Reviews 02-08-2007

Music Reviews 



by Mystical Sun


Visit Mystical Sun's website

I’ve had Deeperworlds in my possession for several months now but for some reason did not get around to writing the review for Ambient Visions until now. Of course that was my mistake because when I put the CD in my player it became abundantly clear that this was a world class effort from Mystical Sun aka Richard and I only cheated myself by not listening to it as often as possible. Richard described this music to me in an e-mail as Atmostronica. He came up with this word through the following formula, Atmospheres + electronica == Atmostronica. Richard also said, “The music is mot purely ambient because it violates a few of Eno's rules.” But regardless of how you label it this is one great CD and I’m sorry that I did not pop it into my player earlier. 

This CD has been a work in process since 1994 and Richard has been fine tuning and recording the material ever since. Normally I might wonder if all that time really made any difference to the final product or if the artist was just over doing the whole “it must be perfect before I release it routine” but in this case I would have to say that the time was well spent. Deeperworlds is just a tad over 74:00 minutes of music and is well worth the effort to spend the entire 74 minutes listening to this CD from beginning to end. 

As you might presume from the term Atmostronica the music of Deeperworlds manages to take elements of both of these genres (atmospheric ambient and electronica) and blend them seamlessly into something that is neither and yet both at the same time. In most of the cuts on this CD there is an atmosphere that floats just behind the beat as it anchors the electronica portion of the music firmly in the realm of ambient music. For a great example of this take a listen to the track calledBlue Magnetic Ocean which opens with an excellent expansive atmosphere that starts slowly as something in the distance that beckons you and as you approach the music begins to add a beat that ever so gently pulls you deeper into the forming landscape. The beat never becomes quite a dance beat but it does highlight how well Mystical Sun has taken these elements, atmosphere and electronica and made them work together to communicate his visions and his ideas through the music found on Deeperworlds. 

Overall the music has a smooth texture that allows it to be a part of your listening environment and yet it never overpowers you with the beats or the rhythms. The music itself operates on several levels and as you listen closely you will hear layer upon layer of activity all operating together regardless of how deeply you might want to probe. Richard has paid close attention to these layers in his mixes and in the placement of the sounds within each layer of the music.  This has allowed him to create a sonic treat for the listener which is even more apparent when you use a pair of headphones during your listening experience. One of the more aggressive songs but one that I like as well is track 9 which is called Innerworld. It features a wonderful female voice that only adds to the depth of what is going on in the sonic landscape along with the heavier beat and makes this one of the more memorable songs on the disc. 

The songs on this CD range from the longest cut which is 8:13 to the shortest cut which is a mere 1:17. There are 14 cuts and I think that all of them are just right when it come to the length. One of the short songs that I still enjoyed quite a bit because of the slowed pace and the introspective nature of the music was Dragonfly which leans heavily towards creating an atmosphere for its brief 2:53 length and along with River Goddess two of my favorite cuts on the CD. I can’t say that there is a week track on this CD but a few of the tracks that I have mentioned in this review I liked a bit more than some of the others.   

All in all Deeperworlds is a tribute to Richard’s 10 year effort to create a sonic universe from the ground up using found sounds but for the most part making the sounds himself so that his world would be as close to perfect as he could make it. Deeperworlds never disappoints the listener with each track building on the last and leaving you with a complete picture by the time you hit track 14. This CD was meticulously crafted by Mystical Sun and as you listen to each track you begin to realize how much work went into the creation of this music. The listener might even find themselves drifting off into the new worlds that Richard created and if not on the first listen perhaps in subsequent listenings as you delve deeper into the fabric of the music. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Michael Foster, editor of Ambient Visions



The Sound of Peace

by John Fluker

Visit John's  website


“The Sound of Peace” is the debut solo recording by John Fluker, but he is no newcomer to the music scene. The list of albums that he has played on and the artists that he has toured with is very impressive, and he is currently Music Director for Gladys Knight. The fourteen tracks on this CD were composed during the night, Fluker’s favorite time to play the piano. Fluker’s father encouraged him and told him repeatedly that his playing was very relaxing and soothing to him. When his father passed away last year, Fluker was inspired to compose this CD. Primarily a piano CD, Fluker has embellished most of the compositions with synth washes - strings, nature sounds, etc. - but these sounds enhance the mood and are never overbearing. As the title implies, the music on “The Sound of Peace” is warm and serene, encouraging the listener to float away on the gentle melodies. Also a teacher, producer, arranger, and vocal coach, Fluker’s background in classical, traditional, and gospel music blend together to give him a unique musical voice.

All of the tracks on this CD are beautiful and easy to listen to, but I have a few favorites. “Asleep Beneath the Moon (Part 1)” is very tranquil and also suggests the feeling of wonder at looking up at the night sky and seeing all those millions of stars. “Part 2” of this piece is quite a bit longer and more exploratory - wonderful! “Journey of A Soul” is also gorgeous and oh, so soothing. The warmth of this piece is almost an inviting musical hug that lingers - I really love this one! “The Hollow Earth” is a bit darker and more introspective, but is still very peaceful. The sound of flowing water enhances the mood as Fluker explores the piano keyboard with a bit more improvisation on this one. The title track is much more ambient than melodic, and carries you away on a caress of sound. “Through New Eyes” has a strong message of renewal and hope. “Life Begins” opens with the sounds of birds and the piano and evolves into a lovely soundtrack to spring or any form of new life. The sound on this one is full and lush and conjures up many visual images.

As you can see, “The Sound of Peace” covers a lot of musical and emotional terrain, and yet the overall mood of the album is quite consistent. It’s a wonderful backdrop for other activities, but opens up more each time you actively listen to it. Give your ears and mind a treat! Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons reprinted from Solo Piano Publications on Ambient Visions



Raising your voice....
Trying to stop an echo

by Hammock

Visit Hammock's website


A new album by Hammock – Mark Byrd and Andrew Thompson – is a cause for celebration. Raising Your Voice is an atmospheric ambient and post-rock shoegazer epic featuring their now trademark echoey drone and dreamlike guitars, plus guests on cello and performing angelic vocals. As with their debut Kenotic it's mainly instrumental with a handful of tracks containing lyrics.

The soundscapes on the album are soaked with electric guitar treated with delay so that the notes ripple, echo, reverb, and drone in an intoxicating manner. The sounds possess an austere purity, like a bright silvery moonscape. What I especially like is the contradictory mix of introspective emotions juxtaposed with expansive sonics.

Two words that for me sum up this album are yearning and nostalgia. The opening piece “I Can Almost See You” has aching guitar lines that open and close almost like an accordion sound and a lovely but earnest and delicate piano melody. Later on in “The House We Grew Up” the mood created is like that of looking back at pictures of a childhood home - the memories putting a smile, and also maybe a tear, on one's face for times that are lost to the inexorable pull of time. In this piece the guitars play out a melody without lots of sustain as drums and hi-hat forms a mid-tempo rhythm. Adding harmony are the elongated guitar lines which reach searing emotional intensities.

Hammock don't just pull off the same trick throughout the album with lots of ambient tracks where thick sheets of guitar drones envelop the listener. They are also masters at post-rock using their signature techniques. The piece that stands out to me in this regard is the title track; drums and percussion keep the pace for sung lyrics and hypnotising guitar melodies and riffs.

The Hammock sound is unique; harsh yet beautiful, and curiously satisfying while still leaving one wanting more. Raising Your Voice is a work of genius by a duo who are pathfinders in guitar based drone ambience. It's essential listening for anyone interested in ambient music and so it gets my wholehearted recommendation.

Reviewed by Dene Bebbington reprinted from on Ambient Visions