Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Disco Gecko's 'Strange-Eyed Constellations' Compilation Review

Artist: Various

Title: Strange-Eyed 


Label: Disco Gecko

Released: 4th Sept

Compiled by Toby Marks (Banco De Gaia) with a title inspired by a Tom Hardy poem and as tribute to Mike Barnett the founder of Beyond Records who featured some of Toby's earlier works on their Ambient Dub series.

The album begins with 'Dum Spiro, Spéro' by Astropilot, whose space style synth work I've always admired but the four by four beats he often employs can become repetitive. There's no such problem here with this beat less number which hooked me immediately with it's sheer aural elegance. This is followed by 'Sirens of Lorelei' by Dr Trippy as I've never heard him before. Admittedly, there's an ethnic element to the track which increases in the middle but either side throws a sheet of angelic voices and flutes over a snail pace beat. The theme of mixing angelic voices and tribal chants continues with 'The Inuit Snow Song' by 100th Monkey a superbly chilled psychedelic dub and by this point I'm tipping my hat at Toby's fabulous selections.

The looped sequences that kick off 'The Future's Bright the Future's Incandescent' by Radium88 immediately brought Fluke and Underworld to mind (albeit with the brakes on) upon which an ethereal vocal leads to a more eastern flavour and you'd be hard pressed to find a more chilled vocal than this. The mood turns slightly darker with a combination of eerie atmospherics and tribal beats with 'Floating World' by Spatialize but the light shines through the darkness with some lovely strings. This theme of light and dark continues with a Far East drone fusion with the Shanghai 8am mix of 'Falling Tides' by the man himself and surprisingly not under his Banco De Gaia moniker.

I'm not sure you can go much slower than the dreamy tribal dub 'Festival of Lights' by Oombata Key. Whilst the tempo is taken up a notch with 'Dimensions' by Temple Hedz this piece initially layered with guru monologue and complemented further with a lovely eastern vocal is still more than suitably chilled. Moving towards a more experimental direction with 'Project Transmissions' by The Heavenly Hundred combines soft gentle piano with fuzzy atmospherics and distorted orchestral tweaks.

Back under his Banco De Gaia pseudonym 'To the Nth Degree' threatens to bring an uplifting surge with it's opening tribal chorus but soon dips down into soothing ambience with field recordings and piano. 'It's Beautiful Mike, It Really Is' by James Eller is a wonderful combination of NASA transmissions, spacey fx and piano. Although, he may not be the first to utilise this theme with the samples it works superbly well. 'Penates' by Sam Salem drifts back to the eerie atmospheric tribal drones of some of the previous tracks and leads us to the climax 'Epiphany' by Andrew Heath where once again the piano takes centre stage in a beautifully gentle melodic piece.

To summarise as with many compilations some tracks appeal more than others. However, there are some really strong tracks on here for me and I can't say I particularly dislike any of them. The years not over yet but for me this has to be a contender for ambient album of 2015. Full marks to Mr Marks so to speak and hopefully this isn't the last we hear of his selections.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Monday, 24 August 2015

Terra Nine 'Lucid Dreaming E.P.' Review

Artist: Terra Nine

Title: Lucid Dreaming 

Label: Altar Records

Released: 12th August

Hot on the heels of the recent Karune E.P. New Zealands Mike Westcot delivers 3 new tracks comprising his unique blend of electric viola, lush ambient soundscapes, breaks and trance.

The opening track 'Field of Wishes' is an eerie journey through atmospheric down-tempo electronics and lush viola that could easily slot into the background of any sci-fi flick. While the title track 'Lucid Dreaming' has a heavier breakbeat undertone the lush strings of the over-layered viola maintain the dream like quality that the title suggests. The E.P. closes with 'Positive Vibrations' a collaboration with Transient Dreams and going by the title you could be forgiven for expecting a reggae dub fusion. The reality is a slice of glitchy psybient for the viola to spring off and soar.

Overall this release didn't leave as deep an impression on me as the Karuna E.P. However, saying that it's not a bad E.P. and very reasonably priced. As always Mike delivers a dream-like quality that appeals to me which you certainly find in this release.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Enoch Prusak 'Eye Contact' Review

Artist: Enoch Prusak

Title: Eye Contact

Label: Digital Duvet


10th August

Hot on the tail of the excellent recent Digital Duvet release 'Sunset Gliders' (a free download depending which format you're after) comes this latest album from Charles Massey's ambient side-project. What appeals to me about Charles releases as Perpetual Loop is he never seems to put his stamp whole heartedly into one genre, but rather borrows choice sounds from trance, psy-chill, electronica and summery Ibiza vibes.

The album begins in a classical style with melancholic cello and piano with subtle use of electronica and unlike his Perpetual Loop material sets a certain stamp for what's to follow. A few tracks in there's a vocal number as far as songs go I feel the making of a hit is where the union between the music and the vocal is cemented and the words spring to mind from the first few notes. Unfortunately, here this doesn't happen and the marriage between the two feels slightly out. However, he soon makes up for it here on in with lush orchestral strings, classical piano and subtle but effective synths.

To summarise this album is certainly inoffensive I guess you could call it easy listening. I'm not saying that in a negative way and I certainly can't deny the tranquillity and beauty contained within some of the pieces. Although, it may not appeal to all of the Perpetual Loop fans the album definitely shows another side of Charles approach and skills in his productions and it's a fine album for a lazy Sunday.

The limited number of CD's are only available from the Digital Duvet website, where an additional bonus digital album 'Imperfect Sphere' is available free with every purchase.

Reviewed by Woodzee.