Various Artists - The Other World (2CD)
Title: The Other World (2CD)
Label: Hypnos Recordings
This first compilation on Hypnos brings together 19 of today's most talented and visionary artists, including Vidna Obmana, A Produce, Jeff Greinke, Ron Boots, Jeff Pearce and many others. All 19 tracks are exclusive.
Roster of Artists and Tracks:
Vidna Obmana "Approaching the Glaze"
Ruben Garcia and A Produce "Rhyolite"
Thomas Ronkin "The Gates of Sleep"
Saul Stokes "(Never Ending) Halogen Sparrows"
A Produce "Midnight Pond"
Jeff Greinke "Humid"
Ron Boots "Among the Stars"
M. Griffin "Dyslerium"
David Tollefson "Exqoor (Illusive mix)"
Larry Kucharz "1976 no. 5a"
Meg Bowles "Adrift in the Arms of Morpheus"
Exit "Sleep 1 (Lucid Mix)"
Alpha Wave Movement "Subterranean (Unknown Depth Mix)"
Robert Scott Thompson "Curvature"
Viridian Sun "Interia Sol"
Jeff Pearce "The Sacred Descent"
Katsuya Hironaka "Entrance"
Richard Bone "Via Mycropia"
Purchase 2CD direct for $12.99
Reviews"Top 20 of 1998 (#1)."
--Scott Raymond / "Secret Music" / WVKR Radio
"Best Compilation of 1998."
--Phil Derby / Wind and Wire Magazine
"Top 20 of 1998 (#5)."
--Eric Meece / Mystic Music / KKUP Radio
"I know it's early in the year, but no way does this fail to make my 1998 top 10."
--Paul Cary / KBIA Radio
"Best Multi-Disc release of 1998."
--Scott Brodie / Nightflight Awards / CHRW Radio, Ontario, Canada
"Top 10 of 1998."
--David Opdyke / The AmbiEntrance
"This double CD features 142 minutes of previously unreleased material by musicians exploring the non-physical realm. Included are:
Vidna Obmana: Shuffling sounds immersed in dreamy textures.
Ruben Garcia & A Produce: Melodic riffs restrained to a breathing nature.
Thomas Ronkin: Ambience at the doorway of slumber, punctuated by fuzzy heartbeat, piano reminders, and smoothly chittering memories.
Saul Stokes: A moody excursion into synthetic clouds with eerie cues and incidence of approaching alien lifeforms. (Recorded live in Vancouver.)
A Produce: Immaterial pools of darkness twinkle with pulsations and delicate keyboards.
Jeff Greinke: A brief atonal examination of humidity.
Ron Boots: Interstellar ambience with evidence of curious anomalies passed en route to a distant star.
M. Griffin (from Viridian Sun): Soothing textures with a hint of astral tension.
David Tollefson (from Viridian Sun): Grinding air to achieve an elusive quality. (Illusive mix by M. Griffin.)
Egghatcher: Textural sweeps that fuse minimalist and atonal qualities.
Larry Kucharz: Sparse sonics with silent pauses.
Meg Bowles: Inner head ambience, accompanied by denser attributes that accrete into more definition.
Exit: The nature of sleep is explored by cortical stimulation. (Lucid mix by M. Griffin.)
Alpha Wave Movement: Softly hissing and brooding earthiness. (Unknown Depth mix by M. Griffin.)
Robert Scott Thompson: Light broaching a horizon is transformed into sonic waves.
Viridian Sun: The interior of Earth's sun is examined with calming textures and slowbuilding tension.
Jeff Pearce: Introspection converted into peaceful ambience. (Sacred mix by M. Griffin.)
Katsuya Hironaka: Sighing resonance structured with hollow sounds and moody tones.
Richard Bone: Traditional piano blends with melodic electronics of a delicate nature and sinuously distant tempos."
--Matt Howarth, space.com
"...a who's-who of the experimental/electronic underground. Vidna Obmana, Ruben Garcia, A Produce, Alpha Wave Movement, Robert Scott Thompson, Richard Bone, Larry Kucharz and the usual Hypnos suspects are on hand interpreting atmospheres, visiting unknown quadrants, jacknifing across the cosmos, reveling in stasis and acceding to entropy. Ambience is the defining credo on The Other World, though some twists and turns are taken by Stokes, Greinke and Richard Bone (on his "Via Mycropia"), to name a few. Ultimately, this is a sterling collection hosting some of the genre's emerging and enduring players."
--Darren Bergstein / i/e Magazine
"Mike Griffin's Hypnos label deserves a special mention this year, for its consistently high-quality releases. THE OTHER WORLD is perhaps one of the finest various-artist compilations of space-music ever, and while not all of the artists are household names, the music is first-rate, perfectly sequenced, and beautifully packaged." Cliff Tuel, Space Music mailing list
"This CD from Hypnos, a new and very promising American label, is an optimal showcase for both the well-known and lesser-known: Vidna Obmana ("Approaching the Glaze" resumes his electro-ethnic direction explorated with Steve Roach), Greinke, and Ruben Garcia in collaboration with A Produce (a splendid piece), as well as Ron Boots & Robert Scott Thompson (the latter increasingly interesting).
In addition to these big names, there is a list of new talents who will be much-discussed in coming years: Viridian Sun, Saul Stokes, and Thomas Ronkin. Remember these names, for the future is theirs.
Also, Jeff Pearce highlights the entire disc with his "The Sacred Descent.'"
(translated from Italian by Sonya Jorgensen)
--Deep Listenings Magazine (Italy)
"Every so often something will come along from the USA that manages to outdo the classics of a particular genre that have gone before. Well, in the case of traditional USA space synth you have had the giants such as Roach, Burmer, Stearns & Braheny, plus the timeless Western Spaces album. Now, prepare for THE most amazing space synth album that you will have heard in this style for many a long year. There are 19 tracks, all exclusive to this album, with 142 minutes of slowly drifting, flowing, vast expanses of sonic landscapes that will have you completely transfixed on yet another timless album. Artists featured include the Hypnos people plus Vidna Obmana, A Produce, Meg Bowles, Jeff Pearce, Richard Bone, Ruben Garcie + A Produce, and many more from the new 90s space synth stable of musicians. Fantastic!"
--CD Services newsletter (Scotland)
"Hypnos Recordings, an American label, displays with this compilation a very calming musical tone, and a personality distinct from such "giant" labels as Fathom. Artists of reputation (Vidna Obmana, Ron Boots, Richard Bone, A Produce, Alpha Wave Movement) and a multitude of names new to me (Saul Stokes, Meg Bowles...) make their statements in this broad spectrum of ambient musics, with for example the ambience of Vidna Obmana, the languid electronics of Saul Stokes, and the pure atmospherics of Jeff Pearce.
Other strong moments include the collaboration of Ruben Garcia and A Produce, (with a very "spacious" composition), and a more experimental effort by Mike Griffin (label founder and director). However, the accumulation of different formations of sonic timbres at times very nearly cause a lull in attention at the listener. an attaching opportunity to discover a label which is not it less."
(translated from French by Monsieur Griffin)
--David Fabre, Continuum (Orleans, France)
"This is a very sophisticated, state of the art collection. The Hypnos label is to be commended. Their selection of artists is impeccable. There is not an "off" piece to be had. As an overview of contemporary space/trance/ambient music, The Other World beautifully demonstrates the sophistication and subtle variety that is currently being elicited by some of its greatest exponents. Many artists whose work has been recently reviewed in Wind & Wire are featured (although no background notes about them are provided here). Because this is a double CD set, the songs are not compromised by being abbreviated; most songs are at least 7 to 8 minutes in length. Total playing time for both disks is almost 2 1/2 hours and some 19 artists are featured.
Deep space/ambient works comprise the main body of TOW. Vidna Obmana ("Approaching the Glaze"), Meg Bowles ("Adrift In the Arms of Morpheus"), Ron Boots ("Among the Stars"), Robert Scott Thompson ("Curvature"), Viridian Sun ("Interia Sol"), Jeff Pearce ("The Sacred Descent"), Katsuya Hironaka ("Entrance"), M. Griffin ("Dyslerium"), and David Tollefson ("Exqoor") all contribute excellent examples. And lest you drift out too far into a zoned-out trance, there are also a few darker pieces in this collection to keep you on your toes -- Jeff Grienke ("Humid"), Saul Stokes ("[Never Ending] Halogen Sparrows"), and Egghatcher ("Sweep"). Exit ("Sleep 1") and Alpha Wave Movement ("Subterranean") lie somewhere in the middle. You'll hear the minimalistically perfect, windswept keyboards of Ruben Garcia on "Rhyolite." A Produce also has a solo work -- the denser and more complex "Midnight Pond." His sound continues to evolve in exciting ways. Thomas Ronkin contributes an amazingly epic piece ("The Gates of Sleep"). Larry Kucharz' "1976 #5A" stands out for its slow, stop-and-go pulsing drone -- an approach that I found fascinating. Richard Bone's "Via Mycropia" sounds like three separate pieces and is the only track to include any vocals (a treated Terence McKenna quotation?). There is really too much material here to give each piece the fullness of description that it deserves. As always, the proof is in the listening. The bottom line on The Other World -- get out your wallets or purses, gang; you're just going to have to buy this one."
--review by Mann Makula Hawks / WIND AND WIRE Magazine
"Mike Griffin, the man behind the Hypnos label, must have made a deal with the devil. On The Other World he has assembled a veritable Who's Who of ambient, ambient noir and deep space music. The result is a literal super compilation. The devil deal is doubly inferred because this is music of shadows, darkness, and mystery. Music for a trip across the river Styx perhaps? When I first heard about some of the artists he had gathered for the project I was very impressed! Talk about star power!
With musicians like Vidna Obmana, A Produce (assisted by Ruben Garcia on one cut) Thomas Ronkin, Meg Bowles, Jeff Pearce, Jeff Greinke, Robert Scott Thompson, Richard Bone, Ron Boots, Larry Kucharz, Alpha Wave Movement, and more (including Mike himself), this is like the ambient equivalent of the NBA All-Star game. The difference though is that these superstars really do play together well. Each cut, while distinctly different, flows together into the mix across both of these CDs.
Fans will recognize the quasi-tribal drift of Obmana, the trancey ambience of A Produce ("Rhyolite" is a standout cut), the otherworldly industrial wanderings of Jeff Greinke, Larry Kucharz' full chords and unique use of silence, Meg Bowles' extremely deep space washes, and Jeff Pearce's smooth and hauntingly beautiful space-guitar. And that is just the tip of the (black) iceberg (that's a little cyber-reference for you William Gibson fans out there).
As for my favorites on the disc, I couldn't even begin to tell you. There are artists on The Other World that I had never heard of before (David Tollefson, Exit, Katsuya Hironaka, Egghatcher) and artists I simply hadn't heard yet (Viridian Sun and Saul Stokes, both of whom record for Hypnos). But whatever my previous exposure to the musicians on this compilation, I do know that this is one of the best ambient/ambient noir collections ever recorded. All of these songs are previously unreleased which makes Mike's accomplishment that much greater. If you're a fan of electronic web-weaving of the darker variety, this is the one to buy. But, while you're descending into its depths, be sure you have some coins for Charon. You can't ride his boat for free."
--review by Bill Binkelman / WIND AND WIRE Magazine
"(Hypnos owner) Mike Griffin again has succeeded in a great effort: he managed to select an extraordinary cast out of today's best ambient- composers, who contribute to this double CD sampler of over 142 minutes.... The listener can step stones in sonic explorations ranging from space and trance music (Jeff Pearce, Vidna Obmana, Ronkin, A Produce, and Ron Boots) to the more ambient-noir stuff (by all of Hypnos' own artists, and Egghatcher). All in all an outstanding collection of atmospheric/ambient music which I highly recommend."
(translated from Dutch by the reviewer)
--Bert Strolenberg / KLEM Magazine
"'The Other World' is surely the largest collection of true Ambient artists I've run into in a while. Apart from the obvious well-known faces of Jeff Greinke and Vidna Obmana, this two CD collection also features all four artists currently on the Hypnos Recordings roster, Viridian Sun, Saul Stokes, Mike Griffin and David Tollefson, as well as more than ten artists I've never heard before.
Musically the collection is very diverse which is to be expected with such a diverse cross-section of composers. Almost all the tracks are beatless, instead choosing to utilize strings, brass and woodwinds to compose a bewildering array of ambience. The tracks can be broken rather evenly into two categories, the first being those that utilize natural elements such as water and wind, and those who use purely electronic synthesis in their compositions.
Standout tracks include Saul Stokes's '(Never Ending) Halogen Sparrows' which stands out as unique with its deep bass ripples and mechanical instrumentation, David Tollefson's 'Exqoor' which was composed entirely on a guitar, albeit a bit filtered and flanged, and Alpha Wave Movement's 'Subterranean' which utilizes its namesake alpha waves to induce an almost cathertic state. If you are looking for a collection of soothing electronic and harmonic atmospheres then 'The Other World' will certainly fit your needs."
--Sonic Boom WebZine
"This 2-CD set released on the Hypnos label is a must for devotees of drifting space synth music. Over two hours long and divided into 19 tracks with contributions from Meg Bowles, Jeff Pearce and A Produce -- plus a host of other artists of this genre. A great set -- you won't be disappointed."
--Midas Synth Catalogue listing
"In some dream, M. Griffin swept his net across the ambient nightskies, and gathered an assortment of variously shining stars. He asked the stars to convey their wisdom... to tell us in their own ways about that Other World beyond daily human perception. Their answers are chronicled here on two wonderfully spacey CDs.
A crossing of interests in ambience and meditation brought Griffin to the conception of a CD wherein artists would express musical thoughts on a singular notion. "The compilation was planned around a theme, because I wanted all the tracks to be unified in some sense, while still reflecting the sensibilities of the individual artists," Griffin says.
And there are many contributors... 19 ambient artists of varying degrees of renown fill two CDs with tracks ranging from 4:38 to 9:57 in length (averaging approx. 7.20, if you really want to know). The sheer number of tracks prevents me from going into full detail, but every track brings its own little aura. Most are transcendental in a percussionless, deep-space mode, as opposed to a collective tantric "om".
Disc One begins with Vidna Obmana's presentation of approaching the glaze, which features hazy layers of floating sound, and subtle, shuffling accents. Slow bell tones, synth and windshifts form rhyolite by Ruben Garcia & A Produce. A slow stellar drift is decorated with sweeping synth strings and sparse bass notes in Thomas Ronkin's the gates of sleep.
Saul Stokes lets fly with (never ending) halogen sparrows, an undeniably electronic atmosphere marked by a repetitive "riff" that could have come from a 1960's sci-fi movie. A Produce appears again with midnight pond which echoes and riples accordingly. A low pressure front moves in with humid; artist Jeff Greinke's weather-muse is evident in this palpably vaporous air.
It's evident where Ron Boots is heading with among the stars, another spaceflight, this one seeming to pass through some angels' realm judging from the heavenly swells that billow here. M. Griffin doesn't simply act as ambient collector, he creates as well, bringing dyslerium to this nocturnal vigil. Griffin's track pulsates and rings, conjuring visions of celestial mists and whatever moves within.
Beautiful in its starkness, David Tollefson's work exqoor (illusive mix) features the low rumbling and static haze of processed guitar noise. Further low frequency sounds loom behind sweep by Egghatcher, while other electronics frolic in its foreground, forming a bit of a tune even, before disorganizing again.
Disc Two opens with the long, monochromatic tones (instantly recognizable if you're familiar with his work) of Larry Kucharz performing 1976 #5a. Meg Bowles delivers adrift in the arms of morpheus, a gorgeously expressive piece with various movements. Exit's sleep 1 (lucid mix) brings a distinct sense of travel through some realm of night. Very nicely done.
Alpha Wave Movement contributes subterranean (unknown depth mix), another immersive interstellar excursion which rings with the void of some great distance, yet shimmers with nearby sweeps of unknowable intensity. Resonating in a sea of night, curvature, by Robert Scott Thompson, rises and falls on symphonic swells. Shining with a light of its own, Viridian Sun (the duo known individually as M. Griffin and David Tollefson) covers the listener with a soothing, electric blanket of sound with interia sol.
A peaceful, sonic ebb and flow highlight the sacred descent by Jeff Pearce, as soft washes of processed guitar drift back and forth. Katsuya Hironaka exports his electronics from Japan in the form of entrance; delicate swirling waves of synth are accentuated by the recurring appearance of a deeper entity. Richard Bone closes the collection with via mycropia. Quite musical, with a deeper synth rhythm overlain by piano and other keyboards.
You don't have to be "into" meditation per se to enjoy this collection. As long as you're up for some smooth electronic spaciness from a wide range of accomplished artists, this compilation is definitely recommended.
The Other World is top-rate in concept, scope and execution. I'm giving it 2 thumbs up for overall ambient achievement."
--David Opdyke / The AmbiEntrance
"A record such as this reveals artistic beauty and the interest in the ambient realm of music. Comprised of 19 tracks, most of which come from friends and colleagues of Hypnos Recordings head Mike Griffin, The Other World hits the mark by bringing together nineteen different artists who specialize in the furtherment of sound exploration among the labyrinths of the ambient hemisphere.
The type of exploration could only be achieved on double-disc format, hosting the widest array of established talent from Vidna Obmana, Saul Stokes, A Produce, Egghatcher, Larry Kucharz, Exit, Viridian Sun, Katsuya Hironaka, Richard Bone, Meg Bowles, and many more. To say the least about this magnificent release, the music produced and packaged here is the finest display of experimental ambience I've heard in recent years. What comes out of the speakers is truly a mystifying musical engagement that has many spiritually enlightening links. "
--DIGITAL ARTIFACT magazine
" Assembled by M Griffin, The Other World is the first compilation from Hypnos Recordings. Instead of soliciting previously released tracks or studio rarities, Griffin had the 19 artists represented on this double CD compose original works around the theme of the "other world" of mind and imagination. Lighter than most of the work Hynpos has released so far, The Other World is a good survey of artists on the spacier side of the ambient scene.
Many of the better tracks on the compilation come from the Hypnos artists. David Tollefson's "Exqoor" is the prime standout, an excellent, subtle work of deep ambience. Jeff Greinke, Griffin, and Viridian Sun all turn in strong, disquieting atmospheric tracks, while the deceptively simple melody of Saul Stokes' "(Never Ending) Halogen Sparrows" dances about a bed of quirky homemade synthesizer sounds.
The sounds of The Other World vary from the more melodic work of Ruben Garcia and Meg Bowles to the celestial arrangements of artists like Thomas Ronkin and Katsuya Hironaka. Guitarist Jeff Pearce's "The Sacred Descent," as usual, sounds nothing like guitar, while piano melodies and a spoken-word conclusion grace Richard Bone's "Via Mycropia." By far, the most difficult listening experience is Larry Kucharz's "1976 #5a," with singular, sustained synthesizer tones interspersed with long pauses. Otherwise, most of the double album is very listenable if not always poignant.
The Other World does not stand up quite as well when compared to the high caliber of other Hypnos releases, but as far as compilations go, it's quite coherent and varied. It has a nice mix of better-known and lesser-known atmospheric artists, as well as all the Hypnos affiliates, serving as a good introduction both to the genre and the label." (Rated *** out of 5 stars)
--Eric Prindle Ujamaa's Ambient Experience