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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Darshan Ambient - A Day Within Days
STYLE
 

Melodic ambient and progressive electronic music. A Day Within Days is an album of gentle, contemplative beauty. Delicate themes and serene beats welcome the listener into a suite of poignant compositions where piano and synthetic voices overlay dreamy arrangements of soft, buoyant pads and washes. Orchestral strings and somewhat operatic female vocalisations subtly bring touches of classical grace. In places the intensity amasses with rhythms built around a live drumkit sound and lush, effected guitar patterns. The final piece sees Michael Allison demonstrating that he has an appealing voice, this song managing to maintain the spell and mood admirably. Listen to this album in certain frames of mind and you'll be equally likely to well up with tears or float in blissful reverie.

 
ARTWORK   Presented in tasteful monochrome, the focus of the artwork here is a series of images that show the artist apparently deep in thought. On the front cover Allison stands before a lush black and white landscape five string bass in hand. When the jewelcase is opened out, the insert is revealed bearing a small photograph of lost friend Juan Maciel; a dedication is here and the touching line - You Are Missed. The rear cover of the CD sees Allison again in rural setting, framed by a dark doorway, track titles running down the left panel of black. The inner section of the four panel insert has a pair of paragraphs on one side; a gear list and recording information; a thankyou list, wife Nicky placed first.
 
OVERALL   

Michael Allison returns as Darshan Ambient with his latest release A Day Within Days. This tenth album via the Lotuspike label builds on the emotional expression of 2008's From Pale Hands To Weary Skies. Nine tracks of wistful grace and relaxing, heart-felt music that touches the listener right from the start. The album is dedicated to Allison's 'lifelong friendship with Juan Maciel' who passed away in 2009. This seems most appropriate since the artist points to Maciel not only as a past musical collaborator, but also as a mentor and an influence on the whole outlook and approach taken up as Darshan Ambient. A Day Within Days is a very satisfying release from an artist that is gathering powerful momentum. Listen to the clips at Lotuspike's associate site Spotted Peccary.

 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Hummingbird - Our Fearful Symmetry Remixes
STYLE
 

Ambient electronic glitchscapes. These remixes from the Hummingbird originals have a delightful hazy fragility about them; reminiscent of dusty, old flecked and scratched photographs found in the attic, these mood pieces are full of subtle layers, partially hidden textures and brittle fragments. The original material comes to the fore in places; live instruments, melodic forms, electronic constructs and sonic environments but often these soft focus re-presentations submerge the obvious and revolve around the essence of the music, the source material distant and dreamy. Elegant strings waft in the air spattered with clicks and pops or bathed is hiss and static; doleful piano meanders over gently undulating drones and carefully crafted noise. I like the term "implied melody" used in the promotional material to describe the hints of harmonic structure that ebb and flow in places of equal prominence with the textural interweaving and effected field recordings.

 
ARTWORK   The artwork that I have seen to date is for the digital release of this album. The electronic package arrived with eleven high definition images, one for each track of the album. The Facture website explains its policy to packaging: "To aim for an individual and bespoke delivery of digital audio, with PDF digital photo booklets and further artwork with each release… [each release will feature] extra context and content which will expand on the themes of the release. And, in keeping with our egalitarian approach, all files will be “name your own price”. Physical packing of CDs appear to be planned with similar care and finesse to mother label Fluid Audio, Facture tells us: "Along with each digital release the label will deliver bespoke limited edition cd’s… There will be 50/100 on offer for each project and will come delivered in a very special way!"
 
OVERALL   

When Fluid Audio released Hummingbird’s “Our Fearful Symmetry” the identity of the artist responsible for the music was kept a secret. All that interested listeners were told was that Hummingbird "is the non de plume of an otherwise well known composer". The limited edition of the Symmetry album was a rapid sell-out and so the remixes package is an opportunity to get your hands on a physical package of this sensitively reworked music before that too goes. The eleven tracks here maintain the high level of musical integrity and quality that we have come to associate with Fluid Audio. If you'd like a taste of what this intriguing package contains, why not have a look at the beautifully shot video on the Facture site.

 
 

Field Rotation - Acoustic Tales by FluidAudio

 
   
 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Howard Ferré - Journey's End
STYLE
 
Neoclassical, melodic ambient. Journey's End is a gentle, engrossing album that takes the listener through a range of appealing instrumental vistas. Opening with a drifting arrangement of warm ambient, beatless drone and texture, the album progresses via some delicate piano pieces into rhythmic sections with keening electric guitar and ponderous pace, onward via a section where the music takes on more of a 'new age' or ethereal electronic nature with subdued choral voices to the acoustic guitar and vibes lounge sound of the penultimate 5 Years before winding down with the classically oriented strings and piano of the emotive title track. For me the most poignant pieces are the wistful, meandering Wax Branches where beautifully fragile piano lines take the lead over airy synthetic washes and the equally reflective Reaching Out, where the electronic soundscaping is a little more prominent, suggestive of heavenly light and weightless reverie, once more with sensitive, melancholy piano phrases pulling at the heart.
 
ARTWORK   Journey's End arrives in a jewel case with a glossy single sheet insert. The front cover image is centred on the intricate silhouette of a tree against a night sky, a matching shadow cast onto the immediate foreground. This bedarkened scene has the viewer peering into the image looking for hidden detail and enjoying the obscurity of the natural forms. Track titles are on the rear, each with running time alongside; relevant websites are also listed here. The flip side of the insert provides a paragraph on Howard Ferré himself and another introducing the Journey's End. A repeat of the tracklist and relevant credits lie further down the sheet.
 
OVERALL    Howard Ferré describes himself as a Neoclassical / Ambient composer who has been prolific in creating original music and sound for the theatre for over 25 years. This debut album sees the artist crafting a touching listening experience that is aptly named; the shifting tenor of the music indeed transports the audience both emotionally and musically. The nine tracks here have a fine balance between melodic subtlety and thematic beauty, for the most part hanging back in tasteful restraint; rewarding to focus on fully or to leave floating in the background. The Ferrestudios website provides more general background on Ferré's musical activities and the Howardferremusic concentrates on his personal projects such as this. The album is available at Amazon and iTunes if you'd like to try some samples before buying.
 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Solar Fields - [Origin # 01]
STYLE
 

Ambient electronica and digital soundscaping. From the softness of deep, beatless tone zones through multilayered pieces of entwined beats, sequences and melody to guitar and vocals (yes vocals with lyrics) Origin reveals aspects of Solar Fields that both surprise and satisfy expectations. There are some beautiful moments here, Next Waiting and Automatic Sun for example, as glorious and full of climactic bliss as anything off the other albums. The track Bigger Stream is probably the most obvious deviation from the usual Solar Fields sound; here Magnus brings his own voice to the fore, singing his own lyrics in an underplayed, low vocal style over guitar loops, balalaika and elektro modified sitar. You can also hear Magnus' singing on the concluding Oct, where a pacey train-like rhythm propelled by Per Stenbeck's bass builds over fifteen minutes fifty seconds into a gradual crescendo. This time the voice is heavily effected and most prominent in the rather rocking final passage where the drums are played like a standard kit and electric guitars strum and twist among the electronica.

 
ARTWORK   Origin # 01 is contained in a slim digipack free of all plastic. There are two panels in gatefold format, all presented in smooth shades of pale blue grey. Outside a single image fills both front and back - a still winter scene with the unbroken even undulations of the snow echoed in the steely sky. Frozen trees break the horizon heavy with ice and frost. A horizontal band holds titles and on the reverse, logos and addresses. Track titles hang in the sky, white like snow. Inside another single photograph fills the whole space; fir-like plant forms surrounded by deep shadow dominate the right section. This is where the disc sits, neatly slotted into a pocket cut into the card. To the left is an extended track list with dates and some instrumental information.
 
OVERALL 

 

Ultimae delivers  Origin # 01 as a collection of archived recordings from one of the label's brightest stars. These diverse pieces are both typical of Solar Fields and at times unexpected. All were created over the past decade and are laid out here in no relation to date order, rather a coherent musical journey guides the track progression. The promotional material explains: "At times we'll be tempted to give a date to the music composition because there's a specific feel to it which reminds us of a moment or of an album; at others we're thrown in the pure flow of inspiration and that is timeless." These previously unreleased tracks are aimed at revealing a broader insight into Magnus Birgersson's sonic identity and there are more to come, with Origin # 01 being just the first of four albums. You can read more and listen to the music at the Ultimae website should you wish.

 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Aes Dana - [Perimeters]
STYLE


 
Neoclassical threads, ambient groove, delicate downtempo. Aes Dana returns with a series of delightful downbeat mood pieces where intricate programmed beats and light trance pulses drive doleful violins and cellos and subtly emotive electronic harmonies. Lilting strings (courtesy of Field Rotation) on the opening track drift across lazy beats like mists over the landscape, this blend of orchestral elegance and digital finesse suits Aes Dana’s musical sensitivity well. The title track mesmerises with familiar regularity of rhythm, the throb of trance bass lines rising out of hazy atmospheric pads, beats ebbing away to faint clicks and flickers or mechanically percolating in pace with the bass; sparse melodic motifs of unusual tone add periodic highlights. The backbone of the album is constructed around similar format; hypnotic kick and bass against wistful, floating synthetic texture, field recordings and peculiar peripherals. Introductions to the tracks are unhurried, gradual progressions from airy beatlessness or crystal veined spaciness; percussives amassing almost imperceptibly. Interesting interludes come in the form of the two minute forty eight second Xylem and Antimatter Ante at three minutes twenty nine – intriguing sonic environments of lustrous expanse.
 
ARTWORK  

Ultimae update their standard presentation with this release. The traditional black letterboxing has been replaced with a single dark band toward the bottom of the cover. The panoramic approach remains: a three panel design showing the filigree complexities of woodland twigs and branches overlaid with vertical bands of light and dark that could suggest further tree forms and beams of light or could as easily infer the abstracted influence of technology. Titles sit within the darkened band and track titles hang in white on the rear section, each with playing time. The inner layout consists of a spread of hazy green/turquoise grass blade images, the disc capturing a heavy, soft focus bee in the centre panel. There is a sixteen page booklet slotted out of sight inside the right panel. Each track of the album has its own page, a suitable photograph accompanying the brief credits, recording details, thanks and dedications. The last pages include a chiaroscuro profile portrait of the artist, facial features picked out of blackness with a fine band of light. Here are generous sections of thanks laid out in three paragraphs. All in all a gorgeous package as always.

 
OVERALL    Ultimae Records releases [Perimeters] as follow-up to Vincent Villuis’ 2009 presentation Leylines. This fifth Aes Dana album has a beautiful, introspective, melancholy dreaminess about it powered by the periodic insistence of masterfully crafted trance beats. Environmental recordings add presence to a number of the compositions, gathered from the cloisters of Les Dominicains de Haute Alsace where Vincent has been artist in residence. The influence of German composer Christoph Berg is also cited as a source of ‘new depth’ to the current music. Exquisite production is, as expected, a match to the musicality of [Perimeters]. Ultimae naturally has audio on the website so that you can taste and see before buying.
 
   

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Various Artists - Kazem
STYLE
 

Psychedelic trance and dancefloor electronica. Kazem sees a collection of like minded artists drawn together by a common bond of personal appreciation for Syncronize Records' label partner Kazem. The pacey psychedelia here features thumping rhythms and rapidly pulsing basses set against acidic phrases, elastic motifs and corrosive zap tapestries. Melodic structures tend to be brief and sharp, sometimes repeating in tight cycles, sometimes arpeggiators taking the lead. Spoken voice snippets echo distantly, muse, repeat and elucidate among the plastic squeak and hi-voltage charge of the synths. The tracks here are all dance-floor oriented with gutsy 130-150bpm grooves maintaining an unrelenting heavy momentum throughout.

 
MOOD   The mood of Kazem is primarily one of joyful submission to rhythm, the mind is heavily stimulated by the intricacies and colours of the arps and sequencers, the body by the urgency of the beats. The ripple and pulse of the basslines defy stillness; insistent, relentless, raw dancefloor material. There is an unmissable power and vibrancy to this release, but once the mechanism of the grooves is absorbed, the subtleties become more evident; evolving patterns, emergent voices, rhythmic complexities. Arising ethnic elements periodically surface, morph and are absorbed back into the mix providing an earthy tribal flavour in contrast to the strongly technical primary emphasis.
  
ARTWORK   As busy, lively and colourful as the music, artwork features a collage of entwined and overlaid graphic weaves in bright rainbow hues. The front cover holds simple titles and the label logo, most space given over to the intricacies of the visuals. A somewhat more muted palette on the rear sees a similar weave backdrop with track titles overlaid in white. The tracklist is repeated on the back of the two page insert, the brighter yellows and oranges here adding to a Central American Aztec or Mayan feel. Innermost, the scale of the weave is enlarged and a hazy effect achieved by multilevel transparent overlays. Here can be found relevant thanks and a special note to Kazem.
 
OVERALL 

 

Syncronize Records return after a three year hiatus with their first compilation album. Following the two debut releases Psychogenica and Phantasmatika, the label went on hold since Axel was pursuing other projects and partner Kazem sadly became seriously ill with Leukaemia. It is the subsequent death of Kazem that prompted the dedication of this album, the contributing artists almost all being personal friends. Recordings come from Ajja & Dymons, Zimon, Yab Yum & Apex, Genepool, Ajja, Ianuaria, Gaspard & Ajja, Adrenokrohm, Yab Yum and Flooting Grooves. The best place to explore the sounds of the album and read up some more information would appear to be the label's Myspace page where a player can be found running each piece on the disc.
 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Kazem will suit dancefloor lovers with its consistent upbeat movement. Clearly not aiming for the melodic, atmospheric end of the spectrum, this is more a collection for fans of energetic electronica littered with the sinews, guts and muscles of synths pushed to the limits. A shadowy, confident album that will not disappoint anyone who appreciated previous Syncronize material.

 
AUDIO  
 
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