SINGLE REVIEW: Female Medieval Jester by Jamit

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Jamit is an electronica/EDM composer and producer who grew up in Australia but is now based in Singapore. The past few months have seen a plethora of instrumental releases, including Multiplayer Erotica, Lovers and Rockers, Solar Power and Star of Wonder. His music is essentially psychedelic trance with other aspects of EDM genres incorporated into the sound, along with innovative use of spoken word samples.

This year I have already given glowing reviews to his previous releases Such Is Not, Pioneer Generation, MRT and Chicken. His latest track, Female Medieval Jester, is somewhat a musical departure from his previous releases whilst still maintaining the Jamit signature sound. This track is both his most minimalist and, at the same time, his most epic so far at nine minutes long. Whereas he defined his previous work as psytrance, this belongs more in the ambient category.

It begins with an intricate percussive rhythmic pattern that forms the bedrock for the whole track. A synthesized vocal chant then emerges followed by a psychedelic, swirling synth pattern, which is the kind of sound you associate with Jamit’s music.

These simple elements interweave and repeat throughout the duration, having an accumulatively meditative and mesmeric effect on the listener. Jamit has suggested to listen to it in the bathtub; this is subtly complex ambient with a gentle infusion of the erotic. By the end of the track I was feeling noticeably more relaxed and peaceful, it is essentially music to bliss out to.

Overall, this is another strong step forward in Jamit’s artistic progression. It’s nearly twice the length of his previous releases and in a more ambient style, yet still retains the key elements of his sound. My only criticism of his tracks in the past was that sometimes they felt like they ended too soon. Not this time, here Jamit really allows the music to breathe and this slightly new direction will increase his appeal radius even further.

VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW: You Look Like Something I Knew Once by Miftah Bravenda

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http://miftahbravenda.com/

Miftah Bravenda is a musician, composer and producer hailing from Serang-Banten, Indonesia. His music is minimalist and ambient in nature, with a cinematic and organic quality that gives it a strong sense of atmosphere. His previous releases include Eglantine, Those Who Wait For Sweetness and Engkelili. He regards his greatest trick as ‘his ability to turn familiar instrumentation into something of an entirely different nature.’

This track, You Look Like Something I Knew Once is a fine example of this. It begins evocatively with an interweaving blend of rich organ, sonorous synths and a haunting piano melody. This striking meld of sound is then added to firstly via musique concrete (using recorded sounds as a method of electronic composition) and then a lurching, mesmeric beat that compels the attention.

As the track progresses, various synth textures and melodies emerge gradually into the soundscape, and the constantly shifting and blossoming sonic tapestry unfolds with an inevitability that shows a high degree of skill in handling the material. The resultant effect is a sense of dislocation in the most pleasant way, a feeling of having been transported.

Overall, this is an extremely well composed and produced piece of ambient electronica. Although minimalist in style, the way the complex layers of sonic texture morph and develop across the duration of the track is testament to his inimitable gift as a composer, and the quality of the production is fully realized. He deserves to garner and a wide audience, particularly amongst ambient fans.

VERDICT: 8.4 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

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E.P. REVIEW: World Of Illusions by Reflected Illusions

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http://reflectedillusions.net/

Reflected Illusions is the musical brainchild of composer/producer Rez from Toronto, Canada. This music project is in the Electro/Ambient/Experimental category with an emphasis on exploring sonic textures and atmospheres to create unique soundscapes.

The first album by Reflected Illusions, Psychosis, was released in 2004. After a quiet period, the EP Radio Waves was released in 2016, followed by Private Files Volumes 1 & 2 in the same year.

This year, 2018, sees the release of this five track EP, World Of Illusions. It begins with the four minute Narcotics, which is evocative from the start. Haunting, eerie strings combine with a simple but effective Rhodes-esque rising chord sequence.

Gradually, the sonic texture builds with subtle rhythmic patterns which become more prominent and develops into an intricate beat that drives the whole track forward. It is aptly named, as it has a mesmeric, drowsy and dreamy quality that someone on narcotics may experience! It ends with just the disembodied strings floating away, as if into outer space.

This sense of otherworldliness continues into the title track, which comes next. This one is like a very blissed out version of EDM, with a steady four-to-the-floor beat kicking in after a spectral introduction of icy synths. The syncopated, filtered synths allow the kick to breathe, while a tapestry of melodies weave their way in and out to create a hypnotic and compelling sonic journey.

This flows seamlessly, no doubt by design, into the psychedelic sound world of Waterfalls of Babylon. The magical, swirling and echoing synth sounds that reminded  me of The Orb’s ambient classic Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld. A complex glitch beat gradually starts to evolve across the track, which works as a nice contrast after the relative rhythmic simplicity of World of Illusions.

Fourth track Overdose is darker, with moody low-end organ and a fuzzy toned ominous sounding bassline over a sparse, angular rhythm and enigmatic Rhodes chords. Again, its an interesting contrast to the preceding tracks and perhaps the most mysterious one here, bringing to mind the more ambient moments of Radiohead .

The final track is Hydrocodone, which sonically manages to sound like the previous four tracks blended together. It fuses spacey, crystalline synths with darker edged low end synths and a haunting, sombre chord progression over a skittish, restless rhythm. The suspenseful atmosphere it creates keeps the listener gripped until the end.

Overall, this is a fascinating musical journey that takes the listener into some unchartered sonic territory, like all good art should do. It is impressive how cohesive and seamless the five tracks work together in a synergistic way. For those looking for high quality and original ambient music, look no further.

 

VERDICT: 8.8 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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ALBUM REVIEW: 120 Onetwenty by Daniel Biro

 

Daniel-Biro

A signed, limited edition of this album is available from Daniel Biro’s official website, click HERE.

Daniel Biro is a musician, composer and producer based in London. He was originally trained in jazz but his creative output has expanded into an eclectic array of genres including ambient, prog rock, psychedelia and fusion, to name just a few. These diverse sonic explorations have been fuelled by his love of analog synthesizers and other electronic sounds.

He has numerous film and TV credits to his name including work for the BBC, numerous award winning short films and the score for the film Things of the Aimless Wanderer, which was featured in several film festivals. Aside from his solo work, he plays live in two bands, an electric psychedelic jazz band called Mysteries Of The Revolution and an ambient improv band Echo Engine.

His influences are wide ranging as you expect; jazz greats like Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, progressive rock like King Crimson and Tangerine Dream, ambient and instrumental artists like Brian Eno, Vangelis and Mike Oldfield. The influence of minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass should not be underestimated.

An understanding of these various artists is important in fully appreciating Daniel Biro’s nuanced music. This album, 120 Onetwenty, is an hour long musical odyssey that has taken six years to complete. It consists of ten tracks of varying duration, mostly under the category of ‘epic’ and has been produced entirely with Biro’s collection of vintage analog keyboards. This shows in the overall sound which is rich and full, as opposed to the digital sonic thinness of much mainstream electronic music.

Opening track Door is one of the shortest and serves as an introduction to Biro’s sonic universe. It sets a mood instantly, a soundscape that disorientates the listener by somehow standing outside space and time. Once this dislocation has been accepted, the music feels meditative and psychedelic in the most profound sense. Pitch shifting synths that sound like futuristic war sirens create a mesmerizing mood, mingling with delicate splashes of Rhodes piano, one of Biro’s favourite sounds.

Second track Ancient is the one of the ‘epics’. It’s a masterpiece in slow musical development, building in complexity naturally and gradually like Mike Oldfield’s finest work, though more minimalistic in style. The way the music grows and expands organically, almost symphonically, shows the influence of classical composers like Reich and Philip Glass. It also brought to mind the other worldliness of The Orb’s ambient classic double album Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld.

The main melody doesn’t begin for 6 minutes and then really starts cooking, continuing seamlessly into Nimbus. It begins with an arpeggio-based chord sequence on Rhodes before being joined by an airy high-end synth melody that makes the listener feel they are orbiting roughly around Betelgeuse. Flashes of organ act as a nice textural counterpoint to the more spacey synth tones.

The pulsating 6/8 rhythm continues and progresses in fourth track Itinerarium. Musically, it’s the exact halfway point between jazz and electronica, with a complex bass drum pattern gradually emerging as several themes and textures combine in a polyphonic spree (good name for a band?). It then breaks down into a fantastic Rhodes section, with some superb xylophone-esque melodies floating across the sonic spectrum. It slowly dies away like the embers of a fire, bringing this overall section to a close.

Fifth track Embark grips from the outset, with a catchy chugging synth riff combining with an excellent high-end melody that morphs through several sounds. This time the rhythm is an insistent groove in 4/4 that really explodes around the two minute mark. This piece is a good example of Biro’s unique fusion of genres; if pushed I’d classify it as ambient psychedelic jazz/electronica, but really it defies categorization!

Seventh track Levitator starts out hauntingly with a sparse use of sound and space  then unfolds with a superbly controlled natural sense of musical development. It eventually reaches an astonishing crescendo and climax that actually makes you feel you’re levitating. The synth sounds at this point are mind blowing, the music having an emphatic grandeur all the more effective for the understated style that precedes it. This one is my personal favourite.

Seventh track Barren is a wonderful piece of musical impressionism that conjures up the image of being marooned on an alien planet that’s, well, barren. Its mysterious atmosphere brought to mind some of the more abstract moments of Holst’s classic suite The Planets. The following Immortal is equally dreamlike and gives the impression of gently floating through space forever. Once again, it slowly develops into a spinning web of intricate themes and melodies.

Ninth track Returning is a continuation once again with the nicely overdriven electric piano having an almost guitar-like edginess to the tone, which adds a little grit to the overall sound. Spatial, reverb-drenched synth strings give this track an almost orchestral feel which certainly adds to the epic vibe. The music catches fire around the six minute mark, some fabulous speaker-panning swirling sounds creating an intoxicating effect.

The closing piece Outside strips things right down to a sparse, enigmatic soundscape….the sound of gentle rolling waves and the most subtle of melodic themes, while a plethora of sounds from outer space float around as if suspended in mid air. It feels like a suitably mysterious finale for what has been an epic musical voyage.

Overall, this is a highly ambitious but perfectly executed electronica/ambient album. It highlights the importance of the album as an art form, as this work takes the listener on a sonic adventure where the sequence and arrangement of the tracks form a symphonic whole. It’s an album that rewards the listeners investment of attention, and gives the magical feeling of being transported to another place. To fans of this kind of music it will be adored, but it deserves to be appreciated on a much wider scale. If you’re looking for a unique musical experience, look no further than Daniel Biro’s 120 Onetwenty.

 

VERDICT: 9.2 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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REVIEW: The Start Of Something, Mountains by Kazuki James

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Kazuki James is a writer, producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Manchester. After years working and touring as a guitarist as well as live sound engineer, he also writes and self-produces his own music in his studio. The music is instrumental, combining several genres to create a sophisticated overall sound that is difficult to pigeonhole, so I won’t try, but incorporates elements of classical, electronica and rock to create a unique fusion.

The Start Of Something begins with a haunting piano motif in a minor key, drenched in luscious reverb, setting an intriguing mood immediately. The sense of tension is maintained as a synth and simple hi hat pattern enter, then builds further with a pulsing bass playing the same one note. This leads to the emergence of a full beat, a steady rock groove with a crisp, punchy drum sound.

The piano motif then returns along with some atmospheric synth pads that nicely fill out the sonic spectrum, and the chord progression allows the bassline to develop more, the fluid bass playing bringing to mind Jah Wobble. Around the two minute mark the tension is heightened once more by offbeat tom fills and some quirky electronic sounds.

There is a great sense of momentum by this point and it culminates in a great burst of rich low-end electric guitar chords and pounding crash cymbals. This is augmented by a high end synth riff that gives the sound a prog rock feel which continues till the return to the first section. The chord progression now ascends with a rising bassline before the heavy chords section returns once more.

The beat then changes from half-time to full-time which is a highly effective way of reaching a climactic point, aided by a chiming lead guitar melody. This all leads to an epic ‘blow out’ finish as the music slows down gradually amidst a wash of cymbals and synth sounds. This is an excellent instrumental with an intelligent structure. It might be interesting to let a singer come up with a topline vocal melody, as it could potentially make a great song too.

The second track Mountains is a different beast altogether. Whereas The Start Of Something melded different styles, this piece, also instrumental, is more easily classified as ambient or electronica. It begins with a minute of ominous, brooding low synths and atmospheric noises that combine to create a rather saturnine, evocative soundscape that grips the listener.

Again, as with the first track, a sense of tension is cleverly maintained by the gradual introduction of new elements. Around ninety seconds in, a slow, pulsing groove enters with certain elements drenched in delay, contributing to the epic feel. With a low synth playing a simple but effective melody and a static atmospheric pad holding one chord, the music has an almost mesmeric quality to it.

Around two minutes thirty another synth melody is introduced, this time in the upper register and is effective dynamically after the gradually morphing and sparse melodies that preceded it. This continues till near the end of the track before it fades out in a sea of atmospherics, much as it began. The more understated nature of this piece acts as a nice counterpoint to the more dynamic, upbeat style of The Start Of Something.

Overall, these are two very well executed and professionally produced instrumentals. Both the playing and programming are also of a high standard and the arrangements show imagination and good understanding of musical structure. While they stand alone perfectly well as simply pieces for listening, both tracks would be suitable as background music for film or television, even as a soundtrack for a computer game, another potential avenue. I look forward to hearing more of his work in the future.

 

 

Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.2 out of 10

 

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