Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Terra Nine Breathe Review

Artist: Terra Nine

Album: Breathe

Label: Altar Records

Release Date: December 2011

I first came across Mike Westcott’s Terra Nine project on the Ajana Records compilation “A Magical Journey”. In fact I was so impressed with the use of the electric viola in his work I embarked on a mission to interview him for our blog.

I was suitably impressed when reviewing his last release “Stream Of Consciousness” which featured re-mixes by Ott and Pete Ardron of Orchid Star. This time the honours go to Astropilot and Squazoid and I’m even more impressed with this release.

The album opens with “Transmutation” where lush synth chords are layered over rainforest atmospherics and twitching notes of the viola. This creates a wonderfully warm and inviting surround sound. The beat takes a while to kick in and although it lifts the track I was happy enough without one.  The next track “Star” like the title track features alluring vocals from Aviatrix and has more of a trance vibe about it.

In all honesty I could go on about the richness of sound and production quality of every track on the album. Mike creates a fusion of chilled organic strings, trancey keys and beats with a twist of psychedelica. Think System 7 with an electric viola!

However, I am going to pluck a favourite from a very strong album and its hat’s off to Mike for his re-mix of Astropilot's “Memories Maze”. This in my opinion is better than both the title track and Astropilot's re-mix of that. The tracks open’s with a soothing synth which is soon accompanied by a synthetic vocal chorus. The viola creates wonderful loops which keep the mind entertained until the rich exotic Eastern vocal and then at five minutes in the didge-like 303 and vocal fx are introduced it becomes aural ecstasy. I can’t put this track into words you just have to hear it.

The other re-mix by Squazoid a name unfamiliar to me is a wonderful piece in its own right. This track also has an Eastern vibe with psychedelic vocals and drags Terra Nine into the low bass realms of dub step. 

Review by Woodzee

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Eccodek - Remixtasy Review

Artist: Eccodek

Release: Remixtasy

Label: Big Mind

Release Date: Sept 2011

Canadian artist Andrew McPherson’s Eccodek project has only recently come to my attention. Like many of the artists we feature this project combines the artists work with input from a variety of singers and musicians from around the globe.

Remixtasy as the title suggests is an album that features 11 re-mixed tracks from previous releases. Having not heard the original pieces I can only share my listening experience of this particular release and although, I’m familiar with many of the artists assigned with these re-mixes such as Transglobal Underground, Adham Shaikh, EarthRise SoundSystem & Dubmatix the tracks that stand out to me are actually re-mixed by the unfamiliar artists.

The album begins with Jeff Stott’s soothing re-mix of “Behind The Mask” where the music and vocals are not dissimilar to the sound of his Lumin project which fuses traditional Eastern folk and modern electronica along with the exquisite vocals of Irina Mikhailova. A firm favourite of mine is Four80Easts re-mix of “In This Drum A Secret”. It’s one of those down-tempo tracks that lift’s you off your backside and on to the dance floor. It seems to combine Ibizan chill & acidic psy-dub with African vocals and I was mildly surprised to discover they are a Canadian Nu-Jazz duo. While I’m also quite partial to Andrew’s own Stepper’s dub mix of Bizuru Dub which sits somewhere between dub-tech and dub reggae, again featuring African vocals.

To summarise this release combines traditional Asian and African music with modern dubby or funky electronica. Personally, I found the album a pleasure to listen to at home. While the Four80East re-mix is top notch, one I would like to hear out and will be playing for some time to come.

Reviewed by Woodzee

Monday, 16 January 2012

Ishq - And Awake Review

Artist - Ishq

Album: And Awake

Label: Interchill

Release Date: 18th Nov 2011

I must confess that I was completely ignorant of Ishq prior to listening to this album.

Ishq are Matt Hillier and Jacqueline Kelsey and are based in St. Ives, Cornwall. The name Ishq derives from the Arabic word to describe Love. In Islam’s Sufi and mystic doctrine it is a concept that refers to ‘divine love’ i.e. man’s love for God.

My first impression was the beautiful cover for the album. The silhouette of a whirling dervish dancer framing the sunset colours of the ocean within.

This is a body of music that welcomes you right from the start with open arms- Like a half remembered dream on awaking that leaves you with a warm smile on your face.

Since being sent this album it has been a constant on my stereo and I-Pod. This music has accompanied me on early morning walks across the park with the winter sun low in the sky; watching the snow fall slowly through my bedroom window. It has eased me into sleep and prepared me for the day to come. The music seems to draw its influences from various parts of the world but never sounds contrived. It is always lush and natural, warm and expansive.

An album this strong as a whole it seems churlish to single out any particular tracks but I’m going to risk it! ‘Leaf’ with its introduction of soft lapping water, and soft gentle beats puts me in mind of ‘Life before Land’ by Another Fine Day. High praise indeed as it’s one of my all time favourite albums of ambient music. The haunting, melancholic feel to Blue Drop with its oriental flutes and otherworldly vocals is quite simply breath taking.

This is an album of sublime textures and multi layers that will transport you to somewhere tranquil and serene. 
I will be seeking out more of Matt and Jacqueline’s music.

Reviewed by Matthew Foord

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Desert Dwellers The Drumspyder re-mixes review

Artist: Desert Dwellers
Tracks: Bodhi Mandala & Tala Odyssey
Re-mixer: Drumspyder
Label: White Swan Records
Release Date: Spring 2012

Both of these tracks will feature along with other re-mixes on the next instalment of the "Downtemple Dub" series. Having been impressed by the Desert Dwellers re-mix of the Laya Projects "Sunset in Akkari" championed by Monkey Pilot and Robin Triskele I'd decided to dig deeper and would now consider myself a fan of both the Desert Dwellers and Drumspyder.

The first track Bodhi Mandala is a beautiful slow burner fusing the Indian Bansuri and Tanpura with Arabic percussion, synths and a faint dub-step'ish wub wub bass. While Tala Odyssey is a slightly more up-tempo and danceable piece. Where the intro begins with a female Tarana style vocal and eases into Arabic percussion soon joined by a harmonium with a reggae'ish vibe which drifts into Arabesque synths, techy breakz and deeper wub wub low frequency bass.





Reviewed by Woodzee.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Liquid Stranger - Cryogenic Encounters review

Label: Interchill 
Mastered By: Vincent Villuis @ Ultimae
Release Date: 5th January 2012

Sitting back playing this through an Arcam amp with new Denon headphones was a perfect come down from a hectic New Year. Martin Stääf‘s Liquid Stranger releases continue to amaze me. Although the material he releases on Interchill are generally less harsh than those on Rottun this album is even more chilled than it's predecessors. The album has a atmospheric backdrop reminiscent of the synthesized sounds of 70's space movies, expertly drifting in and out of different themes ranging from slo mo bass heavy and trip-hop beats, reggae, psy-chill, idm, spacey jazz-funk and beatless ambience providing a perfect soundtrack for getting warm and cosy on a winter’s night.

The opening track Beacon for example begins with a slow trip-hop vibe and soon envelopes you in a funky madness that slowly fades into a lush chilled ambient drone with bass heavy notes. A personal favourite Zeal begins not unlike the Art of Noise slowly enticing you in further through multiple layers until the bass drops. There’s plenty going on throughout the track including an unexpected and slightly vocoder’ish vocal accompaniment. While the final track Ectoplasm is an Ishq’esque beatless ambient affair ideally suited for total relaxation.

Reviewed by Woodzee.