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MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Carbon Based Lifeforms - [Twentythree]
STYLE
 
September 2011
Vibrant ambient vistas with subtle undercurrents.
Twenty Three is a bit of a shift in emphasis for Carbon Based Lifeforms: previous albums have seen the duo exploring ambient space, but until now there has been substantial rhythmic and percussive content. Here the crunchy beats, bass pulses and lively sequences are almost absent. Fading quickly from emptiness, the first track lays down a smooth yet profound drone that hangs in solitude for well over a minute before additional washes roll in. In due time the layered drones grow dense and intermingle, a simple repeating pulse motif punctuating the expanse. The depth of the music is hard to fathom: implied patterns and indistinct forms might be carefully set way back in the mix, or perhaps are merely imagined. As the album progresses a series of lush ambient panoramas unfold. There is a persistent spacey tone to the music: most pieces fairly steady and intense, suggestive of enormity and possibility. Fine details - vaguely organic cries; liquid clattering; bird trills, random chimes; subtle disturbances; synthetic effects - are scattered throughout a number of tracks, whereas some are almost silky smooth on the surface with heaving depths.
 
ARTWORK   [Twentythree] comes in a beautifully coloured, glossy digipack of three fold-out panels. The musical emphasis is evident from the front cover imagery: three intricate satellite dishes focus their attention skyward, evidently reaching beyond the aqua smoothness and ruffled salmon-smudged clouds. The full panorama reveals three more silhouetted bowl-frameworks; setting sun white among a lemon yellow pool of brightness. Track titles with times are suspended in the upper third of the back cover. The inner spread is given over to a complex starscape, brimming with bright points and milky conglomerations. The leftmost panel presents brief credits and website information. Neatly concealed within the right section is a sixteen-page booklet fronted by a further black bowl and twilight sky photograph. The first page repeats the tracklist and notes a simple dedication; subsequent pages present a variety of transmitters, towers and antennae shot against beautiful skies. Toward the end is a two page portrait of the artists followed by a chiaroscuro plant-life image with acknowledgements and photo credits.
 
OVERALL   

Swedish ambient masters Carbon Based Lifeforms deliver Twentythree as their fourth album. As before, French label Ultimae releases this high quality item, with mastering and artwork by label master Vincent Villuis. Promotional material describes the project as "an interpretation of sidereal music captured in and around layers of atmospheres. From wide and far reaching soundscapes, the hypnosis subtly builds up with washes of ethereal melodies while floating pads are brushed by reverberated organic and electric data or the distant echoes of life on a planet." The mid-length recordings here range from five minutes fifty-seven to ten minutes thirty-three seconds. For those wondering about the title, it might be noted that Carbon Based Lifeforms have previously numbered their tracks in ongoing form: tracks 01 to 11 on the debut [Hydroponic Gardens]; 12 to 22 on [World of Sleepers] and 24 to 33 on last year's Interloper. 23 was absent. This time the eight pieces from Twentythree are numbered 01 to 08. Visit the Ultimae website for a presentation of the album that includes audio samples for each track.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Collide - Counting To Zero
STYLE
 
October 2011
Electro, darkwave, trip-hop and seductive female vocals.
Counting to Zero sees Collide doing all that they do best with even more class and finesse. Plaintive piano and cinematic strings run a thread of elegance through a number of the tracks on this album, a contrast to the distorted guitars and crunchy electronics. The downtempo pace of much of the music heightens the moody, stalking nature that Collide creates so well. There is a fine balance of intricate detail and deft sparsity with gritty effects; crawling synthetic atmospheres and programmed ephemera embellishing the guitar, drum and bass core. The resultant mix often allows the vocals space to soar as on Bending and Floating; meander ethereally or haunt the corners. Further From Anything sees Collide drive the pace up a few notches: a driving drum beat and layered guitars heaving behind a slinky vocal arrangement that comes from different directions; languid and cool against the sonic maelstrom.
 
ARTWORK   Counting to Zero arrives in a hand wrapped shroud of black tissue sealed with a sharp Collide sticker. The band clearly take great care and interest in presenting their craft; the generous accompanying package includes: a signed poster; a glossy photograph; a press release sheet; a postcard; a signed monochrome card; a small logo card and a badge (at least it does if you order direct from the band's site - you'll just get the CD otherwise). The jewelcase is fronted by a beaming, wind-whipped portrait of kaRIN (as on the poster); hair and light threads curling horizontally toward a faint overlaid zero. The rear cover shows similar trails of light streaming across a stark landscape and over a distant crag. Track titles are here in simple font to the left. Inside is a lush sixteen-page booklet brimming with sleek photographs, lyrics, track-by-track credits, contact details, websites and a huge - huge list of thanks. Again, the band have taken the time to sign the booklet. A final sultry image of kaRIN bathed in light hides behind the disc.
 
OVERALL   

Vocalist kaRIN and multi-instrumentalist Statik return with their seventh studio album joined by bassists Kai Kurosawa, Kevin Kipnis and Dean Garcia with Scott Landes providing additional guitar work. Familiar names now, Collide are further known through side project The Secret Meeting (with Curve's Dean Garcia) and remix work from such notables as Charlie Clouser (NIN, SAW), cEvin Key (Skinny Puppy) and Rhys Fulber, (Frontline Assembly, Delerium). The eleven recordings here flow smoothly as a lush multi-faceted whole; the emotive, expressive deep piano chords and electro-crackle of Human; the shady dream pop and quiet interludes of the title track Counting To Zero; the heavy guitar and buzz-synth wall-of-sound of Clearer. Of course, kaRIN's distinctive voice and siren-song approach unites the songs, but there is a powerful unity of vision also in Statik's filmic-cyber-grunge sonic diversity. Interweaving the harshness of noise and distortion with musical grace and saturated colour, the beauty and passion of unique song: Collide are riding the peak of their wave. Visit the Collide website for details on this and all previous Collide releases.

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Krusseldorf - From Soil To Space
STYLE
 
October 2011
Electronica, glitch, chillout instrumentals.
From Soil To Space sees Krusseldorf exploring further the fragile, cinematic soundscapes that typify the project. Moody atmospheres and sensitive themes set the music in a world of gentle shadows where lustrous colour and flushes of warmth maintain a pleasing balance. Ragged, grazed or damaged sounds create varying degrees of friction amongst the beauty - sometimes stark and mechanical, sometimes a faint texture suggestive of antique nostalgia. More melodic than much downtempo trance, Krusseldorf overlays delicate synth lines of differing voices, playing out his dreamy narratives in shifting tone. Beats are quite cerebral affairs; glitch scuffs, static and crackle interacting with the often complex programmed percussion.
 
IN DEPTH   The album opens with an attractive series of soft pads that rise like a pale sun amid the flutter of small clockwork clicks, ticks and crackle. Warm, appealing and very transporting Geometrics manages to retain a mysterious shade despite its beauty. The album then progresses via the somewhat more melodically fractured and robotic Boxing through a broad range of click-hop, glitch-ambient, epic downtempo and blissful IDM. There is a distinctly European feel to much of the music: restrained colour, idiosyncratic, timeless with a hint of the sacred. There are some brooding, sepulchral passages such as Deep Fulgin where throaty voice sounds groan among low chimes and the dull buzz of stalking synths. The album concludes with a sedate piano-led piece called A Head Under The Towel; a lazy lounge beat
 
 ARTWORK   This is an attractive jewelcase package where muted earth tones gradually lighten into airy clouds and mists. The front cover sees two cubes of soil suspended in the air, linked both to a drifting astronaut and a flower form line drawing. Graphic embellishments add sharp details: fiery tendrils bursting like roots from the soil, spray can ink runs and bubble-like circles. The rear cover shows a patch of sandy soil with boot prints; track titles sit within a clean buff coloured box. These are repeated on the back of the sleeve insert along with credits and website information. The flip side of the three panel insert brings the cover elements into vivid close-up: the suited astronaut floats in, filling the whole left panel; an earthen cube dangles on the right, further shapes fading into obscurity behind. The central panel invites listeners to meet up on the 'other side' of the looking glass, the 'plummeting caves of humanity's cradle', 'the outer reaches of our fragile mind'. Thanks from both the artist and label are also here.
 
OVERALL  

Swedish musician, producer and sound designer Simon Heath returns as Krusseldorf with this full-length follow-up to Bohemian Groove. Simon has a sizeable back catalogue of music released under various aliases with Krusseldorf being his primary chillout identity. That said, Krusseldorf by no means falls neatly into any specific genre and his otherworldly static and glitch flecked recordings maintain a beguiling individuality. From Soil to Space sees Krusseldorf moving from the Beats & Pieces label that delivered last year's Bohemian Groove to Aleph-Zero Records. There are thirteen tracks on the album that are well arranged so as to provide considerable variety of style within a distinct bracket. You can listen to the music at the Aleph Zero website, or you can learn more about the project at the official Krusseldorf site.

 
ARTIST'S THOUGHTS    I wanted to create a glitch-album that was harmonious, an album that was dark but not monotonous, an album that was complex but not cheezy.
 
TRACKLIST   1. Geometrics
2. Boxing
3. The Cell
4. First Blood
5. From Soil to Space
6. Click
7. Deep Fulgin
8. Tokyo Nights
9. Soe Doe
10. Deep into the Bowl
11. Choclop
12. Zyclops
13. A Head under the Towel
 
 
AUDIO    
Go to Beatport.com Get These Tracks Add This Player
     
 
LINKS/TECHNICAL   Label: Aleph Zero
Format: Album
Style: Electronica, Downtempo, Ambient, Chillout, Glitch, IDM

http://www.aleph-zero.info/releases.html
http://krusseldorf.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/krusseldorf
Beat Port - http://www.beatport.com/#/release/from-soil-to-space/683324

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Ishq - And Awake
STYLE
 

November 2011
Meditative ambient chill.
And Awake sees Ishq return with a fine album of their trademark tropical liquid sparkle. Colourful, vivid and intricate; Ishq establishes a warm sense of the exotic right from the start. Drifting pads with meandering melodic phrases, a childlike voice mouthing "...and awake..." are given a special lustre by means of bright electronic effects. There are many layers to most pieces: interwoven harmonic motifs; secondary melodies; underlying drones; water and nature sounds; glitch flicker and, on the initial tracks, a dreamy digital beat. The tone of the music is always inviting; suggestive of soft sunshine and the wonders of the world: somehow managing to carry the listener from floating on the lapping calm of a clear lagoon to wandering among the curves and curls of moist frondescence right down to marvelling at the veins of a single leaf. Soft flutes, oriental strings and Jacqueline Kersley's wordless vocals along with heaving tides and the cries of seagulls all combine to ensure that the Ishq journey is lush, expansive and truly captivating.

 
 ARTWORK   My promo copy of And Awake came with only the cover image that you can see above left. The amber hues of a dervish dancer in whirling motion blend midway into the sunset colour of an evening ocean contained within the outline of the dancer's outflung skirt. Black background - simple titles.
 
OVERALL  

Ishq has been around for over a decade now; their debut album Orchid was released via Interchill Records back in 2004 (with an expanded two disk version released by Dakini) and the project currently returns once more to Interchill after a series of exploratory projects and self-released titles. The UK's Cornwall based Matt Hiller and Jacqueline Kersley have a unique sound that once heard is easily recognised among the mass of ambient and ambient chill available today. This distinct sonic identity even carries across to the various side projects that have broadened the duo's output over the years: Elve, Ishvara, Indigo Egg ...
The limited edition CD label Virtual has been used as a way to deliver Ishq's more experimental music as well as collaborative recordings. Such albums as Timelapse In Mercury, Fluid Earth, Skyspaces and Lotus can all be found there. The current And Awake delivers eight mid-length tracks of unhurried buoyant beauty that can be explored via the Interchill website or Ishq's own website. Interchill informs us that a follow-up to And Awake is already scheduled for 2012.

 
PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL   ishq makes a welcome return to interchill with an otherworldly excursion into sublime ambience. and awake is the next chapter of their meditative chronicles that began with the 2004 debut album orchid (interchill/dakini) and left off with their most recent release sama (electronic soundscapes). imbued with mystical properties, the rich harmonic layers of and awake create space for the busy mind to unwind and drift away to a subtle realm of inner quietude.

ishq, meaning 'love' in persian, is matt hillier and jacqueline kersley, hailing from cornwall, uk. combining jacqueline's etheric vocal contributions with matt's sonic wizardry, they create a unique sound-world that conveys a quality of contemplative depth rarely found in contemporary electronic music. with and awake, their lucid foray into the borderland between sleep and wakefulness is tranquility manifest and shows yet again the enduring nature of fine ambient music.

through their previous albums, ishq has earned global recognition as one of the frontrunners of ambient production and, with each successive album, they have steadily built on their formidable body of work. with additional releases under the names elve, ishvara, crystal moon, indigo egg and colourform their solid fan base of ambient aficionados continues to grow.

 
TRACKLIST  

1. And Awake
2. Diving Into Sun
3. Leaf
4. Mizu
5. Skylike
6. Blue Drop
7. Kong
8. A New Life

 
 
AUDIO    Coming soon.        
 
LINKS/TECHNICAL  

http://www.ishq.org
http://www.v-i-r-t-u-a-l.com
http://www.interchill.com/release.php?aid=32

 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Scissors And Sellotape - ...For The Tired And Ill At Ease...
STYLE
 

November 2011
Aching wistful piano and ambient soundscaping.
...For The Tired And Ill At Ease... is a beautiful, haunting album of elegant minimal piano melodies. Reverberating or muted as if heard within a dream or a distant memory, these pieces are structured within hazy audio environments of nostalgic fragility: light hiss; faintly rhythmic noise; crackle; spectral drones, peculiar electronic textures; bowed strings. The piano is at times intimate and ordinary: the mechanical sounds of hammers and pedals warming the music; at times more remote and misted with the depth of environmental sound. The music was recorded initially on piano and organ in St Mary’s church in Thornbury, Melbourne, with samples of room ambience and keys being struck with no notes also collected. McCaffrey talks of "editing, resampling, stretching, twiddling, adding strings" and field recordings later in the creative process. The end result is a highly evocative album of very individual, very contemporary classical grace.

 
ARTWORK  

I haven't seen the full artwork myself, having only an electronic promotional download, but as a Fac-ture release I can be confident that the physical copies are going to be a delight. The album package is a limited edition of 200 copies and includes: 180 gm pure virgin vinyl; letter pressed CD; 16 page photo booklet; 12 x 12 bespoke print; A2 posters. The lot is hand numbered/stamped/sealed mastered by Taylor Deupree. Duo-tone photographic imagery focuses on the religious material upon which the album muses: stone statues, graven words, vine draped memorials.

 
OVERALL   

Scissors and Sellotape is one of Australia-based John McCaffrey's various musical identities. Originally from the UK's North West, McCaffrey has recorded both solo and in collaboration, releasing his more folk and drone oriented tracks under the project titles Part Timer and Upward Arrows respectively. Promotional material aptly describes the "subtle electronic manipulation, field noise, restrained melody and maudlin texture" of this album as Scissors and Sellotape explores some tastefully sombre yet soporific musical territories. The tracks are divided into two sections to reflect the vinyl nature of the release. The Fluid Audio website is running an interview with the artist where he discusses his music in some depth.

 
 

 

MORPHEUS MUSIC REVIEWS

 

 

 ----------Sam Rosenthal - The Passage
STYLE
 
November 2011
Minimal ambience, weightless calm.
The Passage begins with a long-form recording of beatless, heaving tones that warm and cool imperceptibly as the track progresses. Fading in from silence, lustrous pads underpinned by deep, heavy drones shift in oceanic manner; the buoyant lighter layers weightless and bright almost giving way to the shadows of the depths, then the abyssal gloom receding, the softer drifting mid-tones once more ascendant. The second track opens as the first concludes, crossing seamlessly, initially with little difference; then a new thread, shaft of brighter light, a sharp infusion of sonic effulgence. The violin strains of Vicki Richards can be heard here, sharing in greater crescendos than The Passage, beaming, soaring updrafts that build to a dense climax before fading once more into the silence from whence it all began. A serene album of inviting space, a refuge from the machinery of the day, a retreat, a haven.
 
ARTWORK   The Passage arrives in a smooth matt black card wallet, CD slotted neatly into the right panel. One icy blue image illuminates the darkness: a radiant ribbed tunnel curving away out of sight. Studded with points of light, this ambiguous form appears simultaneously organic and crafted. A similar passage dominates the back cover space; track titles with times beneath. Within, text is as minimal as the music: simple credits; recording details and label information. On the inner right all is blackness except for the words: For Tori Rae Cole.
 
OVERALL    Sam Rosenthal is known to many as Projekt manager and founder/songwriter of the darkwave band Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Here he works solo under his own name with input from violinist Vicki Richards long time associate of Black Tape For A Blue Girl. The forty four minute twenty nine second The Passage is a meandering zone that engrosses and absorbs the listener in hypnotic harmony; the ten minute twelve second Rae brief and more varied by comparison. Promotional material talks of a "vast field of harmonious resonance and granular sound [that] move gradually and languidly, time stretching and evolving, rolling back into itself." This carefully crafted audio environment can be sampled at Projekt where a great deal more information is presented including an explanation of how the music evolved from a track originally on the 1999 Blacktape CD, As One Aflame Laid Bare By Desire.