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Topics - richardgurtler

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21


Keosz "Be Left To Oneself" CD

Keosz is for me one of the biggest discoveries during the last few years and certainly the most unexpected. Erik Osvald, the sole protagonist behind Keosz, comes from my homecountry Slovakia (the town of Dubnica nad Váhom) and he has released his debut CD "Be Left To Oneself" on renowned Cryo Chamber label more than one year ago, but he was quite safely escaping my radar for many months to come. Shame on me for this!!! Fortunately, I am very thankful to Emil/Strom Noir for his hint on this talented dronecarver. Yeah, along with Strom Noir, this is another acclaimed soundsculptor coming from a country where drone ambient scene is basically non-existent, so it's always a truly exiting moment when I can focus on a recording made by a Slovak soundscaper. Based on two previous digital albums "Sollicitus" and "Insecure", "Be Left To Oneself" is out since April 2016 in a 6-panel digipak with stunning artwork created by the artist himself.

Exceptionally immersing journey is ignited by the opening 6-minute title track "Be Left To Oneself", which straightly drifts into massively embracing and ambiguously colored drone landscapes, bridging tenebrously nuanced dense layers with constantly permeating epic vistas. A very strong beginning!!! "Occurred" keeps tightly on intense traces, it even culminates the droning scenario, where helixing deep bass meridians persistently commingle with intangibly rawer glimpses and awe-inspiring cinematic expanses. The gates to the Drone Eden are unlocked, enter now!!! "Forfeited", the longest track on the album covering nearly 7 minutes, shifts clandestinely into calmer, cyber-tech infused terrains, illuminated during the unfolding passage by solitary pulses, then slowly metamorphosing into powerfully immense stratums, where emerging panoptic undulations alternate with multi-dimensional monochromatic monoliths, all exquisitely guarded by mesmerizingly elusive industrial oscillations. Another aural bliss by Keosz awaits here! This guy rules!!! Bravo, Erik!!! "Forlorn", the shortest cut on the CD, moves back to grandiosely atmospheric poignancy, powered by gracefully weeping spirals and introspectively engrossing hums, while sacred choirs and contemplative tinkles are occasionally riding atop. "Traitor" reveals with spiraling intensity exquisitely amalgamated with fascinatingly crescendoing and profoundly longing, nearly orchestral hymnic horizons. An all-inclusive drone elixir is served here!!! "Insecure" dives deeply into abysmally pensive sceneries, where infinite hissy coils relentlessly coalesce with evanescent voice-like mirages and ear-tickling high-pitched glimmers. Wow, this must be Keosz at his most transcendental!!! Lowest end drones safely navigate "Clearance" through breathtakingly climaxing and thrillingly enigmatic plateaus, while "Low Down" glides through unfathomably infused oracular realms, propelled by breathing machineries wrapped by steam and reinforced by remote chants (bringing back my DCD memories...). The closing track, "Before The End", is carried by balmy rain and organic sounds, which are carefully bridged with serene cascades of rawer quietudes and ambrosial evocativeness. A tranquilly dissonant conclusion!

Man, I am so proud of the talent of Erik Osvald, who is not only an extremely gifted dronescaper and visual artist, but he has a very good eye as a photographer too. And keep in mind, this is not the last sound magic by Keosz!!! Since April 19th, 2017, his second album for Cryo Chamber entitled "Ava" is out and it even shifts Keosz into another, artistically magnificent level, which deserves to be immediately explored and praised!!! And when focusing on Erik's soundsculpting wizardry, certainly don't miss also his other sonic endeavors, more beat-driven, available in digital formats through his own Bandcamp page. In any case, 49 minutes long "Be Left To Oneself" is a really outstanding debut album by Keosz, hats off to you, Erik, keep on droning and keep on unfolding your multi-talent!!! No mistakes allowed on my side this time, so I will always keep a focused ear to the ground!!! And by the way, this guy doesn't even know many of my ambient heroes as his main influences rather come from the videogame soundtracks sector, so the more I am delighted by his inherent sonic visions!!! And last but not least, kudos to Simon Heath of Cryo Chamber, who gets the mastering credit, for exploring Erik's dronescaping potential!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jun 07, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

22
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Boira" CDr by Landru
« on: June 04, 2017, 03:44:37 AM »


Landru "Boira" CDr

Patxi Hernández aka Landru has crossed my radar for the first time during the spring of 2012, not only as one of the driving forces behind Spanish label Altera Orbe, together with another fellow soundscaping countryman Ran Kirlian, but also as a creator of very impressive debut CDr "Neurotransmitters" (released in November 2011). In the meantime Landru has released several other notable solo albums available on CDr format like "Fimbria", "Scotoma", "Facets" and a collaborative project "Waterfront" with above mentioned labelmate Ran Kirlian. Some of them I have reviewed throughout 2012 and 2013. Although, I believe, Altera Orbe is on hiatus now, both artists still continue on releasing their own music, particularly Landru has a new album "Boira" out since June 2016 on his newly formed label Lepysma, even if the CDr edition was released as a limited edition few months later. "Boira", which means fog in Catalan language, comes in a standard jewel case with immersing black and white 4-page front insert.

Nearly 7-minute long "Dormant State", the shortest one on "Boira", ignites the venture with subterraneanly labyrinthine drone cascades, which are delicately reinforced by assorted, translucently cyber-tech swirls and smashes or ambiguously cavernous pulses and bleeps. Auxiliary warmer cinematic vignettes clandestinely permeate across engulfing hypogeal sceneries. A very strong opening! "The Water Cycle", stretching to 11 minutes, merges richly biotic and mesmerizingly transporting location recordings with constantly circling longing undulations, while intangibly noisier bangs are persistently guarding above. The next piece, "Hydroscopic Particles", only slightly shorter than its predecessor, straightly shifts into sonorously dronescaping Eden, where magnificently multi-dimensional monochromatic monoliths are meticulously coalesced with perpetually helixing primal rumbles and intriguingly traverse through awe-inspiringly panoptic vistas. A towering dronezones at its climax!!! "Evolving Landscape" delves into more future-tech-driven terrains highlighted by polished crystalline bleeps and oddities, and surrounded by balmily expanding and tranquilly nuanced cinematic horizons. Another big one!!! "From A Certain Height" masterfully blends nebulously engrossing choir-infused solitudes with subtly vibrating and intricately high-tech grooves. As much engrossing as electrifying, an aural elixir is served here! "Quiescense" reveals with soaring enigmatic drifts, roaming through perplexing altitudes and backed by remotely elusive throbs and eerily glancing groans and squeaks. The closing 20-plus minutes long title opus "Boira" dives deeply into grandiosely unfathomable depths, navigated by gracefully celestial and spellbindingly humming drone stratums and oracularly illuminated by extraterrestrial signals. And then inconspicuously crescendoing through jaw-droppingly transporting meridians. Massively mysterious finale fully reveals all its magic!!! Bravo, Landru!!!

Landru offers with "Boira" 75 minutes of prodigiously tenebrous atmozones exquisitely augmented by a diversity of cybernetic, futuristic or primordial-charged curiosities, no matter if shimmering, pellucid, granular or puzzling. Undoubtedly "Boira" is another very strong recording by Landru, so don't hesitate to explore this crafted Spaniard, because he really deserves much more attention than he gets. Landru's discography features several well hidden gems and your support would be greatly appreciated with many rewards awaiting!!! Patxi, muchas gracias and keep on creating!!!

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

23


Byron Metcalf "Inner Rhythm Meditations" CD

When looking back at the year 2016, this was undoubtedly an enormously triumphant and strikingly fruitful period of time for shamanic par excellence drummer Byron Metcalf. Firstly, just within a few days, two phenomenal albums "Earth Luminous" and "Shamanic Trance Dance" were released, the first one as a collaborative project with Norwegian ambient guitar virtuoso Erik Wøllo on Projekt, while the other one "Shamanic Trance Dance" on Sounds True features several kindred spirits from across the globe as guests. Both these albums certainly belong to the pinnacles of 2016, but the story is still not complete... "Inner Rhythm Meditations" CD, released on Sounds True at October 1st, 2016, in an attractive 6-panel eco wallet with extensive liner notes, resurrects once again the synergistic spirit with Erik Wøllo and the team is completed by a Grammy Award and Native American Music Award nominee, a world flute wizard Peter Phippen from Wisconsin. What a line-up!!! The additional credits go to Sounds True producer, Mitchell Clute, to Liv Khalsa at Invincible Recording for his mastering experiences and to David M. Schrader for cover image.

The opening piece, wonderfully entitled "Garden Of The Peaceful Warrior", which clocks over 10 minutes, unfolds with quietly expansive washes by Erik Wøllo, which are propelled by sublime drumming, both heavier and gauzy, by Byron Metcalf and Peter Phippen's gorgeously evocative flute calls. The trio immediately sets their creative insignias into absolute equilibrium and the listener enters a truly magnificent sonic Eden, where he/she is welcomed by a large dose of aural ambrosia. Pure beauty!!! "As Clouds Dance" is only several seconds shorter than its predecessor, keeps tightly on the path, but this time more translucent udu beats steal the center stage, although always commingling with bulkier frame drums, while hissy desolations are clandestinely glancing on the horizon. Weeping blankets slowly emerge and permeate across along with gently shimmering pulses. Ear-tickling gossamer, yet razor sharp groovy gallops join the spectacle as well and persistently interact with drum/udu magic and utterly engrossing and warmly panoramic elevations. The track title is exquisitely displayed by the passionate musicianship!!! Erik's lushly lyrical strings announce "Patterns Of Awareness", but the percussive vibrancy by Byron soon levels the score along with Peter's poignant bansuri narrations. A quite laid-back, yet intensely magnified and insistently absorbing ride awaits here, bravo, gentlemen!!! "A Perfect Place" delves into quieter terra incognita sceneries, reinforced by cavernously crystalline echoes of udu, pungently galvanizing drums, ethereally embracing E-bow magic, emotive stringed vistas and hauntingly enveloping shakuhachi cushions. A genuine magic by three sonic curanderos in full bloom!!! "The Awakened Heart", covering 11 and a half minutes, shifts the splendor into another, spellbindingly fascinating altitude when masterfully merging engulfing panoptic reflections, healing flute serenities, intangibly pulsing cinematic motifs and vigorously high-spirited drumming. The driving mixture of ponderously punching drums and pellucid udu balm is just breathtakingly immersing and it meticulously completes this splendiferous composition. It's strongly evident, Byron Metcalf, Erik Wøllo and Peter Phippen deliver here the very top of their celebrated artistries, beyond question, "The Awakened Heart" is a Hall Of Fame performance!!! The longest piece, 15-minute "Presence Of Longing", closes this awe-inspiring, 65 minutes long journey with meditatively repetitive deep bass drum beat carefully bridged with cascading epic quietudes, introspectively embracing flute curtains and transient breezy strings. A sonorously contemplative outro!

"Inner Rhythm Meditations" album is another giant sonic installment sculpted by Byron Metcalf and graced by thrillingly gifted contributions by like-minded spirits Erik Wøllo and Peter Phippen. And the sound quality is top-notch too! Thank you, Maestros, for such virtuosic dream team brilliance, congratulations and deep respect for this milestone!!! So it's quite obvious recording like this gets one of my nominations for Best Album of 2016, while "Earth Luminous" and "Shamanic Trance Dance" are already included! And regarding Byron's connection to Sounds True, a 6CD program based on his Shaman's Heart Meditation Series is in the works for a release during the spring of 2018.

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

24


John Lyell "Planetary Artifacts" CD

A self-released album "Planetary Artifacts" is a 4th solo recording by US ambient soundscaper John Lyell, who is now based in New Mexico. Prior to these albums, he has released two collaborative CDs with Brent A. Reiland. Three years after the release of his previous album, a deep space monument "Reflection Of Time", the newest odyssey "Planetary Artifacts" is out since February 20th, 2017 in a 4-panel digipak featuring immersing horizons designed by the artist himself. The album was created at John Lyell's Light Year Studio, while residing in Minneapolis.

"Arrival", which clocks to nearly 4-minute mark, is the shortest piece on the album and it straightly drifts into warmly tranquil and helically enveloping expansive sceneries masterfully reinforced by rattling cybernetic disruptions, bleeping meridians, epic drone glimpses and ephemeral silent vistas. Short, but very effective! "Traversing The Portal" shifts immediately into galloping, sequencer-powered zones juxtaposed with glancing angelic weeps, temporarily blowing wind-like tapestries and transient remote rumbles. This distinguishing alchemy keeps on exhibiting also during the next piece, "The Visitors", where laid-back elusive cyber-tech pulses relentlessly commingle with ambiguously engrossing lamentations and occasionally outbursting machinery subtleties. "Red Shift 2" is propelled by persistently undulating and mesmerizingly enigmatic motif, here and there amalgamated with emerging panoptic blankets, clattering echoed mirages, sneaking phantasmal breaths and balmy ethereal pillows. Rather minimal in its structure, yet always hauntingly magnetizing journey awaits here!!! The next composition, "Echoes Of A Distant Past", with 8 and a half minutes the longest one on the album, glides effortlessly through euphoniously grandiose realms, exquisitely merging monochromatic immenseness with enthrallingly introspective panoramas, soothingly divine illuminations, contemplatively embracing solitudes and intriguingly traversing fragments. What a beauty, definitely one of the highlights!!! The title track "Planetary Artifacts" delves deeply into oracularly colored terrains, where quiescently tenebrous drone coalesces with hypogeally gossamer impulses, fleeting cinematic reflections, and clandestinely ascending and boisterously titillating glimmers. Another top-notch sonic escapade!!! "Adrift In Time" is navigated by rippling extraterrestrial drone desolations and fueled by strangely oscillating currents. "Another World" keeps on the orbit, where interminably meandering and eerily languorous quietudes connect with anomalously arising stellar beacons and fugitively ringing fractals. The closing track, "Searching For A Moment", is impelled by meditatively reverberating murmurs, which are constantly perforated by peeking flickers and desultory ear-piercing whines.

After triumphant albums like already mentioned "Reflection Of Time" and in 2012 released "Eternity", John Lyell returns again with a very fascinating and manifoldly spiced, 53 minutes long sonic adventure. A quite intricate, intense and peculiar soundcarving awaits here for each dedicated connoisseur of deep space ambience. Well-done, John!!! The mastering knobs, as usual, were controlled by Robert Rich at his Soundscape Studio. Focused headphone listening of "Planetary Artifacts" is undoubtedly fully rewarding!!!

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

25


Sequentia Legenda "Extended" 2xCDr

Sequentia Legenda is a pseudonym of Berlin School connoisseur Laurent Schieber, who resides near Mulhouse, France. I already have been reviewing his debut, self-released CDr album "Blue Dream" from the end of 2014. In the meantime, about one year later, during November 2015, Sequentia Legenda's second official album "Amira" came out. In September 2016 the third album "Extended" was released by the artist himself, who is joined on this double set by a German drummer Tommy Betzler, whose name I have noticed for the first time on SynGate's release "Two", as a companion of Michael Brückner, but this experienced drummer is known also as a founding member of German Krautrock band P'Cock as well as for his guest performance on Klaus Schulze's bonus DVD from 2005 (part of the reissue of "Dig It" album on Revisited Records) on a track entitled "Linzer Stahlsinfonie", recorded during Ars Electronica 1980 in Linz, Austria. As indicated by its title, "Extended" double album reveals reshaped versions of some pieces from "Blue Dream" and "Amira" with Tommy Betzler's vital drum contributions on two tracks. The release comes in a catchy 6-panel glossy digipak featuring additional 8-page booklet with extensive liner notes to each composition. The design of this booklet is superb, it precisely displays invigoratingly transporting aural odyssey. Mastering credits goes to Chris Dion from Quantum Music.

The first disc unfolds with soothingly emerging, 28 and a half minutes long "The Approach", announced by a distant wind and seashore harmonies, which soon metamorphose into panoptic washes, celestially expansive, with clandestinely permeating sequences. "The Approach", in its slightly shorter version, can be heard on "Blue Dream", but this time Tommy Betzler's diverse drum parts add a quite piquant fragrances to the overall mood of this strongly captivating piece, delightfully guarded by choir-driven cushions. The next piece, 20-minute "Into The Sequence" is, I believe, a brand new composition, which exhibits Laurent Schieber's virtuosity in spaciously immense soundsculpting, masterfully merging colossally monochromatic drifts with gossamery mesmerizing glimmers and continually ascending melodic laid-back vignettes. And serenely progressing through brisker elevations, luminously charged and enchantingly enveloping. Another very strong track! "Somewhere", clocking over 23-minute mark, is an extended version of the closing composition on "Amira" album. The base is quite similar to previous pieces, when more flatlined ethereal blankets are persistently counterpointed by elusively helixing and outbursting high-tech traceries, this time reinforced by intangibly arising drum subtleties by Tommy Betzler. Then again shifting through more animated passages and then subsequently dissolving through closing tranquil terrains.

The second part consists of 3 tracks as well, all hanging between 22 and 25 minutes. "Vibrations" fires up the spectacle with its extended version. As far I remember, shorter edition of this composition was my fave piece on "Blue Dream" album. Persistently shimmering ear-tickling sequences exquisitely commingle with sublimely sweeping horizons and remotely percolating and oscillating cybernetic glimpses. Although without any significant modifications when comparing to the original version, it's still a truly triumphant piece paying monumental tribute to Berlin School legends. Bravo, Laurent!!! "Solitudes Lunaires" merges gracefully panoramic and introspectively nuanced choir-like drones with diaphanously pulsing and hypnotically synthetic tapestries, perpetually galloping, while gently swirling titillating chinks hanging in the distance emerge here and there. Gliding occasionally through ephemerally crescendoing cinematic vistas and transiently accelerating transitions. The final track "Au Revoir" was originally released at the end of June, 2015 in shorter version, although it glanced briefly already on "Blue Dream" album, now it's resurrected and stretched to 22 minutes. Drifting heavenly choirs constantly juxtapose with insistent sequencer arrangements, some remain subtle, while others quietly sneak and steal the center stage with its stirringly unwrapped mid-paced intensity. "Au Revoir" is Sequentia Legenda's aural rendezvous with all those deeply missed. A very strong conclusion indeed!!!

"Extended" double album, covering over 143 minutes, is another enormously strong sonic installment by Sequentia Legenda, who constantly focuses his artistic creativity and passion on the Berlin School movement. Hats off to Laurent Schieber and also to Tommy Betzler for his guest performance!!! Sure, as already mentioned in my previous review of "Blue Dream", I will always crave for more drifting poignancy or for rather shorter, more diverse sequencer- and emotion-propelled endeavors, but that's just a question of my taste. Otherwise, Sequentia Legenda really excels in this particular style of radiantly immersing space electronica. And keep in mind, a new album "Ethereal" as well as few collaborative projects are in the works.

Richard Gürtler (May 21, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

26


Steve Roach "The Passing" CD

"The Passing" was initially released as a surprise gift by Steve Roach on his birthday at February 16th, 2017 as "name your price" digital download , but fortunately also a limited CD version was immediately announced. 4-panel digipak edition, limited to 300 copies with immersing cover image by Sam Rosenthal, followed in the middle of March and it's quite obvious I couldn't miss another long-form epic carved by one of the truest masters of this format. Although recorded during a five-day period prior to above mentioned Steve's birthday, the origins of this composition go back to the second half of the 90's when "Dreaming... Now, Then: A Retrospective 1982 - 1997" 2CD compilation was released on Celestial Harmonies. And there can be celebrated among many other essentials also a piece entitled "The Passing Time", a 12-minute unreleased archive track from 1997, which closes the second disc and presents Steve Roach at the most majestic vertex of his aural profoundness. Now this utterly poignant delight has been reshaped and expanded to a fully engrossing one hour of emotional exquisiteness. The mastering credit, as usual, goes to kindred wizard Howard Givens.

Droning sonic insignias, invading my listening room with reverberating infinity, are persistently propelled by spirally ascending reflections. Warmly evocative meridians clandestinely permeate across and join this meticulously layered multi-dimensional stratum. Around the 18th minute soulfully voluminous vistas steal the spectacle before serenely dissolving into sweepingly breathtaking horizons. The aural magic of Steve Roach once again fully reveals all its ambrosial hallmarks and I am delving deeply into his atmospheric oasis I have been always exhaustively fascinated with. When heading towards the 30th minute mark, slightly calmer glimpses arise, however still abundantly expansive with awe-inspiring climaxes. Then again quietly metamorphosing towards balmier landscapes counterpointed with amorphously lithe gracefulness that can't be anyone else but The Master. Yet auxiliary apexes continuously emerge with ear-bending intensity, but then, while approaching approximately the 48th minute, the composition starts its halcyon move to full blossom and it reaches its ingenious pinnacle, when transmuting through gorgeously heartwarming mirages into absolutely blissful all-embracing sonic euphoria. And it happens again and again with each spin, I am drifting through the emotionally magnified sonic Eden into the resonant silence with goosebumps on my arms...

Recorded in the remembrance of lost loved ones, "The Passing" dives into the most intense, yet nectarously sumptuous, harmoniously gratifying and luminously eulogistic zones of heart-rending contemplations ever sculpted by Steve Roach. After nebulously subterrestrial monument "Fade To Gray", released only several weeks earlier, the listener experiences here another opus in the Master's dedication to the long-form magnificence. As far I know, only few copies are left with no re-prints in the future, so if you are still craving for the physical version, don't wait any second, once "The Passing" CD is gone, it's gone just like it happened to other milestone "Invisible"! Also don't forget to explore also "Painting In The Dark" and "Spiral Revelation", both CDs were released at New Year's Eve 2016 together with "Fade To Gray". And the next colossal chapter "Long Thoughts" is coming this summer!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 17, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

27


The Circular Ruins "Pathways" 2xCD

"Pathways" double CD album was recorded during 2015-2016 and released during December 2016 together with another 9 double sets by various other artists on the Dutch Databloem label to celebrate their 15th anniversary. It's packaged in a rather simple, but very elegant glossy 4-panel digifile, featuring cover image by Anthony Paul Kerby, the artist himself, who acts as The Circular Ruins (and also as Nunc Stans, Lammergeyer, Fiction And Poetics or together with Robert Davies as The Winterhouse) and who is also known as the mastermind behind the dataObscura label, based in London, Southern Ontario, Canada. It's quite obvious The Circular Ruins was one of the selected artists, because Anthony Paul Kerby used to run dataObscura side by side with Dennis Knopper's Databloem until the beginning of 2008, when they decided to go their separate ways. And The Circular Ruins' debut "Realm Of Possibility", released in 2002, was the second official release by Databloem ("Collection 1: Opening" by various artists was the inaugural release by this label). If I count correctly, during the last 15 years, between "Realm Of Possibility" and "Pathways" The Circular Ruins project has released another 19 solo and collaborative albums, mostly on dataObscura.

The first disc fires up with the title track "Pathways", which at 4:22 is also the shortest one on the first part of the set. It immediately attracts with an array of translucently polished pulses and bleeps backed by subterranean echoes and mildly expansive blankets. I would call this hypogean cybertronica at its most delicate!!! On the contrary, the 15-minute "Walking Away" is the longest composition on this disc and it shifts into more tranquil and immense realms, where warmly gliding and gorgeously nuanced placid horizons are fastidiously bridged with persistently swirling gauzy signals, while additional weirdly twisted granular subtleties clandestinely percolate across. Attentive headphone listening is a real treat here! "Gain Turn To Loss" drifts into enigmatic terrains permeated by transient contemplative tinkles and auxiliary longing curtains. The next piece, "Satisfaction Of Knowing", merges winding ruminative cinematic landscapes with intangibly ascending distant fragments. "Morning Fields", another longer composition reaching 10-plus minutes, keeps on the path of poignant introspectiveness, quietly cascading and counterpointed by impalpable sequences, glimpsing remote cyber-biotic trimmings and ephemeral urban environments. Monochromatic drone announces "Let Them Speak", but picturesque motif along with exotic fragranced strings, titillating clinks, buzzing transitions and elusively peculiar vocoder-charged chants sneak in. A truly exceptional aural splendor by this Anglo-Canadian wizard!!! "Obscure Destiny" closes the first part with sadly enveloping circles, where gently eclectic outbursts commingle with a variety of transitory microscopic ornaments and sinuating reflections.

"When All This Was Real" opens with ear-tickling flute calls, but soon weeping bowed strings steal the center stage with pensively expressive undulations, ringing contemplations and gossamer chinks. 10-minute "Vanishing Shore" delves deeply into nebulously colored terrains, where calmly droning horizons commingle with seashore euphonies, quietly crescending vistas, and pellucidly microscopic scraps. "Into Distance" is navigated by humming flatlined drone desolations, here and there perforated by subterranean ambiguousness, industrial ephemerons and cyber-biotic solitudes. Shorter "A Curious Memory" quickly metamorphoses from hissy yearning passages into subterrestrially galloping sceneries. "Multiple Destinations", the longest piece on the second disc, covering 11 and a half minutes, grippingly keeps on exploring labyrinthine underground territories, driven by static mysterious vibes, ghostly squeaks, organic traces and intricately ascending meridians. A genius loci awaits you, enter now for fully rewarding listening experience!!! "Wait And See" veers into sorrowfully-driven graceful drone expanses counterpointed by a potpourri of elusive undercurrents such as assorted shrilly fragments, contemplative clinks, longing shimmers and eerie groans. As much magnificently sweeping as delicately sophisticated! "Captive" completes this amazing journey with spaciously drifting texture magnified by hissy infusions and spiraling percolations before unforeseen transmogrification into oscillating drone scenario pervaded by exaggerating magnitudes and surging dissonances. Throughout the second half hovering grooves join the stage along with curving climaxes and boisterous thunder vistas with cybernetic vanishments. Wow, this is a truly jaw-dropping, 9 and a half minutes long, sonic chameleon!!! Bravo APK!!!

"Pathways" double album is an all-intensive, 114 minutes long creative accomplishment by The Circular Ruins, which certainly requires a deeply dedicated ear, but as soon the total immersion is achieved, the magic is fully unfolded and Anthony Paul Kerby perpetually delivers his infinite mastery in embellishing his soundscapes with earmarking crystalline curiosities. I won't hesitate to say "Pathways" is another milestone in applauded discography by Anthony Paul Kerby aka The Circular Ruins, and obviously one of the pinnacles of 2016, but keep in mind, this guy is active also with his other, above mentioned projects, which I highly recommend as well!!! Thank you, APK/The Circular Ruins!!! And last but not least, kudos to Dennis Knopper of Databloem for releasing this sonic jewel!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 11, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

28


Closing The Eternity "Forever And A Day" CD

Muzyka Voln, a division of Zhelezobeton label and distribution based in Saint Petersburg, Russia, has resurrected on this CD album older recordings of the Russian Drone Tsar 121, who records under the moniker Closing The Eternity. Released at the end of 2016 in strikingly engrossing 6-panel digisleeve and graced by breathtakingly panoramic coastal photographs by A.V. (Arseniy Vinovarov), the album comes in a limited edition of 300 hand numbered copies. According to the info, the album was recorded during March 2004, mixed in October 2007 and mastered in February 2008. Yeah, those familiar with this highly respected drone project know that Closing The Eternity has released since 2001 around 13 solo and collaborative/split projects on various labels, mostly based in Russia like Infinite Fog, ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ, Aquarellist, Fight Muzik, Radiodrone, Operator Produkzion or in Czech Republic based Epidemie Records. Recordings such as "Northern Nights Ambience", "Superstring Paradigma", "Kosmodrones" or both untitled collaborations with Mathias Grassow undoubtedly belong to The Drone Pantheon, so when "Forever And A Day" has landed on my radar's screen, immediate action was taken!

It's quite obvious the aural part levels the visual bliss as soon the first dronecarved spirals emerge out of the tideland's haze. Propelled by infinitely tiding organics, nebulously immersing drone stratum relentlessly glides, traverses and expands into gargantually crescendoing epic meridians. The title composition, "Forever And A Day", covering nearly 28 minutes, transports the listener way beyond the gates of ordinary, directly to jaw-droppingly barren coastal sceneries, meticulously reinforced by magnificently transcendental dronescaping reverberations bridged with gracefully enrapturing panoptic reflections. An awesome listening experience!!! Shorter, only 8 and a half minutes long "In The Back Of Beyond" delves even deeper into abyssal domains, merging devastatingly humming magmas with mind-bending immense solitariness. Monochromously monolithic layer constantly dives into breathtakingly metamorphosing depths, where disastrously ear-puncturing outbursts coexist with delightfully unfathomable enigmas. Thrillingly intense drone tour de force showcasing Closing The Eternity at the very top of his craft!!! The closing "Alongside The Infinity" is another long-form piece, this one clocks over 25-minute mark, and it shifts into relatively calmer terrains permeated by spectacularly intangible crepuscular illuminations, yet intricately tenebrous, although perpetually infused by noisier seashore breaths. But stupendously pinnacling manifold surges, intermittently guarded by remote, grandiosely longing vistas, steal the forefront and insistently engulf the listener. At some moments climaxing drone inferno, but for the bigger part rather quieter, yet tremendously powerful and quintessentially mindscaping. What a drone odyssey to wrap up this immense aural exhilaration!!!

Wow, not bad for a recording hidden for almost ten years after its mastering... Fortunately, there is no "Best before" on such everlasting drone wizardry. "Forever And A Day" is without doubt abundantly staggering indigenous escapade by one of the most creative forces within the profoundly fascinating and exuberantly piquant conceptual droneforging. Bravo, 121/Closing The Eternity!!! And of course kudos to Muzyka Voln, for keeping glass mastered format alive along with visually stunning digisleeves, this is the home of several other exceptional drone purveyors like Creation VI & Uhushuhu, Neznamo, Exit In Grey or Kshatriy. An ultimate must-have exploration for all drone connoisseurs awaits here!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 08, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

29


SiJ & Textere Oris "Reflections Under The Sky" CD

In Sevastopol, Crimea based applauded dronesculptor Vladislav "Vlad" Sikach, who is acting as SiJ has joined his forces with Textere Oris, a project of Ilya Fursov with domicile in Moscow. To be honest, I don't know too much about Textere Oris' previous releases except the fact Ilya Fursov has already teamed with Vlad Sikach on one of the tracks on his digital album "Plæntágose", which was released during 2015 on relaxedMachinery gang. However, when "Reflections Under The Sky" CD was announced during February 2016 on US dark ambient eminence Cryo Chamber, my eyebrows were immediately raised!!! Sure, it took longer time before I was able to explore one of Vlad's personal copies, but the more I am enjoying it now, it was well worth the wait!!!

Immersing visuals on 6-panel digipak (I didn't find any artwork credit on it) are quickly equalized by the opening motifs of 4-minute "Near The Dam", when cavernously glimpsing granulars are carefully bridged with traversing stringed poignancy, introspectively colored hissy organics, longing serpentine choir-like drones and spiraling deep bass solitudes. Massively embracing intro, well-done, gentlemen!!! Then follows 9 and a half minute long "Behind The Window", which keeps the trace of lower end desolations, while incredibly exquisite weeping chants are masterfully counterpointed by squeaking perplexes, balmy rainy quietudes, ephemeral rumbles, rawer subtleties and warmly cinematic layers. Splendidly transporting magic is fully unfolded, more please!!! "Lost" dives into slightly sharper, industrial-spiced terrains, although persistently softened by chirping symphonies and guarded by sacral choirs. Arising and permeating beats try to steal the center stage, but they remain ambiguously intangible, while additional voice samples, machinery wheezes and phantasmal helixes are riding atop. You simply can't go wrong with such peculiarly carved sonic endeavour! Yearning curtains, tiny vinyl crackles and transient mild grumbles announce the next track, "In The Rain", which slowly shifts into poignantly evocative realms, soothingly resurrecting long buried memories. Gently fizzling outbursts and sneaking eerie flickers color these contemplatively embracing sceneries. Hushing blankets of "First Snow", the longest piece on the album clocking to 9:38 mark, are soon joined by mysterious gongs and ghostly sinuous choirs and spiraling moans, meticulously painting vistas of encircling snow storm loneliness, occasionally imbued by pensive minimal piano glimpses, whistling trinkets and titillating gossamer clinks. Another enormously engrossing beauty!!! "Ortuo", at 3:22 the shortest track, is rather calmer blend of twisted obscure drones, diaphanous glitches, nocturnal harmonies, warmer expansions and odd ephemerons. Only slightly longer "The End" closes this journey with immense scenic drones amalgamated with insistently expressive radio transmission voice samples in Russian, bleeping, nearly Morse code-like fragments and brief meditative chimes.

44 and a half minutes long "Reflections Under The Sky" album quite effectively merges authentic sonic signatures of both participating protagonists, who more or less utilize same instrumentation (synths, field recordings, percussions), with few extras on Vlad Sikach's side (noises, guitar, voice, toy piano), while Ilya Fursov gets further credit for mixing and mastering duties. The listener experiences several truly outstanding compositions, each track is carefully detailed and the album safely hangs in profoundly intriguing fissures between ambient and dark ambient soundcarving. SiJ has already confirmed many times his reputation among renowned drone ambient aficionados and for Textere Oris this is a very gratifying introduction on a glass mastered format. Kudos to Simon Heath/Cryo Chamber as well!!! And by the way, don't miss on Cryo Chamber also SiJ's newest solo album "The Time Machine", released during February 2017, which features among guests also Textere Oris on one track!!! And that's still not enough, since the end of March 2017 is out SiJ & Item Caligo "Queer Reminiscence" collaboration on Swedish Reverse Alignment label, who have previously released other two albums by SiJ, "Vale Of Forgotten Sounds" and "The Lost World".

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

30


Hollan Holmes "Prayer To The Energy" 2xCD

I still keep in mind the wintery day in January 2011, when an unknown artist named Hollan Holmes introduced his debut album "A Distant Light" on the pages of EMPortal, featuring stunning self-made cover artwork. Sure, also the fact Steve Roach was credited as the mastering engineer added some extra curiosity into my explorations, but since then I have been closely following this talented Texan soundsculptor and visual artist. Over the years Hollan Holmes has released another 5 solo albums plus one collaborative project Common Ground together with Californian duo Resonant Drift. The path taken with "A Distant Light", when the aural part was masterfully accompanied by exceptional visuals, still keeps on blossoming with each self-released album and obviously "Prayer To The Energy" is no exception. Even more this time, when Hollan Holmes comes with his most ambitious project, a double album supported by his own paintings. "Prayer To The Energy" is out since the beginning of February 2017 and it comes in a nice glossy 6-panel eco wallet designed by the artist himself. Fellow Texan soundscaper Chad Kettering is credited for his mastering skills, as he does since Hollan Holmes' second album "The Farthest Fringes". Known for juxtaposing ear-tickling Berlin School memories with grandiosely expansive landscapes, Hollan Holmes has decided this time for monumental double set to separate his hallmarking sonic canvas.

Disc one is ignited by 6-minute title composition "Prayer To The Energy" and what a kickoff it is!!! Persistently glistening sequences fire up the show, swiftly galloping and soon joined by another vigorously engrossing layer, while warmly scenic washes slowly sneak in and cascade through hauntingly captivating elevations. A top-notch introduction!!! "Insulated" (btw, inside the eco wallet there is a painting of a glass insulator) is more mid-paced, yet still enough shimmeringly animated with some catchy crescendos thrown in and auxiliary permeating intangible meridians. "Darkness And Light" moves smoothly into serenely embracing terrains, highlighted by heartwarming, nearly poetic sequencer patterns painting intensely evocative longing vistas. What a beauty!!! "Great Expectations" surprises with its gentle electric guitar rawness, surrounded by leisurely emerging metallic percussive subtleties on the back, along with percolating orchestral glimmers and guarded by remotely ethereal choirs, while additional, poignantly enchanting tapestries navigate the composition into its finale. Wow, this is a truly magnificent piece of ambience!!! "Lucid Dreams" shifts into intenser, yet utterly enveloping cinematic solitudes, but pulsing quietudes arise and relentlessly traverse across. Celestial choir-like drones are riding atop, but eternal pulses clandestinely metamorphose into headlining magnitudes, dazzlingly lonesome at times, yet splendidly engrossing, before reuniting again with etheric drifts. A pure sonic ambrosia is served here! "That Ephemeral Spark" keeps on the orbit, but soon the journey is stolen by distinguishing blend of sequencer-driven traceries, slightly tribal fragranced aeonian beats and evocatively helixing melodic curtains. Another strikingly attractive composition! "We Can Never Go Back" reveals with impalpably tinkling contemplative throbs, though the center stage is leaded by sparklingly absorbing sequences coupled with picturesque spirals and glancingly resurrected intensified undercurrents. Richly textured sonic euphoria! The closer "A Midwinter Night's Dream", by far the longest piece on disc one reaching 19 and a half minutes (all other tracks are clocking between 4:58 and 7:27), was originally recorded for Chuck Van Zyl's Star's End radio program "2015 Winter Solstice Special". The track employs delicately pulsing joyful sequences backed by stargazing blankets, occasionally augmented by synthetic-driven rippling glimmers. Sublimely sweeping deep sky psalm wraps up this absolutely exhilarating ride, prodigiously ebullient and tremendously absorbing, yet always securely wired to authentic Berlin School incandescences with significantly ingenious insignias thrown in. Yes, disc one is triumphant indeed!!!

8 minutes long "The Suspension Of Time" unveils disc two with expansively gliding graceful washes, balmily encircling and awe-inspiringly evoking infinite spatial emptiness and loneliness. "Cloud World" shifts this serenely immersing odyssey into magnificently longing magnitudes, where Hollan Holmes masterfully merges imposingly multidimensional graciousness with perpetually pervading splendiferously ethereal choir-like drone layers and ephemeral transcendental dissonances. Pure aural bliss!!! "Cover Of Darkness", as indicated by its title, is swallowed by unfathomably spiraling enigmas, while inconspicuously emanating glimmers are guarding vast solitudes. And just the same with the composition, which is entitled "Sublime Stasis" and clocks over 9-minute mark. The listener is immediately bathed by heartwarmingly inviting, sonorously graceful and endlessly overwhelming horizons. The gates of sheer atmospheric beauty are unlocked!!! "Breathing" is driven by helically filigreeing subtleties, constantly overseen by tranquilly embracing and surreptitiously nuanced spellbinding drifts, sporadically reinforced by mildly magnifying movements. Nearly 20 minutes long ending track, "Cerro Torre", initially created for Star's End radio program "2016 Halloween Special", unfolds with desolate drone stratums fastidiously bridged with nebulously mindscaping vertexes, persistently delving into the deepest fissures of delightful drone Eden! Massively humming magmas join this splendor along with thrillingly jaw-dropping, choir-like charged cinematic sceneries, towards the end amalgamated with tumultuously outbursting organic apexes and titillatingly high-pitched dramatic sequencer glimpses. Wow, a truly breathtaking listening spectacle fully reveals its magic, as much adventurous and grandiose as majestically towering massif of Cerro Torre mountain in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. An epic grand finale!!!

Well, after all above words it's quite obvious this monstrously challenging and all-inclusive tour de force double album by Hollan Holmes has quickly became a very strong competitor for The Best Album of 2017!!! But I think this is not surprising anymore to all those ambient connoisseurs who are already familiar with exceptional gift, creative potential and spectacular multi-craft of this Texan artist. Your self-taught mastery is so inspirational for many others, Hollan, you have my deep respect for each of your sonic and visual jewels!!! 122-minute "Prayer To The Energy" is simply another milestone!!!

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

31


Erik Wøllo and Byron Metcalf "Earth Luminous" CD

Two virtuosos, Norwegian ambient guitar ace Erik Wøllo and American aural curandero Byron Metcalf, join their forces for a truly essential splendor entitled "Earth Luminous". Out on Projekt since the end of April 2016, 4-panel digipak is graced by an aerial delight photographed by Ian Dutton (a husband of Shea Hovey, Projekt's maven) from his cockpit, while Sam Rosenthal did the graphic design. Erik Wøllo is credited also for mixing and mastering.

Nearly 9-minute "Days Of Magic" is ignited by ear-tickling crystalline tinkles and bubbles, which are precisely bridged with Erik Wøllo's heartwarmingly embracing washes, while Byron Metcalf soon reveals his gossamery fragranced udu and drum brilliance. Erik's velvety string subtleties clandestinely join the stage as well. A pure aural bliss awaits here and no matter if with your headphones on or through your speakers. This is an ultimate showcase of two phenomenal musicians exquisitely merging their spirited signatures, more please, gentlemen!!! And this spectacle obviously continues with "Light And Ground", when cyber-tech infused arrangements are exquisitely amalgamated with mesmerizing shaker medicine, vibrantly galloping tribal drums and vigorously infectious udu, while gladdening panoptic meanders are guarding above reinforced here and there by intangible glossolalias and organic signals. Abundantly flavored masterpiece!!! "Far Wandered" is as much propelled by the passion and the poignancy of both protagonists as its predecessor. Byron's hyper active and intensely hypnotic drums (frame and ceremonial) and shakers are meticulously juxtaposed by Erik's headlining Berlin School pulses and grippingly longing solitudes. Soul stirring elixir is served here in a large dose! "Valley Of Spheres" calms down the journey with a potpourri of translucent bleeps, udu and drum quietudes and evocative blankets, revealing charming laid-back downtempos. Beauty!!! "Distant Future" dives into more meditative terrains, driven by languid drumming accompanied by slightly cacophonous traceries, before inconspicuously transmuting through gently stringed tension into captivatingly nanced panoramic sceneries. "Diomedea" returns to vivaciously sublime, euphorically infused and spellbindingly celestial paths, while the next piece, the title composition "Earth Luminous" straightly shifts into sparklingly exuberant zones, masterfully navigated by Erik's cyber-biotic horizons counterpointed by shimmering strings and Byron's passionate drum wizardry. Auxiliary scenic meridians join this dazzlingly invigorating splectacle along with shamanic shaker opiates. A truly triumphant ethereal-cyber-trance-tribal magnificence displaying superiorly distinctive, yet impeccably commingled hallmarks of two like-minded and hugely experienced maestros. Certainly one of the album's ultimate pinnacles!!! The closing, 5-plus minutes long "Linked Stars" (all other tracks are clocking roughly between 7 and 9 minutes), is the only composition recorded live in the studio (at Byron's The Lair in September 2015). Poignantly evocative stringed tinkles bridged with enfolding curtains and contemplative bowls clandestinely metamorphose into gorgeously expansive and utterly engrossing serenities, gliding towards eternally sequestered rainy stillness. Exhaustively immersing outro!!!

In a nutshell, over 63-minute "Earth Luminous" is a fully blooming sonic palette loaded with two exceptionally gifted musicianships and superb sound quality delivers a truly rewarding listening experience. "Earth Luminous" is undoubtedly a milestone and one of the highlights of 2016 indeed, bravo, Erik and Byron!!! But be prepared for more, because only 5 months later after this collaboration Byron Metcalf has released his another opus entitled "Inner Rhythm Meditations" featuring lushly vital contributions by Erik Wøllo and Peter Phippen. And since March 2017 we glorify another Projekt's release, this time Erik Wøllo's monumental "Different Spaces" 2CD. Explore, enjoy and celebrate all these sonic gifts!!!

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

32


Max Corbacho "Future Terrain" CD

One of my dreams came true!!! Yeah, definitely as this long-form piece was originally released during the spring of 2015 as a digital download only, in shorter 58-minute version. As far I remember, it was just before "Splendid Labyrinths" CD was officially introduced. "Future Terrain" has immediately received a lot of positive feedbacks from many drone ambient connoisseurs across the globe, so when Max Corbacho made the deal with Vitaly Savisko, the driving force behind Moscow based enthusiastic GS Productions label, no wonder I was one of the happiest guys on the planet, eagerly awaiting a glass mastered edition of this dronescaping gem!!! Released January 10th, 2017 in a limited edition of 100 copies, the CD comes in a really elegant matte 6-panel digipak featuring original cover image rendering by 3D artist Lee Griggs with additional image treatment, cover design and layout by visual artist Michael Rodriguez Pletz, who has already worked with Max Corbacho on "Splendid Labyrinths" cover. The mastering duties are handled by Ian Hawgood.

With pressing the play button on my CD player, I am immediately carried away into awe-inspiringly immense sceneries fastidiously displayed by ultra immersing cover images. Thrillingly unfathomable free-floating drifts are meticulously magnified with gargantuan humming magmas. Utterly expansive amorphous horizons persistently keep on billowing and transmuting from desolately magnificent into heavenly multidimensional graciousness, while spellbindingly monochromous drone gurgles constantly reawake, permeate, cascade and climax through ear-bending transcendental glimpses. Cinematic magnitudes inconspicuously pervade across and join this exquisitely staggering and disastrously thick drone scenario. Shifting from gracefully monumental "Ars Lucis" majesty to intensely abysscaping "The Ocean Inside" zones, from tremendously engrossing "Splendid Labyrinths" enigmas to breathtakingly monolithic "Future Terrain" meridians. An all-inclusive heavyweight aural spectacle unfolds all its atmospheric magic here, masterfully amalgamating perpetually enveloping spheres of spatial solitariness and mysterious infiniteness with vigorously crescendoing ear-blowing reverberations and spectacularly helixing, yet sweepingly panoramic vistas, here and there intriguingly augmented by glancing monstrous calmness. Yes, 74-minute "Future Terrain" precisely explores some of the most essential symmetries between profoundly embracing endless spaciousness and prodigiously tenebrous zones.

Unmistakable audible insignias of Max Corbacho are relentlessly glimmering through this powerfully transporting journey, exhibiting some of the most nebulous, lower end graced domains this Spaniard has ever carved during his stellar, nearly 20 years long recording career. Balmily colossal realms are virtuosically juxtaposed by sonorously devastating stratums, enter now "Future Terrain"!!! Huge thanks to Max & Vitaly for this physical edition!!! So guys, and what about "Deep Time"...? Oh, and not to forget, Max Corbacho has just announced two days ago the release of long awaited "Nocturnes" album, no release date is set yet, but the album is at the pressing plant already, so definitely keep an ear to the ground!!! Max Corbacho is one of the undisputable masters of the deepest sonic meditations!!! And by the way, since November 2016, there is available also extended digital version of legendary "Indalo" collaborative album, now credited to Max Corbacho only, with additional two tracks, each clocking to 20 minutes.

Richard Gürtler (Apr 09, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

33


Steve Brand "The Path Of The Heart" CDr

Kansan soundsculptor Steve Brand has released during 2016 on physical format 6 albums, two of them were brand new recordings "The Path Of The Heart" (May) and "Leaving The Hive" (September), while the rest were 4 reissues released during November, "The Great Hoop", "Our True Nature", "The Track Of The Full Moon On Water" and "Because We Were Once Covered In Gold". Each of these albums comes in a limited edition (50 or 25 copies for a new album, reissues have 10 copies run) as 5"x7" bi-fold booklet featuring additional signed art card. "The Path Of The Heart" is released on relaxedMachinery and according to the liner notes, it started in early 2014 as the result of several live improvisations in Steve Brand's studio.

8-minute "Changing With The Light" unfolds the album with soothingly introspective solitudes, fastidiously reinforced by poignant piano quietudes, ranging from sparsely poetic to intensely glimpsing, and guarded by intangibly humming drone. Utterly embracing serenities grace my listening room! "At The Speed Of Thought" clocks to 17-plus minutes and delves into more dense terrains, moving across sinuous paths counterpointed with pinnacling silence. Unforeseen, eerily erupting climaxes, sacredly monumental, steal the center stage occasionally, then evanescing through the cacophony of Near East-fragranced traceries. The title composition, "The Path Of The Heart", only slightly shorter than its predecessor, shifts into undulating, warmly expansive panoramic magnitudes, again intriguingly coalesced with towering stillness and ear-tickling heartwarming reverberations."The Crucible Of Heart" meticulously merges evocatively billowing stratums, desolately immense hums and enthrallingly silent vistas. Another deeply reflective spectacle fully revealing exquisite sonic insignias of its sole protagonist, this must be Steve Brand at his most pensive! The shortest, 5 minutes long "Flowing Through The Heart Of Everything" dives straightly into organic-driven sceneries, juxtaposing distinguishably ear-bending serpentine perplexes with mesmeric nocturnal symphonies. "Let It All Fall Away", the longest 20-minute piece closes the ride with intenser, cyber-tech infused enigmas, magnified by breathtaking overtone meridians by shamanic performer Mark Seelig, who later utilizes also his ingeniously primordial bansuri wizardry. Mind-blowing transcendental Eden unlocks its gates and the listener enters strikingly magical domains carved by two exceptionally gifted sound curanderos!!! What a milestone, a grand finale to already remarkable recording!!!

"The Path Of The Heart" CDr is another brilliant sonic installment by Steve Brand and essential proof of his genius for "beyond the gates" ambience. A must-have album with fully rewarding, 78 minutes long listening explorations, so hats off to Steve Brand!!! And kudos to Mark Seelig for his significant guest input!!! Last but not least, stay tuned for more by Steve Brand, as a trilogy "Near Series: Silence/Otherness/Threshold" is scheduled for a release during 2017 with contributions by kindred spirits Mark Seelig and åpne sinn. The journey continues...

Richard Gürtler (Mar 30, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

34
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Starfields" 2xCDr by Jaja
« on: March 25, 2017, 07:12:39 AM »


Jaja "Starfields" 2xCDr

German deep space voyager Jana Rockstroh alias Jaja has released "Starfields" originally as digital download during March 2015. Its physical version is out since December 2016 on Jaja's co-owned Cyan netlabel as a double pro CDr edition packaged in a transparent poly double DVD case with a full wrap-around insert, printed on both sides, featuring immersing astronomy photographs by Roy Uyematsu, who already contributed to several previous releases by Jaja, for example "Stellamare" or "Starlight". The double album is available in a limited edition of 20 copies and as usual for all Jaja's physical editions, it looks really elegant!

First CDr, comprised of four longer pieces clocking between 12 and 23 minutes, unfolds with 22-minute "Starfield I". Warmly gliding stratums immediately invade my listening room, precisely counterpointed by distant contemplative bells and intangible eerie groans, while smoothly evolving introspective vistas permeate here and there. Additional continuously ascending and evanescing movements join rather monochromatic-driven layers along with unexpected ephemeral cyber-tech rumbles. "Starfield II", the longest ride here, moves into slightly heavier, persistently undulating and intriguingly reverberating domains infused with weeping quietudes, rawly ear-tickling glimpses and embracing traces of silence. The shortest part on this disc, "Starfield III", straightly dives into unfathomably nebulous realms propelled by drifting, sinuating, humming, expanding and diminuendoing layers and reinforced by subterraneanly titillating cyber-biotic vestiges. Dronescaping bliss certainly awaits here!!! "Starfield V" is announced by crystalline effects and then it slowly unfolds with hovering flatlined, yet serpentinely gliding drone pervaded by resurrecting, both transient and magnifying cybernetic patterns and oracularly abyssal calls. Stunningly engulfing soundscape!!!

"Starfield IV", with 26:45 the longest track on the whole journey (thus the switching with "Starfield V"), opens the second disc with monumentally expansive drone, masterfully cascading from ambiguously spellbinding through desolately awe-inspiring to warmly panoramic realms. Transcendentally gossamer disruptions arise occasionally along with crescendoing meridians and invade delightfully monolithic magnitudes. Wow, a truly mind-bending odyssey!!! "Sternenmeer" (or "Sea Of Stars") is as much intense, although more weeping and meditative than its predecessor. Constantly traversing through breathtakingly expansive plateaus and tenebrously enrapturing stillness, yet always fastidiously augmented by a myriad of ear-tickling bells and diaphanous chinks. The listener is unlocking the gates of deeply contemplative heaven and the closing "Starfield VI", only a few seconds shorter that part IV, focuses on soothingly meditative, microscopically granular embroideries, but this magnificently enveloping extraterrestrial emptiness is infrequently punctured by assorted ear-piercing scraps. A profoundly minimal sonic alchemy at its most efficient!!!

"Starfields" double set offers over 150 minutes of fascinating tour de force stargazing adventures, meticulously shaped by one of the best deep space soundscapers on the scene. Jaja's potential is amazingly broad and tremendously flexible, even if always strongly connected to outer space theme. "Starfields" is an exemplary showcase of this highly accomplished artistry, but these words easily apply also to a number of other outstanding Jaja's releases such as "Endless" (I have reviewed this one in January 2016), "Sparkles", "Milky Way", "Stellaris", "Starlight", "Stellamare", "Cosmos Vol. I (collaboration with Spanish kindred journeyer Ran Kirlian, spotlighted in January 2014)... And since the New Year's Day 2017, two brand new albums "Beyond The Horizons" and "Through The Belt Of Orion" are available, both in digital formats only, but as always, I really hope one day they will end up on physical formats as well. Bravo, Jaja, your creativity deserves to be applauded!!! Keep on odysseing!!!

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

35


Siyanie "Mystery Of Life" CD

Sergey Ilchuk and Dmitry Shilov are the two protagonists behind Russian miraculous drone ambient project called Siyanie, which I have already reviewed during summer 2013, particularly their jaw-dropping "Homo Multidimensional" album. Yeah, no wonder, I am deeply fascinated by these Russians since the very first day, sometime during April 2013, when they firstly landed on my radar. Always offering a top-notch visual delight, available in two editions, "Mystery Of Life" comes in one regular run limited to 300 copies, while the second one, a special collector's edition, counts 24 copies. This richly expanded version contains 17 A5-sized cards printed on silver cardboard featuring reproductions of Sergey Ilchuk’s artwork created during 2012-2016 as Siyanie Art. The CD comes in a really gorgeous 6-panel eco wallet precisely displaying Siyanie's thrillingly mesmerizing sonic alchemy. It's out since July 21st, 2016 as a collaborative effort between Russian labels Moonsun Productions (home of Siyanie), Frozen Light and Zhelezobeton, which is credited as a distributor. I should also add that 10 of 11 tracks on "Mystery Of Live" are recorded live during Siyanie's three performances during 2012 and 2013 (two in Moscow, one in Yaroslavl). The mastering credit goes to Sergey Bulychev of respected Kshatriy project.

On the opening 9-minute "You Are Self" Timofej Zaozerov with his sitar joins Siyanie for a pure, hypnotically transporting ride, when intriguingly coalescing perpetually spiraling images with piquantly ear-tickling stringed tapestries, intangibly dissonant glimpses and balmily nocturnal quietudes. The magic of Siyanie is back in full bloom!!! Enigmatic flute calls announce "The Moment Of Truth", with 6 minutes the shortest piece on "Mystery Of Life", while ethereal choir-like drones ride atop along with occasional industrial flavored, yet diaphanously solitary fragments and hissy perplexing breaths, which inconspicuously metamorphose into voluminously transcendental and audaciously blissful listening experience. Wow!!! "Circling Eternity" safely follows the vestiges of breathtakingly engulfing terrains, when meticulously amalgamating titillating cyber-organic rattles, contemplative chimes, hallucinogenic drone helixes, stinging flute patterns and shamanic voice opiates. Another indigenously jaw-dropping sonic kaleidoscope! "Invocation" calms down this exciting journey a bit, when merging secluded monochromatic drones with resurrecting expressive guest sitar wizardry by Timofej Zaozerov with some high-spirited Middle East fragrances thrown in. But psychedelic chants with overtone-like vistas shift this opus into the forefront of mind-bending electro-acoustic magnificence!!! "Chant For Beauty" dives deeply into mysteriously sculpted subterranean sceneries, where spellbindingly flatlined meridians, guarding above, are propelled by mesmerizingly immersing potpourri of chants and gossamer ephemeral rumbles. Trance-driven reverie at its most engrossing! 10-minute "Deep Tenderness" glides tranquilly on the wings of enigmatic spaciousness, where sweeping blankets are commingled with gossamer cyber-biotic traceries, swirling crescendoing subtleties and longing mirages. The next composition, "The Sky Is Not The Limit", brings back Timofej Zaozerov's sitar with additional flute work by Nikolay Kalmykov of Hladna project. Healing stringed helixes, euphorically cascading and evanescing synthetic bleeps, voice transmissions, remote whistles, warmly hypnotic yearning expanses... Another amazingly nectarous blend! "Everflowing Stream", the only studio track on this album, unfolds with weirdly weeping intro, but soon transient tribal infusions step in, although the main theme moves into more drifting scenario, smoothly evolving into gracefully immense celestial dimensions, reinforced by some phantasmal groans and backed by liturgic-like choirs and female voice samples. The closing, 14-plus minutes long "Shine If You Will" is divided into three parts. The opening passage keeps on the route of enveloping grandness driven by choir-like drones with auxiliary voice harmonizations, here and there spiced by some scraps, both palpable and vaporous. Cyber-organic embellishments magnify the drifting healings during the second passage, while the final part is highlighted by mesmerizing male verbalizations in Russian.

Each album of Siyanie sounds exactly as it looks like, so "Mystery Of Life" is obviously no exception, visual and aural installments are masterfully melted into a phenomenally challenging, galvanizingly authentic and triumphantly immersing 77-minute spectacle. These Russian guys, as one of the most unique voices on the scene, are always utilizing very distinctive insignias in order to deliver an all-inclusive eargasmic sensation taking the listener way beyond the ordinary. Deep respect, Sergey and Dmitry, you are true Masters of your art!!! And kudos to guests as well!!! Enter now the transcendental Eden of Siyanie displayed as "Mystery Of Life"!!!

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


36


Rudy Adrian "Coastlines" CD

New Zealander Rudy Adrian, the master of panoptic sublimity, returns with his "Coastlines" album 2 and a half years after splendiferous reminiscences entitled "Atmospheres". Released at October 7th, 2016, on Spotted Peccary, the album is delivered in a catchy 4-panel eco wallet designed by the label's visual pro Daniel Pipitone. The mastering job is, as usual, handled by renowned Howard Givens. As mentioned by its creative force, the album follows the footsteps of "Atmospheres" and reveals recollection of tracks recorded during the last three decades, including two rare ones from "SubAntarctica" cassette release from 1990, when Rudy Adrian was being a part of the touring exhibition "Art in the Sub-Antarctic". However, most of the tracks from "Coastlines" album are previously unreleased, yet deeply connected by artist's memorable explorations of the coastal areas of his homeland when younger together with his father.

The opening title track, "Coastlines" is rather shorter, when clocking over three and a half minutes mark only, nevertheless it immediately embraces the listener with its breathtakingly panoramic and poetically enrapturing mood carefully counterpointed by pristine shoreline field recordings, unmistakably showcasing evocatively immersing aural insignias that are no one else but Rudy Adrian. "Clouds Over The Horizon", one of the two tracks from "SubAntarctica" is even shorter, but it really sounds like a continuation of the previous piece. Translucently contemplative tinkles permeate across, bridge with delicately shimmering retrospections, while guarded by serenely reverberating solitudes. Beauty!!! "Mists From The Sea", as displayed by its title, delves into more yearning, yet tranquilly engulfing terrains meticulously augmented by ethereally nuanced monochromatic meridians. Rather minimal, yet profoundly magnificent!!! The next composition, "Pebbled Beaches", moves towards more meditative path, when enriched by a myriad of softly tinkling bells, but soon the scenario shifts into expansively surrounding vistas pervaded by subtly dramatic glimpses. Intangibly sparkling traceries resurrect here and there, before quietly evanescing. "Tussen De Monsters", with 7:41 the first longer composition, unfolds with darker subterranean drone, but the spectacle is soon stolen by another trademarking earmark of Rudy Adrian, his wordless voice harmonisations, which brilliantly commingle with gliding, awe-inspiringly panoramic dreamscapes and rattling shakers. As always, I am absolutely fascinated by this mesmerizingly immersing equilibrium! An utterly balsamic sonic medicine is served here!!! "Theme From SubAntarctica", another piece taken from "SubAntarctica" cassette, floats calmly over the immense glacierized landscapes. Gracefully peaceful elixir! 9 and a half minutes long "Message Of Dolphins" rides safely on the waves of evocative grandness, when Rudy Adrian clandestinely brings back Nick Prosser, his frequent kindred soul, when hypogean subtleties graced by dolphin calls, nocturnal quietudes and diaphanous chimes are fastidiously magnified with his wistful baroque flute magic. A magnum opus!!! 6-minute "Languid River" is announced by a richly faunal symphony, which persistently coalesces with choir-like droning layers and elusive contemplative patterns. Subtly hissing blankets occasionally ascend along with pleasantly crescendoing glimmers. "Thursday's Legacy", with 10 minutes the longest track on "Coastlines", incorporates crepuscular organic serenities, cascading ambience with textural motifs and meditative curtains, all intriguingly reinforced by sneaking ear-piercing climaxes. Another pinnacle! "Evening On Pohara Beach" closes this beautiful collection with poetic piano notes guided by secluded scenic drifts, which are as much placid as amplified, while randomly pervaded by humming subaqueous-like calls and gossamer fragments. Sublime atmospheric beauty!

58-minute "Coastlines" is another very strong sonic installment by Rudy Adrian, who masterfully keeps on exploring beautiful and wild grace of New Zealand's natural heritage, when retrieving warm memories of his youth. "Coastlines" album, which is Rudy Adrian's 15th, included are two collaborative releases with already mentioned Nick Prosser as well as one with Groove Unlimited's Ron Boots, is without doubt a highly recommended and fully rewarding listening experience wrapped in audiophile sound quality, offering marvelously tranquil, indigenously flavored and grippingly engrossing soundscaping with all his significant signatures delightfully unveiled.

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

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Eyes Cast Down "Souls Adrift, In Disrepair" CDr

Four years ago Chicago based Greg Moorcroft, the sole protagonist behind Eyes Cast Down, debuted with his album "The Separate Ones", which I was fortunate to review several months later, in May 2013. In the meantime, during 2014, second solo album "Divinations" saw the light as well as collaborative recording "Memory Palace" with kindred soul Chris Russell. "Souls Adrift, In Disrepair", the latest album by Eyes Cast Down, which is out since July 12th, 2016, was released by artist's own Kalindi Music label and it's packaged in a 4-panel digipak featuring stunningly immersing paintings by Royce Deans and Tali Farchi. This strongly enrapturing interaction was firstly born during a spontaneous, improvisational setting in a live art show in Chicago at April 1st, 2012. And four of five pieces presented on this album are connected to this multimedia jam.

Nearly 10-minute "Fading Angel" reveals layers of longing guitar drones, which drift, meander, reverberate, mesmerize... Introspective, smoothly sinuating passages distinguishably commingle with intricately high-pitched ear-tickling dissonant vistas. Although the mood might be rather minimal, hidden inside are lyrically enveloping nostalgic canvas, which masterfully amalgamate with the album's visuals. 17-plus minutes long "Astral Drift" straightly dives into jaw-droppingly gargantuan depths, humming ultra deep drones briskly invade the scene and steal this magnificently transporting spectacle. A splendiferously dronescaping powerhouse is fully activated here!!! Ephemeral overtone-like groans sneak in here and there, but the magmatic flow is devastatingly adventurous and undeniably unlocks the gates of eargasmic transcendental Eden. Around 10th minute slightly relieving glimpse arise, but that's just an "optical" illusion as the scenario quickly finds its tracks and resurrects all drone ghosts. Eerie ocarina calls arise as well and I am still swamped with ominously unfathomable drone walls. Even my weirdest expectations were surpassed with this composition, this is certainly Eyes Cast Down at its most exquisite, monolithic and desolate, a Drone Hall of Fame awaits!!! Enter now the Void!!! The next piece, "Sirens Of Maya", takes me back to earthier terrains sculpted with kaleidoscaping electric strings wizardry and painting thrillingly reflective and isochronally spiraling spellbinding images. As much rawly dazzling as harmoniously engrossing! "Transcending Memory", another longer track clocking to nearly 16-minute mark, maintains the deeply evocative route, where subtle monochromatic drone guards above, while relentlessly helixing desolations peculiarly bridge with poignantly magnifying, yet sinisterly traversing meridians. Aberrantly engulfing listening experience awaits here each devoted ears, this is obviously another epic composition superiorly exhibiting Greg Moorcroft's extraordinary soundsculpting techniques. Bravo!!! Transient pounding bass drum quite unexpectedly announces 18 minutes long "At This Body's Final Hour", which closes this highly astonishing journey. Mysteriously labyrinthine drifts are knottily counterpointed by poignant, yet evanescent piano patterns. Hallucinatory groans and voices are hanging above, interrupted occasionally by drum outbursts. Auxiliary female chorus (credited are Dasi, Greg's wife, & Leyla) surreptitiously sneak in and numinously augment this ambiguously shapeshifting aural phenomenon. A grand finale indeed!!!

Greg Moorcroft, who mostly utilizes 6- and 12-string and fretless electric guitars, EBow as well as synths on this tour de force recording, has shown an enormous creativity and potential. This is a sensationally prodigious album, a truly triumphant 74-minute showcase of a challenging ingeniousness by its visionary force. I somehow can't remember what my predictions were before exploring this album, but this doesn't really matter, because as mentioned earlier, Greg Moorcroft has blew them all away with such glorious performance. A true gem, and still enormously hidden, among the most gifted pinnacles of 2016!!! Darker than the darkest, deeper than the deepest, hats off to Greg Moorcroft/Eyes Cast Down for this milestone, which must be encountered and applauded!!! A non-glass mastered format is the only limit here... Regarding the latest updates, the next album by Eyes Cast Down is already recorded, it's entitled "The White Island" and it should be out during the spring. The final mixing and artwork still has to be done. And last but not least, if you live near Philadelphia, mark in your calendar the date October 7th, 2017, because Eyes Cast Down will open for the iconic ambient guitar virtuoso Jeff Pearce at The Gatherings, which celebrates its 25th year. Then, after the concert, an hour live to air on Star's End at WXPN Radio at the University of Pennsylvania will follow. Greg, you truly deserve such exposure!!! I really wish I could join...

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

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Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Fusion Of Soul" CDr by Jarguna
« on: February 21, 2017, 11:46:15 AM »


Jarguna "Fusion Of Soul" CDr

"Fusion Of Soul" is the newest album by Italian soundscaper, photographer and ethnobotany researcher Marco Billi, who acts under the moniker Jarguna. Released during October 2016 on Forrest Hill Records, the black CDr is housed in a catchy 6 panel digipak designed by the artist himself. Well-done, Marco!!! Jarguna's discography counts around 16 albums, both solo and several collaborations, with bigger half of them available also on physical CDr editions. At least they were available few years ago, so better to check out this with Marco through his mail-order at Shangri-la Association.

"Aura Age", which clocks just over 4 and a half minutes mark, unfolds the album with gracefully sweeping ethereal washes, while gossamer organic traceries permeate across along with additional female choir-like glimpses. Then serenely evanescing on the wings of flimsily contemplative tinkles. Aural ambrosia! 10-plus minutes long "Awakening Of The Seed", keeps briefly on the path with meditative bells, but soon shifts into more intenser landscapes, guided by droning layers, where solitary magnitudes persistently commingle with evocative cinematic vistas. Fragilely cacophonous primordial subtleties continuously emerge and intriguingly spiraling dissonances occasionally join enigmatically undulating dronescapes. A very good one! The title piece "Fusion Of Soul", with 17:22 the longest one, glides into stunningly expansive zones, soothingly waving through warmly panoptic horizons. Intangibly ascending sequences join the forefront and inconspicuously steal the spectacle with glowingly euphoric shimmers, while celestial choirs are guarding above. Auxiliary groovy trimmings sneak as well. Beauty!!! "Garden Of The Gods" unlocks its gates with gorgeously sweeping blankets bridged with nocturnally enrapturing symphony, before calmly metamorphosing into balmily humming drone scenario enriched by eternal faunal calls and vague ephemeral sequencer motifs. Atmospheric aural paradise awaits here! The next piece, "Sacred Sheng", delves deeply into mysteriously subterranean domains, where undulating drone magmas ceaselessly amalgamate with transcendental groans and oracular voices. Evocative soulful flute patterns with mesmerizingly distant tribal quietudes ascend, coalesce and transport the listener into magnificently breathtaking terra incognita realms. An epic sonic elixir indeed!!! "Water Memory" follows the primeval vestiges and masterfully explores labyrinthine magic of cavernous sceneries, where ambiguous drone traverses are fastidiously augmented by a myriad of ear-tickling shamanic artifacts with amphibious fragments, while seraphic traces are hanging above. Another pinnacle of the album bringing back memories from the good old days of the 90's tribal ambient expeditions. During 11-minute "Between Haven And Earth", as indicated by its title, the listener is leaving fascinating subterrestrial domains, when loosely carried through tranquilly monumental expanses. Remote sequences clandestinely transpire, shimmeringly magnify and incandescently radiate, then dissolving for a brief moment before transforming into invigoratingly galloping climax. The closing, 13 and a half minutes long "Ecstatic Ascent" relieves unfurling scenario with gracefully revealing horizons, where warmly sweeping massive waves are meticulously pervaded by gorgeously introspective mirages. A pure sonic elixir!!!

I think recording and packaging like this would deserve a glass mastered format, it's a pity Forrest Hill Records didn't take this route, even if it might be a bit risky these days, but with a soundsculptor like Jarguna on their roster they have got a truly gifted and spirited journeyer indeed. Also I could imagine slightly refined sound quality with a broader chromatic range in depth and dynamics as there is hidden a huge potential in such fragranced album. However, I won't hesitate to say 79-minute "Fusion Of Soul" is most likely Jarguna's magnum opus and a strongly significant work exquisitely exploring the magic of Marco Billi's soulfully vast ambient insignias. Bravo, Marco!!! "Fusion Of Soul" is a must-have recording!!! And by the way, at February 17th, 2017, Jarguna has released his latest installment, contemplatively infused "Sogni di Sutra nei Venti", but this one is available as a digital only.

Richard Gürtler (Feb 19, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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Howard Givens & Madhavi Devi "Source Of Compassion" CD

Highly acclaimed Spotted Peccary producer, composer and mastering maestro Howard Givens, who was also a member of the collaborative project/ensemble Brain Laughter (active during the 80's and 90's), joins his creative experiences with harpist and meditative soundscaper Madhavi Devi aka Cheryl Gallagher, who is mostly known for her fruitful contribution on "Tibet", a joint effort with kindred soul Deborah Martin, released on Spotted Peccary back in 2004, but also for her other albums "Pregnant Pause", "Kinetic" and "Harp Dreams", which I believe were self-released during the second half of the 90's. As customary for Spotted Peccary's visual realizations, "Source Of Compassion", which is out since the beginning of September 2016, comes in a really elegant 4-panel eco wallet featuring original art by Madhavi Devi with additional design skills provided by Daniel Pipitone. And it's quite obvious the mixing and mastering duties are handled by Howard Givens.

The album begins with 11-plus minutes long "Intention", which serenely glides into stunningly spacious zones highlighted by transcendentally buzzing expansive meridians, gracefully sinuous, and precisely backed by intangibly permeating sequences. Although melodious vintage patterns radiate more and more, the center stage is always guarded by murmuring undulations and mindscaping helixes. A strongly immersing journey is in full quintessential bloom!!! "Emergence" remains focused and safely drifts through magnificently voluminous realms. Subtly nuanced monochromatic, yet intriguingly multi-dimensional layers are clandestinely illuminated by yearning panoptic vistas. A soothingly sweeping beauty, bravo, Howard & Madhavi! "Omkara", with nearly 17 minutes the longest piece on album, merges again flatlined contemplative stratum, at time slightly reminiscent of droning didge-like solitudes, with balmily serpentine textural curtains, while flickering sequencer traceries inconspicuously arise and pervade across. Along the way additional opiate synthetic pulses join the spectacle as well. Artificial percussive passage calmly transmutes into vividly-driven tapestry of abundantly fragranced brilliancy delightfully amalgamating mesmerically elusive meditative trimmings with spellbindingly galvanizing authentic high-tech arrangements. A tour de force exhibition celebrating the ingenious artistry of both cognate spirits, certainly a magnum opus!!! No wonder, the words are pouring themselves when my listening room is invaded by such masterpiece!!! "Source Of Compassion", a 10 and a half minutes long title piece is announced by seashore field recordings, which soon commingle with mildly gossamer tribal beats and balsamic shakers, while enfolding reflections continuously ride atop, persistently percolate through and conquer the forefront with its emotive urgency. Another ultimately triumphant composition! "Pathless Passage" emerges from unfathomable depths carried towards immense spacefields, colored with soaring blankets and translucent cyber-tech rumbles. Ethereal choir-like drones are helixing above, but the odyssey is quickly stolen by vaguely magnetic, yet aeonian laid-back pulses. Expansive dissonant glimpses pop up occasionally and cascading washes relentlessly commingle with emitting signals and euphoric shimmers. A truly genuine sonic healing! Closing "Connected Space" shifts into tranquilly engrossing domains propelled by profoundly pensive meanders. These utterly poignant quietudes are gorgeously lulling and navigate the listener into the sacred garden of contemplation.

Maybe I can't find the correct words to explain it, but "Source Of Compassion" has hidden inside something very special, which is displayed throughout its entire length. The artistic languages of both protagonists are bridged flawlessly. A sonic equilibrium at its most exquisite! Yeah, I have no idea what exactly each member has brought to the table, but I don't care, because it's the final result that counts and 67-minute "Source Of Compassion" album is an absolutely sophisticated piece of art!!! Hats off to Howard Givens & Madhavi Devi!!! Previous release by Howard Givens "Life Flows Water", on which he was accompanied by Craig Padilla still deeply resonates and now we have on Spotted Peccary gang another top-notch collaborative project, this time resurrecting artistic expressions by Madhavi Devi. And by the way, via Spotted Peccary shop are available also very nice "Source Of Compassion" t-shirts (including women's scoop neck style) graced on the front with Chenrezig, the Buddhist image. Both, CD & t-shirt are highly recommended!!! And last but not least, stay tuned for more from the Spotted Peccary headquarters, the year 2017 will be again exciting thanks to this dedicated crew!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 22, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

40


Steve Roach "Shadow Of Time" CD

After two highly challenging join efforts "Biosonic" and "Second Nature" with UK's gifted spirit Robert Logan, Steve Roach has once again dove deeply into profoundly poignant atmospheric oasis. Released during August 2016 as a 4-panel digipak, renowned Polish visual master Michał Karcz got a call to participate and deliver another of his creative gems, you might remember his artwork on other three Steve Roach's releases "Dynamic Stillness", "Afterlight" and "The Desert Inbetween" (with Brian Parnham). Additional credits go to usual fellow travelers Sam Rosenthal (design) and Howard Givens (mastering). I should add together with this album was released at the same day also a long-form journey "This Place To Be", which was originally released as a digital download only at the end of May 2016, but fortunately this stunningly embracing recording has found its way to a physical version few months later.

A 38-minute title epic composition "Shadow Of Time" ignites this exceptionally immersing ride with subtly meandering minimal layers, persistently rising, ebbing and overlapping. Distinctively reflective with clandestinely emerging warmly distant symphonious horizons and as usual for the Master's contemplative milestones, meticulously magnified by utterly enfolding and exquisitely climaxing glimpses of silence. The listener is invited to experience an ultimately tranquil sanctum of delicate introspectiveness. Enter now into some of the most powerful quietudes ever sculpted by Steve Roach, a pure aural ambrosia is served here in gargantuan doses!!! The next piece, a nearly 24 minutes long "Night Ascends", gently shifts into slightly more intenser, persistent and gliding paths, carefully augmented by sweeping solitudes, billowing consonances and ear-titillating meridians. Lithe and graceful deep nocturnal expansions at its most spellbinding! By the way, the digital version of this composition clocks to 78 and a half minutes! "Cloud Of Knowing", which reaches almost 12-minute mark, delves deeply into tremendously voluminous zones, graced by soulfully emotive panoramic insignias, as always magnificently scenic with breathtakingly longing vistas and constantly bridged with spiraling awe-inspiring ephemeral stillness. Blissful beauty and monumental tranquilness of these sceneries are fully unfolded. Cruising with such eternal grace can only Steve Roach, this is a truly jaw-dropping conclusion!!!

Deeply focused full immersion is highly recommended!!! Yeah, to be honest, it took me longer time before I was able to explore all the hidden magic of this album. Trust me, it's fully rewarding now! I still keep in mind one night, when falling asleep with beloved music in my ears. Usually, I am evanescing after few tracks (I mean of course the shorter ones...), but at that particular night I journeyed through the whole "Shadow Of Time" and it was a truly unforgettable night! That was the breaking point! Steve Roach is a man, who constantly enriches our lives with his essential soundcarvings and "Shadow Of Time" is certainly one of them showcasing the Master at the very top of his deepest sonic contemplations!!! And don't forget, the New Year's Eve has brought to us three new albums by Steve Roach, "Spiral Revelation", "Painting In The Dark" and "Fade To Gray". As always, collective dreams are shared...

Richard Gürtler (Jan 21, 2017, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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