Reviews 03-13-2004


Music Reviews 


Mandala for Chaos

by embracing the glass

Visit embracing the glass' website




Mandala for Chaos by "Embracing the Glass" (Jeff Sampson and Sean Carroll) Burning Shirt Music, 2002  (Burning Shirt Music, Box 501, Templeton, Mass. 01468)

This unusual and original ambient album emerges out of  the misty woods of central Massachusetts. Privately produced, it is the work of vocalist Jeff Sampson and instrumentalist Sean Carroll, who call their duo by the enigmatic name of "Embracing the Glass." According to Sampson, this is not about drinking but more about transparency and fragility.

Each track on this album has its own individual quality. Sampson's ambient vocals, like those of the German Stephen Micus, have no words, just meaningless syllables, or no syllables at all. Sampson produces an impressively wide variety of sounds; he can hum, croon, moan, chant like a Tibetan monk, chant like a Western monk, or sing high counter-tenor. And in the weirdly juxtaposed "Great Lakes Chain Gang," he sounds like an improbable white Aborigine singing the blues. All thetracks, according to the notes, were created live in the studio, with no overdubs. This leads to some distortions and small extraneous  sounds which you may or may not consider part of the production.

The general mood of this album is slow and contemplative; only the Great Lakes chain gang has any rhythm at all.

Track 1, "Around," moves in like the fog with waves of minimalist electronic sound, the chord increasing in complexity with each wave. Track 2, "Chasm of Faith," features 12 minutes of Sampson's plaintive pentatonics, accompanied by Carroll's cloudy guitar tonalities. "Great Lakes," track 3, which is my favorite,  accompanies Sampson's glossolalic blues with a wry rhythm track sampled from didgeridoo and tabla. The longest track, #4, "After Dark," is their "Gothic" entry, with ominous, oozing instrumentals and croaking, dungeon vocals. The last, title track, "Mandala for Chaos," is reminiscent of neo-medieval ambient sounds like "Dead can Dance" or "Vas," with Sampson chanting sweetly like a vampire choirboy.

Mandala for Chaos is the kind of album that has flourished with the widespread availability of recording and CD production technology, as well as Internet distribution. As independents, "Glass" have no marketer telling them what they have to do to sell to the masses, so they can produce as offbeat an album as they wish. This is not something for a casual listener; it's best if you are familiar with the minimalist ambient and Gothic genre. But if you like that cold moist wind from the north, and the moving shadows of dark branches, this album will fill your chill.

Hannah M.G. Shapero 3/23/03



Between Earth and Sky

by Gandalf 

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"Between Earth and Sky" is a series of "musical landscapes" by Austrian-born multi-instrumentalist Gandalf. Using a musical palette of both electronic and acoustic instruments along with voices, the sound is full, rich, and colorful. In his travels, Gandalf has been touched by the realization that far more things unite than separate the various people and cultures of the world, and his goal in composing and recording is to create music that dissolves boundaries. Folk elements are woven into a symphonic structure, giving Gandalf's music a unique sound. Until this release, his recordings were mostly available in Europe. Gandalf plays various guitars, sax, piano, keyboards, mellotron, balaphon, and percussion. He is joined by White Horse on cello and vocals; and Peter Aschenorenner on flutes, sax, and backup vocals. Sounds of nature are also woven into several tracks.

Each piece flows into the next, making this a sonic journey to another world or another reality. Citing individual pieces doesn't make sense for this album since it was conceived as a whole experience, and you can't always tell exactly where one piece ends and another begins. As the album evolves, various musical styles flow in and out - some more rhythmic and even tribal, while others are serene and introspective. It's a fascinating musical journey that is both soothing and uplifting. Real Music's Robin Algaze outdid herself on the artwork - a beautiful job! "Between Earth and Sky" is available from several online sites, from, and various music and gift stores.

This Kathy Parsons review originally reviewed for  Mainly Piano website. It is reprinted hre on Ambient Visions with permission.



The Path of White Clouds

by Nebula


Nebula is not necessarily the first e-music “supergroup.” They might, however, be the strongest. Oophoi, Klaus Wiese and Mathias Grassow are readily recognizable as some of the e-music community’s strongest solo performers. Tau Ceti, Lorenzo Pieroson, Mauro Malgrande and Geert Verseke are not as well-known but they are strong performers.

The Path of White Clouds is their second CD and it is stronger than garlic. These seven artists combine synths, bowls, samples, the zither, chants, and the shak to create massive atmospheres and resonant soundscapes. The drones are deep and incessant with gray timbres. They intertwine and create atmospheres of – well – clouds. The evolution from drones to atmospheres involves a cleansing or bleaching so the clouds are white. The path is the goal. The circle is unbroken, thus endless.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



Tomorrow's Tuesday

by The Glimmer Room

VisitThe Glimmer Room's website

When I first heard this album I wondered why I'd not come across The Glimmer Room before as this music is right up my street. I was duly surprised to discovered that it's a debut album, the man behind the name being Andy Condon. During some of the 1990s he played keyboards for several bands around Essex, and after eventually getting fed up of taking his equipment to various poorly paid London gigs he decided to set up The Glimmer Project. Tomorrow's Tuesday is the first album to come out of this project. 

This album is chock full of rhythmic and melodic tracks, they are relatively short length (typically between two and six minutes) which gives it a commercial feel, yet it has a unique sound and is good for blowing away the cobwebs. Some listeners might detect influences from some 1980s British synth bands, that is apparent to me in the melodic nature of most tracks. Don’t worry though, this isn't a retro or homage pop album, Andy has forged a new path of very pleasing electronic music that at times makes one want to move one's body along with the rhythms and beats. And for those who like the occasional vocals there's one track, "Sweet Smell of Cloves", with singing on it. 

With fourteen tracks to the album it's unsurprising that not all work equally well, on the whole most of them are very listenable though, and this is the kind of music to play loud. The stand out track for me is the opener "Every Day I Die For Your Body", this has a nice bassy mid-tempo beat over which sensuous melodies weave around each other and these are eventually joined by an androgynous voice delivering  fleeting wordless vocals.

Tomorrow's Tuesday is a very enjoyable album, it has classy synth sounds complemented by drum and other effects to deliver some great tunes.

Reviewed by Dene Bebbington  




by Jeffrey Koepper

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Etherea is an analogue masterpiece created in today’s digital domain. Jeffrey Koepper Created these atmospheres and soundscapes on a variety of electronic instruments and devices – both digital and analogue. (Steve Roach calls him
Analogue Jeff.”) His goal was to create an analogue sound in his Analogueland Studios. Steve mastered it in The TimeRoom and is listed as the co-producer.

This is a delightful set of retro space music compositions that stand proudly with the best of the Berlin school – 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s and the new millennium. Jeff’s style and technique allow this adventure to unfold and evolve at its own pace. He does not force the issue. Deep drones, dark atmospheres and heavy sequences surround and interact with the listeners’ psyches. In that regard, this CD offers more than traditional electronica. It has psychoacoustic and psychoactive properties that provoke and evoke deep responses. This is an exceptional and charming CD!

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts



Beast in the Heat

by Hemisphere

Visit Groove Unlimited's website 

Hemisphere is Ralf Knappe-Heinbockel and Thorsten Reinhart.Beast in the Heat is one of the finest CD’s in the new European e-music tradition. Ralf and Thorsten surround heavy and prolonged sequences with vast atmospheres and deep drones. They surround the atmospheres and drones with sequences. The structure resembles a Max Escher print. The music flows constantly with no beginning and no end. The most unique feature of this disc is, however, its organic sequences. Very few artists are able to create sci-fi sequences with organic textures. Ralf and Thorsten are two of them. This disc is one of 2003’s highlights.

Reviewed by Jim Brenholts


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