Wednesday, July 15, 2020
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Music Reviews

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Artist: Kelly David (@)
Title: Meditation in Green
Format: CD
Label: Spotted Peccary (@)
Rated: *****
Like many of the artists on Spotted Peccary, I was unfamiliar with this artist. The label describes it as “a psychedelic musical journey deep into the heart of Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta. Guided by rich ambient textures, manipulated field recordings, traditional instruments, and a blend of cultural and electronic percussion, the album offers a surreal sonic sojourn into a mysterious land defined by the power of a river and its influence, where nature has always been the dominant force.”

This is a nice mix of field recordings and synth work. For me, the standout track was “Imperial City of Drone,” which is a good exercise in dissonance. It’s heavy without being oppressive, like the aural representation of an oncoming storm. There is the occasional percussion thrown in, as with “A Bend in the River,” and the gong that kicks off “Laukoo.” Overall, this is a pleasant trip down the river. If you are looking for a trip down the rapids, this is not the one for you. On the other hand, if you want to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the river, this would do the trick. This album weighs in at around 58 minutes.


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Artist: Rudy Adrian (@)
Title: Woodlands
Format: CD
Label: Spotted Peccary (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this New Zealand based artist, but he knows a bit about woodlands, having completed a degree in botany. The liner notes state that “Woodlands is a reflection of the pleasures of walking through leafy glades, sheltered under the spreading boughs of forest trees.”

A walk in the forest can be peaceful and beautiful, but a turn of the light or the shadow of the overhead canopy can make that same forest seem sinister and ominous. You can suddenly feel completely alone as the animals that have been watching you make you aware that you have invaded their home and that you are the outsider here. Adrian’s music takes a similar approach. One minute you are listening to a pleasant droning composition with field recordings of birds chirping and ethereal voices in “Fields in Evening Light” and the next minute the clouds have begun to amass overhead and the sun is darkened in “Lantern Walk.” Despite the moods evoked in them, what all of these compositions share is a heavy use of layers of drone to create atmosphere. The other elements are often sparse and simple, but there is enough variety to keep it simple. For me, the standout track on the disc was “Moonrise,” with lush pads over chimes and bells and what sounds like animals making noises. Overall, this is a pleasant listen and worth checking out if you want some calm, soothing music. This album weighs in at around 67 minutes.


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Artist: Craig Padilla & Marvin Allen
Title: Toward the Horizon
Format: CD
Label: Spotted Peccary (@)
Rated: *****
This is a collaboration between Craig Padilla on synthesizers and Marvin Allen on guitar, so we have some sense of what we are in for. According to the label, “Toward The Horizon is space music in every sense. Hypnotic, captivating, dreamy, and vivid, the music drifts from electronic soundscapes to atmospheric textures, at times swirling and spinning through dazzling sequences and epic soaring refrains.” So let’s see how it stacks up to this description.

The introduction to the title track reminds me a bit of The Durutti Column, and changes throughout the almost 18 minutes, even adding a beat at one point. But the bread and butter of this album is the spacey ambient drone. At times, such as in “Hidden,” the guitar is used more as atmosphere, which provides a nice texture to the composition. Still, they seem to enjoy switching it up, and in “Beneath the Surface” we combine that spacey ambient with a heavy beat and a jamming prog rock solo. Overall, this is a pleasant listen and they avoid falling into the trap that some of these albums fall into of having all of the tracks start sounding alike. This album weighs in at around 65 minutes.



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Artist: Chronotope Project
Title: Lotus Rising
Format: CD
Label: Spotted Peccary (@)
Rated: *****
According to the label, “‘Chronotope’ refers to the essential unity of space and time, a concept with numerous expressions in literature, physics and the arts. The music of Chronotope Project explores this time-space confluence and invites the listener on ambient journeys of deep texture infused with gentle pulsing rhythms and soulful melodies.” The artist adds that this album “focuses on the poignant image of the lotus flower – which ascends from the murky depths of desire and attachment to bloom in the light of realization – as Buddhism’s most recognizable symbol.”

This may give you some idea of what you are in for. To me, the general mood seems to aim for mysical and melancholy. Some of the tracks are pretty good, such as Opening the Hand of Thought (which for me was the standout track on the album) with its heavy drone and multiple arpeggiated synth lines, and Zazen, which is a peaceful track that reminds me of Voice of Eye's work. However, most of this album just didn't really work for me. It was pleasant listening in a "new age synth" sort of way, and the compositions are well put together, but for the second half of the album there was nothing that really reached out and grabbed me. Then again, your mileage may vary. This album weighs in at around 59 minutes.


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Artist: Sverre Knut Johansen and Robert Rich
Title: Precambrian
Format: CD
Label: Spotted Peccary (@)
Rated: *****
The excellent liner notes and gatefold artwork provide a visual of what you are about to encounter. It's rare that you have an album actually evokes the concept that is trying to illustrate. However, Sverre Knut Johansen and Robert Rich have managed to do just that and they did it with synthesizers and field recordings.As the label describes it, “Each track on Precambrian takes the listener through significant geological periods and evolutionary events of Earth’s 4.6 billion year history, bringing the epochs and eons to life through musical poetry and recorded natural sounds. The sonic landscapes, both organic and electronic, are always deep and captivating, evolving through abstract amorphous spaces, peaceful harmonious moods, and dramatic eventful moments.”

For the most part this is cinematic music that draws considerable amount of drone and other sound sources into it. Water drips, birds fly overhead, the wind rushes through the leaves, and you're left with the feeling that you're alone in the world. What makes this more impressive however is the fact that they managed to do it while keeping the analog feel of the synths. Their bleeps and bloops and complete electronic-ness blends seamlessly with the sounds of nature. As the CD progresses, the compositions become more and more traditional. For example,“Cenozoic Era” is a melancholy synth composition that has hardly any field recording at the forefront. Precambrian brings in a beat and ethereal female vocals that would be right at home on mid-90s Projekt or Hyperium Records releases, reminiscent of Karma-era Delirium. Overall, this is a pleasant listen and a good collaboration. Well worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 63 minutes.



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