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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Amethystium - Isabliss
STYLE   Dreamy fairy tale soundscapes delivered with lush melodic electronica and ethereal female vocals. Amethystium has deepened and developed his sound with this latest offering - the arrangements are confident and sweeping, the instrumental work lucid and bright, the vision clearer than ever. Now the vocals are mostly specially recorded performances from such singers as Lee Nisbet, Stine Mari Langstrand and Irina Mikhailova. The gorgeous downtempo beats are still multifaceted and evolving - those low key muted interlude grooves punctuating the shadows. The synth work is multi-layered; repeating phrases and arpeggios rolling over expansive pads and strings, chimes and little metalic notes twinkling in the background - warm melodies and strong themes demanding the attention, then dropping away into gentleness and quiet corners. On Isabliss the synthetics are accompanied by some deftly interwoven electric guitars and keening violins.
 
ARTWORK   This is a fantastic piece of packaging, capturing excellently what Amethystium is all about. A three-panel digipack almost monochrome, full of delightful imagery courtesy of Grey Decay and Brian Son. The front cover features a striking twisted tree with dense clouds for foliage, wheeling birds circling the branches. On the reverse is a close-up of the gnarled trunk, track titles alongside. Within two stark black birds adorn a knotted bough that has a bright lantern hanging at its tip. Another panel opens out to reveal the second half of the rear cover tree trunk - here too are credits and some thanks. A final turn of the page reveals the rest of the inner picture - a flying bird trails dark leaves apparently fluttering out from a shuttered window. There is a delightful air of mystery and appealing shade about the whole package - very tasteful and stirring to the imagination - you'll want to hold it as you listen.
 
OVERALL   

This is the fourth album in the unfolding Amethystium story - the fifth if you count the compilation Emblem. Once more Neurodisc are the chosen label for the Norwegian bedroom artist turned producer, composer, multi-instrumentalist. If you have heard Øystein Ramfjord's previous albums you'll know what to expect - although the dragonfly trilogy, as it came to be known, was concluded with Evermind, the trademark sound is still all here, just better. I think this is a stronger collection that Evermind, more purposeful and more clearly standing on the shoulders of earlier material. There are some beautiful moments - I didn't think Øystein could manage to become any more blissful and dreamy than the Aphelion CD, but the track Frosty Morning Bliss manages it. Lilting piano phrases and Stine Mari Langstand's heavenly vocalisations work with some lovely understated electronics to create one of the most chilled-out pieces of musical mystique I've come across.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Timonkey - Cerulea
STYLE   Glitchy left-field electronica mainly instrumental, but with scattered vocal elements. Cerulea has an infectious sound carried along by inviting beats and rhythms that draw on trip hop, dub, downtempo and notably glitch. The melodic aspects of the music have a light scatty feel to them full of varied electronic tones, squirts, fragments, and collected sounds. Tripping phrases and fragile-seeming repeating motifs dance over programmed percussives, the tunes having a fractured scattiness to them, jerky and bubbly - dance-worthy for the most part. There are a few ethnic touches such as Josh-i's tabla work on 'Back to the One'. There are some relaxing, gentle tracks such as the delicate Azure with its fine little chopped up voice loop lines and the lazy, lounging trip hop finale Five Kingdoms.
 
MOOD  

The mood is mostly upbeat and bright, a feeling of light airiness running throughout the album. The sonic palette has quite a technical bent - digital ephemera and programmed effects employed generously on most tracks, strongly manipulated voice fragments and snatches also adding to the impression.

  
ARTWORK   Cerulea comes in a two panel digipack. The artwork appears reminiscent of found street art - strong textural surfaces daubed with colour, drawn forms and figures, rough graphic elements. On the front is an uplifted face in profile a series of dotted lines emanating from his forehead, rising heavenward. On the back an outstretched hand claws at the sky alongside the thirteen track tracklist. Opening up - more hands sketched out behind brief credits and a dedication of the album to 'the liberation of all sentient beings'. The CD sits atop a final panel of watery blue ripples and molecular diagrams.
 
OVERALL  

Cerulea is the third album from Timonkey on Muti-Music, preceded by the Cloud City’ EP and ‘Mammals On The Brink’. On his Myspace page the artist describes his sound - "humpback bass bombs, passerine filter zaps, orthopteran grainwaves and microbial step sequences mashed with some cylon acapellas, jawa handclaps, and pakune beatboxing" - that gives you some idea of what to expect. Fusing organic and synthetic elements, Timonkey does a good job of musically merging the worlds of nature and technology.

  
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This is an album for fans that enjoy glitch riddled down/mid tempo electronica. The approach will satisfy listeners with an interest in experimental musical styles, whilst maintaining a strong enough melodic and rhythmic focus for the album to be easy on the ear.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Craig Padilla - Below the Mountain
STYLE  

Deep spacey synthesiser music with strong melodic content. This latest release from Craig Padilla features analogue sequencer patterns that recall Berlin school electronica, more rhythmic than his previous long-form ambient The Light In The Shadow CD. Sharp sweeps and vivid drones underlay percolating phrases and motifs that take centre stage. There are some beats in places, but for the most part Craig builds the rhythms of this album with rolling sonorous sequencer forms at times reminiscent of classic Tangerine Dream material. There are passages of less clearly structured ambience, layered sheets, gossamer textures and lucid cycles glistening, revolving, meandering. Warm and clear Below the Mountain is an inviting album, pretty in places and relaxing, introspective and expansive in others.

 
ARTWORK   This jewel case presentation is fronted by a photograph of a mountain rising out of deep shadow into white cloud - simple, attractive. On the back a blurry summit and hazy sky forms a backdrop for the timed tracklist along with Spotted Peccary logo and website address. Pulling out the two panel insert, a second mountain image overlaid with the outlines of some technical equipment fills one page. Inside we find a montage that sees a panoramic spread of synths, leads, plugs and keyboards overlaid with the artist in negative - a final mountain rising from the clutter. Here are credits, thanks, a dedication and Craig's own website details.
 
OVERALL   

Coming as the latest of a considerably large discography, Below the Mountain is inspired by the landscape and surroundings of Mt. Shasta near Craig's home in Northern California. This release contains seven tracks that range from just under five minutes in length up to twenty two and a half minutes. Once more Spotted Peccary is the chosen label, home now to a growing collection of the artist's music. Craig Padilla is now a well astablished name in the EM genre, known for his use of classic and vintage synths, yet equally adept at employing the latest in soft-synth technology. Some samples can be heard at the label website.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Kuba - How the Future Sounded.
STYLE  

Smooth downtempo electronica with a tropical feel. The danceable grooves and warm melodies that form the backbone of the Kuba sound are more solid here than ever. There are a number of gutsy basses in places, lumbering and dubby even, as the band launches into reggae influenced chill, but the many of the tracks have a lighter feel - summery and fresh. The approach taken to the drum tracks is that of a live kit sound mainly with programmed embellishments and interludes. The synth work is very clean and shiny - often sparse or subtle. There are soft washes and some almost ambient textures hanging in the air behind the lead lines. Voice fragments (spoken and samples of song), lilting flute performances, chimes, ethnic violins, Indian drones, environmental recordings and subtle brass leads broaden the sonic palette.

 
ARTWORK   I have only a promo copy of this album in a paper wallet and so can't really comment on the art in a useful way. You know as much as I do by looking at the thumbnail image above.
 
OVERALL   

The U.K.s Lawrence Harvey releases another colourful excursion in comfortably chilled sound. This is the third Kuba album to my knowledge, the debut Inside Out released via Liquid Sound Design, the follow-up Through a Lense via Chillcode Records. Chillcode is the label of choice once more for this latest CD. There are twelve tracks here in all that alternate between stab-fractured dub thickness and easy going electronic chillout. If anything this album is somewhat more experimental than the last exploring a somewhat wider selection of downtempo styles. You can catch a number of track samples over at Psyshop.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Various Artists - Sirènes
STYLE   As the title suggests this is an album of some of the best female vocalists currently on the scene. The style ranges from chilled and almost glitchy electronica, through pop, worldbeat and acoustic folk. Harland's delightful Fly crackles and shudders with static and interference building up to a blissful chorus showcasing the singer's own fine programming abilities. Echostream and Lisbeth Scott maintain a similar approach - emotive and individual. Star from Viia had me turning out my Viia album and wondering why this project never went so much further than it did - Jody Quine's vocals soaring and beautiful. Brídín Brennan's music is relatively new to me, although around for a while now - delivering here a cinematic pop song that doesn't surprise the listener when realising that she is the younger sister of Moya and Enya. Sleepthief is represented by a post Dawnseeker track featuring Kirsty Hawkshaw's fine, wispy almost breathless voice. Other singers and bands include Blue Foundation, Kristy Thirsk, Sophie Barker, Carla Werner, Íse, Tara Mclean, Zoë Johnston, Sylvia Tosun, Aeone and Miriam Stockley - a bit of a who's who of current female talent, a sampler CD for some of the moment's most amazing performers.
 
ARTWORK  

Sirènes comes in a tasty card sleeve that provides a bit of general info on who the Sirenes were according to Greek mythology and a tracklist for the CD. The artwork on the sleeve compliments the jewelcase presentation within - Pre-Raphaelite style models draped in white, surrounded by a montage of flowers, foliage and graphic ephemera. The actual front cover is wordless apart from a cursive ringed 'S'. The case rear holds another tracklist on a darker ground - the otherwise ever-present white lady here absent. Within the case is a generous fourteen page booklet explaining the development of the project on the first double page spread and then introducing each artist with a paragraph of background information and website addresses. The back pages discuss children's charities supported by the project encouraging listeners to take an interest in this noble cause. The final section presents credits and thanks pointing out that purchase of the album contributes to support of the afore-mentioned charities.

 
OVERALL    Spectacle Entertainment, Russell Elliot of Musical Discoveries and Sleepthief's Justin Elswick combined interests and efforts to bring us this compilation album of tracks both new and previously established. The collection presents vocal signatures familiar from such notable projects as Delerium, Faithless, Zero 7, Ferry Corsten, Guru Jazzamatazz, Junkie XL, Balligomingo, Opus III and Rose Chronicles among others. There are less familiar singers here too - perhaps this album becoming an introduction to the bodies of work from these. In all sixteen tracks - so plenty to absorb you here. Take a look at the Myspace page for the album and have a listen to the music there.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ------Fordham Wilkes - People in the Sun
STYLE  

Smooth electronic songs featuring clear female vocals. Fordham Wilkes use a variety of subtle electronic sounds along with plenty of acoustic guitars, electric guitars and occasional trumpet bursts to establish a series of warm backdrops for Ginny Fordham's imaginative songs. Steve Wilkes' drum tracks are a mixture of acoustic kits and programmed beats - mostly laid down with a live drum kit approach. Ginny sings and sometimes narrates in a style that has clear folk roots, sometimes overtly as in the mellow Barbara Allen, sometimes delivered in a new millennium context. The overall effect of this coming together is one of traditional American popular music given a modern twist, relaxing and easy on the ear.

 
ARTWORK  

People in the Sun comes as a jewel case presentation with a single sheet insert. The front cover contains a tiled set of nine atmospheric sunset photographs captured at Cape Cod - diagonal cloud banks and black silhouetted scenery with trees and distant buildings. The reverse cover contains a track list with times shown for each piece. Below are credits including sample sources, and inspirational references. The Insert within the case flips over to reveal colour portraits of the artists in action alternated with two more cloudscapes and a little more background information

 
OVERALL   

Fordam Wilkes are US based musical professor/percussionist Steve Wilkes and freelance musician/singer Ginny Fordham. People in the Sun comes as the follow up disc to the duo's debut under the current title 'From the Earth Below'. Prior to this, the 'vocal/electronic percussion duo' released an album under the name Dr. Carrot - indeed this is a creative pairing that has been working together now for more than nineteen years. For this release, the idea was to produce a series of 'pop Songs inspired by Georgia O’Keefe & Edward Hopper - hence recitation of the poem 'Nighthawks' and reference to the book 'Flowers and Skyscrapers'. The title track itself takes its name from a Hopper painting and 'Ladder to the Moon' in turn from O’Keeffe’s painting of the same name. If you enjoy songs with an American pop / folk heritage and share an interest in these two iconic artistic figures - People in the Sun is well worth a listen.