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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)

42


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)

43


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)

44


Cymphonic "Dimensionata" CD

After son & father collaboration on "Post Mortem Investigations", the Dutchman Stanley Swinkels comes back with fresh work, repeatedly released under the wings of Databloem label (April 2013). Again with some guidance by his father, Vintage H, on three tracks (1,2 & 4), "Dimensionata", the 4th album by Cymphonic, immediately hooks my attention by its eye-catching cover design by Theo Rabou, who does constantly stunning job with each Databloem's artwork.

"Hibernation" leads the album with humming drones gliding through mesmerizing moon halo, joined by variety of softly emerging collages, both pleasant and strange, assorted field recordings (animal calls, gently running water...) and some voice oddities. Precisely fitting track title!!! "Primavera" reveals with repeated female voices, crystalline string magic and warmly sweeping nocturnal ambience and water sounds. Male spoken samples add quite a bit mystery to the overall surface, there is always attached some kind of singular tension interweaving with environmental tranquilizers. Cymphonic's hallmark soundsculpting reaches certainly here its first peak, absolutely awesome journey!!! Shimmering cyber grooves with sharply radiating electro pulses invade "Ascension" for purely high-tech sonic escapade, later guided by female voices into cascades of quietly, nearly meditative passages with slightly exotic flavor counterpointed with vibrant, razor-sharp high-tech sparkles. "Weaving" relieves with serene, dreamscaping washes and sacred choirs. Other voice samples join the stage along with futuristic aerials and breaths, before waning with exotic scent. Everything in this composition is masterfully sculpted into one, homogeneously shaped texture generating deeply immersing mindscapes during your late-night travels. Shorter "The Hill" is more harsher and cacophonously dissonant. "Alignment Of Realities" opens with monochromatic drone and weirdly circling disruptions, outbursts and rumbles. Ghostly voices step in here and there. A truly peculiar, dark and hypnotic soundscape with amazing juxtaposition between modern and primordial!!! A journey to subglacial "Lake Vostok" is provided by eerie and mysterious dronescapades, ear-splitting atmosfears and phantasmal voice samples. Towards the end the texture devolves into more calmer terrains, relieving the tension and earthy field recordings with cinematic piano motifs supply elixir for your ears. The next piece, "Dancing In Purple Light", features chill-out cyber pulses, surrounded by murmuring drifts and distant, bizarre voice samples and celestial choirs. Uplifting electro melodies steal the center stage during the second half and produce stunningly dreamy, yet strongly stimulating spirits. "Siberian Summer" delves deeply into subconsciously colored realms with its virtuously amalgamated contemplativeness and ambiguousness. Another magnificent ride to the frontiers of mind-blowing experiences!!! "Panorama", with 14-plus minutes the longest composition on "Dimensionata", initiates with soothingly mesmerizing natural sounds and intensely evocative synth vistas, serenely transferring through richly fragranced elevations, from more nostalgia-infused bright stillness to slightly darker and mysteriously percolating, intoxicating scenarios with few modern classical elements and stringed tenseness thrown in. But always continuously bonded by that wide-screen warmth. An ultimate sonic opium!!! "P139" keeps sublime environmentals, aerials and exotic strings from previous cut and mingles them with angelic choirs, tender whisperings and occasional disruptions. Nice outro!!!

No questions here, Stanley Swinkels had fashioned here another extraordinary album, although quite multifaceted, always strongly consistent, where each composition safely holds unmistakable signature that is only Cymphonic. And that's what always really counts about this Dutchman!!! "Dimensionata" is your key to explore spectacularly breathtaking hallucinogenic sceneries, enter now the soundworlds of Cymphonic!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jun 16, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

45


James Johnson | Aperus "Ecotone" CD

Wow, this is a very impressive joint effort involving respected veteran ambient composer James Johnson and gifted sound sculptor Brian McWilliams known as Aperus or Remanence (together with John Phipps). While James Johnson is equipped with vast discography, mostly releasing on AtmoWorks or on his Zero Music label, Aperus has recorded highly treasured works such as "Tumbleweed Obfuscated By Camera Failure" (now newly reissued!!!) or "Hinterland" released on mPath Records about 10 years ago. What was mPath Records before, now became Geophonic Records, run by Brian McWilliams, and "Ecotone" is a premiere CD on this label published at March 31st, 2013.

Although released in ordinary jewel case, the artwork looks totally stunning!!! Both protagonists are indeed highly accomplished photographers, so besides 4-panel insert there is included also a vellum envelope with 4 additional pictures, randomly selected from 9 available shoots. The visual presentation of this release immediately gets extra points and that was the case with all previous works of Aperus and Remanence. But that's just the beginning, because gorgeous images are soon joined as the opening piece, "Descending Arc", blossoms with its deeply evocative mood. Natural environments, assorted primordial tinkles and rumbles (evoking Gamelan), and gentle drone cascades reveal all their tranquil allure and magic, 11 minutes of purely contemplative sonic bliss!!! But the duo keeps on excelling, "Cycle 17" invites with graciously warm, panoramic washes melted with raising and falling, briskly shimmering embellishments. Deep immersion immediately guaranteed, what a journey!!! Shorter "Nostalgia And Memory", as indicated by its title, returns to calmer terrains, enriched by sparse, but expressive, sad piano passage and other elliptical, smoothly disharmonious fragments. Quietly minimal and pleasingly displaying its title. "Crow Over Walnut Canyon" is another beautifully entitled track, it attracts with its gorgeously serene symmetry between modern classical elements, background subtleties and slightly rougher hums and organics. A music of sheer brilliance that will top any of the giants bridging modern classical textures with ambient soundscapes!!! The longest piece, clocking to nearly 12 minutes, "Long Goodbye" dives into deeply reflective realms filled with haunting piano and string expressions, warmly drifting tapestries, assorted high-pitched metallic squeaks and outbursts and distant natural sounds. Amalgamated in absolutely masterful way, painting wonderfully wide-screen sceneries of harmoniously heartening introspection. Another virtuoso performance!!! The next piece, "Ancestral Voices", unites all kinds of rumbles, tinkles, rings and other traceries in one, quite cacophonous sculpture guarded by ceremonial chants. Uniquely distracting, transporting the listener to a pilgrimage site!!! "The Moth Jar" moves into piano-fragmented, reverberant terrains, again intermingled with razor sharp, discomforting metallics and processed, richly flavored arrangements. Uniquely mesmerizing escapade!!! "Transmigration" is a quite eclectically built texture, flavored with voice-like drones, few modern classical ingredients evoking nostalgic moments and ebbing infusions, softly buzzing, beating, vibrant and swirling. Adventurously distinguishing journey continues!!! Shorter outro "Traces" consists of gentle Gamelan-like tinkles and buzzing resonations, achieving a deeply meditative state. Brief, but strongly effective!!!

"Ecotone" is enormously fruitful, all-inclusive collaboration between two efficient aural and visual hikers. The synergistic wizardry of both these Americans is just amazing on "Ecotone", where broad palette of atmospheres and sounds is expertly navigated into spectacularly complex and harmonious form, precisely polished in every detail. Audiophile sound quality included, so get ready your headphones too. "Ecotone" is a huge monument paying splendid tribute to Earth's magics!!! Unquestionably one of the pinnacles of 2013, hats off to James Johnson & Brian McWilliams!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jun 09, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

46


Dirk Serries "Microphonics XXI-XXV" CD

Dirk Serries, the legendary Belgian genius behind vidnaObmana and Fear Falls Burning projects, celebrates here another chapter of his challenging "Microphonics" efforts. After the conclusion of previously mentioned projects, Dirk keeps on his journey to the boundaries of uncharted sonic terrains, a territory fusing all his long time musical experiences, visions and virtuosities. "Microphonics XXI-XXV" CD, a follow up to Dirk's debut "Microphonics I-V" from the end 2008, was released by Dutch Tonefloat Records in the middle of March, 2013 and it comes in attractive mini album gatefold sleeve featuring stunning urban pictures by Martina Verhoeven, Dirk's wife. Mastered by James Plotkin.

The opener, "Mounting Among The Waves" unfolds with quite harsh guitar dissonances, although minimally sculpted, the sound palette is quite wide, where intensely emerging passages of noise perplexes blend with floating backgrounds. The piece gradually build and steadily increase into powerfully immense sonic sceneries of utterly deep evocativeness. Even if having throughout its slightly ear-splitting surface, these peaking drones develop into a stunningly visualizing movements filled with sheer beauty and poignancy. Elegiac strings invade "There's A Light In Vein", but this melancholic stillness is soon intermingled on the background with slowly evolving panoramic textures, expanding by every second in its intensity and monstrousness. Ultra thick guitar dronescapes reach full bloom and paint genuinely magnificent and harmonious canvas, where unforgettable memories of vidnaObmana are awaken... This composition is a huge milestone melting the most magical moments of both, vidnaObmana and Fear Falls Burning, with Dirk's most recent harmonic desolations, a brightly shinning kaleidoscope of sounds, sensitiveness and reminiscences, an emotional powerhouse gratifying the listener's soul!!! "There's A Light In Vein" will counterpart any of the most famous vidnaObmana compositions, guitar drone manipulations have never sounded better!!! Thank you so much, Maestro, for this truly unique listening delight!!! "The Burden Of Hope" is announced by rawer riffs, again its shape sounds rather minimal, especially during the first three minutes, but always effective. The background drone blanket slowly enlarges into thicker volume and fully blossom into another breathtaking wide-screen scenario, melting rougher tensities with weighty dose of expansive drone roars and streams into one, monumentally monolithic sculpture, gloriously encircling and stimulating. Certainly another phenomenal piece in this set!!! "Thousands Of Rivers" relieves the tension a bit, although keeping its harsh edge, again masterfully intertwined with warmly gliding cloudscapes. Beautifully disturbing!!!

Yes, I am still deeply missing vidnaObmana, and always will, but with this album Dirk Serries has accomplished another huge step in his musical explorations. "Microphonics XXI-XXV" is a triumphant piece of art displaying extraordinary emotional sonorousness and invites each devoted listener to the frontier of intriguing guitar drone wizardry!!! And by the way, "Low Volume Music 2" with his long time traveler Steve Roach is the works too...

Richard Gürtler (Jun 02, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

47


Amir Baghiri "Prayers For The Earth" CDr

The glowing discography of Amir Baghiri, in Lemgo, Germany based, but native of Iran, sonic designer and painter, gets here its newest jewel. This time released (March 2013) on German Attenuation Circuit label as limited edition of 120 copies packaged in attractive folded cardboard sleeve with gorgeous digital mandala image by no one else but Kati Astraeir.

The first of six prayers, dedicated to Mother Earth, entitled "An Earth Mantra", is shorter intro swiftly emerging into more expansive terrains with beautifully craving, intense drifts. The next piece, charmingly titled "For The Love Of The Earth", is the longest one, when clocking over 13-minute mark. It enters straight away into magnificently sublime dreamscaping realms. Tranquilly expanding and ebbing into extra massive panoramas, always glaring and sweeping with utterly graceful immensity and contemplation. This is a pure atmospheric bliss, bravissimo, Maestro!!! "Through The Memories Of This Place" is almost as lengthy as its predecessor and also as much enchantingly sonorous and absorbing. Slightly more darker, gently enriched here and there by distant sonic invasions and escalations. All the natural magic of nocturnal desert soundscaping is masterfully captured, ambient maximus guaranteed!!! "Nameless Sky", as indicated by its title, guides us through uncharted, vast open domains with colossally drifting, circling and cascading synth textures, harmoniously flowing through light and dark colors, through great emptiness of delightful nothingness. "A Sacred Place" remains in these deeply imaginative and spacious terrains, but it smoothly shifts into dreamtime era, where cloud banks of drones, both sublime and dramatic, are bridged with sparse, placid tribal undercurrents and tranquil environments. Thrilling dose of expansive soundscapes is delivered here by rooting both future and past, and revealing the most essential and fascinating horizons. "Somewhere In Nowhere", the closing prayer, spreads with rising and falling washes and heavenly choirs, sublimely embracing the listener. The texture gradually evolves into monstrously intense drone zones, hauntingly meandering and mesmerizingly spiraling, before peacefully calming and fading away. Amir Baghiri explores through "Prayers For The Earth" rather familiar terrains, but his virtuosity of drifting towards the deepest end of atmospheric brilliancy is just amazing. Experience it, feel the serenity, spirit and grandness of planet Earth, it's time to take a deeply spellbinding journey without leaving your listening room!!!

On the top of that, Amir is quite busy with dusting off his rare recordings, a 5 CD "Private Archive" collection, packaged in special wooden case is planned. Plus "Light Textures" album is scheduled for the summer release on Databloem's sister label Bluebox, the usual output for Amir Baghiri's soundworlds since 2005. As always, I will keep my ear to the ground...

Richard Gürtler (Jun 01, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

48


The Circular Ruins and Mystified "Fantastic Journey" CDr

The Circular Ruins/Anthony Paul Kerby and Mystified/Thomas Park have already collaborated back in 2009 on the album "One Thousand Dreams", on which APK appears as Nunc Stans. Now both of these sound sculptors have reunited for another chapter, celebrating early science fiction writings and paying tribute to pioneers such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells and others. Released during February 2013 on APK's DataObscura label.

Cavernous primitive tinkles, along with field recordings and deep drone clouds, unfold the first journey, "Twenty Thousand Leagues". At 13 minutes it is the longest track on the album. Myriads of unfathomable noises, rumbles and gurgles provide a truly breathtaking ride through underwater domains full of wonders and mysteries. "The World Beneath", with hypnagogic drones merged with sparse and subtle phantasmagorical cacophonies, invites you to an adventurous journey through huge caverns of Dinotopia, a hidden island inhabited by humans and sentient dinosaurs who have formed together a harmonious society. Richly colorful sonic marvels embellish "Forbidden Planet" along with hissy organics, ghostly apparition and distant crypto drones. Wow, a truly unique and fascinating piece exploring fabulous primordial mysteries!!! Sonic adventure continues as we land on "Mysterious Island", surrounded by serenely expanding and meandering primal dronescapes, later cascading through deeper soundwalls to densely blurred passages. It showcases absolutely thrilling aural alchemy between both explorers!!! The next track, "Beyond The Farthest Star", reveals with mysterious drone rumbles and assorted weird voices, noises, soars and organics, moving up and down and all wrapped by hissy blankets. Another extraordinary listening odyssey awaits, even if not easily accessible!!! The final cut,"The Voyage Home", opens with deep drones and rumbles, but soon warmly expansive cinematic drifts invade, enriched by some subtly tinkling fragments, and express moments of sadness. The second third dives deeply into abyssal realms, powerfully immersing and masterfully flavored by diverse tinkles, rumbles and eerie voices. The track moves through raw, dissonant accompaniments and brings the journey to its final point, exactly where it was initiated 60 minutes ago. For all lovers of stunningly adventurous dronescapes, this is a genuinely "Fantastic Journey"!!! The more you listen to it, I mean deeply devoted, the more the soundscapes embrace you!!! Great job, Anthony & Thomas, certainly one of the top releases of 2013 so far!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 25, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

49


Juta Takahashi "Seabound" CD

In Sendai based Japanese ambient mastermind Juta Takahashi returns after "Quiet Rain" with another remastered edition, this time it's "Seabound" album, released at the beginning of April, 2013 on his Lunisolar Records. "Seabound", Juta's 5th album, was originally released during 2009 as a CDr version. As typical for this crafted sonic sculptor, the album is comprised of three longer compositions, clocking between 17 and 23 minutes in length. The opening and longest piece, "Undercurrent" features layers of gently immense drifts and whirling curiosities, which are intertwined with mesmerizingly repetitive piano motifs, here and there enhanced by rather high-pitched squeaks and disruptions. Heavenly choirs occasionally sneak in and out. Juta's characteristic alchemy of quietly soothing passages with more disturbing traceries is of course apparent, moving through manifold cascades, but always keeping its hauntingly harmonious and enveloping atmosphere. "Poseidon" dives straightly into deeper drone realms, colored by ear-splitting noises, frightening hums and other harshly rumbling ghostscapes. Hint of distant melody floats through these spectacular, unfathomable depths. Enter now the domain of the sea guard and experience this variegated subaqueous sonic tempest, this must be Juta Takahashi at his most discordant!!! Sea waves lead "Seabound", the closing title composition, into beautifully relaxing and expansive panoramas, built of strangely, but majestically meandering, coiling and elevating aerial melodies with slightly orchestral color. Additional sonic submergences appear occasionally. Stunning sea imageries can be captured throughout this pleasantly sweeping in-depth journey. A peacefully reflective atmospheric experience filled with warm, radiant and soothing subtleties. Juta Takahashi keeps on impressing me, because after beautifully sublime "Quiet Rain", he comes with another strong recording originated longer time ago and now available on well-deserved glass mastered CD. "Seabound" is another album by this Japanese composer embracing the listener with continuous delight, no matter if tranquil or adventurous!!! Kudos to Lucas Simons for nicely fitting cover image. I hope Juta has still in the pipeline, except his future projects, also some other, well treasured sonic documents taken from his earlier discography. Arigato, Juta Takahashi san!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 26, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

50


Maneki Neko "Auracle" CD

Maneki Neko's "Auracle" album was released longer time ago, in the summer of 2005 on Stray Pointer Records, which, I believe, is a label of Al Mikula, the sole protagonist of Maneki Neko. Based in Austin, Texas, Al Mikula is a sculptor of soothing electro-acoustic blankets for yoga, relaxation, meditation, and massage therapy. To be honest, I have never heard of this release and artist until my good friend Karel aka Sonic-Hypnosis pointed me to this crafted sonic healer (Díky, Karle!!!). "Auracle" is Maneki Neko's debut and I was immediately impressed by its excerpts. And the album only proves this, "Auracle" is a great revelation for my ears!!! Equipped with array of acoustic instruments such as Tibetan prayer bells, Egyptian ney, gongs, Japanese shakuhachi, wind chimes..., Maneki Neko masterfully bridges deeply contemplative acoustic sounds with sparse, but expansive drones and gentle natural splashes. "Miroku" unfolds with meditative bells, soon followed by low drone circles and stunningly expressive Egyptian ney flute magics. Celestial choir-like drones come into play later, while sparkling instrumental work steps in and out. "Daybreak", the longest reverie, clocking over 20 and half minute mark, is announced by flute roars, sporadic fragile bells (tinkling every 60 seconds) and heartwarming panoramic washes, richly spacious and softly cascading up and down. Here and there flavored by tranquilizing organic embellishments. The gates of sonic paradise are fully opened and the listener enters the realm of beautifully floating contemplation and stillness!!! Soaring wind, gentle bell and vague chimes lead the next composition, "Cats Sleeping On Clouds". But soon the drones and shakuhachi wizardry steal the journey. Flute barks and resonations attractively amalgamate with peacefully meandering and hovering drifts. The sounds of shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute, are absolutely magnificent!!! This is Maneki Neko at its most distinctive and harmonious!!! "Drifting Between Stars" is more otherworldly and mysterious composition with gracefully floating, evolving and shimmering dronefields, intensified by few wide-screen dissonances, again strongly embracing. "The Road To Madurai" is a pilgrimage to the ancient temple city of Madurai in South India, to famous Meenakshi Amman Temple. Another flute excellence, merged with deeper drones, closes this journey, again mysteriously fragranced, this time with overtone chanting-infused vibrations. "Auracle" is a brilliantly accomplished album with distinguishably immersing arrangements, that for sure will appeal to all connoisseurs of deeply meditative ambience. To me, Maneki Neko is one of the best kept secrets on the scene, a virtuoso sonic meditator!!! I should add that Maneki Neko's next album, entitled "Muichi Motsu" was scheduled for release during autumn 2012, it was mastered already, but unfortunately since September there are no news nor updates on Maneki Neko's website. I pray for the return of Al Mikula/Maneki Neko...

Richard Gürtler (May 19, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

51


Alpha Wave Movement "Yasumu" CDr

Gregory Kyryluk, the mastermind behind Alpha Wave Movement and Within Reason projects, returns again to prove his enormous composing talent, but this time he leaves shimmering Berlin school vintage, desert ambient infused terrains or hypnotic cyber escapades and ventures into soothingly contemplative atmospheric splendors. Released at the beginning of February, 2013 on his own Harmonic Resonance Recordings. Moving back to 2012, the previous year has brought to us two absolute masterworks by this synth wizard, "Subtle Shift", a cyber-tech groovy milestone by Within Reason and "Eolian Reflections", a primal desertscaping jewel by Alpha Wave Movement. So as usual, my expectations are again very high... Healing sound of tibetan bowls announce "Pentatonic Peace" merged with bell resonations, fragile tinkles and heartwarming washes. Later oriental strings scent this utterly tranquil journey, along with sparse primeval fragments, and it gently shifts and expands into captivatingly inviting and immense sonic magnitudes. This is a truly beautiful intro, precisely setting the atmosphere. Gregory Kyryluk arrives again in top-grade form!!! Relaxing nature sounds open "Awaken" together with peacefully circling and drifting loops and paint a deeply reflective essence. With over 13 minutes the longest composition. Heavenly tinkles harmoniously interweave with spaciously angelic soundscapes and distant soft beats. Ethereal auralscape at its most serene and gorgeous, enveloping the listener in a hauntingly delicate atmosphere of recovering long buried memories!!! Certainly, this is another magnum opus by Alpha Wave Movement!!! And by the way, it slightly evokes everlastingly splendid nostalgia of "The River Of Appearance" groundbreaker... "Tranquility Temple" is the next piece, which sounds exactly as it is titled. Keeping its exotic touch from the opening track, it calmly meanders through intensely evocative and peaceful panoramas, exquisitely augmented by warmly glimmering images and embracing sadness of bowed strings. The closing composition, "Hindutonic Waves", unfolds with monotonous drifts, subtle tinkles and mesmerizing distant ingredients. Velvety tribal drumming joins the scene too in ear-catching synergy with tranquilly intangible atmospheric currents. Balmily soothing inner realms are unlocked!!! "Yasumu" is a masterfully crafted collection of deep sonic meditations with magnificently absorbing aural harmony, lucidity and stillness!!! Another stellar recording by Gregory Kyryluk and your everyday's panacea!!!

Richard Gürtler (May 12, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

52


Eyes Cast Down "The Separate Ones" CDr

Eyes Cast Down is Greg Moorcroft from Chicago and "The Separate Ones" is his debut work released on his own Kalindi Music label at the end of February 2013. As mentioned on Greg's website, the album was recorded during the time span of 7 years. "First Day Apart", a composition based on the longer separation with daughter, unfolds with sublime and sparse guitar dreamscapes, slowly meandering like a feather in the breeze. Strong longing feel is explored throughout this hazy and introspective soundscape, smoothly cascading from quieter contemplations to slightly more intense soars, yet still remaining enough consonant and allowing each listener to dive deeply into Eyes Cast Down's own sonorous cavern. "Rebuild From Memory" keeps its reflective dimension, but it's surrounded by diversely scattered dissonant vibrations. "Knife Of Karma", with 17 and half minutes the second longest composition, is invaded by fragile tinkles and mysteriously flavored drones, enhanced by diverse eerie fragments, cavernous rumbles and disruptive, nearly cacophonous embellishments. Here and there distant tribal groove fade in and out, and also occasional fanfares do their highly distinguishing work within this uniquely fragranced soundsculpting. All in all, it's quite disturbing, but also as much challenging, a real masterpiece!!! Celestial voice magics by guest singer Alannah lead "Expanse Of Heart" along with rather minimal and slowly shifting, organ-like drones create a truly mesmerizing reverie taking the listener on a soothing mind journey. The next composition, "Like A Riven Cloud", clocking over 21-minute mark, reveals with deeper organic drones, enhanced by low rumbles and ghostly female whispers by another guest, Greg's wife Dasi. Composed as a dedication to a friend that committed suicide, it paints a truly mysterious and grieving sceneries, especially when deeply evocative washes merge with the reciting voice along with expanding mournful violin expressions by Ezra Azmon. Few piano subtleties tranquilly float through too. Thoroughly gorgeous!!! "Radha's Tears" closes the album with coiling and resonating, hypnotic guitar drone, again conjugated with Dasi's celestial chants. Overall, this is definitely not your ordinary accessible ambient recording, for sure "The Separate Ones" album craves for numerous listening sessions with deeply dedicated attention and immersion, but then it offers huge amount of fruitful and joyous moments filled with highly reflective, but enormously distinctive and intriguing palette of sounds and atmospheres. "The Separate Ones" is your ticket to magnificently perfumed and anomalously mindscaping sonic realms, a must have!!! Photographs by Boris Lelong and Kris Tilbury nicely accomplish this album, while the credit for mastering goes to Bobby Jones. For a debut work like this, I won't hesitate to say, this is a virtuoso performance!!! And since Greg Moorcroft was working during the last 7 years on several other albums, some of them are scheduled for this year's release, so make sure you will keep an eye and ear on this highly capable and crafted ambient venturer!!!

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

53


John Puchiele Ensemble "Life Cycle" CD

John Puchiele is for me a new name on the ambient map, in Toronto, Canada based film, television, dance... composer was also a member of The Glass Orchestra, famous Canadian ensemble founded back in 1977, who have performed with glass objects and glass instruments. "Life Cycle", a thematic work mapping the human life cycle stages, is according to my knowledge debut work under the name of John Puchiele Ensemble. Released at the beginning April 2013 on Antediluvian Records, which I believe is John's own label. The album comes in elegantly designed 4-panel digipak (created by Null). "From There To Here" announces the new human life with warmly floating cinematic washes, gracefully expanding into dramatic climax, beautifully enriched by sparse, but gently expressive piano motifs. Shorter "First Step" keeps its wide-screen dimension along with its heartening feel. It's evident that John Puchiele is strongly influenced by his film score composing. The next, again shorter piece, "Foundations", moves into deeply evocative modern classical terrains. "The Big Sky" is the first longer composition on album, crossing over 7-minute mark, but musically remains in sublimely captivating orchestral spheres, very nice!!! "Thinking", with 10 minutes the longest stage of "Life Cycle", dives into dreamlike zones with female chants and celestial choirs. These utterly alluring soundscapes are later intertwined by male choirs. Sculpted with infinite grace and beauty!!! "Second Step" meanders over the cumulus cloud beds, flavored with intense moments. "Life Gets Busy, Pt. I" unfolds quietly, but soon bowed string epic steal the show and evolves into richly orchestral and dramatically colored arrangements. "Life Gets Busy, Pt. II" attracts immediately with eloquent piano playing, certainly the most uplifting piece masterfully celebrating the rhythm of life. But "Third Step" shifts into nostalgic-infused period conducted by cello-like drones and circling, high-pitched dissonances. The next longer composition, "Climbing", envelops each listener with its strongly yearning mood, precisely sculpted with expressive modern classical movements, highlighted by bowed string mastery. Deeply visualizing and retrospective soundscape, certainly one of the high points!!! "N.D.E." dives into low drone territories, ebbing and meandering through exquisitely fragranced dreamlike dimensions with angelic appearance and dense orchestral cascades. A close call comes... "The Edge Of Infinity" is hazed by deeper transcendental dronescapes. "From Here To There" closes the journey with brief, but gorgeous eulogistic symphony to honor the memory of a loved one. "Life Cycle" is a very solid performance by John Puchiele, who has decided to work without the motion pictures and invited each listener to paint his/her own life allegories while journeying through "Life Cycle" and pay homage to human life.

Richard Gürtler (May 05, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

54


Closing The Eternity & Mathias Grassow "No Title" CD+3"CDr

Wow, no title, no track list (except mini CDr), according to some vague net infos recorded back in 2010, but released some weeks ago, during March 2013 on Russian Aquarellist label. Wrapped by enormous mystery since the very first day. But if these are some low points, then be prepared for a truly spectacular sonic and visual odyssey. Yes, the CD is packaged in beautiful 6-panel digipak featuring stunning pictures of subterranean domain, forest pond and flora. Note that limited edition of 50 copies comes with additional mini CDr, while the album is a glass mastered CD. The normal edition is limited to 150 copies. The visual part is imposing, so let's experience its synergy with music. Closing The Eternity is a Russian drone solo project of Anton Shafarostov, who acts as 121 and who is also a member of dark ambient, industrial project Velehentor. To be honest, I don't know too much about Closing The Eternity's soundworlds (shame on me!!!), while the German drone virtuoso Mathias Grassow needs no introduction here. Soft tinkles announce the first track, as mentioned above, the track list is missing, but Aquarellist's website refers to this as "Shegultan", a city in Ural, Russia. But soon we enter into magnificent cavernous realms, where smooth background drones of Mathias Grassow hover in tranquil coexistence with crystalline authentic watery field recordings and other primordial organics crafted by 121. Add a superb sonic quality to this deeply meditative trance, which reveals all the magics of this grandiose underground lake and interacts precisely with the images. The next composition unfolds with variety of organic rumbles and tinkles, merged with spiraling dronescapes and tranquilizing natural sounds. Cascading through beautifully immersing passages ranging from more primeval through mysterious to slightly more soothing. The drone wizardry steps towards the fore in the second half and levels with primitive embellishments and location recordings. Deeply sublime and contemplative reverie, explore the remarkable "Volchimya Rifts"!!! Softly tinkling chimes open the closing piece of the CD, which is entitled on the website as "Blue Night Over Telpos-Iz", a 29-minutes long journey. Telpos-Iz is the highest mount in the Northern Ural. Sparse, but lushly swirling around the ears, then profoundly meditative singing bowls passage takes the lead until colossal, monochromatic drones steal these fascinatingly permeating moments of nocturnal stillness. Powerfully intense and immense, spiced by occasional bone-trembling beats with roughly orotund and eerie sonic explosions. An ultimate wildlife adventure with stunningly culminating sceneries to discover unimaginable sounds and creatures of the harsh night in taiga. Totally awesome!!!

Bonus 3"CDr features 14 and half minutes long composition, "Midnight Over Paitur Fens". And it unfolds massively with rather smooth drone with sacred chants-like sounds on the distant background. But the drone gradually builds, expands and envelops, expertly enriched by soft percussive ornaments. Continuous mind-bending intensity, holding the unique signature of Mathias Grassow, is reached after 4 minutes, the gates of drone inferno are again unlocked, welcome!!! But 121's organic alchemy adds enthralling emerald colors to this once-in-a-lifetime drone experience!!! Pure sonic ecstasy guaranteed!!!

Closing The Eternity & Mathias Grassow have sculpted one of the most mysterious albums I have heard lately and certainly one of the best too!!! Highly recommended journey beyond the borders of the most breathtaking territories, even as a "normal" limited edition without 3"CDr, but if you can, hunt for it too!!! A true masterpiece by two drone lords!!!

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

55


Hollan Holmes "Phase Shift" CD

In Euless, Texas, located deep space traveler Hollan Holmes returns with his 3rd album, as usual released on his own during March 2013 and again, just like with his previous "The Farthest Fringes" and "A Distant Light" albums, elegantly designed and packaged in glossy 6-panel disc eco wallet. Both above works were highly applauded and now "Phase Shift" is here to confirm huge composing potential of Hollan Holmes. The opening piece, "A Precarious Trajectory", immediately delves into graciously celestial zones, smoothly floating, expanding and during its second half bridging with sharper and elevating, sequencer-driven passages. A very strong intro!!! "The Road To Perdition" starts where its predecessor wrapped up, with briskly swirling sequencer mastery enriched by many dramatic cascades and eruptions. A quite hazardous journey perfectly exhibiting the theme behind this track. Warmly evocative, cinematic terrains are entered through "Lost Memories". This sublime sonic symphony is later joined by subtly pulsing sequences, yet still keeping its heartwarming aura. A truly gorgeous composition!!! "Morphogenesis" is the first longer piece here, clocking over 14 and half minute mark. Beautifully immense panoramas are masterly revealed with heavenly drones and angelic choir-like contemplations, here and there enhanced by various cybernetic hums and dissonant fragments. The piece gently drifts and builds until it reaches its peak when absolutely breathtaking sceneries can be explored. Get ready for total immersion, this is gracefully grandiose soundscape!!! The closing title long-form track, "Phase Shift" gets to nearly 33 minutes. Another big dose of sonic elixir for your body and mind is delivered here with tranquilly floating and ebbing infinite, rather flatlined drones. A masterful conclusion with monumentally expansive tension and ultra transporting effect!!! "Phase Shift" is a superb epic odyssey and another fantastic release by Hollan Holmes, both, visually and sonically. Without doubt, Hollan Holmes enters now the pantheon with the giants of deep space voyaging!!! "Phase Shift", which was mastered by his fellow Texas sonic sculptor Chad Kettering in his Soniclayers Mastering studio, is dedicated to Neil Armstrong. A must have for all connoisseurs of outer space oscillations and drifts!!!

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

56


Ran Kirlian "Formations" CDr

Spaniard Ran Kirlian, one of the driving forces behind Altera Orbe label, has released in October 2012 his third official solo CDr release "Formations", mostly based on live improvisations during 2009 and 2011. After dark ambient styled "Dissolution" and deep space-infused "Continuum" Ran Kirlian now delves into mysteriously fragranced and uniquely shaped sonic terrains, masterfully bridging deep organic mindscapes with delicate tribal groove escapades. The most challenging part of this blend is the use of overtone voices, which adds a quite distinctive dimension to already hauntingly immersing soundsculpting. "First Hours" ignite this mystifying journey with stunningly expressive overtone magics intriguing with intensely primordial ambience. Top-notch intro!!! Cavernous rumbles enrich eerie voice drones on "Aerthanna", later smooth and slightly cyber-tech flavored tribals step in, superiorly blending primitive culture with modern sound wizardry. Another massively absorbing expedition, bravo, Ran!!! Ancient woods are calling, "Crimson Trees" keep the path, with 14 minutes the longest "Formation". Again strangely flavored and hauntingly tapestried with few elusive melodic passages for fully intense shaman's healing journey. This is Ran Kirlian at his most organic and magical!!! The next piece, "Formations I", shifts to more serene and aerial spheres, gently expanding and drifting into more massive panoramas, enriched on the back by few distant cybernetic fragments. The gates of "Dark Territories" are unlocked and the listener is taken into fascinating nocturnal, deeply contemplative sceneries, which later percolate into lushly vibrant tribal canvas. "Forgotten Survivor" calms down at the beginning with darker drones, but later mild downtempos join the stage, expanding and relieving at the same time. "Quh Ong I" reveals with monstrous drone, that quickly steps down into quieter zone, but soon the ghostly overtone dissonances intertwine. Immense, rough, excessive, shrilling, but always deeply mesmerizing and transcendental, an "all-inclusive" bliss designed for your nightly musings!!! Once again, bravo!!! Expansive drone landscapes lead "Quh Ong II" until radiant shamanistic tribals invade, coalesce and encompass us with its hypnotic rite. Highly effective finale!!! Ran Kirlian has ventured with "Formations" into incredibly spectacular spirited terrains, quite uncharted when comparing to his previous two albums. More spins are required, but as soon you reach your deep immersion, all the mysteries behind "Formations" are revealed. Max Corbacho gets credit for the final mastering job. A superb performance by Ran Kirlian!!!

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

57
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Bardo" CD by Oöphoi
« on: April 20, 2013, 08:06:58 AM »


Oöphoi "Bardo" CD

Even if "Bardo" was released long time ago, back in 2002 on Russian Electroshock Records, with this review I would like to pay a little tribute to sole protagonist of Oöphoi, Gianluigi "Gigi" Gasparetti, who has recently passed away after a long fight with illness at the age of 55 years. I consider "Bardo" as one of the most treasured and influential works of this Italian drone shaman. Yes, undoubtedly "Bardo" is absolutely fascinating sonic voyage beyond the gates, accomplishing the state of sheer contemplation and transcendence. Based on Bardo, which means in Tibetan Buddhism a state between death and rebirth, the intermediate state. There are six states of Bardo, the album focuses on four of them. The journey unfolds with "Samten Bardo - Contemplation" (Bardo of Meditation), which dives deeply into mammoth sonic cave, where monstrous drone tsunami is occasionally reinforced by various primordial reverberations, ominous voices and tremulous hums. An ultimate sonic therapy!!! And appropriate exercise for your speakers too... Drone meditations have never sounded more grandiose and immersing, this is a track for your Throne of Drones!!! Flatlined drones invade "Chikai Bardo - Dissolution" (Bardo of the Course of Death), but soon they are united with eerie, hallucinogenic voices and assorted industrialized dissonances (some of them evoking screeching sounds of the passing train). Stunningly weird, but intense and stimulating deep trance-ambient solitudes. Ear- and mind-bending too... This deeply meditative drone odyssey overlaps also to the next composition, "Chonyi Bardo - A Path Of The Lights" (Bardo of the After-death). Intriguing mystery soon reveals, when exotic embellishments and sparse gongs and bells join this long-form piece, clocking to 29 minutes. After about 8 minutes Tibetan Buddhist Monks begin chanting their prayers along with ear-tickling percussions here and there and shift this composition into absolutely essential and magnificent high-altitude plateau. Slowly droning and gradually expanding into gracefully spectacular pilgrimage site. Yes, this is a truly unforgettable aural adventure that everyone must experience to reach this spiritual oasis!!! This is for me, along with David Parsons' "Mani", a true Sagarmāthā among the Tibetan Buddhism-infused ambient contemplations!!! "Sipai Bardo - Crossing The Bridge Of Existence The Eternal Cycle" (Bardo of the Rebirth within Samsara) blossoms with low rumbling drone expansions, ghostly voices and diverse noisier disruptions, and smoothly cascades and culminates through immense, mysteriously permeated terrains, before reaching powerfully intense pinnacle, a grand finale I must say!!! "Bardo" is one of the many milestones in Oöphoi's amazing discography!!! But the words are pouring very hard and I am not ashamed of tears in my eyes as the Lord of unfathomable drones now continues his journey beyond the gates of this world with kindred spirits such as Klaus and Kristian. Grazie Gigi, grazie grande Oöphoi, you will never be forgotten!!!

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

58
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Sval" CD by Pjusk
« on: April 06, 2013, 02:39:23 AM »


Pjusk "Sval" CD

"Sval" was released back in March 2010 on Taylor Deupree's 12k label as follow-up to their highly praised debut "Sart". To be honest, I must say I haven't explored these Norwegians until their third album "Tele", released about one year ago on Italian Glacial Movements. Big shame on me, definitely!!! Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and Rune Sagevik are the two principals behind this project (with few guests appearing on "Sval") and I still clearly remember the day when I heard "Tele" for the first time. So their first two albums "Sart" and "Sval" were immediately on my target..., yes, quite late, but still better than never. Anyway, few weeks later I was very fortunate to get both these sonic pearls, so now it's time for my more detailed look at "Sval". Yes, I know, three years passed already since its release and numerous reviews of "Sval" were published in the meantime, but I don't mind, I simply want to put down few lines. Inspired by the remote Nordic landscapes, "Sval" invites each listener to a truly spectacular journey, a journey filled with massive amount of unique, distinguishing and challenging soundsculpting. That's the sonic world of Pjusk in a nutshell!!! Welcome!!! "Valldal" ignites this fascinating ride with stunning blend of drones, pulses, glitches, organics and sparse melodies, precisely setting the mood for the rest of this ice cold escapade. Didn't know what "Valldal" means, but closer inspection took me to the monumental, 30 kilometers long valley. And it sounds exactly as it looks this fantastic nature, a sonic paradise to each adventurer!!! Actually, now I remember reading somewhere about Pjusk's recording studio called "The Valldal Cabin", so the connection can't be more precise!!! "Sus" is centered around subtle high-tech pulses blanketed by the mesmerizingly nocturnal atmozones. In its second half the rhythm swiftly crescendoes into more galloped and rawer dub terrains. Really attractive!!! Next two pieces, "Juv" and "Byge", are quite short, but very effective melting deeper icy drones with glitches and other sonic transitions. This thrilling drone-noise experience overlaps also to "Demring", oddly colorful and entertaining, one of its kind sonics!!! And that's the case of "Skygge" too, although darker and mysterious, but always sparse, crackling, swirling, high-pitching and clouded by distant pulse. "Dis" is the longest piece here, clocking over 8 and half minute mark, and unfolds with some weird noises and ghostly voices (a female troll maybe?), again minimal, barely audible. Few modern classical piano fragments interact with silent moments and assorted crystalline cavernous effects, at times sounding quite eerie and abstract. Another big one!!! "Skumring" keeps on the minimal route just like its predecessor, again freezing, strange and motionless, with oddly humming buzz, here and there interacting with piano bits, razor sharp bleeps, sporadic melody supplements and other location mapping. Deeper monochromatic drones invade "Glimt" for strongly visualizing effect, along with occasional melodic splinters and some enchanting flute-like scents. The second half swiftly transmutes into high-tech groovy-driven escapade blanketed by hauntingly ethereal horizons and cinematic subtleties. Wow, this is a virtuoso sound layering, tremendously filigree and sophisticated!!! "Vidde" remains in aerial realms, blurred by arctic winds and dub techno motifs, quite minimal, but strongly efficient. Another stunner!!! "Skodde" dives deep into weirdly fragranced terrains with hallucinogenic, dub techno-infused rhythms and ear-splitting outbursts. Stimulating rhythm-noise (de)cadence!!! Mysteriously droning and soaring "Dunkel" brings this highly stupefying and wondrous trip into its conclusion. "Sval" is a true masterpiece, a milestone showcasing the signature sound that is only Pjusk!!! These guys are true Nordic monsters idiosyncratically puzzling together some of the most majestic, breathtaking and mystifying scenic wonders of Norway!!! And be prepared for the upcoming Pjusk collaboration with their fellow countryman, a jazz trumpet player Kare Nymark Jr., their album is scheduled for release on 12k.

Richard Gürtler (Apr 05, 2013, Bratislava, Slovakia)

59


Steve Roach "Soul Tones" CD

Contemplatively titled "Soul Tones" album was released by Steve Roach during December 2012 on Timeroom Editions as the first part of a three CD series. "Soul Tones" are comprised of two long form compositions, the title track "Soul Tones", getting close to 46-minute mark and "Resolved", clocking just over 28 minutes. The first piece unfolds absolutely peaceful, with slowly expanding, flowing and ebbing synth washes. These utterly sublime, captivating and extensive drones smoothly glide with all their grace and harmony through the majestic and grandiose cumulus clouds at sunset. As much ethereally magnificent as the cover photograph by Kati Astraeir, which stunningly portrays these eternally spellbinding and hypnagogic atmozones. Yes, "Soul Tones" will gently and unobtrusively surround you during your deeply relaxing activities or as a low-volume playback during your sleep time. But also more active listening session with your headphones takes you to essentially sedative journey. In any case, monstrous calmness of "Soul Tones" is an ultimate sonic elixir to soothe your body and mind!!! "Resolved" slowly dives into more mysterious and gradually expanding realms. Could be slightly monochromatic or static when listening without deeper dedication, but as soon you unlock the gates, you enter this multi-layered structure of drone walls, circles and traverses, which take you into profoundly absorbing opaque nocturnal panoramas with increasing potency. During the 18th minute these sonic canvas cascade into slightly more relieving and enchanting movements, yet enough dramatic and expressive with balmy wide-screen transitions, before quietly fading away and reaching tranquil silence. "Resolved" is every bit as immersing as the title composition, "Soul Tones". Once again, connect yourself deeply to the genius' soulful oasis and let his audible insignia to reveal all its magic on you. These "Soul Tones" are massively embracing and showcase Steve Roach at the peak of his deepest sonic meditations!!! From time to time I run across comments about the master losing some of his glare. No way for my ears, because the year 2012 has brought to us masterpieces such as "Back To Life", "Tales From The Ultra Tribe" (with Byron Metcalf) or "Low Volume Music" (with Dirk Serries), first two for sure can be celebrated as true groundbreakers and "Soul Tones" undoubtedly deserves its stellar place among the most delightful, tranquil and enigmatic works ever coming out of The Timeroom cave. Hats off to Steve Roach!!! The newest album "Future Flows" will be released in one month, just before the huge Ambicon 2013 festival (May 3-5, San Rafael, California). And I am quite sure "Future Flows" will blow us away again!!!

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

60


Amir Baghiri "The Serenity" CD

After 8 albums on Databloem's sublabel Blue Box released during the years 2005 and 2011, in Germany based, but a native Iranian, ambient veteran Amir Baghiri inaugurates his premiere album at Databloem's main label. Entitled "The Serenity", released during January 2013 and packaged in 4-panel digifile with accustomed design by Theo Rabou. As the album's title indicates, "The Serenity" unfolds with tranquil space washes of the opening "Rotation Curves". And this track title is perfectly displayed by its floating and tiding soundwaves, warmly inviting and soothingly touching. Swelling drifts invade also the next piece, "Dark Energy", backed by few distant organic scraps. During the second third smooth cyber-tribal-trance grooves join in and precisely interact with enchantingly warm panoramic surroundings. Deeply mesmerizing immersion awaits!!! "Observable Universe" clocks to nearly 14 minutes and is immediately invaded by sublime stargazing drones, continuously soaring and expanding, and backed by assorted distant rumbles. Stunningly absorbing nocturnal desert soundscape flows and shifts, almost inconspicuously into sonorous primordial tribal canvas presenting Amir Baghiri at his most shamanistic and passionate!!! Sure, these deeply invasive and magically powerful sonic artifacts have been explored long before, but nevertheless, this is a purely indigenous medicine to my ears!!! "Superclusters" calm down this fascinating journey and expand with its colossal and amorphous drones into sublimely infinite space realms, here and there augmented by few fragile trinkets. Sonic portals of the Master are still unlocked... "Invariant Mass" is slightly less massive than it's predecessor, although still effectively gliding and ebbing through deep and dense zoneworlds, always profoundly evocative. "Dependent Artifact", with 16 and half minutes the longest composition, strikes quickly with the warm desert nightscaping drifts, organic, raising and falling, with sheer moments of natural magic, and then progressing during the second half into mysteriously flavored and monstrously intense dronewalls, reaching hugely expansive dimensions. Amir Baghiri excels once again, this is nothing but tremendously absorbing and hauntingly magnificent sonic bliss!!! 10-minute closer "Inherent Existence" keeps on the intense drone route exploring the spectacular scenery of majesty and grandeur. "The Serenity" won't break any new terrains, but it should find easily its way to all connoisseurs seeking their breathtaking desert and space atmospherics, both peaceful and adventurous. "The Serenity" is a piece of fine work, congrats Amir & Databloem!!! And stay tuned for more, because few days ago a new recording by Amir was released on German Attenuation Circuit label, titled "Prayers For The Earth" and released as a CDr edition in folded cardboard sleeve, limited to 120 copies.

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

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