Reviews 02-11-2006 

Music Reviews 



Otherwordly 3

by Stephen Philips

Visit Stephen's  website



With the release of Otherworldly 3, Stephen Philips, already an accomplished ambient master, takes his place among the elite electronic musicians in the world. This is a major release from THE Dark Duck!

Now, every time Steve releases a new CD, some reviewer gets all bent out of shape and starts throwing superlatives as if they were pennies. His reviews gush and proclaim this to be Steve's best CD yet. (That reviewer would be me. I do not apologize for my enthusiasm for Steve's music! Nor do I claim to have any explanation for his continued growth and progression as an artist!)

Well, here it goes! This CD is among the best pure space music releases of all time! Steve's signature drones and experimental sounds are pure bliss. His sound design is flawless as is his performance!

This CD is everything that great space ambience must be! It is the soundtrack to a motion picture that has not been written – yet! It exists only in the minds of listeners – its only possible existence.

Steve is a very cerebral and deliberate composer/performer. There are no hidden agendae in this soundscape. It is neither a healing nor a meditation disc. It is, however, an experiential journey. Here are the steps for maximizing enjoyment of this CD.

STEP 1: Find a quiet and dark listening space.

STEP 2: Arrange some lighting effects WITH NO CANDLES!

STEP 3: Leave the incense in the cupboard.

STEP 4: Turn the CD player on, preferrably with the disc in place.

STEP 5: Find a comfortable seat.

STEP 6: Sit, close your eyes and relax.

STEP 7: Listen with your mind and your imagination. Let them be your guide. DO NOT take this to your heart and/or soul. It will not work there.

You should find yourself experiencing imagery of the hardware and scientific aspects of space exploration. The only reason to stop and observe scenery is for observation and collection of data! Any encounters with aliens are noted, recorded and logged. Analysis of the data will have to wait until the return to base.

It becomes problematic at that point. Steve does not guarantee a round trip. It is up to the listener to get back with or without the data intact. That is also total coolness. Lost data can be ignored, replaced on the next adventure, plagiarized or simply made up. The journeys are the adventures and the destinations! This is strictly about FUN! It is about not taking itself so fucking seriously that it gets lost in itself.

This awesome soundscape is available RIGHT NOW for only $4.99 as a download at The only better bargain is at an archive site called TZP with some seriously warped material by The Zen Potato and guests. At this price there are no reasons to miss this adventure!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions



Season of Dark and Light

by Darkened Soul

Visit Darkened Soul's  website

Visit Deep Listenings website


Mike Soucy records as Darkened Soul. Seasons of Dark and Light is his response to Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Tchaikovsky's Seasons symphonies to earth's solstices and equinoxes. While Mike's agenda is not overt, neither is it hidden. His approach is more metaphorical. 

The set goes full circle from the harsh isolation of winter's bitter cold to a spring thaw with some awakening to a seemingly endless summer. It comes full circle as autumn represents a return to the hibernation for winter's harshness. 

As stated above, the agenda is not overt.. the lighter seasons (spring and summer) have their own thunderstorms. The days of summer are represented as a daze. All of the seasons are fraught with turmoil. Mike has captured the angst of the unpredictable climes of the seasons. His ”lightis a tad darker than most.

This disc is awesome with some of the best dark ambience of the new millennium. If electronic ambience had a stronger market share, Mike would be explaining groupies to Mrs. Soucy.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions



How He Loved the Moon (Moonsongs for
Jhonn Balance)

by Current 93

Visit Beta-lactam Ring Records'  website

David Tibet and Steve Stapleton form the core of Current 93, a loose amalgamation of musicians and artists from the UK. How he Loved the Moon (Moonsongs for Jhonn Balance) is a double CD of remixed material from previous releases. It is also a dedication to Jhonn Balance a colleague and dear friend who passes in 2004.

This is some great dark ambience! Cacophony and experimental sounds surround deep drones. Organic textures beget murky damp atmospheres. Some of the sounds involve spoken word samples that David and Steve have warped and shifted to the nth degree, creating spine chilling results. The sounds are scary and malevolent. The darkness is pervasive. It surrounds the room. The damp atmospheres have hypnotic qualities that can take listeners on dangerous adventures to forbidden places.

This CD is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced listener. It is great for getting lost in controlled sessions only.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions




by irr. app. (ext.)

Visit Beta-lactam Ring Records'  website


The person/ people who perform(s) as irr. app. (ext.) must have some serious drain bamage. Perekluchenie is ample evidence of that. This is serious dark ambience with references to Goth, it has no hidden agendas or meanings. It is straight and to the point - "I am the soundtrack for Charon's cruises on the River Styx!”

irr. takes this stuff seriously and with a sense of humor as manifested by the very odd vocal samples and static in the responses. It sounds like he/she might have sampled an AM radio to juxtapose against crisp digital recordings. The effect is almost too intense for practical application. (Could irr. app. Stand for ”irregular application?”

track two – the title track – is particularly odd and bizarre. It seems that irr. built it strictly from samples, spoken word samples and multiple processes. It is quirky, dark and more than a little funny.

This is a great CD! While the darkness can border on the satanic, it is obvious that irr. does not take him/her/itself too seriously. That usually allows for a fun listening session.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions




by Ariel Kalma

Visit Beta-lactam Ring Records'  website

Ariel Kalma set Osmose against a backdrop of a recording of a rain forest. He added the recording, however, during the final mixing. Some of the music is almost 30 years old and some of it is modern digital. It is all fairly quirky, genuinely odd and totally cool! The pieces from the late 1970's are a bit rough with references to the  prog rock of that era. The digital recordings are smoother and make more sense.

The concept is rather unique, too. Ariel's metallic textures set a space music sci-fi stage that contrasts the rain forest rather starkly. It works because Ariel makes it work. The juxtaposition is there and it is overt. It is not, however, the focus. That belongs to the experimental sounds and the dissonance.

This is a cool CD for the adventurous buyer and courageous listener. While it is not for everybody it is for enough.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts for Ambient Visions



The Blue Light

by Seth Kaufman

CD Baby website

Pianist/composer Seth Kaufman has remastered and re-released his first two albums as a prelude to the long-awaited release of an album of new material in March ‘06. “The Blue Light” was Kaufman’s second release and made its debut in 1994. As with his other albums, there is a variety of playing styles - some serene and peaceful with others being bigger, bolder, and more dramatic. Kaufman’s classical training is evident, as is his background in jazz, but his musical voice is his own. Plus, he has playing chops to die for! The music was inspired by various sources, including a one-act play that he scored, literature, and, of course, life itself. I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing “Circling Noon” and “Red Descending” a few years ago, and am delighted that this incredible artist has resurfaced with lots of new (and not-so-new) music!

“Stadium” opens the CD with a burst of pianistic energy. Excitement and a feeling of bigness run through the piece. “First Moment” comes from the score of “Savage/Love,” a play written by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin. The piece effectively alternates between themes that are wistful and dreamy to upbeat and anxious, creating something of a dialog. It’s a fascinating piece that tells a story as it evolves. “Thursday” comes from a passage in Tony Morrison’s novel, “Jazz,” that muses about the satisfaction and comfort of that day of the week. Thoughtful and reflective, this piece is almost a ballad. “Chambers of the Sea” is a favorite. Inspired by a poem by T.S. Eliot, themes range from peaceful to turbulent, but the piece is mostly dark, dramatic, and very passionate - I’d love to be able to play this one! “Strolling A Suspension Bridge” switches gears to light and carefree - you can almost feel the warmth of the sun with a gentle breeze blowing through your hair. Another favorite is “Dark Blue,” a mournfully sad piece with a lively theme in the middle that keeps it from descending to the depths of despair. “The Rainy Years” blows me away with how its emotional changes flow so seamlessly from one to another - absolutely amazing and utterly compelling. I love it! “Farewells” is warm and a little sad, as the title implies - a lovely piece. Parts of it become very intense, demonstrating several kinds of “farewells.” “Sunset Park” features wordless vocals by Mimi Pasek that are layered over the piano - a very effective close to an outstanding album.

”The Blue Light” is an excellent addition to any piano lover’s collection. Seth Kaufman is one of the best pianists out there, and I can’t wait to hear his new music! It is available from Amazon, CD Baby, and CD Street. Highly recommended!

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons reprinted from Mainly Piano on Ambient Visions