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41
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Airborne" CD by Erik Wøllo
« on: February 03, 2014, 07:23:41 AM »


Erik Wøllo "Airborne" CD

Norwegian ambient guitar virtuoso Erik Wøllo has released "Airborne" album during the end of August, 2012, on Projekt as his, if I am counting correctly, 16th solo work. Of course Erik's extensive discography features also several other outstanding collaborations with artists such as Steve Roach, Ian Boddy, Deborah Martin, Bernhard Wöstheinrich and Frank Van Bogaert. The album, which follows the footsteps of Erik's triumphant debut on Projekt, "Gateway", comes in elegant 4-panel digipak leaded by graceful dreamy cover image by Karsten Wall and panoramic inside photo by Erik.

"Spring Equinox (Prelude)" ignites the journey with lushly swirling embellishments, while balmy scenic washes are guarding above. Then sighing string magic steal the show and guides this opening piece into utterly evocative realms. "The Drift" unfolds with gentle percussive rhythm, warmly spiraling aerials follow shortly backed by soaring strings. A quite absorbing high-tech/tribal/groove-infused adventure!!! "Red Earth", with 7 minutes the longest piece on album, starts with quiet intro, but soon sparse, but strongly evocative strings with desert Southwest flavorings take the lead. Then swiftly shimmering percussions join this amazingly panoramic trip through these grandiose landscapes. A true masterpiece, bravo, Erik!!! Aerial meandering opens "Airborne 1", soon followed by expressive guitar shadings. But it's hauntingly poignant piano that later steals the show together with wonderfully gladdening downtempos. "Circle Lake" quickly turns into gorgeously nostalgic and expansive terrains enriched by pristine strings and organic samples. This composition showcases absolutely flawless harmony between electronics and acoustics. "Lost And Found" remains in wonderfully evocative skyline realms, which later transform into richly luminous, rhythm-induced mesmerizing trip. Sparkling melodies dominate "Airborne 2", while catchy locomoting vibes floats throughout. "The Longest Day" delves into strongly melancholic terrains, where leading acoustic string magic is masterfully coupled with soaring dreamy blankets. Another outstandingly evocative composition!!! "Time River" reveals with serenely embracing ambience, which gently evolves and drifts into catchy percussive-driven melodies, sparkily picturesque and exquisitely enriched by poignantly nostalgic stings. Another stunner!!! "North Of The Mountains" quickly attracts with its fragile touch and charmingly translucent harmony of all ingredients, a headphone listening reveals all the magic of this piece (so it does with all other tracks)!!! "The Magic Spot" melts precisely primordial essences of didgeridoo and tribal drumming with large dose of modern sonic alchemy. A highly quivering trancescape infused by Erik's trademarking guitar mastery. What a journey!!! And a very tough competitor for "Red Earth"!!! "Airborne 3" closes the album with gorgeously celestial washes strengthened by wistful violin-like cries. Majestically immersing!!!

"Airborne" is blazingly flavored masterwork offering a truly essential listening experience for all connoisseurs of shimmeringly expansive ambience bridged with filigreeing guitar brilliance. Erik Wøllo is an ambient icon and "Airborne" is his magnum opus!!! Now the question is, what he will to do to follow this up? Well, the answer is getting closer and closer, because Erik's newest album "Timelines" is hitting the streets in two days, at February 4th, 2014...

Richard Gürtler (Feb 02, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

42


Ran Kirlian & Jaja "Cosmos Vol. I" CDr

One of the leaders behind Spanish Altera Orbe label, Ran Kirlian, has released during April 2013 two long awaited collaborative projects. One of them is "Cosmos Vol. I", the first installment of his space journeying with fellow German voyager Jaja. Jaja is constantly exploring space regions since 2011 through her numerous free download albums released via Cyan Music label (Jaja is a co-owner of this free audio netlabel) while Ran Kirlian has ventured deeply into these realms on his acclaimed "Continuum" CDr album (June 2012, Altera Orbe).

Deep space hums sharply invade "Majestic", the opening, 19-minute long piece. Dronewalls quickly transmute into heavy weight category, colossally expansive, but celestial choir-like infusions and some intangible high-tech undulations soften this invasion. Cascading from monumental, ear-bending passages to more calmer, rather warmer and relieving spacefields. The next piece, entitled "Particles", has a similar length and drifts graciously through spatial grandness. Cybernetic outbursts, vibrations and disturbances and ominous clouds of alien sounds emerge continuously and meticulously amalgamate with dronescaping stellar panoramas. Drifting with ethereal grace calmly and safely through diverse intensifications and culminations with arising, well-hidden rhythm fragments, organic traceries and heavenly choirs. Powerfully transporting experience, a potential magnum opus? Shortest "Full Of Stars", clocking over 14-minute mark, reveals with rather tremulously droning scenario, reinforced by harsher and intenser, ear-tickling layers. Floating, ebbing and expanding with massively unfathomable, transcendental dronewalls hauntingly interplaying with majestically soothing, nearly contemplative solitudes. "Communion" with nearly 28 minutes the longest piece closes this journey with abyssal breaths, while ethereal choir-like drones are guarding above and warmly monstrous, wide-screen soundwaves fill the air. Distant, industrialized mind-benders keep on emerging here and there. This is certainly a gracefully grandiose pinnacle, where voluminously transporting effect is quickly guaranteed!!! As a devoted space drifter, I couldn't ask for more intense finale!!!

Both creators dedicate this voyage into celestial domains to the magnificence of the Cosmos as well as to famous American astronomer, educator, author and science popularizer, Carl Sagan. I hope Ran Kirlian & Jaja are working on the next volume, because this first chapter left me breathlessly fascinated. As far I know this is a limited edition (not sure if 25 or 50 copies), so if you are one of those deep space connoisseurs, don't miss "Cosmos Vol. I", 80 minutes of pure stargazing magic awaits here!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 26, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)


43


Alio Die & Zeit "A Circular Quest" CD

"A Circular Quest" is a 5th chapter of collaborations between Italian ambient sculptors Stefano Musso aka Alio Die and Tommaso Cimò aka Zeit. Four of them are regular CD albums on Hic Sunt Leones while the remaining one is a live document from 2007 released as a special CDr edition on the same label. Out since June 2013, the album comes, as usual for all HSL releases, with attractive, glossy 6-panel digipak featuring beautiful pictures of some, I believe, Venetian palaces.

Opening intro "Going Far" clocks only to nearly 3 minutes, but it delves deeply into helically reverberating and mindscaping drone terrains. The next piece, "Brahman", is by far longer, reaching almost 23-minute mark. Hanging above is slightly harsher, buzzing monochromatic drone with intangible chant fragments meshing with meandering tapestry of distinctive sounds. After about 10 minutes more exotic layer silently sneaks in, then the whole weave slowly unfolds into livelily tinkling sequences, although the composition keeps its strongly contemplative dimension. Soothingly embracing seashore sounds reveal the title track, "A Circular Quest", but soon they are joined by quietly circling, distinguishably flavored electroacoustic textures, which set a beautifully pensive feel. Distant chants stealthily ride atop. Magnificent!!! The next "Dharma" is another longer composition and it dives into sublimely flatlined realms, both immense and gracious. Hauntingly mesmerizing tinkles and tranquil field recordings join the fore and give to this piece an impression of utterly gorgeous sonic paradise, presenting Alio Die & Zeit at its most immersing and meditative. Joyfully twinkling sequence notes percolate during the second half. A true masterpiece!!! The closing piece is entitled "Returning" and as its title indicates, this shorter undulating dronescape goes back to where it all begun.

"A Circular Quest" is stirringly crafted and exceptionally fragranced journey by Alio Die & Zeit, certainly another masterful work by Stefano Musso & Tommaso Cimò!!! Yes, this album gets my highest recommendation!!! And Alio Die keeps on excelling, January 21st, 2014, was a street date for his newest collaborative album "Amidst The Circling Spires" with, in Berkeley, California, based voice virtuoso Sylvi Alli, so stay tuned...

Richard Gürtler (Jan 23, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

44
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Nightbreeze" CD by Havdis
« on: January 19, 2014, 03:48:09 AM »


Havdis "Nightbreeze" CD

Havdis, the mysterious project of even more mysterious Norwegian soundscaper Odd Jensen, returns with 2nd full length album on gterma, entitled "Nightbreeze" and released at the end of October 2013. Actually, this is Havdis' third release, but the first one, "Clouds Into Sea" from 2011 (out as download on Russian Mixgalaxy net-label and also self-released as a CDr) was one year later featured on stunningly submerging debut "The Hidden Islands" CD on gterma (March, 2012).

First confrontation with "Nightbreeze" is absolutely impressive with striking beauty of panoramic images by Nina Benjaminsen featured on 16-page booklet. But I am sure Havdis is going to as much close as possible to reveal all the magic of these breathtaking Nordic landscapes during summer twilight. The opening piece, "Nothing But Pale Horizon", fits accurately the title with reverberating dronescape, quite contemplative, enriched by mellowly traversing passages filled with slight densities, disruptions and stillness. "Silent Dawn", with 4 minutes the shortest piece, unfolds with mesmerizingly circling melancholic washes, cavernous echoes sneak in along the way and add more mysterious dimension. "As The Moon Made Love To The Mountain" drifts graciously through warmly expansive nocturnal skylines while "Blåmyra" is sculpted with field recordings of hummed coastal panoramas and monochromatic drone. More textured layer with gorgeously evocative pads moves to the fore, flavored here and there with water splashes and seagull calls. Remote mild tinkles announce "Sweet Silent Solitude" and the listener is smoothly transported into utterly evocative, free-floating atmospheric Eden. Gracefully amorphous and colossally immersing exploration of some of the most fascinating sceneries of Nordic landscapes. Havdis dives deeply into the natural magnificence of these territories!!! The next cut, "Beneath Stars Of Fall", intensely drifts with choir-like infused drones above breathtakingly majestic ocean cliffs while bridged with mystic beauty of these climes. "Drops On An Inner Lake" relieve the ears with its stillness permeating through primordial cave, while soft clinks precisely interact with warmly embracing expanses enriched by piano. A journey into wonderfully immense place!!! "Nightbreeze", the title track, moves through more textured, spirally repetitive path evoking spectacular play of colors, which could be a natural phenomenon of midnight sun glimmering on the lake's surface. "Entering The Sheltered Waters Close To Harbour" heads into mysteriously sparse organic terrains, flavored with distant primordial rumblings. The closing piece, "Arcticmantra (Let Us Keep The Ice)", is with 14 minutes the longest one on "Nightbreeze". Rather monotonous, humming drone is spiced by assorted foreboding fragments and lightened by tranquilizing field recordings. Toward the end the dronewalls relievedly fade away. A truly awe-inspiring finale with deeply mindscaping experience guaranteed!!!

"Nightbreeze", composed and recorded between 2009 and 2013 and mastered by A.P (aka Anders Peterson of Ghost Sounds), is another stunningly adventurous album by Havdis. This guy keeps on impressing me with his undulating and crescendoing dronesculptings. "Nightbreeze" exquisitely portrays all the natural summer magic of untamed Norwegian hinterlands. Can't afford to visit these places? Don't worry, with "Nightbreeze" you will be carried away to discover all these jaw-dropping panoramas!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 19, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

45


Chronotope Project "Event Horizon" CDr

Jeffrey Ericson Allen, from Eugene, Oregon, acting under the name of Chronotope Project is back with his 3rd full length album, "Event Horizon". Released in the middle of October 2013 as his second album for Relaxed Machinery. Jeffrey's both previous albums from 2012, "Chrysalis" and "Solar Wind", have brought to him a lot of attention within the the ambient community, Chronotope Project was certainly one of the most exciting discoveries of that year. Now we are entering the next chapter and I am sure this potential artist is again going to fully unfold his refined musicianship, just like he did on both above masterful albums.

"Unwinding The Dream" spreads with soothing organics, shimmeringly melodious sequences are accompanied by swirling crystalline tinkles and gorgeously nostalgic celestial expanses. An enchantingly floating piece of music transporting each journeyer into tranquilly mesmerizing spheres of sheer grace. "Akashic Love Songs" shift toward majestic panoramas enriched by mellow downtempos, glowing gentle percussive tribal magic and magnetizing filigree acoustic string patterns. A very alluring rhythm-driven elixir delivered by a highly crafted sonic alchemist. For sure this one will become one of my long-time favorites by Chronotope Project!!! "Arecibo" precisely displays the title with its straight cyber-tech mood with all those extraterrestrial-like fragments, radio transmissions and other phantasmal effects. The longest piece, "No Birth, No Death", clocks over 10-minute mark and safely remains in heavenly domains, graciously drifting through colossal cosmic spheres, reinforced by cybernetic breaths. But sad flute-infused sounds add earthy feel, and later warmly soft tribal rhythm and gentle tinkles inconspicuously sneak in. Deeply mesmerizing and contemplative composition!!! The following track, "The Temple Bell Fades", immediately moves into hauntingly mysterious terrains, masterfully enriched by sparse, but stunningly evocative piano magic. A truly beautiful!!! "Automatic Writing" attracts with its uplifting joyful texture scented with some beautiful, breezy, summer-like fragrance. A remarkably captivating and scenic!!! "Geosynchronous" catches up with its sublime mood bridging ear-catching bell sounds, balsamic ultra spacious washes and dreamy female chants. Another genuine sonic bliss!!! "Event Horizon", the title track, returns back to highly relaxing mood with warmly inviting melody created by pleasingly variable synthetic pulses and graciously meandering atmospherics with intangible choirs floating above. "The Path Of Least Resistance" slows down at the beginning with beautifully twinkling distant clinks and deeply evocative washes, but soon euphoric feel blankets the whole composition with richly sparkling palette of electrosounds enthusiastically cascading up and down. This is the closing piece and it's wonderfully expressive!!!

What to add? "Event Horizon", mastered by Peter James with artwork by Steve Brand, is a superb work loaded with high-spiritedness of its creator!!! Well, I should say Master instead of creator and you can be sure that his magic touch is heard all over this enormously sophisticated recording. "Event Horizon" is distinguishably sculpted and highly polished masterpiece, and certainly a very strong competitor for the album of the year!!! Jeffrey Ericson Allen and Chronotope Project are now heading to Ambient Pantheon!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 09, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

46
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Nidra" CDr by Jarguna
« on: January 05, 2014, 10:43:23 AM »


Jarguna "Nidra" CDr

Behind Jarguna project is hidden Italian soundsculptor Marco Billi. Although quite unknown, Jarguna's discography includes no less than 9 CDr/CD releases, both solo and some collaborations (with artists such Uzbazur, Lorenzo Squillari and Seba), and few additional albums, which are mostly available as free downloads (including collaboration with Kirill Platonkin). Marco Billi is also experienced traveler across the globe, mostly through Far East and Africa regions, and a highly proficient photographer. As an ethnobotany researcher, Marco Billi is also the driving force behind Shangri-la Association, dedicated to the protection of cultural and environmental traditions. So definitely don't hesitate to explore his musical, visual, travelogue and researching adventures!!!

"Nidra" is the newest album by Jarguna, which was self-released, I believe, during December 2013 and it marks Jarguna's return to more earthy soundscaping, as the previous work, a double album "Oscure Presenze" with Italian fellow artist Uzbazur (also known as Uzbazur345), delved into darker and spookier ambient terrains. Comprised of three lengthy tracks, "Nidra" is ignited with "Toward The Source", a long-form piece reaching length of 34 minutes. Organic intro with natural sounds is wrapped by roaring wind and guarded by mysterious choirs hanging above. The atmosphere serenely floats through graciously expansive and gorgeously immersing cascades enriched here and there by distant gentle dissonances, whistles and tinkles. Warmly embracing dulcet tunes invade along the way as well. Magically transporting journey awaits!!! The next track, "Winds Waves", is slightly shorter with nearly 27-minutes. Fragile tinkles are blanketed by eerily desolate wind, but soon cavernous whistles and soft rumbles, evoking a wooden cow bells, join the scene and lead through elevating passages, which are harmoniously bridged with soothingly contemplative prayerscapes. A really gorgeous piece!!! The closing, 15-minute long "Sankalpa" features two guests, Massimo Di Nocera on guitar and Monnie Gi on sitar. The composition unfolds with tranquilly expanding washes, magnificently transporting into strikingly beautiful unbounded realms. Airy tribal drumming arises on far-off horizon, while lusciously subtle string magic permeates to the forefront, which is utterly heartwarming. Hummed sitar drone meanders calmly in the background. "Sankalpa" is undoubtedly a truly captivating conclusion of this album. Stunningly glorious composition, Marco, Massimo & Monnie!!!

While journeying with "Nidra", the listener is carried away into delightfully atmospheric meditative paradise filled with balmy subtlety and amorphous mystery. Enter your sonic Shangri-la now!!! "Nidra" is a very strong album with fitting artwork, certainly one of my faves by this gifted Italian artist, who is based in Sesto Fiorentino, Tuscany. Jarguna is a very strong addition to other kindred spirits of fruitful Italian drone ambient scene, so make sure to experience Marco's soundworlds!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 05, 2014, Bratislava, Slovakia)

47
Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Memories In Widescreen" CD by 36
« on: December 29, 2013, 12:14:47 PM »


36 "Memories In Widescreen" CD

Dennis Huddleston, the sole protagonist behind 36 project, is undoubtedly one of the rising stars on the drone ambient scene. After highly acclaimed "Lithea" album from March 2012, which was already re-issued several times during 2012 and 2013 (as a double LP and twice as a CD), Dennis has decided to satisfy all lovers of silver discs and released his sold out album "Memories In Widescreen" on CD format. It came to light during May 2013 featuring two extra tracks (previously digital-exclusive bonus pieces), while the original album was released as a double 12" picture vinyl in November 2010. As a huge CD collector, I couldn't be more happy with this Dennis' decision. More especially, if packaged in beautifully designed and documented 6-panel matte digipak. Yes, the whole artwork with stunning archive photos perfectly interacts with album's title, excellent work!!!

The opening piece, "Before Time", unfolds with utterly evocative epic dronescapes that can be only 36, all wrapped by the hummed sounds of ocean waves touching the shoreline. Yes, this signature sound pours all over this beautifully nostalgic sonic document. The album title exactly captures the whole essence of these warmhearted memories. The longest track, 9-minute "After Time", only confirms above lines with its stunningly visualizing atmospheres, which are masterfully spiced with hauntingly intense cascades. This is 36 at his most profound dronescaping, to me a definite Hall of Famer track!!! 'Drifta" is by far more monochromatic with some distant voices hanging above and emerging foreboding breaths and noises. Gates to enchantingly mindscaping territories are unlocked!!! "Drowning" returns to wealthily intensier, hissy path leading to mysteriously subterrestrial realms, reinforced by assorted organic glitches, rumbles and voice fragments. Magnificently submerging!!! "Disappear" continuously drifts into spiraling infinity, while recurrent piano note elatedly brightens the atmosphere, which slowly grows in volume. 5 minutes in length, but I could listen to this one over and over, a truly gorgeous composition!!! Shorter, glitchy transitional piece "The Mirror" holds it strongly captivating essence, where shimmering moments of long forgotten memories awake. "Lucid" drifts on monochromatic waves of amply organic and mesmerizingly mindscaping ambience. The title track, "Memories In Widescreen", as its name suggests, attracts with its hauntingly intense drone scenario, which slowly expands into deeply imaginative and intimate terrains. Highly delightful journey!!! "Melt" blends outstandingly evocative blankets with harsher, tumultuous deluges while the following cut, "Slide", shifts into more serene paths, where the leading drone is embellished on the back with some euphoric xylophone-like sounds, adding a bit of exotic fragrance. 7-minute "Vesl" masterfully explores majestically flatlined drone horizon. "Revert Time" swirls inside of magnificently hypnotic circles while dreamy female chants ride atop, painting wonderfully moody atmosphere hazed by mist. "It's You (It's Me)" is as much mesmerizing as the previous track and it closes this beautifully expressive album with quickly spiraling dronewalls, intermingling with vaporous female voices. Again precisely wrapped by movingly immersing nostalgia. A glorious ending!!!

As I haven't heard the original double LP edition, this CD version is to me another huge revelation that moves side by side with the groundbreaking "Lithea" album. All I can do is to repeat again, bravissimo, Dennis!!! This ultra talented UK based artist plays his own big drone league. And don't miss 36's latest "Shadow Play" album released during July 2013, but that's next story...

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

48


Jeff Greinke "Scenes From A Train" CD

The time runs fast, already four years have passed since Jeff Greinke's "Virga" album, released on Lotuspike. For all that time I didn't hear anything about this extraordinary artist, who is based in Tucson, Arizona. So the more surprised I was when "Scenes From A Train" CD crossed my radars via Hypnos Forum (thanks "Immersion" for the hint!!!). Yes, this release went by quite unnoticed within broader ambient community, it's a pity, because it deserves much bigger exposure even if it's not rooted to Jeff's older, more spookier ambient/dark ambient soundworlds. "Scenes From A Train" CD rather follows footsteps of his rhythmed, jazzy-infused side project Land. Released in June 2013 on UK label Infectious Music, Jeff Greinke is supported on this album by the long list of guests (there is no less than 13 of them!!!). Among them some which were part of above mentioned Land project.

Filigree musicianship is heard all over this entertaining sonic escapade. Richly flavored textures, merging warmer scenic vistas with lots of acoustic instrumentation and cascading from funky jazzy rhythms through weirdly tribal fields to sorrowful cinematic subtleties. Appealingly moving jazzy-funk/tribal pace of the opening title track "Scenes From A Train" immediately sets the atmosphere of a picturesque railroad travel. Bowed string mastery excels on sadly expressive piece, "The Beautiful Storm", while the next one, "Valley And Ridge" shifts back to rhythmed rails, where sparkling percussive tinkles with gentle clackers and shakers beautifully interact with the variety of bowed strings and wind instruments. Catchy laid-back train-like pace is achieved, while mingling with warmly inviting window's horizons. Pure beauty!!! Breathtakingly evocative mixture of trumpet, clarinet and viola leads "The Milky Way". Few dramatic crescendos sneak in throughout this stunningly expressive track. Small amount of exquisite Middle East fragrance is thrown in too (evoking unforgettable "Ngaio Gamelan"...). Deeply immersing cinematic realms are fully unfolded, more please!!! An ultimate Hall of Fame composition!!! Jazzy and tribal ingredients are again bridged in "Strange Birds", a piece driven by percussive downtempos, piano, cello and wind instruments. Hauntingly sculpted!!! "Haboob" keeps on the distinctive route with all the guitar and acoustic mastery, heavier post-rock infusions are featured in this oddly unique piece. Fortunately, aptly titled "Night Train" returns quickly to relaxing tribal mood surrounded by the interactions of trombone, clarinet, horn and distant dronescapes. Very nice!!! The album ends with "Autumn Moon", which features leisurely embracing and rhythmically stirring texture, augmented by velvety tinkles and female wordless ethereal chants. A truly enthralling finale!!!

"Scenes From A Train" album offers an all-inclusive, highly distinguishing travelogue experience, presented by challenging creativity of each participant. Jeff Greinke has teamed with many virtuoso performers, who have delivered to this recording their soul and spirit. Aural bliss awaits here, definitely!!! Excuse me for not mentioning any names of the guests in this review (plus mixing and mastering engineers), but it's the music that speaks for themselves and I didn't want to leave someone out. And I award extra points also for the visuals, the 4-panel digipak comes with additional 8-page booklet, precisely displaying the theme and dedication of each performer. The old Jeff Greinke is gone, that's for sure (at least on this album), but "Scenes From A Train" CD is a really big one as well, welcome back, Maestro!!!

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

49
Everything and Nothing / Greetings from Bratislava!!!!
« on: December 23, 2013, 01:24:50 AM »
Hi friends!!!

Wishing to everyone at Hypnos community a wonderful holiday season!!!

With friendly greetings, Richard :)


50


Shane Morris & Mystified "Emergence" CD

"Emergence", released during June 2013 on Spotted Peccary/Lotuspike, is the second chapter of "Inspired Evolution" trilogy and follow-up to adventurous "Epoch". While on "Epoch" Shane Morris & Thomas Park (aka Mystified) have focused on giant dinosaurs colonizing the land, "Emergence" maps the appearance of mammals. Just the same as with "Epoch", also "Emergence" immediately catches my attention with stunning artwork (original photography by Jourdan Laik, layout and design by Daniel Pipitone).

Over ten minutes long opener, "From The Primordial Night", takes the listener directly into nocturnally frightening wooded swamp territory. Mysterious drone on the back, synthesized drops, frog-like calls, buzzing noises of insects, emerging percussive dissonances, ear-tickling click-clack, ominous breaths..., I could call this as a cacophony, but somehow it sounds quite intricate and it precisely evokes deep moist forest. Wear your headphones and you will take a spectacularly transporting prehistoric journey with many aural rewards, a grandiose opening!!! The next piece, "A Struggling New Form Of Life", starts quietly, but soon tensive circles invade along with dramatic percussive rumbles. After culminating, sonic dissonances again switch into mesmerizingly mindscaping waves. Then reappear once more in richly cavernous organic form. Awesome!!! This track is nothing short of riveting immersion provided by its predecessor. "Weathering Storm And Tide" unfolds with rain and thunder on-site recordings and mysterious ghostlike drone emanations, which intermingle throughout with sinisterly repetitive percussive clicks. "To The Icy Peaks" melts leading drone expansions, buzzing noises, sharper outbursts of percussions and clattering fragments. Smoothly floating and meandering through calmer snowscaping plateaus with some climbs into thrillingly dramatic heights. The closing cut, "Feet On The Ancient Forest Floor", moves to wealthily colored ravine trails, lushly organic and intriguingly disturbing, with mystifyingly monotonous shaking rhythm later thrown in. A grand finale!!!

This is definitely not your mediocre dose of dark ambient-infused recording, but an enormously thrilling, anomalously accomplished and stunningly proficient sonic document offering to each journeyer a truly adventurous listening gratification!!! "Emergence" (mastered by Ben Cox) is undoubtedly after "Epoch" another must have from these two gifted explorers!!! I just have no idea how can Shane Morris & Mystified top these two parts with the final installment...

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

51


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)

52
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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

57


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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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