Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Reviews of 2015

It's been a great year, only slightly marred by technical difficulties. We've heard some new music from some really great people this year. I'd like to thank all of the artists who were featured for making the music, and then allowing it to be posted here.


And thank you to our burgeoning reader base as well! This has been a banner year, and your sharing and retweeting on Twitter have increased our readership tenfold. I can't adequately express my gratitude.

So here it is, the final index of 2015, our Reviews of 2015 list:


15/01/04 Shikantaza by Herr Absurd

15/01/18 Back to the Past by Odd Common

15/01/25 Angels in Black and White by Isotherme

15/02/01 Mechanisms by Chrissie Caulfield

15/02/08 Four Corners by Hilliat Fields

15/02/15 Nail by Isotherme

15/02/22 Amygdala by MicrotuneX

15/03/01 Oscillator Theory by Rainer Straschill

15/03/08 Inveniam Viam #RPM 2015 by Stuart Russell

15/03/15 Urban Fairy Tales by Nystada

15/03/22 Infamy #RPM2015 by Chrissie Caulfield

15/03/29 Robot by Elektronische Existenz

15/04/05 Slow Motion by Meter Bridge

15/04/12 Thesis by MicrotuneX

15/04/19 Middle Distance by Bare Island

15/04/26 7-5-7 by Roofhare

15/05/03 Strangers by MicrotuneX

15/09/22 Intoxication by Elektronische Existenz

15/09/29 Places & Traces by Chrissie Caulfield

15/10/06 Die Stadt Unter der Stadt by Kanal Drei

15/10/13 Destroyed by Business by Wet Dentist

15/10/20 Train à Grande Vitesse by Stuart Russell

15/10/27 Glimmer & Glow by Hilliat Fields

15/11/10 Available Light by Iceman Bob

15/11/17 Glyphs by Avvenir

15/11/24 Seven Seals (And One Spell) by Trium Circulorum

15/11/24 Progressive Thanksgiving by Various

15/12/01 The Strange New World Is Now by Red Clouds

15/12/08 Utopia by Ian Haygreen

15/12/14 No Room? 2015 by Various

15/12/15 Breath by Liquid in Plastic

1512/22  Sarahdipity by Roofhare

15/12/22 The Kees Files by Sarah Schonert

For last year's list, see: Reviews of 2014

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Kees Files

I was happy to hear about he collaboration between sonic artists Sarah Schonert and Kees de Groot. The collaboration became a pair of EP's, concurrently released. The Kees Files is Sarah Schonert's contribution, while Sarahdipity is Kees de Groot's.

Playful compositions with novel effects and literate lyrical content await you. A wonderful shimmering pervades, and the instruments resonate through atmospheric layers. Sarah always reminds me of relaxing daydreams, and the tonal and timbral qualities of the instrument set chosen reinforce this.

The sound is clean and and the mix is well balanced. The interesting vocal treatments stay with me. I'm sure I'll be returning to this collection. 

You can find Sarah on Twitter as @SarahSchonert and on Soundcloud

Sarahdipity

I was happy to hear about he collaboration between sonic artists Roofhare (Kees de Groot) and Sarah Schonert. The collaboration became a pair of concurrently released EP's; Sarahdipity is Roofhare's contribution, while The Kees Files is Sarah Schonert's.

As outlined in the detailed and extensive liner notes, the two created sound sets for each other, and this is the result.

It's a fine result on both albums. Roofhare creates a mystery and and a slight tension, but we delve ever further into the dream.

The trading of ideas goes a bit beyond mere electronics as well, as these two artists are already eclectic to begin with. The sound environment is detailed and interesting. Very big sounds are used, and they create big worlds. This is a lot of fun.

You can find Roofhare on Twitter as @Groovehare and on Soundcloud.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Breath

The new EP Breath by Liquid in Plastic is a very unusual collection of soundscapes, in an electro-chamber music kind of vein. Each piece is interesting and engaging, and the mix is clear and well thought out. The sound design is interesting as well, with acoustic samples blending nicely with more treated and electronically produced sounds.

The cinematic quality of this EP is excellent as well. I first listened to this to review on Sunday morning, and found it fine Sunday morning fare, and very entertaining.

You can follow Steven White on Twitter as @stevenjwhite

Monday, December 14, 2015

No Room? 2015

It's always fun this time of year to see lots of new releases and compilations for the season from many artists. I was glad to find that the proposed "No Room? 2015" compilation was released, and had a lot of fun listening to some very diverse works from the Sound Collective.

This is, of course a charity effort. From the Bandcamp page, the liner notes only read: "This album (is) the second fundraiser from sound artists to benefit the homeless at Christmas- funds raised donated to Crisis UK." Awesome art is provided by Martin Tanton.


Some scatterfilter blog regulars are included, Chrissie Caulfield, Stuart Russell, Wolfgang Merx, and Roger Palmeri. As well, some exciting artists that I've been following, but haven't reviewed are included as well, such as Lauren Redhead. Also: a surprise piano piece from Adam Greenhead (Coloured Lines).

A great listen, and a good bargain to boot. Enjoy the sound design.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Utopia

Imaginative soundscapes await you in Ian Haygreen's new release Utopia. Sonorous synth drones play in big sonic environments. Samples colour the pieces, furthering their cinematic quality.

The titles recall a plot of searching for "Utopia". There's no lyric, no traditional vocals, only recordings of conversations in the background as if a television was left on in the corner. Mellotronlike choral tones provide drama, ambiguity creates the story. It's an instrumental exploration.

In the notes, Ian mentions the inspiration for this was Tangerine Dream's mid-seventies stuff. I enjoyed Ian's take on it. Modern techniques creep in, and he produces a nice update of the ideas, which I found very well executed.

You can find Ian on Twitter as @IanHaygreen or on soundcloud.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Strange New World is Now

Deep rich sound resonates, the space is big. Red Clouds's new Album the strange new world is now gives you an epic dronescape. Close your eyes and that world opens before you.

The intricate and gradual changes in sound are subtle. The cinematic quality is not lost on me, as I could see this gracing a science fiction epic, providing incidental tension. These are not relaxing ambient pieces, but have an edge to them.

The mix is clean, and the sound design is interesting. It could probably be background music just as easily, but I tend to be an active listener. I found enough to entertain me, and then some. There is well over an hour of music here, and well worth the download.

You can follow Red Clouds on Twitter as @Redclouds3 and on soundcloud.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Progressive Thanksgiving

I've had a soft spot for progressive rock from an early age. In my teens I discovered it, and through the years have followed it's famous originators to the present day. Certainly every holiday season, I find myself drawn back to it. It's my holiday music.

However, the aesthetic of the 1970's, however beautiful with those raw synth arpeggios, mellotron, and flute, timeless as some are, doesn't match us today. To play like Rick Wakeman would be, well, to play like him. It doesn't show us anything new, it is merely an acknowledgement of that legendary keyboardist.

I've explored contemporary prog in some detail. Mostly crunchy, endeavoring to keep some jazz elements alive with the same type of wonderful time and key changes. The best example I can think of is Matt Stevens. Check Oxymoron. Amazing musicianship, great production. This is really the state of the art in the direction of progressive rock oriented music.

But there are other directions as well. The strength of progressive rock was not the rock, not the sound even, but the ideas that were formed by those composers experimenting with new ways to put things together.

Today there are independent artists who work in this vein. Here some examples:

Helicopter Quartet's Off World
This duo creates wonderful long journeys. Interplay between the two musicians is finely honed, as these two have been working together for a very long time (in actual "prog" bands). Off World builds on the simple beginning to become something so much more.



Isotherme's Song of Sixpence
I'm often surprised by what can go relatively unnoticed by the masses. They certainly miss out on this incredible six part epic from Isotherme. I keep returning to it, and perhaps you will too.



Wolfgang Merx's Buried in the Past
I admit that I've collaborated with Wolfgang myself. That being said, his collaboration with so many other artists on his release Insecurity is a lot of fun. Buried in the Past is a good example.

Seven Seals (And One Spell)

Sitting down to listen to Seven Seals (And One Spell) by Trium Circulorum, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. However, I found it quite interesting, and listenable. Even as it played, it showed the skill that the composer has in creating sonic, very cinematic pieces. These are interesting and evolving environments, subtly crunching along in a distorted grainy bigness. There's a lot going on in the space created.

I find the engineering and sound to be quite good, and a purchaser gets a very good value due to the length and number of tracks.

Of course, this artist is also electronic acts 3dTorus and Kanal Drei. According to the bandcamp release: "This album is a teaser for and a sneak peek on Trium Circulorum, my new musical home from January 2016 on."

You can find Trium Circulorum on Twitter as @TriumCirculorum.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Glyphs

I've followed the career of electronic pioneer Joel Ebner for a few years now, having reviewed his earlier project City States on the original scatterfilter blog. I always expect well crafted sound when listening to his works.

His new incarnation as Avvenir and the premier release Glyphs are no exception. The structures unfold in subtle ways, providing an elegance to the works. Random percussion and sound effects infect the tone paintings. Ear candy is provided with novel sound design, and clean production. A concept of typography is endemic.

This album is everything an experimental electronic music enthusiast might look for. Certainly it's worth some attention.

You can find Avvenir on Twitter as @_Avvenir and on Soundcloud. Also check the new video for Prepress on You Tube.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Available Light

I never quite know what I'll get when I listen to an Iceman Bob album. As with many artists reviewed here, he is eclectic. Beautiful soundscapes are built with plaintive, or ecstatic, piano, guitar, and synths. His influences are many, from progressive rock to new wave, and be sure to throw in a little jazz.

October's Available Light continues this prolific musician's explorations. Easy to listen to as a cocktail after work, it's mostly downtempo, and anodyne. Compositions are often built around a simple improv, then expanded with other tracks. When there is percussion, it's often an infectious loop. The sound is clean and clear, and the mix is excellent.

You can find Iceman Bob on twitter as @iceman_bob and on soundcloud as well.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Glimmer & Glow

Evoking eighties power pop, big drums, and big reverb, The Glimmer EP by Hilliat Fields continues this eclectic artist's exploration of pop. The lyrics are poignant and well delivered. There are brilliant moments of the song sometimes nearly spinning off and out of control, brought back just in time as in "She Didn't Love You." The EP ends with "You're all Going to Die," a hopeless refrain, reminding us all that we are ephemeral.

Released concurrently with Glimmer, Glow is an instrumental excursion. Big cinematic environments recall the sound design of Glimmer. Both have a shimmering, and sometimes pulsing quality, which really comes to the forefront in Glow. In the past, one might release the two as a single album, one side of pop, the other of an instrumental and cinematic nature. But far from a side-B attempt, these pieces are subtle and interesting, as I would expect from the composer of Four Corners, reviewed earlier this year.

You can find Hilliat Fields on twitter as @hilliatfields and on Soundcloud

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Train à Grande Vitesse

Stuart Russell's new album Train à Grande Vitesse continues his exploration into improvisation with analog synths arranged via sequencer. 

Inspired by a trip via high speed train to Toulouse, the music reflects the rhythm of the rails. Images of stations whirring past, with open country between, evoking in climate controlled comfort.

The machines pulse through sequences adorned by simple improvisation for a human touch. Interactions between sequences change and provide variation. The sequences shimmer and pulse, evoking the clicking rails, sonic peals like signal lights streaming by. A plaintive squeal of steel on steel. It's easy to close your eyes and experience the journey.

This is also excellent music to do math by, or perhaps even write a blog post. 

You can follow Stuart on Twitter as @stuart_comp and on Soundcloud. Check his blog at stuart-russell.co.uk and you can read prior #scatterfilter reviews here, here, and here.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Destroyed by Business

Few artists can approach the sensitive subject of toxic capitalism, but Wet Dentist does a fine job of it in his new EP, Destroyed by Business. From the scathing first notes spelling the word "destroyed" to the final word of medical insurance out of control, the works are filled with the angst of our modern life.

Very unique and interesting arrangements are constructed as well. Although fittingly harsh, the mix is very listenable, combining interesting effects and sound processing with a coherent beat. I like the direction this collection of music is taking.

I enjoyed the lyrics, accessible on Bandcamp, and the package is nicely put together with a bleak watercolour reflecting the themes of the EP by artist @Russty.

You can find Wet Dentist on Twitter as @wetdentist and on Souncloud.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Die Stadt Unter Der Stadt

The hum under the city resonates in the empty space, a server farm idling along apace. The memory of the servers, like the city above, fill slowly with the chaos of our lives. Impressions of smoothly running machines. Ghostly voices resonate, becoming percussion as they echo away in the cavernous cyber space. Dark and foreboding, relentlessly building, forming new patterns. These are the impressions offered by Die Stadt Unter Der Stadt by Kanal Drei.

These are very clean and rich soundscapes, pulsing along with a techo flair. Kanal Drei and company have produced a nice package as well, with a black CD and Tin available with download. The engineering is slick and clean, a tribute to 3dtorus's fine mastering.

You can find Kanal Drei on Twitter as @KanalDrei, and on Soundcloud.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Places & Traces

Urban subterranean environments come alive with daily activity. A plaintive violin peals through the tunnels, a pulsing synth marches along in it's own industry. The opening piece of Chrissie's Places and Traces, Cavern, takes us on a ride to the station.

It's the beginning of a journey through field and studio recordings, combining a musique concrete approach with electronic synthesis and sound processing. The sound design is exceptional, as is the pristine engineering. There's lots of new sounds here for the seeker of ear candy.

As with much of her work, it would make wonderful incidental music. If you enjoy detailed soundscapes, this is a great time.

You can find Chrissie on Twitter as @Chrissie_c, on soundcloud and read her blog at  chrissieviolin.info.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Intoxication

Berlin School influence permeates Intoxication by Elektronische Existenz, as with most of his work. Simple, almost geometric sequences chug along, growing in complexity like an evolving organism.

The theme and concept of the album is discussed at length at Absurd Wurld, the artist's blog. The ideas are focusing on Nietzsche's ideas on intoxication, and the creative energy that is derived from it. You can find the blog post here: Absurd Wurld: Intoxication.

Analog sound pervades as usual. Pristine electronic tones pulse out a steady rhythm relentlessly marching on, evolving and growing. A simple pattern that becomes so much more by the end. There's plenty of simple analog synth and vintage drum machine tones, well recorded and sitting pretty in the mix.

You can find Elektronische Existenz on twitter as @Absurd13t and check out the Absurd Wurld Blog.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

New Machine

Yesterday I was finally able to replace my failing PC with a Windows 10 machine. It has a few more resources than the last machine, merely due to being new. Ableton Live installed easily, and is ready. The new system is nice and stable.

I'll be returning to a weekly review schedule soon. Thanks for all your patience, and thanks again for reading.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Strangers

Cinematic and pristine, Strangers by MicrotuneX is a nice addition to my library. It turns the two previous albums released by this mysterious composer, Amygdala and Thesis, into a trilogy of three epic songs for 2015.

Rich saw waves greet you, and the build is slow and steady. Cycling through the stages, Strangers evolves as it progresses. The tones flow and change. The artist has a good ear for sound design, and LFO is used imaginatively, creating some really fat sounds. Like the predecessor albums, these tunes would make an epic backing to a science fiction film.

It seems that the artist also has a new project, PTN Mode, that is a more acid/trance sort of thing. We'll have to check that out.

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





Sunday, April 26, 2015

7-5-7

Roofhare is an experimentalist I've been following for some time now. A guitarist and electronic explorer, his works are filled with unexpected combinations, and unusual approach.  Lots of found-sound and musique concrete elements populate his works.

I sense the influence of progressive rock lurking in the back of his work, experimental and delving into the unknown. He's an incredibly competent musician.

7-5-7 is a good representation of his work. Very eclectic, each piece takes a different approach, partially due to the pieces having originally being made for music challenges. They are all well mixed, with a clarity that belies their found-sound aspects, as the field recordings used are recorded in proper detail. Whimsicality and playful compositions abound.

You can find Roofhare on Twitter as @Groovehare, or on Soundcloud.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Middle Distance

Crisp production awaits you in Bare Island's Middle Distance EP. Big rhythmic environments are created, the sounds are precise and interesting. The mood is downtempo, occasionally venturing into the infectious.

Often the pieces open with a soundscape intro, and these intros are intriguing themselves, lots of interesting samples and drones. The sounds are contemporary, grainy bit rot, manipulated samples. A thick analog feel strings through the pieces as well. These are solid instrumental jams, and are excellent for unwinding.

You can find Bare Island on Twitter as @Bare_Island  and on their website at bareisland.net.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Thesis

The evolving landscape of Thesis by MicrotuneX washes over you, matching the filter sweeps of the analog synths. Evocative of Tangerine Dream, this epic single-track album has lots of cinematic scenes, and much ear candy. Landscapes of arid rock and danger await.

Another simply produced album, which I enjoyed greatly. Arpeggios scintillate over drones and pristine leads tie it together. The engineering is crisp, the mix well thought out. The artist is prolific, and has developed a consistent approach to production.

I look forward to the next album. My collection of spacey synthy stuff grows.

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

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Slow Motion

This latest effort from Meter Bridge is exactly what the doctor ordered. That is, when he ordered analog synth and clean vocal harmonies. Simple percussion  punctuates the understated mix, with some interesting choices of depth in the reverb. Lots of stuff gong on in these tunes from this electronic duo.

A reprise of Kite, from the first album, is clean and crisp, the new engineering and arrangement zeitgeist of Slow Motion informing it. Upon listening to the album for the second time it occurs to me that the lyrics could weave another web of intrigue as did the first album, with some love songs thrown in for the Hollywood factor. Bliss is a fun analog star system for the vocals to play in, filter sweeps abound. The pulsing of Filter sets the tone for the clean analog sound of this album. Responding with a Kiss only seems to get deeper as you listen, something I really enjoyed.

Follow Meter Bridge on Twitter at @Meter_Bridge and @MeterBridge357, and on Soundcloud.

You can preorder Slow Motion now, shipping date is to be next week. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Robot

Berlin School style pervades Elektronische Existenz's Robot, as evidenced by the first cut, Robotics. It plods along, building inevitably, looming up in the end before falling asleep. Unlike more recent works, a return to using percussion is evident, and mixes nicely with the analog synth work.

The cuts are very long, and are over 100 minutes in length in total. These are fun, evolving, synth instrumentals, and evoke cinematic imagery, a science fiction one of alien mechanical intelligence. The engineering is simple and tight.

You can find Elektronische Existenz at Bandcamp and Twitter.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Infamy #RPM2015

Composer Chrissie Caulfield's RPM 2014 Challenge  Things was a musique concrète  venture into new sonic realms full of unexpected sonic manipulation.  This year's  entry, Imfamy is as adventurous.

A surprising melding of analog synth and strings, providing a mix of novel tones throughout it. There's a lot of range in this music, over 30 minutes in length, cinematic and interesting. Certain moments are again created that evoke new vistas. It's a fun and dynamic sonic palette.

You can find her on Twitter at @Chrissie_c  and Chrissieviolin.info. She's also on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Urban Fairy Tales

Interesting play with samples and synths haunt this instrumental album from Nystada. Urban Fairy Tales is adventurous and experimental, subtle and subtly disturbing. There's something going on in the margins of these songs, something in the corner of your eyes that you can't quite focus on. Like an urban legend, these cinematic pieces recall the things we don't know, and codify it for our limited perceptions. They evolve in subtle ways , whispering along to our subconscious.

Musically these pieces are technically interesting as well, utilizing contemporary engineering techniques and lots of ear candy from Ableton Live. The compositions inspire ideas and create sonic spaces that are sometimes soothing, sometimes a little menacing.

What is that respiration  in Breath? Who is living though the thunderstorm in Gewitterregen? These little vignettes inspire mini-movies, a twilight zone to imagine. Lots of fun. Again, Mobius Spin continues to produce an interesting experimental piece in this Nystada album.

You can find Nystada on Twitter as @nystada and check their website nystada.com. Find more Mobius Spin on Twitter and  mobiusspin.com.


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Inveniam Viam #RPM2015

Contemporary electroacoustic composer Stuart Russell's Invenium Viam RPM 2015 Challenge work is an epic 72 minutes of music, for your listening pleasure. An isolation pervades these lonely landscapes. The compositions end satisfyingly, and are inventive, often possessing a cinematic quality.

Surprising moments are found in Amundsen  / Ellsworth 25 and Andrée 97 / Nobile 28, where some of the tones become almost sirenlike, reverberating across the ice as the airships go majestically down. The album is filled with fun tones. Growling square and saw tones create repressive and claustrophobic moods.

You can follow Stuart Russell on Twitter at  @stuartr_comp  and check out his page Stuart Russell Composer. You can also find his blog at http://www.stuart-russell.co.uk/.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Oscillator Theory

Rainer Straschill is a prolific musician and composer that I've been following for the better part of a decade. I always find his music interesting and decidedly different. His latest effort Oscillator Theory is no exception. Put out for the first time on another label, Mobius Spin, this album is a meticulous exploration of musical symmetry and a cohesive concept.

The album consists of three tracks and is entirely electronic in composition. Schumann Resonance begins it, with a journey into Dark Ambience, with clean drones and lots of ear candy for headphone fun. It has a nice long length, sustaining the darkness through almost fifteen minutes.  The second track, IMPATT NDR is a glitchcore short, stuttering through three minutes of often surprising glitchy music, and is a lot of fun. It finishes with Wien Bridge, a techno epic almost thirteen minutes in length, which bleeps and bloops along happily, subtly evolving as it goes.

I had fun listening to this effort, and it goes well alongside the other two reviews of Rainer's work on this blog, Vershluckbare Kleinteille and Eclectic Blah.

Find Rainer Straschill on Twitter as @moinlabs, on Soundcloud, and on his website moinlabs.de. Find more Mobius Spin on Twitter and  Bandcamp.

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.