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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Craig Padilla, Zero Ohms, Skip Murphy - Beyond The Portal
STYLE  

Delicate ambient space music. Beyond the Portal is like a soft, warm bath of coloured mists and vapours: airy threads and fine filaments of sound waft in gossamer sheets whilst elegant melodic flutes, expansive pianos or programmed tones lazily unfurl with an intricate beauty that mirrors the rising plumes of lilac smoke on the album cover. There are no beats here until the final track - everything drifts with spacey weightlessness. Sequencer patterns are not used to generate rhythmic drive, rather, they are allowed to well up in subtle patterns that bring touches of crystal to the more pervasive fluidity of the drones and swells. There are passages with a restrained dynamism; emotional surges where the music builds into ponderously heaving enormity; the serene beat of the concluding piece embellished with sequencer bubbles; the grandiose density of Akasha.

 
ARTWORK   The front cover of this jewel case presentation sets the mood for the album exquisitely - planet earth arcs out of shadow at the foot of the image into a glowing nimbus that quickly dissipates into the vastness of space. An effulgent eruption of coloured vapour rises from the globe's surface, a mesmerising plume of colour further ascending into darkness. The rear cover features a similar design from a different perspective in different hues. Here the tracklist shows that the six compositions are arranged into three distinct sections. Brief credits foot the back panel. Within is a two panel insert - the outer section extends the front cover imagery, another curved earth surface barely breaking into view. Innermost the backdrop is black: to the left portrait images of the trio; to the right a list of instruments used by the players and website details.
 
OVERALL   

Craig Padilla, Zero Ohms (Richard Roberts) and Skip Murphy have worked together in various collaborative combinations before - this current release brings all three together building on the foundation established by Padilla and Roberts via the album Path of Least Resistance. Padilla and Murphy deliver the synthetic content via a range of analog, digital and software synths and sequencers whilst Zero Ohms provides assorted flutes, wind-synth, piano and further electronic content. The concept behind the music is picked up in promotional material with Roberts explaining that "the new release is a more yin-inclined exploration of an inner space as opposed to the yang-oriented excursion through outer space presented on the earlier Path of Least Resistance". If you are wondering about the portal - "The Portal represents our own limitations,” states Roberts, “and so to go beyond the portal is to become more than we believe we are."

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------H.U.V.A. Network - [Ephemeris]
STYLE   Immersive electronica with dreamy downbeat trance rhythms. Ambient spaces open up with sonic mists hanging heavily, throbbing patterns welling slowly into percussive regularity. Lush pads and translucent textures are embellished with subtle cycling sequences, rippling arpeggios and morphing, repeating phrases. Guitar lines and fret squeaks, lost voices, hints of flutes, sitar textures and environmental recordings broaden the mix – as well as a range of colourful synthetic effects. Plenty of echo and reverb often lend an air of enigmatic haze or suggest remote distance. Beats range from delicate, sleepy undulations to driving downtempo structures – crunchy hits or muted forms, generally very intricate, detailed, shifting affairs.
 
ARTWORK   Ephemeris arrives in usual Ultimae style – abundant black framing, panoramic imagery and generous glossy booklet. The broad cover montage brings water droplets, frosted twigs and gleaming little haloes together into a complex shadowy dreamscape. Within, the two end panels contain monochrome photographs of the separated artists at work in their respective studios. Centrally a split portrait sits behind the disc – two faces struck into one. Following the successful format of other recent albums, the inserted booklet repeats the cover theme on the outside and then goes page by page through each track of the album – although the subject matter of the photography here is perhaps more pastoral and somewhat less abstract than normal.
 
OVERALL   

For the second time Aes Dana and Solar Fields projects meet, disperse, entwine and reform as H.U.V.A. Network. Magnus Birgersson and Vincent Villuis combining their considerable talents into this joint entity with a distinct identity all of its own. The approach is similar to the debut album of 2004 - the same subtlety is here, the same low key melancholia, the same inventive beauty - a true sequel in every way. This time ten tracks of mid-length are presented, three forming a set under the titles Orientations parts 1 - 3. For anyone interested - "An ephemeris (plural: ephemerides; from the Greek word ephemeros "daily") is a table of values that gives the positions of objects in the sky at a given time or times.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Robert Scott Thompson - Ghost Worlds Electroacoustic Music
STYLE  

Deep ambient environments and experimental soundscapes. These sonorous expanses crawl with haunting peculiarities and mysterious layers of sonic fog. Opening with a heavy bang and thick, grating disturbances Ghost Worlds declares itself to be a challenge to the senses right from the start. Beatless and melody free; reverberating chimes jangle, clang and toll; shimmering drones ebb and flow; voice-like snippets flit through the air; shufflings, clatters, rattles, turbulence effects all enmesh into one organic whole. Less obvious sounds include bamboo, tuned glass instruments, filtered noisebands, piano, choral sonorities - as the full title indicates, synthetic and acoustic sound sources are both given equal weight in these other-worldly arrangements.

 
MOOD   The mood is consistently one of sombre expectation and uncertainty, sometimes almost weightless and drifting, often grounded by means of the frequent percussive elements - metallic impacts and dense atonal shiftings. There are some disquieting passages, most often when hints of humanity arise within the mix - disembodied voices, choral wafts, remote presences.
   
ARTWORK   Ghost Worlds Electroacoustic Music comes in a jewelcase presentation with a full colour single sheet insert. The front cover holds a crepuscular desert scene with heavy sky set within broad white borders. The rear holds a tracklist displayed on a muted twilight tree portrait - black text on grey twigs and branches. Within is a detailed discussion of the music track by track, inspiration is outlined, recording details explained and commission information given. There is also a brief biographical section on Robert Scott Thompson.
  
OVERALL   

This 2008 release from ambient musician Robert Scott Thompson is released through his own Aucourant Records label. The album consists of a 'concert suite' of four extended recordings totalling fifty six and a half minutes in total that were premiered at the SOUND Festival of New Music in Scotland in November 2008. The artist explains that his music arises from "structured improvisation" and an interest in "various intersections between aesthetics, creativity, consciousness and experience." Often the music "has no specific technical agenda" and is structured via a "background formal geometry."

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you enjoy experimental ambient music and have no need for melodic content - then Ghost Worlds might be for you. Don't expect an 'easy-listening' experience, these are engrossing sound experiences that mesmerise and enthral.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Between Interval - The Edge of a Fairytale.
STYLE   Ambient soundscapes - some rhythmic, some beatless and drifting. These smooth compositions have a clean spacey nature, velvet drones and glossy washes welling up into curving waves of sound, softly undulating sequential phrases and patterns somewhere just below the surface. Dark, shifting masses of tone at times suggest enormous expanses, lighter strains faintly illuminating the gloom, atonal threads suggesting air movement. A downtempo trance-like pulse drives Minotaur's Lair into throbbing motion, whilst a beguilingly languid electronic beat barely rolls along on Sea of Darkness; the rest of the music is without obvious rhythm. The thematic inspiration for the music has led to these pieces having an enigmatic moodiness - remote origins and whispered beginnings - reality and imagination intertwining. Environmental elements keep the music grounded - water movement, a bird, occasional movement as if someone is passing through, far off voices distorted and vague.
 
ARTWORK   The Edge of a Fairytale arrives in a jewelcase with a two page insert. Shadowy forest imagery fills every panel both inside and out. On the front cover a cascading stream with heavy vignette blackening the edges. Other images are more focussed on trees and forest panoramas with a fern close-up behind the disc itself. The photographs are given an edged effect that makes them appear almost painted. Tracklists appear on the rear and inside - the outer list having track times alongside. Inside is a little information outlining credits and thanks along with relevant website details.
 
OVERALL   

This is the fourth Between Interval album from Stefan Strand (previously named Stefan Jönsson) and follow-up to the 2006 release Autumn Continent. This time the album is released via Spotted Peccary Music and contains eleven immersive compositions ranging from over eleven minutes to as short as one minute forty eight. The artist explains "There are many religions and beliefs in this world. There are stories and tales that are thousands of years old about mythological characters, creatures and places. To me, letting these tellings influence our lives, without knowing the truthfulness behind them, means that we're living on ‘the edge of a fairytale’ - between the known and unknown."

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Bluetech - The Divine Invasion
STYLE  

Downtempo electronic instrumentals with plently of dub and glitch elements. This latest offering from Bluetech is a further exploration of the chilled, lightly percolating sound that has distinguished the artist from the start. Smooth ambient textures contrast intricate rhythmic structures of layered phrases and mesmerising beats. Interesting effects and peculiar sound sources are scattered throughout, often making up key parts of the melody. The basslines throb and pulse with a familiar bounce, lifting the downbeat tempos, pumping a gentle energy into the mix The melodic aspects have a liquid fluidity and slightly mechanical clarity - busy structures that ripple up and down colourful scales, flicker in glitchy repetition or cycle into hypnotic familiarity before morphing off into fresh form. In short this is trademark Bluetech riding the crest of a wave.

 
MOOD   The mood here is mostly one of relaxed wonderment - the harmonies are inviting and warm, the pace relatively tranquil and yet the melodic structures are full of energy, complex detail and interweaving patterns. For the most part this album is a bright affair - crystalline and lucid, even in the more shadowy corners the twinkle and glitter of arpeggios and sequential phrases maintain an interest more in the light than in the darkness.
   
ARTWORK  

The promo package that I have features a bright, complex graphic montage on the front cover - a sharp human profile embellished with a profusion of curling panels, swirls and leaf forms. The rear holds a tracklist and an explanation of the project. Within, the tone is darker - heavy grey, but again dense with partially submerged imagery. Here is a second tracklist and a lengthy paragraph on the artist providing biographical and recording information. On the opposing panel are brief credits, web and contact details and a portrait of Evan emerging from the gloom of the busy backdrop.

  
OVERALL   

Coming after a considerable break from the Bluetech project, The Divine Invasion picks up where Sines and Singularities left off - but with added depth, travelling further into the signature sound that identifies Bluetech. This is a good thing, many artists in an attempt to stay fresh begin to change their sound and end up losing what made them unique and appealing to begin with. This is not the case here, The Divine Invasion is certainly fresh - but this is achieved through development rather than abandonment of previous themes and techniques. Once again Aleph-zero is the chosen label - this release surely becoming yet another valued addition to an already well respected catalogue of quality electronica. The album includes a number of collaborative pieces jointly credited to Mirror System (aka System 7) and Eitan Reiter with Bluetech as well as a remix of .an Ace Ventura and Lish track.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Bluetech fans will be delighted by this new album as will most Aleph-zero adherents since the music stays true to the ideals of both. If you haven't experienced either yet - this is an album for lovers of lively electronic ambient dance music.
   
SOUNDS  
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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Magic Sound Fabric - Observer
STYLE  

Downtempo electronic semi-instrumentals. A number of the tracks on Observer have vocals, however, these are strongly effected and so submerge somewhat into the synthetic soundscaping, resulting in something that feels almost like an instrumental album. The compositions are strongly melodic, the singing supported by a range of programmed sounds and the occasional piano. Subtle arpeggios and sequential phrases roll around slightly below the surface, soft pads and washes helping the mix to flow smoothly. Deep sub-basses loom and throb whilst laid back grooves deliver dreamy rhythms. There are elements of dub and IDM along with touches of ambient among Magic Sound Fabric's current sound, but the most clear distinction from previous work is the presence now of Cameron's vocal lines.

 
ARTWORK   Observer arrives in a crisp digipack in two panels. The main cover shows a two graphic portrait profiles, shades of muted green, apparently of the same individual: the leftmost character has a projector overlaid onto his temple, lens in line with his eye, this device bathes the opposing face in divergent rays. The same colour scheme is repeated on the rear: here is a tracklist on flat white ground, simple credits and website details. Within on a bed of rays similar to those on the front cover we find lyrics for a number of the tracks.
 
OVERALL   

Magic Sound Fabric is the work of composer and graphic artist Cameron Akhunaton. Observer comes as the fourth Magic Sound Fabric album and follow-up to the 2004 release Freedom Star (reviewed here at Morpheus). The label once again is Cameron's own US based Spiralight Recordings. The nine tracks here show Cameron's familiar chillout sound benefitting from the considerable technological developments in music since the previous release - the sound quality is sharp and clear, the instrumentation inventive. The idea of the album is to take "a dive inside the subconscious mind". If you'd like to hear for yourself - why not take a look at the official website - there are samples of all the tracks here.

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Bruno Sanfilippo - Auralspace
STYLE  


A suite of flowing ambient expanses - some with rhythm, some without. This series of seven tracks is arranged into a continuous fluid whole. Although each track has a distinct character of its own the connections are almost seamless as subtle sonic morphing takes one piece smoothly into the next. The various compositions are united by a tranquil drifting quality that ebbs and flows in ponderous undulation - very restful, mesmerising. Yet there are great depths here, and strong sonic colour: distant jangles, twittering birds, soaring air movements, muted whistles, echoing crystal-like electronic phrases, distorted ethnic flutes and patches of dense, heavy sound that in turn fall apart and disperse back into the atmosphere. When the music rolls into rhythmic motion the effect is one of easy transition from steady state into electro-organic groove, the percussion or sequential patterns having a timeless, placeless, universal quality about them.

 
MOOD   The mood throughout Auralspace is one of wonder and serenity. Moments of mystery and exotic twilight are highlighted by beats as soft as the rhythms of the human body. Lighter passages seem to take the listener high into the clouds, delicate vapour trails of transparent tone wafting weightlessly past. There is often a sense of blissful abandon and pleasant warmth inviting one to let go and sail off into the seemingly endless liquid space that Sanfilippo has so carefully conjured up.
   
ARTWORK   Auralspace is a deluxe digipack presentation - a sharp matte card gatefold in three panels. The front and back imagery features a human ear overlaid with a bold weave texture - rich additional surface layers and shadowy obscurity combine to create an impression of mystery that holds the eye. This is a tasteful object in itself. The remaining outer panel when unfolded, holds all the relevant information; a tracklist with associated timings, a quote from Jorge Luis Borges and a gear list. Within, the space is wordless, given over entirely to visuals that symmetrically fill the extreme right and left panels - a profile of a strongly grained face, partly turned away. The ear of this figure holds a bright burst of light that sends beams radiating outward. The disc itself is central, hiding a final, lush weave design.
  
OVERALL   


This album sees Bruno Sanfilippo develop his solid solo discography deeper into ambient dreamscapes. The delicate pianos of the past few releases are replaced here with gently heaving beds of tone and layered electronics. Coming as the artist's twelfth release it is delivered via his own AD21 Records label and will be available through Musiczeit as well as other well-known download platforms. Clips can be heard on Bruno's website here.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Auralspace will appeal to ambient fans that enjoy strong flavours and warm infusions. There is plenty to 'listen' to if you so choose, yet melody is minimal and restrained or emergent. If you have enjoyed the peacefulness of Bruno Sanfilippo's most recent albums, then that feeling is still here only this time without the piano focus.