Sunday, February 22, 2015

Amygdala

Like a voyage across the Sea of Storms, Amygdala by MicrotuneX begins with a stately progress. The simple two part structure is elegant, an arpeggiator pulses in interesting harmonic variation, while a saw wave lead soars overhead. The trip is relaxing, yet engaging at times. Unlike previous efforts by this artist, such as 2014's Selene and Point of No Return, the album consists of a single track, almost 38 minutes of music, which evolves in a continuous stately fashion.

Produced as simply as the structure of the music, MicrotuneX offers simple  and pristine sound design. Low Pass filter sweeps and lots of tonal work are a delight of subtractive synthesis, recalling the best of the Berlin school, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Plenty of variation is performed throughout, and the evolution of tone is a very sweet progression.

I found myself listening to this often since I downloaded it. It's a wonderful soundtrack to computing, and helps me focus in the way that Mozart or Beethoven might. Not ambient, but occasionally pulling my mind to attention, so that I can get back to the task at hand with renewed vision. This is excellent math music.

You can find MicrotuneX on Twitter as @MicrotuneX and on Soundcloud

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nail

The much anticipated new album from Isotherme does not fail to impress, this morning I'm reviewing Nail, which I've been listening to all week. Once again, as in the precursor EP, Angels in Black and White, the music produced uses all the toys of modern music production well, while venturing into new musical territory.

Lush and big, the sound design is unique, varied from pristine simplicity to complex polyrhythmic compositions. Sound is celebrated here, and is used playfully in interesting ways. There's layers to explore for the intrepid audionaught, and influences of jazz play with contemporary trap based music. The experiment is a success.

It's really no wonder that Isotherme's music has a growing popularity. I'm never sure what to expect, but my ears find pleasure in his sensibilities.

Certainly worth the download. You can find Isotherme on twitter as @Isotherme, and on soundcloud.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Four Corners

I was privileged to have a listen to the latest EP from Hilliat Fields this week, Four Corners,  a compass point themed collection of soundscapes.

I'm always pleased when listening to his work. Hilliat Fields manages to find very anodyne combinations of tones, and when dissonance is used, it is effective and sits well in the mix. I found no dissonance on this EP, however, and the mesh of sound is crystalline and pure. Piano tones and strings play amidst glassy synth tones. The result is quite listenable, and would be an excellent cinematic score as well.

Often I'm hopeful that one of his beautiful vocals will appear on the works I'm able to review, but again this was not the case as when I reviewed Black Dog Blue last year. I've been thinking of doing a past work or to review a retrospective to include his brilliant pop work. There is much already released, and the artist is prolific. I am happy to review these soundscapes, as I return to them often, and they provide a gentle backdrop to a quiet Sunday Morning.

Find Hilliat Fields on Twitter as @hilliatfields on Soundcloud,  and on his website Hilliatfields.com.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mechanisms

I found Mechanisms by Chrissie Caulfield to be a great sonic adventure. When I sit down to listen to her work, I never quite know what to expect. Surprising in depth, often educating, these are meaty and cutting edge pieces that push the boundaries of what can be done with modern recording and engineering techniques.

For the audiophile in me there's plenty of new sounds, often put together in novel ways. The recordings are beautiful, and though some of the sounds are dissonant, the intent is perfect, and the thought that goes into their creation is clear. Adventurous, imaginative, and playful, Chrissie brings her tremendous talent and experience into each piece, realizing new sonic visions unlike anything heard before.

Often cinematic realms are revealed, and I could easily see these pieces used effectively in several different incidental settings. Sometimes a set of strings will come forward, or a synth growl, that just begs to be used in a space epic, or war story. Emotions exude from awe to dread, even to silliness. The palette is large, as is the canvas.

With the download, you also get a very nice PDF to accompany the album, which outlines intent and techniques for each individual piece, and sets the mood for the album. I'd say you should try this adventure right now.

Find Chrissie on twitter as @Chrissie_c and on Soundcloud as well. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Angels in Black and White

Sonic images fly by the window as the limo pulls through the graveyard, spirits drifting past the corners of your eye. The music of Angels in Black and White by Isotherme evokes a cinematic experience, and the artist's description of "Ghost Ambient" is quite apt.

In sharp contrast to last week's analog romp Back to the Past by oddcommon, this album is thoroughly grounded in the 21st century. Glitchy sound collages meld in sync to synthetic drum tones and minor key drones. Never a thumping pulse, the percussion is reserved and works in the ambient setting. I found this experimentation greatly enjoyable, and sat to listen without doing much of anything else, rapt with attention.

Isotherme is always eclectic and interesting, since discovering Jeff's work last year, I've enjoyed seeing it as it comes out. This EP is a prelude to a larger work, Nail, which is due to be released on February 10th, and I look forward to reviewing as well.

Find Isotherme on twitter as @Isotherme, and on soundcloud.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Back to the Past

Transporting me, I found Odd Common's Back to the Past EP a fun listen. Well and crisply recorded, the analog tones pulse in mechanical time, haunted by vocorder vocals. I welcomed the variation and change in the compositions, as they bounced through the sequences. Very tight, as one would expect from this type of electronica, much of it was nostalgic, recalling synth greats of the past.

I'd recommend this to anyone, as I would for most of Odd Common's work, which is eclectic and varied. It is always filled with analog synth and fun sequences, and is often danceable.  Big arrangements from modest means.


You can follow Odd Common on Twitter as @oddcommon and also find him on soundcloud.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Shikantaza

When listening to  Shikantaza by Herr Absurd, sit comfortably, and be open to whatever comes. Although the name of this double length album is Japanese, the music in it is decidedly German influenced. Cited by the artist in the notes, the kosmische musik (more commonly referred to as "krautrock") inspired, it recalls experimental music, is decidedly electronic in origin, and has a few surprises tucked in here and there.

Unusual for Herr Absurd is the rare collaboration with other musicians. Valerie Polichar provided haunting vocals on several tracks, and Luke Clarke provided ethereal guitars. Both contribute positively to the tracks they are featured on, and provide an interesting character amid Herr Absurd's evolving  cinematic meditations. Sonic adventurism abounds.

You can find Valerie Polichar on Twitter as @Hugeshark, and her website. You can find Luke Clarke on Twitter as @fantasticbeard and his bandcamp page.