Music Reviews



Sphäre Sechs: Tiefschlaf

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 04 2013
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Artist: Sphäre Sechs (@)
Title: Tiefschlaf
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Whenever I see something in the mail from Malignant Records, I know that at least one of the albums I review will be good. This one delivers on that belief. Sphäre Sechs is a collaboration between Martin Stürtzer (Phelios) and Christian Stritzel, who (if Discogs.com is to be believed) has previously collaborated with Phelios. The label describes the album thus: 'gorgeous passages of sweeping, cosmic drones and textural ripples that fan out over a vast, luminous landscape, the amorphous tones and glassy, serene ambience melding together in pristine, meditative washes of sound. This is some of the purest ambience you'll find and the perfect atmosphere for drifting off into a seemingly endless dream state.' In one word, I would describe this as 'peaceful.' This album was recorded live during a 'sleep-concert' in Germany and the content shows. This is considerably different from the last Phelios album I reviewed (Astral Unity), which featured heavy pounding percussion and an ominous feel, so I can attribute this shift to the influence of Stritzel. Think of some of Troum's more sedate works and you're heading in the right direction. When you want dark ambient without all of the darkness, this is one to reach for. Nothing but soft, shimmering drone to lull you to another place. Highly recommended and limited to 500 copies, so you'll want to snag a copy of this before it is gone like the dream you had this morning. This album weighs in at around 55 minutes.

Shhh…: s/t

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 04 2013
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Artist: Shhh… (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Thisco (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of the band Shhh'¦., but it's at least an interesting name. Evidently this is the work of one Rui Bentes, but the website for the artist tells little in the bio. Thankfully, the music speaks for itself. The album starts out by telling us that 'This is going to be a wild ride ' Don't panic' (it seems to be a sample from Existenz by David Cronenberg). Trashy beats kick in and we're off. Think Sonar, only less repetitive. But then it all slows down and eventually takes a more minimalist turn as we are dropped into an ominous soundscape. The album then careens between these two extremes with noisy beats and atmosphere. This is a bit more varied in style than the other album that came in the package (Low Lights), which seems to give it a bit more of a sense of balance. Overall this is a pretty fun ride. This album weighs in at around 45 minutes.

James Ross and Paul Muller: East/West

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 04 2013
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Artist: James Ross and Paul Muller (@)
Title: East/West
Format: CD
Label: Ventura Contemporary Music (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of these artists, but Paul Muller describes himself thus: 'I am an active Lutheran interested in new church music. I sing in the Sanctuary Choir at Trinity Lutheran Church, Ventura and play in the brass section of the Cal Lutheran Orchestra. I write contemporary choral and instrumental pieces for church services and hope to contribute post-classical music to the wider church.' Ross, according to the liner notes, is a Brooklyn based guitarist and composer. They describe the album as 'a collaboration of east and west coast sounds of ambient new music.' I have to admit that as it started up, it sounded like something off an old Narada sampler. I thought, 'did they really send new age to Chain DLK?' The cover art only reinforced this sentiment. This is split up with Ross taking the first four tracks and Muller taking the next four. Stylistically, Ross brings the minimal guitar work while Muller dissolves into nice, peaceful, droney ambience. Of the two, Muller's works are stronger on this album. Overall this is not really an album that challenges the listener, but sometimes you want something to fade into the background. This would be good music to put on and settle in with a book or perhaps if you wanted to set some kind of a mood ' if you catch my drift ' this may be a good one to throw on. Not amazing, but a pleasant listen. The price is right if you want to download it, as you can do so for free at the artist link above. This album weighs in at around 59 minutes.

Corvuz: Invisible Landscapes

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 04 2013
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Artist: Corvuz (@)
Title: Invisible Landscapes
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this Russian artist, and have had only some exposure to the Zhelezobeton label, but a quick glance at the cover art and titles like 'Roots, Stones, and Earth Draught,' 'Labyrinths of Darkness,' and 'Through the Night Mist' told me that it would likely be a pleasant slab of dark ambience. Here is how the label describes this album: ''Invisible Landscapes' is dark ambient recorded with a typical Russian approach combining homage to native traditions, deeply melancholic contemplation and powerful thirst for the beyond. Dark red embers, twilight, wind sways over tree crowns, lost eyesight of the consciousness wandering in forest labyrinths and gradually dissolving in the infinite circle of life and death... Rich sound of Soviet analogue synthesizers, a bit of field recordings, voice samples and digital processing - this is the palette used for creating this image.' I'll admit that I was unaware that there was a 'Russian approach,' but overall this is pretty good. The album is a mixture of dark ambient styles, which I find works well. The different styles are not really jarring, but instead complement each other. The cavern-like drones reminiscent of Lustmord are present and accounted for. There are also some elements of analogue synthwork here, such as in the intro to 'Invisible Landscapes,' which reminded me of Cabaret Voltaire's 'Exterminating Angel' on their album 'The Conversation.' There are also nice, long passages of drone that shift slowly with melodic elements woven throughout. We hear disembodied voices and subdued noises within the drones, but they are so deep in the music that one cannot really hear what they say. Worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 58 minutes.

Kshatriy: Transforming Galaxy

 Posted by eskaton   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Feb 04 2013
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Artist: Kshatriy (@)
Title: Transforming Galaxy
Format: CD
Label: Muzyka Voln (@)
Rated: *****
Kshatriy is the work of Sergey Uak-Kib, who hails from Vsevolozhsk, Russia. I was unfamiliar with his work, but had heard some other releases on the label. You can often get a sense of what you are in for by looking at the cover art of the album. In this case, the impression is pretty accurate ' you're in for some spacey ambience. According to the label, 'The album is dedicated to the end of Kali-Yuga - the age of technocratic lack of spirituality and moral decay - and to the attainment of human awareness of the Unity. Eight hasteless compositions of psychedelic drone ambient combine a light atmosphere with deep multilayerness, crystal clear sound transparency with mild and sometimes uneasy melodies. Soft organic tracks full of plangent drones, noises and natural recordings neighbor with dense and saturated hymns to Hindu goddess Kali.' I'm not quite sure this comes through the music (that's the problem with dark ambient, isn't it?), but there is a good mixture of synthetic and organic sound source as synth drone combines with field recordings of birds, dogs, etc. But this is not really just peaceful drone. There is an edge to it at times, which is somewhat reminiscent of Inade's work. I suppose this makes sense, as Wikipedia notes that 'the 'Kali' of Kali Yuga means 'strife, discord, quarrel, or contention.'' The liner notes likewise state that 'In the era of Kali-Yuga our concepts of the world are completely chaotic.' I would file this under what James Keeler of Wilt fame calls 'dark noise.' If you want to check it out, you can listen to the whole album at the label's Bandcamp site. You should ' it's worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 78 minutes. Limited to 500 copies.


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