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orchestra terrestrial, "here and elsewhere"

Leaving the rigid beats behind this time, Richard H. Kirk introduces anew alias through a new (for him) label. The first OrchestraTerrestrial release comes from Die Stadt and is packaged exquisitelywith a fold-out CD case and six prints of digital artwork representingsix of the eight songs here (three by Naked Art, three by DesignersRepublic). While Kirk has has contrasted his usual style by creating anatmospheric soundbath with lengthy delays heavily absent of drummachines and thumping beats, his signature style of long buildups,heavy repetition and lengthy songs is noticably present. For the firsttime in many releases, I can actually clearly hear distinct treatmentsfor each sound present. Each piece of the tapestry has its own life andidentity without getting wrapped up in a grey muddiness. In the blurbgoing around, Kirk is said to have created this disc after his recentrediscovery of classical composers like Wagner, Debussy and Mozart, butI'm honestly having a tough time finding the connection. Theprogression is amazingly linear: beginning with a whisper, slowly andpatiently adding beats and more layers with each track until the end,where "Uniform Spaces" breaks down, being chopped up into little bits,threaded and looped. (It's this ending that is the key that links bothreleases together for those RHK fans who weren't sure whether thefollowing item reviewed was RHK or not!) At the end of the disc, I'mfinding myself anxious to listen again before shelving it like many ofhis releases over the last ten years. The disc is limited to 1000numbered copies.

 

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5439 Hits

digital terrestrial, "aural illusions"

Mysteriously enough, a 12" single surfaced on the same day as the Orchestral Terrestrial release, bearing no explicit indication that it's also a Richard H. Kirk project aside from the amazingly similar name and fonts used. There's no illusion in the music here, however, as 'Deconstructed Trance Anthem' parts 1 and 2 graces each side with none other than repetitious butchered remains of a generic trance anthem.

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4529 Hits

COH, "Love Uncut"

Four deviant love songs make up the latest EP by COH (Ivan Pavlov) with collaborators Peter Christopherson and John Balance of Coil, Steve Thrower of Cyclobe, Frankie Gothard, and Louise Weasel. The disc comes lovingly packaged in a clear slip case with amusing cardstock inserts, color illustrated and Spanish captioned, for each song. As with some of the previous EP "Vox Tinnitus", "Uncut" pairs the guests' vocals with Pavlov's precisely programmed, laptop generated chaos. "My Angel [Director's Cut]" and "Fffetish" are reinterpretations of mid '80s pop tunes, Soft Cell's "Meet Murder My Angel" and Vicious Pink's "Fetish", respectively.

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5296 Hits

Greg Weeks, "Awake Like Sleep"

Greg Weeks is just plain weird. One look at the album cover for this,his second release, can tell you that. He's got that bloody knife lyingthere in the snow, and on the back of the release, he's lying in thesnow with a pool of blood by his head. Is he killer, or the killed, orboth? It's incredibly fitting, as "Awake Like Sleep" sounds like thesoundtrack to your favorite dream, worst nightmare, or a combination ofthe two. All songs feature synthesizer of some kind, usually mini-moogor omnichord, and half have no drums whatsoever. This gives the wholerelease a very eerie feel, that you cannot escape. Not that you'd wantto. It's very lush and beautiful, "Awake Like Sleep," even if a littlelanguid and depressing, but it's magnificently arranged. Weeks and hisprimary collaborator Jesse Sparhawk make wonderful music together,particularly on the tracks where it's just the two of them playing allof the instruments. It's a very simple release in terms of arrangementand style, but very affecting, as Weeks has immense talent as asongwriter and musician. A few of the tracks grew a bit monotonous onrepeatedly listens, but overall it's a gem, driven by the creepiness ofthe music and Weeks' voice, mixed with an interesting dash of altar boynuance due to the sound of the organ on several tracks. A challenginglisten, but overall worthwhile.

 

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4522 Hits

jackie-o motherfucker, "liberation"

Walking the line between the improvisational and the organizational,chaotic and orderly, the Portland-based collective known as Jackie-OMotherfucker has released the second full-length CD for Road Cone(their seventh full-lenther in the grand scheme of things). It's acollision of opposing forces, as cold-climate bluesy rock meets afreestyle electronic assemblance, and would appeal to the Volcano theBear, Molasses, Boxhead Ensemble and Shalabi Effect fans of thespectrum. The album starts off with a heavy dosage of disorder with theten+ minute opener, following through with a guitar-heavy 14 minutelong tune driven by an 808-imitating drum machine. Through thefollowing few numbers the collective display their ability to mesh allinstruments without making too much of a mass. However, by the time itreaches "Something On Your Mind," I'm thankful most of the tunes areinstrumental. It's not that the singer has a bad voice, it's just thatthe lyrics aren't as profound as the singer might be thinking andneedn't be repeated as laboriously over the course of three minutes. Bythe time it reaches the last two tracks: "The Pigeon" and "Pray", therthe vibes, strings, guitar and wind instrument interplay is executedwell enough to paint an aural landscape of both beauty and sickness.The first of the two tracks builds from a quieter opening into a boldroar while the second calms everything down into a serene and coolending.

 

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4052 Hits

ANTI POP CONSORTIUM, "SHOPPING CARTS CRASHING"

Why oh why was this only released in Japan?!? "Shopping" quicklyfollowed up, followed in and flattened out the footsteps of the 2000full length debut "Tragic Epilogue" on 75 Ark. Anti Pop's trio ofverbally proficient vocalists - Priest, Beans and M. Sayyid - areaugmented by co-producer E. Blaize. It seems as if they belong to a subgenre of hip hop entirely of their own devise. The production isclinically precise and somewhat minimal, the bass and beats crisp andclear with electronic overtones. The rhymes are often tongue tyingblurs of abstract dictionary data (the lyrics are thankfully included).The first stanza of the first vocalized track "Angular" is one of manyexamples: "unto itself it's incomplete / but made complete by myconnection / the effervescent vestige of decimation / the decimal pointseven thousandth of a percent / possession with intent to make bent / Ibreak bread with tack heads / in flight unflawed with sight unseen /strongly configured with wire inside of a womb the size of an entireplanet born of fire". That all flows by naturally in about 18 secondsflat. And there's another 46 minutes after that. Meticulous mind funk.Oddities along the way include the bizarre future drama of "Excerptfrom the forthcoming epic: Dogland", the android vocals of"Technocracy", a few brief instrumentals including the city noisecollage of APC's home base "New York" and the surprising guitar sampleand female MC enhanced "Lazarus Pit" and "Verses", respectively."Shopping" was well worth the $24 it took to bring it Stateside. AntiPop have since signed with Warp Records (!) and their new EP "The EndsAgainst the Middle" should be out this November.

 

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4416 Hits

isan, "lucky cat"

The most recent full-lengther from the English duo ISAN was released earlier this year on Morr Music in Germany. You might be familiar with their name from various remixes like the two on the Morr compilation, 'Putting the Morr Back in Morrissey' and their Seefeel remix on the Warp 10th anniversary remix disc or various other compilation appearances.

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4714 Hits

MERZBOW, "DHARMA"

Apparently 18 discs worth of Merzbow just isn't enough for me ... I hadto go and order another one. Silly, especially considering that I'vebarely scratched the surface of my Merzbox. Dharma is a universal ordertenet of Buddhism. It is the essential function or nature of a thing.Masami Akita's way to enlightenment has always been 'noise' and thefour tracks that make up "Dharma" are no exception. "I'm Coming to theGarden .... No Sound, No Memory" starts off innocently enough but bythe third minute thick textures consume the stereo field. A singlelooped shard of electrical current defiantly blasts through thebackdrop. "Akashiman" marches on with prototypical tangled sound,mostly in higher frequencies. That's the first 10 minutes. The next 8is "Piano Space for Marimo Kitty". Here Akita loops a short and oddpiano melody while weaving in restrained waves, that is until the midpoint when he can no longer resist the urge to bury everything inswirling sonic chaos. The final track is the near 32 minute zen monster"Frozen Guitars and Sunloop/7E 802". By the latter half of the piece,the mass is reduced to a dulled roar that feels like it's descendingand ascending simultaneously. It's as deceptive as the digipackpackaging: simple white and black on the outside with panels of pastelcolors hidden within. Now to delve into that daunting Merzbox while myears and brain are still acclimated to the noise

 

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4478 Hits

hilmar Örn Hilmarsson (& Sigur RÓs), "Angels of the Universe"

After being in print for nearly two years, the soundtrack for Fri¦rikÿÑr Fri¦riksson's critically praised film of the same name ('EnglarAlheimsins') has had titles translated into English and is finallybeing issued worldwide from Fat-Cat. By now, however, the Icelandicpressing has circulated enough for the most die-hard Sigur Ros fans,plus their two tracks were already featured on the Ny Batteri CD EP.HÖH should be no strange name to brainwashed readers, as his pastincludes works with Current 93, Psychic TV and Hafler Trio but havingSigur Rós in the title of the album is a slight misnomer (and a hugeselling point), as they only contribute two tracks. The film has beenreferred to by many critics as the best Icelandic film ever made.Hilmarsson's entirely orchestral score is quite short and featuresquiet, simple recurring themes. Out of context, the music is simplyokay and doesn't do much for me. While it's truly emotional, therecurring themes are a bit too repetitious for my liking outside of thecontext of the film. I suppose if I ever get to see the film, myopinion will most likely change, but for now most people will be buyingthis for the Sigur Rós tracks which are currently no longer in printanywhere else. As for the two tracks, the first is an adaptation of anold Icelandic lullaby, "BÕum BÕum BambalÑ". Like much of the music ontheir last album, it's both delicate, soothing, but never dull, itbarrels right into the next track, the thunderous "Dànarfregnir ogJar¦afarir" (Death Announcements and Funerals). This tune is Sigur Rós'arrangement of an organ tune played on Icelandic radio duringobituaries. I personally wouldn't consider this disc essential, butthose mildly interested can now purchase it now for probably around $15whereas that Icelandic import was a bit steep, stretching to $30 inmany places.

 

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4461 Hits

the tear garden, "Для Тех, Ҡто Прогулялся Бьі С Богами (For Those Who Would Walk with the Gods)"

The latest in the trend of Russian-released collections has taken the form of a new comp from the Tear Garden. While every album from the group is still in print, this collection is worth mentioning for a few reasons. The type is entirely in Cyrillic, so it should be noted that there are two previously unreleased songs included, "Good Evening Houston" and "Good Night Little Lights" (unlike the last Tear Garden compilation, A Bouquet of Black Orchids which came with nothing extra).

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5135 Hits

fridge, "happiness"

While some may feel it's in poor taste to review something I'm actuallyco-releasing, I also feel it's in poor taste not to share my opinion onsomething I love so incredibly.
This story actually starts over three years ago. Fridge's drummer, SamJeffers and I both were on the Pure-Impure mailing list. I had nevermet nor talked to the guy but liked the first couple releases from theband. He had pointed people on the list to the website he created forthe group and made some hint at perhaps "that web guy Jon Whitney"might be able to help them out with advice or something. Flattered thatthis guy across the ocean in a cool band knew who little ole' me was, Ibegan talking to him and as the 'Sevens and Twelves' compilation wasreleased, I had offered to do a website for the group on brainwashed.At the time (1998) I had a fairly good rapport with Thrill Jockey andKranky, when the group released 'Eph' by 1999, I had builtrelationships in Matador, Merge, and Mute. All of these people I beggedto give Fridge a chance. Just listen to them, perhaps pick up theirstuff and bring them over here to the USA! The general word on thestreet was positive but the labels had other priorities at the time. Iwent to the UK with my friend Nick on a vacation and happened to beable to catch Fridge in a show with To Rococo Rot and was not let downin the least. Sam sent me a CD of 'Happiness' back in February or Marchof this year I think, I don't believe his intentions were of anythingelse than to gauge my opinion. This time around the album was -too-good to give to anybody else. I had to release it myself, andthankfully with the collaborative efforts of Temporary Residence, ithas finally materialized.
Fridge are a group, a trio of friends who grew up together in Londonand have been recording together for many years. Try to remove yourselffrom the other reviews and blurbs which call this Kieran Hebden's"other project", as this is clearly something quite different. [Ifyou're looking for the catchy electro hooks and sampled riffs whichlitter Four Tet records, forget about this release all together.] It'sa remarkable output of three talented musicians who are completelyunafraid to try their hand at electronics, beats, emotional guitarmelodies or improvisation. Tactfully they succeed at bending genredefinition and deliver a solid and graceful album. They have learnedtheir instruments enough to get the sounds and melodies swimming aroundin their heads out — but never distort the songs with mathematicalsolos or over-the-top post-jazz wankery. 'Happiness' is nine songswhich don't lie to the listener, as their song titles adequatelydescribe the center stage elements of each song, "Melodica andTrombone," "Cut Up Piano and Xylophone," "Five Four Child Voice","Harmonics", etc...
Months after hearing it for the first time, I still get emotionallycaught up if Other Music happens to be playing it in the store or theradio station happens to be playing one of the cuts. Three weeks fromtoday I'll be greeting them as they arrive for the first time as agroup to the USA and I would lie if I said it won't be an emotionalmoment. Thanks to the band for one of my favorite albums of the yearand the opportunity to share it with so many. Hope those who are ablecan come out and see them live next month. Tour dates are on the website.

 

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7065 Hits

LUSTMORD, "METAVOID"

For many years now I've gone without a Lustmord disc in my collectiondespite many people trying to convince me I should have some. Whatlittle I've heard of Brian Williams' 20 years to date project failed toimpress me and now that I have this disc in my possession, well, I'mstill unimpressed. The 64 minutes of "Metavoid" rely heavily upon thesound design skills Williams has put to use for dozens of films thepast 7 years, including "The Crow" and "Strange Days". Dark ambientcurrents and growls, padded with strings and angelic voices, areinterrupted by effected voices and often clumsy tribal/industrialpercussion and sound effects. Drab, clich? and predictable with equallydrab, clich? and predictable track titles. I feel as though I'mpartaking in some sort of pagan funeral dirge. Yuck. It's simply tryingtoo hard to be dark with little subtlety, always the key to superioratmospheric music as far as I'm concerned. That said, there are a fewredeeming qualities such as the climactic build of the nearly 12 minute"The Eliminating Angel" and the pure ambiance of "Oblivion". Butoverall, I think these sounds would be better relegated to cinematicbackdrop .

 

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4694 Hits

√ò + Noto, "Wohltemperiert"

One of the more recent releases in Raster-Noton's clear series, "Wohltemperiert" ("Probably") is another collaboration between √ò (Mika Vainio of Pan Sonic) and Noto (Carsten Nicolai, founder of Noton). Primarily recorded during the winter of 1998 in New York City with gear borrowed from Larry Seven, the disc comes in a transparent flip top Trimpak inside a card sleeve jacket. Nicolai's contributions are seemingly minimal as the high pitched tones and glitches that are his usual auditory signature are used here economically. It's the sparse hum and pulse which are Vainio's forte that make up the bulk of these 61 minutes.

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3472 Hits

NICK PARKIN, "ENTROPOLIS" & "GEOMORPHIC RESONANCE"

With a pair of new discs for Soleilmoon Recordings, both limited to 500copies, British sound artist Nick Parkin explores and simulates theprocesses of decay, geological and chemical, upon cities andlandscapes. Feeding field recordings, samples and instruments(percussion, flute, keyboards) into a Macintosh for additionalprocessing, he creates about 2 hours worth of slow moving, butgenerally busy, textured sound glaciers. It has become difficult for meto get really excited about these sort of works, having heard so manyof them in recent years, but together the two discs offer up muchworthwhile ambiance. When Parkin takes the tried and true 'less ismore' approach on the "Entropolis" disc, he strikes gold. Strip-miningaway the extraneous sound debris leaves tracks such as "Pulvial","Residues of Night" and "Eurus" with more ambient breathing space,making for moving pieces.
But it's the sounds of nature that permeate the "Geomorphic" disc thatare more interesting, giving it a distinctly comforting and earthlyfeel. The elements shape the land throughout, "Talus" and "Moraine" inparticular being a fascinating jumble of water and ice soaked pebblesand boulders. Nicely done mate .

 

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4563 Hits

windy + carl/landing "Tour" split CD single

I love ambient guitar music. I am a sucker for it. If a band has guitarchords being played at a respectable volume, with all sorts of soundsswirling in and out, surrounding it, and playfully caressing the guitarline throughout, it's a relatively sure thing that I'll love it (evenif it seems to go on for an extraordinarily long time). Drone music, asit is often called, is amazing to me for this very reason. Thosefamiliar with the works of both of these bands will find lots to likeon this release, available now via mail order through The MusicFellowship (see www.musicfellowship.comfor more info). This split single, released on Music Fellowship tocommemorate the landing/windy + carl tour, features the newestrecordings by both bands, recorded specifically for this release. Italso features hand-painted covers by windy (they have a band, they runa record store, and she paints -- is she busy enough?), which are quitelovely. windy + carl's contribution, "untitled," is classic windy +carl, all epic guitars and chimes. It's soothing in its simple beauty,and leaves you wanting more, despite its near 16-minute running time.The other three tracks on this release are landing creations, and Imust say I was extremely pleased after "circuit" to hear their workhere. This is what I was talking about in my landing review two weeksago when I said I wanted to hear the band try something new. On"along," landing work their own drone magic, still using the delayeffects, but minus the distortion. It's exquisite in its stirringmajesty. When the drone fades, and the clean guitar tones take over,playing a playful yet somber line, you're already hooked, unable toturn away. Simply gorgeous. In fact, all three landing contributionsare pretty amazing. "Where the leaves no longer grow" is spacy anddreamy, and "passage to sleep" is the whispers of a nymph joined withthe sounds of the sea over a bed of acoustic guitar and delayed droneguitar. In fact, it seems almost as if, in places, landing and windy +carl are becoming one. What a dream that would be. Pick this release upand never let it go: it's that good.

 

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4216 Hits

astrobrite, "8 candy" ep

From the Connecticut-based label Sonic Syrup comes an 8-song EP ofmaterial recorded between 1993 and 1997 by Scott Cortez, theinstrumentalist behind Lovesliescrushing. With Astrobrite, Cortezespouses much of the same blissfully noisy guitar layers as he has withhis other project; however, '8 Candy' takes a contrastingly morepop-driven approach, reflected in the sugary-sweet titles of trackssuch as "Sucker", "Jawbreaker", and "Sweettart". Comparisons to MyBloody Valentine's classic album 'Loveless' are inevitable, althoughAstrobrite descends a step or two further down the lo-fi ladder, beinga touch more texturally abrasive. The liner notes themselves tout "thebest in lo-fi four track aural pleasure -- listen at extreme volumes".Despite its pretty, uncomplicated song structures, topped off byCortez's winsome vocals and indecipherable lyrics, Astrobrite lacks theinnovative edge and sonic diversity of Lovesliescrushing (whoseforthcoming album on Sonic Syrup is eagerly anticipated). This releasewill, in all likelihood, still appeal to fans of MBV, unless they areslightly put-off by its uncanny resemblance to the latter.

 

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5232 Hits

Susumu Yokota, "Grinning Cat"

Though this release came out back in June of 2001, I thought it deserved some mentioning here. And although Susumu's last album, "Sakura," gained him amazingly good press, including "Best Electronica Album of the Year" from The Wire magazine, this newer album struck me as being more progressive and subtle than his previous recordings: pure electronic bliss when at its best moments. Other times it can fade into the background but such is the nature of much ambient music. This album has apparently gained him "genuis" status amongst many of his contemporary artists and critics alike, comparing him to other such electro-luminaries as Aphex Twin and the legendary Brian Eno. The airy layers here can be truly beautiful, branching to anywhere from an oddly jazzy improv feel with fuzzy, minimalistic piano melodies, down to droney samples, trip-hop-esque beats and spacey (yet quite homely) instrumentation. The emotions here tend to leave me a bit on the bland side, but it seems more about the production and sound quality with this release - and it certainly is precise. This album was released on The Leaf Label in conjunction with Skintone.

 

4738 Hits

telefon tel aviv, "fahrenheit fair enough"

Sometimes a piece of music enters your life and has a tough time leaving your CD player. The debut full-lengther from this New Orleans-based duo happens to be one of the most addictive albums I have heard in months. I have said this before and I'll say it again: great organic musicians make for great electronic musicians, and we have heard hints of what this duo could do earlier this year with their contributions to the Scarlet Diva soundtrack as well as some remix they allegedly did for Nine Inch Nails.

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5534 Hits

ROTOSCOPE, "GREAT CURVES"

Rotoscope are a 6 piece group that share a producer and members withthe acclaimed Norwegian jazz collective Jaga Jazzist. Theirinstrumentation includes electronics, keyboards, saxophones, clarinets,guitar, bass, drums, percussion and vibraphone, but it's the productionthat may very well be the most important component. Original recordingshave obviously been obliterated, mangled or enhanced by cut and pasteediting, the end result being 10 tracks that balance jazz, pop andelectronica in widely varying degrees. "Press Stop", "The Bogota Sub"and "Noiserok Orkesterissa" contain the most manic juxtapositions andjams of spliced audio/vocal bits and jazzy drum 'n bass rhythms. Buteven within these 3 there are melodic counterpoints or moments of calmto be found and, often, vice versa within the other tracks. ChristineSantorv's girlish, somewhat intentionally strained vocals (in English)help give about half of the disc a soft and sweet feminine quality."All That You Owned (Remix)" places her words amidst seemingly randomglitch crackles, piano notes and bass surges. "Pink Soda", "CarpetIllusions" and "Traveller" are pleasant and perhaps the most 'pop' dueto the vocals and subdued acoustic guitar, wind and keyboard melodies."Watercooler" and "Divide And Dissolve" are experimentally mindedsoundscapes while "Cooks Whip, Music Goes On" is a nice stroll throughthe park as solo saxophone, vibes and bass glide over an electronicallytreated beat. "Great Curves" is a rather schizophrenic album but itreally works. There's something for everyone. Up next is 3 new vocalsongs to be released as the "Exclusively For Everyone EP No. 1" onJester ...

 

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4341 Hits

ORIGAMI GALAKTIKA "STJERNEVANDRING / EESTI LILLED SILMAD SUDA"

Origami Galaktika are the most active 'unit' of several dozen under theOrigami Republika umbrella, an "open cultural network with 170+ agentsoperating in 18 countries on 4 continents" with origins in Norway (seehttp://kunst.no/origami/ for further information). This double CDremasters and reissues 2 of their ambient/loop albums from 1994 and1996. Six vivid paintings in the insert by Cicille RisÎsen complete thepackage. "Stjernevandring" is 2 tracks at about half an hour apiece.The lapping ocean waves and cold, dark and dense droning undertow ofthe title track become fully immersive within a few minutes. I amliterally sitting on a sound in Norway in the dead of winter and middleof the night watching a relatively calm sea break upon the moorings.Nautical bells appear and by mid track the waves disappear - but theyalways remain subconsciously - then reappear during a simple but spooky8 note melody loop. None of the other tracks has such a distinctaudible tie to nature but each evokes a certain feeling (which is all Ihave to go on really since I'm unable to translate the Norwegian andEstonian titles). "MÎnedans" is next and the feeling is one ofascension and reflection. We steadily climb upwards through the clouds,a constant soft drone being the guiding light. By the 14th minuteelectronics swirl in then settle into their own respective glide path.A few lone notes near the very end seem to deliver a favorable finaljudgment. Beautiful. Disc 2 is "Eesti Lilled Silmad SÙda" and it has 4tracks in the 10 to 17 minute range. It's just as good if not betterwith another palette of relaxing sounds: graceful, emotive drones andfaint hums, scrapes and rattles, sample loops of what sounds like atrain over tracks, a woman reciting text in a foreign tongue, the quietpitter patter of hand drums, rain stick and some ritualistic vocalmoaning. There is no hurry to get anywhere and that's fine by me. Infact, every one of these tracks could be the length of an entire disc,no problem. These albums are quickly becoming some of my favoriterecent ambient works, along with Stars of the Lid "Gravitational Pullvs. the Desire for an Aquatic Life" and Zammuto "Solutiore of Stareau".

 

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4386 Hits