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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Erdem Helvacioglu - Altered Realities
STYLE  

Rich guitar ambience and inventive electronic soundscaping. Altered Realities is built primarily around the lucid tones of a solo acoustic guitar that have been powerfully embellished with live electronics. The resulting music is melodic and gentle for the most part, especially as the clean string work surfaces from within the heavy effects and lush beclouding treatments. When the various digital processes are in full thickness, the source instrument becomes less obvious to the point of invisibility, shimmering drones and crisp textures, echoing chords and twinkling harmonic plucks, melody often giving way to more amorphous structures. It appears that Erdem Helvacioglu uses every inch of his guitar neck to wring out these beguiling sounds and enhances the results such with such imaginative manipulations that it is often hard to believe that this is a real time solo performance.

 
ARTWORK   I have only partial artwork in my possession at this point - a front cover photograph in extreme close up highlighting the golden hues of guitar machine heads and wound string. Vertical graphic bands overlay the image lightening or darkening the whole and dividing into strips. The CD jewelcase reverse likewise features a macro shot - this time the subject is recording gear, dials, coloured lights and sliders - much in the soft focus of minimal depth of field. Track titles and their associated times are also here.
 
OVERALL   

Turkish musician/composer/producer Erdem Helvacioglu is well known in his home country and has performed and received considerable airplay internationally. Altered Realities comes as a follow up to the acclaimed A Walk Through The Bazaar released back in 2003 on the Locust label, this latest solo album being released via US label “New Albion”. Promotional material explains that "all of the compositions were recorded in real-time, directly to DAT without any overdubs, mixing, editing, post-processing, or the use of previously recorded material. All of the textures were created based only on the acoustic guitar signal with no other sound source used during the recording". The equipment employed consisted primarily of an Ovation Custom Legend 1869 acoustic guitar fed through a bank of audio processors on the spot. So what we hear are guitar recordings that are more or less recognisable drenched in colourful electronic layers and textural resonance.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------David Helpling . Jon Jenkins - Treasure
STYLE   Melodic ambient music with spacey themes and lush electro-tribal beats. Treasure is a gorgeous collection of chilled instrumentals that ease smoothly in and out of broad percussive beats - billowing pianos, swooning guitars and warm strings well up into climactic surges and blissful come downs. Rhythmically the two musicians bring their diverse interests to bear on the project - David's Eastern hand drums and bells, Jon's shakers and Native American drums making for an absorbing percussive experience. The lead lines are mostly delicate, understated structures that often sit deep within the overall textural swells - sometimes they are fully absent, washes and harmonious drones taking the lead - but there are also passages of delirious beauty, luscious, cascading melody and moments of heart stirring emotion. Ranging from dreamy grandeur and soaring rapture to gentle quietude and introspective subtlety Treasure has an organic soul within an electronic body.
 
ARTWORK   A shaft of light scythes through an unseen opening in solid rock to illuminate a rolling cave scene. At first the scale is ambiguous - perhaps just a small tunnel, the earthy home of some subterranean rodent - but soon the eye picks out a tiny human figure right at the edge of the light and suddenly the scale explodes - this is an enormous cavern sprawling into unseen distance and darkness. The rear imagery retains the underground theme, the same rich brown hues, another gleaming light source. Here the track titles sit in shadow, each with its associated timing. The inner booklet opens into two panels - within the initial image is enlarged and flipped into negative so that the figure glows with a light of its own. Here are credits, web site details and thanks.
 
OVERALL   

Treasure is released via Spotted Peccary Records, having taken six years to create, the album has stirred up considerable anticipation. From the opening moments this album establishes itself as a high quality experience - Helpling and Jenkins delivering a gigantic musical expanse that truly stirs the depths of the listener. So it comes as no surprise that these two artists are two of the label's most popular, best-selling acts, both having achieved considerable solo success. David Helping has produced much music for cinema over the years and his obvious ability to evoke imaginary colour and space perfectly complements Jon Jenkin's musical interest in creating music to "stimulate the imagination and transport the listener to another place". Treasure is surely a CD that stands out from the crowd - appealing to lovers of tuneful ambience, fairy tale enigmatic groove and to anyone that loves very beautiful music.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------The Secret Meeting - Ultrashiver
STYLE  

Restless, gutsy darkwave songs with slinky, prowling female vocals. Ultrashiver is built primarily around a guitar, bass and drums set up - an almost live sound driving the album, yet there is also a wealth of electronic enhancement and sonic manipulation to broaden the sonic spectrum and excite the ear. At the beating heart of each song is kaRIN's distinctive voice - intimate, disdainful, dripping with coiled sweetness, sprawling in predatory languor. Reflecting the same grit and sugar mix, churning guitars brim over with distortion, squeal amid sci fi feedback or pick out rolling flanged patterns whilst electronic atmospheres and peripherals provide contrasting subdued hues. The overall effect is quite a dense sound mass broken apart into brief softer interludes where a rippling synth, some smoother programmed tones or a low-key sustain guitar paints a lighter scene for a moment. The Secret Meeting don't play with obvious melodies, preferring instead a driving intensity threaded through with sensual moodiness - electrodes connected directly to tissu, a nocturnal shroud draped over everything, an ethereal light shafting through storm clouds.

 
ARTWORK   Eye catching artwork accompanies The Secret Meeting both on the sleeve design and the website. Surrealist photomontages reflect the sonic juxtaposition of the music - the front cover centres on a winged human torso with a spherical topiary head inlaid with the dial and mechanics of a clock face - this form emerges impossibly from an upturned snail shell suspended against a brooding sky. Lush green grass carpets every panel, anchoring disparate elements in a procession of peculiarities. On the rear is a tracklist set out aside tree-like mushroom forms and a glass stream. Inside the insert opens into five panels - one side given over entirely to lyrics for the songs, a quadruped skeleton, a flying fish a polished gramophone horn and owl - the other side holds an image of each artist framed in scorched close-up, almost monochrome but not quite. Generous thanks and credits are found inside also along with contact details.
 
OVERALL    The story goes that Collide vocalist kaRIN contacted Dean Garcia (of Curve fame) whilst surfing the web - a guest vocal was the initial idea, a complete collaborative album the end result. Ultrashiver then features the combined instrumental talents of both Garcia and Collide's other half - Statik bringing their complementary approaches into a decisive shared trajectory, there are also appearances from guitarists Scott Landes and Rogerio Silva (both familiar to Collide fans). Inevitably this new project manifests aspects of the musical heritage from both sides and so will delight current fans, but The Secret Meeting has a personality of its own something that sounds new and familiar both at the same time. The album is released through Noiseplus Music and sleeve notes indicate a two step recording process passing initially through Garcia's U.K. studio and then into Statik's hands at Noiseplus. Check out the new website for more info, sound sample and an online shop - HERE.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Surface 10 - Surface Tensions
STYLE  

Dynamic electronica ranging from amorphous ambient to rhythmic IDM. Surface Tensions delivers eleven varied pieces of synthetic experimentation where melody is often prominent; brimming with evocative atmospheres and augmented by the presence of unique organic elements. A violin, a piano, vocal snatches, operatic performance, effected voice samples and other assorted less readily identifiable sounds. Beats are lively throughout much of the album - crisp digital affairs for the most part driving the compositions into brisk movement - at times more chilled patterns lulling the music into restful serenity, there is even some jazz influenced drumming on the rolling X Tension. Surface 10 lays out rippling sequences against textured drones, delicately harmonious lines draped across spacey programming, swimming effected wavs cut into repeating loops, human peculiarities sunk into artificial fluidity.

 
MOOD   The mood varies across the CD - there are upbeat sections with lively structures approaching dance beats, moody passages where peculiar noises create mysterious depths, techno-ambiences and night club smokiness. At times mechanical or jerking through twisted glitches, at others smooth and drifting, occasionally dark and brooding. Moments of graceful beauty merge into uncomfortable sonic terrain without warning - gradually relenting and softening once more into restfulness. Truly Surface Tensions is difficult to pigeon hole and difficult to pin down - passing as it does through so many stylistic phases.
 
ARTWORK   A glossy, sharp macro photograph fills three panels of this package - glassy beads of water clinging to a metallic blue green surface their diverse domes dark with shadow on one side, touched with light on the other. Amid the larger droplets are myriad tiny liquid hemispheres - wandering the spaces. The impression is one of natural organisation, irregular repetition, unintentional artifice. The familiar DiN arrangment is employed with white panels holding titles and info. Within we find a large monochrome portrait of the artist and a second tracklist in addition to the back cover. Also thanks, credits and contact information and relevant website addresses.
 
OVERALL  

Surface 10 is one of Dean De Benedictis' projects - here released via the highly respected U.K. DiN label. This is the second album from this partnership DiN 8 being Surface 10's In Vitro Tide back in 2000. The album is again limited to 1,000 copies. Dean has released a number of other albums under the Surface 10 title through various labels. He has also produced music under his own name and other aliases such as Cathexis, along with collaborative works as The Strato Ensemble and putting together compilations as The Fateless Flows Collective. This album fits well with DiN's growing catalogue of high quality, unusual electronica - individual, unpredictable and alternately beautiful and sombre.

 
 WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   DiN fans will find this another worthy release from the label and Dean's supporters will not be disappointed. If you are unfamiliar with either - try this one if you enjoy ambient electronica with plenty of detail, clear beats and ample melodic content.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------V/A - Cosmik Chill Orange
STYLE  

Deeply saturated downtempo trance collection. Cosmik Chill Orange features a series of lush, multifaceted beats where basses throb, sequencers bubble and a wide variety of percussives all work in unison - fluttery treble drum loops dance over pounding lower thumps, combining into a rhythmically intense experience. Curling flute plumes swirl across chugging electro grooves and delicate synthetics, other organic material seamlessly woven into the vibrant sonic fabric where everything seems to have heightened colour making for a rich, ear-filling soundscape. Female vocals, low, almost a whisper touch some tracks, ethnic chants, spoken expositions and distant transmission snatches further enhancing the various arrangements. Tracks interfade one into another creating some interesting interludes as each piece lazily morphs into the next. Gradually the bpm rises from track to track as the album progresses from the cool spacey opener up into the more driving conclusion - that said, Orange still opens up plenty of space among the beats, atmospheric lull's punctuating the overall pace.

 
ARTWORK   Bathed all over in an amber orange - this is an attractive digipack that is built around two main images: outside a fragmenting water drop passes horizontally across the cover, a wobbling half sphere pursued by smaller torn off droplets. The impression is one of a liquid jellyfish hurtling through the air. Spread across back and front, this image works as backdrop to the sole tracklist, each presented with bpm. Inside an arc of a timeless stone circle covers two panels - stark megaliths against an amber sky and an empty rolling landscape. Here is the legend "CYCLES & SPIRALS IN EVOLVING HUMAN CONSCIENCE - Jim Leon (1938-2002) along with a paragraph on the project from Taj.
 
OVERALL    Cosmik Chill Orange follows Cosmik Chill Red - as the second in Electrik Dream Records' compilation series. This relatively new UK based label has delivered a solid catalogue so far, establishing a reputation for quality and lushness of sound. Master Margherita's Mastura and label master Tajmahal's own excellent Star Circus have been the label's artist releases to date. An 'electro progressive morning compilation is planned as the next event under the title Electro Therapy.
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Fauxliage - Fauxliage
STYLE  

Dreamy downtempo songs of love and loss spread across opulent electronic soundscapes brimming with colour and feeling. Although two restful instrumental pieces of strings, vibes, Rhodes piano, wah guitars and synthetic sculpture flesh out the album, this is first and foremost a collection of beautifully expressed songs where Leigh Nash pours out her heart with touching sensitivity and graceful intonation. Both words and melodies are delivered with aching honesty and a vulnerable energy that suck you into Leigh's world of fragile, bared emotion and warm colour. The imagery is imaginative and compelling, the singing natural and skilful. Chilled beats lazily drive these lush arrangements that sound quite orthodox for writers, players, producers Leeb and Fulber - drawing on a sound palette that downplays the strident electronica of past projects and making greater use of mainstream structures whilst maintaining a pleasing originality that arises out of the team's unique musical heritage.

 
ARTWORK   Foliage comes as a charming package - retaining the lush textured graphic style associated with Leeb/Fulber projects. Pale salmon blossoms trail down the front cover in a gentle curve arcing below a raised parasol with radial spokes flinging the tail of the curve into motion. Broken postmarks, two faint portrait images, and some handwritten script further embellish the tasteful texturing and layering. On the rear cover an ivy twined portrait of Leigh Nash sits atop the tracklist - again in the same floral hues as the front. Within the pages of the generous booklet alternate between pale and thick inky indigo-black. The paler sheets hold photographs of the artists wrapped in creeping tendrils, graphic whorls and handscript. The dark sheets deliver lyrics to each track and extended information on the performers and contributors to each piece. All in all as visually appealing as the music is aurally delightful.
 
OVERALL   

Leigh Nash joined forces with Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber through Delerium back on the album Poem when she provided vocals for the track Innocente (Falling In Love) and later again on the follow-up Chimera. One of Leeb's personal favourites, Nash's voice really comes into its own here on this album demonstrating a vocal range beyond my previous expectation. I consider this to be superior to any previous work that this particular team has done together, or at least here a shared personality of great character has been much more strongly defined. There are a good number of stand-out tracks for a single album - personally I love Draw My Life and Let It Go - two almost tear inducing ballads that swell the emotions almost uncontrollably, but there isn't a weak song on the CD. The musical approach is more conventional than might be expected from Leeb/Fulber (this is not a second Delerium) - yet the poignancy of the arrangements, the sweeping strings and ambrosial digital orchestration , the blissful percussion structures, the romantic chord developments all stand high above the crowd.