Sunday, 23 October 2016

Pete Ardron 'Unexpected Pleasures' Review


Pete Ardron


Unexpected Pleasures


Pink Hampster

Release Date:

4th November

Pete Ardron the brain-child behind the band Orchid-Star has pooled together a collection of previously unreleased tracks featuring collaborations with artists and friends (which in many cases have shared his home) for this album. Additionally, there is a launch party at London’s Café Cairo this coming Friday with DJ support from Liquid Lounge & Sean Spindrift. So if you’re in the area and enjoy a melting pot of global, psychedelic and ambient sounds you may as well head over as it’s free entry too.

Those of you familiar with Orchid-Star will already be acquainted with Samantha Ray, an Australian whose operatic background works wonderfully when layered over dubbed acoustics on the opening piece ‘Beauty’. The following track ‘Vignette’ is an uplifting and melodic number featuring alluring Indian vocals (which I suspect are also provided by Samantha) and bamboo flute and appealed to me instantly. The album changes direction somewhat with ‘Bridges’ an ambient drum and bass hybrid featuring the spaced out electro-jazz of Onyx Ashanti (a American who is experimenting with future music technology who once called himself a musical cyborg) and the vocals of Myo (another long term member of Orchid-Star and former member of 80’s act True Life Confessions).

Next in line is the title track a lovely ambient piece awash with birdsong, flutes and the voice of Helen Francis (the first inclusion of someone whose not a professional artist) that would fit in well with any of the big ambient compilations such as Café Del Mar or Buddha Bar. Psibindi adds the vocals to ‘Mera Dil’ an exotic dub where at times the vocal sounds like a Sufi style and at others more like an Indian Dhrupad. The next track ‘Dhow’ begins with a sequence not a million miles away from Pink Floyd’s ‘On The Run’ amongst the waves it then slows down and the looped strings, flutes, synth fx and Indian vocals take over.

The album continues with ‘Hasya’ a collaboration with singer/songwriter Teresa Gabriel (who has also collaborated with Sergio Walgood and warmed up for Beth Gibbons of Portishead fame) and flautist Harmony Yemanya. The piece itself is another ambient track focusing on the flute and dubbed out vocals with a bit of reggae underbelly in places. Then we come to the second track which includes a friend rather than a professional, where Sayak Mitra provides the vocal on a cover of a Bengali pop song ‘Ami Tar Thikana Rakhini’ and it works for me.

Teresa Gabriel makes another appearance on ‘Blue Sky Dreams’ where her dreamy vocals really can take your mind to the sky and drift away. The final track on the album ‘Baniyan’ retains the flutes and Indian vocal that are a common feature throughout this album but there’s more of a classical feel to the piece with an operatic vocal added to the melting pot.

The talent Pete has brought in for these collaborations is high quality and he continues to produce a unique fusion of world music, ambient, psychedelic, dub and classical sounds. This album will definitely appeal to fans of Orchid-Star and if your unfamiliar perhaps it’s time you enlightened yourself.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Note: Unexpected Pleasures is now available on CD for pre-order in the shop for the specially discounted price of £7.50 + p&p till Nov 3rd only (when it will go up to 9 or 10). CDs will be sent first class on the 3rd. BUT, if you come to the Unexpected Pleasures Album Launch Party you will get it even cheaper!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Douglas Deep 'Cytokinesis' Review

Artist: Douglas Deep

Title: Cytokinesis

Label: Self Release

Released: 23rd Sept

Steve Kelly has been airing his show ‘The Shed Collective’ under the pseudonym Douglas Deep on on Monday nights ever since I joined the station. I’d never got around to listening to the show and wrongly assumed it was all about Deep House.

I spoke to Steve at the station meet up at the Hoxton in Shoreditch earlier this year and he informed me his show wasn’t placing the focus on Deep House but mostly Electronica, I.D.M, Minimal & Ambient Techno with influences such as Autchere, Plaid and Aphex Twin. While earlier his musical background was listening to metal and hip-hop. In fact his show next Monday focuses on U.K. hip-hop between the years of 88 to 93.

Since then I’ve tuned into a couple of shows and found that Steve’s tastes do cross certain parallels with my own. This release like his show is a bit of a mixed bag ranging from Ambient Electronica to Minimal Techno so it partially fits the criteria of this blog.

The album begins with ‘Don’t Talk About It’ a springy tech number with the compulsory snares and featuring spoken samples about electronic music fitting to the title before an old skool sounding sequence joins in and the piece ticks all the boxes required. The following track ‘Andyou’ drops the mood with ambient synth voices and short cropped vocal samples layered over crisp I.D.M. style beats again there’s somewhat of a retro feel.

The title piece ‘Cytokinesis’ begins with a melancholic piano but lifts the pace slightly with the beat. Whilst dropping little samples and fx throughout and the overall the accumulated sound works for me. Following on is ‘Fortunate’ a minimal techno number I don’t really review this type of music and confess I don’t really know where to start.  All I can say is although this may not be on the play lists of the superstar D.J.’s, However, I do hear plenty of this music, it has the right bounce and wouldn’t go amiss in  the sets my friends play.

Moving on the next piece ‘Titan Juice’ begins with an atmospheric field recording of background chatter (possibly recorded in a vape store), to me the volume of the chatter was a tad high compared to the music but the overall mood works well and soon after a beat is employed to accompany the track. This is followed by ‘Fathers Day’ which begins with a fusion atmospheric synths, a low volume wub and crisp beats. Angelic voices, minimal piano and a sample of a child announcing ‘electronic music’ join the assemblage.

Heading towards the close of the album ‘Plastic’ begins in a soothing ambient electronica fashion and is soon accompanied by a trip-hop style beat. Rather than continuing to glide downwards to conclude the album the pace lifts again with ‘Your Mum’ which reminds me somewhat of early Underworld.

I have no idea how long Steve has been making music but he’s putting together some reasonably good replications of the music he loves and inputs a bit of retro feel to his productions at times. Furthermore it’s a snip at only £4 so there’s nothing to lose in having a listen.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Andrew Heath 'Europa' Review

Artist: Andrew Heath

Title: Europa

Label: Disco Gecko

Released: 4th November

Andrew’s productions appealed to me immediately and I’m always keen to listening to further pieces of his work. What I found interesting is the excerpt from his web-site below as I can recall watching this program possibly repeated as a child myself.

I look to create sonic textures and lower case music. A point when music and sound hang in the air, particles and elements in constant agitation around a theme or half-remembered thought.

I remember as a small boy, watching a film about an artist who had made a sculptural piece of work that involved hanging large pieces of metal and wood inside an old barn. When one piece was moved it made contact with another until ever so gradually, the whole building was filled with random motion and sounds. I was fascinated by the serendipitous nature of this creation.

This new release begins with ‘The Railcar Attendant’ which combines bird song field recordings with melodic tones layered over the sound of a distant locomotive. This is occasionally interrupted by a more piercing tone which conjures up the image of the train braking here and there. As the piece continues occasional piano keys join the accompaniment as well as theremin like sounds and indistinct voices providing an overall feeling of blissful calm. This is followed by ‘Requiem’ which sets me in mind of sunbathing in the garden with low background noises capturing your attention, soon after a mellow piano joins a plodding almost clock like ticking once again providing a musical symbol of calm.

The intro to ‘Prussian Blue’ sets me in mind of a bizarre melting pot of fog horn, whale song and flute which works a treat this is interspersed once again with mellow piano keys and at points joined by synth notes, plucked strings and winding clocks. The album continues in this fashion somewhat more eerily with the intro to ‘Lunz’ with chimes, chants and piercing tones rising and falling in volume over a mellow drone.

Crackles lead into sequenced tones sounding like a cross between a bird and a heart-rate monitor alongside mellow piano keys and a selection of other synthesized voices in ‘Sputnik/Little Earth’. While ‘Larks Under Lowland Skies’ once again employs a similar approach to it’s predecessors on this release and I am coming to the conclusion that this is the album where Andrew has found his sound. Admittedly, there are plenty of ambient artists using field recordings, chimes and piano’s but what stands out with Andrew is he appears to have mastered this sound somewhat akin to the sculptor but in a production fashion. 

I absolutely adore this album so far it really does create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere. However, it’s also proving very hard to do a track by track analysis. So, just before the title track I’m going to close with saying although the pieces all have their subtle differences there is no significant changes going forward. In my view this works far better with this type of music than many others, after all you enter to relax and for me Andrew achieves this in a splendid fashion.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Thursday, 15 September 2016

Kick Bong 'Destiny' Review

Artist: Kick Bong

Title: Destiny

Label: Cosmic Leaf

Released: 1st Sept

Parisian Franck Jousselin A.K.A. Kick Bong returns with a new collection of tracks stamped with his own unique style of electronica that touches the psychedelic, the ethnic, trip-hop and guitar influences apparent from the Cure.

The album starts with ‘Time In Suspense’ where an atmospheric intro leads into bird song followed by hang drum and flute eventually joined by organic sounding cymbal crashes and synth’s creating a chilled aura that envelops you by the end of the piece.

The album continues with slow paced trip-hop beats and mellow synths with intricate layers and melodic passages until ‘I Was Asleep’ which picks the pace up somewhat with some great sounding synth voices before a melodic piano breakdown is joined by Cure’esque guitar and the pace returns. All in all it’s a wonderful piece that’s grabbed my interest.

The album moves forward in a similar fashion to the previous tracks with perhaps some darker touches. While the title track begins with some French spoken word before easing into atmospheric synths, flute and guitar fingering. This leads into the closing track ‘Whirlwind’ which despite it’s title is still slow-paced to start, a dark 80’s sounding synth background leads into bleepy sequences and then the drums add a little pace and the gated synth sequences get a little more aggressive.

Overall the general feel of the album has a synthwave feel to it with lots of extra little touches and chilled breakdowns as previously mentioned there’s a couple of tracks that stand out where the pace lifts a little. Fans of his previous albums will appreciate the general sound but don’t expect any of the four by four accompanying beats that have featured on recent releases.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Monday, 12 September 2016

Drumspyder 'Mother Rune' Review




Mother Rune


8th September

Oakland based Scott Sterling A.K.A. Drumspyder returns with a fresh batch of eastern electronica. The “Mother Rune” is Hagall, a symbol from the Younger Futhark (a medieval Norse alphabet). Its elemental six-pointed shape (like the “Seed of Life” figure of sacred geometry) contains the seed of all the other rune forms. Literally meaning “hail”, it has the dual meaning of a crisis and new beginning- a perfectly formed snowflake that emerges from a whirling storm, a cold grain from the sky that melts into nourishing water.

The album commences with the title track a whirling dervish of snake charmer flutes accompanied by the live darbuka drumming, tamborines and frame drums associated with his previous releases. The next track 'Fire Ring Beat' is a trifle more relaxed, with the occasional wub and melodic vocals added to the palate you can easily conjure up a desert camp fire aside the bedouin tent.

The rest of the album as you can imagine follows a similar path with each track leaning slightly in different directions some passages sounding very traditional and organic while others employ the dub, the bass , the Celtic or the gypsy swing. I can't see fans of the Drumspyder back catalogue being disappointed with these further journeys into the ancient music of the East that this new album offers.

Reviewed by Woodzee


Friday, 9 September 2016

Liquid Sound Design 'Society Of Inner Light' Compilation Review

Artist: Various

Title: Society Of Inner Light

Label: Liquid Sound Design

Released: 9th of September

Youth started the Society For Ancient Enchantment in 1999, with the intention of combining ritual, music performance, spoken word and DJ's to be able to dive deeper into the mystery and meditation of the music.

This created some legendary events and recordings and is directly connected to this Society of Inner Light album and future events. The inspiration behind this compilation goes back to the 1930's and "Dion Fortunes Order Of Inner Light ".

Some of her rituals in Bloomsbury were said to have ushered in the 1960's flower power era ... Our intention here is to facilitate that same intention and free the spirit of those times for our present and future tribal, dance floor, chill out gatherings and facilitate and create an esoteric counter culture that communicates to mind, body and spirit.

The album begins with Tripswitch 'Collider' which begins in a tribal dub fashion before adding his  distinctive progressive touches applying plenty of reverb in places and the balance of the two styles on the whole works rather well. This is followed by the Youth re-mix of Kuba's 'By The Foot Of Your Mountain' Where classic ska, dub, spoken word samples, horns and harmonica are chopped up with the original Indian vibe to great effect.

The next track takes a more chilled out eastern dub-step approach with the Youth re-mix of Elfic Circle's 'Om Beach'. The chilled out atmosphere continues with Mixmaster Morris and his Ambient Sunrise Mix of his alter ego Irresistible Force featuring Nick Turner (of Hawkwind fame) and Youth's 'Duende' a stunningly gorgeous piece of ambience further enhanced with Nick's accompaniment on the sax.

Then we enter the dub wise riddim's with Brother Culture vs Youth in Dub 'Urban Rebel Dub' a stereotypical speaker shaker featuring the dubbed out lyrical meanderings of Brother Culture. This is followed by the Outer Space Chug Dub of the Dub Trees featuring Jah Wobble 'King Of The Fairies' and it's an aptly titled track where the tribal drums chug along with plenty of dubbed out fx with the odd vocal snippets sounding quiet different from the original piece. The album closes with the Youth re-mix of Mycal 'I Wonder What Happened In The Future' which picks up the pace somewhat and utilises those classic ska sounds again along with the catchy vocal chant.

Overall I really like this album I'd go as far to say it's probably my favourite of the L.S.D. releases over the last couple of years. It may not contain a great number of tracks but everyone's a winner for me.

Reviewed by Woodzee.


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Banco De Gaia '9th of Hearts' Review

Artist: Banco De Gaia

Title: 9th of Hearts

Label: Disco Gecko

Released: 7th October

This release is Toby Marks A.K.A. Banco De Gaia's ninth studio album and features special guest artists, from Pink Floyd’s Dick Parry, Zero 7’s Sophie Barker, The The’s James Eller and No-Man’s Tim Bowness. The 9th of Nine Hearts is a celebration of the spark in all of us: the concept of love itself. Fusing ambient, psychedelia, art rock and acid house, each track evolves naturally into the next, with love the starting point to them all.

The album starts with 'Nine Hearts' which begins rather quietly with ambient strings and shuffling fx into somewhat of a crescendo before a gentle piano is introduced and is soon followed by the vocals of Tim Bowness which adds a slight rock opera feel to the piece and is inspired by the love in friendship. This is followed by the recent free download 'Burn The Witch' which fuses rock drumming with ambient dub and documentary spoken word.

'Warp and Weft' is a Floyd'esque slice of ambient electronica which features an ethereal vocal that adds to the calm beauty of the piece. This is followed by 'Le Foucauld' where tribal drums lead you to into an eastern bazaar and has somewhat of a celtic folk vibe to the mix to get your feet a tapping. The world fusion continues with 'No Hablo Italiano' a fusion of tribal drumming, sweet guitar licks, synths and vocal snippets which presents an overall Mediterranean feel.

The next track 'Is-Is Loves Ankh-An-Atum' sounds somewhat like footsteps through a misty port despite the obvious reference to the Egyptian deities. However, the reference soon becomes apparent with the Arabic vocals and flutes that transcends through the piece and leads us onto to more Floyd'esque sounding synths. Following on with 'And So We Dream Of Futures Lost' which begins with spoken word that leads into a deep orchestral piece of ambience with gentle piano, indistinct voices and other field recordings from nature before angelic voices are employed to complete the piece.

The album then takes a shift in direction with '91' where applause leads us into a retro sounding piece of acid house which lifts samples from early Banco cassette releases and features vocals co-written and performed by Sophie Barker. The mood then swings back to ambience with 'The Princess And The Sky Goat' which utilises birdsong amongst an eerie drone before the plodding kick drum, melodic tones (with a retro ambient dub feel reminiscent of the Orb's 'Blue Room') and Dick Parry's sax is introduced.

Following on with 'Midnight Sun' another ambient piece with ethereal vocals that brings you nicely to the closing track 'This Heart' where the piano takes centre stage over lapping waves, seagulls and indistinct chatter.

To summarise this album should appeal to fans of Toby's work in some respects it's focus is more on the ambient than the global and is very introspective. However, the quality remains and going on the live band performance at Whirl-Y-Fayre is still warmly welcomed after all these years.

Reviewed by Woodzee

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