Ben Fleury-Steiner - Drifts
Artist: Ben Fleury-Steiner
Label: Hypnos Secret Sounds (Ltd CDR)
2008. Hypnos Secret Sounds reissue of an out-of-print early release on Fleury-Steiner's own Gears of Sand label. Drifts is a nice set of electronic ambient tracks combining different repeating loops which overlap at different rates, falling (or drifting?) in and out of sync with one another, creating ever-changing organic ambient textures. Mastered by Robert Rich.
01 - Sundial (3:08)
02 - Flicker (4:28)
03 - Descriptives (4:20)
04 - Dreams Pt. 1 (Somnium Scipionis) (3:54)
05 - Dreams Pt. 2 (Veritatis Splendor) (5:34)
06 - Dreams Pt. 3 (The Dust That Lies Between) (6:26)
07 - Dreams Pt. 4 (Absense In Remota) (11:45)
08 - Cicade (6:27)
09 - Tensile (4:44)
10 - Heal (4:02)
11 - Home (4:59)
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"Really nice. Reminds me of what I wish Terry Riley were doing today."
--Reviewed by THOM BRENNAN
"Though favoring the kind of broad sweeps that only irising analog filters so triumphantly utter, Fleury-Steiner is careful to avoid the kind of artful banality that has stifled the creative impetus of, say, the last decade of VangelisÕ output. Not for "ambiance" only, these sumptuous Drifts are too playfully captivating for casual ingestion."
--Reviewed by DARREN BERGSTEIN, e/i #7, winter/spring 2006
"Fleury-Steiner manages to work within a genre that seems to turn out new material as regularly as breathing, yet Drifts has an individual sound, a personality of its own - whilst ideal as aural ambiance it certainly doesn't sink blandly into the background, the structures are too engaging to ignore, too attractive to dismiss."
--Reviewed by PAUL JURY, Morpheus Music
"A good variety of all things ambient and electronic to be had here, blended in a unique way rather than just copying those who have gone before."
--Reviewed by PHIL DERBY Electroambientspace "Hypnos has made something of a habit of resurrecting out-of-print releases, with the latest an engrossing hour-long set by Ben Fleury-Steiner previously issued in 2005 on his own Gears of Sand label. Mastered by Robert Rich, the oft-mercurial material evidences a greater-than-normal level of activity and tension than the ambient listener might be accustomed to but there's no shortage of becalmed moments too. The album's stylistic character is immediately established in the opening piece “Sundial” when tones gracefully arc against a contrastingly bold backdrop of carousel-like organ percolations. In many of the subsequent ten pieces, a similar tension between hyperactivity and restfulness appears, with a few well-placed meditative excursions offering occasional bouts of relief: for every “Descriptives” and its Eno-like percussive flurries, in other words, there's a beatific setting of ambient calm such as “Heal.” Sometimes the two tendencies fuse into one, as happens during “Flicker” when shimmering floodlights rapidly cross paths until the pace slows to a state of frozen stillness, allowing the synthetic tones and washes to gently illuminate one another. “Cicada” similarly perpetuates the album's predilection for merging gently flowing melodies with nimble percussive patterning which, naturally, calls to mind the whirring chirp of the titular insects. There's even a four-part suite titled “Dreams” but don't be put off by the New Age taint of the title as the music proves amply rewarding. In the opening section (“Somnium Scipionis”), the restless churn of a machine rhythm underpins the constant flutter of congealing synth tones, and in the third (“The Dust That Lies Between”), frog-like croaks burble below the track's shimmering surfaces. In one of the album's most beautiful settings, the suite's second part, “Veritatis Splendor,” entrances with a yearning and unabashedly emotive character that emerges as fragile crystalline tones swell while the long-form fourth, “Absense In Remota,” impresses just as much when its soft, tranquil exhalations lend it an uplifting, even celestial quality."
--Reviewed by textura.org
"On the sub division Secret Sounds we find Ben Fleury-Steiner, an active musician in the field of atmospheric and electronic music, as well as being a label boss himself, for Gears Of Sand. His 'Drifts' release is a bit long and seems to working around the similar idea: rhythms are used, light weight instead of heavy bouncing dance pieces. Rhythms almost without bass end that guide the tapestries laid out on the bed of synthesizers (analogue or digital. I don't know but I think the latter). It's not always an easy marriage of the two ends, but at least, and that I think is the great thing about this release, he tries to move out the closed circle of ambient music. The rhythms don't add up to being ambient house, since they are not smooth enough, but have a wider sense of experimentalism, which at least tries to shed new lights on the subject of ambient music. That alone is worth your attention, me thinks."
--Reviewed by Frans DeWaard, Vital E-Zine
"Ben Fleury-Steiner's release "Drifts"" is a fantastic combination of dreamlike ambience paired with melodic phrases and repeated samples. While many electronic artists have a tendancy to focus on one style, Fleury-Steiner is willing to take chances and pair different sound sources in a very successful and effective way. The mood is set with opener "Sundial" where percolating synths and a collection of looping patterns blend beautifully together. ÒFlickerÓ follows, a piece where analog pulses and pads give a sense of breathing and life, creating an organic feeling that immediately connects with the listener. ÒDescriptivesÓ incorporates minimal percussive elements amidst a framework of flowing pads. It works to great effect, maintaining the floating calm of the ambient ideal, but again adding a human element to the track. Very nice. The four part ÒDreamsÓ suite follows, with the first segment ÒSomnium ScipionisÓ presenting a constantly shifting landscape of sounds and forms. Up next is ÒVeritable SplendorÓ with a lush and beautiful latticework of sweeping and floating sounds that dance around the soundfield, shifting around and through each other. ÒThe Dust That Lies BetweenÓ follows a similar vein, adding short analog phrases that repeat throughout the course of the track. ÒAbsens in RemotaÓ completes the suite, a long form piece that incorporates thematic ideals from the earlier songs in the cycle and bringing them all together. ItÕs very nice work, a lovely example of conceptual ambience. Track eight, ÒCicadaÓ, uses higher pitched tones and backwards looping to distinguish itself from the previous tracks. ItÕs nicely done, and while stylistically it differs from previous tracks on the disc, it still maintains a thematic consistency that works well. ÒTrack nine, ÒTensileÓ features a buzzing lead line that plays overtop a low drone based background. ÒHealÓ follows, a calm and meditative ambient track where tones weave and loop around each other. ÒHomeÓ closes the disc with bubbling tones taking on a percussive role for a collection of samples and tones, creating a very interesting example of locational ambience. ÒDriftsÓ is a disc that captures the imagination and inspires the senses. ItÕs a fantastic synthesis of sounds and styles, and a wonderful example of how differing sounds can be brought together to create something fresh and exciting. A wonderful piece of work!
--Reviewed by RIK MACLEAN, PING THINGS
"This CD from 2005 offers 60 minutes of lightly coarse ambience. Combining shrill sounds with vaporous resonance, this music ventures just beyond the normal background aspect exemplified by most ambient compositions. While the tonalities never reach any degree of harshness, they are generally more piercing that conventional ambience. Mixed with fragile atmospheric swells, these grittier sounds are sedated, made more sympathetic. This union produces a curious temperance that is refreshing. Mechanical grindings swim in a pool of shimmering clouds. Sparkling chords coexist with twilight drones. Bass gurgles penetrate swaying notes that vibrate with a peculiar luminosity. Playful diodes sigh in tandem with lavish textural spreads. While normal ambient compositions take their time slowly evolving into a substantial presence, these tunes get right to the point, then embellish on their themes with engaging variations. With the exception of one twelve minute piece, the tracks average about five minutes in duration, suiting their compressed directness. This longer track pursues an unhurried path in the same mode, blending celestial passages with demonstrative punctuations in a manner that transcends time and space, resulting in an entertaining excursion into nebulous realms of slightly edgy disposition. This release was mastered by ambient pioneer, Robert Rich."
--Reviewed by MATT HOWARTH, SONIC CURIOSITY