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Topics - richardgurtler

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1


The Eclipse Project "A Perfect Gradient Sky" CD

The chief protagonist hidden behind The Eclipse Project is Beau Lukes, in Toronto based hand-percussionist, didgeridoo player, electronic music composer and a graduate of Madison Media Institute. I firstly came across this multi instrumentalist on a highly applauded album "Music For Spaceports" by Eric Hopper's Sylken ensemble (released in May 2014). Beau Lukes appeared on two unforgettable tracks "Dreamship" and "Starsong", so I immediately started to search more about this crafted musician. At that time The Eclipse Project was already in full bloom and "A Perfect Gradient Sky" album was in the pipeline already. The Eclipse Project features talented collective of artists and "A Perfect Gradient Sky" is a debut album, released in May 2014 as a self-release by Beau Lukes, who is also responsible for the graphic design of this elegant 4-panel digipak (with additional landscape photos by Larry J. Herscovitch). The album is inspired by the geological wonders of the Scarborough Bluffs, which stretch for about 15 km along the Lake Ontario shore.

Tranquil sounds of water flowing announce the opening piece "Who Taught The Birds To Sing", but soon spoken words by Gary James aka Black Bear step in together with catchy children voices, all surrounded by warmly inviting vistas of synths, exquisite strings and field recordings. Later on gorgeously embracing native chanting with hauntingly expansive flute and subtle tribal drumming sneak in for a truly expressive prayerscape. This composition is filled with stunningly efficient harmony between the affinity of primordial and modern, a timeless world of aural pleasure awaits here!!! Bullroarer awakes the next ceremony, "Red Rock Dawn", but it's the rich palette of didgeridoo magic that quickly steals the show, accompanied by vague female chants and delicately nuanced tribal horizons. Profoundly mesmerizing amalgamate!!! And a highly recommended headphone listening too!!! "A Perfect Gradient Sky", the title composition, quietly unfolds with soothing field recordings, winding dusky blankets and embracing spoken meditation and backing chants by Sue Hutton (known from ethereal/goth band Rhea’s Obsession). A sonic elixir exhibiting enchanting interactions between expressive voice magic, warmly organic panoramas and gently evolving downtempos. The next piece, "Solar Winds", meticulously merges dreamy expansive voice washes, rhythmed synthetic and percussive layers with hauntingly filigree strings of classical guitar played by Bruce Jones. Calmly drifting "It Has To" features spoken poetry by Tony John, then it slowly shifts into a mildly tribal-driven extent highlighted by fragile tinkles, didgeridoo drones and shamanic vocal buoyancy by another guest, Michael Moon. Uniquely comforting and high-spirited composition, a truly extraordinaire, kudos to all performers!!! "Solstice Ice Meditation" reveals with serenely meandering reverie guarded above by heavenly chants and enriched with tranquilly engrossing organics and iridescent rhythm passages. "Calling Down The Elders" opens with intriguing drifts and roars, which inconspicuously transmute into weirdly fragranced mixture of didgeridoo drones, hypnotic djembe and percussions and exotic malletkat. Beau Lukes is joined on this track by Michael Moon (electric guitar, malletkat). Highly distinguishing adventure goes on!!! "Invoke" dives straightly into deeply contemplative realms leaded by delicate marimba tinkles, reverberating milieus and Michael Moon's voice wizardry. And all wrapped by sparse, but intense tribal beat and occasional ethereal female chants. Another amazingly rewarding listening experience for all aficionados of tribal ambience!!! "Journey's End", the closing piece, features Laura Nashman on silver flute, who joins Beau's utterly soothing soundsculpting with her gorgeously expressive yearning flute prayer. Strongly immersing conclusion!!!

"A Perfect Gradient Sky" is a very powerful debut by The Eclipse Project, offering a truly broad range of sonic colors with top-notch sound quality!!! Mastering and final mix editing credits go to Taras Petryk of SerpentONE Productions. Beau Lukes and all his team mates show a huge amount of talent, creativity and dedication on this recording. I think The Eclipse Project still remains unexplored, so don't hesitate to support this multi-talented group of artists, you won't be disappointed!!! To me, certainly another big one Made in Canada and a truly masterful, all-inclusive tribute to the natural beauty of the Scarborough Bluffs. Keep on going, guys!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 29, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

2


Hollan Holmes "The Spirits Of Starlight" CD

Wow, I will start this straightly as the visual splendor is immediately delivered at the first sight. I am holding in my hands a true piece of art, a glossy 6-panel disc eco wallet with magnificent cover image and design by the artist himself. As I said once, Hollan Holmes is living his dream and his newest album, his 4th, "The Spirits Of Starlight", released on his own at the beginning of July 2014, is another huge proof of that. Not to forget, kindred Texan spirit Chad Kettering of Soniclayers Mastering adds his skills as well.

"Impulse" fires the show right away with vigorously pulsing portion of sequences, with delicious cyber distortion thrown in making from this swirling passage a truly blissful listening experience. Choir-like drones join the journey and glide across with utterly infinite grace. A 7-minute jaw-dropping impulse for unlocking the gates of Ambient Hall of Fame, welcome to your sonic paradise!!! "Constant Velocity", as displayed by its title, keeps the speed more than precisely with exquisitely merged sharply hitting and whirling rhythms and expansive star gazing layers. Diligent dub techno fragrances constantly permeate, oscillate, ear-tickle and hypnotize the listener. This is another example of highly refined mastery of Hollan Holmes, bravo!!! "An Uninvited Guest" briskly awakes Berlin EM school memories with quietly pulsing crystalline sequencer lines. Slenderly dramatic passageways masterfully interplay with mildly evocative horizons. The overall flow of this composition is absolutely gorgeous, a virtuoso souldsculpting securely continues. "Enduro" unfolds with immensely gracious washes, but soon fresh pulsations steal the center trajectory. Mesmerizingly insistent helical cyberscapes tranquilly alternate with balmier surroundings. Amazing, four tracks are over, each one sounds not only quite different, but also as a true top-notcher and on the top of that, there is exceptional harmoniousness and complexity between all of them. And of course always strongly connected to the featured theme. An all-inclusive virtuoso performance so far!!! "Pale Blue Dot" attracts with continuously circling vintage sequences and chilled space drifts, hovering on the wings of eternal elegance and spirit. The next composition, "Scattered Across The Heavens", reveals with its grandiosely expansive and massive washes the deepest ends of cosmic paradise. Majestic, infinite and mesmeric!!! My body and soul is totally immersed in ultimate sonic blissfulness, I am short of words... But the odyssey proceeds with "The Departure", an ethereal reverie bridging sublimely soothing and effortlessly gliding blankets with guarding angelic choirs. The title track, "The Spirits Of Starlight" mingles large dose of lushly shimmering and sparkling sequences with meandering catchy cinematic melodies. Water percolates the sand, gentle sea breeze sweeps over, nocturnal magic happens here... "The Eternal Cosmos" closes this truly spectacular journey with gracefully drifting and winding space symphony, filled with intangible magnificence. By the way, as far I remember, the first working title for this album was "The Eternal Cosmos", but later the name was changed. But anyway, we have here a perfect closer!!!

The conclusion of this review is simple, "The Spirits Of Starlight" must be titled as a magnum opus by Hollan Holmes, and I am penning this down with the fact in my mind that he has released previously three truly phenomenal albums. Hollan Holmes is constantly virtuosic, both musically and visually. Releases like this one constantly remind me why I am a huge collector and connoisseur of ambient soundscaping. "The Spirits Of Starlight" is a very strong competitor for The Best of 2014 release, that's for sure!!! I also would like to add, if I can, a little story from Hollan Holmes' interview for Bert Strolenberg's Sonic Immersion website dedicated to electronic music (highly recommended source!!!). In this interview Hollan has mentioned how he first met with Steve Roach, it was in 1990 when he was working as a baggage handler for an airline. One day he was loading the luggage onto the plane for a Tuscon flight, when he noticed crates of musical gear with Steve Roach's name on them. So Hollan immediately ran up to the jet bridge, begged a flight attendant for a pen and asked Steve for his autograph. I like so much this story!!! So don't let your dreams fade away, follow them and fulfill them!!! Since the beginning of 2011 Hollan Holmes is starring in the same league as the Master. It's well-deserved, deep respect to you, Hollan!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 17, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

3


Maneki Neko "muichi motsu" CD

Maneki Neko, a project of Al Mikula, based in Austin, Texas, certainly belongs to the best kept secrets on the contemplative verges of ambient soundsculpting. It took me quite long time before I was able to explore his soothingly immersing debut album "Auracle", released back in 2005. "muichi motsu", the second installment was originally scheduled for its release during the autumn of 2012. After longer time of silence, "muichi motsu" album finally became a reality in June 2014 through Stray Pointer Records, which is, I believe, own label of Al Mikula. The CD is packaged in tasteful digipak. I remember I was praying for Maneki Neko's return in my review of "Auracle" in May of 2013, so now I am really happy to be a part of this continuing journey...

"Chadō" opens with deeply meditative gongs and reverberations, then breathy flute roars sharply overflow and alternate with fragile tinkles and edgy percussions, while continuously permeated by eloquent stillness. Quite short, sparse and slightly cacophonous beginning, but distinctively expressive, undoubtedly Maneki Neko is back at the very top of his craft!!! On 10-minute "Between Heaven And Earth" tranquilly embracing washes masterfully interact with expressive flute magic and sporadic elusive chimes. This ethereally expansive composition is absolutely gorgeous and it sounds exactly as it is titled. "Water Margin" unfolds with contemplative bells surrounded by richly colorful atmospheric thunder cloudscapes and delicately amalgamated with native flute artifacts and sparkling organic essences. Voice-like drones guard above, but the high-pitched swampy dissonances emerge here and there with its mindscaping touch. Stunningly magnificent auralscape awaits here, just enter the gates!!! Ear-tickling bells announce "Maitreya", but the journey is quickly stolen by serenely immense drifts, always meandering and traversing with breathtakingly panoramic grace, exquisitely augmented by mysteriously fragranced tinkles. Intensely evocative sonic elixir for my ears!!! "Ajna", another longer piece clocking over 10-minute mark, again reveals warmly peaceful scenic vistas, enriched by tinkling subtleties, and caresses the inner realms of each dedicated listener. "The Deeper Well" dives into adventurous subterranean domains, where assorted swirling sounds irregularly rise and glimmer, while rather monochromatic, but circuitous tambura-like drone rides atop. Slightly weirder, but gracefully spacious and mesmerizingly engrossing. Another 10-plus minute composition, "Adrift", remains in cavernous terrains, but it slowly floats and spirals toward bigger subterranean passages protected by occasional divine choirs and undulating rumbles and noises. "Morning Mist" closes this serene journey with hauntingly expansive ambience, safely gliding through beautiful cascades of balsamic natural wonders. An impeccable finale to wrap up this album!!!

"muichi motsu" is another stellar accomplishment by Maneki Neko, it offers eight expertly sculpted sonic meditations with own signatures and it's filled with over 58 minutes of enchantingly absorbing aural symmetry between western ambient textures and traditional Asian instrumental explorations. If you are an aficionado of deeply reflective soundscaping and you are not familiar with Maneki Neko yet, then I highly recommend to you to reconsider your targets, because artistic expressions of Al Mikula deserve to be fully explored, trust me!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 16, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

4


Gleisberg & Grassow "Ad Lucem" CD

German drone kaiser Mathias Grassow has found his safe home longer time ago at applauded Swedish label gterma. After several solo albums and one collaboration with Carsten Agthe on this label, Mathias Grassow teams up with another kindred spirit, Rüdiger Gleisberg, with whom he extensively worked on acclaimed projects such as Nostalgia and KarmaCosmic. "Ad Lucem" was released in June 2014 and as usual for all gterma jewel case packagings, it features 16-page booklet with catchy panoramic pictures by gterma's owner Johan Rehn. The booklet's info says the tracks were composed between 2009 and 2014, while the mastering duties were handled by A.P aka Anders Peterson (also the man behind Ghost Sounds).

14-plus minute "Arcane" ignites the journey with mesmerizing drone monochromatism, spirally vanishing in deep chasmal realms, but whispering female voice persistently illuminate this mysterious trajectory surrounded by undulating phantasmal hums. Clandestine choirs permeate intangibly through crepuscular sceneries here and there. A very strong overture!!! "Cicada" is awaken by Middle East duduk fragranced moans, but the center stage is quickly stolen by graciously expansive horizons intermingling with soothing natural fragments. The drone intensely spreads and placidly traverses through grippingly mindscaping passageways accompanied by remote female and male chorus and urban environments. The title track "Ad Lucem" delves into more flatlined foundations with escalating cacophonous turmoils and ghostly apparitions thrown in for navigating the listener into the dark unfathomed caves of nothingness. Yes, a truly transcendental listening adventure awaits here!!! But "Mirabile Dictu" continues on journeying through an unplumbed depths, industrialized squeaks sound quite foreboding, while other eerie embellishments evoke a quite hazardous subaqueous odyssey. But after 5th minute this underwater dronescape serenely transmutes into more static, yet expansively majestic zones of utterly immense dimensions. Prayers of Buddhist monks occasionally emerge from oblivion and augment monstrously monochromatic panoramas. "Sapere Aude" is unfolded with exotic tinkles, but deeply mesmerizing drone sharply invades, while celestial choirs guard above. Fragments of overtone voice magic add another pleasant scent, although wrapped by brumous blankets. "Nova Incognita" is the shortest piece and closes "Ad Lucem" with rather organic intro, but quite dissonant too. Swelling sonic walls persistently interact with noisier outbursts, even if thick and intense, the overall mood is hauntingly illuminated with some sparkling scraps.

"Ad Lucem" is a joint endeavor at its most thrilling and immersing, where a genuinely mind-blowing scenario is guaranteed!!! Definitely a must-have for all followers of Mathias Grassow & Rüdiger Gleisberg. A headphone listening is strongly recommended, although your speakers impatiently await another drone exercise. A high-five to Johan Rehn/gterma for continuous support of this gifted drone brilliance!!! Tack så mycket!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 03, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

5


Phillip Wilkerson "Highlands Outtakes" CDr

Prolific US drifter Phillip Wilkerson has released "Highlands" album originally back in 2012 through Free Floating netlabel, while a CDr edition is still available through Phillip's store at Kunaki. "Highlands Outtakes", released in the middle of May 2014, features three additional tracks from "Highlands" recording sessions plus extra 25-minute closing piece, "The Silence Of One", recorded at the beginning of May 2014. All complexly wrapped by breathtaking cover image, on the top of that I am awarding extra points also for the layout concept firstly introduced on "Sojourner" album.

The album launches with 15 and half minutes long piece, "The One In All", which immediately shifts into endless sky high spheres. A quite monochromatic drone slowly escalates and becomes more massive and immersing, while occasional distant rumbles enrich this monolithically mindscaping heaven. A superb drone panoramas are fully unfolded!!! Shorter "There You Are" gets close to 7-minute mark, but it's very effective in its drifting harmonies. This time more tranquilizing, but strongly expansive blankets are still safely floating above. Gentle vibrations reveal graciously reverberating nuances. The drone magic continues, after experiencing the first two compositions on this album I can easily rate this album as the most monumental and intensifying journey by this Floridian. And Phillip Wilkerson proves quickly these words with his following track, "Transcended", it is no short of its title. You can't ask for more in this 14-plus minutes long journey filled with mammoth drone walls, magnificently expansive and stunningly reinforced by assorted well-hidden, but strongly rewarding traceries, ranging from unfathomably mind-bending through intangibly sparkling to warmly embracing. An ultimate drone tour de force, hats off to Phillip Wilkerson!!! No wonder "The Silence Of One" is promptly needed for more relieving gliding, but don't expect any soapy ending, because this composition moves through enormously rich palette of adventurous billows. Ear tickling shimmers are masterfully interacting with continuously oscillating and crescendoing drone mysteries. Did I mention soothing transition? Not sure about it, because this is another utterly grandiose dronescape transporting the listener to the forefront of powerful, drift-driven soundsculpting. Absolutely triumphant finale!!!

What a journey, I am totally addicted to this album!!! Sure, this is more intense and less balsamic release that any other I have reviewed by Phillip Wilkerson so far. But hey, this is my medicine too, more please!!! And with headphones on, your drone Eden is eagerly waiting for you!!! Yes, I should mention that Phillip Wilkerson is also busy with his collaborative projects, which include Time Being with Jourdan Laik, as far I know they are working on their second CD. And as announced few days ago, scheduled for November 2014 release on Spotted Peccary is Phillip's collaboration with Chris Russell. Don't say I didn't warn you, but I am afraid there is no way to escape anymore...

Richard Gürtler (Aug 02, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

6


Bruno Sanfilippo "clarOscuro" CD

In Barcelona based Argentinian composer Bruno Sanfilippo keeps on his virtuosic journey into modern classical realms. While in his acclaimed "Piano Textures" series he bridged expressive piano textures mostly with tranquil natural sounds, with this newest album Bruno Sanfilippo demonstrates his full transition into contemporary instrumental arrangements. Released in May, 2014, on Bruno's and Max Corbacho's ad21 label, "clarOscuro" comes in a truly elegant 4-panel digipak (cover photo by Kaifa Ceralde Sarmiento and layout by Bruno's wife Ximena Contreras) and features two guest artists, Manuel del Fresno on violoncello and Pere Bardagí on violin. Additional credits go to Lluis Molas for his engineering assistance as well as to Splendour Mastering (a studio run by Max Corbacho).

Nostalgic grand piano tune by the main protagonist announces "Claroscuro", the title composition. Soon the bowed string vizardry of both guests joins the stage for richly evocative listening experience. Intimate piano playing is beautifully blended with sorrowful cello and violin. A very strong composition!!! The next track, "Absenta", embraces the listener with its deeply evocative piano subtlety and gorgeously saturating stillness. A true masterpiece!!! "Aquarelle Sur Papier" remains on the same, captivatingly sparse path, filled with poignant intimacy and nostalgic serenity. A piano bravura at its most expressive, more please!!! "A Constant Passion" marks the return of Manuel del Fresno and Pere Bardagí, who excel with their stringed sadness, masterfully expressed by lamenting cello and wistfully surging violin. The piano playing on "The Movement Of The Grass" is magnificently displayed by its poetic title, while occasional hazy echoes add a new dimension to this intensely scenic composition. With 9 and half minutes the longest piece on "clarOscuro" and certainly one of the pinnacles of this album!!! "Luciana" straightly dives into touchingly yearning cinematic refinement, with carefully interacting fragile piano, weeping cello and heart-warming violin. Rather sparse, but continuously intense and strikingly effective. To me, the most exceptional composition on this album so far showcasing the talent of all its grandmasters. Bravo, señores!!! "It Happens On The Ship" merges mesmerizingly undulating strings with slightly euphoric piano notes, a rather abstractly refreshing texture. "Aquarelle Sur Toile" attracts with filigree piano delicacy, passionate and joyful. "Day By Day" closes this beautiful album with solo piano performance, again deeply reflective with warmly cascading moods. A very nice conclusion.

"clarOscuro" is completing Bruno Sanfilippo's return to his origins. As a classically trained pianist with a Grand Piano in his basement studio, he is ready to fulfill his long time dreams and challenges. Bruno Sanfilippo has already proved many times his amazing talent and flexibility within ambient genre and "clarOscuro" is the next, giant step in his recording career. No matter if piano based or delving into electronic soundworlds, Bruno Sanfilippo is always here to deliver the best of his artistry. So I can only repeat my usual words when wrapping my review of his albums and collaborations, muchas gracias, Maestro!!! And of course kudos also to all other contributing artists!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 01, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

7


Steve Roach / Kelly David "The Long Night" CD

Long awaited collaboration between iconic Steve Roach and in Colorado based capable kindred spirit Kelly David, who is responsible for two remarkable, highly adventurous albums "Broken Voyage" (2002) and "Angkor" (2006), was released during January 2014. The album's title as well as its awesome cover image by Stan Yeatts clearly reveal what to expect from this journey through nocturnal magic.

Comprised of 5 tracks, each clocking between 10-plus and 14-plus minutes, the album reveals with "Last Light". This serenely embracing composition glides through mysteriously undulating passages, hauntingly enhanced by various, richly detailed dissonant subtleties, while warmer expansive drone layers slowly sneak in, massively billow and guard above with all its grandiose beauty. These shadowy zones are essentially comforting and contemplative!!! "Season Of Nights" is immediately intensified by whistling infusions, but soon the monumental drone announces its domination, while glimmering modulations join the fore as well and continuously interact throughout with manifold volume. Splendidly immersing, and trickily disturbing too!!! Transition to the next piece, "The Deep Hours", is masterfully spiced by various rumbles, clicks, all luxuriantly biotic and wrapped by underground grotto echoes, while cicadas excel with chirping noises. Serenely weaving wide-screen atmozones shortly invade, tranquilly expand and precisely evoke brooding voice-like sounds. Lazy tribal groove permeates quietly through fascinating nightly scenery, which is fully unfolded in all its blissful grace and serenity. This is nothing but pure moonlit magnificence delivered by two virtuoso composers!!! The journey continues with "Calm World" when deep drone hums invade, joined by distant rumbles, while spiraling dissonances deliver their mindscaping force before completely fading away. Then monolithic drifts take the lead and briskly amalgamate with remaining remote noises, but soon they dissolve into various disruptive, but tranquilly captivating layers, which graciously waft throughout and safely land into spellbinding stillness. 14-minute closing title track, "The Long Night" sharply dives into calm blankets with its colossally expansive meanders, cascades and climaxes. There are absolutely marvelous chameleonic transitions between breathtakingly gigantic passages and decreasing panoramic quietude. Toward the end vague euphoric sequences awake and cruise on the night skies. A sonic transmutation at its finest!!!

"The Long Night" was released 13 months after "Tales From The Ultra Tribe", a Hall of Fame collaboration of Steve Roach with Byron Metcalf. Yes, we certainly have here immensely triumphant fellowship as "The Long Night" is another stunningly transporting collaborative effort starring Steve Roach, who splits this performance extraordinaire with gifted veteran soundsculptor Kelly David. A man, who really deserves this glory, because his solo works "Broken Voyage" and "Angkor" undeservedly remain as well hidden treasures. Please, try to change this!!! Bravo, gentlemen!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jul 06, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

8


Steve Brand, Roy Mattson "Meltstream" CDr

Steve Brand needs no bigger introduction here, he is constantly confirming his reputation as one of the giants of primordial shamanistic electroacoustic soundsculpting. But Roy Mattson comes here as a new name on the ambient map. Based in Stony Creek, NY, Roy Mattson has been making music for many years, but according to my knowledge, he didn't share it until 2013, when his collaboration with Mystified "Pluto And Charon" was released on Treetrunk Records (July, 2013). Steve Brand and Roy Mattson have met for the first time on Steve Roach’s Into The Soundcurrent workshop in Sonoita, Arizona in September, 2007. And that was the triggering point for "Meltstream". The album comes in beautiful 4-panel digipak, for sure both artists and Relaxed Machinery deserve this catchy packaging, a way to continue!!!

10-minute opener "My Shadow And The Morning Sun" quickly shifts into gorgeously ethereal spheres, attractively melting distant drone undulations with evocative string subtleties. Drifting, expanding and peaking into heavier, unbounded realms, before inconspicuously transmuting into lushly colored primordial paradise led by tranquilly swirling, rattling and embracing cacophony of various eclectic shakers and rumbles. I am really hooked on this track!!! "Just Above Treeline" graciously floats and meanders on soothingly waving cloudbeds of gorgeously majestic pensiveness. Ancient whistles quietly sneak in during the second half and take the listener deeper into enthralling contemplative realms. "Leeward Shadows", the longest piece clocking to nearly 15 and half minutes, immediately dives into monstrously abyssal drone depths. Watch your speakers, because that's a really huge drone blaze, but fortunately soon joined by the graceful symphony of panoramic drifts, enhanced by intensifying blankets and pierced with mysteriously crescendoing reverberations. Crickets are awaken too during this nocturnal magic and deliver their chirping virtuosity, while assortment of bells illuminate the path to the gates... Psychically supreme and spectacularly transcendental magnum opus awaits here. Bravissimo, Gentlemen!!! "Meltstream", the title composition, returns into earthy wistful terrains filled with warmly ebbing wide-screen reflections, masterfully unfolding into thrillingly immersing vistas, which slowly metamorphose along the way into magnificently expanding and imposingly culminating drone scenario. Another breathtaking tribute to surrounding natural wonders, more please!!! "Unlost [Strange Lights & Firefly Stars]" starts with ear-bending drone escapade, soon the journey calms down a bit, but the drifting intensity is still absolutely unfathomable and mindscaping. Lushly colored field recordings inconspicuously permeate through mysteriously dark, moonlit landscape, but then spiritedly interact with gargantuan dronewaves. Utterly embracing!!! A grand finale? Sure, it was!!!

What to add? I am short of words, because it's the music that speaks for itself, you must fully experience "Meltstream", because otherwise you will miss one of the most glorious dronescaping adventures released in last few years. Steve Brand did it again, but that's nothing surprising anymore and for Roy Mattson this turned as a really great introductory performance. "The Great Hoop" was one of the ultimate sonic jewels of 2013 and now, "Meltstream", a 67-minute long soundsculpting magic is heading for the same title in 2014. Hats off to Steve & Roy!!! The official release date is scheduled for May 30th, the countdown is running!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 18, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

9


John Lyell "Reflection Of Time" CD

"Reflection Of Time" CD by John Lyell is out since March 31st, 2014, as a self-release by the artist himself. I must say that the name of John Lyell is a brand new to me, but this is already 5th album by this US ambient composer, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. First two albums are collaborations with Brent A. Reiland, "Wormholes" (1998) and "Synthetic Universe" (2002), while the following recordings were released solo. "Dimensions" in 2006 and "Eternity" in 2012. Shame on me I didn't discover John Lyell much sooner, but I always keep on saying, it's better later than never!!! "Reflection Of Time" comes in 4-panel digipak with catchy front cover image executed by John, who is also a crafted digital art designer. I also have to add that John Lyell is a musician since 1984 and performed as a guitar player with various rock and hard rock bands. A quite interesting transition, so let's take this deep spatial voyage.

"The Deep Unknown" unfolds quite briskly with highly magnetizing texture delicately melting colder cybernetic sequencer motifs with quietly tranquil and panoramically expansive synth undulations, occasionally interrupted by alien sighs or invaded by sublime silence. Wow, a very strong launching by John Lyell!!! "Above The Stratos" cascades through shimmering hissy terrains, pierced by unpredicted fragments and outbursts, raw or high-tech, reaching a fairly reverberating magnitude. All guarded by mesospheric phantoms. "Dreaming In Sine Waves" is by far more calmer and minimal, moving through delicately detailed dreamy crescendos, the wind sings its anthem and counterpoints with seraphic chants. "A Far Away Place" quickly dives into harsher drone hums coupled with massive seashore sounds. Emerging ethereal traceries with awaken nostalgic memories intricately nourish the contrasting colors. "Space Ethereal" relieves the atmozone with serenely progressing contemplative space tinkles, while alluring angelic choirs hang above and once in a while intermingle with sighing wind. A truly peaceful and warmly enveloping composition!!! "Dreaming In Sine Waves 2" keeps on the similar path as its predecessor, although tranquilly embracing tinkling sounds are enhanced by infrequent sharper infusions and shift the listener into mysteriously infinite realms to explore its riveting secrets. The title composition "Reflection Of Time" quietly meanders through gorgeously boundless spheres, when melting mesmerizingly circling bass sounds with diaphanous tinkles euphoniously popping up. But also soothingly surrounding synth layers rise here and there and together with scattered cybernetic swirls, grumbles and sighs enchantingly illuminate the flight path. Fully loaded with subtle elegance!!! "Crossing The Barrier" returns to overwhelmingly unfathomable drone domains, enhanced by remote hissy vibrations and sparse high-pitched expansions. Tremendously mindscaping phantasmal voices contemplate throughout. A flawless closer!!!

John Lyell with his album "Reflection Of Time" has completely surpassed all my expectations, this is definitely a very refreshing and welcome addition to the pantheon of sophisticated deep space monuments, both, aurally and visually. "Reflection Of Time" is a definite must-have for all aficionados, who are searching for fascinatingly multifarious outer space odyssey. Kudos to John Lyell!!! By the way, the mastering job was given to Robert Rich, who has already polished with his engineering skills previous two recordings of John Lyell.

Richard Gürtler (May 08, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

10


Robert Davies "Arboreal" CDr

"Arboreal" was released at the beginning of November, 2012, on Robert's usual DataObscura mainstay and it's supported by an eye-catching front cover image. As far I remember, it was his second album during 2012, following "The Alchemy Of Nature". Robert Scott Davies is a very crafted soundscaper and painter, who continuously keeps on impressing me with his gorgeously embracing ambience, always filled with his trademark insignias of deeply contemplative tranquilness.

10-minute opener and title track, "Arboreal", invites the listener into hauntingly soothing forested pathways, where monochromatic sheet, guarding above with strongly mesmerizing intensity, is softly merged with balmy natural sounds. Robert is always very careful about polishing every detail and then precisely sculpting them into gently evolving and calmly cascading textures. "Streamside Sentience" also contains richly colored field recordings, this time led by serene sounds of water flowing though rocks. The drones are sparser, but more active, moving through pleasingly mild undulations, which include a few rather dissonant reverberations and apparitions. But the overall feel is still very compact and harmonious. A truly masterful composition and enjoyable along the creek walking!!! "Field Of Muted Pastels", as indicated by its title, shifts into more mysterious and mindscaping terrains, where the prime monotonous motif is constantly permeated by various oscillating sounds, piercing, swirling or humming. Bird and insect chirps occasionally sneak in to soften the main theme. Certainly another ear-catching piece!!! The next track, "Cavern Shallows", safely remains in shadowy zones, meticulously evoking cavernous mysteries. The listener is deeply immersed by expansive drone sceneries crossed with eerie background rumblings and placid sounds of dripping water from the darkness. Subterranean sonic paradise is exquisitely unfolded in its full magnificence!!! "Nestled Feather Sanctuary" immediately grasps you with its dense massive hums, while cicadas excel with their high-pitched drone performance. Other quieter environmental recordings emerge here and there. But the leading dronescapade sustains its spellbindingly transcendental dimension, this is undoubtedly another pure sonic medicine for your mind and body!!! And I like so much its track title too. "Earthen Haven" is driven by a free-floating, monumental drift, augmented by distant, elusively swirling cicada-infused noises. A gloriously immense drone glides gracefully across divine elevations, spirals and outbursts. A drone inferno? A grand finale? Call it whatever you want, it's a truly exceptional conclusion of this masterful album!!!

As usual for Robert Davies, his sound sculptings are rather minimal, but enormously effective when it comes to capturing a deeply relieving and magnificently auralscaping atmosphere with excellently balanced lighter and darker subtleties. And always having that distinctive earthy touch for easy recognition of his signature sound. This gifted virtuoso, based in Ithaca, New York, is definitely one of the best kept secrets on the drone ambient scene!!! And please note, in the meantime Robert Davies has released another two solo albums, "Forgotten Harbors" on DataObscura (September, 2013) and "Woodland Alcoves" as a special item on Hic Sunt Leones (December, 2013), plus on the top of that another amazing collaboration with Anthony Paul Kerby as The Winterhouse, entitled "Gathering Autumn", a double album on DataObscura (January, 2014). Still not enough infos? Then keep an eye on the upcoming news from DataObscura, because Robert has a new album in the pipeline...

Richard Gürtler (May 04, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

11


Tomas Weiss "Zeitlos" CDr

Tomas Weiss is rather known for his numerous collaborative projects with Anthony Paul Kerby or Mathias Grassow, but he has already left strong track also with his solo works. After exuberantly flavored solo album "Dato" released on Databloem back in 2011, German mastermind Tomas Weiss returns to ultra deep dronescaping paradise with his "Zeitlos" album, released at the end of November 2013 on Musical Philosophy label, of El Culto family. A black CDr packaged in a tasteful 4-panel digipak with impressive artwork by El Culto's frequent designing expert Jesse Harrison, which immediately sets the atmosphere for the upcoming "Timeless" journey.

"Zeitlos" is activated by "Alignment", a nearly 12 minutes long opus with heavy flatline dronescapade magnified by wide range of factory and urban surges, rumbles and sighs, which are intricately contrasted with serenely evocative cushions. Colossally immersing mindscape masterfully displaying all the drone wizardry of its protagonist. Bravo, Tomas!!! So no wonder it's absolutely impossible to notice the beginning of the next piece, "Through Realms". The seamless transition works totally punctilious and the track title loses its meaning in this case, because I am already beyond the gates of drone splendor. Thus intensely packed soundwalls keep on embracing before they fade away into tranquilly relieving finale. Yes, this time the next composition can be even recognized, but don't expect any escape, because "Near Nothing" comes and as its title indicates, the listener is continuously taken into magnificently expansive, free-drifting spheres, toward the end stunningly merged with subtle sonic crescendos. I suppose they announce the next piece, "Foundation", which immediately dives into gorgeously warm and grandiose transitions, where monochromous dronescape becomes more tangible and roams with infinite grace through spectacular traverses and spellbinding vistas. An all-inclusive drone scenario goes on!!! "Liminal Traces" keeps the intensity, but it smoothly amalgamates assorted high-tech noises, ominous fragments and undulating twinkles. "Absence" dives into subterranean chasm, where warmly immersing drone immenseness is virtuosically bridged with mysterious shimmers, hummed winds and cybernetic bleeps. Soothingly floating passages are splendidly confronted with exquisitely artificial cascades and permeated by distinctively exotic fragrances. An ultimate drone tour de force!!! "Chronos" drifts straightaway into monstrously intense and magnificently evocative infinite realms, guarded by celestial choir-like drones and ingeniously reinforced by the use of various distant rumbles, which pierce through powerfully expansive megalithic forefronts. Totally breathtaking!!! Then comes the ending title track "Zeitlos", with 13 and half minutes the longest piece. Meandering through gorgeously yearning terrains, spiced by deeply poignant strings and organic subtleties. This closing opus couldn't have been more expressive, a grand finale indeed!!!

"Zeitlos" is another highly refined work by Tomas Weiss, thrillingly exhibiting his creative force, and undoubtedly one of the most mindscaping drone works of 2013!!! So don't miss another big one from El Culto labs and also make sure to explore extended, 60 minutes long version of the title track, entitled "Zeitlos (Sleep Edition)". Released in February 2014 as a black CDr in cardsleeve. You simply can't ask for a better deal from this German dronescaper!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 03, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

12
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Centurion" CD by Aglaia
« on: April 28, 2014, 08:25:50 AM »


Aglaia "Centurion" CD

Highly praised duo Gino Fioravanti and Gianluigi Toso, known as Aglaia, have released their "Centurion" album back in June 2013 on Hic Sunt Leones. As usual, packaged in elegant 6-panel digipak, but this time featuring stunning photos by Mire L'azur, with the artwork executed by Stefano Musso's Hic Sunt Leones.

The track list is quite long with 15 shorter pieces, which follows the footsteps of previous Aglaia album entitled "Otherworldliness". The opening "Azimuth" shifts straightly into remote glacier sceneries, where hissy drone undulations are accompanied by organic oscillations and traversing intensifications. Cinematic desolation meets foreboding sternness. "Calaverna" keeps on meandering through fascinating ice formations, melting oddly circling distant hisses with leading layers of dramatic turnovers, cyber-tech fragments and dwellers of unfathomed depths. "Darkling" hovers on utterly mindscaping spirals, continuously emerging from shadowy mist. "I Listen" tranquilly sneaks through warmer vistas counterpointed with piercing squeaks and ghostly winds. "Airglow", although venturing into quite discordant realms, it masterfully captures the magic of nigh sky adventures. "Recapitulare" sounds slightly more relieving, yet enough mysterious to remain on the shadowy path. The shortest piece, "Arsuram", melts murky drones with eddying dissonances. "Permutazione" safely holds its course through darker terrains with otherworldly nuanced texture, blending more massive drone symphony with persistently peaking elusiveness. A truly mind-blowing listening experience!!! But the journey continues with "Penetranza", monstrously intense dronescape cascading through dramatic peaks and fabulous signature cocoons of expansively euphoric harshness that can only be created by these Italian maestros of embracing atmospheric fantasies. And they couldn't have chosen better track title for this one. "Misteriosofia" baths the listener with deeply pensive soundscape, capriciously wandering. But the gates to the transcendental spheres are still unlocked and I can't imagine better invitation than "Recidere". Breathtakingly mysterious and monolithic drones are guarded by graciously expanding choirs, while sharp metallic sounds constantly tickle the ears. Welcome to the drone paradise owned by Aglaia!!! "Epilogo" is lushly organic and eclectic, although later progressing into warmer, wide-screen range. "In The Open Air" initiates quietly, but joyful drones mesmerizingly circle and increase the intensity and deepness. "Albus" submerges immediately with its minimal structure, where reverberating abyssal hums intertwine with enigmatic twinkles, then quietly swell throughout and converge with arising denser yearns. "Dateless", the closing piece, briskly drifts into monumentally spellbinding and euphoric drone heaven, enhanced by magnificently mind-bending resonations. Only a 4-plus minutes long piece, but colossally transporting, certainly another magnum opus!!! I am just wondering how I would return after a longer journey...

What to add? If you are still searching for the sonic adventure that will blow you faraway, beyond the ordinary, Aglaia is always here to deliver distinctively flavored and tremendously immersing sonic exploration. Aglaia is a well-hidden gem!!! And keep in your mind, except Aglaia, Gino Fioravanti and Gianluigi Toso have released many other albums under their own names or under Nada Experiences. So the journey continues, but that's another story...

Richard Gürtler (Apr 27, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

13


Rudy Adrian "Atmospheres" CD

Almost four years have passed since magnificently absorbing deep space odyssey "Distant Stars" CD (out on Lotuspike in August of 2010). In the meantime Lotuspike gang has joined their kindred spirits at Spotted Peccary and this label welcomes and celebrates the newest album by Rudy Adrian entitled "Atmospheres", released during March 2014. Still keeping in mind the immersing tranquilizers such as "The Healing Lake", "MoonWater" or "Desert Realms", I can't wait to dive deeply into the heartwarming soundscapes of this respected New Zealander. Photography and design gurus Jourdan Laik and Daniel Pipitone are on hand to deliver the most suitable visual expression for Rudy Adrian's intensely evocative soundscapes. The first examination of 4-panel eco wallet clearly confirms their craftiness.

"Apple Tree Bay" immediately embraces the listener with its pristine soothingness and scenic magnificence, which masterfully captivates the memories of Rudy Adrian, when exploring gorgeous landscapes as a youth with his father during their hiking and kayaking journeys. Tranquil field recordings and fragile sounds of chimes ring in tender symmetry with meandering washes, while subtle wind dissonances and hummed fragments cruise above juxtaposed with vague bass circles. A stunningly evocative intro, Rudy Adrian is back in full strength!!! The track title "Atmospheres" dives into darker drone terrains, emphasized by mysteriously perplexing reverberations, but its comforting organic feel occurs at irregular intervals. This composition ingeniously bridges dimmer motifs with brighter subtleties, another very strong piece!!! "Willow Bank" remains in intensely evocative terrains, where monumentally surrounding contemplative waves, spiced by assorted deep drones and otherworldly traceries, are carefully counterpointed with flickering pristine tinkles. "Blue Horizon" floats on tranquilly meditative wings of its predecessor and occasional trademarking hums appear on the skyline. A pure medicine for your mind!!! But Rudy Adrian keeps on transcending, "Through A Cave Into Another World" takes the listener into magnificently spectacular underground sceneries led by gorgeously immersing tinkles and backed by soothingly monochromatic drifts. But along the way balsamic shakers steal the forefront and masterfully intertwine with utterly poignant wordless vocals by Rudy. The track title is sufficiently precise. As always, Rudy Adrian is using his voice in exceptionally breathtaking way, this is undoubtedly absolutely thrilling and awe-inspiring listening experience!!! "Amber Skies" attracts quickly with its soothingly winding wide-screen nostalgia. The next composition, "Beyond The Silver River", is again, as the opening piece, dedicated to Rudy Adrian's father. Rich natural field recordings are amalgamated with expansive washes and Rudy's unique, nearly ethereal voice expression and overtone chanting. A few discordant embellishments inconspicuously sneak in here and there along with identifying hums, rattle sounds and distant sparse bass oddments known from the opening composition. Another top-notcher!!! "The Temple On An Island" paints magnificently mindscaping images, easily recognizing Rudy Adrian's enchanting signature sound melting monstrously impressive and deeply transporting monochromatic panoramas with always delicate radiant, organic nuance. Bravo!!! The closing cut, "Dreams Of SubAntarctica", is a reissue of the track taken from the album "SubAntarctica-Atmospheric Works Volume One", self-released by Rudy Adrian on CDr in 1999 as his debut album. A quite cinematic texture cascading through various dramatic peaks and vistas. Again intensified by Rudy's vocal wizardry and sporadic humming groans, although safely heading toward untouched coastal sceneries.

Rudy Adrian is back and "Atmospheres" album presents him at the very top of his game with all insignias featured!!! This is a really triumphant return, welcome back, Rudy!!! Yes, the long wait was definitely worthwhile, but keep in mind, Rudy, your sublime soundsculpting is always needed and I simply can't imagine to wait again four years... In any case, "Atmospheres", mastered by Spotted Peccary's Howard Givens, is another must-have landmark by this ambient virtuoso from Dunedin, in the South Island of New Zealand!!!

Richard Gürtler (Apr 26, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

14


Steve Roach "Future Flows" CD

Long time on the waiting list in my reviewing schedule, now finally the right time has come. Released one year ago on Projekt, at the end of April, 2013, just few days before the legendary Ambicon 2013 gathering. The cover images feature breathtaking stone balance art by Michael Grab, known as Gravity Glue. Exciting visual beginning, so let's initiate the auralscaping part...

The journey reveals very silently with "An Omnipresent Sense Prevails", an 11-minute composition, but it takes only about minute and the free-floating drift spirals toweringly into grandiosely expansive panoramas, gracefully gliding and undulating with magmatic immenseness. These amorphously embracing and essentially contemplative soundwalls are holding an undeniable signature of the master. "Spectrum Of Change" safely dwells in the terrains of sheer atmospheric beauty, slightly less denser and more minimal on the first exploration, although multi-dimensional billows continuously emanate and then fade out into vaporously permeating stillness. "Air Meditation" paints infectiously mesmerizing circles guarded above by voice-like drone blankets. Rather shorter piece, but hauntingly mindscaping and precisely interacting with its title. "The Texture Of Remembering", which gets over 11 minutes, enters straightly into more aerial realms, warmly meandering through profoundly stimulating elevations and meticulously coalesced with assortment of cybernetic sparkles. What a journey!!! Make sure you have your headphones with you, immersion extraordinaire awaits here!!! "Rapt In Night" immediately dives into abyssal drone heaven, quite short, but utterly monolithic and expansive. This track masterfully captures all the essence of the nocturnal serenity!!! "Heart Of Light", another brief piece, keeps on the path of warmly traversing and deeply evocative sceneries, which are this time merged with piercing swirls. Magnificently immense!!! 17-minute epic "The Future Flows From Here" briskly spreads with floating, ebbing and twisting massive and intense layers of washes, while gently shimmering sequences excel on distant back. The transition in the middle of the track is absolutely embracing and shifts the whole composition into pure atmospheric splendor. A truly jaw-dropping!!! Certainly a creme de la creme of the whole album and another magnum opus since Hall of Fame compositions such as "Where Rasa Lives" or "Today". Bravo, Maestro!!! "Regeneration Revelation" closes this wonderful, 71 minutes long ride with ultra colossal dronescape, enriched with various, well-concealed rewards and cruising with intensely absorbing amorphousness and eternal grace that can only be Steve Roach. Wow, absolutely thrilling!!!

Sure, "Future Flows" album won't hit you sharply in your face, on the contrary, this is one of the recordings that will grow on the listener with each new listening session. It requires your deeply focused intention to every detail, but then amazing soundsculptings with constantly increasing potency unfold in front of you. No wonder Steve's visionary sonic meditations are impeccably displayed by Michael's stone balance artistry. Are you ready for this highly sophisticated and powerfully emotional journey? The future flows to you...

Richard Gürtler (Apr 20, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

15


Alpha Wave Movement "Celestial Chronicles" CDr

Gregory Kyryluk of Alpha Wave Movement is always busy and effectively productive, no matter if with his main AWM project or with his Within Reason offshoot. After 5 releases during 2013 (two as AWM, two as Within Reason and one with Thought Guild), February 2014 brings newest album "Celestial Chronicles" by Alpha Wave Movement on Greg's own Harmonic Resonance Recordings. Catchy images (by Greg) and album title give us an idea of upcoming, highly fascinating stargazing odyssey. Alpha Wave Movement's "Myriad Stars" from 2011 still resonates and that's definitely enough reasons to stay alert!!!

"Ancestral Star Chart" reveals with darker intro, spiced by assorted cyber-tech blips and pulses, one of them is quickly oscillating and almost drives me nuts. Then highly polished metallic percussive sounds step to the fore and masterfully enhance the structure, while warmly expansive washes graciously unfold and diffuse into magnificently expansive panoramas. A grandiose opener!!! The following piece, "When We Roamed The Stars", immediately attracts with its gorgeously laid-back atmosphere, led by hauntingly embracing rhythms, enchantingly delicate shimmers and earwarming airy blankets. This melodic alchemy works absolutely flawless, another example of sonic elegance and fineness!!! "The Tender Sea Of Space" is filled with stunningly captivating spaciousness. Mark Steiner appears as a guest on this composition (plus on the following track) performing on EVI (electronic valve instrument). According to Gregory, Mark is a nephew of Nyle Steiner, the inventor of EVI and EWI. Mark's EVI virtuosity adds strongly evocative atmospheric element to Greg's tranquilly illuminating heavenly symphony. The music perfectly captures the majesty of the track title. "Radiosonic Temple Of Harmonic Sound", the second longest piece clocking to nearly 12-minute mark, features lots of unique, essentially colored cascades and arches, where organic passages intermingle with slightly weirder, cacophonous textures, then the track swiftly progresses into the most lively part comprised of highly mesmerizing rhythms and exotically perfumed EVI parade. This is absolutely magnetizing listening experience, precisely portraying the huge creativity and musicality of both artists. An all-inclusive sonic jewel!!! "Genesis Of A Super Nova" starts with minimal intro, flavored with various cybernetic fragments, but it slowly increases into the vistas of warmer immensity accompanied with veiled beat. The longest piece, "Stellar Mantra", gets to nearly 15 minutes. It effectively merges environmental calmness, some ingredients of Hindustani classical music (vocals, sitar), balmy tribal percussions, joyful rhythm patterns and alluringly meandering airwaves. Utterly elegant and effective symmetry between all components!!! The closing composition "Final Transmission" dives into abyssal drone depths, but glimmering motifs slowly emerge and spellbindingly lighten the overall mood. Along the way sharper transmutations sneak in to steal the show, but cybernetic swirls interact strongly and defend its lead. Another cosmic magnificence!!!

"Celestial Chronicles" album offers to each listener a truly adventurous encounter, a deep space journeying at its most stirring and filigree!!! This is a very strong competitor for the Best of 2014 release!!! And by the way, since April 9th, 2014, there is available the newest Alpha Wave Movement album entitled "Archaic Frontiers" and in the pipeline via Darren Bergstein's Anodize label is the upcoming "Farshadow" CD by Within Reason (scheduled for mid-June). Keep an ear on this guy, because Gregory Kyryluk is one of the undisputable masters of the genre!!!

Richard Gürtler (Apr 18, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

16


The Winterhouse "Gathering Autumn" 2xCDr

"Gathering Autumn" is the 5th collaborative album between DataObscura's Anthony Paul Kerby from London, Ontario and Robert Scott Davies from Ithaca, New York. Released on DataObscura at the beginning of January 2014, this double album comes with an eye-catching front cover image by Robert. The same image is also featured on a pro printed glossy card, which is included with each CDr order. Each of the previous collaborations from these two creative sound sculptors offered a tremendously transporting journey, so my expectations are again really huge. Let's confirm that...

Disk One starts with "Secluded Vale", a tranquilly organic piece, led by rich natural field recordings and surrounded by monolithic drone and intermittent rumbles. This soundscape is exactly described by its title, no wonder I am immediately immersed. The journey has begun!!! "We Must Endure", which clocks over 15 and a half minutes, is quickly invaded by monumental drift expansion, again rather flatlined, with hidden, slightly mysterious distant embellishments. The transition in the middle is warmly relieving and shifts from gorgeously wide-screen panoramas through polished lively cascades to nearly symphonic blankets. Welcome to deep drone paradise, it's intense and graceful!!! The next piece, "Deepwoods", which is a few seconds longer than its predecessor, safely stays in serenely encircling forest wilderness and quietly traverses from calmer terrestrial authenticity to slightly harsher and disruptive shadowy paths. Another appropriate track title!!! No wonder "Curious Pathways" immediately follows ... A mysteriously undulating texture blending warmly drifting expanses with nostalgic culminations. Colorful sounds of the ecosystem's inhabitants are starring in "Autumn Nights", while monotonously spiraling distant drone is guarding above. "When The Day Ends" quickly dives into heavier, hissy fields although hauntingly counterpointed with joyful and placid piano expressions. Moving through richly sculpted cascades, both natural and hummed. This is a stunningly exciting conclusion of the first part!!!

Disc Two unfolds with "Gathering Autumn", a 10-minute title track, on which is immediately apparent coalescence of a massive static drone blanket and live performances of forest residents. Along the way smooth traverses with rumbling motifs and uncanny noises inconspicuously sneak in, while sparse fragile tinkles add contemplative feel. "The Shifting Sky" keeps its panoramic structure, floating and ebbing through intense peaks, with velvety clinks mesmerizingly arising from behind the mysterious clouds. "Growth Of The Soil" again precisely amalgamates catchy organics, meditative patterns and monochromatic drone mindscapes. The next track, "They Lived Here Before", attracts with its deeply evocative yearning texture, masterfully embellished by occasional native flute fragments and distant rumbling delicacies, but toward the end an array of sharply outbursting and swirling rattles steal the center stage. "Autumn Gardens" returns to a more relieving, yet colorfully enticing environmental terrains. The following composition, "Wandering Alone", meanders quietly through scenic landscapes, touched by slightly pensive calmness, before reaching a glitchy flavored piano conclusion. "To See Everything" with 11 and half minutes the longest piece on this disc and a closing opus, merges subtle oscillations with hissy dissonances, all guarded by celestial drifts, gracefully floating and swelling. Fascinatingly immersing finale!!!

Without doubt "Gathering Autumn" is a really monstrous double set from The Winterhouse!!! Hats off to both, Anthony Paul Kerby & Robert Scott Davies, who effectively integrate their freshly distinctive signature sculptings into one utterly homogeneous and detailed recording devoted to the natural beauty and diversity of flora and fauna in beautiful forests that are within our reach. "Gathering Autumn" works well as a background ambience, but I definitely would recommend a deeply attentive listening session, and if possible, with your headphones on. Trust me, this way you will explore many well-hidden surprises and rewards!!!

Richard Gürtler (Apr 13, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

17


Alio Die & Sylvi Alli "Amidst The Circling Spires" CD

The long awaited collaboration between Italian sound explorer Stefano Musso/Alio Die and in Berkeley, California based singer Sylvi Alli was released during January, 2014, on Projekt. While prolific Italian sculptor Alio Die is widely recognized, the name Sylvi Alli was new to me, thus she deserves here a little introduction. Sylvi Alli has started her artistic career with classical piano, but soon she turned into painting (1976-1993) and since 1995 she began singing. Her discography includes several solo CDs and soundtracks for theater and film, which feature also underground movies directed by Sylvi's husband Antero Alli (Sylvi is also acting in many of Antero's films). They both run Vertical Pool Productions, an intermedia arts group. And on the top of this, Sylvi Alli is also designing and handcrafting original jewelry on her LunarMuse shop.

As usual for all Alio Die releases, "Amidst The Circling Spires" CD is housed in gorgeously designed 6-panel digipak, with cover photo and concept by His Sunt Leones, while Sam Rosenthal handles the graphic design. The album opens with "The Inner Sea (Silver Sea)", it's a very tranquil and meditative neo-medieval flavored composition. Alio Die's gorgeously evocative and distinguishing soundsculpting is more than apparent, this time is precisely enriched by ethereal voice magic by Sylvi Alli. The harmony between Stefano's electroacoustic textures and Sylvi's vocal expressions is absolutely magical, a truly embracing effect is quickly achieved. I am hooked immediately by this serenely captivating composition!!! Bravo, Sylvi & Stefano!!! "Dreaming Tree" starts with minimal texture, slightly more cacophonous and primordial blending all those acoustic and organic subtleties. Sylvi Alli's colorful vocal wizardry adds a new dimension to this mysteriously fragranced reverie. On the next piece, "Crepuscular Birds", the two main protagonists are joined also by Lingua Fungi (taking care of zither, e-bow and effects). Poignant neo-medieval strings quietly intermingle with more droney parts, organic sounds occasionally emerge, all safely guarded by utterly gorgeous heavenly voices. The more sparser is the texture, the more expressively intense is its overall mood, which paints a really wonderful state of serenity!!! With "La Grotta Delle Naiadi" the listener is invited to enter into spectacular cavernous domains, where velvety tinkles hauntingly interact with warmly expanding and meandering washes. Soothingly engrossing fragile rainy sounds inconspicuously sneak in through the large opening. Sylvi's gracious voice bravura distinguishably enriches these uniquely magical and deeply contemplative sceneries. Lorenzo Montanà is credited for additional electronics and effects on this masterpiece. Yes, be prepared for nearly 12 minutes of pure sonic bliss!!! The following piece, "Numinous Veins", remains in deeply mysterious terrains, deliberately merging slender electroacoustics, comprised mostly of tenser strings, eerie howls and mesmerizing percussive transitions, with crystalline field recordings and excelling emotional voice. "Across A Splendid Vista" immediately shifts into neo-medieval paths leaded by dazzlingly beautiful zither magic, flimsy tinkles and warmly undulating atmospherics. The track title exactly displays this delightful journey!!! On the closing "Revenir" Sylvi Alli returns with her heavenly voice virtuosity. The soundscape keeps on floating and circling, with distant beat unobtrusively hanging above, and painting pleasingly meditative images.

"Amidst The Circling Spires" album is absolutely triumphant collaboration of two artists, who are deeply dedicated to their artistic expressions, their unrestrained passion and unique fragrances make from this recording a truly gracious and majestic listening experience, and certainly fully rewarding too. Another big one from this Italian master and big grazie to Stefano for bringing Sylvi Alli to this artful spectacle!!! Once again, bravo to Alio Die & Sylvi Alli (and their guests)!!!

Richard Gürtler (Apr 06, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

18


Sylken "Music For Spaceports" CDr

I will start straightly, there is no need to evade the truth, Sylken is certainly one of the best kept secrets on the ambient scene!!! In Toronto based Eric Hopper, the main driving force behind Sylken, is known for his extensive collaborations with many other members of The Ambient Ping gang, the creative community of audio artists, performers, musicians and visual artists, mostly based in Toronto area. "Music For Spaceports" CDr, the upcoming album by Sylken, is no exception, because Eric has again teamed with many fellow soundscapers and this ensemble offers to each listener gorgeously textured soundscapes, which stunningly capture all the beauty and immenseness of space-infused ambience. The release date is scheduled for May 1st, 2014, via Erik Hopper's Sylken Music.

The journey ignites Eric Hopper alone with "Sunstreams", which has a soothingly joyful feel. Gracefully expansive pads are hauntingly crossed with many, shimmeringly moving ingredients. Delicately crafted cascades and nuances provide a strongly transporting effect throughout the whole length of this track, with clocking over 8 and half minutes, "Sunstreams" is the longest composition on this album. The track title is masterfully displayed, a very strong opener!!! On "Dreamship" is Eric joined by Wally Jericho and Beau Lukes. Celestial choirs graciously emerge from behind the gentle electronic clouds, but soon these placid spheres are invaded by incredibly expressive trumpet by Wally Jericho. Also assorted cyber-tech fragments join the stage and give to this piece a slightly futuristic feel, but of course it is a magic trumpet that creates this incomparable cinematic elegance. However, the show is not over yet, as Wally Jericho gradually adds distant saxophone, which is fascinatingly counterpointed with his trumpet. I don't know exactly how Eric and Beau have divided the rest of their duties on this composition, I believe Beau was responsible for balmily mesmerizing percussions, but it really doesn't matter, because "Dreamship" is an incredibly extraordinary musical experience to me!!! Remember the milestone "From The Dark Earth" by Meg Bowles and David Bilger? So this is the same top league, welcome to the Ambient Hall of Fame!!! Bravo, Eric, Wally & Beau!!! On "Universa" Scott M2 of dreamSTATE steps to the scene and together with Eric they deliver richly textured space ambience, which serenely meanders through assorted ear-catching elevations, here and there enriched by tranquil organics. Pleasantly spacious and refreshing as a coastal breeze!!! On the next track, "Galaxis", Eric remains in expansive realms, moving up and down with his nostalgic tones, while fragile tinkles euphoniously glisten above. The track title "Ancient Skies" indicates shift into slightly shadowy terrains, although flimsy clinks lighten the overall mood. But distant processed flute flavoring adds a quite mysterious dimension. Rob Hoare (for his flute) and Steven Sauvé are credited on this track. Marvelously unfathomable listening experience, definitely another pinnacle on this album!!! On the shortest piece, "Interspace", Eric acts as a sole protagonist and he merges various small fragments into a quite minimal texture, on which sparser expressions are nicely permeated with stillness. "Starsong", with additional performances by Beau Lukes and Michael Holcer, swiftly returns into dreamier spheres, but hauntingly warm melody steals the forefront with a mix of laid-back velvety percussions swirling overhead, with some of them having a very pleasant tribal touch. Everything is blended very effectively and the final result is a strongly relaxing and high-spirited. Another ear candy!!! "Celestica" is accurately portrayed by its ethereal washes, floating with all the grace and infinity, bathing the listener in balmy foam to entirely soothe his/her body and mind!!! Eric Hopper excels at this one alone, but on the closing two tracks Terrence O'Brien of Anomalous Disturbances shows to add his touch. The first "Solaris" rather remains on the same, massively embracing paths as its predecessor, tranquilly winding, but an array of cybernetic infusions attractively illuminate the trajectory. "Mobieus" quietly unfolds and safely keeps its course through gorgeously boundless space, rather minimal than colossal, painting continuously mesmerizing circles, while occasional distant gong-like sounds add a quite contemplative conclusion to this wonderfully virtuosic odyssey!!!

Yes, several artists on one utterly magnificent journey, that's "Music For Spaceports"!!! I have been always fascinated by Canadian ambient scene for its diversity, richness and innovativeness. On "Music For Spaceports" you will find excelling many protagonists of this scene. On a personal note, more than 20 years have passed since I was visiting Toronto last time, but I would be very happy if I could comeback one day, personally meet all the people behind this scene, raise a glass of good beer with them and thank them for all their inspirational music they constantly create. Please note, it's a quite difficult task to locate Sylken albums, so the easiest way is to contact Eric Hopper directly via his FB account. Don't hesitate to do it even if some of you don't like this type of networking, because otherwise you will miss a true gem!!! "Music For Spaceports" is a definite must have album!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 30, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

19


Strom Noir "Urban Blues" CD

Slovak guitar drone wizard Emil Maťko, acting under Strom Noir, was quite silent during 2013, but with "Urban Blues" demo in his hands, which was recorded already in 2012 (between February and November), it was just a question of time before it will end up in the right hands. And all this happened during the last months of 2013, when Polish label Zoharum signed Strom Noir for the release of "Urban Blues" album. The dream came true at the end of January, 2014, when "Urban Blues" was released in limited edition of 300 copies and packaged in catchy matte finish 6-panel disc eco wallet (with cover photos and design by Wiktor Jackowski, mastering by Michal Iliaš). And on the top of all these facts, I can easily count all Slovak ambient soundscapers on the fingers of one hand, so the more I was excited about this release by my fellow countryman.

Poetically entitled "Maľovanie Dúhy", which means "Painting The Rainbow" in Slovak, opens the album with serenely meandering texture, where damp hissy blankets are hanging above, while gently shimmering string vagueness, carving strongly mesmerizing images, intertwines with more pinnacling acoustic filigrees. It's a very nice, soothing intro!!! "Night Blooming" calmly moves into slightly more massive dimension, although deeply evocative string expressions in the middle soften the overall feel. Toward the end the track again shifts into tenser paths. Elusive glitches amble circuitously across this hauntingly nostalgic composition. "Zavtra" can be translated as "Tomorrow", and it's taken, according to Emil, from a Rusyn language. It immediately dives into expanding terrains of continuously towering drones. Mindscaping dissonances permeate masterfully throughout as well and steadily culminate with all power and sternness. Wow, this is a pure, 9 minutes long, drone magic, a possible magnum opus by Strom Noir!!! More please!!! "Textures" quickly return to relatively relieving zones, sculpted with crystalline acoustics, assorted urban rumbles and squeaks and organic flavorings. But emerging rawer drone layers and noisier string desolations add a brand new kaleidoscope of tensions and sceneries. Texturally lush and stirringly captivating composition, undoubtedly another lofty pinnacle of this album!!! The title track "Urban Blues" is invaded by bulky stock of drones, where thick reverberations are coupled with mesmerizingly undulating choir-like circles. All accompanied by glimmering glitches, while cacophony of urban noises slowly rises from the haze and piercingly steals the center stage to deliver absolutely unforgettable listening delight. No wonder this is the flagship of this album. What to add, this is simply phenomenal, I think Strom Noir has never sounded better!!! The next piece, "All Summer In A Day", starts with rather monotonous drone, but assorted click-clacks freshly color the texture along with spellbindingly rotating semi-melodious fragments. A strongly cinematic and introspective composition!!! Beautifully entitled "V Ohni So Mnou Poď", or "Come With Me In The Fire", paints magnificently circling solitudes, where rougher tensities stunningly intermingle with poignant nostalgia. The texture exquisitely crescendoes in its spectacular deepness and monstrousness and safely reaches utterly ear-splitting gloriousness. Another sonic monument by Strom Noir!!! "All Souls (Will Be Born Again)" is more comforting, even if the static drone hum is quite monolithic. Hissy embellishments and hypnotic oscillations do the rest of the work. A gorgeously immense outro!!!

I think it's more than evident for all those who are journeying with Strom Noir, this is undoubtedly the most sophisticated album by this Slovak drone sculptor. A truly intriguing, mind-bending and victorious guitar drone work, transporting each listener to the frontier of stringed drone virtuosity. That's "Urban Blues" in a nutshell and I am really proud of Strom Noir!!! Klobúk dole, hats off!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 23, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

20


Zero Ohms "Process Of Being" CD

Richard Roberts, the sole creator behind Zero Ohms, equipped with flutes and wind synthesizer controllers, returns with a brand new CD "Process Of Being", his 11th solo album, released during February 2014 on Californian Spotted Peccary label. This highly respected US flute wizard is known also for his numerous renowned collaborations with artists such as Craig Padilla, Skip Murphy, Brannan Lane, Gordon Rhyne or Markus Reuter.

As indicated by haunting nightly images, by Daniel Pipitone and Jourdan Laik, on elegant 4-panel disc eco wallet, the album initiates straight away with tranquilly sublime free-floater "The Present Perfect Tense Of Being", with 14 and half minutes the longest piece on "Process Of Being". Ultra deep immersion is quickly achieved by heavier, mind-expanding reverberations, which rotate above in some passages. Grandiosely majestic sceneries are masterfully unfolded and invite each listener into a truly fascinating journey loaded with stunningly shifting drone expansions and oscillations. Definitely a top-notch opening!!! And no matter if you wear headphones or giving an exercise to your speakers!!! "The Approach Of Nothingness" is slightly more relieving, the drone is less massive, although the reverberating circles are still riding atop here and there. But the overall feel is still strongly embracing and transporting. Floating on gentle waves of infinite expansiveness, Richard Roberts excels again when deliberately bridging acoustic wind instrumentation with wind synths, field recordings and advanced recording techniques. 14-minute "Glimpsing The Eternal" immediately attracts with breathy flute magic, the most textured composition so far. Richard Roberts' skills in creating beautifully evocative flute expressions are in full bloom throughout. This is a gorgeously reflective composition, which undoubtedly will soothe your body and soul!!! "The Dream Dreaming You" smoothly returns to calmer, contemplative terrains, where serene flute reverberations and transitions coalesce with peaceful stillness infused by distant mindscaping spirals. Environmental hums announce the next piece, "The Process Of Being There". Gently cascading yearning flute images are this time harmoniously merged with remote static drone soars. The closing "Nameless" unfolds with rather minimal, abyssal dronescape, which slowly expands into more colossal dimensions leaded by ear-rubbing resonations, while sparse flute calls keep on meandering and counterpoint with meditative stillness. Sure, this is not your ordinary "piece of cake", but as soon you manage to dive deeper into these soundworlds, many rewards are emerging. A gigantically vacuous and dissonantly transcendental listening experience is achieved during the final stage of "Process Of Being". I wouldn't hesitate to describe this as a grand finale!!!

Richard Roberts is a true virtuoso, who handles his flute arsenal in a very distinguishing style. While delicately balsamy with his previous album, with "Process Of Being" Zero Ohms masterfully explores a quite mind-bending sonic realms, a paradise for your nocturnal musings. But as always, all signatures of Richard Roberts are fully arrayed. Credits include also Ben Cox as the mastering engineer. If you are fascinated by deeply immersing woodwind-driven dronescaping, "Process Of Being" is certainly an album you can always bet on!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 22, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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