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 ----------Heyoka - Gate Code
STYLE   Chilled dub, glitch-hop and thumping grime instrumentals. Heyoka continues driving his unique sound further from the beaten path in pursuit of his evolving craft. This album of dynamic, squelching, creaking downtempo has a very powerful character and a compulsive beat. The rhythmic material lumbers and plods with such determination that it defies anyone not to be drawn into rocking, nodding, foot-tapping or dancing. A dizzying array of extra-percussive blips, taps, scratches, tonal motes and arpeggiated phrases add density to the already dominant grooves - always shifting, always something new, almost more than the listener can keep up with. The musical content is primarily acidic - bass squirts, chord stabs, groaning tonal sweeps and manic zaps - however among this gutsy fabric are some delicate piano melodies, hints of more hummable tunes and snatches of almost familiar themes. There are some inventive vocal effects - plastic yays and yiys that buzz with a throaty reverberation that matches the programmed sounds in intensity and some distant, plaintive sax playing courtesy of Tormenta Galactica.
MOOD   The mood of Gate Code is one of brooding, almost tribal intensity with a strikingly contemporary aesthetic - the muscular beats and basslines prowling along with confident poise, the frenetic musical motifs and constant sonic flickering mesmerising the ear as the artwork does the eye. There is something of a psychedelic, techno feel going on in much of the music - proudly synthetic, revelling in a lush artificiality.
ARTWORK   Gate Code comes as a jewel case presentation riddled with snake-like pipe designs curling and twisting across every surface. These twining forms dominate the design both outside and within. Only the rear cover relents and provides some space for text - here is a tracklist, website and Myspace addresses and relevant logos. The impression is as intense as the music - busy, mystifying to the eye.

Heyoka returns with his latest downtempo release following the slightly heavier Whomp Gland Pineal Dub album and Whomp Gland EP. Once again releasing via the increasingly well-known Muti Music label, Gate Code builds on the foundation of previous material most effectively. Heyoka is not afraid to blaze his own trail and here takes the wise step of doing what he does best more fully - the result is a strikingly personal sound within a well-worked and popular genre. Mutimusic explains that the CD was "Mostly composed while on a trip to Uruguay in Jan 2009 ... dubbed out sets of tracks that show homage to oldschool dub while playing with modern glitch effects and instrumental hip hop."

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This is not an album you can easily ignore - fans of Mutimusic will be delighted. Dub lovers will appreciate that this is something new - zappy, energetic downtempo that demands the attention. If you are a sucker for powerful low bpm beats this is one for you.
Beatport player coming soon.




 ----------Maps and Diagrams - *foel EP
STYLE   Ambient haze and soft focus soundscaping. These four tracks are all beatless zones of rich ambient depth. Very immersive music - these compositions have a great deal of detail. Faint fuzz and light crackle spot the air acting something like aural grunge, a sonic fog - the kind where you are conscious of the individual drops within the cloud mass. Synthetic drones ebb and flow, at times almost forming a melodic heave; tonal motes flicker almost at the edge of perception and distant, muted, subtle phrases slowly drift as if weighed down by time and dust. Percussive disturbances and shiftings periodically arise among other noises; broken static, sonorous clicks, flecks and ringing sounds. estersunnd sees some acoustic guitar sounds sprinkle into the mix - delicate and clear in comparison to the relative blur of the backdrop. The texturing is quite beautiful in places, enhancing the ponderous harmonic forms and building a strongly three dimensional impression.
ARTWORK   This is a four track 3 inch EP originally released on Handstitched Records as a limited edition of just 50 copies! These arrived in a hand stitched (naturally) cork sleeve - some even came with a free notepad. The current digital download provides an image of the cover for those less fortunate of us to imagine in its full glory.

*foel sees Maps and Diagrams very limited edition (initially delivered via Norman Records) released in FLAC and mp3 formats due to popular demand. The Handstitched website is currently offering this item for download along with the opportunity to listen to samples of two tracks: aalanda and utgores. Soon to follow with similar delivery is *koom. Promotional material describes *foel as "four tracks of noise, drone and field dregs with a more farinaceous texture and to a smaller extent less structure or outline than previous works" - that says it well for me (although I had to look up farinaceous: - coarse-grained or mealy in nature as in flour).




 ----------Various - Unwind The Ultimate Chill Collection
STYLE   Easy listening chillout music from a broad selection of like minded musicians and singers. Unwind - The Ultimate Chill Collection is very much a collection of smooth lounge music compositions - the seductive international vocals often soft and whispered, the beats having a hint of global influence softened by plenty of congas, the choice of instrumentation blending organic acoustic guitar fingering, bright saxophone riffs and languid piano phrases with synthetic pads and strings. There are jazzy pieces, light dance tracks, arrangements that sound just made for a dimly lit bar room, new age and Celtic Enya-esque vocal tracks and tracks with a leaning toward worldbeat. The melodies are very accessible yet not too dominant, meaning that you could very well use this album as background or mood music.
ARTWORK   Unwind declares its musical intent with a cover image of a girl lounging peacefully in some undefined yet obviously luxuriously comfortable environment. The image is light and simple pointing to the easy, restful nature of the sonic content. The rear cover repeats the main image with a tracklist in small font running down the right hand side, each with writing, vocal and publishing credits alongside.

This collection of fifteen tranquil songs and instrumentals is released through Tantajo Records. Fifteen different artists come together with a common vision showcasing what Tantajo is all about - lush, relaxing chillout for the twenty first century. Some of the names might be familiar, others somewhat less well known - Ultramarin, Sunseekers, Maria Sanchez, Terra Del Sol and Freud to name just a few. Aimed at the same listening field as Cafe Del Mar and Buddha Bar - Unwind is the perfect soundtrack to a summer evening or for recapturing those warm nights by the sea. Previously released as Music for contemporary living #1’ Unwind is now released in the US and Canada under the title of ‘Unwind The Essential Chill Collection’.




 ----------La Tienda - Mediterranean Ambiance
STYLE   Relaxing chillout instrumentals. These twelve tracks all have a mellow, mildly tropical, evening sunshine atmosphere. The sound is one of electronic smoothness with warm semi-organic sounds and occasional vocal effects overlaid. Undulating pads and dreamy washes waft, swell and breathe, inviting chordal forms rolling over the surface. The melodic elements are subtle, easy listening affairs; dreamy synths steeped in echo and reverb, clear chimes, light sax lines, acoustic guitar phrases and even some steely sitar drones. Peaceful, downtempo, lounge influenced beats idly drift, the odd global groove fused here and there with the more frequent programmed percussion - understated basslines meander wistfully, sleepily.
ARTWORK   My promo copy has a simple card insert with full colour front and back imagery. The cover graphic features a burst of green leafage from the lower left corner reaching into a light blue sky. The imagery is repeated on the rear - this time with track details and writing credits. Tantajo website details and contact information are also here.

Alberto Hauss is known through a number of different musical ventures; the techno project U96, new age vocal outfit Freud and Terra Del Sol compilation series among them. Here releasing under his own name and through his own jointly owned Tantajo Records La Tienda is a pleasantly tranquil album of twelve electronic instrumentals with an overtly Mediterranean tone. The broad writing and producing experience of Hauss clearly shows through on this disc since although the album is obviously intended to be inviting and placid, it is by no means bland or dull. The Tantajo website offers samples of all tracks if you'd like to hear exactly what's on offer.




 ----------Kliment - The Perpetual Ritual
STYLE   A deeply chilled psychedelic journey with various ethnic elements. The Perpetual Ritual is a lush musical experience of heady shifting colour and hypnotic rhythm. The downtempo beats are invitingly unhurried programmed arrangements with frequent fusions of global percussion; buoyed up by gentle looming basses and complimentary arpeggios and sequences. The melodic content is quite strong - sweeping pads and airy drones building warm patterns upon which echoing synths dance in fleeting motifs or morphing cycles. On some tracks effected international vocal lines take the lead for a while - both male and female - Indian chants, live singing, spoken snippets. Thick flute sounds and sharp brass enhance a number of pieces courtesy of bansuri player Aura Rascon and trombone artist Fransisco Alvazzar. The overall impression is one of restful international tranquillity with an adventurous progressive range that constantly shifts the view.
ARTWORK   The Perpetual Ritual arrives in a pleasantly tactile matte finish digipack. The front cover holds a shadowy stepped moebius strip suspended in the air above a digitally enhanced landscape. The pastoral background scene sees a central plain of brown earth gradually fragment as it reaches closer to the eye - the smooth soil cracks into a pattern of connected square surfaces that have the appearance of a subterranean city. On the impossibly floating moebius strip itself a series of figures are traversing the endless steps. The rear cover features a second broken landscape with dramatic sky and lighting - here is the tracklist for the album. Inside the imagery is in the form of antique documents - to the left a stained, aged parchment full of notes and diagrams including sketches of various moebius forms. To the right is a similarly earthy hued drawing of twisting steps apparently on more interlocked moebius structures - an Escher-esque figure plods through the tangle. Another tracklist is on the left panel with credits noting collaborative performances. A list of thanks foots the page.

Bulgarian musician Kliment Dichev has been around as an electronic artist for some ten years now having worked as Samodelia, Once Upon a Time and Disham along with other collaborative projects. He has produced music in a range of genres from ambient to drum n bass as well as most things in between. This solo ambient debut is released via UK label Electrikdream Records and features eight immersive mid length pieces. A series of collaborators are listed on the album credits for contributions of vocals, kaval or Balkan flute, trombone, violin and bansuri.





 ----------Chronos & C J Catalizer - Quid Est Veritas

Melodic downtempo trance and chillout instrumentals with global enhancements. Quid Est Veritas is a deliciously smooth album of ethno-electronica - the rich sonic palette maintaining a liquid-silky polish from start to finish. The synth work here is especially fine; delicate melodic phrases rise out of bubbling sequencer cycles and airy pads often with striking beauty and with an almost constant sense of bliss. The largely programmed beats fuse naturally in places with international grooves and hand drumming; arpeggiated basses, chime patterns and burbling synths rippling in rhythmic accord. The most evident world sounds across the album are vocal: meditative Indian utterances and lively drum talk; female wails and soaring operatics; brooding monk chants, spoken voices and transmission fragments. The other primary organic sound being the flute - a variety of lush breathy phrases and brief touches from different continents and cultures bringing a heady mystique or wistful colour. Field recordings are also utilised in places to powerful effect - passing footfalls, environmental sounds and locational cues.

MOOD   The unhurried ambient build ups on many tracks give Quid Est Veritas a lush textural feel, where the colours are deep and saturated, the atmospheres dense and sweeping. There is frequently a gorgeous airiness about the album - a feeling of gliding high in the stratosphere, a weightless sense of effortless movement - this uplifting effect creates an ongoing sense of well being and introspection. The lightness of some of the beats cooperates with the delicacy of the music at times to form some very relaxing passages. There is a strong dramatic content here too though - darker drones and mysterious effects building at times into hypnotic gloom. This sense of esoteric wonder recurrs often, the opening track establishing a brooding, nocturnal, tribal mood before a drifting voice-over rolls in presenting thoughts on the Chronos identity. The final title composition is an excellent conclusion - a plaintive piano rises from an urban soundscape - deft fingering painting a melancholy full stop.
ARTWORK   Quid Est Veritas arrives as a rather luxurious jewelcase package. The generous artwork is visually stunning and tastefully laid out. The front cover image is first and foremost a sky portrait - beautiful metallic blues with scudding clouds gradually heat up into molten reds and oranges as the scene meets the horizon - foreground detail blackened into silhouette. Broad horizontal borders letterbox the image and hold the titles. The rear cover provides a tracklist against a misty starscape - each piece is listed with conception and musical credits. Inside is a twelve page booklet arranged so that each page represents a different track - stirring photographic visuals and a line or two of inspirational text on every page. Behind the disc itself is a section for thanks and website/contact information.
    This is the second full Chronos album among a plethora of compilation appearances; follow-up to the 2007 release Step To Great Knowledge. It is also the second from C J Catalizer coming after the SHUM records release Across The Universe from 2006. Nick Klimenko in collaboration with Dimitry Neschadim here shows why these guys are among their country's most respected donwtempo trance artists. Klimenko, otherwise known as DJ Shankar, Hologram & Secret Trick is the prime owner of the Chronos project with C J Catalizer joining just for the current album before going their separate ways once more. The album is released via the increasingly well-respected Ajana label and contains eleven pieces with no sign of 'filler' material anywhere.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   This is an album for lovers of quality downtempo that appreciate well thought out global elements woven into the mix. If you enjoy Asura, Aes Dana or European trance at a low bpm then this is definitely an album to explore this year. The Ajana Records website provides samples of all tracks as well as a free download if you'd like to explore further.