Powerful progressive rock.
Shifting The Equilibrium is a sharp, tight album of gutsy
tracks delivered with bright, dynamism and impressive technical
mastery. At their best on the longest of tracks when the
band break most strikingly into the arrangements with structural
variations and acoustic interludes; Unified Past combine
heavy riffs, symphonic synths and a huge, confident, driving
rhythm section. Although there are solo sections, the band
for the most part plays as an intertwined whole: fast guitar
licks, deft keyboard fingerwork and heaving bass layering
into a dense, vibrant tapestry. There is one instrumental
- Deviation From A Theme (Of Harmonic Origin) - among the
songs, an evolving piece of appealing character where the
guitar work really shines. Otherwise Phil Naro's sinewy
vocals cut distinctively through the mix despite the intensity
of the instrumentation: commanding and vital; energetic
and certain. Time signatures and rhythms shift so effortlessly
that it's easy to miss just how much is going in with some
of the pieces here, drawing on the whole range of the progressive
genre from its inception nearly fifty years back. There
is a clear sense of musical quality to Shifting The Equilibrium
that rewards headphone listening and full attention.
glossy digipack holds Shifting The Equilibrium; alive with
complex detail and colourful imagery. A muscle-map figure
kneels on the front cover astride a skull carving surrounded
by a dizzying tangle of synthetic/organic interconnections.
Opening out into three sections, the rear cover presents track
titles beneath the gaze of a dusky monochrome close-up of
the cover figure. A band portrait fills the third outer panel
and a broad fiery panorama extend across the inside spread.
Brief credits are here as well as website details and contact
information. Pleasingly, a twelve-page booklet is tucked into
one end of the sleeve packed with lyrics, individual portraits
and generous thanks.
Past deliver Shifting the Equilibrium as their seventh release,
having been around in different guises since the early nineties.
As with the last couple of albums, the band work here with
Melodic Revolution Records, but the addition of Phil Naro
appears to have opened some interesting new sonic vistas
for guitarist/keyboardist Stephen Speelman, bassist Dave
Mickelson and drummer Victor Tassone. The six recordings
are all mid-length, from around eight minutes to around
twelve allowing the quartet plenty of room for manoeuvre
and experimentation. You can sample the album via the MMR
page for the release or you might want to view some
of the videos found on the official
Unified Past website where you can also find links to
follow relevant news outlets.
Dana feat. Miktek - Far & Off
Downtempo and ambient breaks.
Spacious, airy and expansive - Far & Off presents a beautifully
realised sonic escape from the information-saturated intensity
of modern life. With a technical excellence that is simply
stunning, Far & Off manages to sound so contemporary that
it feels almost like listening in to the future. What is interesting
about this, is that this in no way conflicts with the artists'
reflections recorded in the promotional material: "To
be on my own, far, in another context, without technology,
an act of protection. Taste real solitude, a state in which
no one else exists; cross the line, change rhythm and feel
the passing of time." The tranquillity and introspective
nature of the music is prominent: deep pads, drifting haze
and subtle undercurrents transporting the listener far and
off. Rhythmic content is crystalline, glitch-clear and flickering
into drum and bass territory, intense and booming beneath,
almost sombre at times.
& Off feels like a piece of fine art; matt card and monochrome,
delightfully visual and tactile. Panoramic imagery sprawls
across both outside and inner three-panel spreads; mist-obscured
scenery, lonely and inspiring. Track titles are on the rear
section and repeated inside the front of the sixteen-page
booklet that is neatly tucked into one end of the sleeve.
An explanation of inspiration for the music is laid out on
page three whilst thanks and credits are to be found on page
fourteen. The rest of the booklet is given over to text-free
imagery: abstracts, close-ups, fog-scenes all in glorious
black and white.
tracks from three vinyl EPs and digital releases are brought
together in Far & Off: Cut, Alkaline and The Unexpected
Hours. That said, the music flows as if composed always for
this unified collection, Aes Dana and Miktek proving perfect
partners in this exploration of 'contrasted tales'. The tracks
have running times ranging from just under six minutes to
around eleven and a half allowing for gradual, unhurried progressions,
developments of beats and dissipational interludes. If you
know either Ultimae or the artists collaborating here - you
will know already the kind of cutting edge product to expect,
but Far & Off sits right at the apex of the label's output.
If you want something edgy to float away to, something to
spark your meditation or something to inspire your contemplation
of an alternate future - you couldn't do better. Have a listen
at the Ultimae
website or catch the Youtube video for Far
- The Shell
Ambient chillout, downtempo and gutsy electronica.
A genuine genre-spanning release, The Shell is a fascinating
album of engrossing sound that really does hold the attention
well and delivers a highly evocative listening experience
throughout. At times deeply chilled with lush IDM sensibilities,
at others distantly reminiscent of Enigma (no doubt enhanced
by the presence of Enigma guitarist Jens Gad), darkly adventurous,
brooding and experimental in places, touches of Blade Runner
sci-fi melancholia. Fictioncity has done a great job of
maintaining a consistent glitchy, downtempo cool whilst
including plenty of melodic hooks and highlights and at
the same time infusing the music with an uneasy futuristic
edge. Cat purrs, calls of gulls, distantly choral voices,
waves of the sea, fireworks, wordless female vocalisations,
baby cries - the range of sound is broad and adventurous,
yet deftly mixed and well-placed in the sonic narrative.
The digital bonus track Alive and Shameless has an almost
Mediterranean summer vibe to it with languid acoustic guitar,
chilled groove and ocean waves, yet this apparent tranquillity
is pleasingly undermined with hints of trademark Fictioncity
disquiet and shadow.
haven't seen the CD package of this release and so can only
comment on the rather vivid cover art seen above left: a glistening,
veined heart with protruding tubes is grafted onto a jagged
purple shell. The background is black, a cool curving font
spelling out the album title in white.
Shell is billed as the first LP record from Fictioncity
(an EP entitled Nova was reviewed at Morpheus
Music back in April 2011). This release is delivered
via Ireland's Psychonavigation
Records label. Siberian-born Fictioncity talks of the
music having "Pink Floyd's or King Crimson's concepts
... put through the prism of contemporary electronic sound".
There are contributions from Jovana Djordjevic - voice,
Dan Hawkins - bass, Jens Gad guitar and Denis Sedovich of
Caravan - guitar vibe. When you add to this the mastering
skill of Huby Sea, you get an idea of the kind of high quality
product to expect. I'd thoroughly recommend listening to
the music via the Bandcamp
page for this release, there you can purchase a physical
CD or various download options.
13 years of making music here and there, I decided to sum
it all up in these 57 minutes of music. The majority of industry
people would probably classify The Shell as downtempo ambient
sound with some solid inclusions of IDM and a more than tolerant
attitude to live instruments. I'll bow to them with respect
and answer that I really did my best at emulating 70s psychedelic
art rock or 90s new age musical matters with the means of
2010s electronic music. It's like Pink Floyd's or King Crimson's
concepts being put through the prism of contemporary electronic
sound - technically, that was the idea. But I believe that
the most important thing and the purest goal one can ever
achieve by creating a piece of music is another introvert
teenager dreaming in his headphones before he falls asleep.
Well, not necessarily a teenager - unfortunately, one could
hardly identify me as a young man already, but I still visit
I've tried to create these imaginary surrealistic music worlds
of my own - all for you to travel through. I want to tell
you a story, I want to speak to you through the music. I hope
you like what you hear.
I also want to give a credit to all the people who contributed
to "The Shell" and without whom it just wouldn't
be the Wonderland I intended it to be. I thank Jovana Djordjevic
for her spectacular voice, and Dan Hawkins for his incredible
live bass, and surely Jens Gad of Enigma for this guitar magic,and
Denis Sedovich of Caravan, for his godlike classic guitar
vibe. And to Huby Sea for his out-of-this-planet mastering
skills and naturally SETI ears:) And finally, thanks to Keith
Downey of Psychonavigation Records for making it possible
for me to speak.
Stephenson - First Autumn
Ambient, experimental post-rock.
First Autumn is a subtle EP of fleetingly delicate pieces
that are both easy to listen to and rather brooding at the
same time. Cloudy drone textures and warm, effected guitar
patterns combine into dreamy, nostalgic vignettes that never
outstay their welcome. Beds of oceanic hiss and sonic fog
are imbued with faint percussive layers and field recordings.
The guitars that generally take centre stage are deftly
fingered: loose, fractured strums; heavily effected echoing
patterns reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins; languid, hesitant
arpeggios and the intimate sounds of deliberate finger movement.
Considering that an acoustic guitar was used as source material
for much of the melodic content - there is a surprising
depth and variety to the sound. There is a deep emotional
aspect to First Autumn that often calls to mind a melancholy
weightless drifting; a submerged meandering in pools of
subdued light; a dusty, barely-recalled distant memory...
cover art for First Autumn is a beautifully understated monochrome
image that could well be a processed photograph or could even
be a charcoal sketch. Tastefully ambiguous in nature and content,
the image could be read in a number of ways so that the eye
gradually moves from trying to decode the forms to exploration
of the textures and patterns. This well suits the music and
encourages a similar approach to listening. On a flat cream
ground, no text or unnecessary clutter distracts from the
image - simple, profound.
Wilson is a nineteen year-old college student from St. Louis,
Missouri with a decade of experience playing piano and guitar.
Forming Amory Stephenson as a solo project in early 2016
he released First Autumn EP in the summer as a debut. There
are seven pieces to the collection most hovering about the
one or two minute mark, but ranging also from the thirty-two
second opener Open Intro to the six-minute sixteen-second
Outlines For A Tomb. That said, a pleasing sense of fleeting
brevity is maintained throughout as the longest piece is
structured so as to move through several distinct phases
in its passage. The EP can be found at the Amory
Stephenson Bandcamp page or on Soundcloud
where you can listen to the whole set and purchase tracks
as you see fit.
began recording Ambient music under the name of Amory Stephenson
at the beginning of 2016 as an experiment and as the year
progressed on so did the music I was curating. I have garnered
inspiration from various different genres of music outside
of the realm of just Ambient and Experimental music through
genres such as Psychedelic Rock, Hip-Hop and Neo-Soul music.
After it being the first song I ever recorded, I released
"Descent into Madness" in February on SoundCloud
and it had a very positive reception so I decided to keep
exploring what different unique sounds I could create. With
each song release having a different ambiance to it with tracks
like "Rifts in the Cloud" and "Fleeing Dimension"
I made the decision I was going to put it all on a project.
I finished recording my first EP "First Autumn"
while in Florida in early June 2016 with the tracks "The
Love Song (Interlude)" and "Outlines for a Tomb."
The latter track above as well as "Open Intro" feature
recordings I took of the sounds of the ocean at night with
my microphone while on the Gulf Coast. Every track on this
project, excluding "Fleeing Dimension," was done
with my acoustic guitar and my different recording softwares
on my laptop. I am currently in the works right now of putting
together another short project of songs I recorded over the
summer using different recording styles, guitars and sounds.
The project will be entitled "Summer Tracks EP"
and will come out at the end of September.
Nonstatic - Nebulae Live at the Planetarium
Ambient, downtempo electronica.
Nebulae live rises out of darkness into shimmering light;
glitch-flecked electronica and rich sonic range. The crystalline
clarity of high end effects and the deep, deep throb and
hum of the bass brackets the melodic and ambient elements
beautifully. Everything is sparklingly sharp with no suggestion
of any loss of quality for having been recorded live. This
is an album of subtle melodic content in the form of airy
pads, understated arpeggiations and discrete tonal touches.
Beats gather periodically: sometimes light flickering affairs
underhung with blunt bass booms; in other places thud-driven
rhythms with minimal hi-hat or click accompaniment come
to the fore. There are regions of steady rhythmic regularity,
but even in these places, the impression is one of spaciousness
and deep expanse. Occasional hints of human voice arise,
electronically altered to the point of sounding almost synthetic;
guitar notes float in reverb familiar as plucked strings
but given a pleasing electronic breadth; other sound sources
are less easily discerned - middle-eastern flute, water
movement, static and sleet...
Nebulae Live package is a two-panel, matt-finish card digipack
that has a gorgeous tactile quality. On the front cover a
rough rock-form is suspended in space, lit with a raking light
that throws much into lush shadow. The rear cover presents
the track titles and a little recording information. Within
credits and a gloom-enshrouded picture of the artist are to
the left, the disc to the right imprinted with another strong
rock form. Removing the disc reveals a circular panorama curled
into the curve of the plastic grip - a lone figure appears
to stoop before a lunar craft examining the lunar surface.
in the Netherlands, Martin Nonstatic transferred to Cologne,
Germany as a child where he developed an interest in synthetic
and manipulated sound. Building a repertoire of live music
ranging from ambient to techno he began to focus on studio
work around 2009 and released the results via such labels
as Bine Music, Silent Season, Dewtone, Ultimae and Sub.spiele.
Now resident in Austria end Martin finds inspiration in
beautiful and peaceful landscapes. The Nebulae live session
took place in February 2016 at the Zeiss Planetarium in
Bochum, Germany as a "brand new work to introduce a
spaced out exploration of his Granite album".
Ultimae promotional material explains that "all tracks
were fully reworked to create a vaster atmosphere to fill
the dome. You'll recognise the spirit, the story is something
else!" If you'd like to know more about the project,
you can satisfy your curiosity at the Bandcamp
page for the project or you can visit the Ultimae
label site where you will find other releases by the
artist as well as additional background details.
Sanfilippo - Piano Textures 4
Bruno Sanfilippo reaches new levels of evocative communion
with this fresh suite of aptly named 'piano textures'. Establishing
a blissful space between the timeless and the exquisitely
contemporary, these pieces float among reverberating clouds,
hang against sparse electronic patterns or simply surround
the listener with incredibly up-close intimacy. The piano
naturally holds centre stage in each piece, Sanfilippo masterfully
managing to maintain a wistful soft-focus consistency whilst
delivering delightful variety of approach. Some tracks are
subtly melodic, beautifully fragile, delicate; others are
deeply expressive, impressionist mood pieces. Field recordings
and electronic atmospheres, for the most part sit back in
the mix, understated, inconspicuous - one or two tracks though
bring bright flourishes, string swells or dull bass booms
to the fore. Piano texture IV is recorded with a pleasing
vintage feel that recalls old black and white films of the
early twentieth century; piece IV wells up into heaving climatic
swells of emotion; track I feels like something from the ambient
end of a downtempo, chill album with its low percolating bass
burble and occasional glitchy flecks.
packaged in a two-panel digipack, Piano Textures 4 matches
the musical grace, dreaminess and timeless-modernism with
simple, near monochrome imagery. An elegant, tightly cropped
mini-skirted figure appears to drift amid urban hued mist.
The album title is framed against the girl's legs in a small
turquoise box - sharp and tight. The rear panel echoes the
image of the model, this time full length, lace draped-arms
flung high like angel wings. Track titles are listed here,
again simple: I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX. Within, the upper
half of the cover figure fills the left section with brief
recording details and credits above.
Sanfilippo builds further upon his excellent catalogue of
Piano Textures with the fourth in the series Piano Textures
4. Released, as usual, via the artist's own AD21 label nine
new recordings showcase what really are some exceptional
compositional and performance skills. The music can be explored
via the Bruno
Sanfilippo bandcamp page and of course Brunosanfilippo.com
where there are a range of listening and purchase options.
As well as the current release a limited edition of signed
and numbered collector’s items can be found containing
the four Digipack CDs for Piano Textures 1, 2, 3, 4 plus
postcards and download codes.