Reviews 08-19-2001

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Lucid Dreams Alias Zone album cover

Lucid Dreams

by Alias Zone


“.... Techno, trip-hop, jungle, African, Asian and Middle Eastern rhythm loops-straight and processed flutes- analog and digital synthesizers- electric, digital and processed pianos- straight, looped, vocoded and convolved electric guitars....”

These are just a few of the instruments and sounds used on this eclectic album. 

We must not forget the speech samples as well! Swahili and Urdu vocal samples mix with children’s vocal samples from China , England and Zaire. Also speeches from Lyndon B Johnson and Adlai Stevenson (whom I do not know!) are mixed into this major exercise in manipulating sounds with computer and sampler.

Well you get the picture I hope! This is naturally an adventurous album and explores several areas of diverse music such as ambient dub, world beat, exotica and I quote.

“ Voices in many tongues”. Musical references include Bill Laswell, early Jon Hassell and some David Byrne particularly his album “ My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”. Jazz, reggae, Berlin-movement electronics etc.

The entire process for this album started when Chris Meyer/Alias Zone collected samples of differing sounds textures and moods and these were loaded into a sampling drum machine. These sounds were then played back during live performances of techno group Cosmic Debris. The resulting assemblages of sounds were then often put through The Mojo Rack: a collection of echoes, reverbs, vocoders and filter banks. The members of Cosmic Debris would then improvise on top of these rhythms and sounds. 

Alias Zone/ Chris Meyer would then capture the favorite pieces and then were further processed and the resulting product was Lucid Dreams.

Some of the album reminds me a bit of Paul Haslingers album, World Without Rules and as a bookmark would be a reference. Lucid Dreams is a step up from that as it is more adventurous. It has its dark moments but overall if multitudes of wide ranging sounds and creative and well written  compositions are your thing, Lucid Dreams would make a interesting listen.

Reviewed for Ambient Visions by Gary Andrews


Cobalt 144 Ashera ambient album cover

Cobalt 144

by Ashera (Anthony Asher Wright)


Ashera's Cobalt 144 will reward you as one of the most essential ambient recordings your collection will ever contain.  Until word spreads it will also be the one obscure disc that your listening mates will be fawning over.  It is pure joy to watch and listen as others discover the magic of Cobalt 144.

Ashera's members are Antonio Wright * instruments, Caroline Wilson * voice, and Aariana Korkosova * voice.  Cobalt 144 is the second release, "Ambient Selections" being the first, from this amazing trio of musicians based in Sydney Australia.

Cascading, breathy voices, underpinned by mercuric synthesizer washes are highlighted with treated guitar work as "Cobalt Friends" unfolds with the distant perspective of the seductive call of mythological sirens caressing your ears.  As one draws nearer, and drawn in you will be, the aptly named second track "Vertical Tunnels" changes the tonal palette ever so slightly, placing sonic boundaries upon the soundstage.  Thus drawing the music closer around you, molding itself, through the perspective of swirling ethereal sirens voices tangible enough to touch as you feel yourself guided along the tunnel walls towards the waiting and mysterious unknown.

Liquid sounding keyboards float about as nature envelops your aural senses with visions of feline stealth and languid repose in the cathedral ceiling sound field of "The Cat".  Wonderment abounds, under watchful eyes, as you gaze about, uncertain of what lies ahead, viewing what appears to be a jump point or portal staging area to the destinations that await you.

"Patio Wall" is the portal you seek.  As a new denizen of Cobalt 144 you will marvel as the essence of life is beautifully woven during a visit to "River Farm".  The paths that follow lead you to the principles of the land, revealed in the tracks "144", the Cobalt way of life, with deep earthly roots, "Temple Ritual" and the homage to the airwaves in "Ultima Thule".  The remaining tracks are those that change and engage the listener's introspective thought process the most upon each successive listening session.  More akin to favorite characters or scenes from an exquisitely rendered fantasy realm wherein the author deftly sculpts believable landscapes, dialogue exchange, and scenarios.  One bathes in "Moonlight Tides", enters into discourse with "Lord Shield Pakal", gains insight while "Swimming Cobalt Waters" and finally is rewarded by dwelling "In Fifth Densities" at the works close.

Cobalt 144 is easily one of the best fantasy adventures of the year... and amazingly enough, not a page to turn or joystick to jostle to become immersed in and embraced by Ashera .  Pure artistic entertainment, an audiophile treat for those systems capable of displaying air and nuance, and finally, an enthralling, to die for dream, for headphone worshippers. Cobalt 144 is highly recommended as an essential addition to every Ambient collection.

Reviewed by BEAR  08.19.01

Visit BEAR's bio page to learn more about him.


Ishati Rajna album cover


by Rajna

Visit Projekt's website

Rajna are from France. Their American debut release Rajna has just been released on the prolific Projekt label. Combining vast elements of Eastern instrumentation with Jeanne Lefebvre’s remarkable devotional vocals, Rajna the trio have managed to come up with an album of exotic sounds that should appeal to fans of the 4AD label and especially admirers of the group Dead Can Dance.

It has to be said that it is not all about Jeanne’s vocals and rare and exotic instruments. Carefully orchestrated synthesizer passages help to create the “mystery” factor by underpinning the tracks. When this is put together with the vocal parts the musical ambience becomes quite electric. “Sanctuary” is of particular note as it is one of the most atmospheric pieces presented. The vocals are of the haunting kind here but the instruments are played in a slightly rhythmic mode that creates a traveling meditational pattern.

All in this entire album comes across as a musical journey in ethnical ambience. What I am trying to say is that where as groups such as Dead Can Dance is similar in style to Rajna. The latter have created a more original ambient feel to their music and therefore a much more devotional feel is intimated and should appeal to the readers of this website.

Reviewed for Ambient Visions by Gary Andrews


Angels of Venice album cover

Angels of Venice

by Angels of Venice


It is absolutely remarkable that some people will miss this release solely because of a notion that a label must lose its artistic integrity upon attaining, successful commercial, status as the masters of the archetypal blue print for New Age Music.  Perhaps more remarkable is that the Angels of Venice have attained "cult status" amongst the college crowd here in Central Wisconsin.  Positively refreshing to find that there are still those that eschew stereotypical notions and listen to the inherent musical value before passing judgement on new music.

As the opening notes of "Sad Lisa" stir long forgotten musical memories one is aware that something special is indeed unfolding before your ears.  Joanne Paratore's piano is joined by Laura Halladay's harmonically rich flute and Carol Tatum's acoustic guitar, setting the stage for the wondrous layering of sound that is the Angel's of Venice.  The celestial voiced cello of Peggy Baldwin is foreshadowed by the ethereal Celtic Harp strums of multi instrumentalist Carol Tatum.  The solid percussion of Christopher Pellani joins additional orchestral strings to complete the layering of the opening track.

And so it goes... a worldly adventure through time in eleven tracks of wondrous soundscapes and musical tales exquisitely performed in an enthralling and enchanting performance.  Spectacular sonic realism is afforded the multitude of instruments that span the ages with particular care taken in presenting the all important midrange sound qualities that are so rich in musical information.  The low end of the percussion and various bass voicing's are well defined and robustly tight throughout the recording.  Every track reveals layer upon layer of tantalizing musical passion and fire balanced by the Angelic visions of the artists.  An eclectic blend of Celtic Harp, Hammered Dulcimer, Irish Bouzouki, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar, Synth Bass, Keyboards, Piano, Flutes, Recorders, Cello, Doumbek, Udu, and percussion all assembled and voiced in a celestial performance from the heavens awaits you on Angels of Venice.

A musically satisfying, harmoniously pleasing release, capable of invoking sonic vision and trance like states makes the Angels of Venice a recommended musical adventure that is sure to please and soothe the soul.  Besides... is it not time you too believed in Angels?

Reviewed by BEAR  08.19.01

Visit BEAR's bio page to learn more about him.


Liquid Fire Babor Csupo album cover

 Liquid Fire

Gabor Csupo



Well I thought I knew the name from somewhere. Gabor Csupo the musician is also best known as the creator of the children’s mega-hit TV show “Rugrats” He also played a major contribution to the groundbreaking shows such as “Stressed Eric” and the legendary “The Simpsons”.

Born in Communist Hungary Csupo began making music as a teenager before heading towards art school. The rest they say is history.

 He founded a LA based label called Tone Casualties in 1994 as an offshoot of his animation business. This label released several acts from his homeland and also some acts that were musical heroes for Gabor, which must have been very satisfying for him.

Liquid Fire” is his most recent release and is an ambitious project combining two compact discs, first one entitled Liquid and the second ironically Fire.

The music features many samples; found sounds, spoken-word sections and 18th and 19th Hungarian dance pieces obviously a nod to his East European roots.

The music consists of lots of short tracks, the longest being a mere five and a half minutes. Lots of diversification in the tracks makes for an interesting listen.

Much is going on from avant-garde jazz, industrial, breakbeat and pop to name a few of the differing styles on offer. One of the tracks even features dialogue from a Japanese porn film.

To me this release is not to be taken seriously. If you like short, sampled sounds in the extreme you may like this. Not exactly ambient as the term implies but rather in your face over the top electronica. A fun listen.

Reviewed for Ambient Visions by Gary Andrews


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