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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Easily Embarrassed - Planet Discovery
STYLE   Downtempo and midtempo electronica. The Planet Discovery album is presented as a voyage beyond the confines of the earth. Fittingly the synthetic sounds maintain the cosmic imagery - sci-fi soundscapes and spacey expanses full of sparkling effects. There is often something of a retro feel to the compositions looking back almost to seventies progressive music and sixties psychedelia. The dramatic opener features some sharp melodic synth forms and tribal drumming to accompany the initial count down. An ambient interlude leaves the listener then drifting for a moment weightless as delicate piano phrases begin to tinkle among the drones of the beatless Leaving Terra. Planet Discovery moves effortlessly from floatational expanses into twinkling slow motion freeform and dynamic downtempo with falling arpeggios and bright progressive lead lines. The pace quickens during The Journey into a slightly mechanical rhythm that breaks open midway through into shimmering slo-mo with ethnic vocal samples before winding back up again. Concluding with a pair of tracks that once more drift and glide for the most part without percussive support, the album leaves the listener far away from home and heading for infinity.
 
ARTWORK  

I have only the electronic version of this album with the front cover artwork as seen above left. Here we see the clear orb of planet earth stark against the nebulous purple and black of a star punctuated backdrop. The legend "Discovering new audio planets and ambient galaxies" foots the artwork.

 
OVERALL   

The Easily Embarrassed project released their first EPs starting in 2006 and their first full length album followed in the form of Idyllic Life in 2008 through Cardamar Music. Brothers Nick van der Schilden and Jeffrey van der Schilden run Easily Embarrassed from their EE Studio in Aalsmeer, Netherlands. This current nine track release comes via Cosmicleaf Records presents a journey of through a "broad range of electronic music styles, including electro ambient, dub, techno, trance and psychedelic music, while also bits of classical and world music can be found." Track titles build the concept of a voyage - Ignition, Leaving Terra, Gravity, The Journey, Extraterrestrial Lifeforms - the spacey theme colouring the music. Available in digital and CD formats, the album can be previewed at the band's website.

 
AUDIO

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Bruno Sanfilippo - Piano Textures 2
STYLE   Delicate piano atmospheres with subtle electronic support. Bruno Sanfilippo presents here a series of very beautiful compositions that feature an 'old lady grand piano' recorded during the night hours. Smooth electronic washes and drones are laid down in gentle layers forming light, hazy expanses within which the master instrument luxuriates. The piano playing is mostly of an understated, unhurried melodic form calling to mind the purity and tranquil grace of Satie, touched with delightful melancholy and haunting airy wistfulness. Spacial structure is masterful, creating an incredibly enchanting ambience, the arrangements seemingly having the meandering freeness of improvised playing whilst at the same time obviously exhibiting the kind of harmony and refinement that comes only from painstaking crafting and control.
 
ARTWORK   Piano textures comes in a jewel case with three panel folded insert. Imagery focuses on physical textures in harmony with the sonic textures of the disc. The main image is of monochrome leaf fibres, sepia strands running at a slight incline - an image that is repeated behind the CD itself within. Since the case has a clear spine the slim vertical left edge is used to display a piano keyboard running from top to bottom. The back cover takes a faded version of the main image and turns it sideways, here forming a backdrop to a diagram of the inner workings of a grand piano. Track titles discreetly follow the upper contour of the instrument. When the insert is fully extended, one side holds the front cover, a second textural study (this time of fabric fibres) and a section for information: instrumental details, recording facts, website info and a quote from Shakespeare. The second side of the insert is completely given over to a strongly textured landscape photograph - stony hills, flat sky.
 
OVERALL    Piano Textures 2 comes as follow-up to the wonderful Piano Textures album released back in 2007. In the meantime the albums Ambessence piano & drones with Mathias Grassow and Auralspace were recorded in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Buenos Aires born Sanfilippo has been playing the piano since childhood and his love of the instrument is fully evident in the six powerfully emotive pieces here. The album is once more delivered through the artist's own AD21 Records label. From my perspective this latest collection of music is even more powerful than the previous. Having found a form of expression that clearly released some personal passion, Sanfilippo has refined his technique since the first instalment - more confident, more melodic, more captivating. This is exquisite music - I find it hard to imagine that anything more breathtaking could be coaxed from this instrument. Samples of the music can be found at the website www.bruno-sanfilippo.com.

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------The Nexion Project - ConSequence
STYLE  

Dramatic electronic soundscapes in the tradition of Vangelis, Oldfield and Zimmer. ConSequence has a broad, expansive soundtrack quality to it, instrumental compositions, sweeping themes with powerful emotional content. The music is very melodic and tuneful with an almost orchestral range and variety. Beats are a blend of traditional drum kits, congas, international percusives - sometimes stirring and fervent, sometimes lazy, chilled and sometimes absent altogether. There are restful pieces where elegant acoustic guitar or piano melodies flit upon soft synthetic pads or hazy flutes waft across choral voices. There are opulent passages where electric guitar, tubular bells and strings well up in climactic surges only to fall back into dreamy downbeat interludes. This is an album full of vivid sonic colour and variety of pace leading the listener on a real journey of thought and feeling - from serene and poignant through heart-warming, inviting optimism, melancholy introspection on to impassioned zeal and pomp.

 
ARTWORK   ConSequence is delivered in a jewel case package with sharp graphics. The imagery features radiant light patterns against deep, shadowy backgrounds. The liquid metal fonts of the titles are bathed in the glow of light pools and sparkling splashes. The rear cover holds further abstractions of light along with a tracklist, each piece recorded with associated timing and, to the foot of the panel, brief credits. The insert opens out to make a single double page spread with the main cover. Here we find an explanation of the project and a small portrait of the artist.
 
OVERALL   

The Nexion-Project is Hungarian composer Török Zoltán who began his career as a musician at around the age of sixteen. A skilled guitarist/pianist Török has to date delivered a series of album in different genres ranging from dance music to electro-acoustic, chillout and ambient. He explores enigmatic new-age on the Movements album; electronic dance and uptempo piano trance on Closing To The Horizon; chilled easy listening on The Isle of Freedom. ConSequence is a refining and revision of previous releases Contact from 1999 and Consummation from 2000 with some brand new material added as Prologue and Epilogue. If you'd like to get an idea of what The Nexion Project has to offer - why not visit the artist's website at http://nexion-project.com. The site offers samples of the music, purchasing options and video clips.

     
AUDIO  
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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Jeff Greinke - Virga
STYLE   Electro-acoustic melodic ambient instrumentals. Jeff Greinke combines the textural richness of synthetic layering and found sound with the warmth of cello, trumpet and piano to create a series of filmic soundscapes that have moments of classical elegance. Inspired by both landscape and atmospheric conditions, Virga utilises sparse, delicate melodic forms to capture a sense of environment - sometimes moody and dark, sometimes meandering and airy, sometimes lucid, suggestive of airborne moisture. The album is without beats and for the most part without obvious rhythmic structure following a more neo-classical approach..
 
ARTWORK  

Virga comes in a jewel case with two panel insert. The cover image extends across the second panel of the insert once opened out showing a broad scene of pale grass and distant mountains black beneath the clouds. The sky takes up the greater part of the image - dense masses of battleship grey, catching the hidden sun in places, white over an almost obscured blue. The rear cover once more gives most space to the atmosphere - sweeping black font over light clouds. Each track shown with time alongside. Another skyscape is within - wispy forms to accompany brief credits, website details and the quote:“Virga: streaks or wisps of precipitation falling from a cloud but evaporating before reaching the ground. In certain cases, shafts of virga may precede a microburst.” – NOAA

 
OVERALL   

US based musician, composer and performer Jeff Greinke has been composing music since 1980 and has over twenty five solo and collaborative recordings released to date through a number of different record labels. He formed his own label as a vehicle to deliver his debut CD, has composed music for film, video, dance, theatre, radio, and art installations and has been a part of many ensembles and joint projects over the years including co-founding Land. This album is released via Lotuspike and contains twelve concise recordings some of which can be heard at the artist's website. Promotional material has Greinke explaining "After completing the title track I was struck by how the sonic fabric of the music resembled curtains of rain falling from the sky, so I was inspired to call it Virga. Virga sometimes occurs at the onset of dangerous and dramatic weather. The mood present preceding an intense storm is similar to the subtle foreboding quality of some of the pieces on this album.”

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Fredrik Öhr - Falling Through The Earth
STYLE  

Dreamy, glitchy ambient chillout. Fredrik Öhr has created one of the most individual sounding electronic albums that I have heard in a long time. Clearly carried somehow by the tides of current downtempo and psychill, Falling Through The Earth benefits from cutting edge digital sophistication, blissful glitchy beats and global interconnection - yet at the same time this music is delightfully different and idiosyncratic with beautifully beguiling atmospheres, brittle textures and unaffected honesty. Rich, heady flutes waft in contrast to the flicker and flutter of glitch-breaks; plaintive piano and Middle-Eastern pipes interplay over bright crackle on the beautiful, beautiful A Day For Great Deeds; jazzy sounds and forms arise alongside international song in subtle flavours such as the doped double bass and muted wails of Morning Ritualism - dappled synthetic lights playing behind. Vocal content is frequent, yet rarely dominant - poetic phrases in a wistful gated female voice, sampled chants from around the world, Fredrik's own singing, vocoder musings and the spoken word. Not an album of arpeggios and sequencer forms, not an album of overt melodic themes (although some sweetly delicate melodies are certainly present), Falling Through The Earth is the music of shifting textures, deft layering and beguiling beats.

 
MOOD   The dominant mood of Falling Through The Earth is one of enchanting, exotic serenity. Crisp, lustrous soundscapes of playful, abstract forms that at times are so light and airy as to almost float away. There is often the sense of relaxing somewhere hot and dry, not anywhere special, somewhere personal yet far off - contradictory mindscapes arising and morphing constantly - a testament to the evocative power of Öhr's music. The gorgeous water movements and tropical environmental elements of Return that are echoed in the subsequent bubbling electro/tabla-beat and idle vocalisations leave the listener floating far from shore on warm waters under a euphoric sun.
   
ARTWORK   As unusual as the music - Falling Through The Earth is fronted by a drawing of tightly crowded figures, clustered in the lower half of the panel. They could have started out as fingerprints - this little knot of faces has a primitive, tribal quality to it - full of aboriginal style patterns, short lines and dots. As the three panel insert is removed from the package these peculiar persons now hang from the upper half of the next panel as if gathered now at the opposite end of the earth. Behind the CD itself a darkened close-up of the same faces here fills the whole tray. The rear of the package presents a tracklist and a discussion of the project that introduces Fredrik Öhr himself and his music. Further sections of the insert carry instrumental credits, poetic sources and production details. Here too are website and email addresses along with a generous listing of thanks.
  
OVERALL   

Stockholm based musician and producer Fredrik Öhr releases his debut album Falling through the Earth through the much respected Aleph-Zero label. Pursuing the label's interest in high-quality international electro-acoustic downtempo; this new album could hardly suit Aleph-Zero better. Fredrik Öhr both fits in like something eminently familiar, in keeping with the 'house sound' and simultaneously breaks mold, sounding fresh and unexpected. The fourteen tracks of the album have a pleasing, confident unity about them yet follow no obvious formula - each piece taking the drift of the album off in a new direction, a meandering journey of discovery that is constantly turning up new surprises. Collaborating artists bring soprano saxophone, acoustic guitar, quena, bamboo flute, double bass and percussion as well as vocal content to the mix. Promotional material describes the music as "a wonderful dreamy and fresh combination of North European atmospheres and textures interlaced with Asian influences, all dipped in 70s psychedelic delicate feel" - yes yes yes! I strongly suggest you explore the E-flier for this release wherein you can read information on the album and the artist whilst sampling every track.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   If you enjoy quirky downtempo with an international leaning - this could be one for you. Falling Through The Earth will especially enchant you if you aren't looking for a steady downtempo-trance beat; the rhythms here are delicate and fragile, not regular and thumping. Listen to the E-flier.
   
AUDIO
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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Collide - These Eyes Before
STYLE   Electro-rock-goth cover album. The Collide signature sound is turned toward a series of unpredictable rock and pop classics that have their origins in a rather diverse range of modern genres. kaRIN's slinky, ethereal vocal style most immediately stamps the band's individuality all over these familiar pieces - she takes on hits from such huge acts as Pink Floyd, Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and The Beatles with confident cool. Managing to redefine music that everyone knows so well is no small feat - yet kaRIN does an excellent job, managing to make the songs her own without appearing affected or trying too hard. Statik's instrumental skill complements the singing perfectly: be it the distorted, crunchy guitar work and pounding drums of Depeche Mode's I Feel You, the strings and psychedelic soundscaping of The Moody Blues' Nights In White Satin or the brooding alien electro terrain of the truly unexpected Rock On; originally a hit for David Essex.
 
ARTWORK   These Eyes Before comes in a jewel case with a generous sixteen page booklet. The front cover image shows singer kaRIN in retro monochrome film star pose - blue eyes reflecting the fine font of the album title. The rear cover holds track titles and website information whilst the tray insert shows kaRIN once more - here in caged darkness. The first image of Statik appears inside the booklet opposite a page of credits - again black and white, shadowy. Subsequent pages take a track by track approach listing additional musicians and writing/publishing credits. The booklet concludes with two pages of thanks and appreciation. Appropriately the disc itself mimics a vinyl 45 from yesteryear.
 
OVERALL   

These Eyes Before takes it title from the lyrics of Nights In White Satin and comes as the sixth or seventh studio album from the band and follow-up to the 2008 album Two Headed Monster. Having delivered cover numbers before, Collide here have compiled a complete disc of iconic recordings from the last five decades. This release removes any doubt as to the band's desire to break down genre restrictions or expectations and provides considerable insight into the kind of influences that have informed the distinctive Collide sound to date. kaRIN and Statik could so easily have rested on their laurels and continued producing high quality discs of their own unique material, but instead their adventurous spirit seems ever keen to go beyond - collaborative music such as the Ultrashiver album, the remix double disc Vortex and now These Eyes Before. The music is available to preview on the band's website.