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Topics - richardgurtler

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161


Max Corbacho "BreathStream" CD

I remember that I was quite disappointed back in December 2008 when this album came out, not because of its sonic or visual content, but because of the fact it was available as download only release. Fortunately, nearly one year later, at Nov 1st, 2009, my dreams came true when a CD version of "BreathStream" was released. Definitely a great move for all aficionados of physical items like me!!! Spanish master of free gliding tranquil ambience ignites the departure of this odyssey with "This Luminous Space", a graciously floating washes, here and there gently emphasized by fragilely swirling distant space rumblings and serenely cascading through various movements, but always keeping within its deeply relaxing, elegant and mesmerizing mood. "This Luminous Space" takes you to breathtakingly wonderful immense places!!! "Act Of Light" unfolds with few sharper space effects and deep monumental drone, gradually evolving into colossally fascinating soundwalls and precisely interacting with more peaceful adagios. A really big one, an exciting journey into the infinity continues!!! "The Great Breath" is slightly more organic, but again colored with ever-changing magnificent dreamscapes. "No Day Nor Night" immediately excels at its grandiose and tranquil waves, washing over the listener's head and navigating him/her into absolute sonic bliss. In the second half the composition is invaded by few disrupting moments, when some strange noises fly by, it's a fascinatingly beautiful excursion!!! "No Form Nor Colour" is the longest piece, reaching nearly 16-minute mark, and a rather more active, continuously progressing texture featuring also few natural sounds, but still richly intense and expertly layered. "Temple Of Dissolution" is another masterpiece that promptly left me breathless with its grandiose, spiraling ambience, spectacularly evoking spatial emptiness and loneliness. Could be a "creme de la creme" of this album!!! A great moment of interplanetary exploration awaits!!! "Pure Being" is closing this utterly captivating and immersing audio journey with more euphoric, dreamy finale. Really gorgeous cover artwork magnificently displays this lifelong experience too. A giant performance by Max Corbacho, showcasing his bravura in creating pure atmospheric soundscapes, a landmark recording in space ambient genre!!! And "Ars Lucis" was yet to come...

Richard Gürtler (Apr 01, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

162
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Lithea" CD by 36
« on: April 07, 2012, 11:41:34 PM »


36 "Lithea" CD

"Lithea", released at March 14th, 2012 in limited edition of 200 copies, is already the third full length album and the closing part of triptych album series together with "Hypersona" and "Hollow" CDs. 36 is the project of UK based Dennis Huddleston, who releases his music through his own 3six Recordings label. Unfortunately, I didn't know anything about this extremely talented artist until few weeks ago when Kev of Stormloop pointed rM community to this project. Big shame on me for not locating 36 much earlier, however, it's always better later than never!!! Anyway, it's time to unwrap this beauty. Visual part of "Lithea" strikes right away, a very nice matte-laminated 4-panel folded cardboard sleeve case with spine. Funny accented navigation communication between pilot and tower control perfectly introduces the name of the project. Warmly inviting drone with beautifully disturbing hiss on "Cocoon" is absolutely breathtaking, what a prelude!!! Spiralingly euphoric sonic bliss at its most evocative!!! I should mention the album is comprised of no less than 18 tracks, but some of them are rather shorter, transitional passages connecting longer movements. More minimal, frosty with hints of nostalgia "Susurrus" belongs to the longest pieces on this journey. The title track, "Lithea" hits with its melodramatic intensity, it's a pity it clocks to 2 and half minutes only. Nostalgic warmness is gracefully floating through rainy "Deluge" with heavenly touch of distant choirs, organic and angelic stunner!!! Glitchy, but restful "Radio" nicely bridges "Deluge" with the next masterpiece, "Reunion". Filled with warmhearted feelings and again enriched by ethereal femme choirs. Gorgeously absorbing!!! Shorter, slightly more experimental "1983" with children's voices brings back long forgotten memories from a childhood. "One" attracts with its deeply imaginative and relaxing dronescape while the following short, "World After April" invades with mysterious voice samples. Both, mechanically clocking "Seance" and warmly tinkling and drifting "Dreamscape" evoke a very intense and intimate moments. "Dayasan" keeps its enchanting quality while colored by hissy atmospheres and distant voices. Bridging "Broken Toy" is by far the most experimental piece here. Now it's the time to enter the darker terrains with "Leviathan" and "Levitate". Deeply mysterious femme voices on "Levitate" soar over the deep dronescapes and reach the shores of purely visualizing sonic paradise!!! Glitchy drone ambience of "Saphron" follows the footsteps of "Levitate" with choirs of angelic beauty. Nearly 11 minutes long epilogue "Another World" is the next peak of "Lithea" with its slowly evolving, intense and evocative euphoria, peppered with factory-like clocking sounds. A truly grandiose finale!!! "Lithea" is loaded with magical beauty and emotional richness, and it captures the true essence of nostalgia, intimacy and warmness in each of the 18 tracks!!! An ultimate masterwork deserving my highest recommendation!!! Bravissimo, Dennis!!!

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

163


Groupthink "Of Microcosmic Origins" CDr

The driving force behind One Thousand Pulses series of electronic festivals and in 2011 launched Periphery label, Darren Bergstein, is joined here by Edward Yuhas and both of them present their debut work as Groupthink. Packaged in nicely looking round tin and limited to only 50 copies, but the sonics are definitely enough challenging as well. The album unfolds with euphorically flowing ambience entitled "Peeking Over The Horizon". Warmly inviting, nearly cinematic atmozones are later exquisitely peppered by some quite unique, ear-catching sounds. A very strong overture by Groupthink!!! "Region Of Mirrors" is immediately invaded by distinctive sonics, layered in rather eclectic manner, all kinds of nearly odd and weird moods, noises or even voices are featured, but the overall effect is suprisingly very attractive. Call it tribal experimental escapade at its most bizzare!!! Mesmerizingly repeating crystalline pulses of "Bullet Train To Oslo" perfectly evoke a high-speed rail journey filled with joy, curiosity and adventure. Time to explore marvelous vistas of panoramic landscapes, absolutely gorgeous!!! Highly technological feel overlaps also to the next one, "At The Southernmost Tip Of Basking Falls", which is based around various sharply buzzing and erupting effects backed by deeply imaginative tranquil washes and magnificently mysterious wordless voice magic. Another absolutely stunning composition displaying creative talent of Groupthink!!! "Absolute Doubt", moves to more celestial realms, again spiced by various freshly sounding and shimmeringly passing high-tech ingredients. This closing piece is sonically inventive and strongly evocative with delicate nostalgia and cinematic feel to it. Yes, it's not easy to fully appreciate this recording during the first listening session, but every repeated exploration is spectacularly rewarding, because "Of Microcosmic Origins" is packed with enormously stimulating, compelling and intriguing ambient electronica!!! And give a try also to a headphone listening, it will provide you with an exceptional and adventurous ride!!! Final mastering by Gregory Kyryluk and released at the beginning of March 2012. For me, a truly masterful and extraordinary debut, Darren & Edward, long life to Groupthink!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 25, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

164


Bvdub "I Remember (Translations Of Mørketid)" CD

Prolific and applauded sound explorer Brock Van Wey aka Bvdub offers to us his second album for Italian Glacial Movements label, based around his own feelings and memories, which were evoked when exploring Netherworld's album "Mørketid". I must say the result of these "translations" is absolutely stunning, transporting each listener into pristine, misty regions and achieving the status of one of the most beautiful and imaginative works of 2011. "This Place Has Only Known Sadness", a 16-minute prologue, opens with spiraling, colder drones, which are enriched by delicate strings and above immense snowy landscapes floating dreamy femme voices. The second half of this amazing piece is gradually evolving and it reaches more intense and massive soundwalls. Colossally magnificent composition!!! "We Said Forever" unveils more poetic and tranquil terrains, at least for the first 5-plus minutes, again masterfully spiced by acoustics and heavenly choirs. This longer, clocking to nearly 15 minutes, and blissful sonic exploration slowly moves into heavier, stormy texture with hidden dub techno ingredients. Epic soundscaping at its finest!!! The next longer piece,"The Promise (Reprise)", features David Williams as guest and creates with its looped structure mesmerizingly picturesque and sentimental feel, less dramatic, but as much grandiose!!! Nostalgic piano leads "Would It Be The Same" into truly poetic territories, but soon it traverses into realms colored with hypnotically pulsing dub elements. Rapidly moving, sharper beats are precisely interacting with slowed-down, but more monumental parts. Celestial voices invade the stage and enrich this piece towards the end. Fully enjoyable and definitely the most uplifting passage of this journey. "There Was Nothing But Beauty In My Heart" unwraps with another poetically beautiful atmosphere carefully spiced by various hisses. Soon tender acoustic guitar wizardry and warmly expressive femme voices enter the show to bring this composition into not only heavenly, heartwarming realms, but for me, also into an ultimate position of a milestone!!! Now Glacial Movements are bridged with slight 4AD vocal reminiscences, Bravo Maestro!!! The final piece, "A Taste Of Your Own Medicine" is the only rather shorter piece on this album clocking to 6 and half minutes. Based on monotonously repetetive and rough ambience. Nicely fitting outro! As usual, Bjarne Riesto and Keep Adding joined their forces for fully rewarding visual immersion. To be honest, I am quite an outsider to lately emerging Bvdub's discography, I am familiar only with his previous Glacial Movements release, the essential "The Art Of Dying Alone" album, but "I Remember (Translations Of Mørketid)" excels in every aspect and is packed with 79 minutes of musical virtuosity and listening pleasure. A true masterpiece!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 25, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

165


Alio Die & Lingua Fungi "Otter Songs" CD

Always very prolific collaborator Stefano Musso/Alio Die this time travels to the Nordic territories to complete his premiere joint effort album with Finnish sound sculptor Jaakko Padatsu of Lingua Fungi project. "Otter Songs" album, released in February 2012 on Hic Sunt Leones, immediately strikes with its eye-catching black & gold artwork on 6-panel digipak. Really gorgeous!!! The opening tones of "Angler's Lantern" precisely display the images and show the direction the duo is heading, where deeper, cavernous drones are hauntingly accompanied by various stringed instruments like zither, psaltery or sitar as well as by other, self-made instruments and found objects. Yes, this introduction is deeply evocative and immersing and masterfully fuses electronic enhancements with fragile and filigree acoustics. I am hooked immediately!!! "Otter's Song" is more expressive and organic, less droning, but as much imaginative as the first composition. Field recordings pleasingly color the overall feel of this stunningly mysterious composition, this can be an anthem for your nocturnal musings!!! "Weeping Spruce" moves to slightly more minimal, oddly eclectic, cacophonic and meditative realms, painting truly unique, otherworldly images, which evoke a walk through sombre mist-filled forest. "Down The Sun Trail", as its name suggests, is another breathtaking exploration showcasing polished synergy of abyssal drones, scary phonographic sounds, acoustic wizardry and eerie overtone singing and chants. A truly virtuoso performance guaranteeing a deeper, shamanistic journey into the cave of the listener's mind!!! But richly picturesque and powerfully expansive soundworlds keep on invading, "Birds And Currants" follow the footsteps of its predecessor, while naturally sounding at the beginning, but in the second third entering into more dramatic terrains with culminating intensity. Psychoactive sonic substance at its best!!! Slightly more relieving outro "Fount Of Flowing Water" attracts with another batch of unsettling drifts, exotic strings, environmental sounds and voice magics. When I have heard for the first time about this upcoming album, I didn't know what to expect as I was not familiar with previous Lingua Fungi works (two solo CDs and one split CD released before), but the final result is beautifully primordial and mysteriously magnificent!!! "Otter Songs" move me into transcendental realms of pure sonic bliss!!! Not far behind the phenomenal "Fissures"...

Richard Gürtler (Mar 24, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

166


Within Reason "Subtle Shift" CDr

Here comes a big one from ambitious US label Periphery, based in New Jersey, leaded by respected music journalist, publisher and curator Darren Bergstein (now also one half of Groupthink project). The packaging, limited to 50 copies, is the first thing that raised my eyebrows, "Subtle Shift" is housed in a round tin with window displaying the CDr, while the back of the tin features track and release info printed on transparent sticker. Yes, someone might say that this is nothing really groundbreaking, but it looks elegant and attractive! Behind the project name of Within Reason is hidden noone else than Gregory Kyryluk, the sole creator of Alpha Wave Movement and Open Canvas, and also one half of Thought Guild with the late Christopher Cameron. Introducing here his debut work as Within Reason, Greg fires this magnetically mesmerizing performance with title piece, "Subtle Shift", which fuses harmonious ambient soundscapes with pulsing high-tech hypnotics, and is carefully fragranced by natural sounds and whispering voices. Stunning intro, a true medicine for my ears!!! The next one, "Memory Filament", is a subtle, uplifting texture crossed with dub techno elements, freshly beating and soaring above listener's head and reaching perfect symmetry between luminous soundworlds and hypnotizing pulses. "Bodhi" presents colorful and joyous tapestry of moods and sounds with Middle East-fragranced chants thrown in here and there. It will appeal to anyone looking for an adventure in sound sculpting. "Grey Area" strikes immediately with its slowly growing, heartbeating groovy atmosphere. Various high-tech electrifying sounds stunningly enrich this ultimate "Hall Of Fame" composition. Transporting experience awaits!!! But virtuoso performance keeps on going, "Carbon Interface" is as much phenomenal as its predecessor. Highly evocative washes with crystalline razor-sharp cyber effects shift this composition into magnificently uncharted realms. This is a true celebration of sonic synergy between human bravura and state-of-the-art technology!!! Warmly pulsing "Nimbus" is hauntingly colored with pleasant hisses and creates melodic delicacy with magical aura. "Liquid Language" jumps into more active space carefully bridging trance-inducing soundscapes with funky-like rhythms and hints of didgeridoo and voice samples in Czech language...:-) The closing piece, "Deeper Below", immediately starts as its title suggests, but then it glides smoothly through mid-paced cinematic cyber terrains. "Subtle Shift" is sensational, vibrant and immersing hypermodern masterpiece, all-inclusive with audiophile-quality sound, showcasing undisputable creativity and musicality of its creator. I can't help, but wizards like Gregory Kyryluk should live from music and create sonic pearls like this full-time, unfortunately it's not the case. One of the highlights of 2012 so far!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 20, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)


167


Robert Davies "The Alchemy Of Nature" CDr

The beginning of 2012 brings the brand new sonic statement of Ithaca, New York, based sound sculptor, painter and designer Robert Davies. Deeper, organic ambience invades the opening piece, "Intrinsic Essence", which is gently fused with various environmental and industrial fragrances and swiftly takes the listener to fascinating and adventurous night excursion across the forest to explore its nocturnal wildlife. "Transpiration" is less droning, but more spiralingly textured piece colored with the forest's singing, bustling and breathing. Another truly exciting experience to meet all the weird and wonderful creatures who live together and create the circle of life. Magnificently tranquil!!! Smoothly and serenely gliding "Of Moth And Snail" evokes spectacular poetic vistas with magical sunlight passing between the trees. It's slightly reminiscent of Rudy Adrian's "Desert Realms", but I am sure it was not intentional, just a kind of lucky coincidence, but a really beautiful one I must say!!! The next piece, "Cryptogamous Permutations", is a monotonously flowing gloomy dronescape attractively enriched by "singing" cicadas. "Quintessence" keeps on the same, mystically painted, trails, but slightly more uplifting and sensitive throughout. "In Thistle Shade" with its shadowy drones maps eerie and rugged forested terrains, and provides an appealing conclusion to this stirring journey. "The Alchemy Of Nature" is a rewarding listening session, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in experiencing breathtaking sceneries of sparklingly green, virginally wide and mysteriously foggy forest landscapes. And also another significant proof of the steady talent, credibility and consistence of both, Robert Davies and DataObscura!!! And stay tuned for upcoming "Winter Gardens" release, the 4th album by The Winterhouse, Robert's co-work project with Anthony Paul Kerby...

Richard Gürtler (Mar 11, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

168


Aglaia "Otherworldliness" CD

Italian sound alchemists Aglaia, Gino Fioravanti and Gianluigi Toso, were quite prolific during 2011, because in February 2012 they have released on Stefano Musso's Hic Sunt Leones three new albums (except "Otherworldliness" also "Absolutely Deep" CD plus "Out Of The Way" CDr). Last year they brought to us two phenomenal works, solo album "Nights In Nubiland" and also "Vayu Rouah" co-work with Alio Die. And they return in big shape again!!! "Otherworldliness", consisting of 15 tracks, ignites the show with rather more massive dronescape entitled "Dust Across The Border", that perfectly sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album. Poetic washes with cicadas on "Moon Rock" head to warmly inviting nocturnal journey. Joyously ethereal "Landing Field" and beautifully euphoric "Bright Sky" with unique effects immediately steal the show, emotionally rich, intimate and gorgeous compositions!!! "Geomagnetic Pole" ventures into freezing experimental fields, before returning into more idyllic travelogue, yet still colored here and there with few surprising sonic eruptions. The title track, "Otherworldliness", just like its predecessor, keeps its unique, strongly immersing feel enriched by gently heartbeating abyssal effects. Heart-warming washes on "Germination" bring the journey to absolutely charming and magnificently evocative aural ecstasy and present Aglaia at the pedestal of ultimate blissfulness!!! The next four compositions, "Divergent Cycle", "Substratum", "The Bridge Of Sights" and "Desire", unite celestial and experimental zones into one specific, but essential blend holding undisputed signature of Aglaia. "A Desert Place" unveils with sadly desolate feelings while the following piece, "The Cycle Of The Seasons", voyages through deeply cavernous spaces with some distinctive organic-infused sounds. Colossally gradual dronescapes invade "Highest Point" and capture another breathlessly fantastic sonic experience!!! Second part of title composition "Otherworldliness" is mesmerizingly shimmering and closes this incredibly distinguishing and highly sophisticated performance with all shine and graciousness!!! And of course the visual part of the album (6-panel digipak) is as much stunning. Splendido!!!

Richard Gürtler (Mar 11, 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia)

169


Nautic Depths "Submental Vol. 1" CDr

Deep sea drone scientist, Tomas Weiss acting under the moniker of Nautic Depths (on previous two albums featuring also Mathias Grassow), returns after two years with brand new installment and first volume of the "Submental" series. Volume 1, released in February 2012 on El Culto's new Submental label, features one long-form piece clocking to nearly 51 minutes that will immediately submerge us into the most bizzare zones of the ocean. This highly adventurous odyssey opens very sharply with heavy weight drone alchemy, for the first, roughly 5 minutes, in more static shape, but holding undeniable signature of this project. Things get a bit quieter, but just for some shorter time and our expectations are soon surpassed when intense dronescapes invade the depths. Noisier industrial outbursts dive in and we explore some environmental sounds reminiscent of underwater calls of fishes or whales as well as mysteriously distant voices and chants. The drone layering becomes deeper, richer and more massive, long, continuous monstrous drifts amazingly interplay with louder sonic eruptions, all wrapped in gradually sinking and culminating tension to capture truly penetrating and mind-bending deep sea observation experience. A true sonic bliss served by Nautic Depths!!! A gateway to enter another zone, a zone where sunlight can't go through. We are invaded by the realm of darkness, but this is also the time to explore the spectacular show of incredible bioluminescent creatures that inhabit this gloomy domain. Tinkling bells attractively color this breathtaking performance, the pressure is relieving a bit and we enjoy spiralingly serene drone that smoothly navigates us to another rougher territory, colored by twinkling rumblings. But still remaining in rather calmer and tranquil static zones. The time is clocking to its finale, we are reaching almost abyssal zone, but it's time for safe return... Thank you so much for this fascinatingly thrilling and strikingly attractive journey!!! Keep the bathyscaphe ready, I can't wait for the next exploration!!!

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

170


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)

171


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)

172


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)

173
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)

174


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)

175


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)

176


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)

177


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)

178
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)

179


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)

180
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)

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