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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------bvdub - The Art of Dying Alone
STYLE
 

Ambient minimalism with subtle melodic elements. The Art of Dying Alone rises up from silence into a gauzy sound mass that throbs and undulates with soft focus drones and hazy, repeating motifs. Some pieces feature clear melodic forms; a delicate piano opens Nothing From No One, a lush guitar leads the next track, there are acoustic guitar patterns, soft female vocal sounds and smooth, elegant strings. Often the clarity of these structures becomes swept up and almost lost in ambient densities that gradually come to the fore, permeating the consciousness in hypnotic insistence. For the most part the album is beatless, yet track three features a subtle thud that underpins the regularities of the cycling pads and muted phrases. Much of the music has a melancholy warmth to it, a gentle obscurity that imperceptibly wells up and overwhelms the listener into blurry reverie.

 
ARTWORK   A beautiful digipack houses this emotive disc - pale skyscapes and white borders creating a sense of grace and refinement. The front cover photograph sees a small isolated building perched on the shore of a blue-bronze body of water. Distant snowy mountains merge with the atmosphere as they recede - and indeed it is the sky that finally holds the attention - effulgent, white at the centre, gorgeous billows of murk and cottonwool layers at the edges. The rear cover holds the track titles with times in brackets as well as brief credits and label information. Here the simple horizontal vista is almost uncomplicated into abstraction. Within, the imagery is even less defined - hints of cloud masses, plenty of white. Writing notes here and some brief thanks.
 
OVERALL   

Brock Van Wey is the man behind bvdub, based currently in San Francisco, he wrote and produced this album in Shaoxing, China. Having recently appeared on the compilation Pop Ambient 2010 bvdub is known from work with such labels as Millions of Moments, Echospace, Smallfish, Styrax, and Kompakt. Last year White Clouds Drift On and On, a double disc presentation was put out on Echospace and We Were the Sun, a hand numbered limited edition followed on Quietus Recordings. The Art of Dying Alone is appropriately released via Glacial Movements Records, a label well known for its love of minimal isolationist music. Here we have six tracks ranging from the eight minute eight second opener to the twenty one minute twenty second To Finally Forget It All. Visit the Glacial Movements website for more info and some sound clips, or try the bvdub website or Myspace page.

 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Various Artists - Dark Room Beats
STYLE
 
Deeply chilled ambient electronic soundscapes. This latest compilation from the excellent Aleph Zero label pulls together some of the most cutting edge sounds in the world of drifting, glitch infested downtempo currently advancing over the horizon. The music ranges from intensely beautiful and dreamy to somewhat disconcerting and alien. Ovnimoon contribute a gorgeous track called Cajita De Sorpresas where buoyant hazy pads support a lustrous, fluid lead against an insectile, intricate beat. An interesting collaboration from Omnimotion and I Awake entitled Rebooting Daisy maintains the blissful, hypnotic floatational approach with a slightly dislocated groove lumbering aside sensuous female vocal layers and some delicately sparse melodic touches. Vataff Project's Owl is an example of the more disconcerting nature of darkness - a scratchy percussive track with a sequence of uneasy drones and sci-fi mechanisms. The album winds down with Shulman's One Step Closer; here remixed by Eitan Reiter and DJ Shahar. Maintaining the spacey vibe of the previous piece, this broad composition introduces a reverberating sax that luxuriates in the groove driven expanse before dropping away into a beatless pool of shifting synthetic currents. The concluding track is from Minilogue Feat. Inid Imman: a ponderous, gently thudding form with guitar manipulations and ample surface damage - light whispers and minimal melody - mesmerising light-headeness - heartbeat pump - fade to black.
 
MOOD   Dark Room Beats is an album full of brooding low-light atmosphere where periodic surges of warmth course through the night shadows and luminous colours twinkle and glow. The name is well chosen - this is certainly one for enjoying with a good sound system in a darkened room - or maybe for creating your own relaxing, dusky mindscape elsewhere during your day. Full of feeling, with an unhurried approach and ample room given over to building up mood and ambience.
 
ARTWORK   In keeping with the theme, artwork for Dark Room Beats is resolutely black across every panel. The front cover holds a simple image of a glowing lamp, yellow-orange and warm upon an infinite darkness. Flipping over, a tracklist is on the rear, set alongside a duplicate of the lamp. Turning to the insert, this opens out into three panels with a second tracklist on the outer first, simple logo on the central. Inside there is a section given over to thanks, a second with a more graphic representation of the familiar lamp form, contact details below, the third section presents an expanded tracklist, this time with writing credits and some additional performance information.
 
OVERALL   

Aleph Zero compilations are always something of a delight. This one took three years of meticulous work to "design the room's sonic surroundings". The label is clearly intent on setting the standard for others to follow with this collection, Shahar and Shulman having selected thirteen pieces of visionary ambient glitch-chill that are of amazing quality and gratifying consonance. A number of Aleph Zero favourites are of course here: Shulman, Hibernation, Omnimotion, Vataff Project and Krusseldorf. Label head DJ Shahar brings his talent to bear in sharing with Eitan Reiter to remix the Shulman track One Step Closer. Other artists include Altair, Phasephour, Ovnimoon, I Awake, Good Rester, Alexander Daf, Aligning Minds and Minilogue Feat. Inid Imman. Robert Rich provides another highlight with Moth Wings: a lush, coruscating piece of sonic chiaroscuro featuring a meandering, sonorous flute.
Promotional material suggests "Come relaxed and open minded, turn off the lights, and let us take you somewhere else without ever leaving your room." Why not explore the eflier and see if you'd like to take up the invitation.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM   Dark Room Beats will appeal to downtempo fans that enjoy the more ambient side of the genre. This is a high quality release that the more discerning listener will appreciate. Aleph Zero and Ultimae seem to excel in this type of lush, glitchy chillout.
 
AUDIO
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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Rudy Adrian - Distant Stars
STYLE
 
Ambient, floatational, deep space music. Distant Stars is an expansive series of galactic environments and nebulous textures. These lengthy pieces are beautifully descriptive of the dark emptiness of space where colourful forms and gaseous structures revolve slowly into view and meander in gradual procession. Rudy Adrian uses layers of delicate synthetic drones in gossamer sheets that seem to glow and radiate warmth as they move. In places the music becomes dramatic and heavy with momentum such as in the latter stages of the opening piece where density and intensity build into a crescendo of movement also the introduction to Trajectory where a steady descent is described with falling tones and deepening force. Among the drifting restful regions are passages of enigmatic dissonant sound and zones of alien peculiarity. Often there is a sense of isolation and lonely wonderment as one wanders very, very far off.
 
ARTWORK   Distant Stars comes in a jewels case with sharp graphics set within broad white borders. Centrally on the front cover sits a set of overlaid photo images showing an effulgent night sky that drops down into blue with clouds, to the sea, to a smooth beach touched by the lap of gentle waves. On the rear cover is a closer image of the beach, again looking seaward, track titles with times laid out down the middle. The insert has two panels - the second outer panel holding a monochrome portrait of the artist. Innermost - the whole ground is flat white. To the left a duplicate tracklist with an explanation of the project following. Finally a paragraph with a gear list and an invitation to make contact by email.
 
OVERALL   

Distant Stars is Rudy Adrian's twelfth full length release and follow up to the 2008 album Desert Realms. He has released CDs that fall into two main categories - ambient atmospheres and sequencer sketches. Now for the third time with label Lotuspike, Rudy alters emphasis from the more earthbound Desert Realms and Moon Water to venture far into space. The six tracks range from the fifteen minute eight second Le Songe Du Singe to the relatively fleeting Netherwords which falls just short of five minutes. Rudy himself says of the album, "I found myself inspired to create some longer floating pieces that seemed evocative of exploring deep space, so I started experimenting with the idea of creating an album consisting entirely of dark, 'deep space' music." Goal achieved - Distant Stars is a powerfully transportational collection of highly imaginative open horizons and boundless profundity.

 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Various Artists - Summer 2010 Collection
STYLE
 

Contemporary electronic chillout. The Summer 2010 Collection from Cymbidium is a warm album of lustrous synthetic glitch and electro-beat both vocal and instrumental. There are pieces here with something of a modern lounge vibe; others that have a fractured, experimental feel; moments where the electro-pop of the nineteen eighties is called to mind; slick jazzy montage sounds and relaxing, soulful female vocals. Sensuous, muted sax juxtaposes dappled light textures and tinkling metallics on Sleep Mode, the opener from Saine; an effected beatbox groove contrasts the dreamy male voice singing on MC Hossni and DJ God Wind's track Traveling. Kaneel's Loquace ranges from dreamy wobbling arpeggios against flickering clicky percussion to an intense zappy tremolo sound collage. Cut and paste sampled speech, languid piano and static texture, crunchy programmed rhythms and serene melody - this collection doesn't stand still for too long.

 
ARTWORK   Summer 2010 Collection features the cover artwork that you can see to the above left. A vibrant female portrait in shades of saturated orange where photographic elements blend with hand drawn line art and graphic enhancements. Since this is a digital release this crisp design by Oliver Cartwright is the only visual content.
 
OVERALL   

Helsinki based independent recording company Cymbidium Records delivers a sharp compilation of electronic downtempo fleshing out an already well established discography (the label having been in action since 2005). The ten tracks here feature artists from Finland and beyond, some that have released albums of their own via Cymbidium as well as some less well established acts. The music has been chosen for inclusion by Costi, supervised by Saine and delivers a constantly changing eclectic chilled landscape with influences ranging from IDM, ambient groove and experimental electronica to urban abstract, jazz and funk. The album is a digital release and can be sampled in full both at Morpheus Music as well as at the Cymbidium website.

 
AUDIO  

Summer 2010 Collection by Cymbidium Records

 
 


MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------The Ocular Audio Experiment - Spectro-Sonic Cosmic Gaze
STYLE
 

Experimental minimalist ambient. Spectro-Sonic Cosmic Gaze is an album of trance inducing electronic drones, shimmering layers and faintly oscillating textures. A psychedelic, spacey vibe runs through the radiant, beatless expanses established here; a sense of universal distance with understated sci-fi references and threads of a buzzing, mechanical character. Ambient zones that thicken and drain are alive with bright synth motifs delicately forming in subtle repetition and variation yet always hanging far short of melody.

 
ARTWORK  

I have only a downloaded promo copy of the album and so have not seen any of the CD artwork, however, the Findings Of The Other Eye website points out that "each copy of Spectro-Sonic Cosmic Gaze includes two vinyl, silk-screened stickers and was personally assembled by the artist."
Regarding other relevant visuals I understand that videos for each track of Spectro-Sonic Cosmic Gaze are to be found on the label website. Promotional material explains "These videos will be a product of the collaboration between The Ocular Audio Experiment and ultra-eye mind-melter, John Van Deren, an award-winning photographer and cinematographer from Vermont. The videos will be shot in HD and eventually available on Youtube with their own channel, as a way to experience the whole album in both stereo and eyeball."

 
OVERALL   

The Ocular Audio Experiment began in 2009 as the experimental sound project of Alex Pollock. Spectro-Sonic Cosmic Gaze is the debut release from the project and comes also as the first presentation for the brand new experimental, psychedelic label Findings Of The Other Eye. The four tracks of the album are mid-length coming in at a total of around forty five minutes. Get in quick though if you fancy this one since it is a limited edition with a short run of only 200 copies 100 of which will be available here via the label's own store, the other 100 being released through German Quetzi Records with distribution through A-Musik.
Produced, played, recorded and mixed by Alex Pollock mastered by Richard AMP, of AMP with artwork by Eric Pollock and Alex Pollock. There are samples at Findings Of The Other Eye if you'd like to listen before you buy.

 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Suns of Arqa - Know Thyself?
STYLE
 
Ambient chill with consistently dominant Indian content. On the rear cover of Know Thyself? sleeve notes point out that this album consists of four ragas, indeed the lush Indian nature of the music is evident from the opening bansuri notes wafting thickly on the air and the wiry stringed drone accompaniment that soon follows. Bansuri master Raghunath Seth transports the listener into dreamy exotic realms, his hypnotic melodies driving each of the four pieces here. Western elements are present, fused with the traditional performances with tasteful subtlety, soft electronic tones and cosmic atmospheres, light percussives wound around the finger cymbals and tabla beats, a nodding dub bass, some crisp effects and peripheral embellishments.
 
ARTWORK   Know Thyself? arrives in a smooth digipack consisting of three panels. The front cover features a mauve tinted portrait surrounded by galactic colour and swirling nebulae. The rear cover holds the titles and a dominant acknowledgement of the work of Raghunath Seth for his bansuri playing. Relevant website addresses are also here for labels and band. The final outer panel lists inspirational sources, mixing, publishing and production details as well as a note that the music is in memory of John Ireland, John Snelson, John Perkins and Willy Deville. The inner triptych is comprised of two starscaped panels, the left most holding a second inspirational portrait floating among the bright points and bursts of light. The disc is held on the third, rightmost section on a ground of banded graphic colour.
 
OVERALL   

Suns Of Arqa have been producing imaginative music now for more than three decades, project master Michael Wadada originally forming the band back in 1979. The impressive discography now established has influenced many other musicians over the years, often featuring collaborative work with international artists. Know Thyself comes as follow-up to the 2008 twin disc release Through The Gate We Go delivered via Arka Sound Records and takes the album count well into the mid thirties. Suns Of Arqa this time, however, return to the well established Interchill Records label, having previously put out the 2000 recording Cosmic Jugalbandi via that route also. The 'four rarely heard ragas' presented here are each in the region of fifteen minutes plus, unhurried, meditative and truly mesmerising. If you enjoy the authentic sounds of the Indian subcontinent with just a touch of western chill, then this might be one to explore. Why not visit the Interchill website where samples of the music can be found.