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Topics - richardgurtler

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161


Thought Guild "Third Voyage" CDr

"Third Voyage", released in February 2012 on Harmonic Resonance Recordings, marks the third and unfortunately the last chapter of collaboration betweeen Alpha Wave Movement's Gregory Kyryluk and his country mate, synthesist Christopher Cameron, who passed away on August 22, 2011. Before exploring the vintage synth sound of this final voyage, we are confronted with nicely looking retro packaging with 5.25 floppy disc, released in a limited edition of 50 copies and hand numbered. Definitely a true collector's item!!! "Third Voyage" unfolds with celestially elated and tranquilly sweeping texture, "The Ebbing Universe". Its warmly inviting and graceful atmosphere is nicely emphasized by agelic choir-like sounds and tenderly tinkling effects. Excellent opener!!! "Iridescent Universe" is slightly more eclectic and expressive in its first half with stronger nostalgic feel, towards the end it becomes more serene and aerial. Charming ethereal mid-tempo melodies invade the next piece, "Last Train To Lyon", and attractively interplay with occasional, evocative and catchy electric guitar riffs. Emotionally strong and exciting composition!!! Darker and deeper intro of "Retropolis" soon slips into actively rhythmed and ever-changing tune. Hauntingly rich, colorful and uplifting blend of melodies and atmospheres. "Moon Blossom Meditation" is dominated by evocative and immersing sorrow soundscapes enriched by crispy bells. The next piece, "VCO Vs. DCO", keeps at the beginning its sad, more orchestral-like feel, but later it quickly cascades into rapidly and dynamically vibrant and refreshing sequence patterns. "Titanium Ashram" attracts with its sky high ride spiced with crystalline gurgles shimmeringly swirling around listener's ears. Peaceful and graceful washes enter "Celestial Glossolalia" and carry it with fragilely pulsing effects into vast open realms with all its sublimity and magnificence, pure aural beauty and majestic way to finish off this highly treasured voyage!!! Gregory Kyryluk definitely succeded in his mission to reflect the vintage atmosphere/vibe of the Thought Guild history and paid tribute to the memory of Christopher Cameron. Thank you so much, Greg, for sharing these memorable moments and recordings with us, Chris will always be remembered through his music, creativity and passion!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 04, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

162


Phillip Wilkerson "The Stars And Afterward" CDr

The newest work of Phillip Wilkerson, released in February 2012, exposes with Berlin EM school infected "Monoceros", a freshly sequenced and gently uplifting journey to observe one of the amazing constellations while mapping out nocturnal patterns. "Among The Nebulae" is dominated by aerial washes and colored by mid-tempo high-tech grooves that smoothly glide and relax body and mind of each listener. Mechanical tranquility at its finest!!! Long form deep and free floating space odyssey "Radiance" clocks over 21 minutes and explores awesome majesty of immense space realms. It paints moods that transport us to some spectacularly unique dimensions. Phil's crafted soundscaping shines on this beautifully immersing and joyous piece!!! "Endlessly Spiraling" keeps its dream-like quality with little touch of nostalgic mood, and it precisely fits its title. With "Seven Degrees North Of Castor", a warmly pulsing composition, we observe again deep sky targets. Ambient mix of "Among The Nebulae" marks return to peacefully floating skyscapes and captures the magnificence of sublime and idyllic tranquility. Serenely drifting title track, "The Stars And Afterward", closes the album with all its grace. Phil Wilkerson filled this album with passion and optimism, he skillfully bridged and harmonically interacted electronic rhythms with soundscapings. And he ensured that each space journeyer experiences a highly productive night of star gazing. Mastered by Lotuspike's Ben Cox and artwork executed by Brad Ross-MacLeod. Don't forget, also remastered version of long form piece "Radiance" is available as download EP.

Richard Gürtler (Feb 26, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

163


Mathias Grassow "Alchemystery" 2xCD

Promising Swedish label Gterma returns with another beauty by German drone virtuoso, Mathias Grassow. While his first Gterma release "Sky" was revised and edited old classic from 2000, "Alchemystery" is new double album composed by Mathias during 2010 and released in February 2012. The first CD, entitled as "Alchemy Suite Part I: Adrift On A Strange Wind" and featuring two compositions, unfolds with absolutely serene, nearly 17 minutes long, piece enriched by beautiful sounds of nature like smoothly flowing water sounds and by alluring interactions of celestial femme and male choirs. "Veiled Auranauts" is not only a truly magnificent composition of sublime tranquility, but also nicely displayed atmosphere through its title. The next long form piece, "Obscured By A Falling Light", clocks over 42 minutes and enters at the beginning into more minimal and meditative realms leaded by bells and gongs. After few minutes the composition sneaks into motionless floating ambience, occasionally spiced with some noisier, factory-like ingredients. Also mysterious voice-like and breathing machine-like sounds enter the show and will ensure the most complete adventurous and immersing experience. This composition produces tremendous sense of unmeasurable tranquility even if traversing through several plateaus, from intense dramas through cinematic vistas to meditative introspections. This masterful composition captures the pure magnificence of sophisticated dronescaping by Mathias Grassow!!! The disc two, entitled "Alchemy Suite Part II: Inside The Inner", features again two tracks and opens with "In A Temple Of Longing", another long form piece reaching 43 and half minutes. As portrayed by its title, this composition moves into massively darker, obscure territories spiced by various sacred choirs, odd voice samples, monumental percussions and all backed by endlessly spiraling drones presenting Mathias Grassow's sound alchemy at the most shadowy and enigmatic in search to explore all mysteries, buried treasures and secrets of Mother Earth. A truly exciting ambient dronescape for those infinite nocturnal journeys that you just never want to end. Another masterpiece holding the signature that is only Mathias Grassow!!! "A Ring Of Standing Stones", clocking to 25 and half minutes, is by far less colossal and more droning, where quieter ambience is fused with fragilely tinkling bells. At times it becomes more intense, but still gracefully drifting into awesome majesty of splendid panoramic vistas. "Alchemystery" is enormously penetrating!!! The drone king is sitting on his throne!!! Last but not least, Mathias Grassow's aural alchemy is accompanied by 16-page booklet featuring gorgeous pictures of nature by Johan Rehn/Gterma.

Richard Gürtler (Feb 19, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

164
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Liveforms" CD by Oxyd
« on: February 19, 2012, 04:42:03 AM »


Oxyd "Liveforms" CD

It's always a great pleasure to review album "Made in Slovakia" that is somehow related to ambient genre. Yes, of course both protagonists of Oxyd (and Disharmony), Lord Sauron and Ryby, always venture into other styles like industrial, electro, dark ambient or IDM, but why not to give a try to this richly colorful sonic adventure melting broader spectrum of synthetic atmozones, noises and rhythms. Yes, don't expect here any type of droning or slow-motion ambience to glide with. This album, featuring recordings of live performances in 2005, is loaded with ever-changing and cascading high-tech passages and movements, heading from mysteriously obscure terrains through futuristic industrial factories to mesmerizing vast outer spaces. "Liveforms" open the journey with fragile, mechanized effects that are masterfully fused with active hypnotic grooves and carefully backed by euphoric atmospheres. Man, this title track is a huge one, a true masterpiece in my ears!!! The first part of "Dead Souls" moves into by far darker, cinematic territories peppered with femme choirs and manufacture-like sonic outbursts, evoking a purely futuristically sounding environment that almost unrecognized overlaps also into the next composition, "Propulsion". But soon it transfers into much more noisier and heavier, beat-infected industrialized area. All the tension is gone when the second part of "Dead Souls" enters the stage, but that might be just the silence before the storm. Yes, this composition soon turns into shorter, more disturbing percussive part with femme voice samples that interplay with another deeply immersing futuristic zones. "Voices In Me" is the first of the two tracks where Oxyd meets Disharmony. This composition again bridges various styles where synthetic rhythms are united with darker atmospheres, kind of electro-trance-industrial escapade with few monk chants thrown in. Third and fourth parts of "Dead Souls" are colored with various femme choirs, assorted voice samples and all wrapped in misty atmosfears of otherworldly or fantastic machineries. "Emphatic Clone" is the second piece on which Oxyd meets Disharmony and it kicks right away in your face with high-tech crystalline beats and extraterrestrial voices, stunningly energetic!!! Closing two tracks, "Moonlight" and "Aura", quickly dive with cinematic atmospheres enriched by sacred chants into darkly apocalyptic abyssal depths. "Liveforms", released in collaboration with US label Signifier, is vividly sculpted sonic chamaeleon transporting the listener into many spectacularly adventurous and mysterious sites. Yes, it's not a secret here, I am the guy who likes his music much more droning, atmospheric, without larger doses of industrialized or dark ambient toppings. However, "Liveforms" album will undoubtedly please all connoisseurs of dark-electro-industrial as well as all followers of Aliens Production label. Nice work, guys!!!

Richard Gürtler (Feb 19, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

165


Oöphoi & Paul Vnuk Jr. "Dreamfields" CD

This is already the second collaboration between Italian drone wizard Oöphoi (Gianluigi Gasparetti) and US-Wisconsin based sound designer Paul Vnuk Jr., who is also known as a member of Ma Ja Le project (featuring also Christopher Short). Their first co-work "Distance To Zero" was released in 2006 on Hypnos. "Dreamfields" CD was released in December of 2011 on Czech label Nextera, the home of several Oöphoi's releases. Actually, according to the release notes, the story behind "Dreamfields" project started back in 2005, when Paul sent to Gigi some loops, but it was in 2009, when Gigi went back to these sound sources. A quite long time span, but in any case it's my great pleasure to explore now these "Dreamfields"!!! And the album strikes firstly with its stunning front cover image realized by Polish photographer Rafal "Szincza" Kijas, definitely one of my fave cover artworks of 2011!!! Containing four longer pieces (clocking from 10 to 23 minutes), "Dreamfields" open with "North Field: Axis", a 23-minute deeply drifting and slowly spiraling exploration, expressively spiced by various fragilely tinkling bells and mysterious femme voice by Luna. Highly absorbing piece of dronescapes, magnificently portrayed by the album's images. Colossally gracious overture!!! "South Field: Khyber" is colored by rather aerial atmospheres melted with high-tech bleeps and gurgles, crystalline percussions and frightening sounds. Quite soon this longer composition, reaching nearly 22 minutes, passes into more darkened, mysterious and meditative terrains. In the second half also child voice is emerging (poetry reading by Paul's son Paul Vnuk III). This deeply cavernous ambience immerses each listener into mysteriously adventurous atmosphere and unfolds darker realms of the imagination. The next composition, "East Field: Helikum", is slowly and serenely meandering dronescape to calm your mind. It drifts and swells through hauntingly beautiful hypnotic and tranquil solitudes. "West Field: Awua" takes us again into deeper cave system to explore impressive sceneries and formations through swirling dark drones, ominous rumblings and noises, deeply echoed gongs and singing bowls. A truly exciting journey into rarely seen places!!! "Dreamfields" celebrate the creative forces of both, Oöphoi & Paul Vnuk Jr., who have effectively merged their talents and managed to paint breathtaking pictures to guide each listener into magically misty and gloomy atmospheric splendor. A must for all addicts of deep ambient soundscaping!!! And I give extra points also to Nextera for beautiful digipak packaging.

Richard Gürtler (Jan 14, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

166


Brian Parnham "See None, Hear None, Speak None" CD

The end of 2011 brought to us many outstanding works in ambient genre, here comes one of them. Released during December on Brian Parnham's own Floating Point Records, this album for sure marks new venture from Brian when smoothly transfering from desert tribal ambient soundscaping into uncharted terrains of rather aggro electro-acoustic blend of trance, tribal and ambient with hints of electro-industrial thrown in and spiced by various field recordings. Since this CD features no less than 15 tracks, there is a quite large variety of textures flowing through "See None, Hear None, Speak None" album. First three tracks show exactly some of the modifications in Brian's artistic direction. Whether it's high-tech trance tribal groove-infused title track "See None, Hear None, Speak None" or hardtechno-industrial adventurous "Head In The Sand" or harsher tribal beats of "Suspended Plumes". But we can explore many other examples displaying this broader spectrum of unified and interacting styles. For example "Race To The Source" with rapidly breathing grooves later sneaking into mid-paced tribals carried by deep washes, bunch of shorter pieces like futuristically gurgling "Half Full" and "Tipping Point" or more eclectic experimental "Half Empty". Submerging by exciting rhythms is provided also by kinetic electro pulsating "While We’re Here" or by hypnotic hyper beats of "Business As Usual". Of course darker atmospheric soundscapes are presented as well. "Eroding Shore" is warmly drifting organic ambience influenced by Steve Roach's track "Infinite Shore" from "The Magnificent Void" album. Deeply immersing "1111", the longest piece on the album or ominously scary, but soon relieving organic "Everyone Gets Their Turn". Cavernously obscure and massive "Earth Mourning" with haunting didgeridoo parts and metallic effects or cyber groove soundscape "Enjoy The Ride" with hidden catchy didgeridoo and voice samples. Or the closing atmospheric journey with slowly fading away heartbeats, perfectly displaying its title, "Last Breath". It's not easy to select my most fave piece among many masterpieces on this album, but maybe I would go for "Earth Mourning". Or "Enjoy The Ride"? Or the title track "See None, Hear None, Speak None"? Or... In any case, Brian Parnham's newest work is highly colorful, luminously creative and precisely sophisticated with top-notch sound quality. Yes, even if wider variety of styles are bridged on this album, its overall feel is still quite complex and it refreshingly glides along the ambient shores. Great work, Brian!!! And an intensely breathtaking ride for me, even without Arizona Stronghold Nachise, but Leffe Brune justified it too...:-)

Richard Gürtler (Jan 07, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

167


Amir Baghiri "Live Long And Prosper" CD

Iranian ambient designer, based in Germany, Amir Baghiri celebrates here his comeback to the scene. Almost 5 years passed since his last co-work with Wee Bandits entitled "A Brief History Of Light" and released back in 2007. December 1st, 2011 marks his return on Databloem's sublabel Bluebox with "Live Long And Prosper" CD. "Shore Leave" opens the show with peacefully swirling organic ambience infused with various environmental recordings that smoothly shifts into more active terrains emphasised with gentle and crystalline tribal beats. This heavily textured composition moves through various passages where deeper primordial atmospheres are attractively interplaying with rhythmed high-tech elements. "Forbidden Planet" carefully explores immense realms painted by darker, but warmly inviting washes, again enriched by natural sounds of birds' chirpings. "Romulus" is a 16-minute opus with evolving and ever-changing, strongly organic texture floating from tranquilly desert washes towards highly mesmerizing trancey grooves. "Romulus" creates a very intimate, warmly nocturnal atmosphere and captures a pure moment of natural magic. I know that Amir has dedicated this album to all fans of Star Trek series and thus I should be journeying through sky high realms, but so far the images painted by his soundscapes rather evoke hot and dry nightly desert vistas. But no problem for me, I love these pictures so much!!! And they keep on appearing also through the next composition "Mudd" that features slow-motion spiraling washes, tranquilly sonorous and magnificent! Sort of native voice samples unfold "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and add mysterious guidance to this composition, where deeper drones are later merged with more frenetic tribals. Towards the end the texture swiftly sneakes into calmly hypnotic outro. A quite shamanistic performance!!! "Blood Fever" invades with deeper, droning passages, more colossal and intense, now it's the time when I am transported into fascinating interstellar territories. The heavy drone overlaps to the next piece, "The Minds Eye", enriched by some occasional outer space sonic outbursts, but also spiced by assorted ancient percussions and sounds. Amazingly intense and immersing!!! "The City On The Edge Of Forever" keeps its grandiose, aerial structure with hints of various industrial effects that swifly transfers into monstrously beautiful drones, deep space odyssey has just begun again and my deserted landscape imaging is forgotten. Amir at his most droning!!! "Lost In Space", with its intense organic feel, uniting watery percussive sounds with celestial washes, brings this fantastic voyage into a truly mesmerizing and evocative ending! Even if several of the tracks hold strong influence by the Master, "Live Long And Prosper" is undoubtedly done with big passion and accomplishment, paying attention to all details, including the sound quality. Welcome back and keep on soundscaping, Amir!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 06, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

168


Tomas Weiss & Mathias Grassow "Quiet Calling III" CDr

Drone kings are back!!! Yes, Tomas Weiss & Mathias Grassow have delivered at the end of 2011 on El Culto's Musical Philosophy label third and closing installment of their "Quiet Calling" trilogy. Comprised of 4, rather lengthy parts (ranging from 6 minutes to nearly 25 minutes), all entitled "Final Call". This ultimate mind journey reveals with "Final Call I", as usual constructed with heavy weight drones, but this time wrapped in quite "lively" spiraling texture with slowly and gradually increasing tension. This longest part is filled with huge intensity and depth to trigger a definite mind-bending adventure!!! "Final Call I" could easily aspire for the "creme de la creme" of the complete serie!!! Closing five minutes of this part smoothly sneak into more monotonous and less massive, relieving drifts, yet still deeply droning. Just the same as with previous two chapters, there aren't any gaps between tracks, so we are confronted with colossal walls of continuous drones. Slowly breathing drone mastery continues on the shortest piece, "Final Call II". It's slightly more aerially and calmly tranquil than the monumental first part, even if in its middle we explore a bit of rapidly increasing intesity, but it's just a hint. The closing two parts, number three clocks over 21 and half minutes and number four gets over 16 minutes, feature monotonously curving atmospheres drifting into enormously expansive spaces and immersing each listener into a purely meditative sonic journey of deep relaxation. You will hardly notice the transformation between these last two pieces. Could be described as minimally textured, but careful examination of these uninterrupted dronescapes will explore layers of secretly cascading sounds, all skillfully structured into highly effective blend of deeply evocative sonic canvas. The finale is monstrously gracious and mesmerizing before it ultimately returns back to its roots, the silence. A must have and "a piece of tasty cake" for all followers to guarantee a superfluous listening experience always provocatively inviting for repeated research, but it might be a tough odyssey for an outsider. But who knows, maybe it's time to explore some new challenges... 4-panel eco digipak comes with traditional "Quiet Calling" images by Markus Vogt, this time with black and gray color variations.

Richard Gürtler (Jan 05, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

169
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Peninsula" CDr by Nunc Stans
« on: January 04, 2012, 03:29:28 AM »


Nunc Stans "Peninsula" CDr

Nunc Stans' sole creator Anthony Paul Kerby returns with a brand new album released at the beginning of December 2011 on his DataObscura label. Usually heading to more drone based, icy northern sound, "Peninsula" is no exception. The album begins with a 10-minute title overture, "Peninsula", a calmly floating and organically breathing soundscape carefully picturing misty shorelines of the album's cover images where all forgotten memories seem to be still alive. "November Rain" gently drifts above rainy clouds and tranquilly extends the mood set by the opening composition. As much absorbing, but slightly more massive drifts invade the next piece, "We Must Leave", again enriched by relaxing location sounds of shoreline and sculpted with grace and nostalgia. Deeper drones reveal "Fathoms" and calmly carry them into absolutely peaceful and magnificent realms. Few more expressive, but fragile sound effects are added to emphasise the overall mood of this stunningly beautiful and strongly cinematic composition. A masterpiece!!! But this sonic bliss continues on "The Sea Becomes Still", with richly built altering and interplaying moods and movements. Highly evocative ambience, another big one! Monstrous heavy drones with watery sounds and occasional mysterious voice samples submerge "The Clarity Of Darkness" into the great depth of oceanic abyss to venture into the world of eternal darkness. Certainly one of my fave compositions on this album. Heavy drone wizardry by Nunc Stans at its best!!! And it keeps on expanding with "When The Sea Burns", where monumental drifts, spiced by various industrial rumblings on the background, superbly represent the track title. Dramatically culminating and powerfully expressive, 13-plus minutes long sonic opus, at its most droning and adventurous!!! "This Forgotten Place" draws the album to a gracious conclusion with its serenely gliding cinematic soundscapes. "Peninsula" is a skillfully crafted and polished work offering to each attentive listener deliciously rewarding sonic experience. Turn out the lights, turn up the volume and immerse yourself in this beautifully scenic journey!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 03, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

170


Hollan Holmes "The Farthest Fringes" CD

Exactly one year passed since the stunning debut CD "A Distant Light" of Texas based Hollan Holmes and the last days of 2011 brought to us another fascinating interstellar odyssey. Again accompanied by beautiful images on 6-panel eco wallet packaging, just the same eye-catching as with above album. "The Farthest Fringes" album is fired up with "Zero Point Energy", a truly graceful space ambience transporting the listener immediately into observing celestial objects. Skillfully enriched by small pulsing part and also incorporating assorted sonic outbursts that make from this composition absolutely blissful ride, most likely one of the best Hollan ever made, magnificent!!! "Timespace" shifts Hollan's star journeying into newer, more melodic level featuring less colossal sounds bridged with catchy sequenced downtempos. "Timespace" is freshly breathing and again painted by various, nicely fitting outer space effects. This uplifting voyage proceeds also on the next piece "The Great Unknown", where rotating sequenced melodies with floating washes are reminiscent of Berlin EM school. Slow-motion celestial dronescapes invade "Aeon" with all their gracefulness, with hints of more dramatic passages. It evokes realms of rare beauty, a star gazing at its most fascinating!!! But this exploration doesn't stop, because the next piece, "Outskirts", opens with expansive drifts that are soon spiced with highly attractive sharp sequences. This is absolutely gorgeous piece of music, definitely one of the highlights!!! Another strongly colorful and active texture follows with "The Sentinel", it's a kind of cinematic space symphony! The title track, "The Farthest Fringes" marks return to more static, beautifully monumental wall of washes enriched with slightly gradual tension. A really peaceful sound sculpting! "Earthshine" closes this wonderful odyssey with grandeur drifts evoking little bit of nostalgia. To tell you the truth, my first exploration of this CD came after two days of journeying with Steve Roach and his brilliant "Back To LIfe", so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was captured immediately by the opening tones of "Zero Point Energy". "The Farthest Fringes" album excells at its refined craftiness and distinctive diversity, and it's another big one from this hidden talent!!! Not to forget, the mastering job was handled by Chad Kettering, another rising ambient star from Texas. Hollan Holmes is living his dream now!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 03, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

171
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Snowbound*" CD by Stormloop
« on: December 31, 2011, 10:22:37 AM »


Stormloop "Snowbound*" CD

In Leeds, UK, based sound journeyer Kevin Spence, who records as Stormloop, celebrates with "Snowbound*" his debut CD album. Released in November 2011 on Italian label Glacial Movements that covers glacial and isolationist ambient territory. Even if CD premiere for Stormloop, this project has already released another 12 download albums that are accompanied by gorgeous artworks/images created by Kevin Spence. As usual for all Glacial Movements releases, the first impression is always breathtaking due to stunning photographies of Bjarne Riesto and cover design by Keep Adding. Let's explore the sonics now. The opening composition "Snowbound" perfectly portrays the images of this release. I am writing these lines at the very last day of 2011, there is no snow outside yet here in Bratislava, Slovakia, but my listening room is immediately invaded by arctic snowscapes of Stormloop's intro melting graceful atmospheric ambience at its most coldest with distant, cyborg-like femme voice samples. During this 8-plus minutes long intro I am swiftly transported into these vast open and unknown, yet undiscovered white landscapes. Freezing deep drones of "Cold Winds" are enriched with flute-like sounds and various hisses and evoke quite mysterious feel, but always ice cold. Experimental windy drifs occupy the next piece, "A Blizzard", it's getting colder and colder, the snow is drifting and blowing. Nicely fitting track title! "A Calm Reflection" strikes with monstrously deep, ice wall of drones and opens the gates of great ice chasm to explore fascinating cavern. Shorter "Melt" brings to the fore fragile sounds of flowing water merged with celestial choir-like washes, pure tranquility, this time a bit warmer! Follows another shorter piece, "Dense Fog" that returns immediately into more monumental and reverberate dronescape territory. "Drifting-Decent" keeps on the shadowy route, but slightly lighter than its predecessor. It flows peacefully above immense arctic glaciers and plateaus. "Losing Sleep" is more uplifting with distant and repetitive trancey grooves. "Space Station J" is true to its name as it is invaded by aerial and tranquil soundwashes, enriched by distant and fragile mid-tempo strings and by occassional, darkened femme voices. "Cygnus" closes this magnificent voyage with deeply mysterious and minimal drifts with slowly breathing texture, this time colored with ghostly male voice samples. Grandiose outro!!! "Snowbound*" is highly absorbing and panoramic journey through spectacular vistas covered by snow and ice, a very strong CD debut by Stormloop!!! Please note, this album was recorded in longer time span, during the winters of 2005 and 2009 and there is bunch of tracks left that didn't make the final selection. All these extra tracks are now available as "Snowbound**-The Tracks Left In The Snow", download release, so act now!!!

Richard Gürtler (Dec 31, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)

172


Bruno Sanfilippo & Max Corbacho "BIOMA" CD

The two protagonists of Spanish ad21music label, Bruno Sanfilippo & Max Corbacho, have teamed up for their second collaborative effort entitled "BIOMA", released at the end of November 2011. The first one, "Indalo", was released back in 2003. "BIOMA" is quite different when comparing to "Indalo" or to any other of their previous solo works or Bruno's collaborations with Mathias Grassow. It remains in ambient genre, but with strong focus on field recordings collected in the landscapes of province Tarragona, Spain, during the spring of 2010. Location recordings of bird calls, insects, frogs and other water dwelling inhabitants, water sounds... are the base for this long form, clocking to 59 minutes, sonic palette merging carefully these environmental sounds with electronics. Some parts are very authentic, evoking nocturnal walk along the forest's pond and enjoying all the live performances of ecosystem's residents while some other sections move to more grasslanded areas spiced by assorted bells or cowbells, yet the texture remaining very tranquil. At times more high-tech escapades invade the environmentals too, but always keeping its character naturally colored, harmonious and living. Deeper, nightly drones come to the fore too, bringing this composition into more abstract level, but the organics won't lose this show and return back, even if few more experimentally breathing or echoed effects keep on enriching the texture. But also few more meditative, hypnotic moments can be explored when the sounds evoking singing bowls enter this walk. Last 12 minutes slowly return into natural beauty and tranquility to bring the album to the closing point where it all began. Both artists have managed refinely to melt and sculpt their own sonics with on-site phonographies to hold listener's attention through the entire piece. Yes, "BIOMA" is for sure different, but beautifully immersing and mesmerizing!!! Our two budgies love it too...:-) Hand-numbered elegant digipak is another bonus. Nice work, amigos!!!

Richard Gürtler (Dec 28, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)


173
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Upwelling" CDr by Steve Brand
« on: November 27, 2011, 11:42:58 AM »


Steve Brand "Upwelling" CDr

Here comes one of the newest releases of Kansas based sound explorer, trained energy healer and visual artist Steve Brand, released during September 2011 on his Pioneer Light Music label. "Upwelling" is a kind of compilation, as stated by Steve, consisting of epiphanies, experiments, singular moments, remixes and re-discoveries. This strongly absorbing trip begins with "Forgotten Feast (Edit)" that unfolds with eerie and foggy organic dronescapes, later smoothly changing like chamaeleon into beautifully drifting ethereal pearl with few colossal vibrations hidden on the background. What a blissfully gracious overture!!! "Overtone" fits quite well "Avatara" recording session with interacting echoed spooky sonics and moments of silence. Magical flute work adds to abyssal drones a truly mysterious feel, another totally awesome piece! "Over-Soul (Short Form)" with deeper static drones remains in an immense emptiness and silence of outer space. Uniquely strange voices and assorted tinkling bell sounds lead "The Language Of Moon And Tide", in the second half with more dominating and intense spiraling drones. "Morning Glory (Remix)" is painted with dreamy, evolving ambience capturing a slightly yearning feel. Slow-motion "The Web" flows in sky high realms too, but spiced with few dramatic movements and bird calls. Title composition "Upwelling" is quite minimal in its structure, but at times it becomes more monumental and intense and also more disturbing with few industrialized effects. "Selves Like Facets In A Diamond" with its strongly cavernous feel is enriched by assorted metallic percussions and alienating sounds. A very mysterious composition, but the most magical piece is the closing "Ever-Increasing Brightness" with uniquely echoed sounds of exotic percussions and expressive strings, again with attractively melted sonics and silence, all wrapped into unforgettable shamanistic performance! "Upwelling" is hauntingly rich and mysterious collection of pieces presenting Steve Brand at the top of his creativity painting purely spectacular sceneries for inner mind journey. Have a great trip!!! But don't go away too far, because one new album "Subtle Movements Inside" and re-issue of "Cahokia" were just released...

Richard Gürtler (Nov 27, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)

174


Steve Roach "Journey Of One" 2xCD

"Journey Of One" double CD, with official street date at November 8th, 2011 by Projekt, is absolutely essential live recording documenting Steve Roach's rich tribal-ambient era during the 90's when milestone works like "Artifacts" or "Origins" were created and numerous legendary co-works were born, with Robert Rich ("Strata", "Soma"), with Jorge Reyes and Suso Saiz, under Suspended Memories project name ("Forgotten Gods", "Earth Island"), with Vidna Obmana ("Well Of Souls") as well as with Michael Stearns and Ron Sunsinger ("Kiva"). Plenty of groundbreaking recordings, so I couldn't wait to explore this archived recording from November 8th, 1996, in Sacramento, California. Packaged in beautiful 6-panel digipak with magically looking ancient cover image that immediately raised my eyebrows. The double set, featuring 14 untitled tracks, reveals the odyssey with bullroarer that invites us to fully experience this spectacular live show. Textured desert soundscapes are soon joined by gently gradual tribal percussions and distant vocalizations. I immediately close my eyes and transport myself into the venue to be a part of these magically timeless realms. I am there with the audience and with the Master, the journey continues... Vast ethnographic ambience at its most evocative level!!! And soon Steve raises his didgeridoo to join these ancient sculptings, other exotic ethnic instrumens are here to bridge the reality with primordials. Later on some femme voices and whispers are added to color this spiraling ride with larger dose of cavernous sounds explored. Crispy bells and slowly arising heavy thundering beats are ready to steal the show... A true avalanche of rich and organic sonic mysteries to capture purely ecstatic live experience, one of its kind magic!!! Some voice mastery and slowly fading away intimate panoramas gracefully close the first set. The only intermission occurs when moving to the second disc, but the journey continues again to sink deeper into Steve's distinctive mythological stories, intensely absorbing and powerful journey heading to the forefront of electroacoustic adventures!!! Steve's highly imaginative soundscapes are enriched with more massive trancey-tribal rhythms and create a truly mesmerizing effect. Immersing didgeridoo magic returns again and leads to another deeply evocative drones and voices alternating with gentle tribal beats or more frenetic rhythm parts. Crystalline cybergrooves join the stage too, on 5th piece, wonderfully midtempo-driven ambient music that most likely later led to phenomenal and evolutive works like "Core" or "Blood Machine" (with Vir Unis). Next composition is another absolutely entertaining and dramatic piece of music that could be easily described as soundtrack to "Crocodile Dundee" film series, an amazing sonic travelogue taking the listener across the time into aboriginal Australia, the homeland of wooden trumpet. Immensely atmospheric epilogue magnificently closes this highly spiritual and emotional live movement and adventure, a document that proves unlimited power and virtuosity of Steve Roach, a true sonic traveler!!! Steve Roach was born to enrich this world with his pioneering sonic visions and he succeeds in his mission with every of his works!!! Even if "Journey Of One", I was journeying too, thank you, Steve, for taking me with you to Sacramento!!! I only wish I could turn up the volume of my home audio system much higher for maximum effect, but our neighbors wouldn't be very happy probably...

Richard Gürtler (Nov 20, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)

175
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Medicine Box" CD by Robert Rich
« on: November 17, 2011, 10:15:54 AM »


Robert Rich "Medicine Box" CD

Ambient icon Robert Rich strikes back with brand new sonic pearl "Medicine Box", released at November 1st, 2011, on his own Soundscape Productions imprint. Following the footsteps of legendary albums like "Propagation", "Seven Veils" or more recent "Ylang", this new album bridges all trademarking ingredients of these masterworks, but also adds other unique and challenging flavors. "Medicine Box" unwraps with "Alba", a sublimely euphoric blend of world fusion and ambient, it's attractively perfumed and richly textured warm, rhythm-charged composition featuring as guest Haroun Serang on guitar, who already contributed to several other Robert's albums. Intro with very intoxicating melody! "Kaaruwana" brings to the stage shimmering wordless voices of Cheri Chuang, a classically trained composer and vocalist, moving from absolutely ethereal and angelic to fragilely whispering ones, beautifully interacting with Robert's crystalline soundscaping, a truly poetic bliss for my ears!!! Strongly organic and colorfully unique "Macula" is dominated by evocative gentle piano and crispy pulsing percussions with notable appearances of Hans Christian on cello (long time collaborator of Robert Rich) and Edo Castro on bass. Chromatic harmonica of Slim Heilpern wonderfully spices "Cornea" and adds western feel to this rather psychedelically eclectic composition. "Crepescule" succeeds magnificently in portraying the power and beauty of Robert's flute magic, with subtle polyrhythms that are joined by poignant cello and cheerful piano. A truly haunting masterpiece evoking yearning and nostalgia!!! "Pollen" is another emotionally moving and heartwarming composition highlighted by Cheri Chuang's heavenly voices and exotic-charged subtle movements. "Callyx" masterfully fuses sensitive melodies with eerie lap steel guitar ambiences. Denser landscapes are explored through "Salamander Quay", showcasing Robert's outstanding skill in expressing emotions through his electroacoustic wizardry and musicality. The journey culminates with almost 11 minutes long epilogue "Helios", painted with magnetizing exotic polyrhythms in the first half, while the second part excels with celestial voices floating above shadowy sonic panoramas. I think this composition displays the best Robert's distinctive sound painting with carefully selected and merged virtuoso performances of Cheri Chuang, Hans Christian and Edo Castro. An absolutely magnificent "all inclusive" blend holding the signature that is only Robert Rich and designed directly for my Ambient Hall Of Fame!!! "Medicine Box" is an ultimate and triumphant shamanistic healing journey with genius performances on every level dedicated to all connoisseurs of world fusion/tribal/ambient essentials!!! Audiophile sound quality and gorgeous 6-panel digipak artwork by the Bergin gang should be immediately awarded too!!!

Richard Gürtler (Nov 17, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)

176


Seren Ffordd + Oöphoi "The Martian Chronicles" CD

Seren Ffordd, in Wales based drone master, has released since 2006 several albums and EPs on Oöphoi's Umbra and Penumbra labels. Now teamed with the Italian drone king for their first collaborative work, "The Martian Chronicles", on Hypnos, where both artists have released several albums (Seren Ffordd on Hypnos Secret Sounds). Sculpted during 2006-2009 and inspired by Ray Bradbury's short science fiction story from 1950, "The Martian Chronicles", released in October 2011 and packaged in attractive 4-panel digipak, is an adventurous and deep sonic exploration merging the talents of Andy Benford aka Seren Ffordd and Gianluigi Gasparetti aka Oöphoi. Nearly 15 minutes long overture, "The Long Years", opens this grandeur voyage with colossally deep drones with invading bells, gongs and extraterrestrial-infused rumblings and resonations. A truly immense soundwalls designed for all aficionados of ultra deep, massive ambience, magnificent!!! With the next, again 15-minute composition, we dive straightly into a chasmic void. "Dead Cities" are painted in the first half with extremely freezing drones and mechanized breathings climbing into the throne of drones, while in the second half the breathings slowly dissolve and some, rather distractive and ominous effects step into the fore and color this ultimate giant drone wizardry. This is stunningly stellar and powerful sound sculpting evoking wonderful sense of spatial emptiness!!! "Blue Fire", another longer piece, keeps on the more active, emerging route, where assorted, mostly otherworldly, at times oddly sounding effects and outbursts enrich the drone. Also few recognizable sounds can be heard, for example something like a trot of a horse. "End Of A Changeling" is shorter, eclectic piece featuring extracts from each track, cut and mixed. "Canals" opens with watery and distant storm sounds that support more free floating drifts, quite relieving and relaxing when comparing to preceding adventurous sonic alchemy. The next composition, "Flamebirds Waiting For The Storm", as its title tells, is flavored with processed bird calls, later the rain and thunder shake the heaven to achieve the most organic environment. Deeply echoed, slow-motion drones with occasional rumblings escape into the darkness of sinkholing "Unremembered" and provide the closing part of this truly absorbing and fantabulous sonic mystery and mastery. "The Martian Chronicles" is purely transcendental listening experience!!! Two drone purveyors are unlocking the gateway of the Void, enter now!!!

Richard Gürtler (Nov 13, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)

177


Phillip Wilkerson "Ten To Eleven" CDr

Florida based composer Phillip Wilkerson belongs to more productive ambient artists with longer list of albums, EPs and singles released during the last 5 years. Most of them were released as downloads, but lately some of them are available on CDr format, which is definitely a good news for all of us, die-hard fans of physical products. As for myself, I got in contact with Phillip's soundworlds not long time ago through his heavenly floating ambience on collaborative album with Jourdan Laik entitled "A Dimension Reflected", released in April 2011 on Lotuspike under Time Being project's name. At the beginning of October 2011, Phillip returned again, this time with his brand new solo CDr album, "Ten To Eleven" (mastered by Ben Cox of Lotuspike, photography by Jourdan Laik). Phillip is known for his beautifully relaxing sound sculpting and his newest work is no exception. "All Possible Worlds" unfold the album in absolutely beautiful manner with wall of tranquil free floating and majestic cloudscapes capturing the beauty of skies, a truly picturesque music!!! These warmly inviting tunes overlap into the next piece, "Saturday", but they are attractively enriched by some delicate saxophone-infused sounds. They add brand new dimension to Phil's washes, taking them into more cinematic level. A really nice, captivating composition! Enchanting sonics are explored also on "Complex Silence 15", another warmly floating synth washes while the next composition, "The Heart Has Reasons" is a bit deeper and growing, gradually evolving, but still strongly aerial with emotional drifts to mesmerize the listener. "Blue By Violet" with its serene melancholic drones create a truly evocative and longing feelings bringing back the memories of the legendary "The Lost Pieces". "The Name Within My Heart" is another beautifully waving journey that guides the listener through peace and tranquillity. The next composition, "The Way Home", creates a bit of mystery, yet still idyllically rests on pillowy clouds of immersing synth drifts. Shorter "An Ending (Is A Beginning)" with slightly thicker drones closes finely this strongly imaginative album. The flowing essence of "Ten To Eleven" will undoubtedly relax you, it's highly recommended!!! As stated by the artist and the title of closing piece, "Ten To Eleven" marks an ending and a new beginning in his solo career, so let's wait and see what sonic paintings Phillip Wilkerson will bring to us during 2012.

Richard Gürtler (Nov 12, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)

178


Alpha Wave Movement "Myriad Stars" CDr

"Myriad Stars" is brand new album by Gregory Kyryluk, the sole creator of Alpha Wave Movement, released in September 2011 on his own Harmonic Resonance Recordings label. The album fires with deeply drifting "Beacon 1" graciously opening the gates to this joyous intergalactic space odyssey. Spiced with pulsing mid-paced effects it creates warmly inviting atmosphere. Celestial washes open "The Dark Lure", colored with futuristic sonics, this piece quickly transfers into more melodious plateau, gently pulsing and rhythmed electronics with own, trademarking AWM sound sculpting. Well done, Greg! "Beacon 2" utilizes absolutely charming melodies, perfectly balanced with grandeur drifts. Yes, this is AWM at his most sophisticated craft exploring the depth of extraterrestrial realms! Then follow two parts of "Gravity Well Flux", with the first one being rather more deeper and mysterious, while the second part is progressing into active texture in shimmering Berlin School EM fashion, simultaneously atmospheric and driving. "Beacon 3" incorporates hauntingly dreamy airwaves with semi-melodic elements and angelic choir-like sounds, a true celestial beauty in my ears! "Anatomical Universe" is attractively painted with free floating stratospheric ambience and later joined by ear-catching kinetic rhythms, undoubtedly the most moving composition on this trip, again with skillfully bridged dreamy atmospheres and pulsing melodies. "Singularities" drifts into deeper space enriched ocassionally by various bubling cybernetics and processed heavenly choirs, later semi-melodious patterns are added, definitely a true masterpiece!!! Over 14 minutes long "Star Birth" remains in the deeper and vast territories with its warmly aerial and absorbing skyscapes with fragile sonic gurgles, later invaded by sharper, crystal clear space melodies. Another highly elegant and magnetizing sculpting! "73 74 61 72" is the closing composition enriched with space rumblings, hisses, gurgles..., rather intense and sonorous, more experimental texture, colored also by various processed radio transmissions, adventurous outro! "Myriad Stars" by Alpha Wave Movement is another fine space/ambient album demonstrating potential, craft and musicality of Gregory Kyryluk, it's highly recommended sonic journey to look deeper into the vast expanse of the universe!!!

Richard Gürtler (Nov 06, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)

179


Erik Wøllo "Silent Currents (Live At Star's End)" 2xCD

This gorgeously looking 6-panel 2CD digipak (photos by Erik Wøllo and Chuck van Zyl, design by Sam Rosenthal), released in September 2011, features on each CD a live radio performance at Star's End, legendary radio show delivering ambient music in the Philadelphia area since 1976. Utilizing processed electric guitars and guitar synthesizers, analog and digital synthesizers, Erik unfolds for all his listeners beautifully floating and emerging atmospheres and zones with hints of more active textures. Definitely colored with more deeper and droning environments than we are used to hear on previous works of this highly renowned Norwegian composer. Disc One documents Erik Wøllo's live-to-air performance at April 27th, 2002, with 12 untitled compositions. It graciously floates from deeply evocative and longing pieces with expressive guitars ("Part 2", "Part 3", "Part 10") through spiraling aerials ("Part 4", "Part 6") to more quiet and serene spacewashes ("Part 5"), from more monumental ("Part 1"), nearly orchestral pieces ("Part 8") through rather tranquilizing ethereals ("Part 7", "Part 12") to hauntingly tribal-infused ("Part 11") or heart beat groove perfumed piece ("Part 9"). Quite colorful batch of compositions showcasing Erik's highly sensitive touch and craft to fuse wonderful atmospheres with radiant guitar arrangements. Disc Two, recorded at October 28th, 2007 and consisting of 14 sections, enters the stage with abyssal intro, that later shifts into more mechanizing and progressing level, yet still deeply evocative and hypnotic. "Part 2" remains on the darker route, while "Part 3" features minimal, but highly effective and absorbing high-tech grooves, magnificent! "Part 4" dives into more organic realms with bubling heart beats and expressive guitars, a truly subterranean sonic adventure! Slowed-down grooves on "Part 5" attractively color the deeper drifts. Ethereal and slightly dramatic "Part 6" evokes highly imaginative sky high odyssey while "Part 7" is painted by some spooky cosmic soundscapes. This sonic tension is easily relieved through "Part 8" with its more breathing and colossal texture and yearning guitar riffs. Strongly aerial and mesmerizing "Part 9" is gently enriched by some quiet pulses on the background. High-tech grooves, organics and guitars are the main flavors of the following three pieces, with "Part 12" being the most expressive and melancholic. Watery sounds on "Part 13" soon traverse into sequenced high-tech bubling trancey tune, a truly submersible journey! "Part 14" with stratospheric ambience graciously closes this exciting sonic adventure loaded with skillful arrangements and superb performance merging electronics with guitars. Erik Wøllo crosses on "Silent Currents" wider spectrum of moods, distinctively blending darker and lighter elements into musically superior masterpiece!!! An ambient/electronic ace at his finest!!!

Richard Gürtler (Nov 01, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)

180
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Wassonic" CDr by Wassonic
« on: October 31, 2011, 11:29:42 AM »


Wassonic "Wassonic" CDr

Wassonic is brand new collaborative project from Canada involving Vancouver based ambient guitarist Terrence O'Brien of Anomalous Disturbances project and Matthew Poulakakis, sound designer from Toronto, who runs number of solo projects like Automatic Fats, Salvagesound or Meota. Released in May 2011 on Terrence O'Brien's Disappearing Music label. Canadian ambient scene gathered around Toronto's The Ambient Ping is more than lively and this album is one of the best proofs. Terry and Matthew are blending on their debut album, consisting of three long-form recordings, deeper and highly evocative nocturnal soundscapes with hauntingly sea breezing trancey tribal elements. "Factory Florist", 23-minute long starter, moves through various, slightly evolving, coiling and departing stages, at times more tensive, with always apparent gently pulsing beats and ocassional industrialized and futuristic effects enriching vast dronescaping. Hypnotizing and tranquil rhythms with few infectious trumpet-like sounds perfectly spice the deeper drone on the next composition, "Tree Frog Poison". This strongly lively, rich and night-blooming composition creates a truly relaxing, warmly inviting and absorbing light tribal atmosphere. Assorted environmental recordings, some of them reminding whale calls, precisely color dreamy soundwaves on "Signalfish". Listening to this closing composition evokes absolutely fascinating deep-sea submarine journey encountering most remarkable and spectacular adventure to explore the little known underwater world and its inhabitants. Space-opening sound magic at its most imaginative!!! Wassonic is without doubt highly recommended collaborative effort of two talented Canadian sound sculptors!!! In the meantine, new Wassonic tracks are in the works to be released sometime next year. And on the top of that, 2011 re-release of the 2002 debut album from Anomalous Disturbances entitled "The Spirit Molecule" is now available in download format, hopefully a CDr edition will follow soon. Anyway, excellent job, guys!!! Go Canada Go!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 31, 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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