The 2nd Hypnos compilation follows early 98's landmark THE OTHER WORLD, one of the most acclaimed ambient/atmospheric compilations ever, which won numerous "Top 10 of 1998" and "Best Compilation of the Year" awards.
WEIGHTLESS, EFFORTLESS consists of 9 exclusive new tracks by some of the most noteworthy artists in this genre, both established figures and unknowns deserving of more attention. The contributors each created an expression of a central theme: that of existence without desire or struggle, indeed without intention.
The resulting pieces express a restraint, a purity and simplicity, all to uncommon in music today. Even if you listen without regard to the theme unifying these pieces, you'll find WEIGHTLESS, EFFORTLESS to be a wonderful sampler of some of the finest artists working today.
There is a continuity between tracks, as though all the material were composed by one mind. Yet despite this smooth continuity, each piece is an expression of a unique creative voice, and conveys strongly what is distinct about that artist's personaliyt. Let WEIGHTLESS, EFFORTLESS take you to a place that is without ego and without wanting.
Includes work by Steve Roach, Kevin Keller, Rod Modell, Ma Ja Le, Loren Nerell, Dave Fulton (of Dweller at the Threshold), Dean DeBenedictis (of Surface 10), Scott Fraser, and James Johnson.
Track listing with MP3 samples:
Kevin Keller -"Anicca"
James Johnson - "Closure"
Dean DeBenedictis - "The Mocking of Consequence"
Ma Ja Le - "Images Remain"
Rod Modell - "Ipperwash Twilight"
Dave Fulton - "Floating in Two Thirds"
Loren Nerell - "Liquid Metal Stasis"
Scott Fraser - "Straight Lines"
Steve Roach - "Bottomless"
"Best of 1999 list (ranked #2)."
--Sal Espana, Soundscapes radio KCPR
"Top 10 of 1999 (#5). The Hypnos label has done it again, compiling an
outstanding roster of contributors.... Unlike some compilations, this one
has a unified theme and mood suggested by its title, and the pieces work
--Cliff Tuel, on the Space Music mailing list
"Top 20 of 1999 (ranked #3). Incredible drifting ambient stuff.... a must have."
--Scott Raymond, WVKR radio
"Space Music 'Top 40 of 1999' List."
--Lloyd Barde, Backroads Music
"Class: a collection of previously unreleased material.
This CD features 71 minutes of all-new material by musicians who pursue the ambient
electronic genre. The music contained herein is buoyant and unintrusive, evoking
numerous qualities attributed to the void of outer space. Included are:
Kevin Keller: Dreamy tonalities accrue volume with ringing clarity.
James Johnson: Minimal chimes drift in peaceful manner.
Dean DeBenedictus (aka Surface 10): The (digitally generated) sounds of a scratchy
record accompany haunting textures, evoking a post-rain feeling.
Ma Ja Le: Possessing a subtle romantic quality, delicate airiness slowly rises in altitude.
Rod Modell: Dense tones mix with a synthetic surf, building toward a more melodic finish.
Dave Fulton (from Dweller at the Threshold): A gritty beginning evolves into a
pulsing space walk, achieving a mellow drama for the finale.
Loren Nerell: Softly churning liquid metal fills a vast lake shrouded in torpid
mist punctuated by muted bell-tones.
Scott Fraser: Heavenly tones grow in slow strength for a sustained level of calm.
Steve Roach: Textural atmospheres descend from above, saturating the listener in a
calm that sinks beneath the ground."
--Matt Howarth, Space.com
"This is one of the better collections of electronic ambient, atmospherica,
and mood-altering pieces. Nine morphs offer glimpses into the creative
woodshedding by the likes of Keller, Johnson, DeBenedictus, Ma Ja Le,
Modell, Fulton, Norell, Fraser, and Steve 'the legend" Roach. (Roach is
everywhere anything ambient goes down! Ever notice that?)
Ambience tripping herein doth vary from bizarre excursions into unsettling
dimensions next door to peaceful drool-worthy dronings that decimate all
conscious thought. Otherworldly, manipulated noise, wordless digital vox,
cutting-edge goodies await the listener. Many the indescribably eclectic
waveforms are mapped inside.
Hypnos is one of the best sources for consistently innovative and strong
ambient releases. No "puff job" here, folks and no, Mr. Griffin sends EER no
payment for saying so - it's just a fact to be stated. Weightless,
Effortless is just one more great Hypnos release.
Enough variation and theme permutations occur in some pieces that it's like
having 15 or 16 artists represented. I kept having to check track numbers to
be sure another artist's work was playing. Now that's a bonus for staying
aurally attuned to Weightless, Effortless.
Winner of the most consistent drone yet most mutated yet most smoothly
morphed time after time and done all along one core tone goes to Scott
Fraser and his "Straight Lines" piece. James Johnson's "Closure" gets four
stars for the most effectively soothing and transcendental. But every track
wins the "must-hear" award. This has been your ambient-head and void-dweller
guide . . ."
--John W. Patterson, EER
"Strange whispers open Kevin Keller's dark 'Anicca,' a sure sign that we are
on an excursion of the dark ambient kind. Actually, much of this ambient
compilation is a blend of both darkness and light, of hidden terrors and
delicate beauty. 'Anicca' does have some darkness around the edges, but with
a soft ethereal center. The disc is perfectly titled, as all the tracks do
seem to float quite effortlessly. Most of the artists on the disc should be
at least somewhat familiar to fans of this particular genre. James Johnson is
his usual relaxed, airy self on 'Closure,' a light, feathery piece. A bit
harsher is 'The Mocking of Consequence,' by Dean DeBenedictis, the man behind
Surface 10. Very audible clicking static, like a bad vinyl record, is mixed
with sombre ambience, water, and drones. It is eerily beautiful. Though the
entire album is devoid of any true melody, Ma Ja Le's 'Images Remain' manages
to create a certain accessibility in its pretty blend of light and dark
washes of sound. But things definitely get spookier again as Rod Modell's
'Ipperwash Twilight' appears. This intentionally tuneless mishmash of
atmospheres and field recordings has many things happening at once, yet they
congeal into a single gelatinous layer of darkness. Challenging but very
good. Next up is Dave Fulton, from Dweller at the Threshold. 'Floating in Two
Thirds' shows that this prog rock and Berlin school influenced artist can
really mellow out when he wants to. This piece probably has the most musical
structure of any on the disc. A light, lilting keyboard filters through the
electronics, lending a slight classical feel. It is a delicious sound, sort
of a hybrid between a synthesizer and a harpsichord. As track titles go,
Loren Nerell's 'Liquid Metal Stasis' is my favourite, and it adequately
describes the character of his music. Loren is known for liking Indonesian
music, and there are hints of that here, but like the rest it is a largely
ambient work. The one artist I didn't readily know on this disc is Scott
Fraser. 'Straight Lines' is wonderfully deceptive, with notes that seem to
hang forever, yet the music is constantly shifting over its course. A fitting
close is Steve Roach's 'Bottomless,' which truly plumbs the echoing depths,
though it would be equally suitable for your next outer space journey.
'Weightless Effortless' is sure to please fans of minimal dark ambience."
--SMD, reviewed by Phil Derby
"Here's another excellent ambient anthology for those into the darker end
of the genre. Featuring nine artists, the sampler takes from both new and
veteran musicians, to deliver up a diverse yet flowing 74 minute CD. Kevin
Keller opens the disc with samples of voices whispering. From it he creates
a slow 12 minute warm drift similar to musicians like Robert Scott Thompson.
Illinois synthesist James Johnson's "Closure" is at least half as long as
Keller's track, yet the style is very similar, with muted and shifting chords
gently floating on the air, melodic and peace-inducing. Dean DeBenedictis
takes a much different approach, far more abstract and surreal, although
there is a similar underlying melodic pattern underneath the Schnitzler like
rattling and scuttling. As the tracks progresses along its eight minute length,
it grows more fascinating with treated water sounds and voices. It is over far
too soon. Ma Ja Le return the focus to melody, and the nine minutes "Images
Remain" is full of crystal, ethereal chords floating up, a far different sound
than their CD with Vir Unis. A piece one can lose themself in, with longing and
melancholy, this would have fit perfectly on The Ambient Expanse. Rod Modell's
"Ipperwash Twilight" leaps out of the speakers with incredible sonic clarity,
and you immediately know you're in the presence of a creative force. Strange,
but slightly melodic synths with a wide array of tones and field recordings
spread sheets of sound over percolating sequencers, and the strange scaling and
effects, successfully create an incredibly alien landscape. This is visionary
music, alone worth the price of this disc. Dave Fulton's piece is also odd,
with steely sequencer and loads of metallic industrial sounds that starts at a
low volume that increases over most the track's length. It's dissonant melody
provides sort of a lull in the overall CD flow, and sets up veteran Loren
Nerell's "Liquid Metal Stasis," an intense drone with microtonal bell sounds,
volcanic bubbling, and other rich and colorful tonal shading. We definitely
can never hear enough from Nerell. Scott Fraser's "Straight Lines" is another
drone where the subtlety hinges on the changes of tones of the synthesizers. At
eight minutes, it progresses through number of colorings, remaining
surprisingly dynamic. As he often does, Steve Roach closes the set, his
contribution the 7 1/2 minute "Bottomless," and here we see the least urban
track on the anthology evoking the wide expanses and chthonic depths of
consciousness. A more chilly track than Roach usually produces, but no less
evocative for it. A strong anthology, and one of the more impressive of the
type in recent memory."
--Mike McLatchey, Expose Magazine
"Jackpot. Here without a doubt is one of the best collections of meditative
music of 1999. Listening is, indeed, effortless. A limpid sequence of
calm environments and cosmic quests are created by big names (Loren Nerell,
Steve Roach) as well as a string of talented lesser-knowns (James Johnson,
Dean De Benedictis, My Ja Le). Without artifice, these tracks possess an
allure both simple and direct, conveying a powerful lightness
which takes over the listener, carrying through until the journey is complete."
--Via 2, Orleans, France [translated from French]
"Weightless, Effortless is a collection
of ambient pieces, created by more and
less known musicians connected with
the Hypnos trademark sound.
The general quality of the pieces
is very high, although I was most impressed
with the work of Kevin Keller and Scott Fraser,
giving us exercises in pure minimalism
and getting close to the masterful work
of Steve Roach, closing the album."
Inner Space Radio, Zagreb, Croatia
"...another great platter of juicy ear candy."
":Adrift, but with purpose; ambience with tattered wings:
Ambient: 1. completely surrounding; encompassing: ambient noises 2. moving
freely; circulating: ambient air. Hypnos is a label out of Portland that
specializes in music that embodies the term ambient.
Effortless gathers known and unknown artists, all under a veil of
unrestrained, unlimited access to explore the shape of sound in itís purest
sense, the shape of space (of the room, of the heavens), the shape of
infinite sonic exploration...Not only are the artists conscious of the
timbres of silence (there is always sound, no matter the illusion of
silence), there seems a willingness to apply the imagination (not always a
given within a genre that, when uninspired, can induce somnolence), as well
as incorporating the elusive persistence of time, the ticking of Forever
winding effortlessly askew. Highlights include Kevin Kellerís "Anicca,"
opening with telepathic thought whispers, huge slabs of sonic urban decay
(a disorientating meandering through the out of sync ambience of a crowded,
undefined environment) that branches out into space, forests, tunnels and
other interconnecting corridors of sound; Dean DeBenedictisí "The Mocking
Of Consequence," a track painted with broad brush strokes, the brush in
question filthy with dirt, slivers of metal, radiowave voices, and other
oddities, the imperfections a vital part of the all-around ambience: it is
a product of everything, filtering out none of the impurities, the tainted
elements as much a part of the piece as the synthís caressing the
background; and Loren Nerellís "Liquid Metal Stasis," a dark, gurgling
excursion, deep metal chiming desolationís cold embrace, while underneath,
impetus drives the engines of existence. A vital addition to any ambient
--John C. Smith /
"Weightless, Effortless is the second "themed"
compilation from Hypnos ,
the relatively young Portland label that has proven to be an ambient
powerhouse. Contributors were asked to generate pieces which simply "are"...
entities unto themselves, self-existing, untroubled... indeed, weightless
and effortless. The realization of the concept makes for a supremely serene
listening atmosphere, ideal for letting go of whatever mundane realities may
be holding you down.
A shimmering curtain of hundreds of whispers is pulled back to reveal a
spacious panoramic soundscape in Kevin Keller's
anicca, where e-piano notes are taken somewhere else
by lush synth drifts. Nice work from a previously unheard musician.
closure (5:25) features more of James Johnson's
richly blended soundstreams; a rich and entrancing flow of synthesized fluidity
which unhurriedly oozes a widely meandering course. Dean DeBenedictis
seems familiar with the mocking of consequence, demonstrating
by way of powerful rushes laced with synth choir and static-y pops. The
darkness abates somewhat as long musical notes are underlain by distant
water sounds, and overlain by various cosmic effects.
A simmering potpourri of synth strands, bells and other organically
stirring sounds prove that images remain (9:24) in
Ma Ja Le's world, a place ringing with sweeping grandeur.
A shower of glistening static falls over dense organ chords in Rod
Modell's ipperwash twilight; bubbly notes are
bathed in a sonic pool which flows into and out of various modes, sometimes
into darker, though still magical, waters. Passing through a swirling
vortex of wispy debris, the listener is floating in two thirds,
surrounded by vast swells and Dave Fulton's meandering,
Gothic space-harpsichord sounds.
Bells, boiling bubbles and breezes form an entrance into Loren Nerell's
state of liquid metal stasis; Indonesian gamelan instruments
are used to generate the brassily clanging tones which hover over a relatively
dangerous-sounding, though compelling, sublayer. A multi-level drone,
Scott Fraser's straight lines lead from
silence to a growing power source, which feeds upon synth energy and emits
streaming rays at varying degrees of pitch. Densely compressed sounds swelter
in its heart, sometimes more organ-like, sometimes brassier. In his first
Hypnos appearance, Steve Roach contributes
the deep-spaciness of bottomless, a headlong journey through
an immense nightsky. Low and distantly throbbing, an endless celestial expanse
surrounds, providing all the space anyone could ever need.
Truly ambient in nature, these shapeless abstractions dwell mainly in a lighter
realm of listening, a sonic nirvana, if you will.
Weightless, Effortless is a radiant example of
cohesion of artistry in the successful pursuit of a single, laudable result,
worthy of an 8.6 AmbiEntrance accolade."
--David Opdyke /
"The second Hypnos anthology features original tracks by ambient music
talents: Kevin Keller, Loren Nerell, Ma Ja Le, Steve Roach and five others.
The music on this CD represents, just as the title implies, a universe void
of desire and struggle. Following a central theme, the listener notices a
continuity between tracks; yet senses each artist's distinct musical
Star's End Radio, WXPN, Philadelphia
"What makes an album of ambient music interesting? Well if you are like me,
you look for consistency, textures, moods, the absence of dramatic
passages, studio production and most importantly the ability to say a lot
by saying very little. Call it minimalism if you like. Plus I guess it's
how I feel on the day.
Weightless Effortless is a new compilation on
Hypnos, their second I believe. Now anyone who has read my past reviews of
Hypnos will know I hold this label in high regard because they are
continuing a tradition of releasing interesting ambient music. A friend of
mine who is aware of the Hypnos product, casually mentioned last week that
that it was "the same shit" that he was hearing ten years ago and it really
wasn't anything new. This of course made me think why music has to
constantly be new or challenging, before someone is prepared to listen.
Using the same logic should we assume that every musician only ever record
one album, that painters only ever paint one canvas, or writers only ever
write one book, because for the majority of times the blueprint of what
they do is always going to be there and anything else they will ever do
will always vary somewhat from the original? Hassell will always sound like
Hassell, same with Eno, Harold Budd's music will always move me beyond
words in it's simplicity.
I think out of all the
Hypnos releases, this is the one I have bonded with best. Nine artists
contribute original and individual pieces though if truth be known the
material is very similar throughout. Extended pieces which allow the
listener to almost float on air without a care or worry. Some of the names
are certainly well known. They include Steve Roach, Loren Nerell, Ma Ja Le
and Rod Modell. Others I was unaware of, but it's fair to say that
everyone's contribution is of a high calibre. Kevin Keller succeeds in
creating a sense of vastness with his piece "Anicca", his approach at times
similar to the sound worlds of Steve Roach, both men at times enjoying an
almost minimalist approach to the construction of sound. Both also use the
studio as an extended tool. "Closure" by James Johnson reminds me of some of
the works of Greek ambient pioneer Iassos. It at times approaches new age,
but a great piece of music is a great piece of music. Dean deBenedictis
takes us on a slightly darker journey where ambiences meets static noises.
It ends up sounding almost like some of the works of Harold Budd circa
Lovely Thunder. It's also one of the best pieces on offer here. Ma Ja Le
again composes music of great power and beauty, slowing down time or the
perception of thus. Loren Nerell with Liquid Metal Stasis employs an almost
Balinese / Javanese sound to create one of the gems on offer here. It would
be interesting to hear him in combination with someone like Jon Hassell,
both men having explored the indigenous musics of these regions. Steve
Roach with Bottomless closes the album and reinforces a well known fact,
that he is a bloody hard act to follow when it comes to composing
Overall, I like the 'quietness' of these pieces, the long
drawn out textures, the absence of any kind of beat. This is music for
thinking. If you like music for your mind, that invokes a sense of spirit,
this comes highly recommended. Certainly in my top ten for this year so
far. If you only buy one Hypnos release make sure it's this one. I'm really
impressed by what is on offer here."
PowerSpot Radio, NSW, Australia
"If you read the past issues of Vital Weekly and saw the label Hypnos
mentioned and you have no clue what 'ambient' or 'atmospheric' is about,
then this compilation might be a good introduction. Hypnos presents some of
the better known names in the genre, like Steve Roach, Rod Modell and Loren
Nerell, but the majority here are people that at least I never heard off.
But upon listening they could all have their full length albums released on
this label without doubt. Everything floats by, like clouds in the sky, or
the sea breaking upon shores. It surely lives up to it's title: weightless
space music, one that could be on another Voyager or the next soundtrack to
'discoveries in the universe'."
Vital E-Zine, Staalplaat, The Netherlands
"The sequel of sorts to the well-received 2-CD compilation The Other World,
this is another fine Hypnos collection of ambient music. Most of the names
will likely be familiar artists to fans of the genre, such as Steve Roach,
Loren Nerell, and Ma Ja Le. The only disappointment is that Weightless,
Effortless is a single CD instead of two.
Like The Other World, the music is remarkably good and surprisingly cohesive
for a compilation. Most of the tracks are of the meandering and floating
variety, such as James Johnson's "Closure," a beautiful offering that ends
too soon. Most of the music is quite beautiful as ambience goes, with only
occasional trips into darkness, such as Rod Modell's "Ipperwash Twilight."
This one starts with dark minor chords and loud pseudo-rainstick noises that
sort of pounce on you. It softens somewhat midway through, but retains a
quality that is a shade darker than most of the material here. This is
followed by Dave (Dweller on the Threshold) Fulton's contribution, "Floating
in Two Thirds." The music here is more laid back than most of Dweller's music. I
like the mix of deep bass sounds with a lot happening in the higher registers.
One of the more experimental sounding tracks is Loren Nerell's "Liquid Metal
Stasis." Though mostly electronic, it just wouldn't be a Nerell track without
some primitive sounds, in this case some sort of metallic bowl or gong. There
are water-like sounds bubbling in the background, the liquid metal no doubt.
This is a thickly textured piece that rewards attentive listening. The disc
ends in style with Steve Roach. The aptly titled "Bottomless" is a fine example
of his dark, textural ambience, a la The Magnificent Void, and is a fitting finish.
In short, another success for Hypnos. There isn't a weak track in the bunch,
but there's enough variety that everyone can pick their own favorite. I haven't
decided what mine is yet, but I'll enjoy spinning it a few more times until I
Wind and Wire Magazine
"Weightless, Effortless, the second compilation from M
Griffin's Hypnos label, follows up 1998's popular The Other
World with nine tracks from a diverse group of ambient-based
artists who were asked to compose pieces based on the title
The album opens with the shifting whispers of Kevin
Keller's "Anicca," eventually fading out to be replaced by
meandering synthesizer passages. Despite the album's theme, many of these pieces feel somewhat
burdened with heavy sound. This doesn't always turn out to be a bad, thing, however, especially on
Loren Nerell's dark and murky "Liquid Metal Stasis." Dean DeBenedictis's "The Mocking of
Consequence" also provides some intriguing and almost violent moments combined with light,
abstract melodies. James Johnson's "Closure" and Steve Roach's unusually restrained
album-closing "Bottomless" are truer to the "weightless, effortless" ideal with gentle, subtle
Weightless, Effortless succeeds in giving both well-known and lesser-known artists a chance
to build a coherent album together. The music may not always correspond obviously to the
intended theme, but in many cases this makes this varied collection more interesting."
--Ujamaa's Ambient Experience