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Topics - richardgurtler

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Hollan Holmes "Prayer To The Energy" 2xCD

I still keep in mind the wintery day in January 2011, when an unknown artist named Hollan Holmes introduced his debut album "A Distant Light" on the pages of EMPortal, featuring stunning self-made cover artwork. Sure, also the fact Steve Roach was credited as the mastering engineer added some extra curiosity into my explorations, but since then I have been closely following this talented Texan soundsculptor and visual artist. Over the years Hollan Holmes has released another 5 solo albums plus one collaborative project Common Ground together with Californian duo Resonant Drift. The path taken with "A Distant Light", when the aural part was masterfully accompanied by exceptional visuals, still keeps on blossoming with each self-released album and obviously "Prayer To The Energy" is no exception. Even more this time, when Hollan Holmes comes with his most ambitious project, a double album supported by his own paintings. "Prayer To The Energy" is out since the beginning of February 2017 and it comes in a nice glossy 6-panel eco wallet designed by the artist himself. Fellow Texan soundscaper Chad Kettering is credited for his mastering skills, as he does since Hollan Holmes' second album "The Farthest Fringes". Known for juxtaposing ear-tickling Berlin School memories with grandiosely expansive landscapes, Hollan Holmes has decided this time for monumental double set to separate his hallmarking sonic canvas.

Disc one is ignited by 6-minute title composition "Prayer To The Energy" and what a kickoff it is!!! Persistently glistening sequences fire up the show, swiftly galloping and soon joined by another vigorously engrossing layer, while warmly scenic washes slowly sneak in and cascade through hauntingly captivating elevations. A top-notch introduction!!! "Insulated" (btw, inside the eco wallet there is a painting of a glass insulator) is more mid-paced, yet still enough shimmeringly animated with some catchy crescendos thrown in and auxiliary permeating intangible meridians. "Darkness And Light" moves smoothly into serenely embracing terrains, highlighted by heartwarming, nearly poetic sequencer patterns painting intensely evocative longing vistas. What a beauty!!! "Great Expectations" surprises with its gentle electric guitar rawness, surrounded by leisurely emerging metallic percussive subtleties on the back, along with percolating orchestral glimmers and guarded by remotely ethereal choirs, while additional, poignantly enchanting tapestries navigate the composition into its finale. Wow, this is a truly magnificent piece of ambience!!! "Lucid Dreams" shifts into intenser, yet utterly enveloping cinematic solitudes, but pulsing quietudes arise and relentlessly traverse across. Celestial choir-like drones are riding atop, but eternal pulses clandestinely metamorphose into headlining magnitudes, dazzlingly lonesome at times, yet splendidly engrossing, before reuniting again with etheric drifts. A pure sonic ambrosia is served here! "That Ephemeral Spark" keeps on the orbit, but soon the journey is stolen by distinguishing blend of sequencer-driven traceries, slightly tribal fragranced aeonian beats and evocatively helixing melodic curtains. Another strikingly attractive composition! "We Can Never Go Back" reveals with impalpably tinkling contemplative throbs, though the center stage is leaded by sparklingly absorbing sequences coupled with picturesque spirals and glancingly resurrected intensified undercurrents. Richly textured sonic euphoria! The closer "A Midwinter Night's Dream", by far the longest piece on disc one reaching 19 and a half minutes (all other tracks are clocking between 4:58 and 7:27), was originally recorded for Chuck Van Zyl's Star's End radio program "2015 Winter Solstice Special". The track employs delicately pulsing joyful sequences backed by stargazing blankets, occasionally augmented by synthetic-driven rippling glimmers. Sublimely sweeping deep sky psalm wraps up this absolutely exhilarating ride, prodigiously ebullient and tremendously absorbing, yet always securely wired to authentic Berlin School incandescences with significantly ingenious insignias thrown in. Yes, disc one is triumphant indeed!!!

8 minutes long "The Suspension Of Time" unveils disc two with expansively gliding graceful washes, balmily encircling and awe-inspiringly evoking infinite spatial emptiness and loneliness. "Cloud World" shifts this serenely immersing odyssey into magnificently longing magnitudes, where Hollan Holmes masterfully merges imposingly multidimensional graciousness with perpetually pervading splendiferously ethereal choir-like drone layers and ephemeral transcendental dissonances. Pure aural bliss!!! "Cover Of Darkness", as indicated by its title, is swallowed by unfathomably spiraling enigmas, while inconspicuously emanating glimmers are guarding vast solitudes. And just the same with the composition, which is entitled "Sublime Stasis" and clocks over 9-minute mark. The listener is immediately bathed by heartwarmingly inviting, sonorously graceful and endlessly overwhelming horizons. The gates of sheer atmospheric beauty are unlocked!!! "Breathing" is driven by helically filigreeing subtleties, constantly overseen by tranquilly embracing and surreptitiously nuanced spellbinding drifts, sporadically reinforced by mildly magnifying movements. Nearly 20 minutes long ending track, "Cerro Torre", initially created for Star's End radio program "2016 Halloween Special", unfolds with desolate drone stratums fastidiously bridged with nebulously mindscaping vertexes, persistently delving into the deepest fissures of delightful drone Eden! Massively humming magmas join this splendor along with thrillingly jaw-dropping, choir-like charged cinematic sceneries, towards the end amalgamated with tumultuously outbursting organic apexes and titillatingly high-pitched dramatic sequencer glimpses. Wow, a truly breathtaking listening spectacle fully reveals its magic, as much adventurous and grandiose as majestically towering massif of Cerro Torre mountain in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. An epic grand finale!!!

Well, after all above words it's quite obvious this monstrously challenging and all-inclusive tour de force double album by Hollan Holmes has quickly became a very strong competitor for The Best Album of 2017!!! But I think this is not surprising anymore to all those ambient connoisseurs who are already familiar with exceptional gift, creative potential and spectacular multi-craft of this Texan artist. Your self-taught mastery is so inspirational for many others, Hollan, you have my deep respect for each of your sonic and visual jewels!!! 122-minute "Prayer To The Energy" is simply another milestone!!!

Richard Gürtler (Apr 23, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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Erik Wøllo and Byron Metcalf "Earth Luminous" CD

Two virtuosos, Norwegian ambient guitar ace Erik Wøllo and American aural curandero Byron Metcalf, join their forces for a truly essential splendor entitled "Earth Luminous". Out on Projekt since the end of April 2016, 4-panel digipak is graced by an aerial delight photographed by Ian Dutton (a husband of Shea Hovey, Projekt's maven) from his cockpit, while Sam Rosenthal did the graphic design. Erik Wøllo is credited also for mixing and mastering.

Nearly 9-minute "Days Of Magic" is ignited by ear-tickling crystalline tinkles and bubbles, which are precisely bridged with Erik Wøllo's heartwarmingly embracing washes, while Byron Metcalf soon reveals his gossamery fragranced udu and drum brilliance. Erik's velvety string subtleties clandestinely join the stage as well. A pure aural bliss awaits here and no matter if with your headphones on or through your speakers. This is an ultimate showcase of two phenomenal musicians exquisitely merging their spirited signatures, more please, gentlemen!!! And this spectacle obviously continues with "Light And Ground", when cyber-tech infused arrangements are exquisitely amalgamated with mesmerizing shaker medicine, vibrantly galloping tribal drums and vigorously infectious udu, while gladdening panoptic meanders are guarding above reinforced here and there by intangible glossolalias and organic signals. Abundantly flavored masterpiece!!! "Far Wandered" is as much propelled by the passion and the poignancy of both protagonists as its predecessor. Byron's hyper active and intensely hypnotic drums (frame and ceremonial) and shakers are meticulously juxtaposed by Erik's headlining Berlin School pulses and grippingly longing solitudes. Soul stirring elixir is served here in a large dose! "Valley Of Spheres" calms down the journey with a potpourri of translucent bleeps, udu and drum quietudes and evocative blankets, revealing charming laid-back downtempos. Beauty!!! "Distant Future" dives into more meditative terrains, driven by languid drumming accompanied by slightly cacophonous traceries, before inconspicuously transmuting through gently stringed tension into captivatingly nanced panoramic sceneries. "Diomedea" returns to vivaciously sublime, euphorically infused and spellbindingly celestial paths, while the next piece, the title composition "Earth Luminous" straightly shifts into sparklingly exuberant zones, masterfully navigated by Erik's cyber-biotic horizons counterpointed by shimmering strings and Byron's passionate drum wizardry. Auxiliary scenic meridians join this dazzlingly invigorating splectacle along with shamanic shaker opiates. A truly triumphant ethereal-cyber-trance-tribal magnificence displaying superiorly distinctive, yet impeccably commingled hallmarks of two like-minded and hugely experienced maestros. Certainly one of the album's ultimate pinnacles!!! The closing, 5-plus minutes long "Linked Stars" (all other tracks are clocking roughly between 7 and 9 minutes), is the only composition recorded live in the studio (at Byron's The Lair in September 2015). Poignantly evocative stringed tinkles bridged with enfolding curtains and contemplative bowls clandestinely metamorphose into gorgeously expansive and utterly engrossing serenities, gliding towards eternally sequestered rainy stillness. Exhaustively immersing outro!!!

In a nutshell, over 63-minute "Earth Luminous" is a fully blooming sonic palette loaded with two exceptionally gifted musicianships and superb sound quality delivers a truly rewarding listening experience. "Earth Luminous" is undoubtedly a milestone and one of the highlights of 2016 indeed, bravo, Erik and Byron!!! But be prepared for more, because only 5 months later after this collaboration Byron Metcalf has released his another opus entitled "Inner Rhythm Meditations" featuring lushly vital contributions by Erik Wøllo and Peter Phippen. And since March 2017 we glorify another Projekt's release, this time Erik Wøllo's monumental "Different Spaces" 2CD. Explore, enjoy and celebrate all these sonic gifts!!!

Richard Gürtler (Apr 15, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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Max Corbacho "Future Terrain" CD

One of my dreams came true!!! Yeah, definitely as this long-form piece was originally released during the spring of 2015 as a digital download only, in shorter 58-minute version. As far I remember, it was just before "Splendid Labyrinths" CD was officially introduced. "Future Terrain" has immediately received a lot of positive feedbacks from many drone ambient connoisseurs across the globe, so when Max Corbacho made the deal with Vitaly Savisko, the driving force behind Moscow based enthusiastic GS Productions label, no wonder I was one of the happiest guys on the planet, eagerly awaiting a glass mastered edition of this dronescaping gem!!! Released January 10th, 2017 in a limited edition of 100 copies, the CD comes in a really elegant matte 6-panel digipak featuring original cover image rendering by 3D artist Lee Griggs with additional image treatment, cover design and layout by visual artist Michael Rodriguez Pletz, who has already worked with Max Corbacho on "Splendid Labyrinths" cover. The mastering duties are handled by Ian Hawgood.

With pressing the play button on my CD player, I am immediately carried away into awe-inspiringly immense sceneries fastidiously displayed by ultra immersing cover images. Thrillingly unfathomable free-floating drifts are meticulously magnified with gargantuan humming magmas. Utterly expansive amorphous horizons persistently keep on billowing and transmuting from desolately magnificent into heavenly multidimensional graciousness, while spellbindingly monochromous drone gurgles constantly reawake, permeate, cascade and climax through ear-bending transcendental glimpses. Cinematic magnitudes inconspicuously pervade across and join this exquisitely staggering and disastrously thick drone scenario. Shifting from gracefully monumental "Ars Lucis" majesty to intensely abysscaping "The Ocean Inside" zones, from tremendously engrossing "Splendid Labyrinths" enigmas to breathtakingly monolithic "Future Terrain" meridians. An all-inclusive heavyweight aural spectacle unfolds all its atmospheric magic here, masterfully amalgamating perpetually enveloping spheres of spatial solitariness and mysterious infiniteness with vigorously crescendoing ear-blowing reverberations and spectacularly helixing, yet sweepingly panoramic vistas, here and there intriguingly augmented by glancing monstrous calmness. Yes, 74-minute "Future Terrain" precisely explores some of the most essential symmetries between profoundly embracing endless spaciousness and prodigiously tenebrous zones.

Unmistakable audible insignias of Max Corbacho are relentlessly glimmering through this powerfully transporting journey, exhibiting some of the most nebulous, lower end graced domains this Spaniard has ever carved during his stellar, nearly 20 years long recording career. Balmily colossal realms are virtuosically juxtaposed by sonorously devastating stratums, enter now "Future Terrain"!!! Huge thanks to Max & Vitaly for this physical edition!!! So guys, and what about "Deep Time"...? Oh, and not to forget, Max Corbacho has just announced two days ago the release of long awaited "Nocturnes" album, no release date is set yet, but the album is at the pressing plant already, so definitely keep an ear to the ground!!! Max Corbacho is one of the undisputable masters of the deepest sonic meditations!!! And by the way, since November 2016, there is available also extended digital version of legendary "Indalo" collaborative album, now credited to Max Corbacho only, with additional two tracks, each clocking to 20 minutes.

Richard Gürtler (Apr 09, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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Steve Brand "The Path Of The Heart" CDr

Kansan soundsculptor Steve Brand has released during 2016 on physical format 6 albums, two of them were brand new recordings "The Path Of The Heart" (May) and "Leaving The Hive" (September), while the rest were 4 reissues released during November, "The Great Hoop", "Our True Nature", "The Track Of The Full Moon On Water" and "Because We Were Once Covered In Gold". Each of these albums comes in a limited edition (50 or 25 copies for a new album, reissues have 10 copies run) as 5"x7" bi-fold booklet featuring additional signed art card. "The Path Of The Heart" is released on relaxedMachinery and according to the liner notes, it started in early 2014 as the result of several live improvisations in Steve Brand's studio.

8-minute "Changing With The Light" unfolds the album with soothingly introspective solitudes, fastidiously reinforced by poignant piano quietudes, ranging from sparsely poetic to intensely glimpsing, and guarded by intangibly humming drone. Utterly embracing serenities grace my listening room! "At The Speed Of Thought" clocks to 17-plus minutes and delves into more dense terrains, moving across sinuous paths counterpointed with pinnacling silence. Unforeseen, eerily erupting climaxes, sacredly monumental, steal the center stage occasionally, then evanescing through the cacophony of Near East-fragranced traceries. The title composition, "The Path Of The Heart", only slightly shorter than its predecessor, shifts into undulating, warmly expansive panoramic magnitudes, again intriguingly coalesced with towering stillness and ear-tickling heartwarming reverberations."The Crucible Of Heart" meticulously merges evocatively billowing stratums, desolately immense hums and enthrallingly silent vistas. Another deeply reflective spectacle fully revealing exquisite sonic insignias of its sole protagonist, this must be Steve Brand at his most pensive! The shortest, 5 minutes long "Flowing Through The Heart Of Everything" dives straightly into organic-driven sceneries, juxtaposing distinguishably ear-bending serpentine perplexes with mesmeric nocturnal symphonies. "Let It All Fall Away", the longest 20-minute piece closes the ride with intenser, cyber-tech infused enigmas, magnified by breathtaking overtone meridians by shamanic performer Mark Seelig, who later utilizes also his ingeniously primordial bansuri wizardry. Mind-blowing transcendental Eden unlocks its gates and the listener enters strikingly magical domains carved by two exceptionally gifted sound curanderos!!! What a milestone, a grand finale to already remarkable recording!!!

"The Path Of The Heart" CDr is another brilliant sonic installment by Steve Brand and essential proof of his genius for "beyond the gates" ambience. A must-have album with fully rewarding, 78 minutes long listening explorations, so hats off to Steve Brand!!! And kudos to Mark Seelig for his significant guest input!!! Last but not least, stay tuned for more by Steve Brand, as a trilogy "Near Series: Silence/Otherness/Threshold" is scheduled for a release during 2017 with contributions by kindred spirits Mark Seelig and åpne sinn. The journey continues...

Richard Gürtler (Mar 30, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Starfields" 2xCDr by Jaja
« on: March 25, 2017, 07:12:39 AM »


Jaja "Starfields" 2xCDr

German deep space voyager Jana Rockstroh alias Jaja has released "Starfields" originally as digital download during March 2015. Its physical version is out since December 2016 on Jaja's co-owned Cyan netlabel as a double pro CDr edition packaged in a transparent poly double DVD case with a full wrap-around insert, printed on both sides, featuring immersing astronomy photographs by Roy Uyematsu, who already contributed to several previous releases by Jaja, for example "Stellamare" or "Starlight". The double album is available in a limited edition of 20 copies and as usual for all Jaja's physical editions, it looks really elegant!

First CDr, comprised of four longer pieces clocking between 12 and 23 minutes, unfolds with 22-minute "Starfield I". Warmly gliding stratums immediately invade my listening room, precisely counterpointed by distant contemplative bells and intangible eerie groans, while smoothly evolving introspective vistas permeate here and there. Additional continuously ascending and evanescing movements join rather monochromatic-driven layers along with unexpected ephemeral cyber-tech rumbles. "Starfield II", the longest ride here, moves into slightly heavier, persistently undulating and intriguingly reverberating domains infused with weeping quietudes, rawly ear-tickling glimpses and embracing traces of silence. The shortest part on this disc, "Starfield III", straightly dives into unfathomably nebulous realms propelled by drifting, sinuating, humming, expanding and diminuendoing layers and reinforced by subterraneanly titillating cyber-biotic vestiges. Dronescaping bliss certainly awaits here!!! "Starfield V" is announced by crystalline effects and then it slowly unfolds with hovering flatlined, yet serpentinely gliding drone pervaded by resurrecting, both transient and magnifying cybernetic patterns and oracularly abyssal calls. Stunningly engulfing soundscape!!!

"Starfield IV", with 26:45 the longest track on the whole journey (thus the switching with "Starfield V"), opens the second disc with monumentally expansive drone, masterfully cascading from ambiguously spellbinding through desolately awe-inspiring to warmly panoramic realms. Transcendentally gossamer disruptions arise occasionally along with crescendoing meridians and invade delightfully monolithic magnitudes. Wow, a truly mind-bending odyssey!!! "Sternenmeer" (or "Sea Of Stars") is as much intense, although more weeping and meditative than its predecessor. Constantly traversing through breathtakingly expansive plateaus and tenebrously enrapturing stillness, yet always fastidiously augmented by a myriad of ear-tickling bells and diaphanous chinks. The listener is unlocking the gates of deeply contemplative heaven and the closing "Starfield VI", only a few seconds shorter that part IV, focuses on soothingly meditative, microscopically granular embroideries, but this magnificently enveloping extraterrestrial emptiness is infrequently punctured by assorted ear-piercing scraps. A profoundly minimal sonic alchemy at its most efficient!!!

"Starfields" double set offers over 150 minutes of fascinating tour de force stargazing adventures, meticulously shaped by one of the best deep space soundscapers on the scene. Jaja's potential is amazingly broad and tremendously flexible, even if always strongly connected to outer space theme. "Starfields" is an exemplary showcase of this highly accomplished artistry, but these words easily apply also to a number of other outstanding Jaja's releases such as "Endless" (I have reviewed this one in January 2016), "Sparkles", "Milky Way", "Stellaris", "Starlight", "Stellamare", "Cosmos Vol. I (collaboration with Spanish kindred journeyer Ran Kirlian, spotlighted in January 2014)... And since the New Year's Day 2017, two brand new albums "Beyond The Horizons" and "Through The Belt Of Orion" are available, both in digital formats only, but as always, I really hope one day they will end up on physical formats as well. Bravo, Jaja, your creativity deserves to be applauded!!! Keep on odysseing!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 23, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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Siyanie "Mystery Of Life" CD

Sergey Ilchuk and Dmitry Shilov are the two protagonists behind Russian miraculous drone ambient project called Siyanie, which I have already reviewed during summer 2013, particularly their jaw-dropping "Homo Multidimensional" album. Yeah, no wonder, I am deeply fascinated by these Russians since the very first day, sometime during April 2013, when they firstly landed on my radar. Always offering a top-notch visual delight, available in two editions, "Mystery Of Life" comes in one regular run limited to 300 copies, while the second one, a special collector's edition, counts 24 copies. This richly expanded version contains 17 A5-sized cards printed on silver cardboard featuring reproductions of Sergey Ilchuk’s artwork created during 2012-2016 as Siyanie Art. The CD comes in a really gorgeous 6-panel eco wallet precisely displaying Siyanie's thrillingly mesmerizing sonic alchemy. It's out since July 21st, 2016 as a collaborative effort between Russian labels Moonsun Productions (home of Siyanie), Frozen Light and Zhelezobeton, which is credited as a distributor. I should also add that 10 of 11 tracks on "Mystery Of Live" are recorded live during Siyanie's three performances during 2012 and 2013 (two in Moscow, one in Yaroslavl). The mastering credit goes to Sergey Bulychev of respected Kshatriy project.

On the opening 9-minute "You Are Self" Timofej Zaozerov with his sitar joins Siyanie for a pure, hypnotically transporting ride, when intriguingly coalescing perpetually spiraling images with piquantly ear-tickling stringed tapestries, intangibly dissonant glimpses and balmily nocturnal quietudes. The magic of Siyanie is back in full bloom!!! Enigmatic flute calls announce "The Moment Of Truth", with 6 minutes the shortest piece on "Mystery Of Life", while ethereal choir-like drones ride atop along with occasional industrial flavored, yet diaphanously solitary fragments and hissy perplexing breaths, which inconspicuously metamorphose into voluminously transcendental and audaciously blissful listening experience. Wow!!! "Circling Eternity" safely follows the vestiges of breathtakingly engulfing terrains, when meticulously amalgamating titillating cyber-organic rattles, contemplative chimes, hallucinogenic drone helixes, stinging flute patterns and shamanic voice opiates. Another indigenously jaw-dropping sonic kaleidoscope! "Invocation" calms down this exciting journey a bit, when merging secluded monochromatic drones with resurrecting expressive guest sitar wizardry by Timofej Zaozerov with some high-spirited Middle East fragrances thrown in. But psychedelic chants with overtone-like vistas shift this opus into the forefront of mind-bending electro-acoustic magnificence!!! "Chant For Beauty" dives deeply into mysteriously sculpted subterranean sceneries, where spellbindingly flatlined meridians, guarding above, are propelled by mesmerizingly immersing potpourri of chants and gossamer ephemeral rumbles. Trance-driven reverie at its most engrossing! 10-minute "Deep Tenderness" glides tranquilly on the wings of enigmatic spaciousness, where sweeping blankets are commingled with gossamer cyber-biotic traceries, swirling crescendoing subtleties and longing mirages. The next composition, "The Sky Is Not The Limit", brings back Timofej Zaozerov's sitar with additional flute work by Nikolay Kalmykov of Hladna project. Healing stringed helixes, euphorically cascading and evanescing synthetic bleeps, voice transmissions, remote whistles, warmly hypnotic yearning expanses... Another amazingly nectarous blend! "Everflowing Stream", the only studio track on this album, unfolds with weirdly weeping intro, but soon transient tribal infusions step in, although the main theme moves into more drifting scenario, smoothly evolving into gracefully immense celestial dimensions, reinforced by some phantasmal groans and backed by liturgic-like choirs and female voice samples. The closing, 14-plus minutes long "Shine If You Will" is divided into three parts. The opening passage keeps on the route of enveloping grandness driven by choir-like drones with auxiliary voice harmonizations, here and there spiced by some scraps, both palpable and vaporous. Cyber-organic embellishments magnify the drifting healings during the second passage, while the final part is highlighted by mesmerizing male verbalizations in Russian.

Each album of Siyanie sounds exactly as it looks like, so "Mystery Of Life" is obviously no exception, visual and aural installments are masterfully melted into a phenomenally challenging, galvanizingly authentic and triumphantly immersing 77-minute spectacle. These Russian guys, as one of the most unique voices on the scene, are always utilizing very distinctive insignias in order to deliver an all-inclusive eargasmic sensation taking the listener way beyond the ordinary. Deep respect, Sergey and Dmitry, you are true Masters of your art!!! And kudos to guests as well!!! Enter now the transcendental Eden of Siyanie displayed as "Mystery Of Life"!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 12, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)


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Rudy Adrian "Coastlines" CD

New Zealander Rudy Adrian, the master of panoptic sublimity, returns with his "Coastlines" album 2 and a half years after splendiferous reminiscences entitled "Atmospheres". Released at October 7th, 2016, on Spotted Peccary, the album is delivered in a catchy 4-panel eco wallet designed by the label's visual pro Daniel Pipitone. The mastering job is, as usual, handled by renowned Howard Givens. As mentioned by its creative force, the album follows the footsteps of "Atmospheres" and reveals recollection of tracks recorded during the last three decades, including two rare ones from "SubAntarctica" cassette release from 1990, when Rudy Adrian was being a part of the touring exhibition "Art in the Sub-Antarctic". However, most of the tracks from "Coastlines" album are previously unreleased, yet deeply connected by artist's memorable explorations of the coastal areas of his homeland when younger together with his father.

The opening title track, "Coastlines" is rather shorter, when clocking over three and a half minutes mark only, nevertheless it immediately embraces the listener with its breathtakingly panoramic and poetically enrapturing mood carefully counterpointed by pristine shoreline field recordings, unmistakably showcasing evocatively immersing aural insignias that are no one else but Rudy Adrian. "Clouds Over The Horizon", one of the two tracks from "SubAntarctica" is even shorter, but it really sounds like a continuation of the previous piece. Translucently contemplative tinkles permeate across, bridge with delicately shimmering retrospections, while guarded by serenely reverberating solitudes. Beauty!!! "Mists From The Sea", as displayed by its title, delves into more yearning, yet tranquilly engulfing terrains meticulously augmented by ethereally nuanced monochromatic meridians. Rather minimal, yet profoundly magnificent!!! The next composition, "Pebbled Beaches", moves towards more meditative path, when enriched by a myriad of softly tinkling bells, but soon the scenario shifts into expansively surrounding vistas pervaded by subtly dramatic glimpses. Intangibly sparkling traceries resurrect here and there, before quietly evanescing. "Tussen De Monsters", with 7:41 the first longer composition, unfolds with darker subterranean drone, but the spectacle is soon stolen by another trademarking earmark of Rudy Adrian, his wordless voice harmonisations, which brilliantly commingle with gliding, awe-inspiringly panoramic dreamscapes and rattling shakers. As always, I am absolutely fascinated by this mesmerizingly immersing equilibrium! An utterly balsamic sonic medicine is served here!!! "Theme From SubAntarctica", another piece taken from "SubAntarctica" cassette, floats calmly over the immense glacierized landscapes. Gracefully peaceful elixir! 9 and a half minutes long "Message Of Dolphins" rides safely on the waves of evocative grandness, when Rudy Adrian clandestinely brings back Nick Prosser, his frequent kindred soul, when hypogean subtleties graced by dolphin calls, nocturnal quietudes and diaphanous chimes are fastidiously magnified with his wistful baroque flute magic. A magnum opus!!! 6-minute "Languid River" is announced by a richly faunal symphony, which persistently coalesces with choir-like droning layers and elusive contemplative patterns. Subtly hissing blankets occasionally ascend along with pleasantly crescendoing glimmers. "Thursday's Legacy", with 10 minutes the longest track on "Coastlines", incorporates crepuscular organic serenities, cascading ambience with textural motifs and meditative curtains, all intriguingly reinforced by sneaking ear-piercing climaxes. Another pinnacle! "Evening On Pohara Beach" closes this beautiful collection with poetic piano notes guided by secluded scenic drifts, which are as much placid as amplified, while randomly pervaded by humming subaqueous-like calls and gossamer fragments. Sublime atmospheric beauty!

58-minute "Coastlines" is another very strong sonic installment by Rudy Adrian, who masterfully keeps on exploring beautiful and wild grace of New Zealand's natural heritage, when retrieving warm memories of his youth. "Coastlines" album, which is Rudy Adrian's 15th, included are two collaborative releases with already mentioned Nick Prosser as well as one with Groove Unlimited's Ron Boots, is without doubt a highly recommended and fully rewarding listening experience wrapped in audiophile sound quality, offering marvelously tranquil, indigenously flavored and grippingly engrossing soundscaping with all his significant signatures delightfully unveiled.

Richard Gürtler (Feb 27, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

8


Eyes Cast Down "Souls Adrift, In Disrepair" CDr

Four years ago Chicago based Greg Moorcroft, the sole protagonist behind Eyes Cast Down, debuted with his album "The Separate Ones", which I was fortunate to review several months later, in May 2013. In the meantime, during 2014, second solo album "Divinations" saw the light as well as collaborative recording "Memory Palace" with kindred soul Chris Russell. "Souls Adrift, In Disrepair", the latest album by Eyes Cast Down, which is out since July 12th, 2016, was released by artist's own Kalindi Music label and it's packaged in a 4-panel digipak featuring stunningly immersing paintings by Royce Deans and Tali Farchi. This strongly enrapturing interaction was firstly born during a spontaneous, improvisational setting in a live art show in Chicago at April 1st, 2012. And four of five pieces presented on this album are connected to this multimedia jam.

Nearly 10-minute "Fading Angel" reveals layers of longing guitar drones, which drift, meander, reverberate, mesmerize... Introspective, smoothly sinuating passages distinguishably commingle with intricately high-pitched ear-tickling dissonant vistas. Although the mood might be rather minimal, hidden inside are lyrically enveloping nostalgic canvas, which masterfully amalgamate with the album's visuals. 17-plus minutes long "Astral Drift" straightly dives into jaw-droppingly gargantuan depths, humming ultra deep drones briskly invade the scene and steal this magnificently transporting spectacle. A splendiferously dronescaping powerhouse is fully activated here!!! Ephemeral overtone-like groans sneak in here and there, but the magmatic flow is devastatingly adventurous and undeniably unlocks the gates of eargasmic transcendental Eden. Around 10th minute slightly relieving glimpse arise, but that's just an "optical" illusion as the scenario quickly finds its tracks and resurrects all drone ghosts. Eerie ocarina calls arise as well and I am still swamped with ominously unfathomable drone walls. Even my weirdest expectations were surpassed with this composition, this is certainly Eyes Cast Down at its most exquisite, monolithic and desolate, a Drone Hall of Fame awaits!!! Enter now the Void!!! The next piece, "Sirens Of Maya", takes me back to earthier terrains sculpted with kaleidoscaping electric strings wizardry and painting thrillingly reflective and isochronally spiraling spellbinding images. As much rawly dazzling as harmoniously engrossing! "Transcending Memory", another longer track clocking to nearly 16-minute mark, maintains the deeply evocative route, where subtle monochromatic drone guards above, while relentlessly helixing desolations peculiarly bridge with poignantly magnifying, yet sinisterly traversing meridians. Aberrantly engulfing listening experience awaits here each devoted ears, this is obviously another epic composition superiorly exhibiting Greg Moorcroft's extraordinary soundsculpting techniques. Bravo!!! Transient pounding bass drum quite unexpectedly announces 18 minutes long "At This Body's Final Hour", which closes this highly astonishing journey. Mysteriously labyrinthine drifts are knottily counterpointed by poignant, yet evanescent piano patterns. Hallucinatory groans and voices are hanging above, interrupted occasionally by drum outbursts. Auxiliary female chorus (credited are Dasi, Greg's wife, & Leyla) surreptitiously sneak in and numinously augment this ambiguously shapeshifting aural phenomenon. A grand finale indeed!!!

Greg Moorcroft, who mostly utilizes 6- and 12-string and fretless electric guitars, EBow as well as synths on this tour de force recording, has shown an enormous creativity and potential. This is a sensationally prodigious album, a truly triumphant 74-minute showcase of a challenging ingeniousness by its visionary force. I somehow can't remember what my predictions were before exploring this album, but this doesn't really matter, because as mentioned earlier, Greg Moorcroft has blew them all away with such glorious performance. A true gem, and still enormously hidden, among the most gifted pinnacles of 2016!!! Darker than the darkest, deeper than the deepest, hats off to Greg Moorcroft/Eyes Cast Down for this milestone, which must be encountered and applauded!!! A non-glass mastered format is the only limit here... Regarding the latest updates, the next album by Eyes Cast Down is already recorded, it's entitled "The White Island" and it should be out during the spring. The final mixing and artwork still has to be done. And last but not least, if you live near Philadelphia, mark in your calendar the date October 7th, 2017, because Eyes Cast Down will open for the iconic ambient guitar virtuoso Jeff Pearce at The Gatherings, which celebrates its 25th year. Then, after the concert, an hour live to air on Star's End at WXPN Radio at the University of Pennsylvania will follow. Greg, you truly deserve such exposure!!! I really wish I could join...

Richard Gürtler (Feb 23, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

9
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Fusion Of Soul" CDr by Jarguna
« on: February 21, 2017, 11:46:15 AM »


Jarguna "Fusion Of Soul" CDr

"Fusion Of Soul" is the newest album by Italian soundscaper, photographer and ethnobotany researcher Marco Billi, who acts under the moniker Jarguna. Released during October 2016 on Forrest Hill Records, the black CDr is housed in a catchy 6 panel digipak designed by the artist himself. Well-done, Marco!!! Jarguna's discography counts around 16 albums, both solo and several collaborations, with bigger half of them available also on physical CDr editions. At least they were available few years ago, so better to check out this with Marco through his mail-order at Shangri-la Association.

"Aura Age", which clocks just over 4 and a half minutes mark, unfolds the album with gracefully sweeping ethereal washes, while gossamer organic traceries permeate across along with additional female choir-like glimpses. Then serenely evanescing on the wings of flimsily contemplative tinkles. Aural ambrosia! 10-plus minutes long "Awakening Of The Seed", keeps briefly on the path with meditative bells, but soon shifts into more intenser landscapes, guided by droning layers, where solitary magnitudes persistently commingle with evocative cinematic vistas. Fragilely cacophonous primordial subtleties continuously emerge and intriguingly spiraling dissonances occasionally join enigmatically undulating dronescapes. A very good one! The title piece "Fusion Of Soul", with 17:22 the longest one, glides into stunningly expansive zones, soothingly waving through warmly panoptic horizons. Intangibly ascending sequences join the forefront and inconspicuously steal the spectacle with glowingly euphoric shimmers, while celestial choirs are guarding above. Auxiliary groovy trimmings sneak as well. Beauty!!! "Garden Of The Gods" unlocks its gates with gorgeously sweeping blankets bridged with nocturnally enrapturing symphony, before calmly metamorphosing into balmily humming drone scenario enriched by eternal faunal calls and vague ephemeral sequencer motifs. Atmospheric aural paradise awaits here! The next piece, "Sacred Sheng", delves deeply into mysteriously subterranean domains, where undulating drone magmas ceaselessly amalgamate with transcendental groans and oracular voices. Evocative soulful flute patterns with mesmerizingly distant tribal quietudes ascend, coalesce and transport the listener into magnificently breathtaking terra incognita realms. An epic sonic elixir indeed!!! "Water Memory" follows the primeval vestiges and masterfully explores labyrinthine magic of cavernous sceneries, where ambiguous drone traverses are fastidiously augmented by a myriad of ear-tickling shamanic artifacts with amphibious fragments, while seraphic traces are hanging above. Another pinnacle of the album bringing back memories from the good old days of the 90's tribal ambient expeditions. During 11-minute "Between Haven And Earth", as indicated by its title, the listener is leaving fascinating subterrestrial domains, when loosely carried through tranquilly monumental expanses. Remote sequences clandestinely transpire, shimmeringly magnify and incandescently radiate, then dissolving for a brief moment before transforming into invigoratingly galloping climax. The closing, 13 and a half minutes long "Ecstatic Ascent" relieves unfurling scenario with gracefully revealing horizons, where warmly sweeping massive waves are meticulously pervaded by gorgeously introspective mirages. A pure sonic elixir!!!

I think recording and packaging like this would deserve a glass mastered format, it's a pity Forrest Hill Records didn't take this route, even if it might be a bit risky these days, but with a soundsculptor like Jarguna on their roster they have got a truly gifted and spirited journeyer indeed. Also I could imagine slightly refined sound quality with a broader chromatic range in depth and dynamics as there is hidden a huge potential in such fragranced album. However, I won't hesitate to say 79-minute "Fusion Of Soul" is most likely Jarguna's magnum opus and a strongly significant work exquisitely exploring the magic of Marco Billi's soulfully vast ambient insignias. Bravo, Marco!!! "Fusion Of Soul" is a must-have recording!!! And by the way, at February 17th, 2017, Jarguna has released his latest installment, contemplatively infused "Sogni di Sutra nei Venti", but this one is available as a digital only.

Richard Gürtler (Feb 19, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

10


Howard Givens & Madhavi Devi "Source Of Compassion" CD

Highly acclaimed Spotted Peccary producer, composer and mastering maestro Howard Givens, who was also a member of the collaborative project/ensemble Brain Laughter (active during the 80's and 90's), joins his creative experiences with harpist and meditative soundscaper Madhavi Devi aka Cheryl Gallagher, who is mostly known for her fruitful contribution on "Tibet", a joint effort with kindred soul Deborah Martin, released on Spotted Peccary back in 2004, but also for her other albums "Pregnant Pause", "Kinetic" and "Harp Dreams", which I believe were self-released during the second half of the 90's. As customary for Spotted Peccary's visual realizations, "Source Of Compassion", which is out since the beginning of September 2016, comes in a really elegant 4-panel eco wallet featuring original art by Madhavi Devi with additional design skills provided by Daniel Pipitone. And it's quite obvious the mixing and mastering duties are handled by Howard Givens.

The album begins with 11-plus minutes long "Intention", which serenely glides into stunningly spacious zones highlighted by transcendentally buzzing expansive meridians, gracefully sinuous, and precisely backed by intangibly permeating sequences. Although melodious vintage patterns radiate more and more, the center stage is always guarded by murmuring undulations and mindscaping helixes. A strongly immersing journey is in full quintessential bloom!!! "Emergence" remains focused and safely drifts through magnificently voluminous realms. Subtly nuanced monochromatic, yet intriguingly multi-dimensional layers are clandestinely illuminated by yearning panoptic vistas. A soothingly sweeping beauty, bravo, Howard & Madhavi! "Omkara", with nearly 17 minutes the longest piece on album, merges again flatlined contemplative stratum, at time slightly reminiscent of droning didge-like solitudes, with balmily serpentine textural curtains, while flickering sequencer traceries inconspicuously arise and pervade across. Along the way additional opiate synthetic pulses join the spectacle as well. Artificial percussive passage calmly transmutes into vividly-driven tapestry of abundantly fragranced brilliancy delightfully amalgamating mesmerically elusive meditative trimmings with spellbindingly galvanizing authentic high-tech arrangements. A tour de force exhibition celebrating the ingenious artistry of both cognate spirits, certainly a magnum opus!!! No wonder, the words are pouring themselves when my listening room is invaded by such masterpiece!!! "Source Of Compassion", a 10 and a half minutes long title piece is announced by seashore field recordings, which soon commingle with mildly gossamer tribal beats and balsamic shakers, while enfolding reflections continuously ride atop, persistently percolate through and conquer the forefront with its emotive urgency. Another ultimately triumphant composition! "Pathless Passage" emerges from unfathomable depths carried towards immense spacefields, colored with soaring blankets and translucent cyber-tech rumbles. Ethereal choir-like drones are helixing above, but the odyssey is quickly stolen by vaguely magnetic, yet aeonian laid-back pulses. Expansive dissonant glimpses pop up occasionally and cascading washes relentlessly commingle with emitting signals and euphoric shimmers. A truly genuine sonic healing! Closing "Connected Space" shifts into tranquilly engrossing domains propelled by profoundly pensive meanders. These utterly poignant quietudes are gorgeously lulling and navigate the listener into the sacred garden of contemplation.

Maybe I can't find the correct words to explain it, but "Source Of Compassion" has hidden inside something very special, which is displayed throughout its entire length. The artistic languages of both protagonists are bridged flawlessly. A sonic equilibrium at its most exquisite! Yeah, I have no idea what exactly each member has brought to the table, but I don't care, because it's the final result that counts and 67-minute "Source Of Compassion" album is an absolutely sophisticated piece of art!!! Hats off to Howard Givens & Madhavi Devi!!! Previous release by Howard Givens "Life Flows Water", on which he was accompanied by Craig Padilla still deeply resonates and now we have on Spotted Peccary gang another top-notch collaborative project, this time resurrecting artistic expressions by Madhavi Devi. And by the way, via Spotted Peccary shop are available also very nice "Source Of Compassion" t-shirts (including women's scoop neck style) graced on the front with Chenrezig, the Buddhist image. Both, CD & t-shirt are highly recommended!!! And last but not least, stay tuned for more from the Spotted Peccary headquarters, the year 2017 will be again exciting thanks to this dedicated crew!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 22, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

11


Steve Roach "Shadow Of Time" CD

After two highly challenging join efforts "Biosonic" and "Second Nature" with UK's gifted spirit Robert Logan, Steve Roach has once again dove deeply into profoundly poignant atmospheric oasis. Released during August 2016 as a 4-panel digipak, renowned Polish visual master Michał Karcz got a call to participate and deliver another of his creative gems, you might remember his artwork on other three Steve Roach's releases "Dynamic Stillness", "Afterlight" and "The Desert Inbetween" (with Brian Parnham). Additional credits go to usual fellow travelers Sam Rosenthal (design) and Howard Givens (mastering). I should add together with this album was released at the same day also a long-form journey "This Place To Be", which was originally released as a digital download only at the end of May 2016, but fortunately this stunningly embracing recording has found its way to a physical version few months later.

A 38-minute title epic composition "Shadow Of Time" ignites this exceptionally immersing ride with subtly meandering minimal layers, persistently rising, ebbing and overlapping. Distinctively reflective with clandestinely emerging warmly distant symphonious horizons and as usual for the Master's contemplative milestones, meticulously magnified by utterly enfolding and exquisitely climaxing glimpses of silence. The listener is invited to experience an ultimately tranquil sanctum of delicate introspectiveness. Enter now into some of the most powerful quietudes ever sculpted by Steve Roach, a pure aural ambrosia is served here in gargantuan doses!!! The next piece, a nearly 24 minutes long "Night Ascends", gently shifts into slightly more intenser, persistent and gliding paths, carefully augmented by sweeping solitudes, billowing consonances and ear-titillating meridians. Lithe and graceful deep nocturnal expansions at its most spellbinding! By the way, the digital version of this composition clocks to 78 and a half minutes! "Cloud Of Knowing", which reaches almost 12-minute mark, delves deeply into tremendously voluminous zones, graced by soulfully emotive panoramic insignias, as always magnificently scenic with breathtakingly longing vistas and constantly bridged with spiraling awe-inspiring ephemeral stillness. Blissful beauty and monumental tranquilness of these sceneries are fully unfolded. Cruising with such eternal grace can only Steve Roach, this is a truly jaw-dropping conclusion!!!

Deeply focused full immersion is highly recommended!!! Yeah, to be honest, it took me longer time before I was able to explore all the hidden magic of this album. Trust me, it's fully rewarding now! I still keep in mind one night, when falling asleep with beloved music in my ears. Usually, I am evanescing after few tracks (I mean of course the shorter ones...), but at that particular night I journeyed through the whole "Shadow Of Time" and it was a truly unforgettable night! That was the breaking point! Steve Roach is a man, who constantly enriches our lives with his essential soundcarvings and "Shadow Of Time" is certainly one of them showcasing the Master at the very top of his deepest sonic contemplations!!! And don't forget, the New Year's Eve has brought to us three new albums by Steve Roach, "Spiral Revelation", "Painting In The Dark" and "Fade To Gray". As always, collective dreams are shared...

Richard Gürtler (Jan 21, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

12


Bing Satellites "Extensions Of Reality" CDr

UK, Manchester based soundpainter Brin Coleman, who acts under the moniker Bing Satellites, undoubtedly belongs to the most prolific ambient composers on the scene. Self-releasing sonic canvas since 2009, Bing Satellites' discography is really monstrous, I didn't count it exactly, but it must feature over 70 releases. And that's still not complete list, because he also releases his ambient recordings as The Ambient Visitor and The Lovely Moon, plus Blocker, where he focuses on more rhythm, techno or glitchy driven electronica. For me, who is nuts into physical editions, is very interesting to find that about 50 of Bing Satellites' albums are available as a pro CDr editions, usually packaged in elegant 4-panel card wallets or digipaks (except multi-album editions) or just as a simple 2-panel card sleeves. To be honest, I must clearly come out with the fact that I have been overlooking this highly crafted composer for some time, so a really big shame on me!!! But maybe it was that huge discography that scared me off, who knows... But I usually immediately add, always better late than never, right? Anyway, it seems like the newest release "Extensions Of Reality" was the triggering point for me as well as quite numerous and detailed recommendations by kindred Dutch soul Sander Berkvens (dank je wel, Sander!!!), so the more I am now enjoying exploring utterly magnificent soundworlds by Bing Satellites. The album is out since December 10th, 2016 and it comes in a slimline natural kraft card case. Not exactly my fave kind of packaging, but the case still looks really nice. And of course the most important is hidden inside, so let's unfold the journey!

Comprised of three longer compositions, the brilliance of the album unfolds with 22-minute "A Dream Within A Dream". Calmly emerging curtains are soon permeated by ear-titillating meridians, while deep drone stratum inconspicuously sneak in and steals the center stage for some time. Nebulously graceful choirs arise as well and join this gorgeously expansive spectacle. Splendidly immense horizons are deliberately revealed, while ethereal piano glimpses shift the composition into delightfully evocative vistas. An awe-inspiring voyage to the deepest ends of fascinating atmospheric Eden waits each dedicated pair of ears. "A Dream Within A Dream" is a true sonic ambrosia connecting to the soulfully imaginative haven of Bing Satellites!!! I am really grateful for letting his sonic insignias to fully reveal all its ultimate magic on me, thank you, Maestro!!! Man, how could I miss such immersing listening experience? "Where One Room Is Also Another", which runs to almost 17-minute mark, keeps safely on the path of serenely encircling drift zones guarded by angelic choirs. Gently nuanced, free-floating movements continuously delve profoundly into endless spaciousness of sweeping panoramas, here and there reinforced by clandestinely climaxing layers. This tranquil ride can't be wrapped up in a better way than by a composition entitled "Gliding Slightly Above The Ground". Incredibly infinite quietudes persistently drift and undulate, while occasional pastoral blankets percolate through voluminously monochromatic flow. And then transcendentally cascading choirs invade and guide us into breathtakingly monumental and tenebrously delightful sceneries, towards the end magnified by chimerically shimmering vertexes. Welcome to the Drone Eden!!!

Wow, this is a truly powerful, 60 minutes long soundsculpting by Bing Satellites!!! Yeah, maybe I would rather see this album in a more attractive 4-panel digipak or eco wallet type of packaging, but I don't mind, because "Extensions Of Reality" album is my ticket to explore many fascinatingly enveloping territories! Bing Satellites' sonic healings reveal the genius loci of these places! And don't forget, this guy is fruitfully productive, so before I was able to complete this review, he has just released a brand new album, "Twilight Sessions Volume 20" is out since January 6th, 2017!!! Bing Satellites is tremendously recommended soundcarver, so don't even think about making the same mistake I did...

Richard Gürtler (Jan 07, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

13
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Central Plateau" CD by Alargo
« on: January 08, 2017, 10:41:00 AM »


Alargo "Central Plateau" CD

Alan Brown, a respected jazz pianist based in Auckland, New Zealand, who has joined ambient community during 2015 with his piano-infused debut "Silent Observer", has in the meantime joined his creative, this time electronic-driven forces with fellow renowned jazz trumpeter, tubist and wind instrumentalist Kingsley Melhuish and gave birth to Alargo project. With a quite extensive schedule of live performances during 2015 and 2016 on their credit, at the end of November 2016 their debut CD entitled "Central Plateau" has landed. Released via Pacific Echoes, which I believe is their own label, "Central Plateau" album comes in a catchy 4-panel eco wallet designed by Alan Brown with cover photographs provided by Angus McNaughton, who is also the mastering engineer behind this recording. Additional credits go to P.W. Streekstra (recording, mixing), Mike McMinn (recording assistance) and Christopher John (band photography).

The album unfolds with the title 8-minute composition "Central Plateau", which delves deeply into gorgeously vast cinematic horizons, when meticulously coalescing soothingly introspective expansive meanders, delicately permeated here and there by gossamery fragments, with utterly poignant trumpet evocativeness, wandering from engrossingly wide-screen to queerly ephemeral. An equilibrium of embrace is in full bloom, what a beauty!!! A Hall of Fame composition and an ultimate balsam for my mind and body!!! Bravo, gentlemen, and more please!!! The next piece "Scratch It", which clocks to a 10-minute mark, is a quite distinctive cup of tea comparing to its predecessor. On this composition Kingsley Melhuish exhibits his unconventional approach to wind instrumentality, when bridging his minimal, yet flamboyantly colored experiments with intangibly hissing monochromatic solitaries and nuancing eerie layers riding above. There are all kinds of minimal barks and peeps, sort of "drive nuts" endeavors, but also slowly ascending, more massive dissonant curtains. If I am right, it's the pervasion of conch shells' calls and drones that add a truly transcendental feel to some passages of this bizarrely sculpted sonic mindscape. Although it's not mentioned on the sleeve, I have noticed this composition is dedicated to Philip Dadson, who was one of the prime creative souls on New Zealand's alternative scene as the leading figure behind From Scratch ensemble. "Actopia" runs over 17 and a half minutes and it's again a totally different story. Actually, it unfolds with longing poetic quietudes reinforced by gently fizzling blankets, persistent bass undulations and evocative quena glimpses and vestiges, but after about 5 minutes first chameleonic metamorphose appears and the track shifts into galloping synthetic downtempo paths magnified by trumpet whistles, shrills and filigrees. During 11th minute another transition follows and the composition glides back into serenely encircling drone sceneries embellished by tuba-like murmurs and elusive diaphanous chinks. The closing part mutates into more monolithic panoptic stratum amplified by primordial rumblings, percussive patterns and Suzuki Andes cravings (unique kind of flute/pan pipe/keyboard instrument), all clandestinely surrounded by phantasmal meridians. An adventurously enthralling conclusion indeed!!!

Yeah, the track selection on "Central Plateau" is a quite dazzling, it certainly showcases the potential of this crafted Kiwi duo, because Kingsley Melhuish and Alan Brown strikingly commingle their talents and distinguishably amalgamate acoustic virtuosity, both evocative and twisted, with balmy and wiggly electronic canvas. It's a pity the album clocks only to 35 and a half minutes, because its challenging arrangements, attractive packaging and a glass mastered format would deserve extra one or two tracks. In this case both protagonists would be able to demonstrate their undisputable artistry even more. However, this is my only complain. Otherwise, bravo, Kingsley & Alan, you can be really gratified for what you have achieved with this exciting debut release!!! This is the way to go, keep the fire burning!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 06, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

14


Michael Brückner "Muzikhala" 3xCDr

Wow, this wealthily packaged triplet looks to me as one of the most challenging releases Michael Brückner has ever self-released. You almost won't believe this is "only" a 3 pro CDr release with gorgeously designed 6-panel digipak with additional 6-page foldout insert featuring extensive liner notes about the history of "Muzikhala". A true visual bliss is delivered here, well-done, Michael!!! This triple album is out since the end of May 2016 in a limited first edition of 50 copies.

"Muzikhala" is taken from the Chichewa language, which is spoken in African countries Zambia and Malawi, and it means serenity. And that's exactly how this long immersing odyssey unfolds. Long-form "Muzikhala - Part 1 (The Aeronaut)", running to 78 minutes, sweeps the listener's ears with subtle cascades of warmly spacious washes, enriched here and there by assorted, delicately interacting cyber-biotic subtleties and intangibly poignant bass reflections. Gracefully ethereal choir-like blankets clandestinely sneak in and guard above, while translucent piano notes silently permeate as well. The journey relentlessly meanders from soothingly embracing horizons to splendidly majestic immenseness, from mildly ear-titillating mesmerizing vistas to illuminating, tribal-infused passages, from spiritedly ringing percolations to cybernetic vocoder obfuscations. The overall flow of this long composition is refreshingly colorful and masterfully reinforced by magnificently lithe arrangements. So no matter if sonorously engrossing or melodiously tranquilizing, this is certainly a really strong, tour de force ambient recording by Michael Brückner! Bravo!!!

The second disc, comprised of 5 longer tracks clocking from 12 to 22 minutes, starts with "Bem Betél", which precisely merges panoramic washes with crystallinely tinkling quietudes, then metamorphosing into more massive, yet transitory zones, before delving deeply into Middle East fragranced percussive terrains. Sensual rhythm-charged ethno perfumes meet exquisitely vellicate tapestries and sinuously riding solitudes. A blazing sonic elixir! "Reanimation (Zoom In)" dives straightly into ambiguously unfathomable depths, where rather flatlined driftscapes are fastidiously brightened by ephemeral gossamer fragments, gurgling dissonances, longing glimpses and bizarrely faunal peeps (maybe seagulls?), while afterwards evocatively balmier Berlin School layers inconspicuously emanate from the void and safely guide through a maze of paths. Another top-notcher although strongly contrasting against its predecessor. "Muzikhala - Part 2 (The City Planners)", the longest piece on this CD, incorporates twisted cosmic meridians coupled with stringed flickers. Then metamorphosing into rhythmed factory-driven labyrinth and again returning into more spatial zones, enthrallingly euphonious, yet augmented by an array of cyber-tech traceries. "The Vishnoor Incident" attracts with slightly sharper rhythms thrown into an subterranean grotto, while later transmogrifying into intenser, sequencer-propelled adventure. "Drowning", as indicated by its title, moves into calmer and deeper terrains albeit bridged with pervading sequences, ear-tickling droplets, yearning glimmers and cinematic climaxes. A really nice ending to this 77 and a half minutes long ride!

"Muzikhala - Part 3 (The Rift)" is a 76-minute composition masterfully winding through extensive variety of territories, ranging from amorphously droning to galactically rumbling, from cybernetically transcendental to serpentinely intriguing, from diaphanously elegant to effulgently galloping, from ethereally engulfing to enigmatically spellbinding. An all-inclusive cosmic odyssey fully blossoms here and exhibits Michael's tremendously creative potential within this particular, vintage-infused style of spacemusic. This third part splendidly wraps up the whole story!

"Muzikhala" 3xCDr is a real winner by Michael Brückner, both musically and visually!!! And kudos go also to Mathias Brüssel, who was already Michael's partner in crime on extensive "Ondes Intergalactiques". This time he is credited for his guest appearance (guitar, slide guitar, additional keyboards and drum programming) on three parts of "Muzikhala". Michael Brückner's composing flexibility is just amazing, but when it goes to my rather zealous die-hard ambient taste, then "Muzikhala" is definitely among my most esteemed recordings by this German soundexplorer. And "Muzikhala - Part 1 (The Aeronaut)" could be a magnum opus!!! Before I forget, for all those who prefer digital version of "Muzikhala", be prepared for extra 4 and a half hours (!!!) of recordings featuring mostly the original early versions. And that's a hell of a lot of space journeying!!! It's quite obvious for such prolific artist that several other albums have landed in the meantime like self-released "The Giant Illusion" (a double compilation), "Trois Briques" on SynGate or a live document by Tommy Betzler & Michael Brückner (featuring Sammy David and Fryderyk Jona) "Triplet" (CD+DVD), which is out now on Groove Unlimited. Join the odyssey now!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 05, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

15


Duff Egan "The Future Of Man" 2xCD

I have been following this US drone aficionado based in Seattle for some time, but as a connoisseur of physical items, I was patiently waiting for the day when Duff Egan's soundscaping adventures will transmute into a glass mastered format. The first promising info reached my radar about one year ago, when album entitled "Sacra" was announced as the first part of upcoming three-pack of pressed CDs. Unfortunately, this promising project with stunningly looking artwork by kindred spirit Brian Bourassa didn't reach its fruitful pinnacle and "Sacra" remained only in its digital format, so I had to be again patient for some time. But fortunately the middle of summer 2016 led to the release of a 2CD entitled "The Future Of Man". And Brian Bourassa joins this spectacle again with his strikingly beautiful 2CD 4-panel digipak cover artwork. With a glass mastered format we have here a top-notch physical format. Not a very usual these days for an artist like Duff Egan, so you guys have my deep respect, well-done!!! And for this special purpose, although publishing digital releases for longer than two years, a new label Black Dingo Records was born. "The Future Of Man" 2CD is out since August 1st, 2016, and the credit list features also Brian Elgin of Sentient Sound Labs as the mastering engineer.

A nearly 41 minutes long opus "Silent Thunder" fires up this magnificently mindscaping journey. Steady drone magma invades and insistently nuance through desolate territories, while humming undercurrents persistently arise from unfathomable depths. Quietly elevating, clandestinely metamorphosing, monolithically hissing, transcendentally climaxing, engrossingly relieving, contemplatively evanescing... an all-inclusive dronescaping scenario introducing its sole protagonist at the very top of his mind-blowing soundforging!!! Welcome to The Garden of Drone by Duff Egan!!! "Endangered Quiet Beauty" clocks to almost 19-minute mark and shifts into gracefully monochromatic, ultra deep domains, soothingly magnifying, sonorously awe-inspiring and multidimensionally immersing. Hissy curtains persistently hang, while majestically undulating expansions serenely sneak in and ride atop throughout the second half. As much balmily relieving as dissonantly challenging! "The Quiet Path", as displayed by its title, is more "lighter", although still strongly flatlined, when drifting into buoyantly enigmatic nothingness. A quite short piece, when clocking to 4 minutes only, but a powerfully enrapturing conclusion of the first disc!

A 10-plus minutes long "Urban Wilderness", no surprisingly, delves deeply into rawer, richly layered terrains with monstrous intensifications reaching spellbinding meridians and then dissolving into encircling stillness. The inferno of magmatic hums awaits here! The next one, "Natures Symphony In Decline", keeps on the path of devastatingly monumental drone cascades. Staggering heavy-weight vertexes, which knock on the gates of The Drone Pantheon, continuously alternate with diminuendoing plateaus. Another ear-blower!!! 21-minute "Your Personal Quest For Quiet" straightly dives into jaw-dropping subterranean sceneries of terra incognita, where perpetually gurgling stratums painstakingly amalgamate with intriguingly nuanced gargantuan drone-walls and ear-tickling, otherworldly disruptive vistas. An oasis of splendiferously transcendental droneforging is fully unveiled! The closing track, nearly 19 and a half minutes long "Spirit Echoes", incorporates slowly expanding and inconspicuously sneaking, but rigid reverberations reinforced by harshly rumbling transitions, while solitary reflections are gracefully guarding above. An epic finale!!!

120-minute "The Future Of Man" 2CD is without any doubt a superb release, both aurally and visually, and a must-have for all purveyors of profoundly complex, deliberately executed, massively immersing, subterrestrially nebulous, yet eargasmically chromatic dronecarving. Definitely stay tuned and keep an ear on fastly emerging discography of Duff Egan and his Black Dingo Records, where he features most recently also other cognate souls like Castleview, Bernard Reeb or Louigi Verona. It's quite evident, Duff Egan is a highly crafted and prolific soundsculptor, who is quickly becoming an US dronescaping powerhouse.

Richard Gürtler (Dec 27, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)

16


Hoshin "Path Of Dissolutions" CD

My ventures into nebulously engrossing dark ambient domains are rather rare, but as we know there is no rule without exception, so why not to dive occasionally into these fascinating terrains. Without any doubt, "Path Of Dissolutions" is the right time for encountering these magnificent realms. I didn't have any idea about Hoshin, nor about its creative mastermind, a Belgian soundsculptor Xavier "Hoshin" Heindrichs until his debut "Path Of Dissolutions" was announced on US dark ambient authority Cryo Chamber. Out since September 13th, 2016 in ambiguously inviting 6-panel digipak designed by Cryo Chamber's driving force Simon Heath, who is also handling the mastering duties. I remember clearly the day when the CD was officially introduced on Bandcamp, it left me breathless right away and I immediately rushed to contact the sole protagonist behind Hoshin.

The journey unfolds with "Tender Deadlocks", which quickly grabs my attention with immersing interactions between urban sounds and various rumblings with strong subterranean feel, while expansive washes slowly emerge and permeate across labyrinthine subtleties. A truly precise amalgamation of enigmatic location recordings and majestically sweeping panoramic sinuousness. A top-notch introduction of Hoshin's soundworlds! The next piece "Souvenir From The Sacred" incorporates more dark ambient fragrances, when coalescing some transient industrial strikes with organic elixirs and assortment of voices ranging from public to praying. But the show is again later stolen by sneaking warm atmozones meticulously counterpointed by embracing, delicately detailed rainy quietudes. A 6-plus minutes of true sonic ambrosia is served here! Rumbles ascending from unfathomable depths announce "Drop Out The Fruitless", while drifting solitudes quietly commingle. Mysteriously intriguing cavernous spices are precisely equalized with increasing graceful panoptic washes. My ears are bathed in massively immersing beauty, more please!!! "Lone" is seeking for oracular vestiges, where slowly crescendoing drone stratum bridges with perplexing helixes, breathing machineries and ear-tickling metallic scraps, while intangible groove ephemerons continuously resurface across utterly breathtaking horizons. Enter now magically awe-inspiring solitudes!!! On "The All Is Aflame" contemplatively echoed wood crackling in a fire amalgamates with mesmerizingly spiraling ominous magnitudes and remote grumbles. But this fascinatingly hypogeous splendor is inconspicuously pervaded by persistently elevating evocative layers. Another big one! No doubt here, with pieces such as "Drop Out The Fruitless", "Lone" or "The All Is Aflame" Hoshin is knocking on the gates of Ambient Hall of Fame! Bravo, Xavier!!! Monochromatic drifts on "Dissolving Steps" shift the journey into jaw-dropping solitary realms, before fastidiously blending with hissy shoreline reminiscences and then clandestinely transmuting into warmly inviting cinematic panoramas titillatingly reinforced by puzzling fragments and elusive rumbles. Mysteriously desolate hums reveal "Ruins In Focus", while arising washes calmly guard above and neutralize slightly harsher, yet perpetually mesmeric spirals. Towards the end transmogrifying into transcendental territories, where also the closing "How It All Ended" dwells. Distant thunder hums are invaded by amplifying subterranean magmatic layers, but the center stage is almost engulfed by meandering majestic blankets, masterfully counterpointing with monumental murmuring undercurrents. Yeah, a truly grandiose conclusion!

53 and a half minutes long "Path Of Dissolutions" album, where each track clocks between 5:27 and 7:25, showcases an absolutely sophisticated soundcarving by its creator, where every detail is polished to perfection and the balance between eerie and enrapturing passages is exquisitely accomplished in order to reach an ultimate equilibrium. Although I am not a dark ambient aficionado and expert, I feel this album gains a quite unique position in Cryo Chamber's roster with its splendiferously enigmatic, yet by far more ambient colored spirit. So who knows, maybe this will be a turning point and I will be visiting their discography more often. So kudos to Simon Heath/Cryo Chamber for unveiling the talent of this Belgian!!! This is undoubtedly a really sensational and triumphant premiere by Hoshin!!! Xavier, you can be really proud of "Path Of Dissolutions" CD!!! And by the way, I am very grateful for the pralines as well, so I definitely stay tuned for more...

Richard Gürtler (Dec 18, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)

17


Jeff Pearce "Follow The River Home" CD

An iconic ambient guitar soundscaper Jeff Pearce returns after two years with his newest album "Follow The River Home". Self-released via his Jeff Pearce Music during June 2016, the album comes in a catchy 4-panel digipak with gorgeously immersing images and graphic design by Rainer Gembalczyk, who already worked with Jeff Pearce on his previous "With Evening Above" CD. Additional credit goes to Jeff's daughter Thalia for her nice photography featured on a CD tray.

4-minute "Under Summer Stars" immediately sets warmly evocative atmosphere with its earmarking, pristinely ear-tickling stringed melodies exquisitely coupled with soothingly free-floating nocturnal washes guarding above. Balmily relaxing intro! "Downstream I" straightly shifts into deeper atmospheric terrains, masterfully sweeping, evanescing and emerging through gracefully panoptic cloudscapes, delicately reinforced by silent glimpses. Strikingly beautiful and splendidly majestic composition exhibiting distinctive soundsculpting elixirs by its creative genius. Bravo, Jeff!!! "Outpost" goes back to more glistening sceneries highlighted by lushly traversing stringed droplets, continuously delighting the listener's ears, while expansive drifts clandestinely awake, permeate across and amorphously counterpoint with persistently spirited gossamer strings. A headphone listening is fully rewarding in this case! Nearly 5 minutes long "Snowfall" introduces Jeff Pearce at the very top of his ingeniousness, when bridging his lyrically colorful and shimmeringly euphonious string insignias with intriguingly flamboyant and blazingly emotional full-bodied post-rock piquancy. Wow, a truly jaw-dropping transmutation awaits here! It's a pity the track isn't longer a bit as this aural splendor passes rather quickly, but otherwise it's an absolute masterpiece meticulously coalescing dreamy stringed magic with rock-infused vigorousness!!! A tour de force effort indeed!!! The next piece, "Downstream II", which clocks over 9-minute mark, returns quickly into warmly grandiose panoramic realms hauntingly coupled with richly euphoric strings. The second third calms down and rides on the wings of ethereal tranquilness before inconspicuously vanishing through mesmerizingly sculpted helixes. Another pinnacle!!! An epic 20-minute composition "Gathering Stars" glides peacefully through heartwarming, yet subtly mindscaping domains, stunningly infinite and intensely enveloping. The listener is constantly overwhelmed by magnificently opaque, powerfully magnifying and thrillingly chameleonic tides. As presented by the artist in the liner notes, this track is made from two live recordings, one from Jeff Pearce's performance at the Gatherings Concert Series in Philadelphia, PA, on October 11th, 2014, while the second one was recorded one day later during a live-to-air performance at famous Star’s End Radio at WXPN studios. This multi-layered wide-screen masterpiece showcases Jeff Pearce at the ultimate peak of his deepest aural meditations!!! The closing composition "Follow The River Home", its title is inspired by Jeff's younger daughter Fiona, incorporates a truly gorgeous, titillatingly sonorous stringed narration, its symmetry with atmospheric blankets hanging above is absolutely gratifying, a true nectar to soothe your body and mind!!!

53-minute "Follow The River Home" CD is another triumphant recording by Jeff Pearce, who is one of the most gifted soundsculptors I know. It's beyond my understanding what he is able to create with his electric guitar and additional effects. I still deeply treasure memories of the day sometime in 1998 when Jeff's "Vestiges" CD arrived into my mailbox after reading a glowing review of his music in Wind and Wire magazine (thank you so much, Bill, you were my hero!!!). Yeah, these were the good old days when sending an airmail letter with a well-hidden USD cash was a quite standard way to obtain your fave CD. That was my first contact with Jeff and his breathtakingly beautiful soundcarving, since then 18 years have passed and I am still as much amazed as I was in 1998. "Follow The River Home" is a superb album and we all must be really grateful for such artistic excellence!!!

Richard Gürtler (Nov 20, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)

18


Robert Rich "What We Left Behind" CD

16 months after "Filaments", a spectacular odyssey through fascinating space expanses, one of the undisputable ambient innovators returns with another jewel. On "What We Left Behind" CD, as displayed by its title, Robert Rich transforms his dreams about the Mother Earth when the humankind is gone, with a crow as a spirit guide, into an exquisitely sophisticated soundsculptures, showcasing his continuous musical virtuosity. Out since May 2016 on Robert's Soundscape Productions, the CD comes, as usual, in a really gorgeous 6-panel digipak masterly designed by a frequent collaborator John Bergin exhibiting stunning cover art by Ibizan painter Romanie Sanchez, who has already contributed her amazing art to two collaborative releases by Alio Die & Paralled Worlds "Circo Divino" and "Elusive Metaphor". So with such visual power it's quite obvious the first big points are awarded already, but this is nothing new when it goes to Robert Rich's CDs. Nowadays, when many physical items are released in reduced quality, we must be really grateful for such consistent artful bliss. Bravo, Romanie, John & Robert!!!

"Profligate Earth" unfolds with authentic trademarking insignias, it simply can't be anyone else but Robert Rich! Filigree organic sounds masterfully amalgamate with nebulous blankets and intangibly subtle rhythm motifs, while guarded by abstractions of Chari Chuang's voice (remember Chari Chuang's virtuosic performance on "Medicine Box"?). A very pleasant intro with top-notch sound quality again delivered! Signature flute work returns (after absence on "Filaments" album) and announces "Raku" and commingles with gentle primordial rumblings, gossamer tribal patterns and captivating biotic quietudes. Richly enigmatic composition! "Voice Of Rust" keeps on its primal path, when merging yearning flute with languishingly rumbling artifacts. "Soft Rains Fall" excels with tremendous lap steel guitar artistry, when melting earmarking ethereal choir nuances with balmy beats, while soothing atmospheric blankets are riding atop. This is Robert Rich at the very top of his immersing soundmagic!!! Shorter "Rhizome" dwells in perplexingly primordial terrains. "Transpiration" is awakened by weirdly enrapturing sound fragments of child-like voice, but soon the center stage is stolen by utterly evocative flute, a truly genuine hallmark, which is meticulously bridged with monochromatic drone, phantasmal helixes and magnetizing tribal drumming. Over 5 minutes of pure aural ecstasy awaits here, a Hall of Fame track!!! The next composition, "Corvid Collections", melts mysterious flute motifs, subterranean drum patterns and contemplative tinkles. "Aerial On Warm Seas", with 9:08 the longest piece on the album, is driven by magnificently melancholic lap steel cries, which later metamorphose into powerfully intense, nearly transcendental stratums and then evanescing through bizarrely colored phantasmagoric sceneries back to weeping loneliness. This is a fully rewarding venture into unmistakable sonic domains demonstrating uniquely distinctive artistry of its sole protagonist. Hats off to you, Robert!!! "Never Hunger" reveals with deep drumming, longing flute and grieving lap steel guitar. Credited on last two tracks is Robert's Californian kindred spirit Forrest Fang for used abstractions of his performance on cümbüş (a Turkish stringed instrument). "After Us" dives into unfathomable depths with its static drone, distant hums and diaphanously rustling embellishments. 6-minute title track "What We Left Behind" incorporates pulsing laid-back rhythms coupled with calmly sweeping expansive washes and strikingly poignant lap steel vistas. Beauty!!! "Meeting Face To Face" starts serenely with slightly exotic fragranced strings, which conjugate with panoptic angelic lap steel choirs and warmly cinematic horizons. A truly gorgeous conclusion!

Robert Rich is known for his perfection and consistency and "What We Left Behind" is a perfect example of his superiorly creative musicianship. A quite colorful 62-minute recording, which showcases all essential insignias of this Californian. They are fully blossoming and wealthily infused by 3 and a half decades of his stellar recording career. Thank you, Maestro!!! "What We Left Behind" is another true piece of art by Robert Rich, which will delight your eyes and ears!!! And by the way, since yesterday the newest CD by Robert Rich entitled "Vestiges" is available for order. A new album after 7 months? Wow, that's a quite unusual for this sonic explorer. I can't wait!!!

Richard Gürtler (Nov 18, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)

19
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "5 Textures" CD by Simon Lomax
« on: November 14, 2016, 11:04:45 AM »


Simon Lomax "5 Textures" CD

Simon Lomax, in UK based guitar soundcarver is active since the end of the 90's, when he debuted under the pseudonym Maitreya with album "From The Mothership" (1999). On his own Council Of Nine label another two Maitreya releases followed, "Telluric Waves" (2003) and ".74" (2004). Then after longer break, lasting over 8 years, when mostly working as one of the main creators on co-developing the Music Skills System, a music teaching methodology, Simon Lomax again returned to composing and releasing his dronescaping muses through Council Of Nine. This time under his name, the year 2013 saw a CD album "Zone Of Cold", followed by "A Glimmer Of Memory" in 2014 on UK's ...txt label. The most recent album on glass mastered format is "5 Textures" on Council Of Nine, which is out, if I am right, since February 2015. Minimalistic elusive artwork, which is one of the earmarks of each album by Simon Lomax, masterfully displays the atmosphere. I must add that Simon Lomax is also involved in composing music for various TV shows and independent films. So when taking into account all above facts, I have no idea why it took me long time before I have explored this enormously gifted virtuoso. My radars simply didn't work properly in this case, shame on me!!! As far I remember, it was eTripper's review several months ago somewhere on Amazon (thanks, man!!!), which turned me into this composer and since then I am deeply fascinated by truly unique atmospheres Simon Lomax is able to forge with his processed guitar manipulations. "5 Textures" is undoubtedly the best example exhibiting all of his ingenious insignias!!!

"If There's Such A Thing As Nothing" unwraps in a truly jaw-dropping way when revealing with slowly emerging monochromatic, yet multi-dimensional desolations, thrillingly mindscaping, which are soon joined by exquisitely evocative meridians, harmoniously enrapturing and intriguingly ear-piercing. Heavy drone hums join this sonic splendor as well and guarantee a superb workout for your speakers. A pure 8 and a half minutes long aural bliss awaits here, certainly an Ambient Hall of Fame composition, bravo Simon!!! "Waiting For Sunrise" remains on utterly immersing path and incorporates some really captivating crepuscular patterns persistently illuminated by gently spiraling traceries and clandestinely glimpsing piano reflections. Flickering lyrical subtleties meticulously amalgamate with spellbinding hazy solitariness. What a beauty!!! "Sometimes I Disappear", with 9:35 the longest piece on "5 Textures", is announced by enigmatic high-pitched siren, which is soon invaded and counterpointed with euphoniously expansive horizons. Hissy tides inconspicuously sneak in and relentlessly commingle with engrossingly nuanced poignancy. This is another emotional powerhouse rewarding the listener's ear! "An Echo, Unseen" shifts into ambiguously ethereal domains, where ghost-like choirs perpetually coalesce with intensely mind-bending reverberations and intricately fragmented reminiscences. Obviously another phenomenal track in this set! "To Find Stillness In The Waiting" unfolds with interplay of nebulously piquant crescendos and diminuendos, embracing piano blankets and lachrymose bowed strings. A sonic equilibrium masterfully dusting off long forgotten memories. Well-done, Simon!!! Although entitled as "5 Textures", the journey continues with additional closing composition "3 Hours Of Night (The 6th Texture)", which delves into slightly rawer stringed terrains, although again virtuosically reinforced by intensified serenities.

Simon Lomax is for me one of the biggest revelations during the last few years and I am still asking myself how could I miss such creative genius for many years? Well, the more I am delighted now when exploring all these exceptional aural realms. "5 Textures" album is an absolute must-have for each connoisseur of sophisticatedly inventive guitar dronesculpting. The album clocks only over 41-minute mark and that's the only weak point here, because Simon Lomax stands safely shoulder to shoulder with the giants of the genre. That's how gifted is this guy, so don't make the same mistake I did!!! Except above mentioned 6 albums, don't hesitate to explore also digital only release "An Ember Glows", which documents live-to-air performance of Simon Lomax on legendary Star’s End Radio in November 22nd 2015 on WXPN in Philadelphia. And last but not least, a new recording is now in the works, so this time I will definitely keep an ear to the ground!!!

Richard Gürtler (Nov 13, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)

20
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Hinterland" CD by Stephen Bacchus
« on: November 08, 2016, 10:32:22 AM »


Stephen Bacchus "Hinterland" CD

Stephen Bacchus, a Canadian composer based in Ontario, is most likely best know for his participation on the famous "The Ambient Expanse" CD, a collaborative project featuring iconic names such as Steve Roach, vidnaObmana, Vir Unis and Patrick O'Hearn, where he appears on "Point Of Safety" track with guest contribution by Steve Roach. Yeah, great memories awake, these were the golden days of ambient movement. This is dated back to 1998, around that time Canadian label Mirage (a division of Oasis Productions) released several highly acclaimed CDs by renowned or newcomer artists such as vidnaObmana & Jeff Pearce, MaJaLe & Vir Unis, Robert Scott Thompson, Danna & Clément or Stephen Bacchus. I am missing so much these good old days. The guy behind Oasis Productions, a label, which is still active, is Grant Mackay and he is also an artistic entity hidden behind the moniker Stephen Bacchus. Stephen Bacchus discography includes around 6 solo albums plus several collaborations and split releases with other artists, like already mentioned fellow Canadian artists Mychael Danna and Tim Clément. Grant Mackay was active also under his real name, when releasing during the last decade numerous recordings on Earthaven (another sub-label of Oasis Productions) focusing solely on wildlife field recordings. With "Hinterland", deeply influenced by Canadian wilderness, Stephen Bacchus again searches for his own composing insignias. Released during September 2016, the CD comes in a 4-panel digipak with extensive liner notes.

"The Undiscovered Country" immediately shifts the listener into tranquilly embracing sceneries, where crystallinely tinkling traceries commingle with warmly nuanced, slightly orchestral vistas. Rather shorter intro shows the path, which leads towards more peaceful new age terrains than those more nebulously piquant. Poetic piano droplets on "When I Am With You Again" merge with nostalgic reminiscences, later metamorphosing into joyfully cascading melodies. The compositions on "Hinterland" are shorter and quite numerous, counting 20 pieces with total running time 66 minutes, thus the overall feel is to my taste less immersing, it rather works like a collection of small introspective stories, although strongly connected by its natural environment, no matter if melancholic or euphoric. "Destination" reveals with ethereal poignancy, magnified by romantic arrangements. "Nostalgia For The Future" attracts with its catchy blend of zither-like strings and bowed strings arrangements, with little touch of Far East fragrances, and hauntingly emerging evocative blankets. Exactly in this 3-minute composition I wish its length would be longer. Among the following pieces, "Beauty In Caves" gets my instant attention due to its more ambient-infused mood, where sweeping cinematic layers commingle with spirited undulations and exquisitely gossamer shimmers. One of my fave compositions so far! "No Regrets" is announced by drifting surroundings, but the scenario is soon stolen by permeating piano notes amalgamated with glimpsing bowed strings and flamboyantly narrative patterns. "My Expression", as displayed its title, brings to the center stage poetic piano minimalism merged with gently illuminating textures. "Up Ahead, There's A Signpost" reveals with more enigmatic subterranean intro, but then again slowly slips into more poetic, yet graceful dimensions, peppered here and there with climaxing traverses and transient spatial embellishments. "Days Of Dreaming" glides on the wings of intangibly expansive sublimity, while undulating lyrical miniatures persistently pervade across. "Friend Of Doubt", with 4:21 the longest track on "Hinterland" again merges more spacious background curtains with expressive nuances and romantic motifs. "Miniature #2" explores calm sounds of piano and harp with some ascending celestial washes riding atop, then inconspicuously transmuting through symphonic glimmers back to soothing cinematic terrains. Hissy nostalgic tides of "Getting Above The Clouds" are counterpointed with lachrymose reflection. "The Edge Of Remote" merges lushly ear-tickling organics with balmy exotic aromas. The title composition "Hinterland" is filled with epic orchestral movements, occasionally enriched by wildlife quietudes. The most melodious tune "All Roads Lead Home" closes this album in a quite delighted tone.

I appreciate so much the glass mastered digipak format of "Hinterland", kudos to Grant Mackay!!! If you are searching for relaxing, new age-driven soundsculptings, don't hesitate to explore Stephen Bacchus wanderings though picturesque untamed Canadian wilderness. Just keep in mind, it's by far more poetic and romantic flavored than ambiguously adventurous. Although "Hinterland" is probably the most matured and sophisticated recording of Stephen Bacchus, to my ears, his most remarkable releases remain "Ambient Origins (Collected Early Works 1983-1987)" (CD released on Mirage in 1998) and "Etherium" (CDr out on Oasis/Akasa in 2006), both for its mostly enigmatically dissonant and contemplatively immersing soundcarving.

Richard Gürtler (Nov 06, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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