Reviews 12-05-2001


Music Reviews 




by Vampire Nation

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"Cosmos" is the second CD by Pittsburgh-based Vampire NationFredrik von Hamilton is Vampire Nation.  This disc is nowhere as angry as his first CD, "Wise-Ta-Nech."

It is, however, every bit as intense.  Fredrik has introduced a more melodic brand of intensity.  While this is definitely an e-music album, there are distinct and overt new age references and passages.  And some of the flute riffs are downright jazzy!  The driving bass line also has jazz influences.

The entire structure of the disc is similar, if not identical, to rock and roll.  The overt rhythm drives the equally overt space sequences and experimental sounds.

Fredrik shows definite growth and progression with this offering.  If that curve remains exponential, fame and further greatness await this young man!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



by Cyscape

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This is the first ambient CD I have had the pleasure in reviewing from my home country of the UK. Before this release came along, I had thought that a UK artist was incapable of releasing something quite like this. This is music that would not be at all out of place on say the renowned Hypnos label. Usually what comes out of the UK is of an up beat melodic nature. It was a real eye-opener to hear this.

The guy behind Cyscape (not sure what this word means, but I am guessing it is something to do with computers?) is a Phil Riches and he has come up with an interesting release of classic dark ambient music, suitably tinged with slight rhythmic elements that provide a powerful listening experience.

Seven movements are presented and each track manages to compliment the one that has gone before. The instrumentation is done entirely with electronics, and the effect is definitely one of deep space or if you are feeling “mindful” then one to explore your aural senses with preferably with headphones on. Its strange you can listen to all manner of albums like this and nothing may happen. When I listened to this release an emotional connection was made and I have always known this to be a good sign for a good album.

It took me a few listens to “get into” alignment but once you understand the music of Cyscape then some serious music exploration is well appreciated by this reviewer

Reviewed by Gary Andrews for Ambient Visions


A Light Classical Christmas

by Darren Curtis Skanson

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Someone on the Hypnos forum wrote that "A Light Classical Christmas" is the holiday CD for 2001.  I must agree with that statement.  (Well, I did write it!)

Darren Curtis Skanson has done it again!  His transcriptions of these classical Christmas carols are breathtaking.  His light and gentle touch brings a new passion to the compositions.

It has always been the purpose of reverent Christmas carols to touch the heart and the soul.  Darren's obvious love for these pieces and for his craft is, in and of itself, motivational.  The spirituality of the performance takes it to the inspirational level.  His rendition of "Silent Night" is indescribably beautiful.  It evokes deep passion.

Bold listeners - and readers - will stretch the limits of the ambient imagination and add this CD to their holiday music libraries.  Those who do not will never know what they are missing.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Streams and Currents

by Steve Roach

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Steve Roach sets his own musical limits.  Then he exceeds them.  "Midnight Moon" was a landmark release for Steve.  It opened his doorway to his processed guitar soundworlds.

Steve recorded "Streams and Currents" late at night during the final "Core" sessions.  He went back to the uniqueness of the guitar.  This album, on Projekt, features guitars, Ebow and looping and processing equipment.  Track two, "Spirit Moves," also features a "mantra beat."

The CD was "created for low volume continuous playback."  It is wonderful in that mode.  The subtleties and nuances have their greatest effect with focused listening.  Low volume and continuous play yield the most intense listening.

Focused listening has multiple rewards.  Deep listeners will feel the biorhythmic pull of the vast atmospheres that Steve has designed.  And too little has been written about the accuracy of Steve's titles and their relationship to the responses to the music.  He has titled this disc and its components perfectly!

The opening title, "Present Moment," sets the focus on the here and now.  Track two, "Spirit Moves," begins the journey.  The first leg of the journey, Slow Rising," unfolds languidly and dreamily.  Wanderers nearly achieve the goal on "Almost Touching," track four.  Track five, "Ebb," reminds listeners that change and the unexpected are inevitable.  The finale, "Flow," completes the circle as the journey ends and continues.

So the ceiling of Steve's perpendicular universe has been lifted once again.  And there are more soundworlds and musical universes for him to master.  He just has to define them!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Pure Flow

by Steve Roach

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"Pure Flow" is "an essential flow of atmospheric soundscapes by Steve Roach."  It is a collection of six pieces from Timeroom CD's and a previously unreleased track, "Hovering."

The pieces are sequenced by the feelings evoked, not by chronology.  Steve still has the uncanny ability to present his work outside its original format in an enhanced environment.  These pieces, some excerpted from long continuous play compositions, evoke new and exciting responses in this sequence.  It is a monumental achievement to flow tracks from "Atmospheric Conditions," "Truth and Beauty," "Slow Heat," "The Dream Circle" and "Vine, Bark and Spore" with the unreleased track.  This CD is also a continuous play essential.

Focused listeners will get new responses.  Nothing is recycled.  This has all the positive attributes of a new Timeroom CD.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Descendre Cinq Lacs au Tavers D'Une Voile

 by Alio Die and 
Yannick Dauby

"Descendre Cinq Lacs au Tavers D'Une Voile" is a three-inch mini CD from Alio Die, nee Stefano Musso, and Yannick Dauby.  Stefano has been rather prolific of late, both in his solo work and in his collaborations.

This disc is so typical of his style that even the deepest listeners will struggle to identify Yannick's contributions.  But they are there!  There are some very exotic and convoluted experiMENTAL sounds among Stefano's signature minimalist manipulations.  Those are Yannick's.

This disc is a trip to the lighter side of Stefano's realm.  Yannick's sound design augments the brightness with a curious filipio as an exclamation point!  This disc needs and provides warmth and comfort.  Share it with a friend!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


Invisible Rain

by TJ Rehmi

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Here's a treat: blend a little jazz, hip-hop, ambient with some nice Indian spice- stir in some deliciously snaky Sitar grooves, sit back and enjoy.

That is what British composer-musician TJ Rehmi has done, with very replayable results. The fusion of East Asian and Western jazz, hip-hop and ambient hasn't broken into the mainstream yet here in the US, but I believe that this album will do the job admirably. This is his third album, but his first US release. It's a keeper. And you'll keep it in your player as a good 'go to', especially for road trips and upbeat house music.

Clocking in at just over an hour, the grooves on this album are long enough to get into, but not so long as to be fatiguing.  Standouts include the very danceable "Shaam Aye" with a wonderful sitar hook, the introspective urban rainy day sounds of the title track, "Invisible Rain", and the sitar-splashed "Tonik". Mind you, the rest of the album is also wonderful, but these were the ones that got me out of the chair to see which tracks they were on the initial playback.

If you have a taste for Indian-style ambience, I'd say get this one. And even if Indian style music is still a little alien to your ears, I'd still recommend it, because it is a great introduction to a style that I hope catches on over here.

Reviewed by Lorie Johnson for Ambient Visions


The Sweet Nectar of Silence

by Kip Mazuy

Visit Bliss Music's website  

In the liner notes for "The Sweet Nectar of Silence," Kip Mazuy proclaims it to be "the finest music for deep relaxation.Chuck Wild, a.k.a. Liquid Mind, might take exception to that statement, but there certainly is credence to Kip's claim.

This CD is brimming with gentle atmospheric space music.  Deep listeners seeking meditation and relaxation zones will find them here.  Kip's soundscape is gentle, subtle and pastoral.  His samples and acoustic instruments add flair and depth to the pieces.  The electronics are warm and embracing.  The flow is languid and peaceful.

This CD is ambience exactly as Brian Eno envisioned it.  It is easy to use as a background. It is easy to embrace.  It is a superb CD.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts




Visit Spheric Music's website

Most people in the US will probably have never heard of the music of German  Lambert Ringlage. So it is quite fortuitous that this “best of” album (which  has two tracks of unreleased music as an enticement to Lamberts music collectors) has found its way to Ambient Visions. Lambert specializes in what I would call “Traditional Electronic Music”. This is typical Teutonic music that has its routes in the Berlin School of Electronica.

Most of what is in on offer here is quite melodic with the sequencer used very much to the fore. The opening cut for example “Light Sky” is a very bouncy number that features electronic drums and a memorable melody, which lingers long after the track has finished.

Upon reading the cover notes it is evident that Lambert as well as issuing his own self-penned albums has collaborated with a large number of musicians, and for example the track “SUN” has fellow synthesist Aperion performing along side. This track again is very melodic and features heavily the dominant sequencer! If you like the sequences of artists such as Chris Franke, and much of the European roster of EM artists from Ron Boots to Redshift you will undoubtedly find much to enjoy here.

Its not all electronic though&ldots;or very nearly though! On “Successive Pictures” the track opens with a rousing electric guitar solo before the inevitable sequencer takes up the main force of the music. It’s all very tuneful and I would imagine a good CD to play on a long car journey where one needs to keep alert humming this easy on the ear music.

As stated previously this is tuneful and melodic music in the main. It’s not what I would call deep listening but as an example of the new wave of German synthesizer players Lambert scores highly.

Reviewed by Gary Andrews for Ambient Visions


Earth, Sky, Sea

by Richard Scott Schilling

Visit Richard's CD Baby website

"Earth, Sky, Sea" is the debut CD from Richard Scott Schilling.  It is the culmination of eight years of composition and performance.

Rick got his inspiration from the connections that all humans have with nature.  

"Earth is what I consider our spirit of grounding or common sense.  Sky, the spirit of hope, allows us to dream.  Sea, our emotional spirit, moves in constant ebb and flow."

Those are very simple - yet deep - truisms.  Rick has created a very gentle new age soundscape to convey the holistic spirituality of those connections.  There are some very cool rhythms and some deep electronics but the highlight - and featured instrument - of this CD is Rick's smooth acoustic piano.  This is somewhat of an inverse of a James Johnson, Kip Mazuy or Richard Bone disc.  They use the acoustic piano to supplement their electronic instruments and manipulations.  Rick uses his electronics to augment his acoustic piano.

It works very well, too.  Rick's keen insight and sharp instincts have been honed to a sharp edge.  He rides that edge to a monumental crescendo.  He has been beating the bushes finding outlets for this wonderful CD.  Listener support will reward those efforts!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


A Lone Reply

by Dean DeBenedictus

Visit Dean's Myspace page

Dean DeBenedictus has recorded as Surface 10.  He has also, under his given name, contributed to Hypnos and Mirage compilations.  "A Lone Reply" is his dedication to Native Americans.

And it is a deep and varied extravaganza replete with sequenced rhythms, wild atmospheres and tribal influences.  Dean uses a wide array of electronic and ethnic instruments to create this vast soundscape.  He also received assistance from Loren Nerell and Barry Craig (A Produce) and inspiration from Steve Roach and Robert Rich.  Robert also mastered the album.

While this disc has a definite Native American sound and feel, it is much more than that.  The ethnic ambience merely sets the table for the deep minimalism and distant space music.  The space music is "out there" in a far away zone.  The minimalism is deeper than deep.  Deep listeners will make the journey to the far regions of Dean's ambient imagination.  He has not promised a return ticket.

This CD leaves listeners hungry for more.  It is a good hunger.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


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