Tuesday, August 11, 2020
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Music Reviews

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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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Artist: Halftribe
Title: Archipelago
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sound In Silence Records (@)
Rated: *****
Halftribe is the solo project of Ryan Bissett, an ambient/electronic music producer and DJ, born in Northern Ireland, residing in Manchester, UK. Since 2014 he has been producing his sublime music having released four albums and four EPs on labels such as Archives, Dronarivm, Vent Sounds, Dewtone Recordings and Silk Sofa Music. ‘Archipelago,’ Halftribe’s fifth full-length album and first for Sound In Silence, features eleven new compositions with a total duration of something less than 45 minutes. Bissett creates one of his best albums to date, skillfully blending together airy synths, soothing pads, hazy drones, delicate chimes, processed vocal samples, lo-fi plucked guitars, overlapping tones, looped crackles and calm field recordings.

Of course, all that is label promo description, but it's not far off the mark. On "Exposed" the listener is treated to a low, slowly oscillating drone tone with an intermittent low counter-melody and occasional chittering. "We Are Dust" begins with a slightly funerary vibe (loop) that is subtly expanded upon with cello and other minor low key elements. On "Broken Beams" an intermittent tone is struck over a constant background drone, then up turns a little melody. "Drops" is comprised of fragmented melodies over a held pad drone tone with a little bit of staticky noise sprinkled on it for good measure. The title track is comprised mostly of washes of noise drone with vague melodic content. "Fader" sounds as if it really wants to be a real song with voice-like melodic loops and a repeating half-formed melody. The undercurrent of rhythm in "Two Teaspoons Of Wishful Thinking" is the main thing that keeps this track alive, and is one of the tracks with the most musicality on the album, often threatening to become more than the simple idea it actually is.

Things head into the realm of abstract downtempo on the brief "Breather," but the follow-up, "Rejected," pulls the music back into elongated ambient drone, and "Subliminal" continues along this line, as well as "Imperfect," albeit with a little more melodicism. 'Archipelago' is an interesting work that sounds a bit like outtakes/demo ideas Eno never used for his Music For Films/ASmbient Series recordings, but that's not a bad thing at all. Once again, this is a limited edition of 200 handmade and hand-numbered collectible copies.


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Artist: Endless Melancholy (@)
Title: A Perception of Everything
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sound In Silence (@)
Rated: *****
Endless Melancholy is the self-descriptive music act of Oleksiy Sakevych, based in Kyiv, Ukraine. Since 2011 he has released six albums, a remix album, a compilation and many singles and EPs on various small labels. He has worked on collaboration/split releases with artists such as Desolate Horizons, Lights Dim and Hotel Neon, is also member of the post-rock band Sleeping Bear and has released music under the aliases of Moonshine Blues and bc_ranger.

'A Perception Of Everything' is the seventh full-length album by Endless Melancholy and his first for Sound In Silence. Inspired by traveling and visiting new places. it is made of field recordings made using a microcassette tape recorder, tape loops and synth pads. The music is ultra-ambient with a musicality that works hand-in-glove with elongated synth pads and drones; little light melodic touches that enhance a superbly relaxing environment. One track blends seamlessly into another on this 9-track album for about 40 minutes. True to the project's name, there is a wistful melancholy about some of the pieces ("Immersion" in particular comes to mind), and perhaps a sadness brought about by the current state of isolation, as well as a longing for people, places and events you have experienced before. Yet there is a certain amount of comfort in it, as if being wrapped in a quilty cocoon. Although darkness threatens on the edge, 'A Perception of Everything' provides a safe space in which to just chill and be. Subconsciously, some of the field recordings employed by Sakevych will undoubtedly stir memories in most listeners that are sure to bring about an emotional response. I think this album may hold a different meaning for every listener. It is an extraordinary ambient work that will be an asset to any collection in the genre.

This is a limited edition of 200 handmade and hand-numbered collectible copies. It is packaged in a lovely hand-stamped ivory cardboard envelope with the front cover image printed on a polaroid style photo paper and an insert sheet containing tracklist and information printed on azure cardboard. It also comes bundled with a download code coupon and a Sound In Silence card.



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