Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Don Peyote 'Blue Lotus' Review

Artist: Don Peyote

Title: Blue Lotus

Label: Don Peyote Recordings

Released: 1st May 2015

It's been a while since Yvon Mounier (Don Peyote)'s last release 'Heaven and Earth' in 2012 and this latest offering of tribal instruments, Amazon forest field recordings and multi-layered synthised drones provides a deeply meditative, shamanistic soundtrack which he recommends is listened to in one sitting in a darkened meditative environment.

The journey starts with the aptly titled 'Beginnings' where rippling waters and bird song are soon accompanied by an ambient drone which is a quick introduction to the excellent 'Deep Earth Groove' where Byron Metclafe's frame drums, rattles and clay pot provide a ritualistic background for Ganga Giri's didgeridoo.

'Liquid Chimes' provides a brief and haunting interlude of synths, chimes and field recordings before 'Ripples and Mist' adds a dark foreboding ambient drone to the sounds of the rainforest. This darkness is soon compensated by the incantation like mantra of the late Hermana Maria Luisa Tuesta Flores in 'La Madre Icaro' icaro's are shamanic chants which are believed to offer protection, evoke spirits or healing, learnt from the spirits themselves with the aid of ayahuasca.

Eerie ethereal synths join the rainforest field recordings in 'The Way Of Light' pave the way for the title track 'Blue Lotus' where rain sticks, shakers and wooden frog underlay Dan Richardson's bamboo flute, the central piece in this slow paced and deeply meditative excursion which co-incidentally is the longest section of the composition.

'Thunder In The Forest' provides a brief interlude of chimes, drones and field recordings before Dan Richardson's bamboo flute is employed again in shorter but equally beautiful 'Heart Flute in A min' which leads into the gentle incantations of 'Ocanocanoe Sacred Song' which I assume is another Icaro. The final piece of the journey is a mellow combination of deep ambient synths and field recordings entitled 'Onward' indicating it's not an end to the journey but rather a beginning.

Review by Woodzee

Friday, 27 March 2015

Sun:Monx 'Into The Trees' Review

Artist: Sun:Monx

Title: Into The Trees E.P.

Label: Interchill

Released: 23rd March

Melbourne based duo the Sun:Monx (a collaboration between Austero & Opiou) return with more of their guitar laden, glitchy dub and funk sound two years after their debut album 'Power Salad'. With four new tracks to whet your appetite for a new album in the pipeline.

The e.p. starts with 'Rotney Stem Cell' a smooth slinky guitar piece, which would easily slot easily into any funk set and groove a dance floor, with a subtle but effective additional glitch to twist your hips to.

'Lo Keys' squelches the bass deep and low while funky horns spring into action, add a little husky 'Yeah' sample and smooth guitar breakdowns and it's another winner.

The bass riff undercurrent of 'Into The Trees' sounds familiar and works wonderfully with the lush guitar licks before the dub reggae switch and smooth sax … all thrillers and no fillers so far.

The final track 'Run' is more of an outro but as outro's go it's a lovely melodic downtempo gem with contrasting guitar that really deserves an extension.

To summarise this is a well produced fusion of sun soaked dub and funk with a touch of glitch that really hits the spot for me. I'd even go as far to say glitch-haters might re-consider when they hear the Sun:Monx sound.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

DISSØLV 'Realms of Passage E.P.' Review


Release: Realms of Passage E.P.

Label: Merkaba Music

Released: 23rd March

Valentin Santana has studied tribal percussion and classical violin since he was 5, as the sole writer and producer behind DISSØLV (a high energy live group which combines live instrumentation with electronic dance music) he has performed along-side heavyweights such as Sphongle and Infected Mushroom. This latest release has changed direction with the focus aimed at exploring areas of mid-tempo concious bass music rather than continuing with their psy-trance and dub-step roots.

The E.P. begins with 'Oracle Iris' a slow melodic number layered over natural field recordings, with areas filled with deep bass injections, tribal percussion, eastern vocal stabs and elongated ambient breakdowns. For me it contains all the right ingredients but fails to hit the spot.

This is followed by 'Royaltea' which opens in an orchestral manner and although the piece is melodic in places it also takes the bass deeper in others. Filled with low horn sounds, gritty twists and Arabic synth sequences it's certainly holding my interest more than the opening track.

'Ascending Sun' is a contrasting track that toys with twitchy deep bass and hip-hop vocal stabs, then drifts into more uplifting chilled dub with a mellow vocal hook that overlaps more and more frequently as the track progresses.

The e.p. closes with 'Entanglement' where the bassline chugs along nicely with occasional deep bass rips nestled amongst melodic keys and rolling layered synth sequences.

To summarise, This new direction works efficiently as a studio production. However, as a live perfomance I guess some of the energy of the act will be lost, replaced with speaker shaking bass (which may well work for some). Overall it's not a bad release but for me 'Royaltea' is definitely the stand out track.

Review by Woodzee.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Subaqueous 'Re:Create' Review

Artist: Subaqueous

Title: Re:Create

Label: Merkaba Music

Released: 24th March

As the title suggests this release is a collection of re-mixes from the album 'Tides of Twilight' released late last year. The original release was a melting pot of down-tempo ambience, dub & global grooves and the artists (many of which I'm unfamiliar with) on-board this project further compliment those vibes.

The album open's with Yaima's take on 'Dusk's Dawning' which provides a low frequency ethnic dub-step background contrasting with the light airy female vocals. This is followed by Bogtrotters re-rub of 'Voyage' which again contrasts the light and the heavy in a unique style he calls 'Swamp-Step'.

The Moonfrog re-mix of 'Glimmers' was a bonus track on the original album and thoroughly deserves it's place here as it's a lovely laid back affair with plenty of chimes, flutes and classical strings. 'Subconcious' on the other hand take the similarities of 'Depth of Field' into the realms of bass heavy dub-step. 

Guda fuses ethnic tribal rhythms and tablas alongside reggae and glitchy dub-step with 'The Dissolve'. Whilst Drumspyder's Arabic electronica once again injects a mystic blend of tribal rhythms and strings employing the usual Dharbuka's and Oud to 'Insistent Shades' with impressive results. 

Anchor Hill take an instrumental approach with their version of 'Dusks Dawning' and it's a bit of gem with eastern flutes, harmonica' stabs and guitars layered amongst the sparse bass-heavy contrasts. While Kozmo get real gritty with their low-frequency dub-step growler of 'Phase Shift' 

Skytree has a unique take on 'Voyager' it's almost as if they've ripped it up and glued it back together at times glitchy and others like psychedelic smooth Jazz. HANNAH complete's the trio of 'Dusk's Dawning' re-works on the album which focuses more on the melancholic strings than the previous two. Which provides a slowed down Gypsy feel to the piece. 

Finally Entheo see us out with another version of 'Glimmers' which initially toys with the vocal before releasing it and the result provides a combination of acoustic-pop and sun-soaked electronica.

Overall I enjoyed listening to this release which injects a fresh feel to the more arm-chair orientated original and although theirs a certainly elements of chill remaining overall there's a tad more bass and growl implemented.

Review by Woodzee.

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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Artist: Banco De Gaia

Title: Last Train To Lhasa
20th Anniversary Edit

Label: Disco Gecko Recordings

Released: 14th Feb on Bandcamp &
30th March Elsewhere

Following last year's release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of 'Maya' comes this little re-mix e.p. containing the original and a number of modern re-mixes as a pre-cursor for a non-digital 20th Anniversary release of the album. For me 'Shanti' is my all-time favourite Banco track and would sit highly among my top ambient tracks ever. That said this track is still a stunning piece of work which contained all the right ingredients at the time and still appeals to me today.

This release begins with the original it's not the first time the sound of the train has been utilised in electronica (I doubt it will be the last). Kraftwerk's 'Trans-Europe Express' and even more importantly 'Metal on Metal' instantly springs to mind. But while that provided an industrial feel to a European journey Banco creates the setting of a steamy jungle excursion ascending into the mountains of Tibet. As I mentioned previously all the right ingredients are here with an infectious electronic sequence, flutes and eastern vocals layered over a chugging train which is perfect for laying back and casting the minds eye and yet danceable enough for the early hours.

First up on the re-mix duties is Altar Records, Astropilot who takes the track further into an ambient space with a trance like approach. Just as this version starts to get mundane a subtle but effective percussion is added. However, ongoing this version doesn't hold my attention. Although, obviously work well in a ambient trance/space music set and may well appeal to others.

This is followed by an edit which emphasises the train and vocals and although the other ingredients follow, it has a less danceable approach than the original. All in all, it's a good alternative imo especially for slotting into a chill out set.

Slinder whose bootleg version of Banco's 'Heliopolis' brought him to the attention of Disco Gecko, takes the track to the dancefloor with a progressive house twist. Initially I found his take a little repetitive but it grew on me in the latter half after a lush breakdown.

Finally (and exclusive to bandcamp) is the eighteen minute long 'Very Extended Ambient Mix' which as the title suggests prolongs the journey for the long haul traveller. Utilising all those luscious ingredients with stretches, reverb and the occasional swoosh. Very nice indeed and at £3 for the whole release it's money well spent.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Friday, 13 February 2015

Nickodemus 'Wonderworld: 10 Years of Painting Outside The Lines' Review

Artist: Nickodemus

Title: Wonderworld:
10 Years of Painting Outside The lines

Label: Wonderwheel Recordings

Released: 24th February

Wonderworld is a mix cd featuring tracks released over the last 10 years by Nickodemus and friends. Although I have to wonder about the marketability of such an item in the current climate where dj mixes are readily available to stream in abundance, even from a chap whose Turntables on the Hudson parties feature esteemed guests such as Bonobo and Giles Peterson from here in the U.K. as well as high quality home grown talent Stateside. However, I'm a fan of the Wonderwheel output and Nickodemus especially, I find his productions a musical smorgasboard of latin, funk, afro-beat, dub, hip-hop and house that usually hits the spot fusing joys of the past with a modern twist.

Coming from this angle I found the mix contains a good number of classics from his three album releases. For me I really enjoyed the fact they are all there in one sitting and as I'm always plucking tracks from different sources when compiling a mix it's something I'd never have created. So on the other hand I'd imagine if your a lover of say Tito Puente, Baba Maal & Jurassic 5 or Thievery Corporation & Quantic but not familiar with Nickodemus or Wonderwheel it's a wonderful insight into their releases. Plus there's the added bonus of downloading the tracks featured individually in the price.

To summarise I really couldn't see myself buying a dj mix cd these days. But as files so easily disappear into the void those who still (like myself) keep the cream on cd with a selection such as this I really can't see any reason why not.

Review by Woodzee


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Temple Hedz 'Coming Home E.P.' Review

Artist: Temple Hedz

Release: Coming Home E.P.

Label: New Division Ltd

Released: 23rd February

Temple Hedz is the brain-child of Paul Savery inspired by the likes of Banco De Gaia where live shows in the past have often been propelled into eager crowds alongside a full backing band. After several years in the wilderness Paul is staging a come back with a new album in the pipeline, as well as stepping back on the festival circuit in 2015. If you're a regular listener of our 'Chill Out Sessions' radio show on boxfrequency.fm you may well remember the excellent mish-mash of global electronica and live instrumentation of Paul's guest mix which featured more than a fair few of his own tracks.

This E.P. starts in the clichéd manner with the title track 'Coming Home'. From the word go the Banco influence is obvious with audio samples, tribal chants and vocodered indie like vocal stabs fused over multiple electronic layers providing an overall uplifting feel with psychedelic twitches and dubby basslines.

Following this is a cover of the Cure's 'A Forest' now although I'm a fan of a fair amount of their output in the 80's it wouldn't be my choice as there's already been the 'Tree Mix' on 'Mixed Up' and Mark Plati's drum n bass version on 'Join The Dots'. I've previously mentioned this to Paul and he said it's was always going to be this, as it's a song close to his heart because he used to play it regularly with a band in his youth. Having said that I don't dislike the original and as covers go it's a deeply layered sonic instrumental, that's also an interesting dance alternative which easily holds it's head alongside the others previously mentioned.

Next up is the Doppler Theory mix of 'Tashi' and this guitar laden fusion of Indian vocals and psychedelic electronica is my pick of the bunch. The vocals grabbed me instantaneously whilst the track drifts from indie fused electronica into psychedelica and back with relative ease.

The final track dimensions is a more laid back affair beginning with a stereo-typical but none-the-less apt spoken audio of the swami or guru which is later exchanged and enhanced with ethereal female vocals layered over the flutes and chimes of the Far East.

Overall this is a sterling little collection of mid and down tempo output from Paul which I've no doubt will appeal to festival goers this summer. So I'd recommend fans of Toby Marks dig in and have a listen as personally I look forward to the album with eager ears.

Review by Woodzee.

Links …