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Topics - richardgurtler

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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)


Mario Grönnert and CommonSen5e "Before Time" CDr

"Before Time" is a collaborative project involving German drone ambient artist Mario Grönnert, based in Quedlinburg, and US sound sculptor Mason Metcalf from Portland, recording under his moniker CommonSen5e. Both of them have previously released several solo digital albums, then their first joint effort entitled "Nightmares and Dreamscapes: Silhouettes of Urbia" came out in February 2016 on Austrian Audiokult label as a pro CDr limited edition of 150 copies packaged in a quite impressive black & white designed 6-panel digipak. The newest sonic endeavor "Before Time" EP by Mario Grönnert and CommonSen5e was self-released in the middle of June 2017 as a 4-panel digipak, this time limited to 50 copies. Just the same as with their preceding cowork, the black & white layout is masterfully executed by Claudia Holzweissig of Zwiegestalten Art & Design studio from Magdeburg in Germany featuring stunningly mysterious pictures by talented US iPhone photographer Buckner Sutter.

The EP unfolds with nearly 13-minute composition "Point Black", which immediately sets the atmosphere of nebulously colored and intriguingly immersing sceneries meticulously coalescing with incredibly transporting surreal visuals. Intangibly solitary blankets with synthesized flute-infused cascades persistently juxtapose with slightly rawer hissy billows. On one side nearly poetic lighter, but richly nuanced lyrical subtleties, on the opposite steadily undulating and dissonantly gurgling and hushing, yet always rather calmer than ear-piercing layers of encircling oracular reflections. Sonorously evocative scenario exquisitely hanging in the fissure between ambient and dark ambient realms. Well-done, guys!!! 12-plus minutes long "The Dreamweaver" is propelled by helixing drone trembles constantly permeated by remote rumbles, glimpsing bullroarer traces, ambiguous clickety-claks, gossamery titillating high-tech glitches, ephemeral rainy vistas, glancing voice fragments and unforeseen emerging epic magnitudes clandestinely transmogrifying into transcendentally reverberating subterranean terra incognitas. Auxiliary primordial artifacts percolate as well, while genius loci is guarding above. A quite perplexingly colored and rather peculiarly sculpted dark ambience is profoundly exhibited here by two gifted protagonists, so don't expect to be confronted with treadbarely ominous modus operandi.

The talents of Mario Grönnert and Mason Metcalf as CommonSen5e have been converged and then amalgamated into a strikingly challenging and substantially focused style, which I am quite sure will please many devoted aficionados of obscurer soundscaping. And that's what both these artists did already on their previous full length recording "Nightmares and Dreamscapes: Silhouettes of Urbia". Sure, "Before Time" with its 25-minute EP running time is rather shorter to my taste, especially when the deep immersion blossoms into its well-hidden potential, however, I can easily imagine Mario Grönnert and CommonSen5e joining in the future the multicultural roster of Cryo Chamber. Kudos to Mario and Mason as well as to Zwiegestalten and Buckner Sutter for displaying their artistry too. And on the top of all this, you also might want to explore some of the solo digital releases of its both creators, for example Mario Grönnert's debut "From Land to Light", available through his Bandcamp site, is a truly splendid work, which certainly deserves to be unveiled and released one day on a physical format. CommonSen5e's tracks can be experienced through his SoundCloud site.

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


Jim Ottaway "Deep Space Blue" CD

Australian soundscaper Jim Ottaway, based in Gold Coast, Queensland, owns a quite extensive discography counting over 25 albums, all self-released on a CD or CDr formats since 2004, when he debuted with "First Light" album. During 2017 Jim Ottaway has released two albums, "Timeless e-Motion", which is out since January 1st and "Deep Space Blue" with the street date August 1st. Jim Ottaway's most recent album, carved between May 2014 and June 2017, comes in a catchy glossy 4-panel digipak designed by the artist himself, precisely exposing the focus on the fascinatingly ambiguous vastness of the cosmos. It immediately triggers the deep immersion, nice job, Jim!!!

6-minute opening piece, "Astral Voices", magnifies the listener transportation with euphoniously expansive and sonorously embracing female choir-like drones coupled with warmly nuanced blankets, scrupulously permeated by outlying gossamery cyber-biotic clatters. Gracefully immense intro!!! Artificial fanfares announce "In Search Of The Lost Star", before delving into unfathomably enigmatic echoed glimmers crossed with soothingly infinite, yet titillatingly high-pitched meridians and gently cascading drone murmurs. Rousing brass calls resurrect once more, while translucently intangible chinks are guarding above. Another masterfully engulfing composition! The next track, nearly 11 minutes long "39.5 Light-Years (Trappist-1)", spotlights on the ultra-cool red dwarf star, which is located, as entitled, 39.5 light-years from the Sun. Thrillingly oracular immenseness unlocks its gates with monochromatic choir stratums amalgamated with remote cybernetic signals and auxiliary chiming traceries. Distant sequences inconspicuously arise along with further glimpses of male chant traverses and tenebrously obfuscated bells. As much intoxicatingly audacious as its title, bravo, Jim!!! On "Stars of Ice" an array of diaphanously ear-tickling tinkles persistently sinuate, amplify and commingle with billows of vigorous vertexes, clandestinely observed and juxtaposed by mesmerizingly oscillating mirages infused by frog-like undercurrents. For pure aural bliss reinforced by several ear-bending eruptions it's highly recommended to wear your headphones! The title piece, "Deep Space Blue" clocking over 11-minute mark, shifts into more rhythmic terrains, coalescing vaguely galloping bass patterns with relentlessly invading high-tech helixes and additionally ascending epic vistas. Gauzy clinks percolate here and there. "Interplanetary Panspermia", at 16:21 the longest track on the album, deals with the hypothesis that life on Earth may have originated through the "seeds" of life, which exist all over the Universe. A quite weird domains are entered, where static, hallucinogenic drone layer is constantly contrasted with pervading vibrations, nebulous rumbles, oddly twisted fragments and piercingly buzzing pinnacles. Although piece like this might drive me nuts at times, surprisingly it fits quite well the extraterrestrial theme even if more dissonantly experimental.

I think "Deep Space Blue" CD is an exquisitely triumphant album and a high quality accomplished product by Jim Ottaway, where the aural and visual parts coexist in absolute equilibrium and everything is augmented by top-notch presentation. The album meticulously reveals some of the most intriguing enigmas of spellbindingly adventurous cosmic realms and since this is my first encounter with Jim Ottaway's space odysseys, I really look forward to explore more by this crafted Aussie. Nearly 60 minutes long "Deep Space Blue" is a real treat offering a fully rewarding listening experience to each avid deep space connoisseur!!!

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


Tony Gerber "Secret Garden" CD

Tony Gerber, in Nashville based multi-instrumentalist and space ambient veteran is highly praised not only for his solo work under his name or as Cypress Rosewood, but also as a core member of Spacecraft project or as a one half of Auroric Dreams. On the top of that, he is still the driving force behind the legendary Space For Music label, which has released during the last two decades, especially mostly during 2000s many unforgettable albums, except his own and Spacecraft CDs/CDrs, also by numerous renowned artists such as Zero Ohms, Giles Reaves, Brannan Lane, Craig Padilla, Robert Rich, Thom Brennan, Max Corbacho, Terra Ambient, Hans-Joachim Roedelius, Vir Unis, Robert Scott Thompson, Ian Boddy, Robert Carty... Indeed a truly impressive line-up! Back to "Secret Garden" CD, this is the latest release by Space For Music label in a cooperation with Kimmo Heikkilä, a Finnish visual artist and Parikkalan Patsaspuisto, a Parikkala Sculpture Park in Parikkala, in South Karelia region of Finland. Tony Gerber made his first connection to Finland in 2014 through his live performance at Karelian Skies festival and since then this relationship keeps on blossoming. "Secret Garden" album is inspired and dedicated to this uniquely treasured park, which include over 560 folk art statues by Finnish sculptor Veijo Rönkkönen (1944-2010). The CD is out since June 2017 in a two glossy cardboard sleeves featuring photographs by Veijo Rönkkönen with design by Kimmo Heikkilä and additional assistance by Atte Paju. The mastering wizardry was provided by no one else but Bob Olhsson, the iconic audio engineer behind stellar Hearts Of Space catalogue.

6-plus minutes long title track "Secret Garden" immerses the listener with soothing monochromatic drone masterfully juxtaposed and strongly illuminated by soaring stringed lyricism and auxiliary cascading undercurrents. "Glass Eye Visions" bridges sinuously traversing high-pitched poignancy with intangibly glimmering quietudes. Secluded winds announce "Beneath The Moss", which is soon joined by utterly embracing warm expansions and engrossing native flute insignias. Pure aural elixir!!! "Treasures From The Tooth Fairy" reveals with ephemeral noisy train sounds, but soothing rainy location recordings permeate along with transient chants, intensely evocative flute magic and subduedly twinkling patterns. The next track, "Incubation", amalgamates nebulously transporting ethereal blankets with sneaking, euphoniously ear-tickling panoptic introspections of electric strings and supported by vaporously pulsing sequences. "Joogatarha" meticulously bridges an array of both primordial and artificial percussive piquancy with singularly engulfing wordless chants by its sole protagonist, all guarded by quiescent dronescapes. A truly galvanizing listening experience awaits here!!! Nearly 13-minute "Parikkala Sky (Space Gong)", the longest piece on "Secret Garden", is guided by a train whistles (train field recordings supplied by Tony's wife Heather) into a profoundly contemplative realms, driven by spellbindingly tenebrous, gong-infused drones and commingled by occasional gossamer fragments and remote metallic rumbles. Further abysmally humming meridians inconspicuously pervade and steal this fascinatingly transcendental spectacle with its ear-bending reverberating magnifications. The Drone Eden unlocks its gates, enter now!!! "Katatarina" unfolds by oscillating dissonances, which smoothly shift into sky high domains and the scenario is painstakingly propelled by narrative artistry, when utilizing post-rock fragranced electric strings. Another beauty!!! "Ring Around The Rosie" is again leaded by stringed texture, this time with some kind of Wild West flavors thrown in (is that electric dulcitar?) and surrounded by gently persistent synthetic clickety-clacks and continuously emerging remote groans and transitory layers of rawer buzzings. Credited on this piece as a guest musician is Tony Gerber's brother Todd.

58-minute "Secret Garden" is a very strong sonic installment by Tony Gerber and a splendidly flavored tribute to the beauty, spirit and the mystery of the unique sculpture park in Parikkala. And the sales of this album, which is also available as a vinyl version, black or colored, help to fund the maintaining the sculpture park. Nicely performed, Tony!!! And kudos go to all involved in sculpting this amazing project!!! If you can, please support the legacy of Veijo Rönkkönen, the man behind fine examples of Finnish contemporary folk art. Thank you!!!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 01, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Romer Shoal" CDr by riverrun
« on: September 24, 2017, 02:57:10 AM »

riverrun "Romer Shoal" CDr

UK's Daniel Land might be better known for his shoegaze/dream-pop recordings released as solo or under the name Daniel Land & The Modern Painters or as a member of Engineers band, but he is also the sole creator behind riverrun side-project focusing on exquisitely immersing introspective soundscaping. "Romer Shoal" album was released at the end of November 2016 through Hinney Beast Records as 4th album by riverrun. The CDr, packaged in a standard jewel case with transparent tray with stunningly vague cover images (4-panel front insert), comes in a limited edition of 50 copies and it's inspired by the memorable times Daniel Land with his partner spent in New York City between September 2014 and May 2015, with resurrected longing memories while hanging mainly around New York harbor and along the Atlantic Coast. The album's title is taken from Romer Shoal Light, it's a sparkplug lighthouse in Lower New York Bay, in the entrance to New York Harbor.

The opening piece "Conover Beacon", entitled after a lighthouse in Leonardo, New Jersey, immediately transports the listener into utterly evocative landscapes, where soothingly sweeping drifts persistently juxtapose with poignantly expressive subtleties of electric strings and some auxiliary ephemeral tiny buzzing field recordings. Pure beauty!!! The following piece "Twin Lights", with 2:24 the shortest cut on "Romer Shoal", incorporates intangibly rattling on site sounds reinforced by remote coastal symphonies and driven by weeping nuanced texture. Seamless transition into another brief composition "Weehawken" (a township in Hudson County, New Jersey) is carried by intangible tinkles, distant winds, guarding curtains of drone hums and exquisitely touching piano quietudes. What a beauty meticulously painted by hauntingly blurred sceneries!!! The title track "Romer Shoal" is propelled by continually emerging eerie wavers and meridians, transcendentally titillating, while solitarily murmuring blankets are riding atop along with gauzily rumbling shimmers. Again shorter, yet efficiently distinguishing soundscape!!! The next track "Jersey Narrows" keeps tightly on the misty path, where bulkier drone persistently commingle with windy bleak vastness and evanescent coastal glimpses. "Island Channel" immediately engross the listener with its thick, bittersweetly cascading stringed tapestries, strikingly bewitching. Choir-like drone reverberations relentlessly glide above as well with diminutive faunal calls. A devastatingly epic composition!!! While all previous compositions were rather fleeting, clocking between 4:39 and 2:24, and I could easily imagine them in longer versions as they pass quite quickly, the closing "Dubos Point" covers almost 26 minutes. Named after Dubos Point Wildlife Sanctuary, a short distance from New York city, it's a saltwater marsh protecting Jamaica Bay and a home of large number of different wildlife species. Monochromatic drone is delicately wrapped by hazy images, forlorn breaths, wetland's echoed consonances and transitory rustling traceries. Warmly nuanced motifs with ear-bending resonations join the stage and delightfully amalgamate with mesmerizingly quiescent, yet voluminously graceful celestial expansions and glancing piano reveries. A magnum opus!!!

Once again, I feel the first six songs could be longer, however "Romer Shoal" is undoubtedly a truly brilliant recording by riverrun, offering to each devoted aficionado of intensely engulfing textural drone ambient introspections 46 minutes of drifting poignancy at its most ambrosial!!! A true masterwork by incredibly crafted artist, bravo, Daniel Land!!! Regarding the available physical editions by riverrun, definitely don't miss also a 71-minute "La Mer" CDr reissue of the original double album released in 2011. But of course it's highly recommended to explore also additional two albums, "Pentimento" (2010) and "New Cartographies" (2013), which are available now in digital formats only as the CDr versions are sold out.

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

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Fragments Of Life" CDr by Zalys
« on: September 17, 2017, 06:23:51 AM »

Zalys "Fragments Of Life" CDr

Zalys, a French one-woman project driven by mysterious M., is releasing drone ambient outcomes since March 2013, when the album "Wandering Through Space" debuted. Since then, if I am right, another eight albums were released (including three split collaborations, two with Ukrainian Saturn Form Essence, one with Hulduefni from Portugal). What really counts for me, almost all of them were available in physical CDr formats, so kudos for that, although most of them are now sold out items, but of course you can always grab a digital format. I believe the only exception is a glass mastered CD edition of "Sublime" album published by Swedish Reverse Alignment label in November 2015. But I will focus on the last Zalys' self-released CDr album entitled "Fragments Of Life", which is out since December 2016. The album comes in a rather simple, but intensely immersing 4-panel eco wallet with foam CD hub, designed by the artist herself through Icelander Studios. At some point this one was available as a bundle with already mentioned "Sublime" CD (Sander, thanks a lot for your hint!!!), but "Fragments Of Life" limited edition sold quite quickly, so now "Sublime" remains as the only available album on physical format. I don't know how big are the limited runs, so I would strongly recommend to keep a focused eye on each future album by Zalys.

Nearly 16-minute title track "Fragments Of Life" unfolds the engulfing journey with nebulously carved extraterrestrial layers, while auxiliary hallucinogenic choir glimpses, dizzy glitchy subtleties, consonantly rumbling titillations, transient hissy traverses and oracularly echoed groans join this fascinatingly labyrinthine, dark ambient scented scenario. Magnifique!!! "The Helix" shifts into gracefully monumental realms, painted by spellbindingly mesmerizing towering helixes, warmer cinematic vistas and ascending incandescent whooshing sci-fi meridians. "The Lament Of NovA" keeps on the path of expansive euphoniousness, although persistently coalesced with amplifying eternal spirals and ear-tickling glistening tapestries. "Out Of Time" glides tightly into tenebrously immense zones, amalgamating sweeping choir-like drones with repeating cascading motifs, before clandestinely delving into unfathomably sonorous and tenaciously solitary magnitudes. The next piece, "The Whisperers", with 3 minutes the shortest cut on the album, juxtaposes desolate winds with epic, nearly symphonic panoptic crescendos and billowing undercurrents. "Escape From Reality" clocks over 12-minute mark and it's fueled my more massive drone, calmly drifting and undulating, yet later reinforced by unforeseen eruptions of rawer buzzing signals, which slightly dissolve into abyssal magmatic stratums of the void. These massive walls gradually amplify, metamorphose and reach few truly jaw-dropping, voluminously ominous vertexes. Then waning, waxing and waning again, while relentlessly guarded by thrilling reverberations with occasionally outbursting fragments. A drone phenomenon at its most transporting!!! The last two tracks, "Flares" and "Solar Wind Downfall", are listed as bonus and are remixed by jonnie13black. As additionally informed by M., "Flares" and "Solar Wind" originally appeared on "Towards The Sun" EP (January 2014), while "Downfall" was featured on "Reminiscences" album (March 2015 on Arecibo Records). "Flares" again masterfully merges helically celestial choirs with continually permeating piercing apexes, staggeringly engrossing, and phantasmally resounded mirages. The closing "Solar Wind Downfall" invades with barren monochromatic layers, yet quiveringly surging and unlocking the gates to the awe-inspiring transcendental sceneries. A pure drone elixir, well-done, M. & jonnie13black!!!

These 70 minutes long "Fragments Of Life" are utterly powerful and offer to each drone connoisseur a genuinely mind-blowing odyssey, intriguingly confronting deep space enigmas with dissonant dark ambient ventures. A very solid recording by M. aka Zalys, exhibiting her talent, insignias and potential in forging dronescaping cosmic spectacles. Sure, there is still some place for extra polishing that would bring even more multi-dimensional spectacularity to your headphones, but otherwise "Fragments Of Life" album gets my highest recommendation!!! Bravo M./Zalys and keep on droning, I will definitely keep an attentive ear to the ground!!! And last but not least, according to the latest updates, M. is also considering to reissue "The Icarus System" album (September 2014) along with the EP "Infinity" (March 2014) on a physical CDr format as both were available previously only as digital downloads. Good news indeed!

Richard Gürtler (Sep 16, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Strom Noir "Maľované Kvety & Xeroxové Motýle" CD

As I have mentioned before few times, since I am a Slovak, it's always a very special and highly treasured moment, when I can focus on a drone ambience Made in Slovakia. We have only a few acts delving deeply into these fascinating soundworlds and Strom Noir is undoubtedly the leading protagonist. Applauded discography of Emil Maťko, the sole creator behind this project, is certainly the best proof. His fourth album for Polish label Zoharum, "Maľované Kvety & Xeroxové Motýle" CD is out since the end of April 2017 in a limited edition of 300 copies. The black & white cover images just look absolutely gorgeous on a matte 6-panel eco wallet, so well-deserved kudos go to Praetorian for the photographs, to Michał Porwet for the cover concept as well as to Maciej Mehring for the cover design. All you guys have done such amazing work that precisely displays Strom Noir's soundscapes!

The album is divided in two parts, which were originally intended to be published on separate cassette releases. The first one entitled "Against A Dwarf" features five tracks, mostly recorded during August 2015 and March 2016, but the title composition was created between December 2012 and November 2014. 7-minute "Widely Opened Window" reveals the first half with mesmerizingly shimmering drone introspections, particularly displaying its title. A truly gorgeous soundscape!!! "Rozkyv Duše" (in English "Weaving Of Soul") shifts into slightly rawer terrains, where persistently helixing drones are intriguingly juxtaposed by starker hissy reflections. Hauntingly disturbing collage! "Saturday Is Gone" keeps on the path of poignant sonorousness, when propelled by mindscaping consonant spirals. Above mentioned title piece "Against A Dwarf", with 16 minutes the longest one on the whole album, unveils harmoniously glimmering sceneries, exquisitely reviving long forgotten memories. An emotional aural delight gratifying the listener's soul!!! "Echo V Tebe" (translated as "Echo In You") bridges intangibly evocative blankets with engrossing dissonant meridians. Then 10 seconds of [silence] closes "Against A Dwarf" part. The second half, "Painted Flowers & Xeroxed Butterflies", which is also an English interpretation of the Slovak album's title, consists of 5 tracks, mostly older ones recorded between January and August of 2011. The only exception is the opening cut "Tlkot Dreva & Bzukot Kovu" ("Throb Of The Wood & Buzz Of The Metal"), which was carved between December 2012 and February 2014. The piece is sculpted of rather monochromatic drone motif masterfully amalgamated with remote, yet pensive acoustic stringed poignancy and euphorically swirling hazy undercurrents. Intensely enveloping listening bliss awaits here, bravo, Strom Noir!!! The title composition "Painted Flowers & Xeroxed Butterflies", reaching nearly 11-minute mark, dives into slightly subterranean colored domains, merging vivacious organic rumbles and enigmatic tapestries with an array of tremulously hanging strings. Another big one and this uniquely stirring soundscape fully blossoms with your headphones on! "Shattered Like A Glass Goblin" returns to more soothing, although perplexingly engulfing drone zones, navigated by flatlined desolations and guarded by phantasmal choirs. "Ttoollosk" remains in calmer territories, where peacefully droning stratums commingle with lush stringed imageries. The closing shorter "Pure II" follows the static trace, yet this time illuminated by glitchy quietudes and it makes a very suitable conclusion of this wonderfully immersing dronescaping ride.

Although the recollection on "Maľované Kvety & Xeroxové Motýle" album covers about a five year time period, all compositions coexist quite well and homogenous even if more colorful throughout the second section and showcase during 73 minutes a gamut of Strom Noir's greatly praised insignias. Certainly a top-notch highly recommended album, both audibly and visually!!! Kudos to Emil Maťko/Strom Noir as well as to Zoharum's guys and Praetorian from DeviantArt network!!!

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

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Vestiges" CD by Robert Rich
« on: September 02, 2017, 09:29:58 AM »

Robert Rich "Vestiges" CD

With "Vestiges" Robert Rich continues his tremendously enrapturing aural venture into tenebrously reflective terrains distinctively mirrored on magnificent "What We Left Behind" album. Precisely displayed by stunningly immersing cover images by photographer Brad Cole with additional design by John Bergin, both truly amazing kindred visual artists, who are tightly connected to Robert Rich's soundworlds for few decades already. Packaged in a really elegant 6-panel digipak, the album was released during November 2016 and as usual for each of Robert Rich's releases, the listener gets a true piece of art! So obviously I have to send kudos to all involved!

6-plus minutes long "The Fading Shore Of Memory" reveals the journey with nebulously meandering texture commingling nuanced expansive driftscape, signature lap steel guitar weeps, balmy organic quietudes, vague cyber-tech deflections, glimpsing introspective patterns and intangibly peculiar slams. The track precisely follows its title. "Night Seas Luminesce", clocking to 7-minute mark, seamlessly invades and shifts into slightly intenser drone cascades, yet exquisitely counterpointed by filigree stringed magic and poignantly engrossing piano minimalism. "Spectre Of Lost Light", running over 15 minutes, is I believe the track Robert Rich has composed as his own musical interpretation of the old Slavonic ritual of the Forefathers’ Eve for a special live performance on November 15th 2016 in Krakow, Poland. Intense desolate drones masterfully amalgamate with lower end abyssal magnitudes and hissy cyber-biotic scatters. The gates to the transcendental realms are fully unlocked, but then the ethereal voice clouds by Chari Chuang (also known from "Medicine Box" and "What We Left Behind") soften a bit the whole spectacle, before again diving into unfathomably engulfing sceneries reinforced by persistently towering and titillating tapestries. Towards the end deep drone hums resurrect and culminate with utterly mind-blowing voluminousness. A truly jaw-dropping epic listening experience awaits here, meticulously filled with intriguingly sinuous enigmas and staggeringly crescendoing meridians!!! Additional credit goes to Dimitris Menexopoulos, for using his Cretan lyra clouds. "Obscured By Leaf Shadows" is propelled by rather monochromatic layer, gliding through sublimely spacious zones, guarded by Chari Chuang's celestial voice-like washes with glancing ear-tickling reverberations, thrillingly coalesced with rattling natural symphonies and solitary deep bass undulations, and all marvelously bridged with gorgeously poetic piano glimmers. Another aural bliss and an ultimate Hall of Fame composition!!! Nearly 9 minutes long "Equipoise And Dissolution" unfolds with more ambiguous tiding motifs, permeated by remote voice samples with shattering fragments, while primordial flute curtains, contemplatively engulfing bells, diaphanously gentle chinks and outlying low-pitched sonorousness clandestinely sneak in and join this soothingly sweeping and majestically enrapturing scenario. Pure magic! Ambrosial natural sounds juxtapose with sequestered labyrinthine drones on "Reborn In Brackish Pools", with 3:40 the shortest track on "Vestiges". Auxiliary lap steel wails emerge as well and delve deeply into venturesomely perplexing subterranean domains. 16-minute closing "Anchorless On Quiet Tide" is fastidiously exhibited by its name, when ingeniously blending sparse piano musings and pristine littoral serenities with vaporously caliginous and euphoniously pondering images. A delightful sonic postcard painted by calm reminiscences and blurred horizons.

Over 62 minutes long "Vestiges" album is another virtuosically polished monument by this Californian mastermind! Yeah, and the sound quality is, as always, top-notch! We all must be enormously grateful for such artistic gift, brilliance and consistency, thank you so much, Robert!!! Since I am quite slow with my review schedule, Robert Rich has released in the meantime another two recordings, the first one is a collaborative effort with German touch guitar wizard Markus Reuter and it's entitled "Lift A Feather To The Flood". It was released during April 2017 on Robert's Soundscape Productions, 10 years after their first chapter "Eleven Questions". And the most recent is a double CD document "Live At The Gatherings 2015", this one is out since June 2017 on Industry8 label.

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


ASC "Trans-Neptunian Objects" CDr

UK's soundscaper James Clements, now based in Del Mar, near San Diego, California, is the sole protagonist behind ASC project and also the man behind Auxiliary label. I believe ASC got quite famous mostly through his CD releases on sympathetic Canadian label Silent Season, where he released since 2011 five highly applauded albums. His last one for this label, "No Stars Without Darkness" (out since October 2016), is considered as one of the ultimate pinnacles of Silent Season's entire release list. Now with "Trans-Neptunian Objects" ASC marks his ambient return to his own label and follows the deep space traces masterfully explored through above mentioned opus "No Stars Without Darkness". Released at the end of June 2017 in catchy 4-panel digipak precisely displaying extraterrestrial enigmas.

ASC ignites this spectacularly immersing odyssey with nearly 13-minute "Sedna", the longest piece on the album. Additional Googling tells me that all 8 tracks are entitled after largest known trans-Neptunian objects, thus the opening "Sedna", discovered in 2003, is the most distant object known to orbit around the sun and also one of the most reddest among Solar System objects. Cosmic rumblings unfold the journey, but it's the mysteriously desolate drone persistently percolated by solitarily massive winds, which propels the imagination of each devoted voyager. Nuanced stratums glide through euphoniously reverberant domains, exquisitely softened by warmly undulating expansive vistas, intangibly high-pitched signals, shimmering cinematic glimpses and accidental eruptions. A truly jaw-dropping Hall of Fame aural spectacle, bravo, James!!! "Dysnomia" got its name after the only known moon of the dwarf planet Eris, the most massive in the Solar System. The drone gets slightly harsher, less intense, percolated by heavier, impalpably languid beats, assorted tenebrously engrossing traceries and transiently magnifying surges. "Eris" returns to deeper, sonorously engrossing traces, where ambiguously helixing meridians continuously commingle with brumous cyber-biotic glimmers and subsidiary embracing horizons. "Haumea", which means a plutoid, a dwarf planet beyond Neptune's orbit, is reaching almost 10-minute mark and it keeps tightly on exploring thrillingly oracular immenseness, driven my massive monochromatic drone layers superiorly juxtaposed by evanescent percussive subtleties, clattering echoed remnants and amorphously, yet poignantly enrapturing yearning piano-infused blankets. We are still in the middle of the whole adventure, but the listener is relentlessly confronted with tremendously fascinating and multifariously tenacious aural phenomenons! A plutino, a trans-Neptunian object "Orcus", just a few seconds shorter than "Haumea", dives into abysmally mysterious depths, where monumentally tiding panoptic choir-like drone is amalgamated with elusively ringing illuminations. Along the way inconspicuously emerging billows lead to magnifying sonic vertexes. "Ixion", another plutino, firmly drifts through unfathomably voluminous zones, when magnificently coalescing warmly cascading panoramic magnitudes with transient tinkles, organic ambrosias, rattling fractals, transcendental reflexions and ephemeral voice transmission beams. Obviously a 9-plus minutes long eargasmic listening experience awaits here!!! 10-minute "Vanth", the only known moon of Orcus, is slightly noisier with its array of intensely sharper hissy swirls blended with mesmerizing pulses, auxiliary beacons and flatlined, yet sinuously infused drone solitudes. Around the 5th minute clandestinely transmogrifying into quieter, yet slowly arising and culminating graceful expansions guarded by choir-driven celestial sublimities and permeated by remotely raucous subtleties. "Quaoar", as a Kuiper belt object and probably a dwarf planet, closes this breathtakingly adventurous odyssey with rather calmer, hauntingly waving and balmily enveloping driftscape bridged with fizzy introspective tapestries. Wow!!!

Although ASC's discography features around 13 solo CDs, the only exception is one collaboration with Sam KDC, James Clements has released tons of singles and EP's, both solo and collaborative, maybe even counting over 100, I believe many of them focus on his earlier atmospheric drum and bass career or techno, IDM, downtempo and other related styles. However, my definite focus goes towards his enigmatic drone ambient soundcarving and "Trans-Neptunian Objects" must be his magnum opus together with already aforestated "No Stars Without Darkness" and also with "Fervent Dream", released on Silent Season in 2015, at least according to my own taste. True sonic monuments indeed!!! Nearly 74 minutes long "Trans-Neptunian Objects" album, virtuosically revealing the origin and evolution of the Solar System, belongs to the most sophisticated milestones in astronomical journeying I have ever encountered and ASC has entered the pantheon with the titans of deep space soundscaping!!! Once again, bravo, James Clements!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 25, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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