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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Jakki Jelene - Reflections
STYLE   Restful synthetic arrangements, trip hop and downtempo beats and female vocals. Jakki Jelene sings in a clean, clear style over melodic compositions that blend influences from ethereal, dream-pop, new age, shoegazer and electronica. Emotion fuelled lyrics explore pretty acoustic patterns or moody, lowlight themes where programmed sound dominates - a touch of grit here and there - gentle easy listening love songs at the other end of the spectrum breeze along comfortably, lulling, at times drifting off into dreamy wistfulness.
 
MOOD   Inviting twilight warmth with a tuneful new age optimism imbues the songs on Reflections with an accessible openness. The mood is mostly one of appealing harmony and softeness - melancholy touches and low light hues balance the sweeter aspects of the music.
 
ARTWORK   The front cover features a photomontage of the artist's face reflecting in the glass of an arched window floating, detached from its architecture in an evening sky. Black outlines of branches and leaves thicken the imagery and act to unify the image here with the other panels - heavy shadows running through each. The jewelcase reverse again presents the singer - closer this time, veiled - alongside track titles. The sleeve booklet opens out to deliver an expanded tracklist, lyrics for each piece, credits and thanks.
 
OVERALL   

Jakki Jelene comes from Michigan U.S.A. and is well known to many through her work dedicated to discovery, discussion and promotion of new female vocal talent, through her Angelic Voices discussion forums. Here she presents her own debut release in the angelic vocal, dream pop style she loves. Having performed since school days Jakki began songwriting after receiving her first guitar as a gift. Self-taught, she spent countless hours playing and writing music leading up to a homemade CD, “Acoustic Demos”. The positive attention gained through this experience encouraged the singer to collaborate with various independent artists, providing the experience needed to bring her next musical project, "Reflections" to fruition. Following eleven self composed tracks, the album concludes with an acoustic bonus version of Silent Night.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Reflections will appeal to fans of female vocal music that enjoy the moodier side of new age electronica. Not so far from the likes of Priscilla Hernandez or San.drine - Jakki Jelene should suit listeners looking for a bit of gentle shadow.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Radium88 - Only Science Can Tell Us The Truth
STYLE  

Gentle melodic electronica with downtempo beats and some female vocals. Radium88 deliver here a series of themes that combine programmed sound with organic instrumentation - restful synthetic layers that employ ambient techniques and more traditional arrangement are broadened by the addition of guitar, piano and orchestral elements. Digital percussion is built into bright beats that give the music a strong momentum, bringing a liveliness and drive to the accompanying drifting soundscaping. Female vocals appear on a number of pieces, not dominating in the manner of a song over instrumental accompaniment, rather the singing acts more like an additional instrument itself weaving into the mix, spreading a warmth and hinting at an almost classical heritage.

 
MOOD   Only Science Can Tell Us The Truth has something of a retro feel to it, something futuristic too - a little like looking into the future from a couple of decades back. For the most part the music is a relaxing blend of sci fi induced electronica and loose rock structure resulting in a sound that is accessible yet stimulating to the imagination.
 
ARTWORK   This album comes in a jewel case with a four panel fold out sleeve. The imagery throughout is made up of abstracted photography - the front and back featuring richly textured fragments laid out on a smooth metallic blue gradation, reminiscent of a museum display of some fragile artefact. On the back is a tracklist, a number of the titles here reappear inside as legends upon the imagery - a single line of text on a full panel graphic. The pictures all have vibrant surface detail and maintain the sense of gallery exhibits. A final panel inside contains thanks, credits and website details.
 
OVERALL    Radium88 got started in mid 1996, the band consisting of Matt Clare (guitars / general sonic manipulations and treatments), Tim Thwaits (vocals / slide guitar / programming / keyboards / melodica / harmonica / melodeon) and Jemma Davies (vocals / guitar / overall visual co-ordinator). The team have played live all over the UK and toured various European countries appearing on a variety of CD compilations and remixing such other artists as the renowned Banco de Gaia. This is an interesting album from a band that has many diverse influences molding their approach resulting in an album that is surprisingly easy to listen to.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Only Science Can Tell Us The Truth will likely be appreciated by lovers of electronic music that carries a clear beat and distinctive melody. Not a million miles away from the territory worked by Single Cell Orchestra or Zer0 0ne.
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Lisa Gerrard - The Silver Tree
STYLE  

Expansive, cinematic female vocal with almost ambient orchestration. Lisa Gerrard's distinctive haunting vocalisations sound as timeless as ever, drifting across minimal drones, a counterpoint to reverberating hand drums, wordless weightless utterances or graceful lyrical expression. Sepulchral solemnity, abstracted holiness, otherworldly, transcendent of culture - Lisa Gerrard's sound is at the same time unique and suggestive of myriad associations. The instrumentation is ambiguous in nature - orchestral strains or synthetic waves that swell like the surface of deep waters or hang heavily in the air like sonic fog on a still day. Much of the album is beatless - but then Space Weaver prowls out of the shadow - a downbeat trip hop track that works somewhere between cloistered chillout and the kind of song you might hear performed in a trendy urban bar.

 
ARTWORK   A spinning mesh of gleaming human figures rises tree-like in darkness. Computer generated forms stretching, reaching or perhaps flung back in relaxed abandonment form ant like connections, intertwined, self supporting. I have only the promo sleeve myself and this is backed by a closer view of part of the 'tree' - one ascendant figure struck by the light arcing up toward the tracklist a grey font on a heavier grey surface.
 
OVERALL   

The Silver Tree is Lisa Gerrards's long awaited solo follow-up to The Mirror Pool after around a decade of exploring other collaborative projects and work with movie soundtracks. It is this work with film that appears to the listener to have given The Silver Tree its direction - much of the album could easily accompany some powerful visuals. That said - the music here is strongly evocative in its own right - close your eyes and you'll be transported with little effort. Working such individual musical territory and with a fan base gained from more than one project Lisa Gerrard is sure to stir up widely differing responses - if you enjoyed Immortal Memory though or you like her more subtle work with film, this album will delight and entral. Beautiful and as pure as a prayer Silver Tree sees this exciting and incredibly professional singer continue down her own path. Expect a 'best of' in the near future on 4AD.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Erik Wøllo - Elevations
STYLE  

Melodic electronic music with clear beats and strong permeating tunes. Elevations is primarily a synthetic album that has an ambient foundation, but one with an organic heart - graceful chiming themes ring out against ambient textures and delicate chord structures; keening strains breeze across beautifully harmonious drones and layered washes, acoustic guitar elegantly hangs against crackling environmental ambience. The leading melodies are full of feeling and powerfully evocative, stirring up visions of lonely landscapes even more vivid than those of the cover art. Programmed beats drive much of the music, working in tandem with sequenced patterns - restful and set deep into the sound, often steeped in reverb or muted and distant. Elevations unsurprisingly has a panoramic spaciousness about much of it - a sense of crisp, fresh air, the possibility of frost broken by warm waves of tones that gently suffuse everything like the sun breaking through cloud.

 
ARTWORK   Elevations comes with a montaged image at the front - deeply contoured snowy peaks obliquely lit cast heavy shadows, graphic edges and radial lines overlaid in contrasting colour and form. Another terrain graphic fills the back panel where a tracklisting appears with timings for each piece. Here also are website details and publishing information. Inside is a two panel fold-out insert with a saturated blue photograph that maintains the contour theme. Within we find credits and instrument details as well as the address of Erik Wøllo's own website - www.wollo.com
 
OVERALL   

Elevations is the latest in a lengthy discography running back into the mid 1980s. Nowegian bornWøllo is from Hemsedal and has worked in "a wide range of styles from rock and jazz, to experimental electronic and classical music". His work includes composing and performing for film, theatre, ballet and various exhibitions, guitar based, electronic and orchestral. This CD is released on Spotted Peccary Records and sees the artist employing guitar synthesizers, acoustic guitars, keyboards, Wollo VST Software and various programming techniques. The result is one that straddles the ambient and electronica genres - drifting and meandering, yet built up into dreamy themes and shifting rhythms. There is plenty of detail, much to hold the attention, yet sparingly arranged, uncluttered and gentle. Twelve tracks in all mostly around the six minute mark or less - the final piece Land Of Birds drifting off into silence before fading up once more into a hidden encore of beatless tone.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------V/A - Bliminal
STYLE  

Bliminal is primarily a collection of lush rhythmic chill - strong beats with a tribal insistence stride side by side with huge bass lines filling the consciousness with compelling grooves. There is sometimes an ethnic layer to the percussive mix, often plenty of synthetic aspects and digital effects woven into the loops - these hybrid beats cycle hypnotically, frequently introducing new elements, dropping others, evolving. Melodic detail is mostly in the form of brief revolving phrases, musical snatches and repeating lines all borne up on beds of lush digital construction. Indeed the colour on Bliminal is formed largely from a rich interplay of synthesised sound - there is less global sampling, fewer disembodied voices than many offerings in the genre - yet the variety and depth of sound is second to none. Bliminal blends aspects of electro, dub and psychedelic downtempo and delivers them in a form that most readily suggests the dance floor - tunes are not important here, rather rhythm, mood and the peripheral stimulation of intriguing, sparkling effects - music to be absorbed by osmosis, to drift steadily into the body. There are some gentler chordal sections - Moravec's Kudelsraart for example where bobbing tones float over a lucid bassline and measured beat, gradually softening the mood. From htere the album winds down toward a more ambient ending from Legion of Green Men and Ishq. Ishq's Nepalese Sun is a lazy fifteen minute slice of tranquillity that gradually wafts into beatless ambience, meandering through sunlit cloud and haze off into nothingness.

   
MOOD   Bliminal has a glowing twilight party luminance about it - gorgeous easy dance beats that suggest relaxed exotic nights. There is a mesmerising cybertribal trance atmosphere where repeating patterns permeate gradually, deliberately. The whole album feels bang up to date - riding the crest of current downtempo electronica, sparklingly clear and with a luxurious depth of sound. The wind down section at the end of the CD is very effective - the mood turning dreamy and soporific, gentle uplifting waves of serenity becoming ever more insubstantial and floatational - drawing the willing listener into contented reverie.
 
ARTWORK  

With fractal reproduction endless tessellated spheres are interspersed with smaller spheres, in turn surrounded by smaller spheres .... Each sphere is a framework of hexagonal chambers, comfortably regular and soothing at a superficial glance, yet built with a depth and complexity that dizzies the eye when studied. The hue is purple, backlit and spotlit with bright light - six interlocking rings of light radiating flower-like from the centre leading the eye inward onto a small golden figure cross legged and crafted. The Interchill logo and titles complete the front cover and a tracklist fills the reverse. Inside there is a multi-layered repeating hexagonal field - again a challenge to the eye if you stop seeing the image as a whole and begin looking into its construction. Here is an extended tracklist with credits and website information.

   
OVERALL    Interchill’s first release of the year is compiled by label founder Andrew Ross Collins. After the previous grit and urban monochrome of Sub Signals Vol.1. Bliminal flushes your speakers with colour once more. There are tracks from such well established acts as Gaudi, Eat Static and Greg Hunter, newer names like Moravec and a few aliases ... Evan Marc AKA Bluetech and Hibernation AKA Seb Taylor of Kaya Project and Angel Tears. Slackbaba, Liquid Strange and Legion of Green Men all maintaining the pace and mood. Promotional wording aptly highlights that this CD features "fluid downtempo, glitchy psy-breaks and emotive atmospheres ... an album of genre- defying grooves at the edges of the familiar". Give Bliminal a listen if you want something in the downtempo field that has driving rhythm, digital clarity and liquid electronics.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Bliminal will appeal to chillout fans that want a complete journey within a single CD. Here are gutsy rhythmic dance tracks and some weightless ambient downtempo from some of the masters of the genre. A solid album of contemporary digital instrumentals.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Sabi - Nebulous Sights
STYLE  

Airy electro-ambient melodies with interwoven organic threads, sparse beats and soporific, melancholy weightlessness. Nebulous Sights is an album of dappled synthetic light, dreamy, glitchy, intricate beats and fragile floating melody. The mood is tranquil enough to just close your eyes and drift away, lulled into reverie like sunlight on the skin. The music is built mostly of short strokes and dabs of sound, brief swells and phrases carried by vibes, deep chimes and soft chordal touches blended with processed environmental sound - looping field recordings, hints of voices, distorted textures. The overall effect is one of delicate digital beauty with a sparing oriental elegance, very contemporary, forward looking. Rhythms are constructed of those deep kicks that hit like a padded sledge hammer and a wide variety of higher frequency effects, hits, blips, scuffs and percussive instrumentation - these are woven along with looped wavs into lazy downtempo patterns that crackle, flutter and sparkle with unhurried calm.

 
ARTWORK   I have only a promo copy from Sabi and so can't really discuss Cactus Island's packaging in this case. Suffice it to say that this label's 3" miniCDs have a great reputation and if the front cover imagery is anything to go by, then a high quality professional product can be expected.
 
OVERALL   

Japanese artist Sabi has released a number of tracks with different labels in the past including Sutemos, Merck, Hydrogendukebox and SAAG Records. Indeed Sabi runs SAAG Records in Tokyo, an electronic label delivering ambient and electro music with the vision - "Pills for Ears". This CD is released through Cactus Island Records and contains five tracks of warm, wistful grace. Matmilk especially is a truly delightful piece of modern music, very inviting, very touching.