Music Reviews 


Reviews 10-30-2004 


Holding the Space:
Fever Dreams II

by Steve Roach

Projekt Records  

With his latest release "Holding the Space: Fever Dreams II", Steve Roach builds and expands on ideas and themes touched upon in his "Fever Dreams" disc from earlier this year.  Creating spaces by combining intricate rhythms with deep washes of sound, he's woven a beautiful tapestry of sound sure to appeal to both new and old fans alike.

"The Wounded Healer" opens the disc, a work of flowing liquid pads blending and growing overtop a weaving hypnotic percussive pattern. Listening to this track it's easy to be drawn in, led to another plane of thought.  And from here our journey begins...

Track two, "Energy Wall" uses a series of rhythmic patterns gaining in complexity with each passing moment, building upon eachother to create a solid mass of moving sound. There's a strong sense of connection made in this track between the listener and the music, a feeling that one is drawing strength from the other at alternating times. Masterful work.

"Opening the Space" combines voice and didgeridoo to create a haunting example of organic ambience, the piece quite literally being infused with the breath of it's creators. Ritual magic is at play here, a feeling of spirits being called down to earth, the vocals of Jennifer Grais inviting elder ghosts to commune with the living.  A suggestion of old wisdom and forgotten secrets.  Spellbinding.

"Heart's Core" draws on similar ideas of ritual, adding drums courtesy of Byron Metcalf and bass work to suggest a ceremony, shared experience between the living and the dead.  Rapturous and groove laden, there's the idea of celebration deep in the heart of this one.

"Fires Burning" brings to mind the sharing of wisdom, secrets being passed between generations, the mysteries of life laid bare for those who are brave enough to ask the right questions. Lush tones sweep throughout, interwoven with fretless grooves and flowing vocals. A fantastic piece that scales dizzying heights.  I'm left breathless. With closing track "Holding the Space" the disc and all of it's ideas are drawn together and expanded upon.  A slowly evolving environment that builds in complexity throughout the course of it's 23 minutes, it captures the journey of self awareness, of coming to know oneself, of finding meaning not from outside sources but from within.  A truly moving piece leading to self reflection and contemplation. Beautiful.

From beginning to end "Holding the Space: Fever Dreams II" is an incredible work that truly captures a feeling of inner growth and development.  The pieces collected here are all both inspired and inspiring, infused with a sense of magic that stays with you long after the disc has finished.

Reviewed by Rik Maclean of Ping Things reprinted here on Ambient Visions.

Visit Rik's Ping Things website by clicking here.


Air is the Means

by Arms Full of Sound

Arms Full of Sound  

For his third CD release, Paul Needler of Arms Full of Sound asks us to consider the idea that "Air is the Means".  A conceptual album exploring the role that air plays in our lives, "Air is the Means" is a fascinating collection of songs that manages to give shape and sound to a shapeless and soundless medium.

"Weightless Dream (Edit)" opens the disc with a textured analog sound reminiscent of the Berlin school of electronic music.  Lush pads and squelchy melodies permeate the piece, a steady drum form keeping solid throughout.  A lovely track to draw one into the album.

"Taking Flight (Edit)" uses oblique motion to suggest the sensation of flying, a constant drone anchoring patterns that progressively build in complexity.  Shortly percussive tones enter the track echoing the initial melodies.  Very nicely crafted.

Track three, "Escaped (Edit)" is a more abstract piece than the others, relying on oscillating waves to create a rich sense of environment, rather than the melodic patterns used earlier. Subtle and understated, this may be my favorite track on the disc. Exquisite.

Closing track "Solid Textures" is a lush, majestic work that brings together many of the earlier ideas and themes of the disc.  Epic in scope, rich in tone, "Solid Textures" is a brilliant piece to close the disc, summing up the idea that "Air is the Means".

Over the course of three CDs, Paul Needler has developed his craft and skills to an impressive level.  With this latest release he lives up to and surpasses expectations.  If this disc is any indication, there are some very exciting things in store from this bright new talent.

Reviewed by Rik Maclean of Ping Things reprinted here on Ambient Visions.

Visit Rik's Ping Things website by clicking here.



by Munkie

Munkie on CD Baby  

Sunshine Music

"Progression" by Munkie is a strong example of the chill genre, a finely crafted blend of downtempo beats and deep atmospheres with lush pads and bright melodies. Occasional vocal tracks stand alongside intrumentals in a tasteful and appealing blend. Opening with "Collision (Sunrise Mix)", we're treated to an upbeat track filled with plucked guitar loops and uptempo percussion.  A lovely start to the disc suggesting an optimism and positivity that will carry throughout.

"Arbitrary Love/Hate" is a blast of psychedelia amid a constantly shifting backdrop of stop and go drum patterns and choked guitar.  Quite engaging this one. "Shadows of Black" is a frantic bass heavy sweep through angular pads and treated vocals. Totally cyber, very Gibson-esque.

Skip ahead to the claustrophobic tones that open "Ghosts in the Machine", where a dark and dreary intro gives way to a percussion heavy track with percolating melodies and rising sounds that ebb and flow throughout.  A fine example of cleverly executed IDM. "Bright Rays of the Sun" uses a reggae flavor to propel the piece forward, a summertime love song filled with optimism and light.

"Going Home" is a light groove piece with wahwah guitar and brushed drum beats that evoke a Hooverphonic type vibe.  Very nice work, very chilled. Overall I think that "Progression" is  a strong debut from a talented new performer.  I trust that we'll be hearing more from them, and this is of course a good thing.

Reviewed by Rik Maclean of Ping Things reprinted here on Ambient Visions.

Visit Rik's Ping Things website by clicking here.


Inside the Hollow Realm

by Numina & Caul

Numina's Website

Caul's website


It starts very quietly, a point of silence slowly drawing away being replaced by gentle waves.  And gradually, as you become accustomed to your surroundings, you find yourself "Inside the Hollow Realm".  A new collaboration by Jesse Sola of Numina and Brett Smith of Caul, "Inside the Hollow Realm" is an inspired pairing that effectively blends the skills and talents of both artists in such a way as to create something new.

Split into three sections of four tracks each, "Collapse of the Spiral Spire", "The Molten Void" and "A Distant Past Fades", the disc has a conceptual flavor to it, a sense of history within.  Images take form in the your mind's eye and then pass from conciousness, leaving only a vague memory of their existence.

The first segment "Collapse of the Spiral Spire" opens with "The Wind Speaks", where minimalism and atmosphere slowly give way to strong percussive forms. "Night Sky Descends" passes through the senses like ravens in the dark night sky.  "The Gathering" is filled with the sound of electric current fedback through arcane radio systems which bleed into a progressively building drum pattern, bringing to mind a circle, a community.  Inspired.

Segment two, "The Molten Void", opens with the same sort of growth from silence, a metallic ringing filling the space.  Treated guitar, or is it something else building in the darkness? You can never really tell, images get distorted here and it becomes difficult to trust our senses to describe what we see.  "Serpent Sounds" rolls with sleek tones, thin high sounds that weave around you like, well, serpents.  "A Brief Reprieve" fills the space with wide open pads, a patch of light in the otherwise dark depths.  The reprieve is all too short though, soon to be replaced by the lava like drones of "Molten Flow".

The last segment "A Distant Past Fades" begins with the twinkling starlit patterns of "Aphasia", beautiful, striking, dreamlike.  "The Seer" is a study in slowly shifting tones, a sense of mystery, secrets.  "Withdrawn" builds in intensity, pads woven through the soundfield like delicate spiderwebs reflecting the light.  And then it closes with "The Memories Blend", a summation of all that we've heard, a sense of completion that slowly wraps around itself until it gradually fades.  A true delight.

In the past I've made no secret of my appreciation for Jesse Sola's work and I continue to be amazed at his ability to create music that touches me so deeply.  With this collaboration his music is perfectly complimented and built upon by Brett Smith and made even more beautiful as a result.  I strongly recomend this release to all of you and I eagerly look forward to future collaborations between the two of them.

Reviewed by Rik Maclean of Ping Things reprinted here on Ambient Visions.

Visit Rik's Ping Things website by clicking here.


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