Album reviews and other short stories
I occasionally write album reviews and notes about musical releases that I like. Many of them are published on the sites of artists and labels or are included in presentations for online music stores. This is a selection of short reviews.
STEVE ROACH - Zones, Drones & Atmospheres (SoundQuest Music, 2022)
`Zones, Drones & Atmospheres` is an extensive opus that stretches the audience's ability to recalibrate sensitivity to time and space. Steve Roach has demonstrated, once again, his mastery of sonic persuasion by engaging our attention in deep, shifting states refracted into a glittering web of textural harmonies and toned-down sequences. The nearly 3.5-hour album proposes a musical descending into the core of our being, inward diving unveiling the transcendent power of solitude. This new immersive recording interweaves dark octaves and luminous resonances to express the paradoxical nature of the unfathomable mystery within us. A feeling of time slowing to an almost stop arises while listening piece by piece, culminating with the final two long tracks where the music sounds timeless and unearthly but strangely intimate. The flow of sensations, emotions, thoughts are absorbed in soundwaves washing onto and dissolving in the invisible shore of awareness. In times of turbulence, an occasional detaching from the social context can be healthy and rewarding. `Zones, Drones & Atmospheres` encourages inward-focused confinement that, pursued by choice, proves to be insightful and restorative.
REASONANDU - Zephyr (Melusine Records, 2019)
Reasonandu rides chillwave on his new album. Lushly produced and mixed, Zephyr displays a mellow downtempo approach to retrofuturistic themes. The tracks have an undeniable visual quality, like a collection of photographs converted into music. Each one softly illuminates mental landscapes and inner portraits to reveal the emotional essence of some exquisite memories. Warm synths, shimmering guitars and glowing beats are intimately interwoven, forming a pastel-colored sound that evokes a luminous nostalgia. In spite of its daydreaming feeling Zephyr keeps pulsing with hope and heartfelt promises. It's also a great album to put in while on a trip heavenward.
VARIOUS ARTISTS - Flowers of May, compiled by Ancient Core and Reasonandu (Melusine Records, 2019)
There’s something undeniably magical about the month of May. The days are already longer, the air warmer, flowers emerge, crops begin to sprout and spring is gradually blooming into summer. Nature reveals an abundance of wonderful fragrances and vivid colors that invoke deep feelings of joy, excitement and serenity. „Flowers of May” explores an optimistic, luminous environment for celebrating life and the pleasures of being alive. Let this music nurture you!
E-MANTRA - Folding Time (Melusine Records, 2017)
E-Mantra’s new EP addresses the premise of a refreshing, non-linear perception of time. From all arts, music is the most time embedded one. Rhythm, harmony, and melody are vibrations in time. The Romanian artist takes these basic elements of music into a realm of changing perspectives and swirling soundscapes filled with a deep sense of intimacy. Meticulous in detail and emotional-designed in its entirety, „Folding Time” is a small ambient gem in an already distinguished style which encapsulates all of the creative exploration E-Mantra has put forth.
PAUL AVGERINOS - BLISS (Round Sky Music, 2011)
The new album by Grammy nominated composer Paul Avgerinos is a perennial ambient work with a promising title – Bliss. And that’s truly what you will feel after 75 minutes of soft and rapturing harmonies circulating through your body-mind. It takes only ten tracks to experience an ineffable dwelling at the edge of your infinity. Avgerinos offers textural ambiances designed to create an environment where extraordinary vastness meets utter simplicity in the openness of this moment. The sounds are like ripples in the waterfall of Grace splashing in the ever-present ocean of pure consciousness. Just listen and flow with the music, rest in the soundwaves and find Bliss…
STEVE ROACH, BYRON METCALF & MARK SEELIG - Nada Terma (Projekt Records, 2008)
Nada Terma is a work of kindred spirits. Metcalf, Roach and Seelig are musicians well rooted in the primordial ground, exploring new ways to spread the essence of spiritual wisdom. This album succeed in transcending and integrating musical elements from ancient traditions while delivering a sublime aesthetic experience. The seven parts of Nada Terma are revealed as an uninterrupted waveform: from the quiet, formless space take rise a crescendo of harmonics and pulsating rhythms that ends after prolonged moments of intense trance into a point of clarity and surrender. Nada Terma is the offering of a truly inspired collaboration, and an intimate guide to the deepest terrain of our souls.
MAX CORBACHO - Ars Lucis (ad21music, 2009)
If Goethe called architecture frozen music, it seems that Max Corbacho succeeded in his latest recording to release music from stone without losing the sacred geometries. ARS LUCIS delivers a perfect flow of space, sound and silence manifested in seven tracks of pure meditative harmonies. Every piece of music shine with aural beauty from a quiet inner centre opening to the infinite. Delicate resonances are melting into an uncognoscible light, calling the senses to perceive beyond any form, infusing the mind with spaciousness that permeats and pervades an entire world of subtle experiences. Listening effortlessly, finally you will feel your entire being as a unique stained glass window crossed by abundant luminous waves projecting a radiant display of color on distant ethereal planes.
MAX CORBACHO - Breathstream (ad21music, 2008)
Max Corbacho is back with a beautiful ambient album that express a deep sense of connection and unity. Try to breath the gentle sounds floating in the air as if your lungs have thousands of little ears. Allow this fresh energy to enter into your body and mind and keep the stream. Soon the music takes you out of your bounderies, in the luminous space, where is no day, nor night, no form, nor colour. Follow the great breath, step into the temple of dissolution and surrender to the Pure Being. BreathStream album invites us to embrace Immanence and Transcendence, the fullness and the void and to discover a deeper reality through a sublime musical experience that will leave you breathless.
BRUNO SANFILIPPO - Subliminal Pulse (Spotted Peccary, 2011)
While many electronic artists today tend to explore the dark, more rampant possibilities of sound, Bruno Sanfilippo is going in the opposite direction with his new album "Subliminal Pulse". He tames the instruments, gently drawing a sonic topography that is slowly emerging into articulate awareness. The arrangements speaks to the mind with an inherent eloquence that is subtle and emotional. From the first pulse to the last vibration, the music linger in the air as if carried on a luminous breeze that takes away the shadows of thoughts and the intrinsic fluctuations. This is music that cannot be expressed into words, yet cannot remain silent. Bruno perform all the pieces using his improvisational talent in developing intuitive harmonies, refining and dissolving the elements like an alchemist in search of spiritual gold. In a way that comes close to being magisterial, Sanfilippo weaves the strands of our boundless reality into a tapestry that "for those who have ears to listen", is truly beautiful and liberating. "Subliminal Pulse" is a profound work, an important and much-needed achievement in ambient music. I highly recommend it !
BRUNO SANFILIPPO & MATHIAS GRASSOW - Ambessence (ad21music, 2008)
There is a clear connection between Ambessence and the previous Sanfilippo's title Piano Textures. The floating, timeless quality of the piano notes is still here, but now the effect is more intense with Grassow's textures couched in subtle drones. Moments of irresistible beauty silently vibrate and resonate inside, opening a vast inner space of clarity and spiritual emotion. This work seems to require an intuitive mode of perception that seeks to overcome chaotic multiplicity and establish contact with a deep and authentic unifying essence. Beneath the calm waves of Ambessence lies the promise of bliss.
IAN BODDY - Pearl (DiN, 2010)
It's easy to admire Ian Boddy's carrear brilliantly resumed in "Pearl". Inside the beautiful and expressive double disc package, you get some of his earliest tapes (The Climb, Living in a Ritual), cuts from recent solo and collaborative projects (w/ Robert Rich, Mark Shreeve, Markus Reuter etc), plus a few library works commissioned by DeWolfe company. While the selection is generous and diverse, the aspect I like most about "Pearl" is the flow of music. The two continuous mixes enhance the audition with fluency that allows deeper levels of interaction with the sound. All the discrepances in style and technologies, inevitable when dealing with tracks from different decades, are intelligently smoothed to provide a polished sonic design. "Pearl" is not a "best of Ian Boddy" CD, but rather a fine personal collection by Ian Boddy containing everything electronic, from ambient sound fields, pulsating rhythm-based sequences, sweeping melodic themes and layered structures, which despite their different approaches, fit together to create an unforgettable listening experience. Don't miss it, the album is available as a limited edition of 1000 copies !
KIT WATKINS - This Time and Space (EarthMantra, 2008)
This Time and Space is memorable in its ineffable atmosphere, its capacity to cast a spell on the listener while bringing him more intensely into contact with himself. The sounds flow continuously, dissolving any contrasts and unbinding primordial emotions. 7 pieces create a soundworld of perennial beauty and profound tenderness that captures our yearning for deep peace and contentment. You offer here lovely music for meditation and a landmark recording in the [field of] Ambient Healing Music.
AMONGST MYSELVES - Fragments (2010)
Put your headphones and let Australian Steve Roberts blow your mind to Fragments. After the ingenious release from 2006 "Auburn Silhouette", this new one brings you fresh perspectives on the ever-evolving ambient project Amongst Myselves. Be prepared for a rich and unpredictable sonic excursion to myriads of vistas, from the depths of the oceans to the dark heights of the universe. The heterogeneous character of the album succeeds in keeping the attention in tension, always open to feel the intuitive interplay of balance and contrast. Now you are surrounded by ghostly pianos, then you are elevated by soaring guitars, after a while environmental recordings feed your senses until some electronic spasms push your imagination into cosmic fields. Despite the textural variety of the music, the listener can perceive a deeper dimension that connects a wide range of natural and abstract audible phenomenons."Fragments" is a little-known gem for those who crave for something daring and sustaining in contemporary electronic music.