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Drifting In Silence "Dawn" CDr

Drifting In Silence is Derrick Stembridge, an artist based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Although releasing albums since 2006, it took me much longer time before I was able to explore his soundworlds. If I am counting right, it was his eight album "Artificial", which is available on CDr format and was released during January 2016, that really caught my attention at the beginning of 2017. As far I know, older albums by Drifting In Silence were bridging ambient carvings with more industrial and IDM-flavored ingredients. With "Artificial" its sole creator returned to pure atmospheric soundsculpting and just the same applies to the latest album "Dawn". This one is out since October 2017 on Labile Records, as a CDr format packaged in a 4-panel digipak. I believe Labile Records is run by Derrick Stembridge, who is releasing on this label also his other related projects like Unknowndivide, delving into more groovier terrains or Re:conscious, a collaborative force featuring except Derrick also Mike Petruna aka DJ Acidgrin from Nashville, Tennessee, covering IDM, EBM or dub-techno styled electronica. Anyway, let's plunge into "Dawn"...

5-plus minutes long "Without" straightly drifts into ethereal domains with gently expansive cascades blended with intangibly distant piano traceries, then surreptitiously metamorphosing into triumphant panoptic blankets reinforced by flickering sequences. Languid tides announce "Verses", at 4:27 the shortest composition on "Dawn", which calmly shifts into gorgeously longing sceneries masterfully painted with monochromatically silent drone supported by solitarily hazy piano narrations, drifting, meandering, culminating, evanescing... Aural ambrosia is served here in a large dose, bravo, Drifting In Silence! "Cursive" reveals immensely enveloping and warmly lachrymose terrains, where cinematically introspective nuances serenely commingle with elusively permeating pillows of embrace, ranging from weeping to praising. Deeply evocative! "Sentiment" exposes its name precisely, when driven by tranquilly resonant brooding solitudes and gliding through intensely scenic panoramas, reaching piquantly amplifying meridians and then fading away into eternal stillness. Pure beauty! The title piece, "Dawn", moves info slightly rawer paths, yet spaciously sonorous, serving soothing cushions for titillating stringed lyricism. "Remember" attracts with sinuously drifting layers percolated by emotionally traversing patterns, before transmuting into vividly bouncing sequencer scenario. The longest track on the album, "Anotherway", clocking over 6 and a half minutes mark, delves into sublimely expanding vastness and keep on floating through awe-inspiring grandness. "October" follows the route of its predecessor, but drifting intensity is carefully softened by balmily encircling piano reflections. Autumnal feeling works just splendidly with this composition. Exquisitely magnificent in depth!!! "Cycle" unfolds with dreamy distant washes, but the stage is quickly stolen by glistening breeze of acoustic strings. Shimmeringly euphonious and heartwarmingly evocative, a true sonic elixir to soothe your body and mind!!! Deeply expressive quietudes of "Adieu" guide this immensely poignant album into its finale.

Over 57 minutes long "Dawn" album is a true aural jewel, I believe still quite hidden, unfortunately! Recordings like this are sometime released very quietly, almost inconspicuously, but the more surprising and rewarding is the final outcome. "Dawn" is exactly that kind of album, a true magic of musingly immersing and enchantingly gratifying work by Derrick Stembridge aka Drifting In Silence. A fully crafted display that needs to be explored, experienced and celebrated, bravo, Derrick!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 14, 2019, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Max Corbacho "Nocturnes II" CD

The beauty of magnificently immersing nocturnal landscapes of Aragón region in northeastern Spain is resurrected once more! Max Corbacho, the Spanish driftscaper par excellence has released the second chapter of "Nocturnes" series during April 2018 through his Silentsun imprint. "Nocturnes II" CD is packaged in an attractive glossy 4-panel digipak, exhibiting original cover photographs by Max Corbacho with additional layout work by Michael Rodriguez Pletz.

The opening "Celistia" track clocks over 23-minute mark and immediately takes the listener into an awe-inspiring vastness, where undisputable, timelessly gliding and ebbing insignias of its sole purveyor meticulously coalesce with balmily glimmering nightly quietudes and inconspicuously permeating faunal symphonies. A journey through grandiosely barren horizons is fully unfolded, Max Corbacho again unlocks the gates to soulfully fascinating terra incognitas. Indeed, an epic listening experience awaits here! Shorter "Nocturnal Bloom" clandestinely soars into even more expansive grandness, a gracefully colossal realms owned by this Spaniard. It's a pity not even a 4 minutes long ambrosial exploration is gone too fast. But no worries, almost 9-minute "Starlight Grace", as indicated by its title, steals the splendor with all its panoptically prodigious monumentality, free-floating spatial solitariness is exquisitely juxtaposed with surges of titillatingly mindscaping reverberations. Tenaciously monstrous, pure magic!!! "Heart Of The Night" is another rather ephemeral odyssey, yet intensely engrossing, where all hues of organic tapestries persistently amalgamate with voluminously undulating magmatic stratums. "Indigo Sphinxes In Dark Canyon", at 3:10 the shortest venture on the album, tightly keeps breathtaking tension of its predecessor, but an array of ear-bending piquant meridians steals the whole spectacle. I keep on delving deeply into staggeringly perplexing chasmal domains... "Timelapse" returns to relatively calmer terrains, but sonic metamorphosis seems to be unstoppable and surreptitiously nuanced scenario moves into a profoundly delightful monolithic vertex. Then through peaceful diminuendoing closing this spellbindingly transcendental circle. Big applaud, Maestro!!! 20-plus minutes long "Moon Apparition" delicately reveals the genius loci of these arid sceneries, where gracefully meandering panoramas of dronescapes precisely harmonize with genuinely shimmering nocturnal field recordings and transitorily trenchant climaxes. Tranquilly enveloping conclusion!

No matter if entering enthrallingly overwhelming skylines, nebulously extraterrestrial spheres, mysteriously labyrinthine inner zones, spectacularly subaqueous depths or majestically monumental architectural masterpieces, Max Corbacho always delivers the very best of his virtuosic soundcarving, a rewardingly abundant momentum of tremendously sophisticated wizardry in sculpting powerfully transporting opuses. With gem like 70-minute "Nocturnes II", but also with "Source Of Present", "Nocturnes" and most especially with recently released "Horizon Matrix" (out since November 30th, 2018), Max Corbacho is triumphantly chasing quintessential milestones such as "Ars Lucis" and "The Ocean Inside". Once again, bravo, Maestro!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 13, 2019, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Mørkerom" CDr by Warpness
« on: January 13, 2019, 08:58:57 AM »

Warpness "Mørkerom" CDr

Tom Ståle Engebretsen. the sonic architect behind Warpness and few other related projects like Elrox Ambient Session or Castana, has released "Mørkerom" CDr album during February 2018 on his own Tape The Sound label. Packaged in a 4-panel digipak, designed by the artist himself, and limited to 50 copies. My lingual diversity is of course very limited, but the liner notes on Bandcamp tell me "Mørkerom" translates from Norwegian as "Dark Room", so it looks like tenebrously dronescaping journey from previous "Atmosphere" album is going to shift into next, oracularly infused domains, let's experience it!

Firstly, "Mørkerom" is sculpted by 16 tracks, so most of them are hanging around 3 or 4-minute mark with only 3 tracks climbing over 5 minutes. And yes, all track titles are in Norwegian, so online translator is on hand too. Anyway, the ride triggers straightly with "Tungsinn", that's "Gloom", so my headphones are invaded by anxiously flavored sinuousness, ambiguously secluded, yet supported by sluggishly marching patterns. Tides of transcendental hums navigate "Alt Ryker" into unfathomable depths, where metallic-colored illuminations transpire here and there along with "Tralfamadore" laid-back glimpses. Intriguingly immersing, more please! "Hissig" stays on dissonant route, sort of eccentric, if "Angry" is correct translation, then it fits precisely. And very short "Uforløst" ("Unresolved") keeps on this path too with persistently crescendoing peculiar helixes. So no wonder the next piece, the title composition "Mørkerom", is driven by obfuscated breaths of extraterrestrial dwellers. "Lysglimt" or "Sparkle" incorporates machinery powered outbursts juxtaposed with "Tralfamadore" resurgences. "Sjelefred" means "Peace Of Mind", so it's quite obvious more relieving passage with driftscaping vistas follows, although still spiced by some dissonant signals, transient spectres and primordial rumblings. "Solstreif" maintains calmer outline, where warmer expansions commingle with few trenchant tapestries, that's "Sunbeam". "Sirkus Inne I Hodet" drives me nuts with its cacophonous shape, but after noticing the word "Sirkus", I am not surprised. Then the complete title "Circus Inside The Head" reveals all... "Undervegs" attracts with its vividly galloping locomotion. "I Kjelleren Er Det Mørkt" delves deeply into hypogeally perplexing realms, where monotonously engulfing drone continuously amalgamates with an array of glimpsing epic meridians. What else to expect "In The Dark Cellar"... "Glemte Minner" ("Forgotten Memories") unfolds with razor sharp electro sounds, later heavier repetitive beats join the center stage, while gliding twists pervade towards the closing passage. Headphone listening is fully rewarding here"! "Drømmer", at 1:36 the shortest cut on "Mørkerom", reveals magnificently immense horizons with right amount of percolating disturbances. You might revive your "Dream" this way... "Det Blir Bare Bedre" or "It Just Gets Better" blends mesmerizingly cadenced IDM ingredients with auxiliary gauzy rumbles or even prog rock glimmers. "Bygdedans" ("Country Side Living And Dancing", thanks, Tom!!!) slows down a bit and again resurrects spectacular aural story called "Tralfamadore". "Signaler", with 9-plus minutes the longest track on the album, closes this audacious trip with serenely drifting mindscapes, crispy relaxed midtempo rhythms and bouncing gossamery signals.

I think this is the fourth album by Tom Ståle Engebretsen I am reviewing and this Viking is always carving his own game, kudos for such creative insignias with truly escapading ingenuity!!! Sure, I could imagine rather longer tracks in 58-minute "Mørkerom" scenario, that's just a question of my preference, but I think exactly in this case some of the shorter tracks lost its potential. Otherwise, another big one from Warpness and its sole protagonist!!! Yes, quite different when comparing to "Atmospheres" for example, with adding some piquant "Tralfamadore" earmarks and a large dose of multifariously flavored enigmas. And keep in mind, shortly after "Mørkerom", Tom Ståle Engebretsen has released another album, this time under the moniker Elrox Ambient Session, it's entitled "Footprints On The Moon" and it's available since March 2018 through Tape The Sound label.

Richard Gürtler (Jan 11, 2019, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Tranquility" CDr by Ambiscend
« on: January 11, 2019, 10:32:13 AM »

Ambiscend "Tranquility" CDr

US soundsculptor Darren Rogers, based in Texas, keeps on releasing his albums through Imagineer Records, his own label. Ambiscend is the most recent project name of Darren Rogers and "Tranquility" is the title of the album, which was released during April 2018 as a CDr edition packaged in a thin 4-panel digipak. The artwork was designed by Roger's wife Lynda.

Nearly 10-minute "Time Of Tranquility" unfolds with balmy forest symphonies and weightlessly gliding cinematically romantic washes, fueled by engrossingly yearning feel. This composition exactly sounds how it is called. A bit lighter to my taste, yet gracefully warm. "Floating Enchantment", at 7:55 the shortest track on "Tranquility", keeps tightly on the path, where nocturnal ambrosias persistently commingle with gently undulating and mellowly expansive, vintage-infused serenities. Again, the track title speaks for itself. "Earth Sings Its Song" juxtaposes eternal coastal quietudes with poignantly evocative musings. Ethereal majesty gorgeously coalesces with introspective vistas. Rainy seashore ataraxis announces the next composition, appropriately entitled "The Night Is Calling", where auxiliary surrounding nectarous blankets are carefully reinforced by sequences of gossamery tinkling traceries. Pure aural beauty is served here, well-done, Darren! "Earth's Bedtime", with 10:20 the longest piece, retains its sweeping nightly calmness and closes this relentlessly soothing journey with longing dreamscapes, while meditative, yet intangibly remote singing bowls permeate here and there. Very nice conclusion!

"Tranquility" is obviously more new-age fragranced album than one of the previous works, "Interstellar Love", released under Darren's own name during 2016 (followed by darker "The Future Approaching" in 2017), but still safely drifting on the edge of eternally engulfing ambient warmth. Sure, since I am the one who rather dives into nebulously dronescaping or tenebrously abysmal realms, I would most likely use slightly smaller amount of luscious field recordings throughout the album, but Ambiscend's sole creator kept his focus fastened to the theme. Thus "Tranquility" was a very peaceful ride from beginning to end. Just relax and enjoy!!! And as far I know, "Tranquility II" album is in the works, so keep connected to these placid zones!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 10, 2019, Bratislava, Slovakia)


April Larson "Hopeless Variations" CDr

I have noticed April Larson, in Louisiana based dronesculptor for the first time around the summer of 2017 during my Polar Seas Recordings explorations. "Up Below" CDr on this label (April 2017) and "Void" CDr on Assembly Field (February 2016) are, I believe, first two April Larson's solo releases on CDr format, although few other cassette releases appeared around the same time along with 4 mini CDr compilation "The 1922 Analemma Fault", featuring also Loscil, Talk West and Lost Trail projects. But it was "Hopeless Variations" CDr album released December 1st 2017 on Canadian label Pyramid Blood Recordings, which really triggered my interest into April's dronescaping endeavours. The album, limited to 50 copies, comes in a 4-panel digipak featuring immersing cover and inside photography art by April Larson and Paul Duchnay of Pyramid Blood.

3 and a half minutes long "Binary Star" ignites the journey with spellbindingly monochromatic drone balm immediately transporting the listener into infinite emptiness and the album's artwork is fully displayed also by the following track "Spira Spera", continuing with the gliding expanse explorations. Pure drifting magic keeps on unfolding... "After The Void" delves deeper into unfathomably transcendental Eden, where massively flatlined monoliths juxtapose with inconspicuously nuanced graceful meridians. The track title speaks for itself... 6-minute "Pictures Of Tomorrow", the longest of "Hopeless Variations", remains tightly on the path with slightly rawer ear-tickling reverberations carving enigmatic spirals. "The End Of The Sky" shifts into monumentally nebulous realms with persistently titillating vertexes. "What Wouldn't You Do", at 2:49 the shortest cut on the album, floats through colossally enveloping spheres cautiously amplified by intriguing resonations. Beauty, but I could imagine this piece much longer, it's a pity. "An Isolated Incident" dwells on the similar, staggeringly enveloping route, again tenaciously drifting, this time without auxiliary reverberations. "You Were A Promise" blends immensely shimmering drone stratums with celestial wistfulness. The next track, "The Absent Stars", drifts weightlessly through awe-inspiring, gradually expanding and eternally enrapturing spheres. Atmospheric grace at its most ambiguous! And that can be applied to intensely sonorous "Earthbound", where thrillingly piquant droneforging reaches full bloom! "Home Tonight" tenderizes the odyssey a bit, but your ears are still deeply focused. "Sleep Machine" fires up again all April Larson's drone insignias, where desolately abysmal amplitudes meticulously interact with stupendously ear-bending and magnifying crescendoing consonances. An epic bliss and a grand finale!!!

To be honest, throughout the album I hear several unwanted micro sound clicks and also I would recommend longer tracks as some of the pauses were more disturbing, maybe the overlapping sculpting or even a long-form scenario would be more engulfing with adding extra diversity. However, "Hopeless Variations" album is a true revelation for me and an absolute must-have for all drone connoisseurs drifting towards the Void, who are not afraid of profoundly mindscaping and monochromously quintessential magnitudes. If you are familiar with my reviews, then you might have known already who is my Drone Kaiser, now you just have learned who is my Drone Queen. Well-done and keep on droning, April!!! And btw, also "Hopeless Variations" 3"x3" iron-on patch is available from Pyramid Blood Recordings.

Richard Gürtler (Nov 25, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Annemarie Borg "In Nomine Tellus" CD

After self-released "In Nomine Cetus" CD (June 2014 on Antara Project), French/Swedish soundpainter (poet, lyricist, singer, environmentalist, educator...) Annemarie Borg, based in London, returns with the second part of the trilogy, entitled "In Nomine Tellus" and released on Swedish gterma label during February 2018. The album is packaged in catchy 6-panel disc eco wallet featuring panoramic photography and visual art by the artist herself with the additional design by gterma's Johan Rehn. The mastering credit, as usual with all gterma releases, goes to A.P of Ghost Sounds.

As described in the liner notes, "In Nomine Tellus" is a Tone Poem of our time in three parts. 8-plus minutes long "Quiet Storm Phase One" and 17-minute "Earth Lament" comprise the first part. Intangibly desolate drone rumbles coalesce with poignantly crescendoing and meandering cinematic piquancy before inconspicuously transmuting into monochromatically gargantuan hums softened by tiding organic tapestries. Balmily enveloping, yet monumentally majestic! Thus the title "Quiet Storm Phase One" is precisely displayed. Whale sounds and roars, field recordings, noises and Annemarie's expressive chants announce "Earth Lament", while backed by quietly droning expansive horizons. Stringed anxiousness arise here and there. After 8 minutes the scenario shifts into profoundly embracing orchestral sadness, which later metamorphoses into slightly calmer sceneries juxtaposed by persistently craving cascades. A very powerful sonic statement indeed! Second part counts three compositions, "Quiet Storm Phase Two", "Masau'u" and "Avahana Timi". The first one, "Quiet Storm Phase Two" keeps on rather tranquil route, although pervaded by gently escalating feel before evanescing through helixing quietudes. 16 minutes long "Masau'u" immerses the listener into contemplatively gliding panoptic realms meticulously reinforced by Annemarie's exquisite vocal artistry. Aural nectar is served here!!! "Avahana Timi" amalgamates perplexing grumbles, whale calls and seashore symphony with Annemarie chanting Gayatri Mantra. The closing part includes two tracks, "Quiet Storm Phase Three" and "Pace". Emotive yearning motifs of "Quiet Storm Phase Three" delve into unfathomable depths, while sinuous patterns keep on illuminating and seek for the vestige of guidance. The closing composition "Pace" brings to the stage cello mastery of Patrick Tapio Johnson, who has already contributed to Annemarie's album "Iridescent Perceptions" (2012). Weeping cello curtains gorgeously commingle with evocative piano notes and tranquilly embracing location recordings. A very touching epilogue, where mournful vistas are opposed by captivating blankets of hope...

Although deep listening sessions unveiled several, mostly inaudible, glitch errors on "Earth Lament", the sound quality is for sure satisfying and especially the use of quality headphones offers a fully rewarding journey. Nearly 75 minutes long "In Nomine Tellus" is a really strong album, hauntingly sonorous and immensely engrossing. And just the same as with its predecessor "In Nomine Cetus", this sonic installment manifests intense messages for all of us, the whole mankind about the future of our Earth. It's a global issue, it's still not too late, but the countdown is certainly on... That's "In Nomine Tellus" by Annemarie Borg, feel free to explore it, enjoy it, contribute and make the difference!!!

Richard Gürtler (Nov 21, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Wolves And Horses "Every Moment Of Light And Dark" CD

Wolves And Horses is a solo project by Christian Saint-Viteux, an ambient soundsculptor based in Belgium. "Every Moment Of Light And Dark" CD album is out since December 2015 on Norwegian UAE Records as a follow up to his debut CD EP "Wolves And Horses", which was released on the same label in May 2015. The album is packaged in a very nice 6-panel digipak designed by the artist himself, additional credit goes to Ultimae's Vincent Villuis for his mastering duties. Although it took me nearly two years before I was able to explore Wolves And Horses, I was strongly fascinated by Christian's deeply embracing and poetically immersing aural and visual driftscapes since the very first day of my encounter.

"The Sand In The Hourglass", at 3:32 the shortest piece on the album, reveals this powerfully engulfing journey with gorgeously sweeping waves, permeated by glitchy reflections and warmly evocative piano glimpses. "Crossing The Last River" delves into profoundly graceful, panoramically cinematic and perpetually tiding expanses, again reinforced by sparse, yet mindful piano traceries, intricate organic solitudes and intangibly glancing enigmatic voice/crowd samples. Pure beauty!!! "A Place Between Heaven And Earth", with 8 and a half minutes the longest track on this ride, keeps safely on the path, where tranquilly floating horizons commingle with intensely nuanced wistfulness and stubbornly sequenced balmy motifs. The next tune, "The Infinite Meadows Of Heaven", shifts into heart-warming, yet nebulously infused realms, here and there augmented by gently outbursting fragments. Colossally majestic "My Soul Is A Dark Forest" is driven by hazed female ethereal chant magic and memorable moments from my sonic explorations during the second half of the 80's are resurrected once again. So it is with the following, enigmatically engrossing masterpiece "Like Ashes In The Wind", which authenticates some important influences for Wolves And Horses. "The Death Of Joseph Wayne", as indicated by its title carves deeply elegiac sceneries with mildly crescendoing organic tapestries. Part 1 of "The Walls We Build Around Us", which clocks over 8-minute mark, unfolds with nostalgically panoptic blankets, while the second, 6 minutes long portion moves into more tensely undulating domains, continuously imbued by introspective time-lapses. The closing track, "The Limits Of Nothingness", drifts into ambiguously fragranced spheres magnified by cyber-biotic infusions with inconspicuously ascending piano subtleties. A very strong finale!

Although I could imagine slightly cleaner sound quality with broader dynamic range, "Every Moment Of Light And Dark" is undoubtedly a truly impressive recording by Wolves And Horses fastidiously amalgamating enveloping tenebrous stratums with nectarously soothing heavenly pillows, and meticulously conjugating sonic, cover art and lyrical expressions. No wonder, as far I know digital painting is another hobby of the sole creator behind Wolves And Horses. Constantly rewarding 64-minute listening experience awaits here, bravo, Christian!!! So it's quite obvious I highly recommend also already mentioned "Wolves And Horses" CD EP. And last but not least, the newest album "Earth" is in the works, still unknown if on a label or as a self release. In any case, I will keep a focused ear to the ground.

Richard Gürtler (Oct 28, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Steve Roach "Return To The Dreamtime" 2xCD

February 10th, 2018, Solar Culture's Galactic Center, Tucson, Arizona. The magic thoroughly unfolds, towards the dream, again...

Symphonious forest quietudes are amalgamated with mesmerizingly infinite and animately propelled sequences. Dreamtime origins are serenely ascending in distant solitudes and clandestinely spread across the magnificently expansive panoramas. Sparkling cyber-tech glimpses keep on emerging, while intensely nuanced audacious meridians move to the forefront here and there. The listener is persistently confronted with blossoming momentum of virtuosic soundmagic, where infinite sequencer illuminations seamlessly commingle with engrossingly sweeping ancient memories, where nebulously vigorous tribals aggregate with warmly yearning vistas, where indigenous ceremonies coalesce with spellbinding drone spirals, where utterly graceful horizons harmonize with glimmering moments of eternally immersing silence, where shimmering subtleties blend with tranquilizing synthetic helixes, where flamboyantly hypnotic state-of-the-art alchemies reach symmetrical equilibrium with the genius loci of awe-inspiring terra incognitas. Return to the dreamtime is fully ignited, the gates are unlocked once again, enter now!!!

Delving into magnificent gallery of three ingeniously creative and exquisitely poignant decades separating, yet profoundly connecting two milestones, the epic journey continues...

Richard Gürtler (Apr 15 & Oct 14, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Juta Takahashi "Light And Shadows" 2xCD

Japanese dronescaper virtuoso Jutaro "Juta" Takahashi has released "Light And Shadows" double album quite unexpectedly at the beginning of December 2017 on his own Lunisolar Records. More especially as his previous masterwork "Albion" was dated at the end of April same year and it came after longer hiatus. "Light And Shadows", as Juta's 12th album, seems to be his most ambitious project with its extended scenario. As usual for this soundcarver, the tracks are rather lengthier, three on each CD. Four of these tracks have already appeared on ...txt's compilations "Nagual 3" and "Nagual 4" (both released during 2017 on USB memory sticks). Joni Niemelä, a self-taught fine art nature photographer from Finland gets credit for his immersing "Summer Reds" cover photography.

"Heat Haze", at 16:56 the second longest piece on the set, reveals with mesmerizingly monochromatic densities juxtaposed with balmily engrossing introspective tides, infinetely majestic, while an array of intangibly glimpsing organic subtleties persistently pervade across. Beauty! "Tangerine Blue", one of the two exclusive pieces on this journey, shifts into more graceful, free-gliding horizons, warmly evocative and serenely reverberating, reinforced here and there by sharper yearning meridians and glancing stringed illuminations. Juta Takahashi keeps on serving his identifying aural nectar! So it's no surprising the closing track of first disc, "Escape Velocity", incorporates benignly dissonant, slightly high-pitched patterns, insistently titillating and exquisitely coalesced with rather flatlined drone undercurrents. The unmistakable insignias of its sole protagonist are again in full bloom! Well-done, Juta!!!

"Sun Shower" opens the second CD with spellbindingly monochromous layers, while contemplatively diaphanous tinkles are hanging above in secluded distance and continuously commingle with quietly traversing, yet bouncy motifs. A sonic oasis, where intensely gliding panoptic stratum tightly coexists with exquisitely euphonious nuances. Monolithic warmth at its most sonorous, a true masterpiece!!! "Deeper Skies", the second unreleased track on this set follows the path of warmly evocative panoramas, although slightly calmer and less tenser than its predecessor. But still painted with enough expansive hues with the infusions of softer ear-tickling glimmers. I would say a sort of "inconspicuous" piece during the first exploration, but each additional spin reveals the full magic of this enchantingly reflective composition. Its sinuous structure, especially during the second half with meticulously surreptitious transitions is utterly awesome!!! Certainly another stunner on this ride and a possible magnum opus, bravo, Juta!!! With 17-plus minutes the longest track on the album, "Autumn Bringer" unfolds with gossamer organic trimmings, which are soon joined by poignantly meandering piquant tapestries insistently contrasted with silently engulfing musings. Serene conclusion where autumnal tranquility begins to settle down...

Almost 97 minutes long "Light And Shadows" is undoubtedly another intensely enthralling opus by Juta Takahashi, masterfully gathering released and exclusive compositions into one deeply focused and all-inclusive challenging collection of trademarking soundcarvings. "Light And Shadows" is simply the chef-d'oeuvre, but as always, I strongly recommend to explore the entire discography by Juta Takahashi. Juta's wizardry is tremendously consistent, but that's what this artist, based in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, is known for. And by the way, in case you have missed his first three albums released on CDr formats (the next nine albums are all glass mastered), which are out-of-print for very long time, you can now order these albums on USB memory stick. Entitled as "Triad". "Across The Flow", "Remembrance" and "Moonlit Flowers" albums were originally released during 2007 and 2008. "Triad" is housed in a nicely designed tin metal case with a mini card for artwork and liner notes. Each card is serially numbered. Out since May 23rd, 2018, limited to 100 copies.

Richard Gürtler (Sep 16, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Galactic Underground "<G.U>" CD

Behind the name of Galactic Underground is hidden Belgian soundscaper Johan Geens, who is rather known for his Venja project focusing on more chillout, downtempo oriented electronics. As the name of the project suggests, on "<G.U>" Johan dives into ambient deep space realms. The album is out since October 16th 2017 on Wool-E label, based in Gent, Belgium, and I was immediately impressed by the high-quality packaging as "<G.U>" comes as a 6-panel DVD size digipak with panoramic poster & 3D glasses with fully transporting photographs of cratered lunar plains. A truly top-notch caliber, rather rare these days when the labels try to push down their pressing expenses. Kudos to all involved for such visually impressive product!!!

7 and a half minutes long "Destination Unknown" unfolds the odyssey with arising ear-tickling space glitters, which immediately ignite and ascend awe-inspiring solitary expansions, nebulously immense, gracefully nuanced and massively engrossing. Yeah, it's quite obvious the visual part of the album is instantly bridged with the creative signatures of its sole protagonist, pure beauty!!! "Sky Ripped", with nearly 11 minutes the second longest journey on "<G.U>", keeps safely on the path with drifting and ebbing stratums meticulously juxtaposed with continuously emanating dissonant glimpses. As much titillating as intriguing. Additional layer of subtly cadenced sequences quietly permeates across and amalgamates with intangibly infinite spirals. On "Emerging" quietly evolving, yet swiftly climaxing helixes commingle with NASA astronaut radio transmissions. "Mirage" coalesces organic quietudes and rattles, ascending reverberant meridians, trembling enigmas, remote winds and glancing ghostly groans, before clandestinely transmuting into tribal-infused domains, where the maestro Robert Rich gets guest credit for his percussive insignias. Another big one! "Oblivion" delves into ambiguously unfathomable depths with sparse deep beat, punctured by gossamery contemplative tinkles. Rawer layers inconspicuously climb from the void along with monochromatic drone splendor. Wow, a truly jaw-dropping ride!!! Extraterrestrially panoptic soundsculpting on 5-plus minutes long "Burning" brings to the foreground stunning vocal performance by Ukrainian vocalist, based in Poland, Roksana Vikaluk. With her richly expressive chants and vocals in Ukrainian she immediately shifts the listener into another spectacularly flavored and poignantly enrapturing domains. Bravo! On "Solitary Waves" excels another renowned guest musician, this time it's a famous ambient guitarist Erik Wøllo from Norway. His exquisitely lyrical strings masterfully integrate with Johan Geens' warmly celestial billows. Well done, Gentlemen, well done! The next composition "Blooming" brings back to the stage Roksana Vikaluk, who again steals the spectacle with her stunningly embracing vocal performance riding on the wings of Johan's perplexingly undulating washes. More please! "Photons Colliding", the longest piece on the album clocking just over 12 and a half minute mark, keeps on the orbit with subtly disruptive tides, but after about 3 minutes more lively synthetic throbs infiltrate and maintain the rhythmic efficiency over the course of the track. An array of glimmering sequences overrun as well for the most spirited quest so far. Short "Leaving", as displayed by its title, astrogates the journey into conclusion with evanescent heartbeats, glitchy fragments and balmily engulfing horizons mildly imbued by auxiliary voice transmissions. Brief, yet very efficient.

Although maybe slightly more colorful to my taste when it goes to deep space voyaging, still a very sophisticated and proficiently equilibrated installment dedicated to the mysteries of the Moon. But the whole album is exactly advertised this way, so absolutely no low points from me for its dazzling glare. Deep respect to Johan Geens/Galactic Underground, all his guests and all participants on this aural and visual gem, you guys can be really proud of such artistic level and splendidly all-inclusive concept!!! "<G.U>" CD was released in a limited edition of 300 copies and according to Wool-E shop it's still available, so don't hesitate to explore this well-hidden, 70-minute long jewel, indeed it's highly recommended!!! And by the way, as far I know, Johan Geens is also one of the driving forces behind B-Wave festival, organized since 2013 in Belgium. The line-up of the newest 2018 chapter has been announced few days ago with headlining giants like Michael Stearns and Erik Wøllo and additional four supporting acts from Belgium and Germany. Certainly don't miss this event!!! Wish me a luck, if all goes well, see you there at December 1st 2018...

Richard Gürtler (Jul 08, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Stuzha "Siberian Sketches Pt.II" CD

Stunningly immersing journey through remote landscapes of Siberia continues!!! Daniil Kazantsev, the sole creator behind Stuzha and _Algol_, who is now based in the UK, returns with another chapter of his enveloping sonic travelogues focusing on his beloved picturesque mother region. The original demo "Siberian Sketches" was released 10 years ago, then reissued twice, firstly on Snowy Tension Pole in 2011 as a CDr, while the 2016 digipak CD reissue on Ksenza Records featured also a very limited wooden boxset (13 copies). A true collector's item indeed!!! Stuzha is also known for the masterful "Butugichag" CD album (released in January 2015 on Ksenza) telling the story about Kolyma, one of the most frightening Gulag labor camps during the Stalin era. "Siberian Sketches Pt.II" is out again on Ksenza Records, since November 15th 2017 and comes in a catchy 4-panel digipak with original photographs taken by the artist himself.

7-minute "В Метель" or "Into The Blizzard" immediately sets the atmosphere of vast frozen expanses with rustic villages, when carefully amalgamating engrossing field recordings with sparse, yet deeply evocative strings, both electric and acoustic, and occasional enigmatic vocals by Daniil. The cover art of the album precisely interacts with Stuzha's aural insignias and the listener is confronted with all the beauty, mysteries and contrasts of these uniquely majestic sceneries. The next piece "Транссиб" ("Transsiberian") as indicated by its title, dives deeply into the magical adventure of traveling through Trans-Siberian Railway, with over 9 000 kilometers the longest railway line in the world. Again the array of location recordings, this time railway-driven works with expressive stringed arrangements, no matter if slightly rawer or lyrically evocative. "Зимний Лес (Пробуждение)", in English "Winter Forest (Awakening)" juxtaposes humming organic symphonies with glitchy traceries, scattered strings, percussive subtleties and rural blankets. But stringed narrations, as much serenely captivating as colorfully warm, soon steal the center stage. Beauty!!! "Зимний Лес" ("Winter Forest") continues the ride through untouched snowy terrains, where sounds of squeaking snow continuously commingle with almost poetic quietudes of acoustic and electric guitar. "Здесь Нет Жизни Без Oгня", translated as "Here Is No Life Without A Fire" moves into more mysterious paths and coalesces intangibly solitary piano and stringed patterns with ear-tickling fire crackles and glimpsing tenser horizons. "Зимний Лес (Засыпание)" or "Winter Forest (Slumber)" bridges rawer, yet secluded field recordings with balmily embracing stringed poignancy. "Узник Подземелья" ("Lost in the Catacombs") delves deeply into nebulously intriguing domains powered by sparse, but titillating high-pitched embellishments and halcyon blend of strings and harmonica. "Ночь В Деревне" means "A Night in the Village" and this track closes this profoundly rewarding journey with warmly balladic strings, lulling village sound fragments and male vocal yarn.

"Siberian Sketches Pt.II" album, clocking to 49 and half minutes, is a truly immersing sonic postcard from some of the most immense, breathtakingly beautiful, remarkably kaleidoscopic and the most sparsely populated regions in the world. A truly adventurous exploration of Siberia awaits here, so don't hesitate to experience the soundworlds of Daniil Kazantsev aka Stuzha!!! And definitely don't miss also his other project _Algol_, focusing on deep space voyaging, or his Black Wanderer outcome, diving into oracular dark ambient territories. "All These Worlds Are Yours" by _Algol_ and "Hostile Territory" by Black Wanderer are out on Ksenza Records.

Richard Gürtler (Jun 24, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Alphaxone & Dronny Darko "Forsaken" CD

Richly international roster of Cryo Chamber label offers here another thrilling collaborative project! Last summer I have deeply focused on "Stardust" album, where Iranian soundscaper Mehdi Saleh aka Alphaxone joined his forces with Ukrainian dark ambient explorer Sasha Cats Puzan of ProtoU. On "Forsaken" Alphaxone connects his creative insignias with the second half of Puzan's couple, with Oleh, the sole purveyor behind Dronny Darko. The team is completed by Niklas Lövgren, who is responsible for the visual splendor, while Cryo Chamber's Simon Heat customarily takes care of the mastering job. "Forsaken" CD comes in a 6-panel digipak and it's out since August 22nd, 2017.

6-minute "Beginning" reveals with distant flickering traceries and hissy gossamer shimmers, while massive unfathomable undercurrents slowly permeate and transmute into staggeringly embracing horizons, here and there percolated by elusively clicking glimpses. "Immersion" unsurprisingly unlocks the portal to the magnificently expansive realms, where massively humming monochromatic monoliths carve transcendental helixes and persistently commingle with warmly celestial choirs and lighter, intangibly titillating glitches. It's a big one, I could easily drift with this one for much longer time than only 4-plus minutes! Anyway, it's quite obvious "Enter The Gates" now follows! High-tech-organic vistas continuously juxtapose with heavier drone stratums relentlessly cascading into jaw-droppingly magnifying vertexes. "The First Convolution", with 6:40 the longest piece on "Forsaken", masterfully amalgamates noisier, ear-tickling sparkles with efficiently spiraling infinite abyssal vestiges. Delving deeply into spellbinding zones where translucent fragments meticulously conjugate with gaping drone escalations. Another precisely fitting track title! "Dissolution Of Thought" safely glides through the expansive voluminousness although rather euphoniously quieter than sonorously leviathan. With 5 minutes maybe a bit shorter, please slightly longer scenario next time! But stunningly engulfing track, bravo!!! "In Between" follows the path too, more subaqueously serene, yet reinforced by an array of evanescent rumbles and blips. Mind-bending listening delight! "Approaching" dives into hazily ominous terrains, where solitary signals merge with cyber-biotic harmonies, no matter if pervaded by industrial-infused ambiguities or by obfuscated derelict quietudes. Closing "Outlying" is driven by oracular choirs and phantasmal voices, then metamorphosing into hushed tenebrous pathways and slowly fading away on the wings of calmly murmuring solitudes.

I feel the pauses between some tracks are a bit abrupt, I think possible overlapping would be by far more transporting and as mentioned above, maybe I would go for lengthier journeys on few particular masterpieces. But otherwise 45-minute "Forsaken" is a truly exquisite collaboration between two highly crafted and strongly respected Cryo Chamber soundsculptors. Great album, great synergy, Mehdi & Oleh!!! I am not informed if Alphaxone has something new in the stove, but Dronny Darko has released in the meantime his next album on Cryo Chamber entitled "Black Hive" (March 2018). And on the top of that Oleh is also one half in the projects Hivetribe (jointly with his wife Sasha) and Cryogenic Weekend (together with Oil Texture). "Foreign Winds" CD by Purl & Hivetribe is out since September 2017 on Spanish Faint imprint (sub-label of Archives), while Cryogenic Weekend's "Polar Sleep" 3xCD was released during February 2018 on Swedish Reverse Alignment label. Lots of top-notch dronescaping adventures await here!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 20, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Simon Lomax "A Strange Light" CD

I won't hide the truth, it took me almost ages before Simon Lomax landed on my radars (including his Maitreya project), but since October 2016 my shame is gone, I am relieved and deeply fascinated by the creative insignias of this exceptionally crafted guitar soundscaper based in the UK. I reviewed previous Simon's album "5 Textures" back in the November 2016 and since then I was eagerly awaiting the next chapter. The big day came at October 27th 2017 when the newest album "A Strange Light" was released through Simon's own imprint Council Of Nine in a limited edition of 100 copies. Fortunately on a glass mastered format and as usual, graced by stunningly intangible visuals.

And just like its predecessor "5 Textures" the album reveals with strikingly poignant balmscape, where silently emerging, but graciously nuanced and utterly immersing solitary memories exquisitely juxtapose with inconspicuously permeating, yet ear-piercingly mindscaping vistas and elusively gurgling quietudes. The title "Watching The Vapour Form" speaks for itself, so 8-plus minutes long aural magic awaits here! "A Heart Filled With Hope" is slightly more rawer and droning, when melting magnifying layers of longing with distant ethereal glimmers. Ambiguously perpetual rotor blades announce and propel "Hidden Descent", but the splendor is quickly stolen by meticulously embracing and hazily expansive movements, here and there percolated by piquant glimpses, while transient piano narrations magnificently paint elegiac evocativeness. 9 minutes of pure artistic ingeniousness, a Hall of Fame phenomenon indeed!!! "The Light Between (Sea & Sky)" again masterfully commingle warmly drifting blankets with ascending titillating vertexes. On the next composition, "When I'm Gone", nebulously subterranean undercurrents are continuously invaded by intesifyingly rushing meridians and occasionally soothed by glancing diminuendos. Splendiferous powerhouse, as much euphoniously ambrosial as intriguingly disrupting! The title piece "A Strange Light", clocking to almost 5-minute mark, quiets this thrillingly rewarding ride with gently cascading introspective tides, but still serenely culminating and amalgamated with tranquil evanescences. "In The Emptiness" hovers on more monochromatic scale at the beginning, but later amplifying subtleties surreptitiously move to the forefront and keep on ebbing and flowing. Beauty! The closing "Adrift" delightfully blends enveloping reverberant curtains with high-pitched transcendental magnitudes. Sonorously engrossing conclusion!

You know probably that feeling when your expectations for some upcoming recording are really high, but in reality the final result even surpasses all your wildest dreams, "A Strange Light" is a such miraculous gem!!! As I said previously, Simon Lomax is standing side by side with the biggest inventors of the genre, that's the fact, nearly 60 minutes long "A Strange Light" is a truly phenomenal work and an ultimate certificate of his glorious consistence and profound virtuosity. As mentioned above this album was released in a quite small run, according to Simon's webshop the CD is still available and this is something that is simply way beyond my understanding... However, clandestinely advertised "A Strange Light" album is undoubtedly one of the most intense recordings I have heard during the last few years. Bravo, Simon, your talent is a gift to all of us!!! You speak to us solely with your art, thank you and keep on creating!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 08, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Eyes Cast Down "The White Island" CDr

Fourth solo album by Eyes Cast Down entitled "The White Island" is out since October 1st, 2017, through Kalindi Music, a small label run by Greg Moorcroft, the sole protagonist behind this Chicago domiciled project. This album follows previous releases "The Separate Ones" (February 2013), "Divinations" (June 2014) and "Souls Adrift, In Disrepair" (July 2016). To make the discography of Eyes Cast Down complete, I have to mention also a collaborative recording "Memory Palace" with Chris Russell, released back in December 2014. "The White Island" is available as a CDr edition packaged in a 4-panel digipak designed by the artist himself and featuring his inside photographs, while the credit for the front and back cover photographs goes to Greg Moorcroft's wife Dasi.

"Mirage One" is the opening 8 and a half minutes long piece, while another two "Mirage" parts appear later on the album. Profoundly immersing, yet calmly reverberating solitary horizons invade and fastidiously juxtapose with persistently permeating glimpses of embracing quietudes. The track title, the visuals and obviously the drone guitar-driven balmy soundscape shifts the listener into silently enveloping linear sceneries. The next composition, 9-minute "The Four Directions Seemed Aflame", carefully merges eternally monochromatic desolate hums with insistently tiding meridians of stretched introspective, but dissonantly traversing transcendental helixes. As much poignantly evocative as it is sonorously ear-piercing, a true sonic opus!!! "Mirage Two", which gets over 11-minute mark, quickly returns to quieter terrains, but again illuminated by titillating cascades of echoed, peculiarly vague hues. "The Eons Are Closing", with 16-plus minutes the longest composition on the album, dives into more contemplative realms and even if reinforced by glancing subtle lyrical-like patterns here and there, some mysteriously unfathomable depths are entered as well, yet still percolated by various distantly rumbling and intriguingly aberrant traceries. "Mirage Three" follows the serenely engulfing path, where gentle flickers continuously arise and evanesce across the tightly immersing layers. Poignant vistas of silence are resurrected as well. Beauty!!! "Submerge", at 5:11 the shortest piece on "The White Island", is firmly rooted to the halcyon resonations of its predecessor, but relentlessly pervaded by a display of high-pitched traverses. Longer "Mystic Memory" takes the listener into magnificently ambiguous subterranean realms, where calmly sinuous streams are exquisitely bridged with perpetually ascending and ominously crescendoing labyrinths. An epic grand finale awaits here!!!

Unfortunately, the unstable CDr format doesn't justify Eyes Cast Down's exceptional artistry in live improvising, when masterfully utilizing 6- and 12-string and fretless electric guitars, electric mandolin, EBow and slide guitar with various soundscaping techniques. Sonic monuments such as "The White Island" and "Souls Adrift, In Disrepair" certainly deserve a glass mastered CD!!! Yes, I can imagine the budget is always very tight and the nowadays' sales most likely don't provide enough support reflected by sales, but I still trust in much bigger potential when having a proper format on hand, more especially in a connection with such creative force exhibited by Eyes Cast Down. I will keep my fingers crossed for you, Greg, because your wizardry needs to be explored, experienced and celebrated!!! Indeed, 74-minute "The White Island" is a well-hidden gem!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 14, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Max Corbacho "Source Of Present" CD

The Spanish Maestro of deepest sonic meditations is back again with his latest aural cathedral entitled "Source Of Present". As a reviewer, even if it's just my free time hobby and passion, I should maybe stay more objective, however, many of you might have known and it's no secret that I have been always utterly fascinated by Max Corbacho's soundworlds. I am simply unable to hide this and when a new album by Max is announced, every time I am looking forward to it just like a small kid for his fave candy. Of course "Source Of Present" CD, created during 2015-2017 and released at November 10th on Max Corbacho's own Silentsun label, was no exception. How could it be? The album comes as a 4-panel digipak with glossy cover image created by the artist himself, while the layout duties are handled, as usual, by Michael Rodriguez Pletz.

"The Beginning Of Remembering" is not only the opening, 24 minutes long opus, but to be straight, also one of the most monumental epics Max has ever carved and undoubtedly one of the most jaw-dropping compositions since his ultimate milestone "The Ocean Inside" released at the end of 2012. How can I resist when such gargantuan driftscape invades my listening room? Ultra tenebrous and voluminously humming, yet gracefully multidimensional stratums swiftly steal the whole, breathtakingly immersing scenario. However, warmly spellbinding vistas clandestinely permeate as well and persistently juxtapose with tiding ear-blowing transcendental meridians. I am loosely gliding across the unfathomably subterranean Eden, enter now and experience this pure magic!!! "Soul Of The World", clocking to 7-plus minutes mark, maintains its monstrously engrossing splendor, but this time more illuminating as the sweeping vastness is insistently amalgamated with flamboyant range of sheets, both intricately mindscaping and balmily titillating. "Echoing Shade" promptly dives into magnificently expansive deserted solitudes, holding the unmistakable southwest signatures of no one else but Max Corbacho's iconic guide. Panoptic serenity at its most majestic!!! "Transparent Phenomena", at 4:17 the shortest piece on "Source Of Present", rides on the wings of abundantly scenic and thrillingly overwhelming immenseness, where colossal drone layers continuously resonate, counterpoint and dazzle with ear-tickling glimmers. Nearly 19 minutes long title composition "Source Of Present" unfolds in absolute stillness and then calmly extends into an awe-inspiring panoramas of sheer atmospheric delight, incorporating own myriad of floating, reverberating, twinkling, glimpsing and crescendoing insignias masterfully reinforced by superiorly prodigious flickering mirages reminiscent of the master. A huge dose of sonic ambrosia is offered here!!! The closing 13-minute track "On This Journey" ceaselessly reveals and tightly keeps on the path of incredibly sublime sceneries, perpetually magnified by sweeping and ebbing vertexes, eternally enrapturing and staggeringly transporting. Evanescing tranquil horizons inconspicuously sneak in and are as much spectacular and soulfully exquisite as its quintessentially billowing and tenaciously monolithic companions. Gorgeously enigmatic finale!

Although the presence of influential earmarks is to my taste a bit stronger at some stages, Max Corbacho returns with almost 74-minute "Source Of Present" masterwork, as well as with the previous "Nocturnes" album, to the ultimate pedestal celebrating all geniuses of powerfully engulfing atmospheric soundforging. That's the place where he has already stood after sculpting unquestionable magnum opuses such as "Ars Lucis" and "The Ocean Inside". And this position fits to him more than perfectly! Bravo, Max, you fully deserve this!!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 01, 2018, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Sequentia Legenda "Ethereal" CDr

French composer Laurent Schieber, who is recording under the moniker of Sequentia Legenda, has always been a truly devoted aficionado of stirringly powered Berlin-School movement. Even if his latest sonic installment is entitled "Ethereal", Laurent Schieber painstakingly follows most of the traces taken on his previous, creatively invigorating gems such as "Blue Dream" (December 2014), "Amira" (November 2015) and "Extended", a project featuring a guest German drummer Tommy Betzler (September 2016). "Ethereal" album was self-released as a 4-panel digipak at July 21st, 2017, and its immersing cover image, created by the artist himself, immediately prepares each listener for deeply transporting odyssey. And just the same as on "Extended", kindred soul Tommy Betzler joins Laurent Schieber with his artistry utilizing drums, cymbals and gongs, while the main protagonist fires up an array of keyboards and modulars, both real and virtual.

It's quite obvious for Sequentia Legenda that each album is comprised of rather lengthier compositions clocking around 20 or more minutes. "Ethereal" is no exception to this formula and it unfolds with 26 and a half minutes long "Stratums Of Seraphic Voices". Euphoniously celestial solitudes, inconspicuously permeated by angelic choir vistas, serenely drift into magnificently infinite and gracefully engrossing realms. No need to add the aural and visual part is precisely coupled with the track title. Galloping sequencer and drum/cymbal signatures slowly join this enveloping scenario and masterfully amalgamate with free-gliding harmonies. Sequences, drums and cymbals are gossamery ear-tickling and mesmerizingly glimmering. I could imagine this track slightly shorter as it gets a bit repetitive on the longer run despite of its clandestinely subtle nuances, however, a top-notch astral journey fully blossoms here. The next piece "Around The Second Moon", hitting nearly 23-minute mark, tightly keeps on the orbit, where tranquil panoptic meridians are slowly invaded by emerging synthetic pulses. The cadence progresses into enchantingly animated sequencer hypnotics, although safely guarded by warmly cinematic retrospections and percolated by sharper, yet intangibly translucent percussive traceries. "Elevation", at 20:34 the third and closing opus, invites the listener into unmapped domains, where Sequentia Legenda with nebulously barren drone hums unlocks the gates to the void. Amalgamating a display of thrillingly oracular hues with lighter, artificially spellbinding pulsations and calmly ascending, but persistently magnified sequencer and drum sparkles. Ominous depths, never before reached by Sequentia Legenda are meticulously illuminated by perpetually shimmering and predictably sustained insignias. Wow, this final track was certainly beyond the ordinary Berlin-School endeavor!!!

70 minutes long "Ethereal" is another highly accomplished album by Sequentia Legenda and especially its third chapter showcases the more distinguishing approach in carving profoundly enigmatic, yet insistently sequencer-driven vintage-futuristic electronica. A very good move indeed and if I could give a little advice to Laurent Schieber, most likely I wouldn't be afraid of shortening the tracks in the future. I think this and also adding even more piquancy, no matter if melodious or ambiguous, would bring extra space for subsequent multifariousness in Sequentia Legenda's sonic palette. It could be an icing on the cake as the mastery and potential were already abundantly exhibited on each release, so why not to go even further and reaching the iconic position of nowadays milestones in sequencer-based resurgences such as "Skeleton Keys", "Prayer To The Energy" or "Synthwaves". Laurent, keep on excelling!!! And by the way, the next album "Renaissance" is scheduled for May 17th, 2018, so definitely stay connected!!!

Richard Gürtler (Dec 29, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "The Labyrinth" CDr by Warpness
« on: December 02, 2017, 05:18:29 AM »

Warpness "The Labyrinth" CDr

Behind Warpness is hidden Norwegian soundcarver Tom Ståle Engebretsen, who is responsible for gemstones such as "Atmosphere", released in April 2017, or "Tralfamadore" recorded under the name Elrox Ambient Session. This one is out since August 2015. Warpness' newest EP "The Labyrinth" was released on Tom's Tape The Sound label during July 2017, the main idea behind this release was born after Warpness recorded a track "The Labyrinth" for a compilation on Italian label Eight Tower Records entitled "Labyrinth". The CDr comes in a plastic sleeve with 2-panel insert.

The 4-track EP reveals with the main composition, 5-minute "Part 1", which appears on above mentioned "Labyrinth" compilation. Emerging enigmatic, choir-driven drone reinforced by cyber-tech signals and bleeps along with ephemeral chopper fragments drifts, meanders and surreptitiously coalesces with persistently ascending and evanescing array of bizarre meridians. "Part 2" incorporates glimmeringly mesmerizing trotting rhythm bridged with rather minimal, ear-tickling icy sounds. Hissy quietudes clandestinely permeate across along with intangibly guarding buzzes, while reflective chords of electric strings slowly percolate as well. Intriguingly sparse, yet abundantly efficient. "Part 3", at 3:33 the shortest piece on the EP, delves into weirder and intenser terrains, merging constantly arising voice glimpses with rawer stringed tapestries and guiding steady cadences of light industrial fragrances, here and there imbued by peculiarly titillating sci-fi flares. Nearly 7-minute long "Part 4" closes this entertaining ride with nebulously squeaking timbres and relentlessly helixing oracular roars, which are tightly hanging above traversing laid-back downtempo repetitions and transient diaphanous stringed exotica occasionally thrown in.

Although "The Labyrinth" is to my taste more rhythm-charged endeavor, its sole creator has again managed to fully unfold his creatively distinctive insignias that were extraordinarily exhibited on already mentioned masterpieces such as "Tralfamadore" and "Atmosphere". Sure, a journey that lasts only for 21 minutes is a quite short for some deeper immersion, but even this brief effort clearly showcases the gift of Tom Ståle Engebretsen. And by the way, when ordering "Atmosphere" CDr, you get "The Labyrinth" CDr EP as a free bonus. Add to that "Tralfamadore" and you will get a bundle you simply can't go wrong with!!! And if you are a cassette aficionado, then you might want to include also "One Note" album released in December 2016.

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

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Soft Ice" CDr by Poemme
« on: November 16, 2017, 11:47:20 AM »

Poemme "Soft Ice" CDr

Since I was always deeply fascinated by monumentally expansive drifscapes, my first, quite unexpected encounter of Poemme's soundworlds left me immediately breathless!!! Although my discovery came only a few weeks after its official release date on Polar Seas Recordings, I was too late to acquire a personal copy directly from the artist, but fortunately still in time to grab one of the last ones through this Canadian ambient/drone/electronic label based in Toronto. Poemme is Angela Klimek, a sound and visual artist from Cleveland, now based in Columbus, Ohio, who is the wife of Andrew J. Klimek, the driving force behind sympathetic Stereoscenic Records and Ambient Sleeping Pill radio, who is also responsible for the mastering job on "Soft Ice". The digital version of "Soft Ice" was originally released through Stereoscenic Records at the end of February 2017 together with another Poemme's drifting balm "Arboretum". Then re-issued on a physical CDr format on July 21st on above mentioned Polar Seas Recordings in a limited edition of 50 copies in a card stock 8-page booklet with gorgeously immersing artwork by Angela Klimek and photo textures by Sascha Duensing. The booklet with CD is hand-numbered and housed in a stamped envelope. A sheer beauty!!!

Rejuvenating the artist's memories of winters while growing up in Cleveland, the bleak magic straightly unfolds with the opening, 9-plus minutes long "Clouds Of Breath". Quietly expanding drone swiftly reaches its gracefully grandiose panoramic magnitude and effortlessly glides and tides towards the awe-inspiring, warmly tenebrous meridians. A journey to the forefront of the gargantuan depths of atmospheric bliss has just begun!!! So no wonder my first meeting with Poemme's aural and visual allure was so jaw-dropping. The next composition "Southbound Formations", having approximately the same length as its predecessor, tightly remains on the path of immense sonorousness, although slightly less intense at the beginning with its vaguely shimmering piano glimpses, but over the course monstrous serenity inconspicuously permeates across gorgeously nuanced introspective vistas. Auxiliary titillating reverberations percolate as well, while monumental halcyon drone guides this sonic ambrosia into its conclusion. Tranquil gem!!! "Lake-effect", the longest piece on the album clocks to 10 and a half minutes and it quickly returns to massively enveloping drone zones, where ethereally nebulous solitariness persistently commingle with transcendentally resonant dissonances and passing clattering glimmers. Majestically sweeping flow at its most infinite and engrossing!!! "Quilted", at 5:47 the shortest track on "Soft Ice" delves deeply into colossally thick stratums driven by tenaciously monochromatic humming monoliths, staggeringly infinite, and intriguingly juxtaposed by rising and ebbing choir-like blankets guarding above. This mighty drone splendor is profoundly transporting and masterfully evokes unforgettable sceneries of splendidly nostalgic hazy wintery emptiness and loneliness. Bravo, Angela!!! "When The Sun Is A Stranger" keeps on carving immersing images of barren snow capped solitudes with its calmly gray undulations and surrounding, majestically enigmatic drifts. "The Park At Night" closes this stunningly engulfing recording with the sinuous grace of droning contemplations, when bridging crescendoing momentous tapestries, yet poetically reflective with idyllic nocturnal quietudes.

Over 49-minutes long "Soft Ice" album serves an aural and visual medicine in large doses, to me, it's a true sensation and Poemme is undoubtedly one of the biggest revelations of 2017!!! Splendiferous work, Angela, and kudos to Polar Seas Recordings!!! Although "Soft Ice" CDr is sold out already, don't miss its digital version!!! I also really hope forenamed "Arboretum" album will make it to a CD or CDr edition one day. In any case, I stay deeply focused on this talented soundscaper, because Angela Klimek's sound paintings deserve to be fully experienced. As far I know, two new albums are in the works, the first is described as an ambient soundtrack for cloud-gazing, while the second one is a deep-sea-themed sleep album, which should be released on a physical format as well. Poemme's music is absolutely delightful and it's an ultimate must have for all cognoscenti of pure atmospheric magnificence!!!

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

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Ovum" CD by Chronotope Project
« on: November 06, 2017, 10:07:57 AM »

Chronotope Project "Ovum" CD

Several years have already passed since I reviewed Chronotope Project's "Event Horizon" released on Relaxed Machinery back in October 2014. In the meantime, Jeffrey Ericson Allen, the man behind Chronotope Project, became a very vital member of Spotted Peccary Music family. After "Dawn Treader" (August 2015) and "Passages" (May 2016) album, here comes the latest sonic installment by this hugely crafted artist based in Eugene, Oregon. "Ovum" is out since August 4th 2017 and it comes in absolutely gorgeous 4-panel eco wallet packaging designed by Daniel Pipitone and exhibiting stunning original photography by Joel Silva. As usual, Howard Givens is the wizard behind the mastering knobs.

The journey opens with 10-minute "Olduvai Dreams" and is ignited by tranquilly expanding and warmly embracing washes, but towards the second minute the scenario shifts into richly flavored organic alchemy, meticulously coalescing magnetizing downtempos with mesmerizingly laid-back tribal balm, swirling flute fluorescences, enveloping breezy blankets and exotically fragranced glimpses. A truly euphoric and harmoniously striking sonic splendor showcasing Jeffrey Ericson Allen's huge compositional talent and glowing multi-instrumental virtuosity. Undoubtedly a Hall of Fame performance, bravo, Jeffrey!!! I should add, the part of the title is taken, I suppose, from Olduvai, a gorge in Tanzania, where the earliest evidence of probably the first human species was tracked. The title track "Ovum", clocking to 8 minutes, returns to more evocative sceneries, where introspective humming quietudes and intangibly liquid traceries are exquisitely juxtaposed with serenely meandering weeping poignancy and peeking silent vistas. A gorgeously engrossing elixir! The next piece "Mariposa" keeps tightly on a deeply reflective path, when bridging ethereal choir-like meridians guarding above with titillating soaring vertexes, contemplative plucked strings and auxiliary shimmering undercurrents. The closing third is inconspicuously reinforced by a gently glimmering percussive trinkets. Sheer beauty in full bloom! Remote winds announce "Emanation" and persistently commingle with hauntingly enigmatic flute calls, while some glistening Berlin-School sequences clandestinely permeate across the longing horizons. "Primordial", at 4:52 the shortest track on "Ovum", delves into soothingly colored terrains, where symphony of nocturnal biotic subtleties performed by pond's dwellers precisely amalgamates with placidly nuanced and enchantingly surrounding sublime cushions. "Epiphany" transfers into lushly animated imageries fastidiously merging perpetually galloping effervescent pulses with cello- and flute-like infused sinuous narrations masterfully carved, I believe, through Haken Continuum Fingerboard, an amazing piece of gear, which Jeffrey Ericson Allen extensively uses on this album. Lachrymosely immersing jewel! 9 minutes long "Starry Messenger" immediately transports the listener into the splendiferous garden of fascinatingly translucent glitters, delightfully counterpointed by expressively yearning patterns evoking touching flute and cello insignias of its solitary genius. A grand finale indeed!!!

When I look back, in 2012 Chronotope Project was one of the biggest revelations and then, after releasing above mentioned "Event Horizon", its sole protagonist was heading into the Ambient Pantheon. Now, 5 years later, Jeffrey Ericson Allen is still marching forward and with phenomenal "Ovum" album he can easily share his creative earmarks with the giants of the genre. We all must be very grateful for such soundsculpting talent!!! Put your headphones on or activate your speakers, superb sound quality awaits here, 51-minute "Ovum" is one of the most ingenious highlights of 2017, an aural and visual magnum opus by Chronotope Project!!!

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


Frore "Last Place Of Wonder" CDr

Paul Casper, the sole creator behind Frore has been responsible in the last several years for some absolutely phenomenal tribal ambient gemstones such as "Cyclic Movement" CDr (out on Relaxed Machinery, January 2015) or collaborative "Blood Moon" CD with Shane Morris (on Spotted Peccary, April 2015). On the top of that he is also hidden behind Threadbare project, who launched with soothingly organic elixir "Home Is A Memory" in April 2017 aatma label (run by rM veterans Geoff Stewart and Steve Brand). This one is available as a digital download only, however I really wish it would be available on physical format too. Anyway, back to "Last Place Of Wonder", the album was self-released by Frore at the beginning of June 2017 and it's graced by stunningly gorgeous "The Dream Ambassadors" paintings by Swedish artist Hawk Alfredson, who lives in New York. The packaging is quite simple, CDr is housed inside of 4-page insert with resealable outer sleeve.

8-plus minutes long "It Begins Where It Ends" reveals this truly galvanizing journey in the most exquisite manner, immediately exhibiting the array of genuine tribal ambient insignias owned by no one else but Frore. Yeah, and that's something I was always fascinated regarding to Paul Casper's artistry. Although equipped with variety of primeval artifacts, including Slovak fujara (awesome overtone fipple flute), his utterly immersing ceremonies always sounded somehow more peculiarly artificial than primordial due to his groovy and pounding fragrances masterfully thrown in. I know Paul Casper used to be also the mastermind behind EBM/industrial project Scar Limit, so maybe some flavors are originated from this outcome as well. Frore is extraordinary soundcarver and the opening track is the best example of his mastery!!! On one side nebulously transporting sceneries, on the other clandestinely invading and radiantly engrossing tribal spirit. Wow, according to my ears, this must be one the best pieces Frore has ever sculpted and an ultimate Hall of Fame composition!!! Bravo, Paul!!! "Earth Carver", which clocks over 9-minute mark, exquisitely juxtaposes gracefully engulfing celestial expansions with gently permeating cyber-shamanic cadences. Auxiliary weeping glimpses arise here and there. Wow, this is certainly another masterpiece meticulously displayed by its title!!! "Reptile Memory" is driven by an exuberant spectrum of tribal piquancy and mesmerizingly galloping groove patterns, while some singularly helixing groans and voice-like acousmas are guarding above. Splendidly intricate piece! "Climbing Deeper" straightly returns into awe-inspiring panoptic vistas, where magnificently enveloping drifts persistently amalgamate with smoothly culminating rhythm tapestries, glimpsing warm evocations, hypnotic dreamtime glimmers, titillating primordial swirls and balmy organic traceries. What a journey, hallmarking Frore scenario strikes once again!!! 10-minte "Inner Labyrinth", as indicated by its title, delves deeply into breathtaking subterranean realms, when painstakingly coalescing enigmatically spiraling layers with ebullient fractal meridians and rushing ponderous throbs. The longest track on the album, nearly 18 minutes long "Remembering How To Forget" floats safely through immense quietudes, reinforced by intangibly percussive traces and spellbindingly glimmering perpetual cyber-tech pulses. The closing "Painted In Ash" reveals with buzzing undercurrents, while majestically panoramic stratums are riding atop. Ear-tickling biotic rattles continuously percolate across the landscape along with ascending, yet blurred fujara roams. A tranquilly encircling conclusion!

Nearly 70-minute "Last Place Of Wonder" is another exceptional recording by Frore, a wizard at electro tribal ambience, who is always distinguishing, consistent and triumphant. I am still wondering, why Frore as a solo project is not signed by any established ambient label, because Paul Casper is enormously talented, he would fully deserve this opportunity!!! Yeah, a glass mastered format with digipak or eco wallet for such sonic and visual monument would be much more appropriate, because the simple packaging doesn't evaluate its caliber. Once again, bravo to Paul Casper and hats off to Hawk Alfredson!!! And last but not least, keep in your mind the date November 17th, it's the street date of another collaborative chapter between Frore and Shane Morris on Spotted Peccary. "Eclipse" returns!!!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 31, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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