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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Subsonic Experience - Präposition
STYLE   Long ambient shadows and amorphous sonic forms alternate with beat driven, sequential electronica bathed in evolving washes and ambient drones. Throughout the album both percussion patterns and sonic textures constantly shift in tone and colour. At times the rhythmic elements simply throb, propelling the track onward, at others all signs of a beat dissipate as the music softens, wafting skyward. Präposition includes sounds ranging from distorted percussive hits and bells, ominous drones, basslines that rise and fall onto the very edge of hearing and various ethereal clouds and atmospheres.
 
MOOD  

The mood is generally a serious one - expansive, haunting or shimmering and lustrous. There is plenty of darkness and mystery creating a sense of menace or unease in places, however, the gloom is often shot through with beautiful shafts of light and colour. The mood and pace does alter throughout the album constantly though - as tracks with drum loops and bubbling synth patterns rise and fall away into zones of deep ambience.

 
ARTWORK   The front cover features a graphically manipulated photograph of a soft pool among trees, where curling rings of light play on the water's surface and dense shadows hint at hidden depths. The CD booklet contains a monochrome image of the artists alongside a list of equipment used - surprisingly simple given the rich sonic interplay of the music. Track titles are listed with timings ranging from just over ten minutes to the shortest at six minutes nineteen.
 
OVERALL   

Subsonic Experience are Bernhard Wöstheinrich and Thorsten Niestrath who met up in Germany as design students. Working together on various projects including film, performance art and painting, the duo also formed Subsonic Experience in the early nineties. Getting together for a recording session in 2000 the basis for Präposition was laid with Thorsten contributing synth organ leads and textures and Bernhard focussing on sequencers. Later edited and mixed by Ian Boddy the CD was finally mastered by Eroc.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Ambient electronica fans who enjoy a beat occasionally. Subsonic Experience builds on the strong German traditions of abstract and sequential synthesiser music - if you like atmospheric European sounds, give this CD a listen.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 ------Australis - Lifegiving
STYLE  

Melodic, electronic new-age instrumental themes. The tracks on Lifegiving are mainly synthesizer soundscapes overlaid with emotionally inspired lead lines. Restful downtempo beats and gentle basses carry the various smooth layers and washes along whilst piano, violin, guitar or flute voices weave comfortable melodies in the foreground. Drum loops feature plenty of reverb and those muted snares and sonorous toms that suit this sort of music so well. There are classical and orchestral moments that add to the dignity of Australis' sound and frequent low-key interludes where percussion vaporises and melody becomes increasingly gentle and intimate.

 
MOOD   Lifegiving has a slightly melancholy tone, yet overall is quite uplifting, even soaring in places. Vistas of the imagination, twilight mysteries "emotional landscapes" - Oscar likes his music to reach the heart, touch the emotions. An album gentle on the ear with one or two uptempo excursions, but in the main easy beats and pleasing leads that will sooth a stressful day or invite the rested mind to explore landscapes that are beautiful and emotive.
 
ARTWORK   A tasteful aged parchment effect supports the fading butterfly and sunburst imagery that appear on each graphic panel of this package. The front cover seems richly archaic - with the spread wings of a butterfly appearing almost tattooed onto the surface. In contrast, the graven lettering is simple, sharp and lustrous. The back cover lists all tracks and timings along with contact details. Inside we have Australis' words 'AUSTRALIS is only a heart in constant search for the sound of emotions, a spirit haunted by the many melodies of feelings, by the always unique rhythms of passion." There is also an explanation of the name Australis and the relevant credits.
 
OVERALL   

The ten 'themes' on Livegiving are of a consistent nature, with soft, subtle electronic arrangements, harmonic lines with wistful tone and tranquil pace - nothing here is too heavy, nothing too sober. Oscar says of himself: "Being born in a land of ancient cultures where millenary traditions are present everywhere and thousands of years of emotions are part of daily life; the sensibility of his parents ensured there were always musical instruments within his reach. And their wisdom provided enough space for him to explore creativity from his own evolving perceptions." Apparently he composed his first formal pieces at the age of twelve.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Electronic listeners who lean in the direction of new-age melody. If you like Ryan Farish or Amethystium, Australis might well appeal to you - having the tuneful nature of the former and the moodiness of the latter.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Cell - Phonic Peace
STYLE  

Ethno-ambience and expansive electronica. Cell has produced here a deep rich synthetic/acoustic mix that melds such diverse elements as finger cymbals, Indian female vocals, global percussion, careful arpeggios and downtempo beats with masterful artistry. Dillrabar, sitar shenai and other emotive sounds from 'Deepest India' are employed in perfect balance with programmed structures and patterns familiar to the trance scene. The album opens with some moody abstract floatation where percussive loops flutter in and distant voices drift on the breeze, thereafter most pieces are laidback with the same balance of traditional samples and modern technology.

 
MOOD   Phonic Peace sets up a sense of the sacred, feeling almost processional in places as shady candle-lit aural artifacts are carried by, held aloft by reverential hands. Indeed, Cell has taken great care with the ethnic samples and performances to place then in appropriate settings, allowing them to shine and glimmer. The frequent downtempo loops add to the sense of veneration where voices ghostly and distant with reverb haunt sonic arches and halls. Most of the global sounds are of Indian origin, with a few from further east, such as on Phonic Peace For Tibet.
 
ARTWORK  

Phonic Peace is exhibited in a warm digipak lit with soft shades of tangerine and orange. An incense stick sends a curl of smoke over a backdrop of archaic scripture setting the tone for the musical content within. Inside we have another swirl of scented smoke, a track listing and various credits and thanks. A row of small photo-images and another soft-focus backdrop of assembled manuscripts completes the inner sleeve. A smooth package to match the smooth production quality of the audio.

 
OVERALL   

Tracks interfade creating a flowing whole where the mood is consistently Asian but always evolving with new shades and fresh nuances. Classical male Indian singers and chimes interlace cutting edge programming and production. Crystalline arps and crisp beats accompany lush flutes and tablas - electronic drones and pulsing basslines lurking beneath. Cell presents a softer side on Phonic Peace than you may have heard on a number of previous compilations and this is very welcome. The final track 'Orange' is one of my favourites where flickering d'n'b loops creep imperceptibly in over a bed of chilled melodic electronics and the semi-classical voice of Meena; building in intensity hurried tablas keep pace all the while until the concluding dissipation when the lazy pace of the opening returns once more.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

The gap is closing between global ambient trance and other worldbeat music and Cell comfortably straddles the boundary. Phonic Peace will doubtless draw downtempo chillout listeners from both genres - those inclined toward the club and lounge scene and those enjoying ethnic fusion music like Deep Forest and Ikarus.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 ------Numina - Eye Of The Nautilus
STYLE  

Liquid soft, shadowy ambience with a scattering of murmured percussion. Drifting, rolling sheets of tone unfold like slow-motion waves as Numina paints onto an infinite ocean of darkness with tidal washes of coloured light. On the few tracks where a beat swells up, the percussion is gentle, deep, reverberating, almost tribal in places with shakers and low booms - agitating yet never breaking the surface. Chordal patterns on Eye of the Nautilus are quite harmonious but the pace always falls far short of breaking out of floating ambience and into clear melody. In places clock-like bells and metallic chimes, as if of all sizes, swung by the wind are interspersed with plucked notes all spiralling in meandering eddies with a common direction.

 
MOOD  

Lustrous layers and beds of ambience, elegant and graceful in perpetual motion where nothing is hurried and submersion is absolute. This sort of subtle music always creates beautiful visions of nature for me - suspended, unfolding, revolving. Vaporous pads suggest the heavenly, ethereal where darkness is a welcome feature, a backdrop for colour and texture. At times Eye of the Nautilus sounds plaintive, wistful, almost solemn - but never depressive, the shadows are evocative and expansive not a path into obscurity.

 
ARTWORK   Monochrome and classy - nestled within a generous black border the spiral of a nautilus shell twists inward onto a human eye. The greys of the front cover photomontage are rich with texture that reveals fresh depths at each viewing distance. A larger version of the same image fills the back cover overlaid with a track-listing and times for each piece. Inside the monochrome approach is maintained with images enlarged into increasing abstraction. The inner booklet spreads the nautilus eye across both panels, with one side featuring credits, thanks and contact details.
 
OVERALL   

Numina (Jesse Sola) cites Steve Roach, Robert Rich and vidnaObmana among his influences and this can be heard in the consistently smooth shadowy clouds of synthetic sound on Eye of the Nautilus. If anything Numina has a sleeker feel - where sonic sheets and veils come in diaphanous layers, moving like the transparent, soft-edged shadows of clouds among lush drones and dense synthetic mists.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Ambience for those happy to have a beat in a few places - restful and flowing. If you enjoy Thom Brennan's style of writing, Numina will likely suit your tastes. If you like shadows and darkness that is at the same time welcoming and absorbing - give Eye of the Nautilus a good listen.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 ------Reuter/Boddy - Pure
STYLE  

Tinkling chimes, glassy synths and delicate guitars combine to form a series of bright luminous tracks. Sometimes beatless and then crisp with contemporary percussion - chopped-up, effected voice samples and warm electronics intertwine around Ian Boddy's sensitive programming and Markus Reuter's 'touch' guitar playing. Pure has an improvised feel to it, at times nebulous, atmospheric and hazy and then melodic with intricate tinkling piano-like voices and clear plucked strings tracing fragile patterns.

 
MOOD  

This CD has a light, lively quality, calming and fresh as track titles suggest - 'Glisten', 'Immersion', 'Breathe', 'Pure'. There is an almost oriental feel in places brought about by a combination of serene washes and metallic chimes cycling round and around. I'm reminded of patterns of light dancing on water, summer showers, myriad droplets of sound echoing across tonal sheets - beautiful in places, mesmerising and engrossing.

 
ARTWORK   The front cover carries a striking abstract image that looks both painted and photographed - a pair of organic columns snake upwards in the deepest of reds against a backdrop that looks like part of a Rothko canvas. The impression is one of height, of ascendancy - the powerfully dark surround is entirely secondary to the luminous foreground figures. Track titles and timings are laid out on both the back of the jewel case and on the reverse of the inner booklet. Inside is a very different painted image - appearing as pink mountains against a clear sky. Production details, credits and equipment details are found here.
 
OVERALL   

U.K. electronic artist Ian Boddy and German touch guitarist, Markus Reuter have worked together before in 1999 producing the album Distant Rituals. Once more Pure is a bringing together of two very imaginative styles that complement each other excellently. From liquid, floating textures and abstract sonic assemblages to sharp beats and dripping, sparkling, echoing melodies, the two musicians combine their crafts with a tight, inventive creativity. Production notes explain that these are "original compositions based on ambient textures and dry recordings of touch guitar performed by Markus Reuter".

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Lovers of pure electronica looking for something different - ambient in places, tingling with detail in others. Pure is a refreshing album of light and colour that will appeal to someone wanting relaxing music that able also to challenge the listener.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------ Aes Dana - Aftermath (Archives of Peace)
STYLE  

Ambient/downtempo soundscapes with roots somewhere in trance, very atmospheric and emotive. Conceived as a series of seven logically flowing movements, Aftermath starts out drifting, swelling, dark and ominous; bird song twinkles through the mists and the throb of a bassline builds and is gone. From here on beats well up like tides, crisp and light with thick kicks rising out of oceanic ambient orchestrations and then echoing, fluttering away again. Much of the beauty of Aftermath is in the interplay of cycling motifs (pulsing bass, skittering percussion, shivering arps) and intriguing sonic effects and textures. Fascinating details whisper into our ears, the mood shifting and evolving from one track to the next. The final track is a departure, featuring a piano arrangement of surprising beauty.

 
MOOD   Initially foreboding and overcast - Aftermath #1 is arcane and grey, but gradually colour bleeds in; crystal clear sound effects and the ethereal voice of Pascale Auffret herald the coming of sunshafts through the now-fractured haze. Aftermath is more strongly ambient than other Aes Dana albums to date - a stepping-stone between the downtempo trance of Season 5 and the beautifully emotive Memory Shell. From expansive and bleak to luminous and ethereal - from whispered voices and singing birds to the regularity of sequencers - from vibrant colour to pastel vapour ... a powerful assemblage from an artist that seems constantly on the way up.
 
ARTWORK   Lovely Ultimae packaging in the usual digipack format. The photomontaged scene within the normal black panels is of a cloudscape over desolate rocks. Incandescent sunlight traces a tattered outline in the centre of the sky whilst all around is ashen grey. Overlaid graphics suggest a possible future vision along with the unobtrusive title font for Aftermath - Archives Of Peace. All tracks are time-listed and full credits are given. Landscape images within the gatefold are also flung from their timelessness by overlays of studio leads, buttons and dials. Since this is a limited edition, a tasteful numbered certificate is included as part of the package.
 
OVERALL   

Aftermath is the work of Vincent Villuis with the voices of Mahiane and Pascale Auffret and an arrangement by Huby Sea. Being a limited edition, obtaining the CD is now unlikely - but there's no need for despair, the whole album can be downloaded from AMBIENT.US HERE. The promotional material for Aftermath says “Aftermath aims to be a series of sound photographies of our "beautiful" world in complete rotation. These Aftermaths which one experiences closely or from afar, at times personal others mediatized, these dark grey or luminous climatic moments. Peace, it seems, becomes precarious, some are trying to archive it. " Less is more on this album; the space emphasising Vincent's sensitivity to fine layers of sound, the stripped down rhythmic elements allowing harmonic features and enigmatic fragments to tell their tales.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

If you have enjoyed Aes Dana's other albums, don't miss this one because it's no longer in disc form - you will appreciate Aftermath. This is moody music for trance fans that want to see how far the genre will stretch in the downtempo direction - this is ambient music for those who value some rhythms driving the mix.