Filed under: This Month's Favs | Tags: Bersarin Quartett, bluetech, Deaf Center, Halogen, Hibernation, iambic, Ian Hawgood, Kaya Project, Mystical Sun, Sync24, Top Ten Albums
With some albums, you realise within a few seconds that here you have come across something really special. It is music that touches you straight away. Music that is important, that has a story to tell – and that manages to do so without even a single line of lyrics…
The debut album by the Bersarin Quartett is one of these albums.
Wonderful orchestral pieces full of longing and melancholy. It is that certain kind of melancholy that seizes you when you are moved while following the final credits of an emotionally touching movie, remembering special moments that have faded in the course of many years and linger hazily in your memory, when you are somewhat wistfully contemplating old, worn photographs from days passed by…not a feeling of failure or hopelessness, but a bitter sweet reflection. Time and evanescence. This is the matching soundtrack.
Orchestral cinemascope sounds provide the emotionally moving fundament, wrap the tracks up in a warm coating. Graceful strings pile up, creating big moments and repeatedly ending in melodies that are simply heart-rending, cinematic and tragic. But the Bersarin Quartett does not merely rely on these ingredients. The songs are also repeatedly interspersed with suspenseful and surprising elements, be it frail electronica, hypnotic soundscapes, drums or reverbed guitars. Rarely has a melange sounded as convincing and natural as this, and rarely has it sounded so well produced.
Thomas himself calls his music “imaginary fictional filmscores“. And it is hardly possible to come up with a more apt term. 10 tracks for 10 movies that have yet to be shot. Music that radiates such an enormous and authentic passion in every single minute, that one can’t help but completely abandon oneself to it. And honestly: Can there be anything more wonderful that can be achieved through music?
Kicking off the TY:EP series of releases is Deaf Center, the mysterious project of Norwegian musical masterminds Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland. Old school friends, and both old hands at making solo music, they came together for a holiday in a Norwegian log-cabin and began sampling everything around them. Be it a game of table tennis, an old television broadcast or even friends and relatives having a conversation nothing was safe. Before long the two had crafted a handful of personal, delicate works and so Neon City was born.
An unusual release in the electronica spectrum, instead of relying on synthesis, Neon City prefers to warm itself with pianos and lightly plucked guitars. Deep, long grass and icy branches, burning timbers and secluded mountain haunts are conjured as the sounds breathe over even the casual listener. One cannot help but be won over by the magic of these two most gifted musicians. With their careful respect for space, rather than the essentials of software trickery, Erik and Otto manage to elevate this recording to a state unachieved by most. Somewhere stuck in time, not pinpointed or stereotyped by technological advances, but accessable from all angles. Influenced by the film soundtracks of Cliff Martinez and Yann Tiersen much more than the overworked glitch of Autechre, Neon City is something fresh for tired, dry ears.
We will stop here to kindly thank Erik and Otto for brushing away the dust on their old tape recorder, kicking the snow from their doorsteps and lighting the fires of their imagination. Without this release, the world would surely be a much colder, darker place. As if all this was not enough, Type cohort Keith Kenniff (aka Helios) has stepped in to provide a remix, taking the beauty and simplicity of the original track and adding something entirely his own. Layers of guitar drift over smooth pulsing bass and chopped driving beats, giving us a wonderful, rich listening experience. The sheer genius of Mr. Keith Kenniff has not yet been acknowledged, but this delicately engineered remix is further proof that he is one of the most interesting.
Move is a concept EP based around minimal lo-fi recording techniques and short improvised loops. These four songs were played and recorded by Guy using any instruments and household items he could find that made noise. Short loops were constructed and layered on top of each other to create an extremely organic sounding EP. Once the loops were created, Guy arranged them into full songs that mimicks the order they were recorded in to keep the original vibe. Over the entire EP there is only one synthesised sound, a first for iambic!
‘Move’ is a concept EP based around minimal lo-fi recording techniques and short improvised loops. These four songs were played and recorded by Guy using any instruments and household items he could find that made noise. Short loops were constructed and layered on top of each other to create an extremely organic sounding EP. Once the loops were created, Guy arranged them into full songs that mimicks the order they were recorded in to keep the original vibe. Over the entire EP there is only one synthesised sound, a first for iambic!
At the age of 20 the London based producer is already making his mark in the electronic music scene.
The iambic2 project is loosely based around the ambient genre but takes influences from genres such as jazz, IDM, post-rock, hip hop and more. The music is aimed at capturing the vibe that was present at the time of recording, whether it be evocative, relaxed or melancholic; the listener should be able to either pick up on these emotions or interpret it in their own way.
After the success of the first album ‘Under These Stars, We’ll Sleep Again’ which was released on the Austrian based label ‘Laridae Records’ at the start of 2007 and the much anticipated follow up ‘As The Snow Fell’ released in February 2008, iambic2 has received a large amount of interest from both promoters and other labels both in the UK and abroad. ‘Under These Stars, We’ll Sleep Again’ and ‘As The Snow Fell’ have both proven to be two of Laridae’s most popular releases ever; which has created an international iambic2 fan base.
Guy also performs iambic2 songs live. His previous gigs include many smaller events in the UK and the renowned ‘Wide Open Eyes Shut’ in Graz, Austria.
Currently, Guy is rehearsing with a full live band to take the act to the next level and will start playing various venues from April 2008. They will be performing a whole range of new and exciting songs plus songs from both previous albums.
Ian Hawgood, international man of mystery. Mr. Hawgood is a hard-working musician, with an impressive oeuvre spread over a dozen of quality record labels. While his Koen Park moniker is about IDM- and Hip Hop influenced Electronica, the music he publishes under his civil name can roughly be classified as Ambient, Drone and Noise. His “The Fires Will Die At Night” at Resting Bell Netlabel is legend already.
For 12rec., Ian Hawgood delivers an album completely recorded with analog instruments. His most subtle and personal up to date. As the title depicts it, “Enfants Ruraux” is a journey into his childhood when little Ian was nearly deaf; he got obsessed by simple tones and melodies in these days. On the one hand, “Enfants Ruraux” is a meditation on the elementary sound of the piano and the acoustic guitar. Hawgood is happy to be blessed with a musical family and circle of friends who lent pump organ, chimes, violins, trumpets and loads of other stuff for further investigation.
On the other hand, the album deals with various aspects of traveling. UK-born, Ian Hawgood lives in Tokyo right now but that was able to call Spain, Italy and the US home before. Most of the album was made in Pennsylvania and on trains to and from New York City. Throughout the blissful layers of acoustic textures, field-recordings reverberate and bring forth impressions from all these different places. Especially the mystical Japanese countryside was inspiration to Ian while recording this twinkling masterpiece of calm Ambient music.
My name is Evan. I make sounds. Rivers of music ancient & delicate flow through me….
These are the words you first read on Evan Bartholomew aka Bluetech’s website.
Evan has been at the forefront of the IDM movement since releasing his first album Prima Materia in 2003. Since then he has developed into many musical directions, and produced a plethora of brilliant ambient, downtempo, dub, idm, dubtech, minimal and tech house releases as Bluetech, Evan Bartholomew and Evan Marc, on numerous labels.
I was nicely surprised by Evan’s new Bluetech album Phoenix Rising. This release clearly demonstrates the rich maturing of Evan’s style & taste, a ripening of delicious musical fruits so it seems.
Phoenix Rising still retains Bluetech’s intelligent signature sound, but has a slightly more mature and funkier undercurrent to his previous releases. Sophisticated, clean, intricately constructed, meticulous and spacious…with dashes of fat squelchy basslines, cheeky squeaky melodies, flamboyant sound swirls, orchestral treats, and smooth rolling beats. Each track is unique to the next, making this a fine array of diverse examples of Evan’s musical genius.
The best treats on the menu for me were the orchestral theme in “Kingdom of the Blind”, the groove in “The Phoenix Rising” and the surprising jazziness of “Invocation-The Fire Within”. But Track 2 on the album entitled “What the Night Reveals” is the track for me, I’m hooked on its low down dirty slow and squelchy bassline and uplifting flute melodies. Get your hands on this album, it’s Bluetech’s best release yet.
Review by Becca Dakini (Dj Dakini – Melbourne, Australia)
Recycled Broadcasts EP – Halogen
If you are a fan of intelligent & delicately glitched-out IDM laced with melodic oscillating rhythms & slightly industrial crunchy sounds & textures, then I recommend you pay close attention to Halogen’s first EP release “Recycled Broadcasts”, available via free download from November 16th from www.maternitymedia.co.uk
This is an impressive first release from Halogen aka Adam Janota-Bzowski, and I’m keen to hear what else is in store from this talented artist. The unique theme to this release is human communication, and Adam has demonstrated this by intrinsically layering old 50’s radio broadcast samples & human voices throughout the EP. This gives his sound a unique & original quality, as you find yourself listening to flawlessly produced cutting edge electronic sounds with a familiar 50s feel carefully woven through – quite an interesting & original combination that works brilliantly.
Very carefully crafted & tweaked, each track on the EP has a different feel to it, and all are of high quality & production. No filler here, only refined sonic gems. Glitch & IDM fans everywhere will delight in Halogen’s finely tuned ear. The highlight of Recycled Broadcasts for me is the second track on the EP entitled “Manilla“. Tantalizing whirrs, tripglitched themes, finely cutup scratching, sultry swinging blues samples and a big beat undercurrent contained within this track, inspire you to want to strut your stuff in front of a speaker stack in a fur coat with champagne and a whimsical smile.
Get your hands on this EP – you know what they say – the best things in life are for free…
Reviewed by Becca Dakini (Dj Dakini), Australia
Deeply chilled electronic downtempo. Mystical sun really takes the pace down here – the music is quite minimal compared to much current chillout – almost ambient for much of the journey, very ambient for some parts. Smooth oceanic swells and pads, ethereal washes of tone and spacey expanses form atmospheric soundscapes upon which are laid out some attractively understated melodic synth lines and tranquil sitar phrases. Environmental sounds mix with the synthetics – forest sounds, storm rumbles. The beats when present drift along with idle indifference, sleepy, far off affairs that set the arrangements gently nodding with rhythm. The album darkens considerably in the latter half becoming tenebrous and brooding such as on the track Dark Energy, where moody, almost atonal drones, swirl across a throbbing bass like the welling up of night. The following Expansions sinks perhaps even deeper into gloom – an intense beatless ambient zone that is suggestive of an abyssal space. Subsequent to this loss of light and tangible form the final track Sanctuarium restores the warmth with a dreamy piece of relaxation music – drifting sitar motifs and falling strums over luminous waves and lustrous drones – willingly we float into eternity.
EMC has a restless calm to it – a prowling downbeat cool that suggests huge reserves of hidden strength. Although deeply chilled and at times, almost ethereal, there is a muscular quality to the music. There is also a significant ongoing shadow that lends a certain mystique; the artist explained to us that “Expansions was mixed during a full moon eclipse and I think that added to the mystery around it. The eclipse happened in August of 07 in very early hours of the morning around 3:00 AM”. So the absence of light mentioned above is pretty much factual, “as when the song was made, the moon was gone. It was a very magical time. I had full view of the moon while mixing. It just happened to be in the studio window at the right time…”
Energy Mind Consciousness comes in a slick card wallet with a fold over flap that keeps the disc safe. The prime image is of a checkered plane falling away into an imaginary vortex – the blacks and purples of the pattern illuminated by a bright burst of light emanating from within. No text at all on the front – just the picture. On the back the surface is plain black with a simple tracklist, decorative titles and glyphs. Here too are website details for the artist and label. Opening up we find another image similar to the front cover only closer and flipped horizontally – this fills the left hand panel whilst the right holds thanks and credits plus a larger sun glyph. Nice package – so much more individual and pleasant to hold than a jewel case.
Energy Mind Consciousness arrives as the third full length album from Mystical sun on top of a huge list of compilation appearances. The album is released via the eclectic Cyberset Records who also released the previous Deeperworlds. Here Mystical Sun wind down much further than before with what is probably the strongest CD from the project to date, certainly this disc refines the artist’s unique sound taking it in a direction that avoids following the crowd of the genre. The label promotes the release saying “EMC is a post electronic, post ambient and post millennial magnum opus of transcendent soundscapes”. If the success of this recording matches earlier heights, Mystical Sun’s reputation will be most firmly established – over two million track downloads surrounding the debut Primordial Atmospheres and album of the year status for Deeperworlds.
This album strays a little further into ambient chill than many albums in the genre – if you enjoy spacey synths and very unhurried downtempo beats with a leaning toward the dark side – then this is one to try.
Review – Morpheus Music
Following on the release of two outstanding recordings, ‘Walking Through’ and ‘Elixir’, Interchill is pleased to present the 3rd. Kaya Project album “…& So It Goes”. The collaborative project of Seb Taylor (Shakta, Digitalis, Hibernation, Angel Tears) and Natasha Chamberlain, Kaya Project once again weaves an uplifting and spellbinding journey to the furthest reaches of the planet.
Focused on more acoustic instrumentation than the previous Kaya Project albums, “…& So It Goes” is an exotic tapestry of slide guitar, klezmer, clarinet, classical Indian violin and Arabic mowals fused with tribal percussion, breakbeats and Gypsy jazz. Laced with Seb’s signature guitar work & Natasha’s keyboards, vocals and flute, the album also features a range of vocal contributions from the likes of Deeyah, Randolph Matthews, Irina Mikhailova, Florence Comment and others. Taking the unmistakable Kaya Project sound to new levels, Seb and Natasha artfully create a warm and timeless musical experience, leaving the listener plenty of delectable elements to savour.
Deeply chilled electronic instrumentals. Some Things Never change is a powerfully immersive experience of multi-coloured electronica, lush sound collaging and imaginative downtempo beats. Literally brimming with a wide variety of synthetic sounds, liquid effects and a generous scattering of glitchy percussives, Hibernation comes across as a highly detailed, many-hued construction that somehow manages at the same time to convey an inviting sleepy effortlessness. Among the bewildering array of lucid digital structures are various organic instrumental and human elements – vocal slices, disjointed spoken fragments, smooth female vocalising, whispering; Seb’s love of global sound still enhancing his music in places – subtle hints of international material drifting into the mix here and there. There are a number of jazzy sections with idle brushes sweeping across snares and lolling double bass suggesting late night lounge rhythms where muted trumpet phrases pierce the air, electric piano lines carrying the melody. The most extremely chilled tracks on the album are, for me, the most exciting pieces here – the opener Melt with its unhurried piano touches, loose percussion and floating pads; the deliciously nocturnal Reflect – fractured phrases and soft focus strings meandering over a silky sub-bass line.
Very restful and strongly transportational – this is a sumptuous spread of low light exotica that could easily accompany those half waking moments or fill your headspace with beautiful images as you slowly sink under the surface. Fantastic headphone music – Some Things Never Change has so much to hold the attention – makes me think of a fairground in the dark – winking lights, whirling forms and dense colours, the air full of sound – but everything is in slow motion, almost weightless, otherworldly.
The promo copy that I possess gives a good indication of the top notch artwork enveloping this disc. A burgeoning bouquet of graphically enhanced pink blooms and tightly furled plant forms bursts from the front cover, bright humming birds hovering at the edges. On closer inspection this floral arrangement can be seen to include shiny speaker rims and dangling jack plugs. The backdrop is consistent throughout the package – aged paper, worn and damaged at the edges, grunge marks and grey stains. Inside this fold-out is a tracklist footed by relevant credits and website details. The opposite panel holds a long paragraph outlining Seb Taylor’s musical background and varied projects, leading to a few words on the development of this current alias Hibernation.
Seb Taylor is well known to fans of electronic and dance music – if not by his own name, certainly through his aliases Kaya Project, Angel Tears, Shakta, Digitalis and Somaton. Twelve albums into his career, Hibernation introduces a new approach taken by Seb for Aleph Zero Records – here more heavily steeped in the kind of rich, dreamy, low bpm experimentalism that the label is known for. If you are familiar with the Aleph Zero house sound – Hibernation will immediately have a familiar feel. Very hi tech, yet very human – exploratory downtempo for the more discerning listener. That said – although Aleph Zero has established a sonic ethos, this is by no means achieved simply working to a formula – Some Things Never Change has a clearly unique identity. Very contemporary, very atmospheric, very hypnotic.
If you have enjoyed previous Aleph Zero releases – don’t hesitate to try this new release. Hibernation is ideal for lovers of evocative mood music that appreciate cutting edge chillout. Why not experience the E-flier and see hear for yourself or listen to some samples on the Aleph Zero website.
Review – Morpheus Music
SYNC24 is the solo project by Daniel Ringström from renowned ambient down-tempo band Carbon Based Lifeforms. After releasing a number of tracks on various compilations, here is his debut album, a pure immersion into gentle and drifting sounds, hypnotic electronica at the edge of minimalism.
Discover [ Source ] like an environmental concept album, soundtrack for inspired moments, sonic background to a quiet way of life. In 11 eclectic phases, SYNC24 slowly but surely captures ones attention and calls for repeat. Step by step, layers of listening experiences and secret perceptions will unfold.
This album is a world apart, one can glide over its surface or submerge within its deep intimist music. An ambient gem that time will sculpt.
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