carried Banco's own music. There are thirteen tracks here in all, deftly sequenced so as to tell a sonic tale that will engross the listener from start to finish - the whole journey certainly greater than the sum of the parts. Explore the album via the Disco Gecko website as well as the relevant Bandcamp page.