January 25, 2012
From the Mouth of the Sun – Woven Tide
Lush and haunting, Woven Tide marks the first releases from From the Mouth of the Sun, the collaborative effort between Dag Rosenqvist of Jasper TX and composer Aaron Martin. Like Martin’s grave, woodsy 2010 effort Worried About The Fire (also released on Experimedia), Woven Tide conjures vivid imagery using sparse, subtle tools. Some tracks disintegrate and dissolve into warm, melodic resolutions, like the entrancing “Color Loss”; in others, tension builds to stunning moments of catharsis, most notably in the gorgeous “Like Shadows in an Empty Cathedral”. As a whole record, Woven Tide is a sublime and constantly shifting work: one that finds both of its illustrious creators in top form.
From the Mouth of the Sun – “Woven Tide [album preview]”
November 30, 2011
Millions – Millions
Having released some spectacular music on a vast number of acclaimed labels (Stunned, Blackest Rainbow, 2 AM, etc…), Millions should be a household name for most ambient cassette hoarders by now. This brand-new self-titled CD on the Install label, however, brings David Suss’s glacially paced worlds of synth drone to a sublime level of excellence. It’s without a doubt his finest offering yet and fully represents the levels of patience and atmosphere that make Millions such a singular and engrossing act. All the way through, Millions is just a gorgeous, compelling listen. Throughout the album’s many lengthy peaks and valleys of glorious sound, there is not one dull moment. Hugely recommended.
Millions – “Glacial Time”
October 28, 2011
The Renderers – A Rocket Into Nothing
Even if A Rocket Into Nothing is The Renderers’ first album for indie stalwart Ba Da Bing, there’s no hiding the fact that this band has been around for quite some time now. And on A Rocket into Nothing – an album that marks the beginning of the second decade of the Renderers’s career – the band totally sounds like seasoned veterans even if they’ve still got the raucous energy of some new psychedelic upstart. Beginning with the queasy echoes of opener “Down River,” The Renderes build a beautiful ambient atmosphere where electric guitars squeal and reverberate like David Lynch’s nightmares and powerful vocal hooks pierce right through to the bone. Simply put, A Rocket Into Nothing is a masterfully created listening experience that just refuses to leave your head.
The Renderers – “This Shining Life”
October 10, 2011
Spheruleus – Voyage
Under the creative alias of Spheruleus, Lincolnshire sound designer Harry Towell has crafted what is sure to be the most well-researched and emotionally investing long-form sinking-ship concept album of the year. Honestly, this one is just a gorgeous, mind-bending exploration of of melodic progressions, conceptual art, and tonal purity that comes straight from the heart. From the upbeat swelling of opener “All for Sea” to the cathartic dissolution of the epic finale “Afterlife of a Ship,” Voyage embarks its listeners on a momentous journey with remarkable twists and turns and a captivating narrative directing you through the chaos. A titanic masterwork.
Spheruleus – “Set Sail”
September 9, 2011
Panabrite – Omni Center
In case anyone had doubts that 2011 has been a year completely dominated by Norm Chambers aka Panabrite, I urge you to take a listen to Omni Center, his most recent CD-R release. One hour of everything that makes Panabrite arguably the most exciting music project around today, Omni Center unfolds into a cinematic whirlwind of ambience and electronic beauty. The retro synth exploration of Wind Rider, the upbeat catchiness of Infinite Pulsation, and the electroacoustic moodiness of Nordsee all make appearances here, creating what is surely the most comprehensive look at Chambers’ talents thus far. Omni Center also breaks some new ground for the Panabrite project, hopefully hinting at a future with more epic full-length releases. Truly something special.
Panabrite – “Spectral Gathering”
August 1, 2011
Offthesky – The Beautiful Nowhere
Even if it seems like a cop-out to describe ambient music this way, Offthesky’s latest LP, The Beautiful Nowhere, makes for an insanely meditative listen. Whereas seemingly all ambient music tends to make room for listeners to clear their heads and space out, Offthesky does so in a more direct and decisive way. Veering away from the popular pattern of ambient synth music, Offthesky works mainly with acoustic instruments and organic sounds – a softly picked acoustic guitar, a sweeping cello, a lightly tapped piano – and the results are gorgeously haunting. In other words, all you have to do is put the record on, get in bed, and Offthesky will do the rest for you.
Offthesky – “Whittling You Little Lights”
June 27, 2011
So, friends, we have reached the halfway point of ‘the year after the year 2010’. And, even if Zen Effects has only been around for four months now, I feel as if I’ve been running this blog forever. To celebrate this turning point in the year (and my life), I have compiled a short list of 12 of my favorite 2011 releases (in no order) that are still available to purchase. I review a lot of music – and I honestly love everything I’ve posted about (or else I wouldn’t review it)- but this list compiles a short few that are particularly special to me. Click below to check out the list and thanks to everyone for all your support!
June 21, 2011
Benjamin Finger – For You, Sleepsleeper
The most immediately striking thing about Norway’s Benjamin Finger’s cutely titled For You, Sleepsleeper is its seamless integration of folksy and organic sounds with frantic electronics and downright alien atmospherics. But you’ll probably forget all about the album’s construction by the second track and just find yourself instead l0st in the world of Benjamin Finger. You’ll dance, you’ll hum along, and you might find yourself challenged by some of the album’s brasher sections, but not for one second will you be bored. The CD has been sold out pretty much everywhere for a while now, but apparently this Oslo-based distro has got the last few copies in stock.
June 3, 2011
Hobo Cubes – Timeless/Mindless
Fresh off a massively successful month-long tour of North America, Hobo Cubes/Hobo Cult shaman Francesco de Gallo has decided to ignore man’s necessity to rest and to instead continue his mean streak with Timeless/Mindless, a brand new CD on Debacle Records. Decked out in characteristically spacey collages by the man, Timeless/Mindless definitely belongs in the “totally warped” section of Hobo Cubes’ discography. There are moments of pure beauty and meditative radiance in the mix, but the majority of the album is just a total mind melter. It goes without saying that it is also one of the finest Hobo Cubes albums yet, but it seems like he’s just gets stronger with each release. A massive album that, obviously, comes highly recommended.
Hobo Cubes – “The Seeking”
May 27, 2011
Noveller – Glacial Glow
Sarah Lipstate’s gorgeous droning guitar music has evolved steadily over the last few years with each release constituting another essential document of her progression. Glacial Glow presents the latest step in Lipstate’s journey, and it is another momentous album of pure beauty. Darker in tone than last year’s brutally immersive Desert Fires, Glacial Glow presents eight new pieces, each showcasing typically fantastic melodies and twists in form. It’s without a doubt my favorite Noveller release yet and is sure to be one of the best albums of the summer, perfect for late nights and long drives. Grab the CD directly from Lipstate’s website or wait impatiently for the eventual vinyl release, but for sure – do not miss out on this one. Essential music.
Noveller – “Ends”