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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Craig Dongoski & Robert Scott Thompson - Orbital Lullaby
STYLE
 

March 2011
"Poised somewhere between ambient music and avant-garde acousmatics."
Opening with electro-blips and bleeps flecked upon profound synthetic washes, this album balances material not usually associated with 'music' against deep electronic drones. A thread of wavering sound emerges that could be a human voice strongly distorted; ringing tones, crackle, turbulence; a welling of massive ambient pads behind, beneath. Within a short while a balance is struck somewhere between music concrète and ambient space. No formal melody, yet not entirely free of consonance; irregular waves and expansive tonal intensities bring an ebb and flow of harmony whilst the brain inclines to find patterns among the apparent aural disorder. In places there are hints of climactic form or suggestions of rhythm, either from the motion of harmonic content or from the synchronising of ephemeral snippets of faintly discernible voices, programmed clutter, assembled found sound. Repetition of certain phrases is perhaps the most tangible evidence of artifice; most noticeable when human speech is the recurring element.

 
MOOD   Initially Orbital Lullaby feels like it is going to have something of a science fiction tone to it since many of the sonic elements have digital, mechanical or computerised associations. As the album progresses however, there is more a sense of post-apocalyptic sound relics, dusty, damaged with age and neglect. Barely grasped transmissions seem to struggle for recognition in immense expanses. In places, such as within the title track, there is a sense of aching nostalgic melancholy; voices (possibly) drifting amid wistful atonal breezes eddying about the unlit ruins of humanity.
 
ARTWORK   Orbital Lullaby arrives in a jewel case with a single sheet insert. The artwork combines spacey abstract forms, sharp graphic constructs and a clear planet earth hanging high over the front centre. Highly open to interpretation, the imagery, as with the music, could suggest destruction, decay and degradation, disquieting obscurity - or it might as easily infer emergent order, colourful contrast, lush, beautiful obscurity. Track titles are found on the rear of the package each with playing time alongside. Aucourant address and website details are here too. On the flip side of the insert are simple credits.
 
OVERALL   

Both based in Atlanta, Georgia: musician come sonic alchemist Robert Scott Thompson and multimedia artist Craig Dongoski combine their exploratory recording interests on this new release. Delivered via Robert Scott Thompson's own Aucourant Records label, Orbital Lullaby is intended as a "highly immersive" listening experience. The music ventures afar off into the boundaries between avant-garde acousmatics and minimal ambience. Historically associated with musique concrète, acousmatics refers to a sound of unseen origin; without visual cues, a music to be heard apart from its source. Traditionally the compositional elements can equally be of musical instrumentation, vocal utterances or of found sound, processed noise or random acoustics. For some 'acousmatic' emphasises compositional style, for others it refers to a way of listening. The result here is an album of eleven intriguing tracks ranging from a little under two and a half minutes up to thirteen plus.

 
WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM  

Orbital Lullaby is not an album for the sonically faint of heart; straying into remote musical/non musical territory. Don't expect melodic themes, beats or relaxing new-age style ambience. Instead open your mind to a series of beguiling sound montages that provide a highly transporting seventy five minute listening experience. If you enjoy isolationist recordings or spacey soundscapes this might well appeal to you. Why not investigate the sound samples found at the Aucourant website.

 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Bruno Sanfilippo - Subliminal Pulse
STYLE
 

March 2011
Mostly beatless, melodic ambient music.
Bruno Sanfilippo here combines silken synthesiser tone, twinkling sequential patterns and elegant string formations. The tracks are mostly without beats, yet often not without rhythm; cycling motifs ripple in regular time, dancing arpeggios bright and prominent in places, subtle in others, hypnotic in repetition. The opening track does have a percussive beat; deep, sonorous ethnic hand drums reverberating in layered patterns and there are a few other percussive flecks here and there. There are a number of drifting passages without any obvious metre where undulating drones gather into profound intensities; within these restful, shadowy zones Sanfilippo artfully places just the right sparcity of piano touches, spectral voice atmospheres or reverberating metallic chimes. There are some environmental recordings in places; a low grumble of thunder, water movement, distant bird or insect calls; Alchemical Powers especially drawing a lot of its exotic mystique from these sounds of nature. The concluding track Mantram is a charming piece where dreamy string lines ebb and flow against the idle tide of warm synth pads - very introspective, very beautiful.

 
ARTWORK   Subliminal Pulse is delivered in a card digipack of three fold-out panels. The imagery throughout is comprised of swirling loops of yellow/orange light of varying lustre. Irregular forms yet crafted and purposeful; some like spinning flames, others like pulses of electric light. On the front cover, complete cycles are visible in middles distance of similar hue to the titles. On the rear cover the loops are close up and layered. Here, track titles with their times are numbered by a series of increasing dots. The final outer panel holds a brief explanation from Bruno as to the concepts behind the music. Within a single spread of close-up light loops runs across all three panels. All are without disturbance except for the left most where credits, a gear list and website address can be found.
 
OVERALL   

Although Argentinean electronic ambient composer and recording artist Bruno Sanfilippo has been releasing distinctive instrumental music for around two decades, clocking up fourteen items on his discography, and although he is presently based in Barcelona, Spain, Subliminal Pulse is his first official US release. Presented via the well-known Spotted Peccary label, the disc contains nine mid-length tracks all hovering around the six/seven minute mark apart from Intrinsic Fluctuations which takes in a second over fourteen minutes. Promotional material suggests: "By blending lush dreamscapes, darker spaces and a timeless universal quality into a classic sound with a purity that speaks to the soul, Sanfilippo re-invigorates the sub-genre of SPACE MUSIC with his first release on the Spotted Peccary Music label." That's well put since this album treads a graceful line between an earth-bound sense of the sacred and galactic immensity. Bruno himself says of the album: "Sometimes, the poetic language of music reveals what cannot be seen. It shows a reality that has nothing to do with words. With my electronic instruments I take the universe’s “Subliminal Pulse”, and I try to build a bridge between my inner pulse and the pulse of the outer space" Spotted Peccary have sound samples for each track on the label website.

 
   

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Dan Pound - Medusazoa
STYLE
 
March 2011
Smooth, oceanic ambient electronica.
Medusazoa is an album of warm, fluid, mostly beatless synth environments. Drifting pads and velvety drones waft and mass around emergent pulse formations and rhythmic digital fragments. Liquid clicks and flecks trickle against synthetic vibrations or burble alongside repeating motifs; lazy scale patterns meander upward, downward; peculiar disturbances rustle and murmur and there are occasional sussurant flushes of turbulence. A downtempo beat arises midway through the title track, lazy and uncluttered; beguiling watery purring sounds cycling around. Some tracks centre mostly on the ponderous heave of layered drones, the flutter and flicker of rhythmic ephemera deep within. Others have subtle melodic elements: hypnotically repeating motifs; sparse piano phrases, electric guitar touches; these buoyant centres of regularity suspended in sequential tides or wandering afloat through ambient densities.
 
IN DEPTH  

The title track opens with a luminous, repeating synthtic chime motif echoing upon an undulating low drone. Soon the melodic repetition drops off and an ambient bed opens out as if the listener has strayed into deeper water. Here a variation on the previous motif begins to well up with more of a piano sound, evolving and meandering until a second evaporation. Now a distinctly different liquid environment emerges that is more suggestive of surface water or at least of the presence of trapped air: laps and splashes rippling about a sybilant purring noise that recurrs in organic pairings establishing a loose rhythm. Drfiting piano notes once more provide intriguing melody, deep single tones and lazy higher runs. At around this mid point of the twelve minutes fifty three seconds of Medusazoa a serene beat fades in, simple hihats, programmed snare and lazy kick building around the nodding measure of the pulsing purr. For a while now this dreamy rhythmic pool of lilting piano melody floats in blissful reverie until the beat ebbs away at around the nine and a half minute mark. The purring remains a while upon a much more distant memory of percussion, reverberating piano phrases thinning out upon a low drone echoing the introduction until stillness. A very relaxing composition, highly evocative of the underwater environment Dan is summoning up and the delicate life forms upon which this album concentrates.

Gear List
Synthesiser.com analog modular system; Nord lead 2; Korg R3; Yamaha AN200, Korg Electribe; Dave Smith's Evolver; Roland XP-10, Fender Stratocaster, various effects, processors and sound shaping equipment..

 
ARTWORK   Medusazoa arrives in a jewel case with a single sheet insert. Artwork is all of saturated blue hues with soft-edged jellyfish forms hanging transparent in mid-distance. The front cover features a beautifully orange lit specimen, curling streamers and slender tentacles arcing in a graceful curve below. On the rear cover a number of the creatures form a loose cluster; some luminous and distinct, others vague, transparent. Track titles are here with times alongside, also website details and an email address. Within, the insert flip side presents an almost circular aspect with geometrical horseshoe shaped organs pinkly lit. A concise gear list sits here at the left foot. Behind the disc itself a veined close-up image, highlighting the inconsistent densities of these intriguing lifeforms.
 
OVERALL    US based Dan Pound has a discography as long as your arm and a musical resume to match. Having classical training for piano, guitar and double bass, Dan is an experienced composer for orchestra. He also has degrees in recording engineering and electronic music technology and currently specializes in producing music for film and multi-media. Dan works from his own studio and releases his music via his own recently established label Pound Sounds. This latest release, Medusazoa presents seven mid-length tracks ranging from the four minute six second Living Fossil to the fourteen minute plus Tentacles. Promotional material explains that this music was "made to accompany the fluid movements and colorful bio-luminescence of the jellyfish, flowing and drifting with the currents". Sound samples can be found on the Dan Pound website as well as a further description of the music.
 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS   My personal feelings about this album are simply that this is exactly where I need to be right now musically and creatively. I finally feel like I have come into my own as an artist. No compromises or expectations. Just pure expression.
This is exactly the kind of music that I would listen to, even if it was not my own.
   
LABEL'S THOUGHTS  

Get ready for your own liquid space aquarium music environment.
Based and built from analog modular synth drones, patches & effects, this is pure underwater dream zone music.
Made to accompany the fluid movements and colorful bio-luminescence of the jellyfish, flowing and drifting with the currents, the blend of sounds are surprisingly organic in their textures, and mix well with crustacean-like effects and poly-sequential, fractal rhythms & pulses.
Expansive, slow moving, aquarium-like environments are penetrated and felt deeply here.

Instruments used:
Synthesizer dot com modular system, Nord lead 2, Yamaha AN200, Korg Electribe, Dave Smith?s Evolver, Roland XP-10, Korg R-3, Fender Stratocaster, various effects, processors and sound shaping equipment.

Tracks:
1. Liquid Body 12:38
2. Under Her Spell 5:09
3. Living Fossil 4:06
4. Medusazoa 12:53
5. Tentacles 14:02
6. Bioluminescence 9:56
7. Currents 12:35

Inspired by the movements of fluidity and bio-luminescent colors of the jellyfish, this is an all out analog excursion of ambient liquid space.
Get ready for deep liquid space immersion with Medusazoa.

     
VIDEO  
     
AUDIO  

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS


 

 

 ----------Kukan Dub Lagan - Life Still Nice
STYLE
 

March 2011
Positive electronic downtempo dub.
Kukan Dub Lagan here remixes his 2004 album Life Is Nice. The tracks are distinctly different from the originals, clearly having been approached with artistic freedom and creative improvisation. The trademark Kukan Dub Lagan approach still permeates everything - lazy, summer reggae beats and nodding chord stabs with colourful synthetic melodies. The rhythmic material is considerably varied: deep rubbery basses driving some pieces; some alive with programmed grooves, sharp blips and echoing squirts; others having more of a 'live' sounding drum kit or a fusion of ethnic percussion, at times even taking on a Latin flavour with intricate cow bells, electro-claps and synth arps all entwined. The mood is mostly relaxed and dreamy with emphasis on warmth and easy going dance friendly atmospheres. Voice fragments arise in places, mostly heavily processed; deep, deep within liquid reverberation and employed more as instrumental effects than for lyrical content. Global samples periodically take over the melodic roles before sinking back into the electronica. Heavily distorted fuzz guitar, a couple of glitchy textures, jazzy ad-libs, dizzy effects, altered organs and sonorous vibes all join the party in suitably chilled attire.

 
ARTWORK   I have the electronic promo version of the album and so have only seen the layout for front and back covers. The front imagery you can see above left: tangled curlicues suggesting entwined foliage are topped by floral concentric discs, a bird motif and a couple of butterflies enjoying the idyll. The back cover strips the same imagery down to a simple corner ornament and presents the track titles each with associated time in black font on white background.
 
OVERALL   

Itay Berger celebrates the goodness of life with this bright remix album. Eight of the original eleven tracks from Life Is Nice appear here in remixed form showcasing the increased mastery of the tropical dub genre that Itay has developed. The absent three being Shinzon Romulan, The Sound of the Sword and The Bells of Burma. However, there are two additional surprise pieces: Beautiful Afternoon edited from Live at the Boom Festival and Fever. The Kukan Dub Lagan official hotline tells us that the first three hundred buyers of digital remix album will get a free bonus CD of "New Life New Vision" (the recently released third album) delivered direct to their home - that's highly generous you have to admit. The new album is available in pretty much any format you might wish for: 320k mp3, FLAC, etc. The official Kukan Dub Lagan Bandcamp site holds samples of the various tracks if you'd like to see what you're getting.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS   I started to work on this album a while ago. It was hard to collect all the files and I had to re-build the remixes from zero because most of the files been damaged on my old computer. From that, it lead to the nice concept of a remixes album where each track is like a totally new track, as a remix or new version. I wanted that when the fans would listen to the tracks, they would recognize and remember the old sound but at same time would discover new sounds and atmosphere inside. With the melodica, the percussions, the guitar, drums and so on, where I took all these live instruments I played and mixed it with an electronic touch. I made this music for the people at same time as for my kids/family.
M y inspiration comes from both of these great waves I am breathing each day. So we decided to give the 1st 300 customers a bonus CD (Kukan Dub Lagan 3rd album-New Life New Vision) to support the people as well and not just to be supported only as an artist. Kindness and good energy need to go both ways.
Feel Life.
 
AUDIO

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------The Amnis Initiative - Distant Dreams
STYLE
 
April 2011
Dramatic, electronic instrumentals.
Distant Dreams presents a series of broad cinematic soundscapes inhabiting the same general audio terrain as the legendary Vangelis. This charming and highly melodic music moves from stirring themes with climactic booming kettle drums and symphonic grandeur through ethereally drifting passages where silvery bird song and golden atmospheres lift the spirits on to programmed downtempo beats, new agey synths and relaxing piano lines. The Amnis Initiative makes abundant use of rich flute voices and lush layered pads to make the music soar with a constant sense of the exotic hanging in the air. There is a somewhat medieval flavour to a number of the lead lines adding to the timeless nature of Distant Dreams.
 
ARTWORK   Distant Dreams is presented in an attractive digipack of three panels. Artwork throughout is comprised of amber lit landscapes, the sun illuminating gathered mists or piercing right through in sharp stabs of brightness. The front cover positively glows: a backlit forest of silhouetted trunks and branches; in the foreground red leaves catch the light. The rear cover holds a second moody forest image; track titles and their times laid out across the shadows. Within, the left panel provides a discussion of some thoughts behind the music; the right side delivers all of the technical information: more inspirational photography and a warm, aged paper texture providing ongoing visual stimulation. Behind the disc itself is a twinkling starscape, its infinite black in juxtaposition to the rest of the visuals.
 
OVERALL    The Amnis Initiative is the personal project of Dutch composer/keyboardist D. F. Lodewijks, released via his own Amnis Music label. The project takes its name from the Latin Amnis meaning broad, deep flowing water - a stream, a torrent, an ocean - or simply liquid, a current. D. F. Lodewijks has been working with electronic music and sound design for almost two decades producing material from art exhibitions to computer games: The Amnis Initiative began as a vehicle to express the artist's own sonic persona, Distant Dreams being the debut full length release. The thirteen tracks on Distant Dreams aim at a balance between evocative and soothing; music to stir the emotions and excite the imagination. I think that this ambitious goal is well achieved, fans of Vangelis, Amethystium or perhaps Mike Oldfield probably appreciating the mood and scope of this album. The Amnis Initiative web site provides sound samples and plenty of options for buying the music.
 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS   The melody line and basic idea for The Vision were actually the first thing I started with for this album, while it was also probably the last track to be finished. We had to drop a whole section that was taking it in the wrong direction. We also dropped some early versions of Long Distance that were really very unusual but just didn't fit the format of the album. Some of that material might still show up somewhere, some day. Long Distance is certainly one track that I think still sort of begs to be reworked into something else, the same way Lament For The Living was reworked into Living Landscape, both on the album. Then again, it might also simply be time to work on something else altogether.
 
AUDIO

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Fiction City - Nova
STYLE
 

April 2011
Downtempo electronic/rock concept EP.
Nova presents a moody post electro-rock journey through mental unravelling. Programmed beats drive the music, mostly a range of shady, crunchy trip-hop grooves in the four original tracks, apart from the driving rock-techno of Neon Face. A disquieting, post-apocalyptic atmosphere pervades this EP with plenty of attention given to building up unsettling ambient introductions and disconcerting peripherals. Brooding melodic synth lines and guitar phrases underpin the vocal surface detail where the often slightly remote male vocals talk-sing deep in the mix with an unhinged confidence or garble, strongly effected and harsh. The remixes are quite varied: the flickering, disjointed glitch beat of Introspective Activity - Archos Impulse Reconvertation using the source material as ambient atmospherics; the trancey thud of Dj Frenklin's Minimal Mix of Neon Face; the second remix of Neon Face from Saro is quite a heavy, digital grunge piece that drifts off briefly into minimal dark ambience in the mid portion.

 
ARTWORK  

The front cover of Nova centres on a lustrous mosaic butterfly form that has the appearance of dark blue, polished gem stones. The digital copy comes with a series of hand painted images with something of a surrealist nature created by the bands visual artist DF. The dark themes of the music are each portrayed visually - one picture per track. The cover butterfly makes a reappearance on the image for the title track and can be traced to its source in the lyrics. These are also provided for each track of the EP. The package is completed with a series of photographs of the band shot with projected imagery casting vivid light forms on the faces of the duo.

 
OVERALL   

Fiction City is a four piece outfit including two musicians, a visual artist, and a video engineer that logically is as much interested in imagery as they are the sounds of their work. Working the region where rock meets electronica, the project often follows a musical composition with an artwork and sometimes a video. Their first serious release, Nova includes four original tracks and three collaborative recordings drawing on the talents of artists & DJs from the U.S., Europe and Russia. The music can be heard on the Fiction City website which also hosts a range of visuals and free downloads as well as biographical information on each member of the band.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS  

"Nova" is basically inspired by 2 things. The first one is a novel by J.R. Fowles, "The Collector", about a psycho who kept a girl in his basement till she died. I believe you've at least heard about this book - it's considered as classical literature:) And while I was reading the book, the other thing was going on - real life cases. I live not in the most safe district in the city (and that's a mild definition).

So when I was in the middle of the book, a girl was kidnapped, and it happened right in the building where my appartment is situated. An occasional witness saw how she entered the elevator, but nobody has ever seen her again. Then, after 3-4 months, the other girl was kidnapped! They finally found her dead, with her arm cut off. I was under impression of both the book and the stuff that was going on right here, in the hood. So I started thinking about such guys, trying to imagine what are their thoughts, their excuses, and how actually a man can become so sick and twisted .... After some time I developed a whole theory about it, and finally it came to the point when I shared my concept with Ultra and Irene DF (the second musician and the art designer), and we started thinking about putting the idea into some musical form.

As for our musical influences & backgrounds, if you don't mind, I will just name some major artists (they are not in order of importance): Nine Inch Nails, Camouflage, Oomph, Depeche Mode, Juno Reactor, Marilyn Manson, KMFDM... damn, and many, many others:)