Reviews 11-14-2005 


Music Reviews 



The Once and Future World

by Mingo

Visit Mingo's  website

CD Baby website

When I received this CD I had a memory bubble pop in my head. While the CD jacket was unfamiliar, I felt I knew the name from somewhere. So I searched through the various locations in which I keep my CDs (I moved a year ago, and my CDs are now scattered in various places throughout the house). Sure enough, sporting different album art and a somewhat amateurish CD label, I pulled out my older copy of Mingo's "The Once and Future World." I had received this CD a few years ago as I hosted my own web site, listened once or twice, and then consigned it to one of the many stacks I have, as mentioned above.

I see now, by visiting Mingo's web site ( ) that the copy I received was an original track release, and perhaps not the finished product. This review covers the 2005 nationally released version.  

To me, the name Mingo conjures up images of the evil despot in the Flash Gordon comics, Mingo the Merciless, of the planet Mongo. In a way, this is an appropriate image, for the dark ambient music of The Once and Future World is merciless in its deep, resonant textures. "Cavernous Music" is how I describe this type of ambient soundscaping. It's as if one were immersed in the large, lonely chambers of a subterranean cave, the stalactites and stalagmites providing the only physical substance. The electronic timbres are carried on currents of wind, reverberating off chamber walls, surrounding and consuming the listener.

The term "goth" has been applied to Mingo's music, and I believe it fits. Minor keys, ponderous tones, crushing atmospheres and swirling darkness combine to create cathedral effects in music. This is heavy-duty ambient listening, and should be taken in moderate doses.

Reviewed by Fred Puhan for Ambient Visions




Studios and Airplanes

by Building Castles Out of Matchsticks

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Visit Soundclick's website

I've never been secretive about my appreciation for Anne Sulikowski's work as Building Castles Out of Matchsticks. Her sense of environment, the way that she weaves disparate threads of sound and noise into a beautifully cohesive tapestry, the way that she's able to put so much emotion and feeling into electronic music, it's all combined to make me realize how very much I enjoy her work.

With the release of her latest disc "Studios and Airplanes", Anne proves her mastery of the medium once again and validates my feelings that she's one of the premier electronic artists working today. 

"I Cut My Wrists With Your Bad Thoughts" opens the disc with a series of looping field recordings where cityscape sounds come together to create a living, breathing, screaming immersive environment. You can't help but feel completely surrounded by what's happening, can't help but feel that you exist only within the space that Anne has made. 

"It is Clear That the Rain Would Come" follows, droning poetry spoken/sung in a wind tunnel, messages in bottles thrown out to sea hopeful that somebody will find them. But as with messages in bottles, words get washed away and blurred, pleas get lost and confused, and in the end all that's left is a beautiful stained piece of paper that holds mysteries and secrets and whispers that you'll never hear. 

An uptempo beat plays underneath a heavy wall of static in "The Stars Are My Boyfriends", Anne singing sweetly just on the edges of the track, just deep enough in the mix that you can't quite understand the words, and instead you're left to imagine what she's singing, the only clear thought that the stars are her boyfriends, and all the wonder that entails. 

"Window Pain Will Be Our Love Song" moves the disc forward with a shuffling urgency, fast beats competing with an oscillating drone to fill out the space. There’s something revelatory about this track, a weight being lifted.

Or maybe a greater strength has been found to carry the same weight?

Skip ahead to "It's So Surprising Just How Quickly Things Can End", where the sounds of falling rain and thunder blend into a wall of drone building in intensity. And out of nowhere a drum pattern begins, giving form and shape to the noise, a beacon around which everything is formed. It's like hope, something to cling onto in the midst of all the darkness.

And then it all comes together. "Somehow You'd Find A Way" brings all of the themes of the disc and sums them all up in an accessible and appealing popsong format. There's a clarity of vision here, a sad resolve overtop deceptively upbeat drumming. It's the sound of realization and acceptance, and in that awareness there's a sense of empowerment, an optimism that things will be different next time, that what's been is gone and that the future holds promise. Hope. And sure enough, disc closer "When Winter is Gone and Spring Comes Back My World Will be Green Again" proves that point, melodies rising and gaining clarity from thick waves of sound, slowly overtaking the darkness.

I've said countless times in the past that Anne has a way of bringing emotion and organicism to her work. With the release of "Studios and Airplanes", Anne has once again shown her skill at breathing life into her pieces, a gift that has helped her develop a very loyal following. Surely it's a gift that will continue to bring her to the attention of those who are willing to try something new.

Reviewed by Rik at Pink Things. Reprinted on Ambient Visions



Sounds From the Wishing Well

by Patrick Gorman

Visit Patrick Gorman's  website

CD Baby website

“Sounds From the Wishing Well” is a stunning debut from pianist/composer Patrick Gorman. Produced by Will Ackerman, the sound quality is flawless and the 9’ Steinway used in the recording has a rich, full-bodied resonance. A self-taught pianist who had not listened to the likes of George Winston or the other major artists of this genre, Gorman’s musical background is that of a drummer. Interesting, no? Gorman’s music has an elegant fluidity and a great range of expressive emotional depth. Ackerman says of the recording session (yes, it was recorded in one session!), “It was one of the most remarkable performances I have had the pleasure to witness.” Heady praise from the founder of Windham Hill Records, a label widely known for the impeccable quality of its recordings (and artists) while Ackerman was at the helm. This is, indeed, an exceptional album. 

”Bella” begins the CD with a reflective yet energetic piece that is a bit on the dark side. An interesting array of musical textures and themes are interwoven, creating a beautiful montage. “Give Up the Ghost” is much more delicate and fragile - I love it! “Citrus” picks up the pace considerably. Its infectious rhythm and Gorman’s nimble fingers create a bright sparkling piece that swirls and dances. “Ramah By Moonlight” is one of several pieces that have a Middle-Eastern influence. Dark and very leisurely in its pace, this piece is sensual and evocative. As its title implies, “Prism Bell” has a free rhythm and a sparkling quality that is both gorgeous and as soothing as watching light bounce off a prism. “Arabian Moonrise” is my favorite on this album. Mysterious, sultry, and even a little playful, this one grabs me every time. “Shadowgirl” also has a feeling of mystery, but also of searching - fascinating. The closing track, “Sleep Dance,” sounds like a free-form improvisation that works really well and holds together with repeated listenings.  

“Sounds From The Wishing” is an exciting debut, and I hope the first of many recordings from Patrick Gorman. Complex, yet very accessible, I highly recommend this album.

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons reprinted from Mainly Piano on Ambient Visions


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