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Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Endless" CDr by Jaja
« on: January 10, 2016, 08:34:40 AM »

Jaja "Endless" CDr

German stargazer Jaja, with domicile in Köln, has been quite busy during 2015 with really gorgeous batch of pro CDr releases such as "Stellamare", "Endless" and "Starlight". Spacedrifting endeavors of Jaja started back in 2009, since then she has released numerous digital albums as well as first recording on physical format, a collaborative project with Spanish dronescaper Ran Kirlian entitled "Cosmos Vol. 1". This one is out on Ran's Altera Orbe label since April 2013. Before and after that all Jaja's albums were released through Cyan netlabel, of which she is as Jana Rockstroh a co-owner, together with Marco Köller. Their catalog is quite extensive featuring now around 55 titles covering about 14 various artists, mostly from Germany, but also some from Portugal, Croatia, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain and Argentina. As a huge aficionado of physical releases, I was very glad when Jaja decided to go tougher route and release her albums also as pro CDr editions, usually published in a very small limited editions of 20 or 40 copies. Even if the demand for physical releases is continually decreasing, I am really glad Jaja did this move. Always a great news for all of us, CD purists out there, well-done, Jaja!!! I must admit all their physical releases look really attractive, packaged in standard jewel case with transparent tray, usually with 8-panel front insert featuring stunning visuals, always precisely displaying expansive space odyssey Jaja is praised for. Additional points I award also for elegant print on each CDr. Of course "Endless" album is no exception with its impressive cover images, this time printed on 6-panel panoramic foldout insert, which are masterfully executed by Stan K. Yeatts, who is a renowned visual artist within the ambient community crafting his unique style, when coalescing photography and painting. This, in Santa Fe based, graphic designer, poet and literary author is know for his work on Jaja's previous album (digital only) "Startrail" as well as on album covers like "The Long Night" by Steve Roach & Kelly David and "Monuments Of Ecstasy" by Byron Metcalf, Steve Roach & Rob Thomas. Actually, "Endless" was originally released back in December 2014 as a part of the contemporary EP-series, but its physical version is out only since September 2015.

15 minutes long "Eclipse" unfolds the voyage with graceful, spaciously immense and warmly gliding movements, coupled with distantly intangible cosmic wheezes and tranquilly embracing piano quietudes. Gently monochromatic blankets are persistently permeated by ephemeral piano contemplations, while emerging nuances insistently counterpoint with gorgeously engrossing silent glimpses. Splendiferous stellar emptiness meets enchanting melancholic subtlety, this is spacescaping poignancy at its most enrapturing!!! Well-accomplished, Jaja!!! 9-minute "Orbit" immerse the listener with its quietly tiding texture, again tranquilly surrounding, where calmly arising celestial choir-like horizons meticulously commingle with gorgeously sparse, yet richly evocative piano hues, gently reverberating hums and warmly transient cascades. And again harmoniously amalgamated with glancing filigrees of introspective stillness. Rather minimal in layering, but always sonorously expressive soundcarving!!! Another beauty!!! "Satellite", with 17-plus minutes the longest odyssey on "Endless", delves into more shadowy, expansively drifting spheres, augmented by cinematically crescendoing piano patterns and intriguingly weeping cello-like solitudes. The composition serenely floats and meanders through various, fascinatingly panoramic elevations, reaches intensely climaxing magnitudes and then clandestinely vanishes into the sublime infinity. This could be a magnum opus of this album, which authentically exhibits its title and the mood of prodigiously vast realm with all its perplexes. A voluminously euphonious and utterly embracing sonic phenomenon!!! "Infinite", which slightly clocks over 12-minute mark, closes this album with peacefully sinuating soundscape, where meager poetic piano is bridged with discreetly waxing and waning cirrocumulus cloudscapes and subtly organic undercurrents. Mildly humming perpetual dissonances are hauntingly confronted with nuanced piano arrangements, ranging from almost elusive to warmly tighten, and soothingly ebbing field recordings. A beautifully tranquilizing conclusion!!!

Utilizing her traditional Roland JD-800 synth supported by additional outboard toys, 54-minute "Endless" is a great example showcasing Jaja's tremendous passion and immeasurable potential in crafting atmospheric bliss for all deep space connoisseurs among us. This interstellar voyage is always gracefully bewitching and harmoniously enigmatic, without becoming uninspiringly monotonous. And when merging with unforeseen tapestries of contemplative finesses, we simply enter into a truly magnificent ethereal domains with superiorly painted amorphous bridges between comforting expanses, tenebrous occurrences and balmy solicitousness. That's "Endless" in a nutshell!!! In case Jaja's spacescaping adventures are still a good kept secret for you, then I highly recommend to change this, because you might miss one of the most creative and spirited drifters within the space ambient journeying, and no matter if unfathomably dark or captivatingly engulfing. And to keep these lines most actual, since January 1st is out Jaja's newest, 10-track album entitled "Sparkles", its physical pro CDr edition is scheduled for the middle of February with visual spectacle by another genius and kindred soul, Kati Astraeir. Join the odyssey now!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 10, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Super Fata "Structural Tendency" CD

Wow, where this project comes from? These were most likely my first words, when rather serendipitously encountering the soundworlds of Super Fata, a Norwegian project based in Oslo and driven by its sole protagonist Jan Roos. Although "Structural Tendency" CD is out since September 2013, I didn't have any clue about the existence of this project until the end of October 2015, when I was guided through Michal Karcz's site to Super Fata's second album "Percipient" (Thanks a lot, Michal!!!). No coincidence this time, as Michal is responsible for the stunning visuals on "Percipient". But that might be the next story, so let's move now back to Super Fata's debut release "Structural Tendency" CD. The album was mastered during January 2013 by Jan Roos and Morten Lund at his Lunds Lyd studio, but after few delays it was released, as mentioned, during September same year on Norwegian Origo Sound label, which is known for releasing albums by renowned ambient artists such as Erik Wøllo, Biosphere, Circular or Green Isac. It somehow remains a mystery to me, because I feel like "Structural Tendency" CD in bigger part didn't cross radars of drone ambient aficionados like me. Have no idea what happened, maybe the promotion was not adequate, but fortunately this time is over and since there is no "Best before" on music (as usual credit for this one goes to Scott M2), I am really excited to be able to fully dive into Super Fata's dronescaping magic. The CD is packaged in an elegant matte 4-panel eco wallet with attractive front and back cover design by Jan Roos, while the inside cover art is based on the original digital artwork "Aquatic" by Sven Geier.

"Structural Tendency I" is a shorter intro track, which immediately ignites this adventurous odyssey with intenser drone magnitudes, where splendiferously humming abyssopelagic magnifications precisely commingle with helixing cyber-tech fragments and ear-ticklingly crushing dissonant surges. So it's quite obvious the listener is swallowed by ultra deep zones without any chance to perceive the next track. "Structural Tendency II - The Origins Of Intention" is slightly longer than its predecessor, yet the journey is as much immersing with highlighting, intensely oscillating drone sheets, mesmerizingly mindscaping and meticulously bridged with tinkling gossamer quietudes. And then clandestinely transmuting into sparsely sculpted terrains melting together intangible enigmas, contemplative subtleties, evaporating reverberations and phantasmal ephemeras. Minimal, but stunningly enrapturing!!! Not even 8 minutes have passed so far, nevertheless this is an utterly spellbinding listening experience, hats off to Jan Roos/Super Fata!!! With "Structural Tendency III - Alignment I" we enter now the long-form spheres reaching 21 and a half minutes mark. Glitchy swirls announce silently emerging monochromatic stratum, which drifts towards enthrallingly perplexing territories. Cascading from awe-inspiringly desolate plateaus through tranquilly peculiar sceneries to metamorphosing transcendental realms. A huge amount of jaw-dropping nuances is continuously delivered throughout this mind-blowing odyssey, high-pitched echoes, ethereal meridians, ear-bending escalations, primordial potpourris, sinuating unfathomable drone walls... An epic dronescape and a true all-inclusive drone tour de force awaits here!!! Bravo!!! The more I listen to this album, the more I feel ashamed and constantly asking myself, how could I miss such phenomenal release? And there also arise other questions, is this a dark ambient dronecarving? No, I would rather stick with ambient, yes enough experimental I could say, but certainly not in noisier dimensions, although persistently titillating my ears, it's definitely devastatingly enigmatic and intriguingly distinctive. With 7 and a half minutes long "Structural Tendency IV - Merge" we keep on freefalling with deep-diving submersible into the next layer, the hadopelagic zone, to explore surviving fauna in the most inhospitable places on Earth. Remote monochromatic drones, humming perplexes, euphonious discordances, ear-piercing spirals, emerging, elevating and climaxing. Afterward evanescing and emanating through tranquilly organic paths and entering breathtakingly expansive and warmly embracing panoramas of "Structural Tendency V - Passing Of The Threshold". Gracefully immense movements are strikingly magnificent and masterfully amalgamated with hypnotically ambiguous nuances, swirlingly permeating effects and transiently translucent subtleties. Clocking to 6 and a half minutes, this must be Super Fata at the very top of his serenely atmospheric soundsculpting, the peak of the deepest sonic meditation has just been reached!!! With nearly 17-minute "Structural Tendency VI - Alignment II" the listener is taken back into intricately colored and exquisitely amplified drone terrains merged with arising cyber-biotic traceries and shrilling scraps. But it's inconspicuously pervading vivacious cybernetic groove, which subsequently steals the center stage and pinnacles towards the 10th minute. Then quietly fading away through monochromatic vistas, counterpointed with intangibly tiding glimpses, into the gorgeously enveloping eternal stillness. My jaw keeps dropped...

Multifariously forged "Structural Tendency" CD debut offers to each focused listener an intense 60-minute journey to the frontiers of first-class dronescaping enigmas!!! A true miracle and a pure eargasm, Super Fata is to me one of the biggest revelations of 2015, that's for sure!!! Releases such as "Structural Tendency" should be praised and celebrated by devoted community, and not kept in secret. Jan Roos aka Super Fata is a criminally underrated dronesculptor, he deserves way more credit, so let's explore this hidden treasure!!! And don't forget, during October 2015 Jan Roos has released through his own Solipsis label his latest album "Percipient", which is available as a pro CDr packaged in 4-panel digipak in limited edition of 50 copies and featuring already mentioned splendid visuals by Polish kindred soul Michal Karcz. And as far I know, two other digital albums, one 4-track mini album "Cosmologic Relation" and one 7-track album "Natural Selection", are available via Super Fata's Bandcamp site. Welcome to the worlds of Super Fata!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 04, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Steve Roach "Bloodmoon Rising" 4xCD

The whole odyssey started Steve Roach quite clandestinely back in the April of 2014, when recording a long-form piece for the first eclipse at April 15th. Then followed another three compositions with, in the meantime announced, 4CD release, wrapping the final eclipse at September 28th, 2015, when four lunar eclipses in a row, visible to sky watchers across the North America, were completed. So after highly celebrated 30th anniversary 3CD remastered edition "Structures From Silence" (released during April 2014), all fellow travelers and connoisseurs of more droning, splendorously oracular soundcarving were eagerly awaiting another colossal journey by this genius sound architect. Over the course of officially announced three "Bloodmoon Rising" parts, we have been experiencing extraordinarily enrapturing compositions, meticulously portraying these latest lunar phenomenons. So no wonder, as a huge aficionado of physical releases, I couldn't wait to hold "Bloodmoon Rising" 4CD in my hands. This long awaited beauty was released through Steve's Timeroom Editions at September 12th, 2015 in limited edition of 1000 copies. So all those happy journeyers and spectators could fully experience the final eclipse of the lunar tetrad. Each 8-panel eco wallet is signed and hand-numbered. Additional credits are given to Sam Rosenthal for design and to Spotted Peccary's Howard Givens for mastering.

April 15th, 2014 marks the first eclipse and "Night 1" clocks to 73 and half minutes. This composition was recorded during April 2014, then enhanced during the summer of 2015, yet still kept in secret for a very long time, actually until the official release of the complete 5-hour collection. Steve Roach straightly dives with his soundcarving into the deepest ends of celestial emptiness, where he masterfully layers ultra deep flatlined drones with cyclically emerging enigmas and transcendentally sinuous ear-tickling reverberations. After phenomenally nebulous spectacle entitled "Invisible", here comes another intriguingly mindscaping listening and scientifically magnificent sky-viewing experience. This immensely infinite dronescaping scenario is utterly powerful and eternally enrapturing. Cyber-tech insignias continuously permeate across grandiosely magmatic flow and relentlessly commingle with warmer helixes and ambiguously flavored nuances. A top-notch amalgamate exhibiting ethereally light and unfathomably dark audible insignias in absolute equilibrium. And no matter, if giving a serious workout to your speaker system or voyaging with your headphones on. A quite jaw-dropping transmutation follows after about 52 minutes, when the composition shifts from endless spaciousness into more earthy, heartwarmingly inviting panoramic realms, yet again profoundly enveloping the listener with intensely sweeping quintessences, holding undisputable signatures of the soulful oases known as The Timeroom and The Timehouse. A sonic ambrosia!!!

70-minute "Night 2" from October 8th, 2014, was the first officially presented "Bloodmoon Rising" recording available as digital download, later remastered for the complete 4CD collection. Continuously cascading dronescape, where intensely peaking drone walls persistently alternate with tranquilly diminuendoing humming sheets, exquisitely pervaded by glimpses of ever embracing silence. Capturing all the magical essences of deep nocturnal immersion and subsequent reactions of kindred journeyers (and there was a tremendous amount of them) led to the final decision of Steve Roach to continue to reveal the lunar tetrad through his virtuosic sonic canvas. Billowy drones, efficiently coalesced with hauntingly dissonant subtleties, are breathlessly gargantuan and tenaciously dense, yet always dissolving on the blankets of ephemeral quietudes. Atmospheric grace at its most monumental, this must be no one else but Steve Roach!!! And undeniably a triggering point for releasing "Bloodmoon Rising" tetralogy on a CD format, so we all must be really thankful for such sonic gift!!!

"Night 3" from the April 4th, 2015, was released on Bandcamp April 2nd, on the CD available in a newly remastered version, which clocks to the same length as "Night 1". On this long-form piece Steve Roach delves into the deepest ends of his perplexingly-driven droneforging. Mega desolate drone hums insistently oscillate, intermingle with evanescent cybernetic fragments and paint thrillingly solitary sceneries during the first 20 minutes. Then warmer imageries surreptitiously sneak in and guide the composition through relatively earthier terrains, emphasized by abundantly expansive undulations constantly bridged with transiently climaxing ear-piercing resonations. Voluminously enthralling soundscape awaits here!!! All those fascinating metamorphoses are intriguingly clandestine and continuously exhibit intangible symmetry between abysmally tenebrous dronescapes and balmily introspective vistas. The listener is endlessly immersed by sheer atmospheric beauty of monumental blankets merged with magnifying movements. Majestically magmatic flow at its most infinite, graceful and spellbinding!!!

To nearly 74 minutes clocking "Night 4" continues voyaging through ultra gargantuan space depths with its monstrously nebulous and mind-blowingly helixing drones. The woofer certainly gets here another overtime!!! The 20th minute seems to be again a crucially transmutable, when shifting from breathtakingly immersing void into blossoming, primordial-driven pageant. Rumbling artifacts with organic dissonances are constantly guarded by intensely drifting, nuancing and climaxing unfathomable layers, before quietly dissolving into the enveloping stillness towards the 26th minute. Utterly enrapturing transition from deeply profound terrains into breathtakingly expansive desert insignias, meticulously evoking the stunning desert surroundings and precisely interacting with the magic of the fourth and final lunar eclipse. A true sonic and visual Eden keeps on unfolding throughout the following 24 minutes. A gracefully undulating medley with a colossally orchestral warmness, where awe-inspiring aural energies coexist in eternal equilibrium with incredibly expansive quietudes. The closing 23 minutes inconspicuously sneak into more serene, ethereal trajectories, although still gliding and meandering towards the pinnacling nocturnal stillness, exquisitely rewarding!!! "Night 4" undoubtedly shows Steve Roach at the very top of his intriguingly enigmatic long-form soundcarving, obviously an epic grand finale!!!

During 2014 and 2015, when crafting "Bloodmoon Rising", Steve Roach has explored many fascinatingly enveloping territories and shared his immeasurable passion with his dedicated audience across the globe. The end of 2015 has culminated into another amazing batch of soundworlds, which immediately need to be examined and experienced. Thank you so much, Maestro, and all the best for 2016, may this new year be as much fruitful for you!!! This might be the message from all of us, who are deeply focused with an ear to the ground. With "Bloodmoon Rising", connect deeply to the genius' artistic visions and amalgamate them with your own skywatching experiences of this spectacular celestial event. Reawaken your memories, as the next lunar tetrad won't happen before 2032-2033. I do it quite often, even with some tasteful IPA, because "Bloodmoon Rising" 4CD was shipped with additional "Bloodmoon Rising" printed coaster!!! Cheers!!!

Richard Gürtler (Jan 01, 2016, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Wow, Julio, what a great news!!! It looks really nice, I can't miss this beauty, my order will follow soon. Talk to you later, all the best!!!

Richard  :)

Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Re: Phobos - An October Evening
« on: December 17, 2015, 11:33:51 AM »
Entering The Drone Eden with "Awakening"... Certainly a must-have CDr/DVDr release by Phobos!!! Bravo, David!!! :)


Independent Music Reviews / My review of "AeroAreA" 4xCD by Mathias Grassow
« on: December 14, 2015, 11:22:25 AM »

Mathias Grassow "AeroAreA" 4xCD

"AeroAreA" is a monster 4CD Set by Mathias Grassow, released during July 2015 on prolific Russian GS Productions label in limited edition of 100 copies. This Moscow based label mainly focuses on styles such as black metal, doom metal, death metal, trash metal, viking metal, post rock, neofolk..., but fortunately these guys seem to be really fascinated also by ultra deep soundworlds by one of the true purveyors of the genre. So Mathias Grassow is back with his third installment for GS Productions, after two gorgeous 6-panel digipaks from 2014, "Opus Posthumum" and "Harmonia Mundi", the Drone King offers to his aficionados another true gem. "AeroAreA" comes in old-styled 4CD jewel case with transparent trays and additional 8-panel foldout insert, while the front and back side inserts feature an interview with the Master. Such articles are rather rare when it goes to Mathias Grassow, so it's always nice to dive deeply into these soulfully fascinating inner zones.

Disc 1 ignites the journey with 65-minute long-form dronescape "Celestial Oasis". It's quite obvious the track title precisely reflects the expectations of each devoted drone connoisseur. Actually, there are two parts, although not indexed, the first part starts with monochromatic drone insignias, smoothly elevating and culminating, which after about 10 minutes surreptitiously transmute into heavenly multidimensional graciousness with additionally permeating ethereal choir-like drone layer. A truly grandiose, jaw-dropping listening experience is fully unfolded and the listener enters an oasis of magnificently transcendental droneforging. Only 13 minutes are gone and I am absolutely hooked by this enigmatic nothingness. Sure, even though this scenario doesn't reach any new frontiers, I am always and forever will be deeply immersed by devastating immenseness of Mathias Grassow's dronesculptings. This first part of "Celestial Oasis" certainly reaches these pinnacling moments, a 21 minutes of pure aural bliss!!! Second part moves towards cyclically roaring wistfulness, with slightly less tension, but over the course mysteriously intangible chants emerge from mesmerizing depths and tranquilly guide the texture through intricately sinuous magnitudes, perpetually enrapturing and showcasing Mathias Grassow at the vertex of his profound sonic meditations!!! Later on an auxiliary ear-tickling dissonances intensify this hypnotically quintessential dronescape. More please!!!

Disc 2 unveils with a 58-minute composition entitled "The Spacelight". It drifts very quietly, through static terrains, but after about 4 minutes elusive tribal groove clandestinely arises and tries to break though flatlined foreground, but it serenely evanesces and the gliding expanse persistently blossoms and gains exquisitely staggering drone spectrum, yet spellbindingly monochromous. In the meantime subtle pulses reawake, but sturdy drone walls keep them away in impalpably mesmeric distance. Then the intensity calmly diminuendoes, while distant pulsations again resurrect and counterpoint with ephemeral sound issue. But the drone magma invades once more and shifts the whole piece into massively enveloping spheres with disastrous thickness, a journey through utterly delightful monolithic stratum holding unmistakable audible insignias of the Drone Kaiser. Still monochromatic, yet vigorously undulating spectacle towards the end meticulously amalgamates with ear-piercing outbursts, cascades through adventurous terrains and then soothingly fades away into the void. Definitely a truly mind-blowing odyssey!!!

Disc 3, entitled "The Ancient Artefact", is divided in three parts. 50 minute "Premonition" dives straightly into perplexingly primordial depths. Transient groans and ghostly choirs insistently guard above, while hazy grooves and solitary primeval rumbles occasionally permeate through monstrously escalating and thrillingly engulfing stratum. Oracular choir-like drones inconspicuously transmute into gracefully embracing ethereal chants. Drifting, surging, sinuating, resurrecting, crescendoing, climaxing and burning. A true inferno of magmatic hums, revealing some of the most nebulous inner realms by this German drone shaman!!! The second part, "The Radiant Focus", safely keeps the path of its predecessor, a heavyweight sonic spectacle is stretched to extra 10 minutes, while the final four and half minute part "The Echo" closes this magnifying ride with more relieving ephemera, but soon powerfully ear-blowing reverberations invade and steal the center stage for devastating conclusion. Organic fragments fugaciously ascend along with phantoms hanging above and whispering through vast emptiness. A real battle between quiescent earmarks and staggering meridians, frankly, this Drone Pantheon delivers a huge dose of tranquilizers!!!

Disc 4 introduces 60-minute "Above The Karman Line", which evolves with statically oscillating surface, slowly progressing and amalgamating with contemplatively shimmering chime-like dissonances on the background, persistently reappearing and tickling focused ears of each journeyer. Intensely gliding soundscape calmly moves through various expansive plateaus, regardless of its heavily flatlined scenario. Again masterfully layered and stunningly magnified by enigmatically encircling choir imageries, which relentlessly coalesce with tinkling subtleties. Evanescing after 23 minutes and smoothly transmogrifying into slightly more tight, delicately disruptive mindscape. Yet still powerfully transporting through infinite emptiness, where is magnificently exhibited equilibrium between thermospheric light filigrees and exospheric dark sonorousness. Monochromatic poignancy at its most polychromatic!!! Indeed, this composition is a very strong conclusion of this 4CD celebration, which intricately expresses a gamut of distinguishing dronescaping visions Made in Mathias Grassow. Bravo, Maestro!!!

Huge kudos to Mathias, Vitaly/Виталик of GS Productions and 121 for mastering, keep on going, guys!!! And additional praise to GS Productions for a glass mastered format, even if released in smaller limited runs of 100 copies. There is only one thing I would improve next time, when releasing multiple CD project like this. Nowadays jewel cases are really light, so with this kind of CD edition you might run into some troubles during the shipping and it's rather difficult to locate spare multi CD jewel cases. An 8-panel 4CD digipak or eco wallet might solve this problem, although I understand it will require much bigger budget. For me, above mentioned "Opus Posthumum" and "Harmonia Mundi" packagings are the way to go. Otherwise, a top-notch, all-inclusive recording from one of the most productive giants on the drone ambient scene. Just make sure to ask for extra wrapping when ordering a physical copy. "AeroAreA" 4CD is undoubtedly an essential item for all followers of Mathias Grassow and a very nice starting point for possible newcomers out there, who are not afraid of exploring multifariously fragranced transcendental monochromatism by a stalwart dronesculptor, whose terrific recording career spans across four decades. I still deeply treasure those exciting moments when encountering "In Search Of Sanity" CD back in the middle of the 90's. And by the way, there are rumors about another rare albums by Mathias Grassow, which might be scheduled on GS Productions and reissued on CD formats, namely "The Darklight Quest" and "Untitled Rooms", which used to be available only as CDr editions long time ago. Stay tuned, the odyssey still continues...

Richard Gürtler (Dec 12, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Dirk Serries "Disorientation Flow" CD

Dirk Serries, the Belgian giant behind vanished vidnaObmana, is back with another spectacular chapter of his intriguing guitar drone magic. "Disorientation Flow" album, which is out since May 2015, is a follow-up to his previous acclaimed Projekt release "The Origin Reversal". Packaged in rather simple 4-panel eco wallet, exhibiting as usual immersing cover images taken by Dirk's wife, Martina Verhoeven, who is renowned for her unique, mostly organic and abstract photographs, which can be found on many releases and collaborations by Dirk, under vidnaObmana or Fear Falls Burning aliases. As usual, graphic design is executed by Projekt's Sam Rosenthal.

Nearly 14-minute "The Imperative Edge" unwraps in a truly grandiose way, although emerging silently, almost inconspicuously, stunningly gorgeous drone euphory permeates and cyclically floats and nuances on the wings of utterly majestic graciousness, while earmarking high-pitched reverberations persistently tickle the ears of each devoted journeyer. Dirk Serries fully utilizes his innate mastery in painting a jaw-droppingly intense elegiac evocativeness and delivers some of the most, prodigiously expressive compositions since closing the circle with vidnaObmana. Although I am familiar only with Dirk's CD albums, not with his numerous "Streams Of Consciousness" vinyl releases, this must be together with "There's A Light In Vein" one of the absolute pinnacles of his soundscaping escapades crafted under his real name. A true milestone resurrecting exquisitely memorable delights of vidnaObmana's extensive existence. Harmoniously enrapturing splendor is back once more, this time reshaped through meticulously resonating real-time improvisations with electric guitar and various effects during the crepuscular autumn and winter days, bravo, Dirk!!! "Metamorphosis" clocks to quite similar length than its predecessor and again it tranquilly arises from enveloping stillness. Hauntingly meandering structure might be slightly less reminiscent, without mindscaping disruptive subtleties, yet intensified spiraling magnitudes clandestinely sneak in and infuse this isochronally kaleidoscaping scenario with extraordinarily full-bodied euphoniousness. Well, did I say not as much engrossing as "The Imperative Edge"? Towards the end of this sonorously bewitching dronescape I realize more and more this might be just my uncertain feel, because this is undoubtedly another splendiferous powerhouse!!! "Disorientation Flow", the title track and also the longest one on this album, reaching almost 16-minute mark, languishingly emanates and counterpoints with poignant glimpses of silence. Then a milder tension persistently pervades across the evolving monolithic undulations, while shrilling traceries insistently glance on this harmoniously encircling wistfulness. "Blistering" keeps on the path of deeply profound scenic expanses, sinuously moving through lyrically warmhearted nostalgic evocations and dazzlingly coalesced with mesmerizingly ear-piercing reflections. With 9 minutes the shortest composition on the album, but certainly one of the most grandiose and thrillingly rewarding. A shimmering phenomenon of the legendary "The River Of Appearance" is reawaken, the legacy returns... It's obvious that a true aural bliss awaits here!!! "The Lament Broke" delves into soothingly immersing terrains with calmly gliding and tiding surface with intangibly ephemeral climaxes. A rather meager texture gently closing this gloriously monumental, 65 minutes long performance.

As I have mentioned before, I will always miss vidnaObmana, that's for sure, but with releases such as "Disorientation Flow", I am grieving less and less. Thank you so much, Dirk, for your guitar drone manipulations par excellence!!! "Disorientation Flow" album is a must-have, I even won't hesitate to call it another milestone in Dirk Serries' prolific career of a soundexplorer!!! And since "Disorientation Flow" CD is available in limited edition of 300 copies, I wouldn't wait too long with acquiring an own copy. And about the same time when "Disorientation Flow" was released on Projekt, Belgian label Consouling Sounds has published "Buoyant" CD, a collaborative project featuring Dirk Serries and Dutch soundsculptor Rutger Zuydervelt, who is known as Machinefabriek. And another two Dirk's collaborations involve Japanese droneforgers, Hakobune and Chihei Hatakeyama. "Obscured By Beams Of Sorrow" CD with Hakobune is out since September 2015 on Japanese White Paddy Mountain label, while joint effort with Chihei Hatakeyama is entitled "The Storm Of Silence" and the CD is scheduled to be released during January 2016 on Italian label Glacial Movements. That's a lot of serious reasons to keep an ear to the ground!!!

Richard Gürtler (Dec 06, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Re: Forrest Fang news
« on: December 04, 2015, 12:34:39 PM »
Very intriguing cover art!

Yeah, as much intriguing as Forrest's soundworlds!!! Really looking forward to it!!!

Richard  :)

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 01, 2015, 12:39:12 PM »
Surprised this isn't on Bandcamp, at least not yet.

Because  three "Quest Sessions" and "Untitled Rooms" will be published by GS Production as plant pressed CDs.

Wow, great news, Andrey, thanks a lot for your update!!!  :)


Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Ephemeral Blue" CD by Aglaia
« on: November 30, 2015, 10:44:31 AM »

Aglaia "Ephemeral Blue" CD

After two albums released just before the Christmas 2014, "Primeval Nebula" and "Intangible Opacity", Aglaia's soundscape shaman Gino Fioravanti returns with another two new beauties, "Ephemeral Blue" and "Florealia Nocturna", both released during October 2015 under the usual flag of Stefano Musso's Hic Sunt Leones in limited editions of 300 copies. And it's obvious the CD comes in attractive 6-panel digipak with stunningly gorgeous photographs by Linda Serra (with additional artwork by Hic Sunt Leones), who already contributed her image mastery to several other Hic Sunt Leones releases, including above mentioned "Primeval Nebula" and "Intangible Opacity". This visual splendor immediately sets the distinctively enchanting woodland ambience Aglaia is celebrated for, a genius loci awaits you, enter now!!!

Nearly 10-minute piece, "Empty Nights", unfolds this fascinating ramble with sinuously poetic euphoniousness, reinforced by euphoric quietudes and spriralingly engrossing high-pitched subtleties. A very strong intro!!! "Holy Ghost", with almost similar length, delves deeper into weirdly organic terrains, with strangely oscillating texture painting mesmerizingly mindscaping mandalas. "Bright Venus" keeps firmly on spellbinding path leaded by graciously nuanced drones coalesced with warmly delicate moony meanders and gossamer hypno-cyber-biotic snippets. Journeying along "Dark River" is absolutely bewitching, euphorically cascading lyrical paradigms are meticulously amalgamated with bizarrely swinging traceries slightly evocative of processed bullroarer, while additional capricious twinkles stimulate the mind and illuminate the pathway guiding the listener through distinctively enrapturing atmospheric nocturnal enigmas. Undoubtedly all Aglaia's insignias are fully activated to rejoice this 8-plus minutes long night-blooming spectacle!!! Bravissimo, Gino!!! The next piece, "From The Stars", keeps its hauntingly disturbing measure, persistently radiating, which is intriguingly counterpointed with contemplative crystalline chimes, while ethereally-charged monochromatic layer continuously hangs above. Utterly captivating aural sceneries of a star-filled nighttime are revealed. "Quiet Wings" delves into desolately humming realms, hypnotically helical and surreptitiously permeated by crepuscular organics and chimeric oddments. "Cypress Trees", the longest track, clocking to nearly 13 minutes, follows the footsteps of its predecessor with mysteriously traversing backgrounds, isochronally sweeping with some medieval fragrances thrown in, while the fore blends a broad array of stochastic embellishments, from transient to abstruse, from calm to ear-tickling. With 6 minutes the shortest composition on album, "Invisible Forces" closes the journey with spaciously expansive harmonic drifts, insistently filled with engrossingly undulating balmy motifs, exhibiting undeniable signatures that can only be Aglaia. A true sonic elixir for my ears and a grand finale!!! I only wish this piece could be longer...

"Ephemeral Blue" is a very solid, almost 69 minutes long album by Aglaia, always prodigiously enigmatic, yet euphorically flavored within gorgeously organic terrains with incredibly unmatched moonlit feel. This is certainly the hallmark of Aglaia, an Italian project with extensive discography, featuring solo releases of Gino Fioravanti or as a duo with Gianluigi Toso. Also acting under Nada Experiences and Momenti Per L'Armonia monikers. All in all, this abundant body of work counts over 60 albums with many of them being enormously challenging to track down, especially for physical formats. And while surveying, pay attention also to already mentioned "Ephemeral Blue" album's companion "Florealia Nocturna". Join this fascinating nocturnal magic now!!!

Richard Gürtler (Nov 29, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Good news, I definitely stay tuned for "A Tide Pool Of Memories" CD, Julio!!! All the best!!!

Richard  :)

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Sanctuary" 2xCDr by Steve Brand
« on: November 15, 2015, 11:45:48 AM »

Steve Brand "Sanctuary" 2xCDr

2015 is undoubtedly a very prolific year for Steve Brand, who has released so far four outstanding albums on his Pioneer Light Music label. "Sanctuary", being the third of them, is a double pro CDr album, which is out since the middle of June in limited edition of 50 copies and follows "Into The Current" (February) and "Second Spring" (March). The album features two long form pieces and it comes in a very elegant double eco wallet packaging with stunning cover and inside images. Regarding to this, Sarah Jane Hunt gets credit for inset art. As usual, the design is handled by Steve Brand himself, who is also the guy behind many nice layouts on various releases by Relaxed Machinery artists.

I am entering "Sanctuary" with disc one, 69-minute "Place Of Honoring (Inner Temple)". Calmly nuanced drone smoothly transmutes into humming reverberations, which mind-bendingly hang above. Ephemeral rumbles continuously permeate along with gossamer tinkles. Primordial cave fully reveals all its magic when Steve Brand's chants join these awe-inspiring sceneries. The distant drone constantly paints fascinatingly flatlined magnitude and primeval artifacts tickle the ears with delicately oracular diaphanousness. Metamorphosing drones evolve into voluminously expansive spirals, masterfully juxtaposed with sinuous dissonances, elusive, sweeping, buzzing, ear-bending. Wow, a truly jaw-dropping ride!!! Then Steve Brand rises his flute and delivers another breathtakingly mind-blowing pinnacle with his magnificently undulating whistling creativity. The listener constantly encounters absolutely unexpected surges of textural brilliance within this utterly enrapturing drone ambient scenario. Towards the 40th minute, this powerfully immersing journey diminuendoes into majestically relieving terrains, yet always secluded within grandiosely spectacular subterranean realms. But when glancing through the gates, this might be just a calm before the storm... After about 10 minutes quiet tides awake, escalate and intensely pervade across and commingle with emerging solitary magmatic flow. Spaciously sweeping drifts invade as well with warmer glimpses and navigate the closing passage through tranquilly grandiose expanses into intimate stillness. An epic listening delight!!!

"Place Of Unconditional Love And Acceptance (Valley)" unfolds with remote massive hums, which are promptly contrasted with nearly poetic waves, altering here and there during the opening 10 minutes into distinguishly disrupting high-pitched climaxes, later inconspicuously dissolving most of its intensity on the wings of warmly embracing drifts. Gorgeously panoramic vistas are revealed. Majestically immense and euphoniously resonant, yet persistently confronted with ear-tickling shimmers. Then flute calls ascend and float across this strikingly scenic valley. Elixir of natural water sounds joins the forefront, while graciously gliding blankets are surreptitiously invaded by progressing structure. Lucid tinkles also emanate, dizzy swirl and contemplatively bridge with field recordings, while humming dark nimbostratus clouds guard above meandering high-frequency evocativeness. Intricate didgeridoo growls clandestinely percolate for the closing 7 minutes, vivaciously interact with helixing drone murmurs and resurface soulful flute earmarks, before vanishing in the horizon of crepuscular depths and bringing the journey full circle back to the origin. 58 minutes of pure sonic bliss, what a ride!!!

After two phenomenal albums, "Into The Current" and "Second Spring", here comes another fascinatingly mindscaping listening escapade. These two long form pieces precisely display the reputation of this Kansan soundsculptor as one of the undisputable giant forces on the drone ambient scene nowadays. Steve Brand has a genius for powerfully transcendental soundcarving, meticulously amalgamating massively emerging unfathomable dronewalls, both diaphanous and prodigious, yet always ear-piercing discharges, enigmatically embracing acoustic insignias, subterranean voices, balmy organics, all thrillingly counterpointed with splendorous glimpses of graceful stillness. A real tour de force within the genre!!! If I would be forced to pick up my fave and most accomplished artist outside of the glass mastered CD "industry" releasing his music in small limited runs, most likely I would point to Steve Brand. Yes, hugely underrated, yet the more crafted, passionate and dedicated to his art!!! Bravo, Steve Brand!!! And last but not least, "Songs From Unknown Territory" is the title of the newest album by this soundexplorer, available on Pioneer Light Music since the end of September.

Richard Gürtler (Nov 15, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Cyclic Movement" CDr by Frore
« on: November 14, 2015, 01:06:24 AM »

Frore "Cyclic Movement" CDr

Paul Casper from Virginia Beach, the sole protagonist behind Frore, remains united with Relaxed Machinery gang and his second album for this label, entitled "Cyclic Movement", is out since January 2015. Featuring attractive new rM design concept with cover image by Jan Casper, Paul's wife, who is a professional portrait photographer. Since not every rM artist takes the path with physical releases, I am really grateful to see Frore available at least on CDr format, keep on going, Paul!!! Frore's previous rM release "Shadowlands" from 2013 still strongly resonates, so let's dive deeply into another thrillingly fragranced tribal ambient adventure!!!

"Spirit Call", an 11 and half minute long piece ignites the journey with slowly circling enigmatic expanses along with awaken intangibly rumbling primordial ephemeralness. Then primeval percussions permeate and soon this vivaciously emerging rhythmic parade steal the center stage and gratifyingly interact with evocative native flute nuances, intricate shamanic chants and weirdly twisted whistles. Undoubtedly all Frore's distinguishingly rewarding insignias are fully activated and trigger a truly fascinating ride to the forefront of the galvanizing ceremony to Mother Earth. Superb, full-bodied intro!!! "Northern Wind", almost similar in length with its predecessor, drifts on the wings of celestial tranquility, while elusive ear-tickling cyber-tech subtleties with smoothly increasing laid-back downtempos persistently mesmerize and balmily commingle with warmly cinematic meanders, transient flute calls and primitive artefacts. A true elixir for my ears!!! But Frore sturdily keeps on unfolding all his intrinsic magic also on the next piece entitled "Gavia", which reveals with heavenly washes counterpointed with progressing array of percussions and high-tech swirls. The texture graciously expands into magnificently panoramic sceneries reinforced by climaxing tribal wizardry, gossamer ocarina-like glimpses and organic tapestries. Wow, the acoustics and electronics are sophisticatedly sculpted and meticulously balanced in this prodigiously delightful composition, which might be one of the most phenomenal Frore has ever recorded, bravo, Paul!!! A 15 minutes of pure tribal ambient ecstasy awaits here!!! "The Bell Garden" calmly blossoms with spaciously scenic glides bridged with contemplative tinkles and high-pitched yearning undulations. Remote percussions surreptitiously pervade until they capture intensely ponderous and spellbindingly mindscaping magnitude, occasionally illuminated by primordial gleams. "Fading Embers", which clocks just over 9 and half minute mark, immediately overwhelms with its gracefully drifting scenario, later occupied by enrapturing percussive splendiferousness, both indigenous and cybernetic with additional twinkling sequences thrown in. "Luminary" incorporates a variety of native flavored whistles, tiding flute invocations, ear-piercing rattles, evanescent bells and clandestine didgeridoo roars, all masterfully surrounded by exuberant biotic zones. Then this natural cacophony is overran by ascending high-spirited and mesmerizingly circling tribal grooves with heavy pounding beats. Again a big one and a perfect closer for this splendidly carved album!!!

"Cyclic Movement" is another triumphant, 69 minutes long proof of Frore's peculiar voice within the tribal/ambient soundsculpting, exhibiting his exquisitely filigree signatures when fastidiously coalescing immersing primeval languages with galvanizingly provoking electro/industrial-charged cadence. Bravo, Paul!!! Certainly a must-have exploration!!! And don't forget, Frore is also responsible, together with his Arkansas based collaborator Shane Morris, for one of the highlights of 2015, entitled "Blood Moon", which followed few months after "Cyclic Movement" on Spotted Peccary.

Richard Gürtler (Nov 11, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Deborah Martin "Eye Of The Wizard" CD

Deborah Martin joined Spotted Peccary team in 1991, became partner/owner of this label and debuted on "Tracks In Time" label compilation with several collaboration and solo contributions. In 1995 her first album "Under The Moon" was released, this quickly became a benchmark release for the label and artist and it was used also during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. By the way, about 7 months ago, a 20th Anniversary special, re-mastered edition of "Under The Moon" was released on Spotted Peccary. But the most recent album, "Eye Of The Wizard", which is out since the beginning of October 2015, marks return of Deborah Martin after her longer silence on this Californian label. About 6 years have passed since Deborah's last Spotted Peccary release, a collaboration "Between Worlds" with Norwegian ambient guitar ace Erik Wøllo. Back to the newest recording, "Eye Of The Wizard" 4-panel eco wallet immediately strikes with gorgeously enigmatic cover images shaped by Spotted Peccary's visual master Daniel Pipitone. What a beauty!!!

"Dance Of The Faeries" unfolds this magical journey with pristinely balladic acoustic strings counterpointed with calmly ethereal washes and distantly meandering whistles. Soon vivacious hand percussions join the stage along with additional fanfares and clandestinely emerging mesmerizing shakers. A highly spirited blend of richly flavored acoustics and subtly glimpsed ambience. The next composition, "Watchers", reveals with another lyrical delight scrupulously amalgamating hypnotically pulsing subtleties, fascinatingly nuanced oracular blankets and persistently ear-tickling glimmers of dulcimer. Stringed poignancy announces "Lords Of The Vale", while ephemeral percussive echoes intermingle with empyreal choirs and orchestral patterns. Crystalline clinks inconspicuously sneak in as well and add another dimension to this textural delicacy. "Waiting" explores quietly mysterious horizons, where placidly, yet spellbindingly undulating and mind-bendingly helixing layers are permeated by warmly cinematic blankets and intricately coalesce with serenely arising bulky drone glimmers and organically swirling fragments. Intensely transporting soundscape!!! "Metamorphic", with 8-plus minutes the longest piece on the album, quickly returns into acoustic stringed terrains, poetically embracing, while guarded by distant waves of hummed winds. After about 2 and half minutes the track calmly transmutes into a sparklingly cadenced and abundantly fragranced texture, ingeniously wandering through variously crescendoing and diminuendoing passages, before closing the circle. "The Alchemist's Robe" is ignited by euphorically enrapturing dulcimer magic, meticulously backed by spaciously drifting enigmas and tinkling fragility. Then another stirringly chamaeleonic change resurges and shifts the composition into high-tech-infused laid-back scenario, exquisitely nuanced and leaded by synthetic downtempos, shaking hypnotics and dulcimer wizardry. Wow!!! This must be one of the most pinnacling moments on this magnificently rewarding odyssey, masterfully melting galvanizing electronic enhancements with brilliantly engrossing acoustic tapestries, more please!!! On the title track, "Eye Of The Wizard", Paul Frye on E-bow guitar joins Deborah Martin and Matthew Stewart, who accompanies the main protagonist throughout the album. Buzzing electric guitar dissonances keep on meandering and add a brand new feel to this expansive ballad, while acoustic strings, mesmeric pulses, gossamer percussions and sinuous oddities join this fascinating spectacle as well. Another tour de force of strikingly crafted hypnotic-charged ambient alchemy!!! Shorter "Into Mist" closes the album with heavenly-driven, orchestral-like washes reinforced by intangibly shimmering chimes, dreamy strings and transient opaqueness.

To make the credits complete, Jon Jenkins joins the team on the opening composition with his technical support and extra mixing, Chriss Lemmon (Deborah's husband) enriches the creative process with additional support, while Howard Givens controls the mastering duties. "Eye Of The Wizard" album, which clocks to nearly 43-minutes, is a truly fascinating potpourri of tricky melodies, mesmerizing beats and ambiguous soundscapes, exhibiting distinguishing artistry of Deborah Martin and her guests, and showcasing uncanny finesse in bringing acoustics and electronics into an intriguing equilibrium. Deborah Martin is incredibly passionate and experienced story teller and her craft on "Eye Of The Wizard" safely guides each listener through bewitching forest realms imbued by fabulously magical mysteries. A little gem of soundsculpting and musically superior listening experience!!! I should also mention that other notable Spotted Peccary collaborations involving Deborah Martin include label mates and artists such as Steve Gordon, Greg Klamt, Mark Rownd, Cheryl Gallagher and J. Arif Verner.

Richard Gürtler (Nov 07, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)


The Gateless Gate "Сибирь Sibir" CDr

Canadian duo The Gateless Gate, comprised of Allister Thompson and Teri-Lynn Janveau, has released before six digital albums. Active since 2012, actually firstly as a solo project of Allister Thompson, while Teri-Lynn Janveau joined The Gateless Gate during 2013. "Сибирь Sibir" CDr album was released at the end of November 2014 on Irish label Psychonavigation, better said on its sub-label Offshoot, in an attractive 4-panel digipak with layout by Emma Dolan and cover NASA images of the Sea of Okhotsk, taken by Jeff Schmaltz.

10-minute "Winter In Yakutia" opens this highly adventurous sonic exploration with soothingly nuanced ethereal dronescape, graciously gliding across the stunningly scenic and immensely uninhabited panoramas of Yakutia's snow-capped wilderness, some of the coldest places in the Northern Hemisphere. Rather monochromatically drifting layers are relentlessly guarded by wistful choir drones, while some flute-infused passages sneak in to add exquisitely embracing evocativeness. A very nice beginning indeed!!! "Yenisei", a big Siberian river that flows into the Arctic Ocean, is another piece clocking to 10 minues, it unfolds with tranquil shoreline recordings, which are quickly bridged with gorgeously expressive bowed strings scenario. Organic subtleties transmute into mesmerizingly insistent sounds and intangible female choirs persistently ride atop. Another beauty, bravo, folks!!! Additional credit for field recordings used in this composition goes to Kiril "Dantes" Danilov. The next piece, "The Hills Of Buryatia", reaches nearly 9 minutes and transports the listener into awe-inspiring landscapes of conspicuously Buddhist and Mongolian influenced territories. Rawly spiraling drones invade along with throat singing transcendence, strangely swirling hypnotic traceries and peculiar voice fragments. Later on harsh strings try to steal the show, but overtone magic safely levels this breathtakingly enrapturing listening experience, where distinctive sacred fragrances meticulously melt with spellbindingly helixing dronecarving. A truly shamanistic and ecstatic ride!!! "Wrangel Island", is a remote mountainous island located in the Artic Ocean, it also may have been the last place on earth where woolly mammoths survived and today it's one of the most protected wilderness areas in the world. This peaceful place is also very often called as "polar bear nursery". It reveals with rather quieter, multi-dimensional, albeit enigmatically flatlined drifts. Then stern sheets continuously permeate, heighten and reach cinematically inexplicable magnitude masterfully exhibiting this pristine environment, truly an ultima Thule on the way to the Pole. What a journey!!! 21-plus minutes long opus "The Sea Of Okhotsk" closes this fascinatingly intriguing expedition with serenely wistful drones, mindscapingly monochromous and clandestinely undulating, spiced with weird faunal groans and calls. This expansive sea, located in the north-west corner of the Pacific Ocean is with its plentiful wildlife also known as "bird lover's paradise". And just the same as with previous compositions, The Gateless Gate duo flawlessly captures the incredible beauty and magnificent grandness of this maritime territory. A splendidly epic conclusion!!!

The music on "Сибирь Sibir" is mostly rather rawer, "unpolished" with low-fi surface, yet always utterly immersing and imposingly evocative, but I suppose both protagonists made this intentionally in order to authentically document the harsh grace of Siberian landscapes and all above mentioned natural wonders. Huge thanks, Allister & Teri-Lynn for your thrillingly rewarding, one hour long explorations!!! With minimum expenses I was taken to some of the most spectacular places on the Earth. Thus to all dronescaping adventurers out there, join the journey!!! And when visiting The Gateless Gate's Bandcamp site, don't miss additional three "Сибирь Sibir" digital bonus tracks recorded during the same sessions. And during 2015 another four digital albums were released by The Gateless Gate, including "Cold Front", which is out since October 20th. And not to forget, Allister Thompson is also the driving force behind Make Your Own Taste blog, where he shared his passion about music. And even if the end of this summer saw Allister's signing off, the site remains accessible with all its archives, so in case you don't know it yet, feel free to give it a look, because a very nice reading awaits you!!!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 28, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Forum Member Projects News and Promotion / Re: Forrest Fang news
« on: October 29, 2015, 10:34:20 AM »
Yeah, a double CD album, what a great news, Forrest, I stay deeply focused!!! All the best!!!

Richard   :)

Independent Music Reviews / My review of "Sector Four" CDr by Phobos
« on: October 29, 2015, 10:30:51 AM »

Phobos "Sector Four" CDr

Phobos is a pseudonym of UK based droneforger David Thompson, who is active on the scene since 2009, when his CDr debut "Darkness Within" was released on AmbientLive label. Since his second "Monolith" CDr, which was released during 2010 on US label Dark Duck Records, Phobos continues with releasing his drone escapades on his own. Few digital downloads plus additional 4 CDr albums complete his discography, with "Sector Four" being the last one released at the beginning of September 2014 in limited edition of 50 copies. The CDr is packaged in standard jewel case with transparent tray with 8-panel front insert featuring images, design and layout by Phobos.

As displayed by the artwork, album's title and the long-form scenario, clocking to nearly 70-minute mark, the listener is ready to take a venturesome journey way beyond the ordinary realms. Desolate hums and derelict rumbles ignite the ride, but soon emerge massive drone wall and smoothly crescendoes into powerfully undulating zones guarded by gracefully gliding phantasmal choirs. Intangibly tinkling subterranean fragments inconspicuously emerge here and there. Intricately magnified tides are masterfully reinforced by ear-bending convulsions and perplexing cyber-biotic subtleties. Around 20th minute the colossal thunderousness clandestinely diminuendoes into more serene, yet still enigmatically colored barren terrains. But this metamorphosed scenery easily could be a quiet calm before the storm... The track gently progresses through desolate drone passages, but towering helixes awake, slowly permeate across the monolithic stratum and elevate into climaxing heights. Now the horizon finally reveals the magnificent vista, enter now the gates of the drone pantheon!!! The entryway is rather quiet, but 46th minute seems to be the ultimate turning point, when the journey transmute into awe-inspiring transcendental zones. Rather flatlined at the very beginning, but the center stage is quickly stolen by continuously nuanced multi-dimensional drone inferno. Additional ear-piercing disruptions join the stage for more intensified exploration. Heavy drone wizardry at its most grandiose!!! During 63rd minute the journey starts to evanesce into tranquilly embracing expanses navigating the listener through warmer drone layers into earthy existence. Although ephemeral ghost calls pop up occasionally and counterpoint with ethereal choirs, the odyssey ends safely in halcyon oasis.

To be honest, about one year ago when considering to enter into Phobos' droneworlds, I wasn't really sure about this adventure, as I am not a huge aficionado of dark ambient-infused domains. But now, after unveiling complete CDr discography of Phobos, I can confirm this was a really rewarding discovery, meticulously hanging on the edges of ambient and dark ambient styles. "Sector Four" is a truly precise example of carefully balanced ominously devastating magmatic endeavors with more drifting soundsculpting. For all connoisseurs of ultra deep dronecarving, put your headphones on and experience tour de force entitled "Sector Four"!!! Bravo, Phobos, bravo, David, I can't wait for your future explorations!!!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 25, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)


Darwin Raymond & Jacob Newman "Transitions" CDr

Starting with Darwin Raymond, an Ohio based guitar-infused soundsculptor, I must say he is a brand new name to me, while his teammate in this project, Jacob Newman from Colorado, I noticed for the first time back in 2011 when he released on DataObscura a thrillingly textured collaboration "The Vivid Unmapped" with Devin Underwood. To be honest, I first overlooked this release when making my DataObscura order, but fortunately Anthony Paul Kerby (APK), the driving force behind this highly sympathetic Canadian label turned me onto this well-hidden project, and I am now very grateful for his efforts!!! Huge thanks, Anthony!!! "Transitions" CDr is out since the beginning of July 2015 and as usual for all DataObscura physical editions, it comes in a slim poly case, which is very handy, light and stable, especially when it comes to rather longer and pricey overseas shipping nowadays. The artwork is always attractive, identified as a wrap-around insert, printed on both sides. Usually executed by APK (who is also responsible for mastering), but this time Jacob Newman joins the visual part with his photographs.

Focusing on a wintery theme, which is quite common for this label, the album opens with "Beneath A Frozen Moon". Although some glaciate soundscaping might be expected, the journey reveals gorgeously expansive, yet velvety meanders. Ethereal voice-like drones are hovering above and mingle with soothingly yearning traceries. A really nice introduction to these "Transitions"!!! "The Quiet Air" with poetically silken strings precisely displays the track title, while deeply poignant retrospective drones, hauntingly hazed, emanate here and there along with transiently tinkling contemplativeness. Fragile, sparse and cinematic. This is strikingly evocative aural bliss, bravo, gentlemen!!! "Wind And Winter" promptly elevates into graciously immense monochromatic magnitudes meticulously interwoven with delicate grains and wistful harmonies. Another beauty!!! Glitchy fragments announce "Night, Shimmers", but the center stage is quickly stolen by deeply evocative stringed subtlety, while transient organics, intangible tinkles and misty reflections precisely interact. Rather shorter with 3-minute length, but utterly captivating!!! "Flames And Shadow", only a few seconds longer, delves into grandiosely drifting enigmatic paths, again quite flatlined. It looks like more floating pieces on the album constantly alternate with strings-driven nostalgia. The next composition, "A Plains Remembrance", at nearly 9 minutes the longest piece on "Transitions", immediately confirms this scenario with richly textured, yet utterly nostalgic electric guitar filigrees delicately surrounded by subtle drone reverberations. Immensely reflective aural paradise!!! "Blue Evening Snow" soothingly embraces the listener with its euphonious sinuousness, spreading across strikingly beautiful crepuscular sceneries. "Frost Covered Field" keeps on a fascinatingly scenic path, this time reinforced by enigmatic opaqueness, where faintly humming monochromatism is bridged with stringed imageries and continuously emerging, gently dramatic cinematic tides. "Fade To Sleep" sustains its monotonously droning surface, while fragile strings commingle here and there, along with distant yearning blankets and vague contemplativeness. My ears are bathed in absolute atmospheric elixir!!! Shorter "Distant Mirage" with its mild undulations might serve here as a transitional piece, because "Re-emerging" quickly attracts us with its heartwarmingly poetic strings backed by grandiosely infinite sky-high drifts and murmuring glimpses. Gossamer guitar magic at its most enveloping in punctilious equilibrium with vaporously sweeping remoteness. A magnum opus!!! "Unseen" follows a rather sinuous route, persistently permeated by gleams of stillness. "Re-emerging (ii) Spring Sun Turning" closes this highly accomplished collaborative effort with voluminously gliding layers coalesced with longing meanders and masterly juxtaposed by diaphanously tinkling chimes.

62-minute "Transitions" exhibits a truly splendid amalgamation of two undeniable virtuosic subtleties. Darwin Raymond's guitar wizardry is intricately synchronized with Jacob Newman's dronescaping, and all is impeccably polished. Creative insignias of two talented artists are in full bloom, "Transitions" album is a hidden gem and a must-have for each true connoisseur of distinctive guitar drone auralscaping!!! When focusing on the most recent works of both protagonists, I should add that Darwin Raymond has released several weeks ago his digital album "Honor", dedicated to all Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island, while Jacob Newman has resurrected his collaboration with Devin Underwood and their second CD album entitled "Sending The Past" is out since the end of August on Carpe Sonum Records. Plus two additional solo digital downloads "Quanta Flora" and "Summer" on his credit. And the summertime at DataObscura was quite busy too with three additional CDr albums, Nunc Stans "Further Afield", The Winterhouse "Slow Awakening", and Robert Davies "Dwelling Place". Lots of amazing music to discover!!!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 25, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Thanks a lot for your kind words, David and Seren, I really appreciate that!!!

Richard  :)


Oophoi "Penumbra Recollected 3" CD

Dennis Knopper, the driving force behind Dutch label Databloem continues in keeping alive the legacy of Gianluigi "Gigi" Gasparetti, The Lord of unfathomable drones, and persistently dusts off some rare, deeply treasured Umbra and Penumbra CDr editions. June 2015 was graced by additional 4 CDs with remastered Penumbra titles, originally released during 2005 and 2006, "Penumbra Recollected 3" is one of them. With kind permission of Gigi's wife Alessandra Clini, we can continuously celebrate some of the deepest primordial, beyond the gates adventures available within the drone ambient soundsculpting. On "Penumbra Recollected 3", released in slim maxi single jewel case with j-card featuring winter images of Alessandra, is Gigi joined by several of his regular kindred souls such as Luna, Tau Ceti (Enrico Cosimi) and Perceptual Defence (Gabriele Quirici).

Over 24 minutes long opus "Awakening The Nagas" reveals this magnificently immersing journey diving deeply into ultra abysmal depths, precisely enhanced by profoundly contemplative chimes and rumbles and counterpointed with reawakened, heavily reverberating climaxes, while intangibly mysterious tenuous chants of Luna persistently emerge from awe-inspiring subterranean domains. The magic of thrillingly enigmatic drone sceneries is fully unfolded and authentically transcendental listening therapy can be experienced, the Drone Heaven awaits, enter now!!! This composition was originally released on "Awakening The Nagas" CDr EP on Penumbra in 2005 and was recorded live in concert, autumn 2002. The next piece, a 22-minute "Algol", where Tau Ceti joins Gigi, is resurrected from Penumbra's "Algol" CDr EP from 2006. "Algol" transforms the listener into weirdly enveloping terrains, sculpted with ominous oscillations, transient phantasmagorical groans, nuanced dronescaping bizarreness, razor-sharp ear-blowing outbursts. This broad palette of dim colors and strange spices creates a massively submerging and intensely mindscaping atmospheric splendor, guiding each devoted ears way beyond the ordinary known, intriguingly perplexing horizons. The closing "Where The Green Ants Dream", which clocks just over a 21-minute mark, utilizes additional choir samples by Perceptual Defence and efficiently melts them with rumbling primeval artifacts and colossally humming monochromatism. Towards the 15th minute, organic subtleties clandestinely sneak in, evoking the midnight zone, but ear-piercing towering helixes culminate and erupt, followed shortly by crescendoing gargantuan drone walls. Then calmly diminuendoing before strangely transmuting into another climaxing amplitude, highlighted by bizarrely twisted choirs. A grand finale!!! This track was recorded live in concert, spring 2004, and released during 2005 on Penumbra's "Where The Green Ants Dream" CDr EP.

Regarding to this CD, I should mention that another three CDs released together with this collection are "Penumbra Recollected 1", "Penumbra Recollected 2" and the last one with Tau Ceti,"Penumbra Recollected 4". If you are an aficionado of both, Oophoi and ultra deep dronescaping, each "Penumbra Recollected" CD is highly recommended!!! With deep respect to Gigi, who is greatly missed, grazie Gigi, grazie grande Oophoi, we will always remember!!! Extra kudos deserve also all Gigi's guests participating on this recollection!!! And huge thanks to Dennis and Alessandra for making all this possible, we are all really grateful for these gifts, which eternally revive our connection to Gigi's soulful oasis!!!

Richard Gürtler (Oct 18, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)

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