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Topics - richardgurtler

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41


Stormloop "Arctic Conditions" CDr

UK ambient drifter Kevin Spence, known as Stormloop, has returned during the end of hot summer weeks of 2013 with his newest, chilling album "Arctic Conditions". Again released on his own in limited and numbered edition of 50 copies and again packaged in nicely looking hand-made sleeve with stunning cover image. I think Stormloop's albums are attractive collector's items and this newest album is no exception. Once again, nice job, Kev!!!

"Arctic Conditions" open the journey with utterly soothing ethereal washes, floating majestically through enormous spaciousness. Catchy, reverberating dissonances ride along and produce a truly mesmerizing effect while few gentle cyber-tech fragments emerge here and there. Welcome to the deepest end of graciously aerial atmospheric reverie!!! This title composition is followed by two parts of "Winter Into Springtime". Heavenly realms are fully unlocked with divine choirs, exquisite high-tech infusions inconspicuously move throughout deeply embracing sublimity. Part two has more earthy feel due to running water and chirping crow sounds. Yet still strongly expansive and warmly captivating. Freezing drone hums unfold the following cut, "An Evening Snowstorm". Slightly unsettling oscillations precisely display the track title and escalate into helical mindscapes. The longest composition, a 13-minute "Snowdrift", sounds exactly as it is titled. Grandiose dronewalls glide, expand and decline. Colossally absorbing soundscape, this is Stormloop at his most magnificent!!! "In The Frozen Morning Light" with quietly meandering washes, which evoke feelings of longing, and backed by distant, scenic drone hums, paints beautiful dawn sceneries with impressive natural ice formations. Shorter "From The Summit", as its title suggests, has a very strong, warmly panoramic feel. "A Sunday At Twilight" keeps on the same path, with hauntingly evocative atmozones, guarded by heartwarming angelic choirs. And this balmy tranquil and graciously expansive ride continues also through the next piece, "Ice Wind". It serenely waves into everlasting sublimity of amorphous spaciousness and its monstrous calmness pleasantly surrounds the listener. "2nd Sunday At Twilight" closes this journey with slightly more droning and darker soundwashes, enhanced by assorted subtle cybernetic traceries. Again spellbindingly drifting through gorgeously panoramic winter sunset sceneries. A really tranquil finale!!!

If you prefer download version, you get also two extra tracks entitled "Clouds Merge" and "All Pales Into Insignificance", clocking totally to 22 minutes in length. Both these tracks are featured also on the extra CDr, which was available with first 10 orders of "Arctic Conditions" CDr. "Clouds Merge" is as much colossal as its title, deep expansive drone, at times rather monochromatic, but always grandiose with some cyber-tech breaths and swirls thrown in here and there. "All Pales Into Insignificance" keeps its imposing droney path, sublimely drifting and calmly cascading through warmly scenic skyline. Bonus tracks are always welcome!!!

"Arctic Conditions" is another very strong album by Stormloop. And even it doesn't break any new grounds, it offers to each aficionado of drifting soundscapes a truly graceful sonic experience, fully immersing and rewarding. As far I know, most of the limited edition is gone, so give a listen to Stormloop and encounter "Arctic Conditions" in comfortable chair of your listening room... In memory of Pete Namlook and Oophoi.

Richard Gürtler (Now 10, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

42
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Far Go" CD by Al Gromer Khan
« on: November 02, 2013, 03:43:59 AM »


Al Gromer Khan "Far Go" CD

"Far Go" is the newest album by famous German composer, sitar virtuoso and novel writer Al Gromer Khan. Released at March 1st, 2013 through RASA Music, Al's own label, as limited edition of 100 copies. It's packaged in nice digipak (design by Ramona Popa) with beautiful painting by Ghulam Ali Khan, a prolific painter in Mughal Delhi in the first half of the 19th century.

Pristine sitar strings wrapped in hissy clouds open "Jasmin Blossom Day" and hover on the wings of tranquilly drifting aerials. This, rather shorter composition reveals all the sublime beauty of exotically scented soundscapes. Very nice intro!!! "Procession For Vilayat Khan (Study In Raga Gujari Todi)" is a tribute to India's famous sitar player Vilayat Khan. It masterfully bridges expressive, ear-tickling sitar sounds with gorgeously soulful tabla playing, heavenly chants, additional spoken words and background drone blankets. "Gambhira (The Inscrutable)" remains in quieter, mildly percussive terrains with few sharper sitar essences. Female chants along with other voices lead "Procession For Hb". Pensive sitar and deliberate percussions excel as well on the fore, while colored on the background by assorted hissing sounds and sparsely meandering atmozones. "Constantinople (A Deja Vu)" is invaded by distant, static drone, gorgeously divine chants and occasionally emerging warm string-infused fragments. 9-minute, strongly meditative sonic splendor!!! The next piece, "The Nawab Astride ... (Study In Raga Ahir Bhairav)", displayed by the cover image, is merging sitar, tabla (tabla samples by Suman Sarkar), female chants and serene far-off drifts. Hauntingly calm and unique!!! "Urbanicum (Excerpt)" is more droning, quite minimal, with few gently swirling tinkles, while the following cut, "A Strange Kind Of Peace", keeps its meditative backing drone path, expansive, panoramic and immersing, but flavored here and there by some small, soothingly arising motifs. Deep sound contemplation, a journey to tranquilly mesmerizing realms of rare beauty!!! "Black Raga (Study In Raga Malkauns)" dives straightly into mysteriously exotic terrains with intermingling sharp, heavily scented sitar texture and deep sounding tabla expressions. Sinister clouds of voice-like drone ride atop. "Three Kings" are sculpted by serenely sweeping washes, crystalline tinkles, spoken words (by Al's wife Ute) and chants, sporadic calm sitar passage and distant, slowed down heartbeat. Sublimely relieving and exceptionally embracing piece of music!!! "Forêt Diplomatique" is most likely the shorter version of the track from "Forêt Diplomatique" CD (released in 2011). Rather monotonous drone with French spoken vocals (again by Ute), infrequent sitar and remote heartbeat create a quite minimalistic and mysterious feel, exquisitely distinctive, when delicately coalescing ancient with future. Awesome!!! "I Walk Everywhere... (Study In Tantric Jazz)" closes the journey with jazzy, chillout ingredients thrown in. Again a truly unique blend featuring also sitar wizardry and warmly inviting, cinematic uptempos.

"Far Go" is absolutely adventurous ride offering to each listener wealthy palette of atmospheres with filigree instrumentation, where soul, passion and dedication are always exhibited. If you are searching for ambient soundscapes with long lasting oriental fragrance, this is the name you can always bet on. Al Gromer Khan is elite performer and his extensive discography offers a lot of sonic jewels!!! They are not that faraway as you might think...

Richard Gürtler (Nov 2, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

43


Mathias Grassow "Sonnenwende" 2xCD

"Sonnenwende" double CD is another chapter on Swedish gterma label focusing on fascinating mysteries of the cosmos. Released during May of 2013, German drone master returns at the top of his unmeasurable craft on "Sonnenwende" and explores solstice event. Disc one is exposing summer solstice, while the second one is taking you to winter solstice realms. As usual for all gterma artworks, the release is accompanied by stunning pictures (16-page booklet) by gterma's protagonist Johan Rehn. Extensive booklets are quite rare these days on this scene, but the label keeps this concept, so I can't start with anything else than awarding first extra points to Johan. You have my deep respect!!!

Mathias fires this exceptional odyssey through summer solstice with long-form piece "Drifting Dawn", which clocks to nearly 30 minutes. Monotonously mind-bending drone, calls of fauna and fragile mysterious tinkles invite each listener to experience absolutely magnificent spheres filled with infinite spirit and grace. Overtone voice magic-like drone steals the show and floats through endless spirals of massive intensity and revealing grandness. Will this man ever stop? This is a pure sonic magic!!! The next composition, "Endless", gets over 7 minutes "only". It's less monumental, but enough chasmal at the beginning and also more "melodious", when slightly tribal-infused pulse sneaks in, prevails and circles, while additional layer intensely cascades and culminates. "Into The Small Hours" shifts quickly into minimal, flatline atmozones, drifting into aerially sublime and tranquilly mesmerizing horizons of gracious immenseness. Gorgeously relieving trip!!! Fragile acoustic strings invade the following cut, entitled "Seven Sisters", and caress the ears (Seven Sisters is the name of chalk cliffs on the Sussex Heritage Coast). Later slowly expanding surroundings appear and intermingle with the stringed wizardry, all wrapped in slightly medieval mood. Dramatic transitions during the second third shift into droning passageway leading to more rhythmic part spiced by expressive bowed strings. Quite unique stuff, this must be Mathias Grassow at his weirdest!!!

Winter solstice is ignited by "The Sleeping Forest", another longer piece getting to nearly 23 minutes. It briskly moves back to traditional dronescaping territory where Mathias masterfully sandwiches layers of drifts. Driven by gracefully divine choir-like drone, here and there emphasized by intenser peaks, yet still tremendously expansive and spellbindingly immersing. This is a gigantic, multi-dimensional drone alchemy of the highest caliber, the gates to the drone heaven are unlocked!!! 22-minute "Twilight Tribes" unfold quite relieving at the beginning, although ghostly guards ride above the deep abyss. Gradually evolving texture becomes more tangible and dense, while the voices transform into heavenly form. Mysterious tinkles and remote rumbles emerge occasionally. Dronewalls get thicker and thicker and climb to a phantasmal peak. Colossal intensity of this track is just unbelievable, an utterly transcendental journey awaits!!! Following composition entitled "Pearls Of Ice" spreads with serene intro, but soon gorgeously spacious bowed strings awake along with celestially exquisite female choirs. Stunningly symphonic feel is quickly achieved and graciously floats throughout the entire length of 29-minutes. Deeply magnificent mindscaping experience continues!!! "Midwinter Century" is the closing, shorter piece hauntingly merging slower, but booming and echoed tribal beats with distant static drones, which slowly increase into more panoramic size.

"Sonnenwende" is a truly monstrous double set, an all-embracing virtuoso performance by The Drone Shaman and one of the most remarkable releases of 2013!!! Kudos to both, Mathias Grassow & gterma!!! A drone tour de force!!! And by the way, 4 days ago was released on gterma a brand new CD by Mathias Grassow, entitled "Tamanoshima", diving into more minimal terrains... Does The Drone King ever sleep?

Richard Gürtler (Oct 27, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

44


Robert Scott Thompson "Upon The Edge Of Night" CDr

In Roswell, Georgia, based composer Robert Scott Thompson describes himself as a musical alchemist and this is definitely the best description suiting to his soundsculptings. Robert Scott Thompson has crossed my radar for the first time during the second half of the 90's with his two stunning works, "The Silent Shore" (1996) and "Frontier" (1998), released on Canadian Mirage label. At that time he had released about 6 other albums, yet still remained quite unrecognized. Now, 15 years later, Robert Scott Thompson owns huge discography counting over 50 solo albums and collaborations, with nearly all of them released through his own Aucourant Records (Hypnos and Lens Records are few exceptions), ranging from more ambient infused titles through electroacoustic, acousmatic, avantgarde and contemporary electronica to more minimal meditative.

"Upon The Edge Of Night" album, released on Aucourant Records during December of 2012 as a CDr edition packaged in elegant digipak, has immediately caught my attention with its title and cover images. 16 and half minutes long opener "Strange Lines And Distances" ranges in the same category with Robert's above mentioned ambient jewels such as "The Silent Shore" and "Frontier". Tranquilly floating dronescaping ambience is masterfully emphasized by gorgeously infinite celestial choir-like gracefulness and few distant piano embellishments. Some cool strange sounds emerge here and there. Warmly inviting and hauntingly expansive beginning, pure beauty, more please!!! Nicely titled "Glass Is The Enemy Of The Secret" shifts straightly into more textured terrains, although backing panoramas remain soothingly sweeping and the main motifs are gently harmonious and poetic with some additional, fragilely swirling synthesized glass-like fragments precisely displaying the track title. All quite sparse and evocative. "The Misty Place" keeps minimal feel of its predecessor. Contemplative atmofields are precisely bridged with translucent tinkles and few ear-catching disruptions pop-up throughout. The piece slowly evolves then again fades into calmer passages, but always having its balmy and nostalgic mood. Essentially sedative journey!!! And it overlaps also to the next composition entitled "In The Flow That Follows". It blends relaxing organic sounds and soft urban rumbles with deeply evocative, cinematic blankets, wistful piano and sluggish strings. Subtly pleasant sceneries arise, quietly relaxing and gently immersing, and for long time buried memories start to awake. Utterly captivating masterpiece!!! "Listening Before Radar" is a short, transitional piece sounding slightly more discordant when comparing to previous cuts. "Far Side Of The Sky" returns again into enveloping panoramas, this time with its eloquently sorrowful touch. "A Winter's Music" is another longer piece, clocking to 16 and half minute mark. Quietly expansive dronescape is attractively colored with highly expressive and captivating strings with some softly swirling trinkets attached. A truly magnificent, deeply meditative composition masterly displaying serene atmosphere of gorgeously glimmering winter wonderland!!! The closing title track, "Upon The Edge Of Night", reveals all the magic of nightfall heaven with coalescing splendidly ethereal washes with bass hums, singing cicadas and ephemeral organics and chimes. Brilliantly beautiful finale bringing to mind (along with "In The Flow That Follows") "The River Of Appearance", one of the great classics.

"Upon The Edge Of Night" is undeniably a very strong album, it quickly became one of my fave atmospheric ambient works by this highly crafted composer, who is currently a Professor of Music Composition/Music Recording Technology at Georgia State University School of Music in Atlanta. I think this recording is still mostly unrecognized, it's a big shame, because Robert Scott Thompson always delivers significant signature, versatility and refinement in his music. This virtuosity certainly deserves to be explored!!!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 24, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

45


Juta Takahashi "Transcendence" CD

Japanese ambient sculptor Juta Takahashi has released his previous album "Angel" during the summer of 2012. Then followed two remastered reissues, released as factory-pressed CDs, "Quiet Rain" (October 2012) and "Seabound" (April 2013). Now it's time to introduce his newest album "Transcendence", which has landed at September 21st, 2013, as Juta's 10th album. As for the cover image, Juta again, as with his previous albums, presents another stunning DeviantArt(ist), this time it's Nicolas Monin-Baroille, who is acting as "The Unknown Being", a designer and illustrator based in Offenburg, Germany. Yes, the cover artwork, entitled as "The Garden of Eden", is absolutely magnificent!!!

Juta's compositions are usually longer, 3-4 tracks per album, and "Transcendence" is no exception to this rule. 4 tracks are featured, all clocking between 16 and 17 minutes in length. "Higurashi", a tribute to Japanese late summer forest, is the starting point, where heavenly washes tranquilly unfold, while cicada blankets smoothly meander throughout. Serene piano fragments, emerging here and there, are gorgeously soothing and confront with high-pitched spiraling drones. The more discomforting these drones are, the more embracing they become. Juta is the master of ambient dissonances, they are always utterly spellbinding and slowly become his identifiable trademark. This is absolute monster masterpiece, "Higurashi" could be labeled as magnum opus among Juta's compositions, bravo Maestro!!! Then follows "Nirvana Électronique" with monotonously circling sitar-like drones, flavored by occasional, distinctive flute infusions with few warmer scenic views included. The overall feel is quite exotic and especially deeply mesmerizing. "Maitrī" dives straightly into deeply contemplative, minimalistic realms captured by echoed singing bowl and fragile tinkles. Tranquilly evolving and gorgeously evocative aerial washes step in and then fade away throughout the piece. This is Juta Takahashi at his most minimal and silent, where each listener is continuously immersed by pleasantly atmospheric meditations filled with rare beauty and subtlety. A stunning composition!!! "Transcendence", the title piece, is invaded by intense ethereal expansions, floating with infinite majesty and grace, embellished by nimbly coiling hypnoscapes. Always warmly colossal and soothingly sweeping. This is a truly splendid finale, we simply couldn't ask for more to close this enthralling journey!!!

Yes, "Transcendence" is undoubtedly a new, triumphant masterwork by Juta Takahashi, showcasing again his, rather minimal, but always freshly distinguishing sound magic loaded with many, fully rewarding treasures. So get ready and dive deeply into these realms!!! I can only strongly recommend this grandiosely magnificent recording, because you will enjoy it again and again. Bravo, Juta, "Transcendence" is a must have for all connoisseurs of spectacularly drifting ambience!!!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 20, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

46


Byron Metcalf & Rob Thomas "Medicine Work" CD

An invitation to journey through ancient realms by two medicine men, productive Arizonian shamanic tribal trance drummer Byron Metcalf and virtuoso didgeridoo performer Rob Thomas, one half of the legendary Inlakesh project. "Medicine Work" CD was released during June 2013 on Byron's Dr. BAM's Music. Yes, I was very excited when heard about this collaborative project for the first time. Byron Metcalf keeps busy with his solo projects during the last few years as well as with numerous, highly acclaimed projects with Steve Roach, Mark Seelig or Dashmesh Khalsa. On the other side, Inlakesh was quite silent since their 1999's masterpiece "The Gathering", but I know Rob & Tanya were involved in numerous projects during this period of time, including their latest move from New Mexico's Santa Fe to the mountains of North Carolina to work full-time for Didgeridoo Down Under school programs that combine music, art, social studies, science, reading encouragement, character building. Deep respect for their beautiful mission!!! Of course I will always miss Inlakesh, but who knows, maybe one day... In any case, I will keep my ear to the ground.

The album's title and immersing cover image by Kati Astraeir set the atmosphere even before the first note. But then 14-minute opener "This Way" unfolds with primordial hum, but soon Rob's mysterious didgeridoo drone joins along with Byron's rattle and shaker magics and sparse shamanic drums. Unmeasurable artistry of both curanderos melts together into one, hauntingly cohesive body and slowly unwraps into deeply magnificent and utterly mindscaping vibrant ancient terrains. A true shamanic tribal trance experience awaits!!! "A Deeper Descent", slightly longer than its ancestor, is leaded by spellbinding growls of didge, surrounded by humming wind and deep groans. During the second third thunderous drum passage sneak in, but also intensely mesmerizing shaker rhythms want to keep the pace and highlight this ceremonial rite. Your body and mind is bathed with pure sonic elixir exhibiting chromatic range of two acoustic virtuosities, more please!!! The title track "Medicine Work" keeps on the path with didge drone mysteries, but soon drumming mastery steal the show and takes it into hyper-active organics bridged with sharply shimmering shakers and tight didge backups. A highly tempestuous amalgamate, nearly 17 minutes long, reaches its volcanic peak two minutes before its end. A genuine sound magic!!! 8-minute "Gates Of Initiation" continue with more relieving mind-trip, merging hypnotic tribal rhythms, dreamtime didge, expressive breaths and primal rumbles. Yes, slightly lighter composition, but still profoundly immersing and transcendent!!! "Servants Of The Mystery" is the closing and longest piece, revealing with pristine trance-induced percussions and circling drone pipe hypnotics and growls. Evolving and cascading through briskly moving, positively psychoactive rhythm expansions before diffusing on the cloud banks of didge drones. Another fascinating soundscape!!!

Byron Metcalf and Rob Thomas are high-spirited performers, who are exposing on "Medicine Work" all their musical intelligence and artistry and demonstrate their iconic, distinctive musicianship. They both make music with heart and passion, that's "Medicine Work"!!! Amazing sound quality too, so headphones are highly recommended!!! A truly essential, deeply rewarding listening!!! And most recently, about two weeks ago Mark Seelig has stopped in Prescott Valley at Byron's new studio to enjoy their recording session for their newest collaborative project...

Richard Gürtler (Oct 06, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

47


Amir Baghiri "Light Textures" CDr

Collaboration between ambient composer and painter Amir Baghiri, a native Iranian based in Germany and ambitious German Attenuation Circuit label keeps on growing. Just the same as with "Prayers For The Earth" album, also "Light Textures" CDr comes in nice origami-style cardboard sleeve with eye-catching artwork by Kati Astraeir and design by Attenuation Circuit's leader Sascha Stadlmeier known as Emerge. The album was released in July 2013 in limited edition of 55 copies and is dedicated to a Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet Omar Khayyam, who was one of the important philosophers and teachers of the medieval period.

"Crossing The Sky" fires the journey as the longest piece clocking to nearly 20-minute mark and immediately setting the atmosphere with moon landing voice transmissions, didgeridoo dronescape, slower tribal rhythm and subtle organic infusions. Smoothly moving through various, richly sculpted elevations, from primordial magic through expansive panoramic drifts to gentle tribal grooves, always immaculately harmonious and fascinatingly spacious. A truly immersing odyssey to the deepest end of atmospheric delightfulness!!! Amir is back at his best and I am completely hooked again!!! Rather noisier didge drones straightly invade "Red, Green And Blue", flavored by humming tinkles, but soon frenzied tribal drumming escapade steal the center stage, with phantoms guarding atop. After about 4 minutes the track converses like a chamaeleon into a landscape of tranquilly moving meanders, here and there enhanced by distant roars and undulating strains. The next, 10-minute cut, "Came With Dust Gone With Winds", unfolds with gracefully floating, ebbing and swelling peaceful washes. Utterly immense soundfields are explored, a virtuoso atmospheric performance continues!!! "Neither Stay, Nor Be Away" remains in continuously embracing terrains, slightly less colossal, but as much warmly sweeping and hauntingly sonorous as its predecessor. And this calmly absorbing journey proceeds with "When The Veil Falls", where rising and falling drifts paint ethereally vaporous tapestries, monstrously wide-screen and mesmerizingly amorphous dronewalls!!! "Sleepwalking Through....", a 10-plus minutes long piece closes this masterfully sublime and divine walk through supremely soothing aural paradise with eternally tiding nocturnal blankets with deep hums showcasing apparent influence by the Master. Fascinating listening experience for all stargazers!!!

"Light Textures" album features a very solid soundscapes by Amir Baghiri, where sonics are beautifully bridged with both, the main theme and the visuals and where the overall, incredibly grandiose spaciousness is cleverly colored by some refine earthy delicacies. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't wait too long before ordering "Light Textures" CDr because of smaller run, so act now!!!

Richard Gürtler (Sep 29, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

48
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "369" CDr by Zero Ohms
« on: September 22, 2013, 05:32:10 AM »


Zero Ohms "369" CDr

US virtuoso flutist Richard Roberts known as Zero Ohms is back with his second installment for Relaxed Machinery label by utilizing his usual inventory of flutes, bass flutes and wind-controlled synthesizers. Released at the end of July 2013 (with cover design by Steve Brand), "369" is a follow-up to his masterwork "Worlds, Afterworlds" (October 2011). Zero Ohms' impressive body of work since 1998 includes also recordings for labels such as Lotuspike, Space For Music or Richard's own Zop Opus label. Acknowledged also for notable collaborations with Craig Padilla, Skip Murphy, Brannan Lane, Gordon Rhyne or Markus Reuter (this last one available as download only via Ian Boddy's DiN label).

"3", a 25-minute long piece, launches the journey with meditative flute dronescapes conjugated with the lush sounds of a fauna and sharply rustling leaves with few additional unrecognized voices, rumbling noises and baby cry thrown in. A deep listening session unfolds into pleasant long paths and undulations, painting strongly tranquilizing sceneries of forested landscapes. A truly gorgeous walk through the rural areas of outstanding natural beauty!!! Next cut, slightly shorter "6", keeps its serenely atmospheric feel although the woodwind drones create more expansive, reverberating and murmuring ambience, a quite mindscaping too. A gentle stillness hanging in the air is fully exhilarating. Fully immerse yourself and dive deeply into this relaxing soundscape and enjoy the whole essence of this impeccably magical place that is within. "9" is the ending piece clocking to 11 minutes and comprising more urgent and aerially unbounded wind-synth blankets, drifting, sweeping, humming and hypnotizing with all its warmly immense grace and great depth. Toward the end peaceful environmental sounds again sneak in, almost unperceivably and take this journey into its finale.

"369" showcases charming harmony between minimal, but strongly mesmeric soulful woodwind reveries and calmly embracing natural surroundings. Richard Roberts is the master of subtle delicacy. That's Zero Ohms in a nutshell!!! So if you are a connoisseur of masterly placid ambient music that has a properly colorful, organic touch, Zero Ohms is your ticket to a soothingly balsamic listening experience!!!

Richard Gürtler (Sep 22, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

49
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "The Great Hoop" CDr by Steve Brand
« on: September 18, 2013, 11:00:15 AM »


Steve Brand "The Great Hoop" CDr

"The Great Hoop" album is one of the latest recordings by acclaimed US ambient journeyer Steve Brand. Released on one of his usual labels, Relaxed Machinery, in mid-June, 2013. Just like one of his older works, "Cahokia", also "The Great Hoop" is inspired by the magical power of Cahokia Mounds, the site of an ancient Native American city, where advanced, sophisticated and influential culture was built, centuries before Columbus reached the shores of America. Abandoned more than a century before Europeans arrived in North America, today, Cahokia Mounds is the largest archaeological site in North America, north of Central Mexico and one of only 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites within United States.

Firstly, I am impressed by the cover image of small terra cotta figure as well as by inside panoramic photo featuring words of Black Elk, of the Oglala Sioux. His writings, as stated by Steve Brand, inspired some of the track titles. The opener, 16-plus minutes long "Great Plains", grabs quickly my attention with its minimal texture, but enormously expressive with the use ancient tools such as flute, rattles, shakers, guarded by distant, soothingly waving washes and occasional spirited whisperings by Jill Brand, Steve's wife. Very sparse, but strongly embracing, with gorgeous interactions between contemplative primordial ambience and majestically permeating stillness. This composition is magnificently displayed by the insert's inside panoramas. Slightly longer "Hoop Of The Earth" is again sparsely sculpted, but slightly more frightening as chorus of howling coyotes (contributed by Shane Morris) breaks the dark night. Then the fore is invaded by rising and falling drone reverberations along with emerging field recordings of rain. Small flute cacophony joins the stage with assorted, peculiarly unsettling rumbles, some heavy drum beat infusions and other sounds of archetypal instruments. Quite minimal, yet richly transmuting sonic travel into deeper shamanistic realms. Expansive soulful flute wizardry leads "Medicine Bag Ghosts" surrounded by morning frog calls after a rainy night. Deeply humming drones sneak in later with trance-inducing tribal rhythms delivered by guest Paul Casper aka Frore and hallucinogenic voice magics. Massively immersing and intensively transcendental alchemy creating a powerful tribute to Native American spirituality. Large dose of ultimate sonic medicine is served here, a true masterpiece!!! "Mountain Pass" unfolds with graceful bass flute murmur spreading across the valley, intervened by cavernous twinkles with some uncanny faunal sounds swirling above. Deeply panoramic drone warmly rises and expands in gorgeous harmony with acoustic musings and mysterious ethnographics. Another virtuoso performance, bravo!!! "Suspension Vision" remains in stunningly flavored terrains, amalgamating evocative ethnic instruments, distinctive whistling traceries, placid natural sounds and gradually evolving, climaxing and dissolving, spectacularly imposing drone walls. This is a truly grandiose conclusion of "The Great Hoop"!!!

CDr edition with slim jewel case packaging doesn't justify the content of this album, but this is the same old story mentioned in my previous reviews of Steve Brand's recordings. But one thing is clear, "The Great Hoop" is absolutely breathtaking journey to the frontier of primordial shamanistic electroacoustic soundmagic. The best work of Steve Brand to date and one of the finest albums of 2013 so far!!! Deep respect, Maestro!!!

Richard Gürtler (Sep 18, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

50


Oöphoi & Ran Kirlian "The Physics Of Heaven" CDr

This collaborative project was released by Altera Orbe at April 20, 2013, just one week after the passing of Gigi, the grandmaster behind Oöphoi. The semi-finished recordings for this album were sculpted by Gigi at his studio Kiva during 2009-2011, while Ran Kirlian brought this highly ethereal effort into its final shape at his Blue_Room studio during 2012-2013. Italian Gianluigi "Gigi" Gasparetti aka Oöphoi needs no introduction here, he is one of the most respected drone virtuosos, who has left us tremendous amount of unforgettable aural meditations and who will always live in the memories we deeply treasure. Ran Kirlian, one of the driving forces behind Altera Orbe label, is one of the rising stars of the compelling Spanish ambient scene along the likes of Max Corbacho, Bruno Sanfilippo, Landru and Joxan Ruiz.

"The Physics Of Heaven" album immediately attracts with its impressive cover artwork, based on Oöphoi's original image with some additional manipulations by Ran Kirlian. The voyage launches with "Breath", which dives straightly into monstrous chasm of waving voice-like drones, monotonously embracing and guarded by distant rumbling metallic eeriness and organic traceries. 10 and a half minutes long drone wizardry, transporting into superiorly magnificent realms. "Ascend" takes us directly into a towering spiral journey, continuously expanding and excessively drifting through spatial immenseness. Grandiosely reverberating mind-bender!!! "White Shores I", the longest composition here with 20 minutes in length, unfolds into gorgeously graceful dimensions, where ebbing and floating washes are merged with soothingly sweeping ocean waves and seagulls calls. A beautifully continuous and mesmerizingly contemplative images are emerging and carrying the listener away into magically eternal domains. A deeply sophisticated atmospheric bliss, a journey into a vast emptiness of unexplored nothingness, an ultimate magnum opus!!! Exploratory odyssey culminates and reaches "White Shores II" and then tardily fades away into tranquil sublimity of celestial grandness. Relentlessly amorphous and warmly luminous!!! "Transmigration" shifts into monotonous shadowy drone terrains, rather monochromatic with flood tide of intenser, slightly fearing soundwalls. Profoundly mindscaping experience awaits!!! "The Golden Fields" close this exceptional journey with drones swerving into tremendously heartening metamorphosis, where light and dark colors compassionately coalesce together with soothingly encircling field recordings and emit marvelous gleam of blissfulness. Pure magic, thank you so much!!!

"The Physics Of Heaven" is absolutely essential, spiritually powerful recording, uniting together two kindred spirits, who explore the continuum of life and death. Ran, we are very grateful for bringing this album to us, Gigi would be really proud of it!!! The memory of this wonderful person will always be in our hearts. Gigi, we all miss you greatly!!!

Richard Gürtler (Sep 14, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

51


Meg Bowles "The Shimmering Land" CD

"The Shimmering Land" is a brand new album by highly applauded US ambient composer Meg Bowles, released during June 2013 through Meg's own Kumatone label. A follow-up to "A Quiet Light" album from February 2011, which marked composer's return after 12 years of silence. In mind with extraordinary works from the 90's such as "Blue Cosmos" or "From The Dark Earth" (featuring David Bilger, Principal Trumpet of the Philadelphia Orchestra), I am always ready for another deeply contemplative listening exploration by this crafted artist from Connecticut.

The album, packaged in elegant 4-panel digipak, starts with 7-minute "Undulant Sea", which spreads with serenely floating washes, smoothly meandering throughout the piece, coupled with gently fragranced, crystalline embellishments. Synthetic percussive part, nicely echoed, moves to the fore and elatedly swirls across the ears in beautiful harmony with warmly melodious sequences and sublimely expanding horizons. Graceful waves of angelic choir-like drifts invade for the closing 3 minutes. Absolutely gorgeous opening, Meg Bowles is back at her best!!! "The Sweetness Of Mist" immediately attracts with its deeply reflective atmosphere with continuously embracing and immersing majesty and grace of opaque realms. Serenely floating and slowly culminating into more monumental splendor. Then again peacefully diminishing into balmy harmonious reverie. The journey continues, this is another hauntingly enveloping texture!!! "Venus Rising" is the longest piece, clocking to nearly 14 and half minute mark. Serene expansions and subtle transitions from tranquil wide-screen blankets to more dramatic scenarios with spaciously intense and powerful tides, richly magnificent in depth. These sonic panoramas are masterfully bridged and harmonized and deliver a truly captivating listening experience to each enthusiast of sublimely comforting soundscapes. This atmospheric essence safely overlaps to the next composition, "Into The Gloaming". Again gracefully moving through enchantingly celestial realms, with fascinating interactions between calmly washing passages, guarded by angelic appearance, and unfolding dramatic culminations. Skilfully enriched here and there by various high-tech hissy clusters and organic rattles, adding distinctive, slightly cybernetic touch to this stunningly absorbing and glowingly exhilarating ambience. Bravo, certainly one of the pinnacles of "The Shimmering Land"!!! "Beneath The Radiant Stars" remains in magnificently tranquil nocturnal terrains, slightly mysterious, surrounded by beautifully textured cascades with alluringly illuminating clinks, tinkles and swirls. Again majestically meandering and gently peaking and intensifying, definitely another full-bodied soundsculpting showcasing the virtuosity of Meg Bowles!!! "Nightwalk Across The Isle Of Dream" reveals with darker drone hum on the back and warmly inviting celestial choir on the fore. Ever-changing texture is filled with strikingly beautiful ethereal sonic crescendos and stunningly immersing enigmatic atmozones with delicate orchestral touch. Sparse exotic sound traceries can be detected as well. The music is as much charmingly soothing as its title, a very strong conclusion!!!

Not to forget, on the top of the pure sonic beauty and tranquility, you get also superb sound quality, the album was mastered by Richard Price, a husband of Meg Bowles and a Grammy award-winning producer, mastering engineer and president of Candlewood Digital, a classical music recording company based in New Fairfield, Connecticut. "The Shimmering Land" CD is another greatly accomplished recording from Meg Bowles, don't miss this sonic jewel!!!

Richard Gürtler (Sep 08, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

52


Steve Roach "Live Transmission - From The Drone Zone At Soma FM" 2xCD

This double CD, released by Projekt during August 2013, documents two-hour live performance from The Drone Zone radioshow at SomaFM at May 7th, famous commercial-free internet-only radio station based in San Francisco. Officially launched in February 2000, the Drone Zone was its first station. Hosted by Rusty Hodge, the founder of SomaFM.com. Planned and discussed for few years to create a first-time-ever live electronic transmission directly from the SomaFM headquarters, this live session followed only two days after Steve's concert at applauded AMBIcon 2013 festival in San Rafael, CA. Steve Roach traveled to the SomaFM's headquarters with a portable version of his Timeroom Studio. Listening to a live stream of this performance was for me a truly magical experience that still deeply resonates. Now, with this double CD each connoisseur of fine ambient soundscapes is able to transport these exceptional moments directly to his/her own listening environment. Packaged in elegant 6-panel digipak featuring 4 live photographs taken by Rusty Hodge. Additional credits for packaging include Dawn Wilson-Enoch for Spiral Fossil photo and Sam Rosenthal for graphic design.

22-minute long "In The Light Of Day" fires this unforgettable journey with gorgeously ebbing and flowing ethereal atmozone. Later on occasional crystalline rumble step in and awakes primordial shaman. Soon followed by gently invasive, locomoting tribal trance magics, enhanced by enigmatic breaths. Absolutely magnificent sonic travelogue, bridging cyber-reality with ancient excursion. With headphones on, the listener is immediately taken to the forefront of transcendental sonic realms, a true shamanistic powerhouse is back again!!! Most likely born on the ashes of lost piece "Light Of Day" from 2001. "Zone Of Drones" calms down, yet remains in mysterious chasm pervaded by soaring drones, colored here and there by high-tech fragments and guarded by distant phantasmagorical voice eeriness. The next piece, "Looking For Safety", unfolds with eternally majestic and grandiosely panoramic desert drifts, beautifully expanding and floating through warmly embracing cascades. Mesmerizing cyber-trance grooves join the stage and stunningly interact with evocative wide-screen stark landscapes, toward the end soothingly riding atop of whimsical flora and fauna. Ultra immersing, 14 and half minutes long aural bliss awaits!!! Ancient memories of magical "Dreamtime Return" revive... Amazing fujara sounds along with chirping birds and insects lead "Reflecting Chamber" (fujara source credit goes to Dirk Serries). I am always really proud when hearing this instrument in ambient music, because this majestic deep-bass overtone folk flute is a native instrument of Slovak shepherds, preserved over centuries in its original shape. Fujara slowly disappears, circling drone groan steps to the fore, but soon pristine, gently hypnotic tribal beat artistry (original source by Byron Metcalf) steals the show, shortly followed by didgeridoo barks. Intensely absorbing and powerfully magical aural perfection, welcome to the tribal ambient paradise!!! By the way, different, shorter version of this track appeared for the first time on phenomenal "Light Fantastic" album in 1999. The closing cut, "Kairos Portal", reveals through mysteriously spiraling drones, but soon softer luminous cyber-tech pulses invade and precisely amalgamate with backing monochromatic drone walls (originated from "Resonation Portal") and lead into fast-paced hypnotic culminations. Quite short, but splendidly expanding symbiotic mindscape!!! A superb one-hour CD, greatly polished in every detail with top-notch sound quality, certainly another proof why Steve Roach is one of the unquestionable giants of ambient genre. He did it again!!!

The second CD opens with "Vortex Immersion", a 32 and half minutes long composition, placidly meandering through softly gurgling cyber electronic realms. After 10 minutes trance rhythm slowly arise, move in ever-changing tempos, escalate into speedy locomotive-like movements and then fade out, while unpredictably coiling and twisting synthetic currents modulate and undulate continuously throughout. Beautifully hypnotic transitions, richly fragranced in intensity and movement, are deeply intriguing and vigorously adventurous. Electro-organic convergence at its most forceful!!! "Westwind" kicks attractively and actively with sharp and rapid sequence mingle, expanding, swirling, climaxing and orbiting in analogue heaven. Nearly 17 minutes of luxuriously energetic as well as gorgeously resonant brilliance!!! The original, slightly longer version of "Westwind" ignites fantastic "Proof Positive" album. The grand finale of second disc is provided by "Today", a very special composition, its original version was recorded live in the morning of February 16, 2013 and at the same day published as a download gift for all fans of Steve Roach. This date is also Steve's birthday and he recorded this track with his mobile live studio, which he set up for some days in the empty house in San Diego, where he grew up. Get ready for ultimate 17-minute listening excitement that is "Today"!!! Hauntingly expressive sparkling sequences precisely interact with utterly evocative floating and sweeping atmospheric splendor, tranquilizing cicadas emerge from the nocturnal stillness. Deeper drone shadows sneak in for the closing 6 minutes. This track masterfully captures profoundly evocative moments, where long buried memories awake and bridge with presence. Full immersion is guaranteed, a masterpiece!!! Now my dreams of "Life Sequence 2" are revealed...

"Live Transmission" is undoubtedly a crème de la crème of 2013!!! A truly monstrous, fully packed comprehensive double CD set gloriously documenting ingenious soundworlds by The Master unfolding in front of the attentive listener. Hats off to Steve Roach & Rusty Hodge!!!

Richard Gürtler (Sep 07, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

53


Luca Gherardi "Cosmosis" 2xCDr

Italian soundsculptor Luca Gherardi, based in Bologna, is most likely better known under his STN09 moniker, a project focusing on dark ambient terrains bridged with some martial/industrial fragrances, but now he acts under his real name. I was pointed to his solo debut "Distant Earth" by my good Italian friend Toni (molte grazie!!!) shortly after its release in October 2012. This release clearly marks Luca Gherardi's move to quieter, nocturnal ambient landscapes, although few noisier dissonances are still active. His next work, entitled "Cosmosis", was released at the end of June 2013 by his own LKN Productions label as a double CDr album, packaged in elegant A5 4-panel sleeve with stunning cover images (layout & design by Pesten). "Cosmosis" exists in two limited editions, the normal, above mentioned edition was available in edition of 40 copies while the ultra limited edition features on the top of that extra space cards and black laminate envelope and was limited to 11 copies. Unfortunately, both editions were sold out even before I was able to publish these lines, but "Cosmosis" definitely deserves this attention!!! This double album is still available as download and who knows, maybe one day there will be some re-issue...

As already mentioned, the cover artwork, both outside and inside, looks absolutely gorgeous, simple, but strongly effective and immediately sets the atmosphere for the upcoming sonics. First extra points are awarded already!!! The liner notes include also dedication to Gianluigi Gasparetti. The first CD is entitled "The Dawn Of The Morning" and it unfolds with long form odyssey "Uranus", reaching 27 minutes in length. It moves through exquisitely colorful space elevations, ranging from quieter drifts with gentle embellishments to low drone hums, from ear-bending, tensive soundwalls, filled with drama and depth to monstrously elevating panoramic aural bliss at its most powerful and graceful!!! Certainly a jaw-dropping deep space soundscaping by Luca Gherardi, bravissimo!!! Shorter title track, "Cosmosis", is invaded by warmly tranquil drifts, relieving the tension, with heavenly voice-like guards safely riding atop. The next composition, "Memorie dall'Infinito Part 3 - Sea Of Tranquillity", as indicated by its title, remains in serenely surrounding sceneries. Field recordings of seashore waves with some children voices create a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere, which smoothly shifts into immense drone dimensions, hauntingly embracing each listener. Few gently thrown disruptions, maybe some kind of processed seagull calls, add nice flavor to this expanding and progressing movement. "Unknown Orbitation" delves deeply into mindscaping drone territory, enhanced by assorted space rumbles. Again journeying through various passages, from hypnotic to ear-tickling, from cyber-infused mystery to charmingly captivating. Shorter "Mornings..." blends early morning rain environments with gentle cyber sparkles and nostalgic modern classical ingredients. The closing part of disc one, "Memorie dall'Infinito Part 4 - Paradise?", enters into minimal terrains, which slowly expand into more spacious vistas, becoming more tranquil and sublime. This celestial grandness is later increased by well-placed astronaut transmissions. An ultimate sonic paradise!!! Wow, the first half of this 141-minute journey is absolutely thrilling and magnificent, this is deep space soundsculpting at its most transporting!!!

"Omega" is the title of second disc, which opens with "Omega I - Nebula", a 22-plus minutes long composition featuring rather lighter, dreamscaping washes. Diverse catchy dissonant clicks, electronic cicadas, distant hums or sharper, hissy fragments on the back carefully decorate the overall mood and emphasize its unbounded spaciousness and spellbinding gracefulness. Another outstanding interstellar odyssey, magnífico!!! Two shorter, transitional pieces follow, mysteriously droning "Apophis" and celestially flavored "Melancholia" bridged with abyssal rumbles and minimal modern classical piano part (guest piano by Marco Carlucci). 41-minute long composition "Omega II - From Antares To Canis Majoris..." closes this amazing journey with huge amount of adventurous transitions, where deep, humming drones interact with richly colorful disruptions. Slowly unfolding, expanding, floating, cascading and culminating into mammoth "all-inclusive" deep space drone wizardry. Hauntingly immersing and gigantically fascinating grand finale, which will please each outer space aficionado. Another must hear track!!!

Luca Gheradi did absolutely fantastic job with "Cosmosis", which safely drifts on the edge between ambient and dark ambient realms. "Cosmosis" showcases his huge talent and potential. It's a pity, the physical copies are not available anymore, because work like this deserves much bigger exposure, but we all know there is no justice in music industry. But don't give up, try to get in touch with Luca, maybe he has still available some top secret copies... Right now, as I am finishing these lines, Luca works on his next release, again described as night ambient music, 2-3 new tracks are in works, so make sure to stay tuned, I definitely will, because I am sure this Italian guy has a lot more to offer. To me, Luca Gherardi is one of the biggest revelations of 2013 and "Cosmosis" double album is a true sonic treasure from start to end!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 31, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

54


Robert Rich "Trances & Drones" 2xCD

I was always dreaming about penning down few lines on this very special recording, I think today is the right day, so let's do it. Yes, "Trances/Drones" is a very important recording for me, I still keep clearly in mind the day in 1995 when Extreme edition of "Trances/Drones" crossed my targets. My sonic explorations were culminating around that time. But as soon as "Hayagriva" invaded my listening room, I knew something special is about to happen... Yes, a brand new gates were unlocked, a definite turning point!!! Of course at that day I didn't know too much about the guy named Robert Rich, but soon after that I dove deeper into the soundworlds of Robert Rich and soon realized amazing facts about this release. Robert Rich has recorded tracks for "Trances/Drones" during 1982 and 1983, aged between 19 and 20 years old. And this is what fascinates me the most!!! This was also the period of time, when Robert Rich has given his legendary sleep concerts during his studies at Stanford University. All these recordings were a truly visionary work, that soon became a base for his future extensive body of work. Firstly released as three separate cassettes "Sunyata", "Trances" and "Drones" by Robert's own Soundscape Productions label, in 1994 for the first time presented as a double CD edition "Trances/Drones" by Australian Extreme label featuring most of the tracks from these three cassettes, in remastered versions (remastered in 1993 by Robert Rich with the assistance of HoS veteran Bob Olhsson). First reissue followed during 2000 on US label Release Entertainment, a sublabel of Relapse Records. Now, 13 years later, we can celebrate a really gorgeous, richly repackaged digipak reissue by Hypnos (big thanks to Mike Griffin!!!) in collaboration with Robert's Soundscape Productions, released during July, 2013. The return of the Milestone!!!

Maybe it's not usual reviewing 30-year old recordings, but I don't mind, because this music sounds exceptional and it keeps on revealing its magic even in 2013!!! Also excuse me for being too personal in this review, but these are my feelings about "Trances/Drones" and this is the way I will always treasure this extraordinary piece of art!!!

The journey unfolds with "Cave Paintings", the listener is immediately transported into mysterious forest, falling night with serenading cicadas-like sounds, the full immersion invades, the darker, drone passages are stunningly intermingled with lighter traceries and rather high-pitched, soaring lap steel guitar expressions, always harmoniously fitting and progressing. Slightly nostalgic feel surrounds the entire, 24-minute long composition. A virtuoso opening!!! The next track, a 25-plus minutes long opus, is entitled "Hayagriva", a live recording. It dives straightly into breathtaking abyssal realms, modular synth drones meander through spectacularly magnificent cascades, drifting from more resonating, heavy weight passages through phantasmal, dramatic elevations to ear-tickling dissonances. This is extremely mind-blowing sonic experience, one of the most intense I have ever heard, what a journey!!! "Sunyata (Emptiness)" is the oldest piece on "Trances", recorded in 1982. With this composition, Robert Rich invites each listener to enter uncharted shadowy terrains and explore uniquely organic soundscape at its most primordial. Sounds of gentle rain drops and chirping frogs are merged with dense drone walls and strange flute-infused roars. And guarded throughout by otherworldly amorphous groans. A must have for all connoisseurs of the finest deepness and darkness!!! All in all, "Trances" is enormously triumphant sonic adventure, introducing among others bamboo flute and lap steel guitar magics, which later became significant characteristics of Robert Rich's brilliant soundsculpting.

"Drones" reveal tranquilly with 30-minute "Seascape". It exactly sounds as it is titled, elegantly warm, atmospheric cascades are blanketed by soothing ocean wave sounds. As the composition proceeds, calm coastal landscape continuously expands into more disruptive, yet continuously immersing drone bliss. Lots of beautiful meanders, hauntingly serene drifts invade and fade away, then deeply mindscaping shifts steal the show with resonating drone walls and eerie moans. Then smoothly gliding back to more aerial and restful shoreline panoramas. Echoed string wizardry takes "Seascape" to its conclusion. A truly phenomenal composition!!! "Wheel Of Earth", only slightly shorter as its predecessor, swiftly reveals its magic with the invasion of ultra deep slow drones, shortly from the back, milder, soaring fragments sneak in to thick the overall sound massiveness, which strongly embraces with its monotonousness. This is Robert Rich at his most mesmerizing!!! "Resonance" free falls into immeasurable deep chasm of coldly resonating hums intertwined with intangible dim fragments. Ghostly dronescapes provide really serious exercise for your speakers and additional massage for your belly too... By the way, "Resonance" is an exclusive track to this set, recorded in 1983, it didn't appear on any of the three above mentioned cassette releases. And undoubtedly, "Drones" are as much fascinating and glowing as "Trances"!!!

Robert Rich is one of the true masters of our genre, monstrously talented, creative, sophisticated and distinguishing!!! Today, at August 23rd, 2013, when I am publishing these lines, Robert Rich celebrates his 50th Birthday. This is my little big thanks, Robert, for all your wonderful music, enjoy this special day as much as we enjoy your essential sonic innovations throughout all these years!!! We all have a special day every time you release a new album!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 23, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

55


Phillip Wilkerson "Sojourner" CDr

After numerous download only releases during the last year or so, in Naples, Florida based ambient drifter Phillip Wilkerson returns with his newest album, again released also on CDr format through his usual output via Kunaki. Out since July 30, 2013, I was immediately hooked by soothing cover image (done by Danish documentary photographer Flemming Bo Jansen, additional artwork credit goes to US landscape painter Damon Pla), which precisely illustrates Phillip's free floating tranquility. On the top of that, his extensive liner notes set the overall atmosphere even before entering these relaxing aural realms. And for the mastering knobs was responsible Robert Rich.

"Sojourner" opens with 12-plus minute "Epiphany". Slower circles of calmly embracing washes invade and warmly float and glide, filled with infinite peace and grace, with touch of longing mood. Deeply contemplative journey awaits here!!! "Sanctuary", as its title indicates, is slightly more monochromatic and mysterious, capturing more extensive, cathedral-like ambience while the next composition, "Sunlit Drift" moves majestically through captivating panoramas, yet keeping its monotonous dimension, but always pleasantly warm, wrapped by sorrowful atmosphere. "Gates Of Mercy" are unlocked and the listener slowly dives into more massive and immense sound fields, where utterly sublime passages are carefully tied with slightly more intense, wealthily evocative, but gentle cascades. Magnificently immersing, 16-minute long masterpiece transports us into warmly heartwarming and tranquilizing sonic paradise. Certainly the ultimate highlight of "Sojourner" proving the bravura of its creator, most likely my all-time fave composition by this Floridian!!! "An Endless Light" keeps on soothingly floating path, at once quieter, almost silent, but in a few seconds shifting into slightly thicker and intenser level and then moving back again. Just like the gentle ocean waves sweeping the shoreline on the album's cover. "The Awaiting Presence" is the closing and longest piece, getting over 22 minutes in length. It attracts immediately with its sheer beauty of deeper, grandeur drone walls, which morph through mesmerizing, wide-screen sceneries to more dissonant and mind-bending tensions. Toward the end calmly fading away into absolute peacefulness. A superb ending!!!

If you are craving for serenely drifting dreamscapes, always emotionally rich, Phillip Wilkerson is the guy you can definitely bet on!!! To me, "Sojourner" is the pinnacle of his extensive list of recordings. And if you still prefer rounded silver objects like me, Phillip Wilkerson's complete CDr discography is available at very friendly prices via Kunaki, so make sure to explore it and get ready for deep listening sessions!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 17, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

56
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Lux Primordia" CDr by Telomere
« on: August 04, 2013, 07:33:07 AM »


Telomere "Lux Primordia" CDr

In California based Christopher MacDonald known as Telomere returns after more than 5 years of silence with brand new work, his 4th full length album entitled "Lux Primordia". Released during January 2013 through his own Evenfall label. This time available in CDr format, but again heavily loaded with some of the most magnificent deep space soundscapes ever created on Serge Modular and Roland Jupiter 8 synths.

This guy didn't lose anything of his mastery, it's strongly evident during the opening piece, clocking to nearly 9 and half minute mark. "Sol Zero" takes us to sublimely graceful zones, tranquilly floating and warmly expanding into utterly infinite domains. Gently enveloping monumental soundwalls are masterfully amalgamated with harmoniously glimmering spirals. What a journey, welcome to Telomere's deep sonic heaven!!! "Flightpath" unfolds with oscillating embellishments, guarded by deeper drones. Meandering and quietly outbursting helixes invade and swirl around your ears. All surrounded by endlessly sublime grandness!!! Space hums announce "Spiral Arms", but soon heartwarming drifts steal the show, enhanced by wide-screen, dramatic waves and melodies with strongly touching feel. Elegant and gracious!!! The next composition, "Visions", is the longest one on this odyssey with 10 and half minutes. Expansive dronescapes are richly colored by hauntingly immersing cascades and transitions. The myriads of dissonant sparkles and twists emerge, all the time in refined harmony with spatial emptiness. Again wealthily packed with darker and lighter motifs. "Celestial Sky", as displayed by its title, unveils with immense drones, attentively enriched by assorted euphoric glimpses, giving to this piece its ultimate magnificence. Certainly another highlight, fully absorbing and rewarding, and showcasing tremendous potential of this Californian space drifting maestro!!! "Startides" dive into deeper drone realms, spaciously weaving and transferring from tighter spheres into lighter passageways, before quietly fading away into peaceful silence. "Pillars And Jets" provide the closing episode, with slightly more monotonous feel, yet gently flavored with warmly inviting fragments and gracefully drifting through gorgeous space sceneries. Beautifully mesmerizing finale!!!

Telomere did it again, "Lux Primordia" is another sonic pearl revealing all grace, marvel and exhilaration of deep space realms!!! And yes, Telomere is still one of the best kept secrets. Undeservingly, because Christopher MacDonald is marching shoulder-to-shoulder with the giants of this genre!!! "Lux Primordia" is a must have, just like each of his previous albums!!!

Richard Gürtler (Aug 04, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

57


Netherworld "Alchemy Of Ice" CD

36 degrees Celsius outside, the temps still move up, my head is burning, however I am ready for another aural journey and I can't imagine better album than "Alchemy Of Ice"... Alessandro Tedeschi, the leading soul behind amazing Glacial Movements Records, has released during May 2013 his newest album "Alchemy Of Ice". So after "Mørketid" (April 2007) and "Over The Summit" (January 2011), it's time to fully experience another breathtaking sceneries of vast open icy landscapes of the polar regions, unmistakable trademark signature of all Glacial Movements releases.

Precisely selected track titles with traditional photo and image wizardry by Bjarne Riesto and Noah M swiftly transport and transcend each listener into stunningly spectacular places even before pressing play button on your CD player. Aural pleasure follows as soon the title track "Alchemy Of Ice" invades my listening room and the temp drops down. Encircling icy abyssal hums immediately give exercise to my speakers. Bells provide slightly mysterious images while raising and falling drone tensions take center stage and do their deeply embracing mission. Occasional piano motifs and distant low heartbeat join as well. Images of snow capped church somewhere on forgotten remote arctic land emerge... Silent mystery of "Polo Nord dell'inaccessibilita*" is masterfully counterpointed with murmuring rumbles and then magnificently interrupted by hissy winds and appealing voice transmissions, all wrapped by hauntingly melancholic blankets and slenderly lighted by moonlight with icy fog. Splendidly minimal, but all the time monstrously immersing, this is certainly Netherworld at its most crafted, bravo, Alessandro!!! "Icepulse" introduces slightly modern classical-infused piano melody, but drone rumbles and alien breaths keep the composition within immense arctic panoramas. Slow drone walls increase and decrease, all ingredients, although always sparse, attract with the synergy, harmoniously bridging warm acoustic motifs, sonorous drones and eerie dissonances. Another big one!!! Shorter "White Silence" blends distant monochromatic drifts with intense sonic spirals and frightening harsh ruptures. Some strange sounds enter, maybe it's the wood frog before drifting into a deep, frozen sleep... "85°50'S 65°47'E" moves slowly into warmly glimmering and colossally wide-screen glacial ice fields. Chasmal roars, ghostly reverberations, slowed down heartbeat, tinkling embellishments and background voices color this fascinating journey to explore incredibly desolate sheets of billowing whiteness. Netherworld keeps on ruling!!! The closing composition, "Hymns To A Melancholic Sunset", again perfectly demonstrates Netherworld's trademarks, sublimely ebbing and flowing drones, strongly focused on soothingly interacting evocative tapestries with crystalline silence. A truly gorgeous finale!!!

After nearly 44 minutes I should leave these highly refreshing Frigid Zones, but I don't really want to go away, more please!!! Renowned Denis Blackham did the mastering job. I think "Alchemy Of Ice" is a magnum opus by Netherworld and it tops any of his bigger label-mates' releases on Glacial Movements. And wait until "Alchemy Of Ice" will reveal all its magic during the time, when snowflakes knock on your window... Congratulazioni, Alessandro!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jul 28, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

58
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Shadowlands" CDr by Frore
« on: June 30, 2013, 09:37:06 AM »


Frore "Shadowlands" CDr

Frore is Paul Casper from Virginia Beach, who spreads his composing talent not only with his tribal ambient infused project, but also with Scar Limit, focusing on harsher, industrial terrains. But we will remain in quieter electro-acoustic realms, so let's take now a closer look on Paul's newest work entitled "Shadowlands", which was released on Relaxed Machinery during March 2013 as Frore's 5th full length album. Frore's discography include also two CDr albums, "The Nameless Place" (2009) and "Undercurrent" (2013), both released via Dark Duck Records, as well as two download releases for Earth Mantra, "The Raven" (2009) and "Axis Mundi" (2012). Frore has already achieved a lot of positive reactions with his previous albums, so I am very glad to see this gifted soundscaper taking his part in Relaxed Machinery community, it's well-deserved!!!

In case you are not familiar with Frore, "Shadowlands" is a perfect example, where Paul Casper skillfully utilizes except electronics also various acoustic instruments. The opening "Sky Glow" precisely bridges modern with ancient, expansive, wide-screen desert drones intermingle with gently emerging and evolving tribal pulses. Myriad of gradually increasing percussions coexists in absolutely gorgeous synergy with primordial wind instrument invasions (flutes, Slovak fujara...) and mysteriously immersing drone zones. This is definitely a tribal ambience at its finest, a true medicine for my ears!!! "Terra Pulse" unfolds with sparse, but deeply ebbing abyssal drifts augmented by assorted distant rumbling dissonances. Later balmy tribal pulses smoothly invade, progress, cascade and culminate into cavernously evocative and hypnotically intense shamanistic journey. Again richly detailed and hormoniously spellbinding, another big one!!! Announced by a thunder, a 19-minute long "A Fevered Sleep" moves into softly radiant groove terrains, smoothly growing into mesmerizingly ritualistic climax. Second third embraces with its quieter and meandering surface, fully captivating, before sneaking back into groovier ethno origins. Towards the end, miscellaneous sonic artifacts awake and take us to gorgeously spectacular subterranean cavern. Aurally delicious and glorious composition!!! "First Ray Of Light" continues on this stunningly absorbing path, where warmly aerial washes sweep across tranquilly graceful panoramas, here and there meticulously enriched by distant tinkles. This is Frore at its most serene scenario, monstrously visualizing and soothingly surrounding!!! Desert-ambient maximus!!! Gentle rain sounds lead "A Name On The Wind", but soon heartening mandolin's stringed wizardry joins the stage with utterly evocative drifts. Later on gorgeously poignant shakuhachi flute steps in, but it's Armenian duduk that steals the whole show with all its magical beauty and expression. Immense cinematic drone textures with seductively yearning acoustics are fused in absolutely magnificent fashion. Creme de la creme of "Shadowlands"!!! And even if slightly reminiscent of longing atmospheric splendor explored on "Fissures" milestone, "A Name On The Wind" gets promptly my nomination for Ambient Hall of Fame!!!

Hats off to Paul Casper, Frore is certainly one of the rising stars on tribal ambient scene and "Shadowlands" album only confirms this status. Exquisitely fine in flavors and instrumentations, yet virtuously balanced work showcasing huge talent, accomplishment and potential of its sculptor. I also hope one day the albums like "The Raven" and "Axis Mundi" will find their way to a silver disc... But until then, "Shadowlands" album is a really triumphant release to get!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jun 30, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

59


Siyanie "Homo Multidimensional" CD

Siyanie is a newcomer ambient project hailing from Russia, fronted by Sergey Ilchuk (from Yaroslavl) and Dmitry Shilov (from Moscow). But both protagonists are experienced soundscapers from ambient/experimental scene, who were recording as Vresnit, Voe_Ero, Pugna... (all by Sergey Ilchuk) and Neznamo (project of Dmitry Shilov). "Homo Multidimensional" album was released during January 2013 on Moonsun Productions label, a small label run by Sergey and Dmitry, as a third release by Siyanie. The other two are "Shining Of Unity" album and collaboration with Neznamo entitled "Sonans". "Homo Multidimensional" strikes immediately with its visual presentation, the CD comes in 6-panel sleeve with insert card with extensive instructions for "Homo Multidimensional" written in Russian and English. This is a limited edition of 300 copies, but there is also a special edition of 13 copies, which features additional 15 A5 art prints, all designed by Sergey/Siyanie Art. The whole artwork is stunningly gorgeous, a pure visual bliss for your eyes!!!

"Homo Multidimensional", focusing on multidimensional nature of human being, starts with "Evolution Tracery", where distant aerials are leaded by Russian spoken male sample, soon deeply hypnotic-infused ambience steal the journey. Masterfully flavored by celestial choir-like drones, intensely psychoactive spirals, remote expressive flute magics and various fragile tinkles. All distinctively layered and shaped in one utterly delightful and powerfully immersing composition that precisely interacts with the visuals. Wow, this is absolutely sensational and breathtaking, bravissimo, Sergey & Dmitry!!! Colorful organics invade "Spaceship Human Body" along with glitchy haze. Various spoken samples appear together with all kinds of shiny chimes and swirls. Spatial voice-infused mesmerism with trancey drone blankets safely weave above. Huge dose of tranquilly homogeneous elixir awaits, these guys rule!!! Even if I am not familiar with any of their older projects mentioned above, I still feel quite ashamed for not exploring Siyanie much earlier, but the more I am enjoying it now!!! "Dimensions Womb", with 5-plus minutes the shortest piece on album, strikes promptly with warmly inviting guitar space-sounds recalling the old, long forgotten memories. Soaring string wizardry with some pleasing dissonances paint hauntingly transporting sceneries, filled with filigree craft and divine grace. Female prayer chants open "Incarnation Mystery", this composition slowly builds and remarkably expands into mysteriously colored primordial realms with deeply submerging touch. The chants remain hidden on the back and become quite phantasmagoric, while enormously transcendental aural circles move to the fore. Male/female voices and more dominant organic rumbles again invade during the closing minute and masterly enrich and balance the whole journey. This is absolutely phenomenal composition displaying the huge potential of Siyanie!!! "Blissful Dolphin" merges soothing washes with guitar splendor into mesmerizing reverberations enhanced by assorted cyber embellishments (maybe some kind of processed dolphin whistle-like sounds...). A truly joyous and peaceful, just like these fascinating marine mammals. And as much blissful for the listener too!! "Goddess Birth" unfolds with organic intro, but soon immense space domains are encountered with choir-like drones guarding above. Gently expressive flute traceries along with soft string clinks permeate too to stimulate the synapses of all electro-acoustic aficionados. "Realm Of The New Measure" closes the odyssey with strongly trance-driven dreamscape, extensively spiraling and mindscaping. My jaw remains dropped...

Yes, to me, Siyanie is certainly one of the biggest revelations I have heard lately!!! These Russian guys are enormously gifted and creative, with "Homo Multidimensional" they deliver an "all-inclusive" product offering gloriously polished and breathtakingly enthralling enjoyment, powerfully tranquilizing and monstrously mesmerizing, that will fully reward your ears and eyes. Highly recommended and no matter, if you get the arty special edition or the regular limited version. Bolshoe spasibo, Sergey & Dmitry!!! Keep on journeying!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jun 29, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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Within Reason "Transient Broadcasts" CD

Gregory Kyryluk aka Within Reason (also the driving force behind Alpha Wave Movement and Open Canvas) marks with "Transient Broadcasts" CD the debut release (March 2013) for newly-born Anodize label, run by Darren Bergstein. The first album by Within Reason entitled "Subtle Shift" was released in February 2012 as CDr edition limited to 50 copies by other Darren's label Periphery. And it was a huge one, still resonating deeply as one of the highlights of 2012. Now, one year later, Anodize, as a subdivision of Periphery, is bringing to all connoisseurs of high-tech hypnoscapes a glass mastered CD delivered in hinged rectangular tin containing two-panel insert. Definitely a very good move by Anodize!!!

"Assign Emotion" fires the show with freshly pulsing IDM-infused piece, where ear-catching, razor sharp rhythms are delicately backed by hissy flavored mesmeric blankets. A very strong induction!!! "Soul Pillow" keeps its cyber-tech feel, although more laid-back flavored than its predecessor. Myriad of synthetically radiating crystalline swirls interweaves precisely with euphoniously warm, semi-melodious reinforcements. It sounds exactly as it is titled!!! "Correlate" immediately attracts with its sparser texture highlighted by coldly pulsing cybernetic electronica. Again masterfully paired with panoramically captivating atmozones. Gregory Kyryluk is excelling at this one, with its silken thinness, but exquisitely lustrous, definitely a top-notch sonic jewel!!! This jaw-dropping electroscaping overlaps also to the next composition, "Amorphic Design", where vibrant electro beats smoothly emerge and embrace each listener with its hauntingly electrifying dynamics, with kind of funky-like outline and bonded by velvety convergences. "Morke (Darkness)", as indicated, unfolds with darker drones, but soon hummed, slowed down dub techno embellishments and celestial chant traceries enter the stage along with the variety of minimal and colder rhythm motifs and voice samples. Intriguing and enigmatic!!! "Diaphanous" unfolds with soothingly contemplative minimalism that soon transfers into swiftly pulse-driven escapade, here and there gently fragranced by exotic female chants. "Sunrise Ekko" is a hyper modern trancescape with deeply tranquilizing Mediterranean effect, splendidly evoking beautifully relaxing summer morning somewhere at the Côte d'Azur, with gentle sea breeze sweeping your face. Stunningly comforting aural realms await here!!! Hissy clouds cover the closing cut, "Contemplate.dream", and shift it into absolutely fascinating spheres with mildly oscillating melodies, guarded by utterly gorgeous shimmering horizons. Calming jazz-funk tapestries come to light as well and harmoniously enrich the overall mood. This is undoubtedly a grand finale, welcome to the infinite sonic paradise!!!

"Transient Broadcasts" is another sensational recording by Within Reason and also quite divergent when comparing it to "Subtle Shift". I keep on repeating this, but Gregory Kyryluk is a true genius, a composer with filigree touch and passionate visions, one of its kind sonic sculptor!!! In case you don't know this, in Dover, Massachusetts, based composer, you have no idea what you are missing!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jun 22, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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