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 ------Various Artists - Fahrenheit Project Part 6
STYLE   Downtempo trance with strong atmospheres and frequent ambient expanses. The latest in the Fahrenheit series sees the sound bound more tightly to the measured rhythms of low bpm trance than on previous outings. We have the usual vibrant layering of electronic colour and scintillating arpeggios - here enhanced with misted female voices, vocoder effects, ethnic singing, shakers, exotic ambiguous bird/whale cries. The beats tend to develop incrementally, build into thudding regularity or helicopter clarity and then fragment or disperse into echoing emptiness, often to recur with increased power for the next climax. Sundial create a strong aquatic space on the track 'Together, we are... (Scann-Tec rmx)' where faint female utterances ghost the air before the beat steps up and some scintillating sequences take centre stage.
MOOD   The mood here is more beat-driven and regular than Oxycanta and Albedo, yet still shot through with that trade mark Ultimae chill. The mood is one of clean technological fluidity that ranges on the one hand into brooding hypnotic shadow and then into simmering heat haze, with bubbling cycles as vivid and saturated as the luminous orange of the front cover graphic.
ARTWORK   Ultimae quality gloss and saturation - an orange palette ranging from the weight of black through to the palest shade just short of white. Underwater on the front, in the clouds on the reverse - tangerine, gold and rust hues with a droplet/bubble mass crossing the juncture - black horizontal borders ever-present. Within, the same hues bathe the inner panels in the same warm light, not bright, night lights, very very deep colour. The track list is found on the reverse and in expanded form inside alongside credits and recording details. A tasteful, beautiful object - you want Ultimae CDs in your collection to look at as much as to listen to.

Billed as The One Before the Last... Fahrenheit Project Part 6 is said to be the penultimate release of the series. Promotional wording explains that this album is "more upbeat than the previous chapters, Fahrenheit Project 6 is the absolute soundtrack for your after parties, morning celebration or "sofatimes". Highlights on the album for me include the combined talents of Magnus Birgersson and Vincent Villuis in H.U.V.A. Network's 'Orientations' - an 8 minute 57 second piece that opens up a spacious reverberating zone with a dramatic apocalyptic tone overrun by a constant bass pulse and gutsy digital beat. Also Hol Baumann's - Radio Bombay at the end of the album where gentle chimes and acoustic guitar introduce a lonely Indian voice that cycles around against an ominous deep bass and deceptively simple beat. Other artists presenting their audio delights for us are Scann-Tec, Irukandji, Cell, Sync24, Solar Fields, Sundial and Aes Dana.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Ultimae followers will know what to expect, this being another quality release, this time steering away a little from the ambient side of things. If you don't know Ultimae music - this is an album that will delight chill fans that like deep, deep musical hues and imaginative trance for that after hours, late night feel.




 ------Mark Mahoney / M. Peck - Imprint

Lustrous genre crossing synthesiser music - generally without beats and rich in vibrant multiple layers. Imprint is full of fluctuating synthetic tones and lush textures - smooth sonic plains alive with shimmering detail and spangles of sound, calm undulations with revolving, morphing motifs and crystalline effects. There are electrical environments with lurking barbs and dark currents - distorted voices garble in the middle distance, heavy pads well up occasionally, suggestive of the passage of enormous forms flickering, bristling with detail. Promotional material proclaims "From lush celestial harmonics to the undercurrent of something altogether subterranean, our goal was to create an album that is at once undefinable, yet accessible. That was our intention – this our imprint". I would say the intention is eminently realised.

ARTWORK   The organic and the synthetic combine in a monochrome montage - a large daisy overlaid with oval punches, imprinted messages fading slowly from left to right. Similar imagery appears also on the rear of the case and on the single sheet insert. Within are credits, a gear list, contacts and a second track list (the first on the back cover).All tracks are timed and come in at a total of 50:32 - the first and last both running at over fifteen minutes with three shorter pieces nestled in the middle.

Mark Mahoney and Michael Peck might be known to some listeners for their work as part of The Amaranth Signal, Michael Peck also producing material as redfadesbeforeblue. For this release the duo have compiled tracks from their live performances of 2005 resulting in a CD that is somewhere down the ambient end of the electronic spectrum yet utilising what the band refer to as "shape- shifting rhythm patterns and melodic transformations". This is a release with a powerful sound, the sonic environments are deeply absorbing and engrossing - the professionalism of the artists being clearly evident. You might want to try this one if you enjoy ambient music with some muscular structure threaded through, or if you like electronica that revels in ambiguous soundscaping.





 ------Welder - Vines & Stream
STYLE   Beaty electronic downtempo instrumentals with world and urban aspects fused throughout. Welder employs a range of trip hop, breakbeat and chilled rhythms that, nevertheless, tend to have quite an upbeat almost 'big' feel about them. These beats often drop into global grooves, disperse into light interludes or fragment and twist before rolling on once more. Spoken voices, chimes, ethnic instrumentation and mangled electronic effects flavour the melodic themes that are often built around simple chord patterns, repeating with variation, evolving and developing. A number of tracks make good use of vocal samples - a narrative reminiscent of The Orb's 'Little Fluffy Clouds' runs through Purple & Orange, other wavs are strongly effected, cut-up or distanced, echoing in the background.
MOOD   Welder establishes a mildly psychedelic atmosphere, warm and tuneful, where gentle repetition is effectively employed, building tracks into peaks, catching a breath in the gentler interim moments. The album glows with colour as Welder tends to paint his sound with broad vivid sonic strokes - bold, bright and uplifting.
ARTWORK   I have only a promotional copy of this album showing the front cover image. This is the deep green tinted forest fringe that you see above. The title picked out in golden letters.
OVERALL    Based in San Francisco, California - Welder has been writing and producing music since 1999 in a variety of electronic styles. Under the name Eskmo he has focussed on the more aggressive sounds of breaks and drum and bass - as Welder his music is described by his label as "downbeat world fusion and electro funk grooves". This debut under the latter alias is something of a melting pot with various influences interwoven - ethnic instruments alongside grumbling basses, drum and bass hints against strings and musing recorded speech.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Welder will appeal to the chillout audience that appreciates a danceable beat and that enjoy vivid themes over meandering ambience.




 ------Spiral System - In Your Dreams
STYLE   Refined, lightly chilled vocal and instrumental music with a strong urban edge. Spiral System use a warm clean sound of pianos, strings, acoustic and electric guitars to support some truly laid back melodies. The variety of approach reflects the diversity of modern city life - eloquent rapper MC Precise brings the everyday reality of UK streets, Lottie Child's masterful and soft voice - dreamy and appealing, flute breaths, blasts and trills fill 't.o.p.' and dubby basslines, squelches, stabs and echoes appear in other places. There are Latin touches, multi-cultural references, city sounds - car horns, and soulful melodies all presented with a real band feel.
MOOD   The mood of this album captures well the variety of musical atmospheres present in a contemporary city such as London - taken and filtered or perhaps tinted with the artists' own favoured hue. The focus is on the chilled side of life, warm twilight evenings - a different sound issuing from each sonic side street.
ARTWORK   Beautifully packaged in a lush digipack - In Your Dreams features a long exposure photo image of a night sky on the front cover. The paths of the stars wind around in long curves of light revolving above a black horizon - the sky itself a deep green for this release. The spiral idea is illustrated by a series of shrinking dots. Once the package is opened up another spiral appears in the form of an ammonite indigo/ black against a night blue background. Within a sharp contrast is formed by a bright orange snail illustration - spiral shell streaked with rusts and browns. Credits, thanks and contact details fill the other internal panel.
OVERALL    Spiral System is made up primarily of percussionist Joe Crisp and guitarist Cliff Ovenden. The duo are both experienced players and producers currently working from the UK Spiral Studios in West London. In Your Dreams is a highly polished album with a strong vision and excellent presentation. This CD comes as the debut release from newly established Macro Records accompanied by a series of teaser EPs on iTunes featuring a number of remixes by Gaudi and others.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This is music that will appeal to listeners looking for something laid back yet danceable with the evening city breeze flowing lightly through the air. An easily accessible album that has some truly restful grooves.




 ------Electric Skychurch - James Lumbs' Sonic Diary Singles

Electronic soundscaping using a variety of morphing cycles and kaleidoscopic sequences. Electric Skychurch presents here "Sonic Diary Singles" which are the individual, unmixed tracks from the album "Sonic Diary". The band's promotional material explains "the tracks stand alone, and in some cases have parts that don't appear on the continuously mixed version of the record, or have different beginnings and endings. The singles collection features unmixed, unaltered high fidelity master recordings". The resultant release in this case consists of warbling sequences, squelching motifs and rippling arpeggios that sometimes have soft washes alongside, sometimes comfortable breakbeats driving the arrangements. A number of these individual tracks, when standing alone, work almost like intricate sonic wallpapers - evolving sequences recurring like aural tessellations, detailed and melodious - the hypnotic repetition eventually smoothing out the complexity of the sound into beautiful undulating textures. There are other pieces where programmed atmospheres take centre stage - a heartbeat thumping amid doleful ambience, insectile techno buzz or mechanical rhythm revolving, shifting, phasing.

MOOD   Like a series of abstract geometric images each built around a single hue Electric Skychurch deliver a set of ornate sound patterns that explore limited structures and restricted layering. Like the unravelled threads of a greater whole - these pieces are beautiful in themselves, at times slightly melancholy, often quite cerebral, subtle, didgeridoo-like fluctuations mesmerising, entrancing. "Sonic Diary Singles" was produced using three-dimensional audio techniques, in order to get a sense of movement through distinct timeframes, space, and emotional states.
ARTWORK   I have only a promotional copy and so have only seen a small version of the richly textured front cover image shown above. The image has layered geometrical designs and a faded portrait worked in among the graven surface details.
OVERALL    Promotional material for this release tells us "The original mixed album "Sonic Diary" was released five years ago, and continues to set an example of what an electronic music album can be. Although the album was made from personal recordings collected over a long period of time, the final production week of the project was interrupted by the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The entire record was arranged and mixed in the days following. "Sonic Diary" was not about 9/11, but it was a product of the time and culture that led up to that day, was affected by that day, and had one foot on each side of the divide." These 'individual, unmixed tracks' are "for DJ's, audio purists, or anyone who appreciates good songs".
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Anyone that enjoyed "Sonic Diary" will likely be fascinated by these musical fragments and dissections. If you appreciate sonic texturing and sequencer moods this might be one for you.




 ------Max Corbacho - Nocturnal Emanations
STYLE   Beatless and rhythmic ambient zones full of shadow and the lush densities of night. Night sounds, night birds, crickets, low sonic breezes - the album opens with a strongly environmental sound. Gradually dense tonal blankets roll in, gurgling effects and low muted impacts, the stillness now stirred up into a slow winding eddy. The serene twilight pools that Corbacho creates here can be silky and smooth, lustrous surfaces reflecting dark tones - but there are obscure depths too, things heaving below in slow, slow swells. The third track 'The Slow and Wandering Dust' sees a soft rolling beat gradually creep in - a corporeal rhythm, natural, constant accompanied by waves of heavy saturated tone like the measured breath of deep sleep. Large pots and giant drum thumps provide the basis for another percussive piece on 'Abandoned Wind' - slow motion low, lulling, soporific.
MOOD   This is a rich, liquid smooth world of dark curling colour, oceanic enormity. Tranquil and languid for the most part, yet uneasy shades well up at times, there are desolate spots, lonely and cold, suggestions of ambiguous lifeforms moving somewhere below or off to one side. The organic rhythms lift some tracks into meandering animation, quickening the stillness - but only just.
ARTWORK   Purple-black scenery in a crepuscular gloom fills the front cover, the edges of individual rocks and crags picked out with a graphic grey outline creating a weighty solarisation effect. Vague, monochrome geographical imagery creates backdrops for the other panels - a tracklist on the back complete with track times. Inside the two page booklet is an explanation of the project and a verse from Indian poet Sri Aurobindo that was a chance finding during the creation of the music.

Max Corbacho's Nocturnal Emanations was released in 2003 and appears on the website as the fourth release by this talented ambient composer. This is seventy three minute duration long form work developed through eight distinct tracks. Promotional material describes the album as one of "transparent synthwashes, developing through silent landscapes". The sound zones established are intended to be "almost hostile, sometimes underground, always stony, ancient". The approach taken was one "without any type of synchronism" so that "in this way the layers of synthesizers move freely along the whole piece "rubbing" harmonically some with others. A compelling composition that very effectively leads the emotions and senses in a beguiling night glide over quiet, abandoned terrain.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Nocturnal Emanations is for lovers of sonic scenery, lovers of low light, lovers of ambiguity. This CD will appeal to ambient fans that enjoy an organic sound and powerful atmosphere.