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Sonic Mansion Review-Corner (read-only), unknown jewels waiting to be found
Lyx
post Mar 21 2005, 06:30
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This thread is read-only. Please don't post here.
For replies and discussion please use the following thread:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=32546

________________________________

What's this all about?
It's a bit like a music-review blog. Zolder and Thinkum Dinkum will post mini-reviews of unknown jewels - top-notch albums which are little known although they may be interesting to a bigger audience. Lyx sometimes posts guest-reviews.

How often will new reviews be posted?
Originally, the plan was to have one review per week - but in the recent months, it has become more like "when one of the reviewers is in the mood".

What genre's will be covered?
Everything including music which doesn't easily fit into a certain genre. However, there will be a bias towards "atmospheric" music from various genres & styles.

You say "reviews" but there isn't much information in your reviews?
There is. It's just that we intentionally don't write 2 pages for something which can be said in just 2 sentences. The mini-reviews are more meant as introductions - small informative summaries with links to get more information if the summary sounds interesting to you.

Can i post reviews as well?
Currently: Yes and No. You shouldn't post reviews without contacting Zolder or Thinkum Dinkum first. However, we are currently looking for resourceful people who understand the concept, to reinforce the reviewer-team. If you think that you are just that, then drop Zolder or Thinkum Dinkum a PM.

No rating?
Since we only review albums which in our opinion are top-notch, there is no need to give every album a 5/5 rating - we can as well skip that info.

With the Compress-O-Meter, whats the difference between "compression" and "dynamics"?
Compression is how "sustained" the sound feels - it is what makes a record feel "loaded" and "hot". Dynamics is how much room the peaks have - it is what gives a record "punch" or make it feel "squashed". In technical terms, compression is inflicted with compressors, while dynamics are lowered with limiters - there is usually, but not always, a connection between the two.

An album you reviewed isn't available anywhere to buy
Because we mostly review less known music, it can happen that the CD is out of print - try eBay or other sources then. The majority of CDs will also not be available at your local record-dealer - you may only get them via mail-order - just google for them. They're more than worth the hassle.

This post has been edited by Lyx: Oct 27 2005, 23:56


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Lyx
post Mar 21 2005, 06:45
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"Lanterna - Elm Street"


Image by Badman Recording Co.

Music-Styles:
Instrumental, Ambient, Post-Rock, some Country-influences

What to expect:
A relaxing backdrop of nightly guitar-melodies, often layered with lots of reverbs to "soundscapes". The mood is dark but in a mystic, romantic and uplifting way.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -5.46 dB
Subjectively: medium compression, very good dynamics.

Weblinks:
Listening-samples / Reviews / Buy, artist description, artist homepage

Comments:
The whole CD has a nightly, almost cosmic, feel to it. Some tracktitles agree with that: from "New Moons" to "Saturn's Rings". The album uses some interesting mastering-tricks in terms of stereo-usage: some sounds in the tracks seem to come from behind you or in the middle of the room, but definatelly not from your speakers.

- Lyx

This post has been edited by Lyx: Mar 24 2005, 19:22
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Lyx
post Mar 21 2005, 09:06
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"Redshift - Ether"


Image by Star's End

Music-Styles:
Instrumental, Berlin-School, Analogue Synthesizers, Space-Music

What to expect:
analogue synths taken to a new height, 4 live-sets of constantly morphing and building up synth-textures with the moog-modular playing the frontstage role. Imagine a classical space-opera but with synthesizers-only.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -1.62 dB
Subjectively: very low compression, great dynamics.

Weblinks:
Listening-samples, review, artist homepage / buy, artist interview

Comments:
If you like stuff like tangerine dream, then you will probably love this CD. This album marked the height of redshifts career, right before they shifted their style since there was no way to improve over this album. Live performances of Redshift usually look more like a spaceship from the 80's instead of a soundstage because of all the equipment. If you thought that synths are just about boringly pressing some buttons without any skills involved, then this is the counterexample.

- Lyx

This post has been edited by Lyx: Mar 21 2005, 09:41
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.zolder
post Mar 31 2005, 15:50
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"Vir Unis - Pulse n Atmo" (2001)


Image by Groove Unlimited recs.

Music-Styles:
Ambient, Ambient-techno, Experimental

What to expect:
Entrancing soundscapes covered in a layer of fast-paced pulsating rhythms that will guide you through numerous states of mind.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain +2.45 dB
Subjectively: Great dynamics.

Weblinks:
Listening-samples / Reviews / Buy, artist description, artist homepage

Comments:
It must not have been really hard to come up with "Pulse n Atmo" as a title for the album. It describes the album like nothing else, because pulses and atmospheric soundscapes is what it is all about: Ingenious rhythms of all kinds are heard throughout the album. This, combined with excellent ambient sounds and environmental atmospheres, makes “Pulse n Atmo” a great and intriguing spacey, dark and sometimes even danceable experience.

This post has been edited by .zolder: Apr 15 2005, 11:13
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Lyx
post Apr 2 2005, 22:06
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"Limp - Orion"


Image by Kompaktkiste.de

Music-Styles:
Instrumental, Post-Rock, Electronica, Lo-Fi

What to expect:
A warm, timeless and calm space-tale arranged with a smooth symbiosis of acoustic and electronic instruments.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -7.35 dB
Subjectively: low compression, good dynamics.

Weblinks:
artist homepage, listen

Comments:
"Orion" could be described as "acoustic electronica"(also sometimes called Electro-Acoustic). Many artists have tried before to combine the opposites: electronic vs. acoustic, classic songwriting vs. pattern-based songwriting, analogue vs. digital... however, the difference here is that this time there is no "versus" - Limp actually succeeds in creating a perfect, smooth and harmonic symbiosis of the opposing worlds where the barriers become invisible.

- Lyx

This post has been edited by Lyx: Apr 2 2005, 22:13
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.zolder
post Apr 4 2005, 19:08
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"Icebreaker International & Manual - Into Forever" (2003)


Image by http://www.kompaktkiste.de/

Music-Styles:
Ambient, Electronica, Downtempo, Experimental

What to expect:
Melancholic melodies done with both guitars and synthersizers completed with occasional beats. Melodic pieces and soundscapes go hand in hand on this release.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -5.39 dB
Subjectively: Good dynamics

Weblinks:
Listening-samples: 1(RM) 2(MP3) 3(MP3) 4(MP3) (from www.othermusic.com/ and www.brainwashed.com), Review, Artist description: Manual, Icebreaker International

Comments:
Into Forever could best be described as a theme to a cosmic journey. It tells a tale from launch, through the solar-system, into interstellar space, into forever.

This post has been edited by .zolder: Apr 15 2005, 11:16
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Lyx
post Apr 13 2005, 10:00
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"Amir Baghiri & Mathias Grassow - True North" (1998)


Image by groove.nl

Music-Styles:
Instrumental, Ambient, Tribal

What to expect:
an ambient-journey into ancient mythical northern worlds.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain +0.58 dB
Subjectively: uncompressed, great dynamics.

Weblinks:
full MP3-track from album(by groove.nl), 2 RA-samples & reviews, artist homepage / buy

Comments:
An entire array of unusual instruments along with guest artists was used to arrange this masterpiece:

Amir Baghiri: synthesizers, powerslide, panjab clayflute, various bowls and chimes, rainsticks and waterdrumming.
Mathias Grassow: keyboards, singing bowls, flute and voices.
Guest artists: Kåre Råbu, Malek Halime, Melanie Baghiri, Anke the Dog.

The waterdrum-track "At The Waterfall" is one of the most innovative and unique ambient-tracks.

- Lyx

This post has been edited by Lyx: Apr 13 2005, 15:44
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.zolder
post Apr 17 2005, 16:16
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"Hecq - Scatterheart" (2004)


Image by Hymen Records

Music-Styles:
Experimental, IDM, Glitch, Ambient

What to expect:
Both slow and fast out of the ordinary beats, clicks, heavy reverbed melodies and occasionally a dark ambient piece used to link seperate tracks.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -4.28 dB
Subjectively: Good dynamics

Weblinks:
Listening samples & Review Buy Artist Homepage

Comments:
Scatterheart posits itself as a complete whole - an aural concept that spans the better part of an hour, where complex, intense breaks and melodic themes intermingle with ambient space and emotional droning.
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Lyx
post Apr 28 2005, 05:39
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"Flying Saucer Attack - Further" (1995)


Image by aural-innovations

Music-Styles:
Shoegaze, Noise, Experimental

What to expect:
a weird spaced-out lovestory of distortions and noisy e-guitars.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -8.95 dB
Subjectively: high compression, low dynamics.

Weblinks:
Buy, WMA & RA samples, review, artist interview

Comments:
The first track already makes it clear that we have something unusual here: simulating rainstorm sirens with e-guitars - and it even sounds real! ;) Someway, F.S.A. and especially this album can only be described with "strange" - on the one side, you have your cliche love-ballad melodies - on the other side you have heavily distorted, almost noisy, e-guitar-walls. The funny thing is that it does actually fit together. Add to that something undefinable in the vocals which almost feels as if the singer doesn't take himself seriously, and the result is "weird.... but someway cool!".

- Lyx

This post has been edited by Lyx: May 2 2005, 12:23


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.zolder
post May 28 2005, 14:33
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"Biosphere - Substrata" (1997)


Image by Aethersanctum

Music-Styles:
Ambient, Fieldrecordings, Electro-acoustic

What to expect:
Arctic soundscapes which form the base for melancholic melodies and alien-like synth-pulses.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -0.82 dB
Subjectively: Good dynamics

Weblinks:
Review, Listening-samples (WMA/RA), Buy, Biography, Artist homepage
(The album can only be bought as a re-issue, which is a double pack combining Substrata with The Man With The Movie Camera)

Comments:
Substrata is claimed to be the best ambient work to have been released ever.
The almost song-like pieces on this album deserve total attention.

This post has been edited by .zolder: Aug 1 2005, 10:54
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Lyx
post May 28 2005, 18:18
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"Malory - The Third Face" (2005)


Image by Indigo.de

Music-Styles:
Shoegaze, Rock, Synthpop

What to expect:
Dreamy guitar-soundwalls and vocals in the best slowdive-tradition, but with a a strong synth-pop influence

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -7.52 dB
Subjectively: High compression, low dynamics

Weblinks:
Review, Artist homepage / listening-samples, Buy

Comments:
My favorite next-door band (and coincidentally, one of my shoegaze/synthpop-favorites globally) has gone through quite some changes, during their only 3 releases so far. "The Third Face" is their third album, and marks their point of maturing and "break-through". Everything on this album is in balance, carefully arranged and performed. It obviously went through a long process of polishing. But the result is more than worth the long wait. Except of the average mastering, there really isn't anything i could criticize about this album - and believe me, i'm very creative in that regard *g*
*


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.zolder
post May 30 2005, 20:54
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"Bonobo - Animal Magic" (2000)


Image by mychangshu

Music-Styles:
Lo-Fi, Downtempo, Hip-Hop

What to expect:
Instrumental, smooth music full of jazz influences and hip-hop breaks.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -5.16 dB
Subjectively: Quite compressed

Weblinks:
Listening-samples, Buy, Review, artist homepage / biography

Comments:
To me, this is the ultimate chill-out album with beats. The music has a great flow and has more than enough variation, both within the tracks and between the tracks compared to each other. The only downside of the album is that it will leave you eagering for more after a mere 45 minutes. (luckily, he has released more albums)
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thinkum dinkum
post Jun 15 2005, 00:12
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"The Higher Intelligence Agency - Freefloater" (1995)



Image by waveformhq


Music-Styles:
ambient, progressive, electronica


What to expect:
melodic and profound groove with warm, analog drum patterns forming music that grows with every listen, Freefloater is a word.


Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -0.92dB
Subjectively: low compression, good dynamics


Weblinks:
homepage,info samples,shop


Comments:
Co-founder of legendary Oscillate project, Bobby Bird created an extraordinary piece of music.The Whole album is in some kind of sound instalation form, not possesive, so it won't search for your full attention but will grow in background.Always morphing his repetitions he succeeds to produce very motivated and complex ambience music layer.


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Lyx
post Jun 19 2005, 13:17
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"Chib - Moco" (2004)


Image by FatCat Records

Music-Styles:
Instrumental, Field Recordings, Experimental

What to expect:
melodic sound-collages of urban-sounds

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -2.03 dB
Subjectively: low compression, good dynamics.

Weblinks:
Listening-Samples, Review, Buy

Comments:
Chib collects sounds from her surroundings, and then uses them like instruments to create "collages" which sound melodic and sometimes even song-like. A wonderful CD to take you away to other places. It's like a melodic audiobook.

- Lyx


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.zolder
post Jun 23 2005, 23:08
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"The Stereonerds - HD Endless" (2003)


Image by Kompaktkiste.de

Music-Styles:
Electro, Electronica

What to expect:
Sophisticated, deep, yet funky electrobreaks.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -2.52 dB
Subjectively: great dynamics.

Weblinks:
Sample 1 (RA), Sample 2 (MP3), Review (somewhere on that page, just ctrl-F)

Comments:
The album contains some tracks that would do great on a dancefloor, but I prefer to just nod my head while listening to it with headphones, closed eyes and a content smile on my face. With HD Endless, The Stereonerds manage to expand the way too narrow classification called electro.

This post has been edited by .zolder: Jun 23 2005, 23:11
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thinkum dinkum
post Jul 3 2005, 16:53
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"Max Richter - Memoryhouse" (2002)


Image by maxrichter.com

Music-Styles:
Post-Classical, Modern-Classical

What to expect:
Deep emotional story in modern classical music, with atmospheric electronic elements and changing moods.Performed by BBC Philharmonic Orchestra.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain +2.55
Subjectively: Great dynamics

Weblinks:
home page info shop,samples

Comments:
Although I wasn't certain to classify this as 'unknown', I strongly felt the need to present this extraordinary debut to those who like this kind of music, and I know that Max fans will forgive me.This record was out-of-stock for some time but luckily he produced another soul-seductive piece called 'The Blue Notebooks',still can't decide wich one is better.Either way you won't miss with both Richters timless advantures.


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.zolder
post Jul 22 2005, 18:04
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"Steve Roach - Structures From Silence" (1984*)
*Remastered in 2001


Image by Steveroach.com

Music-Styles:
Ambient

What to expect:
3 Tracks (15 to 30 minutes each) of minimal synthesized melodies creating a smooth and sweet flow, which do great for both active listening and meditation.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain +1.34 dB
Subjectively: Low compression, brilliant dynamics

Weblinks:
Review, Buy, Artist homepage, One 8:30minute sample containing music from all three tracks.

Comments:
The album which introduced me, like so many others (with the release of both the original and remaster), to the beautiful world of ambient music. Structures from Silence is like riding the perfect wave in slow motion.

"For several months before actually committing the title track Structures from Silence to tape, I would live with the music throughout my daily activities. Often I would sleep and wake with the music playing (since it is stored in the computer memory, it can play indefinitely). This gave me the opportunity to fine tune the piece to a very sublime level. At the time I did not listen to any other music. I also spent much time in silence, a beautiful place. Feeling the music move through that space was vital in its development . . . For me the essence of this music is what is felt when it ends, a returning to the silence." - Steve Roach, 1984
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thinkum dinkum
post Aug 12 2005, 18:15
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"Murcof - Martes" (2002)


Image by junkmedia

Music-Styles:
minimal,experimental

What to expect:
Warm clasical samples over cuts and beats with ambient layers

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -4.56
Subjectively: low compression, good dynamics

Weblinks:
home page samples shop,samples


Comments:
In the 'what to expect' section I often have difficulties to translate it into words, this is a perfect example of it!
In a way, it's a concept album that wasn't intended to be (to my knowledge at least).The track names: Memoria, Marmol, Maiz, Mo, Mes, Mapa, Mir, Muim and Unison with cover name Martes, and the feeling that whole album is one great melody gives you that 'concept' impression.On the surface it's seems that every song is crafted in the similar fashion, but textures buried beneath are so complex you can hear new constructions with every listen.Fernando Corona have, among other things, brilliant sense of timing and rythm, and all those sounds are built in remarkable harmony.I don't know what's in the atmosphere these years,but debut releases very often tend to be a true masterpieces, technology surely have something to do with it, yet this peace is quite unique and have a good chance to became one of the most important electronic releases in the last couple of years.It's good time for this re-review cause Mr. Corona created new album called Remembranza, and track titles begins with..

This post has been edited by thinkum dinkum: Aug 12 2005, 18:17


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Lyx
post Oct 27 2005, 23:15
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"Coil - Time Machines" (1998)


Image by brainwashed.com

Music-Styles:
minimal, ambient, drone

What to expect:
Four long tracks consisting of minimal drones, with each of them putting you into a different state of mind

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -6.40 dB
Subjectively: uncompressed

Weblinks:
Wikipedia page, Full data on the album and review, samples available from a well known russian site or via other means


Comments:
This masterpiece is definatelly unique in that i know of not even a single other album which is remotely similiar. It isn't music - and it's not about melody - it's sole purpose is to to facilate certain states of mind via minimal synthetic drones - layered and interacting with each other. The only way i could describe it with words is like expressing being under anaesthetic with audio. It's no coincidence that all tracks are chemical names for hallucinogens. I've had multiple strange experiences throughout my life with this album - including a case where i drifted into a deep sleep during the first track, and slowly woke up during the 4min long fadeout of the album. And its the album which i choose when everything else fails to get me into a relaxed and concentrated state of mind.

This post has been edited by Lyx: Oct 27 2005, 23:20


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Lyx
post Oct 28 2005, 22:25
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"Neptune Towers - Caravans To Empire Algol" (1994)


Image by discogs.com

Music-Styles:
ambient, industrial, minimal, (highly) experimental

What to expect:
An industrial-ambient-like desert-journey on another planet

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -7.68 dB
Subjectively: medium compression, low dynamics

Weblinks:
Artist Homepage, Buy & badly choosen excerpt-sample (the excerpt doesn't give a good impression of the album - you may want to evaluate using other sources before buying)

Comments:
When this album was released, it was bashed as one of the worst releases of the artist ever by magazines - the reviews were so bad that the language in which this album was described was quite vulgar ;) At the same time, this album was heralded as an avantgardistic milestone in experimental ambient. Why the discrepancy? Well, what we have here is a member of Darkthrone - a blackmetal band - becoming bored of blackmetal and doing something completely different.
So what does it sound like? The first thing you will think of is "Dune". A futuristic trek on a journey through an alien desert. Not much else to say, because this picture describes the album perfectly.


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.zolder
post Nov 18 2005, 20:24
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"Steve Roach - Empetus" (1986)


Image by Ozon

Music-Styles:
Berlin School, Ambient

What to expect:
An epic album filled with full blown, fast-paced sequencer-based synthlines, pads and effects ending with a floating ambient track to put you back in the real world.

Compress-O-Meter:
Objectively: Albumgain -0.85 dB
Subjectively: good dynamics

Weblinks:
Listening-sample (notice the dropdownmenu on the right), review/buy

Comments:
From what i know, Empetus is a lesser known album by Roach and illustrates a completely different side of his music compared to Structures From Silence for instance, hence this entry. With this album, Roach takes Berlin School and by adding some of his own "American" influences, takes it to a higher level.

"Empetus-- Em'pet-us: 1) a driving force, impulse. 2) incentive. 3) the tendency of a moving body to keep moving after the force which has kept it in motion ceases to act."
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