Dead Can Dance have been touring for a while and I have my tickets ready for the 2nd of July to see them. I erred and wondered over getting the album of the tour prior to seeing them live but in many ways I’m glad I have. It’s a great way to sample how this tour sounds live but has also grounded me from feeling a twinge of disappointment too.
The entire album of Anastasis is included on In Concert and each song sounds nigh on identical to the album versions. “Kiko” feels a bit faster, as do a few of the tracks, but in the main they sound identical – apart from the vocals. Brendan’s vocals in general sound excellent while Lisa’s sound slightly weaker in volume than she has done in previous years. There’s no frenzy ala “Cantara” from “Towards the Within”. There are vague flashes of it for a few seconds but it felt like she needed to be turned up a bit in the mix!
Aside from the Anastasis tracks we have faithful versions of “Rakim”, “Sanvean”, “Nierika” and “Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove” the latter of which sounds like it fits the new album perfectly. There’s a good version of the unreleased outside of a live CV “Dreams Made Flesh” which is a fantastic Lisa/Dulcimer track that is a personal favourite too. “The Host of Seraphim” is given a slightly different tone because Brendan provides a lot of low harmonies and drones to the music. There is also throughout the concert a third female vocalist whom provides a lot of backing vocals but here she helps fill up the speakers with a great tonal range.
That leaves two previously unheard tracks. Brendan leads on them both. “Song to the Siren” frankly sounds a bit ropey and its partly due to the vocal delivery and partly due to harsh reverb that’s placed onto the vocal itself. It pales in comparison to Elizabeth Frasier and its a difficult thing to say but it’s unavoidable because Elizabeth and Lisa stand together in many ways. However “Lamma Badda” is an excellent playful track. Mixing keyboards, a Moorish beat and Eastern guitar it weaves something quite ancient and wondrous.
Whilst it’s not quite reaching the dizzy heights of “Towards the Within”, “In Concert” showcases a powerful duo whom make some amazing timeless music. A good entry point for the band and enough to keep fans happy for more.
Dead Can Dance have their live album from their reunion Anastasis tour ready for release on the 22nd April but you can stream it now from rolling stone. HPM will be reviewing the album once its arrived and HPM will also be going to the 2nd July date at The Roundhouse in London. Excitement is not the word!
Genso Suikoden – the series that has spawned four games and about 44 arranged soundtracks! Some of them good, some of them not so good, but one in particular for me in a class of its own. Welcome to Genso Suiokden: Orrizonte – a very Celtic crossed with traditional Japanese sounding album that simply reminds you why we can anticipate arranged albums.
Yuji Yoshino and Yuko Ueno arrangements are usually extremely well conceived but here they are astounding. “Withered Earth” opens with an assault on your ears. Soaring strings, panpipes, saxophones and pounding drums take a powerful tune into another level. Having recently purchased various Celtic and Asian instruments, I take extra joy from this track by being able to drum away to the song – a top class arrangement. ”Currents” on the other hand is possibly one of the best acapella arrangements of a piece of music I’ve heard. There’s no poor elocution that riddles the vocal collections of Genso Suikoden and the melody is given a smooth and melting flow of a Celtic sunset. Just a main voice and two backing vocals tracks make up the song but you’ll still be lost in the memorable track.
“Freedom Again” is a chirpy track made completely of wind instruments that’s delicate and intricate in its design although I’ve heard some say it outstays its welcome by about a minute, I like the way how it returns to the beginning of the tune for its final outro section. ”Everyday Is a Carnival ~ The Even More glorious Golden Capital” is in a similar veins to the opening track but is less cohesive with it yet manages to pack more power and a triumphant finish with all the strings suddenly shooting up the scales to a lovely little finish…only to suddenly restart and the cut out! It’s a very artistic way of ending a song as if the song just simply can’t stop flowing and moving and taking you on its whirlwind adventure – a lovely touch to a fantastic frenzied piece.
“Amid the Silence” works perfectly off the back of the previous track with its slow deliberate pace, and it’s almost tick-tock-of-the-clock speed. While it doesn’t take you over completely I do think its a very valid piece for the album as you can’t have complete manic tracks all the time! “Imprisoned Town” continues the slower more melancholy route with a lovely piece that has guitars and vocal ad-libs work in perfect harmony together and the low brass works at its best here too with a lovely saxophone solo section. “The Republic Forever” then rolls out the military drums for a very Scottish piece. You can image rows upon rows of Kilted Men strolling out on parade with bagpipes and drums ahoy but it still doesn’t come across as clichéd - very uplifting.
“Plastic Castle in the Sky” is our second vocal piece, two of which are English. This is a very peaceful song with whistles, acoustic guitars and minimal percussion helping add to the trio vocal melodies. Maybe not as stunning as “Currents” but definitely holds its own.
“Let’s Climb That Hill!” is a soft and passive acoustic guitar melody which is a nice departure from the rest of the album before “Those Who Don’t Work, Don’t Eat” settles us to sleep with a sweet vocal blanket of soothing voices before the other instruments come into play. It carefully builds itself up into a short frenzy of percussion before settling back down again and while it’s an interesting piece that is very enjoyable, it doesn’t quite work as stunningly as the others. “Ah Beautiful Dancer ~ Nahala Yam Koong” takes us to the most Japanese side of the work with brash vocals, oriental twists and chords and percussion too. A thoroughly enjoyable piece indeed. The album then closes with “Orrizonte”, the shortest track which is also the most passive too. Like falling into clouds the soft vocalists, xylophones and keyboards will send you into slumber and round off a near perfect CD.
In terms of Celtic/Traditional arrangements I have two that stick out in my mind – Xenogears: Creid and Genso Suikoden: Orrizonte as the crème of the crop. If that’s not a recommendation then I can’t think what is!
Sasha Papernik comes from Russian heritage but is US based and has just launched her third album “Victory”. This is the wonderfully chilled out “Tonkaya Ryabina” which is a traditional Russian track. Whilst the rest of Sasha’s music is in English – there is something whimsical and homely about this track and its arrangement.
Peter Ulrich doesn’t have the quickest album turnover averaging an album once every seven years. However when an album does appear you can rest assured that it is going to be something quite special indeed. Joining forces with plenty of other artists and collaborators this time Peter brings friends and with it, his third studio is his most diverse yet.
Opening with “In This or Other Skin” we are treated to a wonderfully ramshackle gypsy folk track that bounces and traipses over the land with purpose and flair. The vocal duties here have a worldly quality to them and are not led by Ulrich himself, whom provides many of the gazillion instruments you’ll hear throughout the album. It’s a wonderful way to open the album before things take a Georgian/Indian twist with some imaginative cross culture blending. Ulrich provides a background mantra that breezes over organs and eastern percussion while a sitar provides a Raj of sorts and female luscious vocals power through over the top of it all. It’s such a unique take on things and introduces you quickly to that fact that although no two tracks cover the same ground at all, they all feel strangely connected like everything is taking a journey.
Moving to a broken down cabaret rock track we have Ulrich finally take the lead vocal on “The Secret Gardener” which has a secret rumba flicking back and forth behind the scenes as the you are seduced into the brass and the boozy pow-wows of the backing vocals. It reminds me of a track you’d play in a film when you do a final montage before the lead protagonist meets the baddie for the final showdown. “Dark Lover” then takes on a spiky Persian/Greek banjo track which is short but very complex in its make-up. There’s some wonderfully elaborate plucking that walks a fine line between Country Joe and Greek plate smashing and the vocals here are deep and sensual. It allows the mellow acousti-delic “Starship (Golden Eye)” which follows to effortlessly transport you on a trip well away from this Earth. It reminds me of some of Bowie’s more trippier mellow moments yet it still has an otherworldly quality that could equally channel Lorenna McKennitt if she dared to do an album on hedonism. “Children of the Rain” then tightens things into a powerful acoustic cry in celebration and warning for the rainforests. In a clever twist the vocalists sing very much like an African troupe and its all the wonderful percussion that Peter Ulrich is renowned for, it turns a catchy folk track into something that is utterly mesmerising.
“Drug of War” changes political assault towards war and deals with the after effects of war survivors whom are still scarred internally. It’s a catchy acoustic guitar led track with some nifty use of thumb pianos and some excellent mirages of backing vocals that echo softly and interact with each other. The absence of a proper bass here means that actual the male lead vocal becomes the lowest pitched instrument and it makes a stark and emotional impact on the song. “Hanging Man” continues the slide towards baroque pop with a strong production change where all the instruments are brought close to the ear with little reverb. This makes the Irish flute embellishments all the more haunting as the track haunts you upon each rolling beat as you march in the funeral line. Continuing the theme of loss and death “Fanfare for the Lost Tribe” turns to brass and monotone Native American chants and percussion to give and upbeat blessing to the departed. It has such an unusual mix to the track it takes a few listens to really feel each rhythm and level of energy. Then it will all hit you at once and it clicks magically.
“The Desert” returns to more ethnic roots giving us a psychedelic Indian rock track. There is so much going on with so many different instruments from different time periods and cultures pushing for your attention – it’s like an assault of the senses. The chorus is like a pill of euphoria and I challenge anyone not to get lost in the dizzy heights of it. “Love’s Skeleton” is a great ode to the everlasting love that remains after death. Things start to run full circle with a return to gypsy folk – that magical bounce and some big choruses as the track transitions constantly between tuned percussion and shout out loud questions of the world over meandering guitar riffs. It’s very much like the album comes together in a huge explosion of what has come before it and its spellbinding. “Tempest” is the track that closes the album however, with a welcome return of the hammered dulcimer in parts and only the second track Ulrich leads the vocal department. It feels like a sea shanty in places and a soaring bird of freedom in others. It always feels like it’s constantly driving forward towards a beautiful conclusion.
Quite simply “The Painted Caravan” is utterly phenomenal from start to finish. Peter Ulrich and his collaborators (mainly Trebor Lloyd, Sara Wendt, David Steele and Anne Husick) have pulled out all the stops, said goodbye to any conformity and became trailblazers and pioneers of musical art. Easily a contender for album of the year – if you dare to try music that will attack and soothe all your senses – this is your medicine.
Whenever I listen to Joanne Hogg I have to approach her music from a non-religious perspective. As someone whom isn’t religious myself, hearing religious based music can be a bit of a struggle, however Hogg usually uses her lyrics in a more positive warm way and can be interpreted to find inner strength from other sources if you change their base.
“Personal” is Hogg’s second solo album and this one weaves a more worldly influence and a more piano singer/folk-songwriter feel. It doesn’t feel too far removes from Iona itself. Opener “More” places the piano centre to the mix with various other folk instruments like the dulcimer taking a side stage but adding real depth to the music. The chords mix between major and minors but everything has a certain warmth in its production that adds a further layer to it. “Forgive Me” is cute with its rolling piano riff verses. “O Lord I’m Crying For Help” reminds me very much of Emily Richards as its gives a lot of space for the vocals to breathe and Joanne has such a wonderful timber to her voice. The verses change to being quite grande and you’ll want to break out.
“Waiting” has a great trip beat to its emptiness where the whole song sounds more emotive for its lack of bottom end bass so even when the guitars are going for it, it sounds naturally like its rising and reaching to the sky. “The Fire When You Delay” is a mid tempo love fest. “Personal” again utilises a piano riff that circles round and round whilst chords change behind it. It results in some great melodies and some really touching moments. It’s a trick used in several places in the album and I really like it. “Dancing” breaks out some piano chops and some great string/woodwind instrumentation to give things an Irish Jig feel. We then get the sitar for “You Are My Strong Salvation” which is positive soft rock track given a juicy twist with the worldly instruments hidden in the mix. “I Felt Sad In Church Today” has a great use of Eastern Bells that have been muted. Layered into a beautiful melody its the slight twang of world fusion that continues to set Hogg apart from any of her peers. The closer “Where Grace Is Hiding” is the sole complete ballad on the album and is delicately played and sung.
Yes, Christian references are abound here but the music is superb. I still view it as positive folk rock in a way and that’s best to get it out to a wider audience so that people can really appreciate what an amazing talent Joanne Hogg is.
It’s not often that I comment on a bands fans but I feel that I need to before I dive into the review od Faun’s latest album. Faun is a band that recently has undergone various line-up changes with its Neo-Folk sound and now their sixth album see’s them sign with Universal – a huge coup for the band. With a large signing comes a slightly streamlined record. Anyone whom thought this wouldn’t happen is absolutely crazy. Outside their ardent fanbase no one knows the band and this album in many ways acts as an introduction to the wonderful world of Faun. It is a shame that “fans” see it fit to rip the band to shreds over this – especially when the quality of music is still vastly superior to what most bands are churning out in this field.
So it comes then, as no surprise that “Von den Elben” is a more streamlined, less deviant album that its various predecessors. For better and for some for worse. It’s certainly no sell out however and is jammed with quality tracks. Opening with “Mit dem Wind” you can hear a much cleaner, crisper sound. Things are brighter, tighter and polished. Faun have also spent the album gearing themselves towards a more pub folk effort which see’s the band pushing rowdy choruses and more direct melodies. “Diese Kalte Nacht” the single pushes the more electronic beats to the fore with a slow but deep bass drum section over the usual bagpipes and beautiful vocal melodies. Say what you will about their changing line-up, the vocals are always sublime. It’s also great to hear the harp get its moment in the sun too. Title track “Von den Elben” takes things back to the melodic harp and flute melodies of old with a gorgeous wistful track that is as timeless as the tide.
“Tanz Mit Mir” is the first track that really homes in the newer country pub influence. It’s the raspy male vocals that bring this home along with the sheer energy of the whole track as a whole. The call and response of male and female vocals works a treat and you can almost hear a Eurovision twang to it. “Schrei es in die Winde” is an absolutely stonking track though with a rousing chorus and pounding beat. I love how Faun can make a melody based on constantly meandering notes that never sit still. It’s as close to rock that Faun have dared to go to and I love the results. “Wilde Rose” is a beautiful militant track drenched in vocal harmonies that are all soft and warm but come together in a powerful way for the choruses whilst “Wenn wir use Wierdersehen” uses its lack of bass to really produce a top end pacey track full of woodwind and light vocals. Whenever that kind of production is used it always gives things a slightly more emotive vibe and it pulls through here.
“Bring mich nach Haus” has a very Irish feel to it with its final chorus and outro going up a note for effect. Even the slower tracks have a certain gusto to them – there’s little wallowing in this album. One place where things are damp however is “Welche Sprache sptricht dein Herz”. Here the minor keys pop out and things are kept downbeat and sombre for the first time all album. The downcast is then followed by a fan moment with “Andro II” which is a re-recording of Andro from “Licht” and is given an extended ethereal opening before blasting us with the awesome instrumental bagpipe jig.
“Minne Duet” returns to more raspy vocals and reminds me more of a swashbuckling track than the usual Faun music before the sumptuous “Thymian & Rosmarin” takes you over with the wonderous folksy guitars and duet vocals. If anything this is most Irish and mainstream to World music the band get to but it works beautifully. The album closer “Warte aur Mich” has an epic sway to its waltzing beat and closes the album out in mystical style.
Yes, it’s the most mainstream Faun have been to date in production value, song structure and general instrumentation. Does that make it a bad album? Certainly not. There’s a bounty of tracks to love and enjoy and that is the most important thing. The heart shines through.
Sometimes artists from overseas have an EP that they use to tread out into the other sectors of the world and that appears like what happened with Chitose Hajime’s “Kotonoha” which features five songs showcases her unique singing talents.
Chitose has a unique localised singing voice that means its flips up and down mid note like a very traditional Japanese folk songstress. The result means she is able to sound utterly unique even when doing bland covers (something she’s done since this EP). “Kotonoha” opens with the title track a wonderful acoustic guitar led track with punchy drums and a wonderful vocal montage to open the track. It’s beautiful and endearing whilst having a taint of sadness – something that occupies her voice most of the time with its husky glow. “Yakuskou” is a more minimalistic piano/keyboard led track with simple percussion. It slowly builds with adding extra instruments and shows how Hajime can sing without all the inflections and warbling. It’s quite a rare track in that respect. “RyuuguuNoTsukai” is a precursor to the more lighter Caribbean esque sounding rock she made with the album Cassini as it features funky guitar and happy chord progressions along with a fair few brass motifs signing off lines. The vocals here really shine – the sheer range and velocity she can change pitch in an instant always amazes me. “Seirei” returns to the acoustic rock anthems she’s more known for doing. It’s understated and easy listening done in a traditional Japanese folk song style. “Mihachigatsu” closes the EP with a cute ballad full of acoustic guitar, marimba and delicate warmth.
It’s a perfect introduction to this fantastic singer. Whilst some of her cover albums may not always hit the mark, when she’s doing original material it really shines and this is a great starting point.
Dead Can Dance are back! After far too long away from our speakers they’ve reunited. I’ve followed and thoroughly enjoyed their solo projects but sometimes things come together when you pair greats up. The eight track “Anastasis” is very much a tour de force and in many ways it feels a natural progression.
“Children of the Sun” opens the album, where vocal duties are split firmly down the middle. Brendan’s vocals have only became more soulful and wise over time. His recent solo album has a real influence over the general sound of the album but no more so than here. The album constantly flows in a mid tempo and the song builds and builds to its almighty fanfare finale. It makes you wait but the emotion by feeling the explosion is worth it. It’s great to hear the Yang Chin in full swing too. “Anabasis” veers more towards the spooky oriental with Lisa’s mysterious vocal delivery we’re now all so familiar with leading the way while a hang drum makes it début into the instrument collection and fits beautifully. Lisa’s vocals are more soothing than powerful throughout the record aside from the next track.
“Apage” continues the lean towards the Middle East with some fantastic bent string arrangements that do their very best to miss any specific note and just float and soar around them. Lisa’s vocals are left off the reigns around the stunning arrangements. Dead Can Dance have always had some top-notch melodies and bridges and this is not exception. “Amnesia” is a spacious track full of reverb and Brendan’s deep voice floating away over the piano and keyboards. Again it builds into a symphonic triumph. Brendan led tracks have this intense building to them which I particularly enjoyed.
“Kiko” has a great time signature to it as the Asian influence seeps through the instrumentation and even the guitar solo. It’s another mid paced track but the percussion is particularly foreboding and it feels almost like a march to the death. “Opium” is possibly the most pacey track on the album with lots of percussion and the hang drum returning to beat out the melody. It another excellent track before you break into the only track where both Lisa and Brendan really interact together. “Return of the She-King” starts off with synthesized bag pipes before mellowing into a collage of Lisa’s vocals that slowly envelope and rouse the track into something regal and noble. The final third then explodes into a fanfare of keyboards and both our members overlapping almost in call and response. It’s a real stand out part of the album. The album then closes with “All in Good Time” which reminds me of Archangel from Brendan’s first album but replacing guitars with keyboards. It’s a sweet closure.
Anastasis is a fantastic album. It’s a little one tempo if I were heavily critical but each song has such a different dynamic that actually you don’t notice until afterwards. It’s great to have them back with us and I hope there’s more to come in the future!
Dead Can Dance are releasing their new album – their first of new material together since 1996. They’ve released a song for free from the new album and its the radio edit of a track called “Amnesia”. Just pop over to this website and stick in your e-mail address.
The tracks great. It’s a Brendan led track and very similar to the style of his latest solo album “Ark”, which I love. The album’s new at the end of the year.
Heima are a wonderful duo from Iceland with their roots firmly planted in the lush folk world. This is the kind of stuff you can wander around in a forest to for hours. The vocal and guitar interplay is sublime. We’re looking forward to hearing more from these two.
Having already raved about the game, the soundtrack is equally fantastic. Austin Wintory’s exquisite soundtrack is a wonderful collection of strings, Eastern wind instruments and some wonderfully emotive motifs. The 18 tracks give you an hour of audio heaven and a sense of a Journey in itself.
The soundtrack, as most game soundtracks do, runs the game from start to finish. “Nascence” is the main theme from the XMB menu with its beautifully haunting string arrangement before “The Call” enacts the ensemble starting to rumble forward for the Journey itself. Various motif’s that occur throughout appear here and are then stamped upon with “First Confluence” and “Second Confluence” as the music meanders and envelopes you before “Threshold” jigs things up with a more pacey number. “Third Confluence” builds on previous tracks before the dramatic “The Road of Trials” sets you off with a bump and progressively builds and adds lots of percussive orchestration. It’s difficult to describe but it’s very symphonic and yet it still always feels intimate and personal. The line between the two is walked perfectly.
“Fourth Confluence” then takes things into a darker and subdued level as we go underground which is built on with excellent use of harp in “Temptations” and lots of atmospheric electronic flourishes and glass warping on “Descent”. There’s a seldom used tom drum that rumbles throughout and the mood by now has shifted to dangerous and unnerving.
After a dramatic flourish the music shifts to a more Eastern vibe which carries on into “Atonement” where things start to get epic where some wonderfully tuned bells, thick string arrangements and sturdy drums wash over some delicate strumming of an ancient guitar which I can’t quite place. It sounds like a Raun but I’m not sure. The end result is one absolutely beautiful piece and worth the admission price alone. It rolls easily into the ambience of “Final Confluence” which blossoms into an adorable and emotive climactic version of the main motif – like a culmination of all we’ve listened to so far.
“The Crossing” is almost like a breaking down of what we’ve built up to as different instruments seem to spiral off and fall out of earshot before the slow and cautious “Reclamation” with its extra high-pitched string arrangement that is slightly discordant floats by. “Nadir” certainly doesn’t float by, it is a dramatic burst of tense strings unlike anything else on the soundtrack – like a last-minute gasp for fresh air or a ledge to cling to.
“Apotheosis” comes across as the ultimate culmination of everything we’ve listened to. From its huge tom drums, soaring string sections, dramatic scope and the way the returning motif’s just drip atmosphere, emotion and a certain rebirth depth. The whole soundtrack has a sympathetic higher string note going on that utterly defeats me and nowhere is it more prominent than here. Memorizing. The album closes with a beautiful vocal track “I Was Born for This” with vocals from Lisbeth Scott which reminds me of a more Westernised Lisa Gerrard with her non-English words. It’s perfectly pitched to bring you to tears.
Austin Wintory has made one of the most definitive game soundtracks of all time. As with the game, I simply cannot put it into words how beautifully sculptured this soundtrack is. I’m positive that having played the game several times over, I have a large bias steer because I’m already emotionally attached to the music but simply but, without the music Journey as a game would not have nearly impacted as much on me as it did. The fact it’s just as staggering beautiful as a standalone product is testament to its nigh on perfection.
Loreena McKennit is one of those artists who are utterly timeless and as her latest album appears, once again its Live CD on 9 tracks taken from a radio show performance in Germany. The difference is this time its just Loreena and Brian Hughes on guitars and Caroline Levelle on Cello. Brian and Caroline dabble in other instruments too. This gives you some lovely more stripped down versions but they are in truth, very similar to the originals.
“Bonny Portmore” is as beautiful as ever while”Down By the Sally Gardens” is timeless. “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” is more powerful with its more sharper tones whereas “Between the Shadows” sounds even more alluring with its wonderful harp and cello interplay. “The Lady of Shallot” has never changed in its elegance while “The Stolen Child” is given an extra freshness with a more minimal approach. “Penolope’s Song” stays as haunting as ever but exacting to the original whereas “The Bonny Swans” does have a freshness without percussion before “The Parting Glass” perfectly signs off the travelling trio.
It’s a pitch perfect performance from start to finish and Loreena as ever is at the top of her game live, it’s just things are very similar to the originals if not nigh on identical and so if you’re looking for something different you’ll be disappointed.
Martyrs of Sound specialise in meditative music. Clean, simple, warm and full of the essence of music, Radhe’s Dream is simply a heavenly joy to close your eyes to.
Opening with “Song of the Universe” the music is dominated by the warmth of a slowly plucked 12 String Guitar with minimal keyboard swirls in the background and the occasional other acoustic instrument echoing in the background. Seamlessly flowing into “Soul’s Awakening” which adds in piano to the original track and slowly some soft vocal hums and some lovely rain stick work too. “Soul’s Emergence” continues to grow on the four chords that have been gradually weaved upon with some tuned percussion and some stereo electronica work before “Song of the Beloved” adds in some wonderful electric-acoustic guitar work over the top. The whole album carries a certain cyclic feel throughout and is absolutely hypnotic even by track four. Even though it is effectively a four chord repetition and doesn’t feel like it.
“Radhe’s Dream” starts a new phase of the album where the same chords are kept but not with the same pitch as the guitar softens and is taken up an octave before “Radhe’s Dream” itself kicks in and finally we have our first vocal lead with soft harmonised and doubled up vocal patterns. It’s about as close to a single as you can get on the album and is easy to enter into as a standalone track although the album works best played as a whole entity. The guitar work throughout is beautiful.
“Govinda’s Dream” enters a third phase of the cycle as we enter a shimmering sparkling world and the four chord pattern becomes a single droning Raj. Guitar freeflows over the top while an electric percussive beat pans beautifully from ear to ear. “Om Shanti” takes things further with a more complex arrangement merging the Asian with the blues. It’s the blues that wins out in time for “Soul’s Tantra” which starts to repeat a riff that has been present over the last few tracks but in a more subtle way while the vocals take more prominence here and in “Song of Jai”.
By this point you should be utterly relaxed as the Raj gives way to “Soul Awakening Reprise” which soon returns to the beautiful four chord structure and “Radhe’s Dream Reprise” shows that actually, the Raj and four chord structures were together all along and we just hadn’t felt them both in our presence at the same time. As if then being pulled out of the circle and being cleansed “Beautiful” then appears to close the album with all the elements that we’ve had throughout the album brought together in one beautifully heart-wrenching and ethereal track.
Martyrs of Sound have achieved a wonderful album. This is ultimate relaxation music. Enhanced with a warm bath, candles, maybe even drifting off with a loved one – I whole heartedly recommend this to anyone into acoustic relaxation music with heart and substance – not the tepid and soulless meditation music that’s all about a single phasing keyboard note. This takes you literally to a Higher Plain of Music.
I’ve put his picture here, and it is a game that carries his name but Deepak Chopra’s Leela carries a soundtrack without his music on. Instead eight wonderful artists converge for two discs of beautiful relaxation music.
Brent Arnold opens Disc 1 which is entitled “Play Mixes” with “Origin” which is a warm river of bending string arrangements across the lightest of percussion. It’s so hypnotic and soothing, like taking a velvet bubble-bath. “Life” by Garth Stevenson sounds like something Sigur Ros would compose without the vocals. A slow mellow blend of electric guitar plucks and swirling keyboards eventually come into a brief ascension with bass and light drums of a ticking clock. It’s minimal nature is laboured upon because there are a lot of layers going on, it’s just you won’t detect them all straight away.
“Power” from Karim So is more grizzly with its offbeat tuned percussion and sharper electric gubbins. It’s the least soothing track so far but one of the most immediate because the riffs are more apparent. “Love” from East Forest is a sublime track that combines piano, electric piano and a simple backdrop beat to make a flowing chill out track. It’s the rolling piano that makes it as the two different types interact with each other.
phowa continues the flow with the ethereal “Harmony” which is just bleeding bells and twisted masses of metal slowly pulsating over and over. It works well as a mood piece. “Intuition” by Daniel Perlin is a wannabe techno track in waiting but take away the stomping beat and replace it with a tabla and you’re almost all the way there! Good fun. Disc 1 ends with Keith Fullerton Whittman’s “Unity” which is a shimmering electrosphere of meditation and sorenity. It sounds like something that would be in a film like Koyannisqatsi – or like an electrical version of an early morning Raj. Simple, beautiful, warming.
Disc 2 presents the “Reflect Mixes”. These are more traditional Raj -esque numbers and blend perfectly from one to the other. Some have more electronic elements in them, others are warmer, some of more cyclic. All of them are long in length and all are able to slip you into a state of hypnosis at a drop of a hat. The most traditional is phowa’s “Vishuddha” which is a real Raj in waiting. The sole additional composer here is a wonderful singing bowl trac “Sahaswara” from Phillippe Pascal Garnier which ends the album like a rising dawn.
I fell in love with this double album on first listen. Disc 2 is a very traditional and has a great flow to it. Disc 1 showcases the game’s music itself and really intrigues me with its rhythmic pulsating low fi moves. A unique delight in-game music. For those looking to relax, this should be top of your list.