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Saul Stokes - Villa Galaxia

Artist: Saul Stokes
Title: Villa Galaxia
Label: Binary/Stokesmusic (hyby0808)




2008. Always one of the most popular artists on the Hypnos and Binary labels through the years, Saul Stokes is also one we've been very proud to "launch" into the ambient/electronica world, going back to Saul's first album which was also the first album on Hypnos, Washed in Mercury in 1997. The first new work by Saul Stokes on Hypnos/Binary since Fields in 2005, this is certainly one of the most anticipated discs we've released in years.

Saul Stokes says: Stokes’ 8th solo album to date, Villa Galaxia is a hyperfusion of sonic exploration seeded in Stokes’ seminary music past, while arcing into a completely new genre defining collection of songs. Stripping away any notion of ambient drone or chill out labeling, Villa Galaxia surfs its own ocean of contemporary electronic music culture with eccentric listenable experimentalism wrapped in catchy lyrical orchestras of electronic fireworks.

Mirko Ruckels, aka recording artist Deepspace, says: "Hello Radar" is a great opening track, featuring wide-eyed crispy keyboard sounds, and a nice moody bassline. I can feel that I'm really going to like this- you know the feeling, when an album taps you on the shoulder and goes, "Are you ready? we are about to become good friends...." It happens far too infrequently don't you think. "Vapor trails" Slightly melancholy second track- with some great outro key washes. yay. "Blaze" is completely different and brings the album to a, dare I use the word, "chilled" place with it's slightly more, well, serious and blue feeling. I really like the big sunny melodies on "Night Painting". Vibrant, primary colours, sweet sounds. Fingerpainting. "Eta Car is a massive Star" sounds like an epic Mario Bros game, full of detail and shimmering pixely effects (I don't know what that means either). Really lovely. This is an excellent album that will attract many listeners. It's full of nooks and crannies and quite delirious. I like! Nay, love! Bravo Saul!

Villa Galaxia could be characterized as a bit of a throwback to an earlier Stokes sound, a bit simplified and less focused on pretty melodics than Saul's more recent work like Fields and Vast. Whether Saul's work is more about the melodies or the rhythms or the ambience, it always retains the the sound & feel of a Saul Stokes album.

Track listing with mp3 sample clips
hello radar
vapor trails
blaze
night painting
eta car is a massive star
future gamma
embedded in amber
interrupted by time

Purchase direct for $10.99



Reviews

"With Villa Galaxia, Saul Stokes has realized the most playful recording of his career: springy in step and lactating purple, it even mischievously tugs at the fringes of (god help us) “electropop”. But don’t get too alarmed: this is a marvelously vibrant, engaging work of contemporary electronica that finds Stokes charting unexplored territory with his usual idiosyncratic gusto. Outerspace music, rendering the covers of antiquarian sci-fi mags Astounding and Fantastic in glorious harmonicolor, Stokes’s sonic bric-a-brac would find favor from those whose collections sport Bill Nelson as well as early Morr sides and magic fealties long ago forged by IDMistic platterpusses Aphex Twin or Bochum Welt. But Stokes is a true original, a savvy composer who refuses to merely tweak paradigms, boost plug-in ratios or jump to Warp nine with his controls locked to the heart of the sun. The sheer joviality of this recording is impossible to shake—like the spaceage art nouveau so relished by his colleague, Stokes goes back to the future encumbered in a cozy full Nelson. Other folks subconsciously flavor the stew as well: “Hello Radar” works Mouse on Mars rubberband rhythm-snaps into a gaseous Stokes configuration that pops and bubbles like the most exotic Stereolab experiments. “Vapor Trails” revels wholeheartedly in its old-school moog refrains and bleep coagulant. “Eta Car Is a Massive Star” (Stokes' gift for titular designation improves on each successive recording like a fine vintage) explodes in a frenzy of jocular snares, boiling beaker beeps and candystriped synths. And the beat/tone clusters perambulating through “Interrupted by Time” mandates tripping to the moon on (synthetic) gossamer wings, the artist smitten by his digital crushes, noises that fizz, fuzz, and fan out in equal measure, charged by headspinning rhythms agog in zero gravity. Quark strangeness and charm, Stoked by stardust."
--Reviewed by Darren Bergstein, eimagonline.com

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"Saul Stokes makes a welcome return to Hypnos on their Binary sublabel with Villa Galaxia. First, mention must be made of the exceptional cover art, simple but effective in its use of colors, shapes, lines, and texture. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what Stokes is able to do with sound. He shapes and colors it to his liking, creating tracks like concise complex sonic puzzles. “Hello Radar” is irresistibly catchy, from the electronic sounds to the complex rhythms to the hints of static and distortion that give it just the right edge to avoid being just a bit too cute. If there were musical justice in the world, either this or “Vapor Trails” would be a hit single, it they have all the makings of one except that the public at large seems unable to handle instrumentals. The shuffling bass and beat of the latter number are very cool. “Blaze” takes me back to older Stokes classics like “First Jump” on Zo Pilots with its quirky beat and hip synthesizer sensibility. Trademark punchy percussion gets “Night Painting” started, and it builds from there. The most fun, both in name and in sound, is the playful “Eta Car is a Massive Star,” although it makes an abrupt surprising turn midway through. The emphasis throughout Villa Galaxia is on bright tones and colors, carefully put together into neat little packages. No need to put a calling card on each one indicating who they are from; they are thoroughly, unabashedly Stokes."
--Reviewed by Phil Derby, www.electroambientspace.com

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"Top 10 Echoes CDs of 2008."
--Echoes radio host John Diliberto

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"Can't get enough of this one. Does something weird to time. There are so many sonic surprises tucked away in this. Each listen is like a festival between the ears..."
--9dragons on the Hypnos Forum

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"Saul Stokes makes a welcome return to Hypnos on their Binary sublabel with Villa Galaxia. First, mention must be made of the exceptional cover art, simple but effective in its use of colors, shapes, lines, and texture. Come to think of it, that’s exactly what Stokes is able to do with sound. He shapes and colors it to his liking, creating tracks like concise complex sonic puzzles. “Hello Radar” is irresistibly catchy, from the electronic sounds to the complex rhythms to the hints of static and distortion that give it just the right edge to avoid being just a bit too cute. If there were musical justice in the world, either this or “Vapor Trails” would be a hit single, it they have all the makings of one except that the public at large seems unable to handle instrumentals. The shuffling bass and beat of the latter number are very cool. “Blaze” takes me back to older Stokes classics like “First Jump” on Zo Pilots with its quirky beat and hip synthesizer sensibility. Trademark punchy percussion gets “Night Painting” started, and it builds from there. The most fun, both in name and in sound, is the playful “Eta Car is a Massive Star,” although it makes an abrupt surprising turn midway through. The emphasis throughout Villa Galaxia is on bright tones and colors, carefully put together into neat little packages. No need to put a calling card on each one indicating who they are from; they are thoroughly, unabashedly Stokes."
--Reviewed by Phil Derby / Electroambient Space www.electroambientspace.com

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"This CD 2008 offers 56 minutes of bouncy electronic music.

Haunting electronics combine with percussion to generate tuneage of a relaxing nature tinged with an edge of peppy vitality. Stokes’ style of using unconventional sound is in high fashion with this release, offering the listener a wide variety of strangeness harnessed to produce songs that reach beyond that weirdness to deliver pleasantly bouncy melodies.

Diversely squeaky sounds are delivered in rapid-fire succession and then molded into melodies of strikingly peaceful disposition. This contrast holds much appeal: generating appealing tuneage from a selection of quirky sounds. Using keyboards and looping techniques, Stokes produces sinuous riffs that glisten like alien honey.

The electronics are utilized more as frontal threads with minimal textural foundations, relying on layering these lead tracks to accomplish fluid cohesion. Generally guided by keyboards, the notes are conventionally delivered in a melodic structure.

The percussion used on this album exhibits a strange organic quality despite its obvious artificial generation. The beats are often muted as if swaddled in an electrified gauze. Again, Stokes’ self-made gear produces source sounds that are highly different, resulting in the tempos defying normal classification--again, a major reason for their esoteric allure.

The presence of processed guitar adds a delightful edge to a few tracks, their buzzy chords settling nicely into the mix.

A bevy of odd sounds propel the music, but their application repudiates their oddness. These compositions achieve a remarkable accessibility with their dreamy intentions and lively execution."
--Reviewed by Matt Howarth, Sonic Curiosity

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"In another time, say the 1950s or 60s, Saul Stokes might have been considered an experimental composer, constructing his own instruments, creating random events, bypassing conventional musical form. But rarely has an experimental composer made music as haunting and soulful as that heard on his new CD, Villa Galaxia.

Saul Stokes has certainly recorded his share of abstract electronic music. He even has an album called Abstraction. But on albums like his new CD, Villa Galaxia, he reins in his sonic experiments, welding them together with his controllers and computers, building structure out of chaos, and resolving it all in music that shares a Mobyesque sense of melancholy.

Along with Brian Eno, Saul Stokes composed music for the video game Spore. As you listen to Villa Galaxia you might feel like you’re inside one of those games in a kinetic ride of pings and zings, surging chords and exploding timbres that carry you through each scene. It’s a sound that expands beyond the confines of the computer screen into a cinema of the mind.

Fans of William Orbit, Ulrich Schnauss and Boards of Canada should find resonance in the music of Saul Stokes. His latest album is Villa Galaxia. This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music."
--The Echoes Blog, by John Diliberto

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"Operating at the heart of electronic music, Saul Stokes' work has been primarily an exploration of timbre and the character of sound. On Villa Galaxia (55'45") Stokes does not ditch the experimental ambiance he took so long to develop, but surprises us with eight tightly arranged and focused works. With the path of each piece following imaginative accelerating percussion and charged synthetic rhythms, the energy level of this CD wanders into the realm of more contemporary releases. Yet, with its fascinating arrangement and wealth of original tones and sonic coloration, Villa Galaxia will please the bobbing club hipster as much as the prone head-tripper. In this finely tuned collage of grainy beats, squiggly synths and twisting tones each song bursts with vitality and warmth. An album of its time, spanning and transcending electronica's musical moment, Stokes channels the era of the synthesizer."
--Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END

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"Rhythm plays an important role in the music of Stokes, but as noted with his previous release, 'Vast' (Vital Weekly 519), Stokes is not the man to play click and cut rhythms with some shady ambient sauce. Both the rhythm and the synthesizers are on par with eachother - they are equally important to him. Stokes himself says that is strips 'away any notion of ambient drone or chill out labeling', but I may not entirely agree with him there. This music certainly owes much to the ambient house genre of more than a decade ago, even when his beats are not strictly four to the floor affairs. His beats support the music, and the music support the beats, and his rhythms are more complex than simple dance floor beats, yet nevertheless they are reminiscent that. Not that it really matters - in ambient music (with or without rhythm) there hasn't been much innovation, and it doesn't come through the music of Stokes either. I didn't expect that. This is music that should be valued inside its genre and as such Stokes plays some mighty pleasant pieces music. Music to relax by, while tapping your feet along to it."
--Reviewed by Frans DeWaard, Vital Weekly

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"Vapor Trails and, Night Painting especially, for me, are wonderful, wonderful tracks. I love this album. You have a new fan, Saul. Thank you for this great work. Your music is the feeling of scaling to greater heights from deep in a green grassy valley. Open, fresh evening air. Multiple dimensions and possibilities of existence flickering in and out like a great flux in the multiverse. It feels strident. Somehow aware of what the cosmos means. The electrical impulses are all heightened. My amateur attempt at some poetry to describe the emotions it conjures in me. Again, thank you!"
--Reviewed by axiontheory on the Hypnos Forum

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"Can't get enough of this one. Does something weird to time. There are so many sonic surprises tucked away in this. Each listen is like a festival between the ears."
--Reviewed by 9dragons on the Hypnos Forum