Sunday, 30 December 2018

Spatialize 'Beyond the Radar' Review

Artist: Spatialize

Title: Beyond The Radar

Label: Self Released

Released: 11th Jan 2019

After four years of concentrating on his deep ambient project ‘Experiments in Silence’ Neil returns to the more groove orientated productions of Spatialize. With influences ranging from the psychedelic, electronic, ambient, world and space rock. Juicy synths, exotic instrumentation and guitars float over organic and electronic drums, with the album including sax from Ian East of Gong and futuristic synths from Ishq.

The album begins with ‘Cat and Mouse’ with sequenced synths, drums, fx and a touch of squelch which combines to produce a sound reminiscent of Ozric Tentacles, with sax rather than flute. This is followed by the title track which is a more dubby affair with vocal harmonies that still retains an Ozric vibe. The next piece ‘Hobo Sapien’ moves the pace up a notch with a distinctly psy-chill feel, with little touches of sax peppered in appropriate intervals.

It’s a darker intro that emerges into the light with ‘Colour of Sky’ which continues on a psy-chill tip with some touches of the orient and vocal harmonies. The guitar is a more prominent feature on ‘Dance into the Light’ where the intro reminded me somewhat of Tangerine Dream, before the groove commences with the introduction of the beat and vocal harmonies. After the ambient introduction it’s back to the psy-chill on ‘The Great Super Mango’ which teases you somewhat before letting go and repeating that cycle.

The elongated intro of ‘Tolticken’ once again had somewhat of a TD and Ozric feel with the sequenced synths and vocal samples invite you in before it drops into slow motion with some beautiful guitar licks. The slow pace continues with ‘Out of Body’ intro, with a spoken sample not a million mizles away from the Orb’s ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ when the drums kick in ethnic and harmonic vocal samples are utilised and again little passages of guitar. The final piece of the album ‘Tree Frogs’ another downtempo number that introduces some flute and sax to the party.

For me personally I’d strayed away from the psy-chill, psy-dub sounds in recent years, aside from the odd producers such as Globular I felt it was morphing into territories such as psy-bass and swamp and losing the chill out aspect that was always a welcome element for me. However, of late I’ve been re-visiting and enjoying some of the older releases in the scene so this review really couldn’t have come at a better time. I’d recommend this album to those who like space music, space rock and psy-chill as it switches between and combines these styles throughout.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Thursday, 20 December 2018

E.R.S. Dub Chants and Magic Plants Review




Dub Chants and Magic Plants


Dubmission Records


7th December 2018

This five track E.P. by Austrian producer Manfred under his E.R.S. pseudonym, takes the vibe slightly more in the direction of psy-dub than his previous dub reggae productions.

The release gets underway with ‘Made of Information’ where a slightly delayed and melodic guitar is over-layed with the kind of spoken dialogue you would expect from a psy-dub release. Although it’s a short piece it’s enough of an enticer to maintain my interest. The next track ‘Shroomed’ begins in a typical reggae fashion but drops off into twisted spacey fx before returning with the reggae vibe overlayed alongside bells and an apt vocal sample.

Moving on in more of a stereo-typical dub reggae fashion ‘One Million Questions’ drifts through a myriad of tones, vocal samples and shakers layered over a simplistic yet effective bass-line. While ‘On a Mission’ is a pure electro-dub journey where reverbed tones meet tribal percussion. The E.P. comes to a close with ‘Roots Station’ a slow burner of rolling percussion and sound fx that builds and drops nicely before the stereo-typical reggae keys and horns are introduced.

Overall although this may not be a classic you will frequently return to for years to come. I found it an enjoyable enough and at a reasonable £3 or more you can’t go wrong.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Saturday, 15 December 2018

Experiments in Silence Interview

1) Firstly, thank you for taking the time out from your busy schedule to complete this interview. Could you tell us a little about yourself and what first appealed to you about music?

More than happy to.

Between my dad and my uncle I was exposed to loads of 70’s prog before I was even a teenager. My brother was also music mad, plays guitar and is a keen audiophile.

Even before that my gran was a good old fashioned knees up pianist who taught me the basics at a young age. But instead of particularly playing pieces of music as such I mostly ended up improvising dreamy arpeggios for the feel of it, which in retrospect, is a bit like electronic sequencing.

I grew up in Birmingham which was a good place to be in the late 90’s. You had Oscillate doing ambient electronica nights with Bubble Club and Planet Dog doing dance nights. Add to that the fact that you could see bands like Ozrics and Porcupine Tree live regularly.

So music was all around me really growing up and I had slowly expanded into a fledgling budget studio with four track and sampler by the time I went to college.

2) You also release music under the name of Spatialize, what was the reason for releasing these productions as Experiments in Silence?

When I had completed the 2014 Spatialize albums Radial and On the Edge of Forever I felt I had spent a good amount of time with all those carefully crafted multi layered parts and that I wanted to do something a bit more spontaneous. I’d always been a fan of deeper ambient music, in fact that was mostly what I listened to for quite a few years, and of course there’s a lot of atmospheric intros and outros in Spatialize.

Then in 2013-2014 I saw that Mauxuam, Greg Hunter and Master Margarita were doing what they called nightly builds / remixes and posting them on sound cloud. It was a refreshing approach to music after the slower in-depth mixing in Spatialize. So I decided to have a go at remixing one of their Cloudform tracks in a deep ambient style, but in one session. That decision was important as it would give me an opportunity to flex the techniques and knowledge that I had built up with Spatialize into a condensed, free flowing, spontaneous form. I uploaded my remix the next morning and felt that I had suddenly a brand new project in front of me. I needed a name and named it after a long abandoned Spatialize track which was called Experiments in Silence.

3) Matt Hillier (probably best know for his work as Ishq) is also involved with this project. Are you both part of the creative process or is he just mastering your compositions?

Instead of being a full collaborative member as such, Matt has been more of a mentoring tutor and friend who dips in and out of the project. I met Matt just as I was in the nascent form of the project and he shared his working philosophy with me and encouraged me to develop the project. At the time my approach was still in the Spatialize mindset which is to multi layer everything and build structures. That was hard to let go of. What Matt did was encourage me to work in a much looser and spontaneous way, often without midi clock. I would play him a track idea and he would say “take that out, take that out and take that out”. I know it’s a cliche but it became evident how less is more, particularly with deep ambient.

We collaborated on two tracks on the first album (Hidden Harmonic)and he has done remixes on the 2nd (Encrypted Transmissions) and 3rd albums, in particular the massive 37 min remix on Suspended Form.

We would probably write more together but I think we find it good fun to just sit together in a studio and just investigate sound, introduce each other to new working methods, drink tea and generally chew the ambient cud without the aim or pressure of creating something. Though I’m sure we will do a project again sometime in the future.

In terms of mastering the albums I did that myself, but again Matt did share his working methods with me and helped get me going. He has also helped with CD artwork and in encouraging me to approach to release through Txt which got the name known to ambient heads throughout the world. So, yes. Without Matt’s help I’m not sure the project would have got to this point. Big up to Mr Ishq!
4) Do you prefer analogue or digital when composing your work? Or is it a blend of the two?
I have a small range of outboard gear which I I’ve folded into the mixes (novation x station, Roland Gaia, bass station 2) but the majority of the sounds come from within the computer where I use Logic X. Although I love the tactility of hardware I’m a big fan of the sound and convenience of digital. There’s a lot to be said for both approaches but I think the advantage of analogue now is less about the sound quality and more about the way it allows you to interact and be expressive.
Actually on the last album Escape to the Skyline I wrote the majority of the tracks on a laptop with headphones via a mini keyboard in a conservatory with my feet up on a sofa. I then took the laptop back to the studio and added a bit of extra hardware synths and mixed on my monitors.
Some of my core plug ins of late have been NI Reaktor (particularly the grain sampling), the ExS24 sampler, Valhalla reverb, Uhe Pro One and TAL Juno and sh101. There’s a lot to be said for all that convenience in one box and being able to create whenever you feel spontaneously creative and inspired.

5) You recently played live with Banco de Gaia and Andrew Heath. How did this come about and do you have any up and coming gigs?
A few years ago when Toby Marks was looking for music for his first Strange Eyes Constellations compilation, Paul from Templehedz sent him a Spatialize link and I ended up with a track on that album.

So when Toby came to the next compilation I suggested the Experiments in Silence project and I think he really dug it as he played a few tracks in his Glastonbury radio show. I’d also got to know Andrew Heath a bit online and had seen their live ambient show and chatted with them afterwards. Then when the banco/ heath show was coming to the south west in Exeter I was asked to open the night.

Unbeknown to Toby it was excellent timing as I had been investigating granular looping on the iPad with Samplr; an app where you can play the sample with your fingers on the screen and loop it. The prospect of a live gig helped me to put it all into practice and I added live midi looping and synth step sequences from soft synths on a laptop in Ableton Live as a second, unsynced system to the iPad. Normally with live electronica you have to rely to a large degree on pre-prepared loops or backing tracks. So being able to build up a properly live and reactive ambient set was challenging but very rewarding.

I haven’t looked into getting more EiS gigs yet but I’m certainly open to it. The crowd in Exeter were certainly very knowledgeable and appreciative so I would love to do more.
6) Are you working on any Experiments in Silence productions at the moment? Or is it currently taking a back seat to Spatialize?

In terms of recorded material 2018 has been taken up completely with creating new Spatialize material. It’s been a productive year and a new Spatialize album called Beyond the Radar will be released on 11th January 2019. It’s going to be a high vibe release of psychedelic electronica, quite different from EiS, but also drawing on the insights and production techniques from the deep ambient work.
7) What other artists are impressing you at the moment?

The music which has been really shaking my tree in the past year has been desert blues from North Africa. In particular artists such as Ali Farka Toure and Tinariwen. There’s a really great combination between earthiness and sky and a sense of the astrength of the human spirit that I absolutely love. And some badass grooves.

In the electronic world I’ve been exploring Steve Roach quite a lot this year. I’ve also been appreciating the very slick arrangements and production of Hedflux. It’s really nice to hear a producer who uses glitchy effects etc but does so in a very considered and effective way. Matt Coldrick’s new album is also very musical and pleasing.


Albums of interest 2018

A selection of recommendations for albums released in 2018 that you may not want to miss out on.

Kaya Project

Up from the Dust

Comprising 20 musicians and four years in the making global chill at it's finest.


新 プログラム

Taking a step back from the 80's horror soundtracks with a more ambient approach, futuristic and Bladerunner'esque.

Pan Electric

Step Out

Comprising new material with re-works of old drawing on prog-rock and folk and fusing with ambient electronica.

Experiments in Silence

Escape to the Skyline

Laid back and beatless electronic soundscapes that take you on a journey from your armchair.

Various Artists

Zero Gravity

Interchill have always been a good bet with their releases and this compilation doesn't fail to return that stake.

Crystal Nada 

Awa uta - あわ歌

Comprising Indian ragas with Japanese mantras a go to album for quiet reflection and meditation.


Sun Transformations

American ambient pioneer Laraaji's compositions are given the re-mix treatment and it works a treat.

DF Tram

Serenitay Infinitay

Dubby, strange and packed to the hilt with samples there's no one quite like DF Tram.

Andrew Heath


Beatless ambience with strong focus on the piano. Perhaps his best work to date.

Rameses B


Putting on the brakes for this release comprising mellow electronica and chilled out drum & bass.

Various Artists

Strange-Eyed Constellations 2

A selection of beatless ambience, dark drones and more experimental than the first in the series.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Gypsy Hill 'Producing' Review

Artist: Gypsy Hill

Title: Producing

Label: Batov Records

Released: 9th November 2018

A collaboration between DJ Kobayashi and Herbert Newbert, in Gypsy Hill they bring together the balls and the brass from the Balkans, surf-rock Mediterranean guitar lines, Arabic & Jewish melodies, massive bass-lines and a whole heap of electronics, scratching and beats. Having previously worked on re-mixes they decided to invite artists to the studio to collaborate for this album.

The release commences alongside Kobi Israelite on ‘Special Brew’ which drifts between the aforementioned surf-rock Mediterranean guitar lines, Balkan brass and the snake charmer of the Arabian bazaar. It’s exactly what you’d expect and it’s a catchy ditty that works equally well foot tapping or hand clapping. Next on the agenda they team up with Simo Lagnawi on ‘Gzeyel Meyel’ subtly blending along with his style of Gnawa (Moroccan Folk).

Composer, saxophonist and ethnomusicologist Alejandro Toldoe joins the throng on ‘Can’t Pay The Rent’ where horns and guitars carry you along over the tribal percussion. The next track is advertised as only featuring Gypsy Hill on Hallouminati’s ‘Late Junkies’. Hailing from Nottingham and fusing Punk with Balkan Beats and Greek music, this seems almost natural to merge alongside Gypsy Hill, with some added Bouzaki and a touch of plate smashing wouldn’t go amiss.

The next collaboration is alongside the Swingrowers on ‘Sugar’, as you might expect this is a swing but there’s a little extra oomph on percussion and electronics but not as full on as electro-Swing. Moving on they are joined by international collective the Turbans on ‘Funtashlikh’, mashing together eastern European and Middle Eastern sounds this pacy number rolls along nicely and is made to drag you to the dancefloor.

Koby Israelite returns on ‘Rural Ghost’ with more guitar fused Middle Eastern vibes before the final piece ‘Six Steps’ by D.I.N. (Drowned in Noise) feat. Gypsy Hill which sounds like a fusion of bluegrass and horn with a suitably drawn out vocal.

To summarise I like Gypsy Hill’s productions and highly recommend a live show, where they really come into their own. This album doesn’t steer too far from their previous work and also works well as introduction to some if not all of the collaborators.

Review by Woodzee