Various Artists - Echoes of Polyhymnia (compilation)
CD release announcement from Hypnos Recordings
Title: Echoes of Polyhymnia
Hypnos Recordings, hyp2855
2008. Polyhymnia was one of the Muses of Greek myth, specifically the Muse of sacred hymn. Echoes of Polyhymnia compiles music in ambient and related genres composed and recorded exclusively by women. This genre is so male-dominated generally that we had a lot of fun gathering interesting ambient sounds, including some works that have one foot in ambient territory and another foot in one of several different, related genres. It covers styles and flavors as diverse as ambient, drone, glitch, vocal collage, goth and electronica.
Hypnos manager (and artist) Lena Griffin curated this specially-themed compilation which gathers an assortment of ambient & atmospheric sound works from around the world. This project reveals a totally new angle on ambient music, more diverse and wide-ranging than all previous ambient compilations from Hypnos. Ranging from ethereal to dark to pretty to spooky to melodic, we think this album displays a solidly worthwhile musical and soundscape content beyond just the curiosity and "I've never seen that before" factor of the theme.
"The nine Muses struck up a lifestirring melody. Polyhymnia, nursingmother of the dance, waved her arms and sketched in the air an image of a soundless voice, speaking with hands and moving eyes in a graphic picture of silence full of meaning." --The Dionysiaca of Nonnus
Margaret Noble - This experimental sound artist performs with analogue hardware, turntables and toys.... more info at margaretnoble.net
Stellaria Fennica - This project, the alter ego of Mari Aho of Sweden, records atmospheric and melodic ambient with elements of electronica. The songs combine sorrowful piano parts with gloomy string combinations, together with dynamic drum sections carrying experimental touches
Kristin Miltner - Kristin Miltner makes music primarily with computers. A great deal of it involves her incredible voice, and she is a great keyboard player as well. She also plays in a duo called "miba,"with electronic musician and composer Mark Bartscher.
Clarissa Borba - Clarissa Borba is a percussionist who works with sound experimentation and unconventional ways of playing percussion instruments, vibraphone and marimba. She has a Master's Degree in Percussion Performance from the East Carolina University and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Miami, and resides in France
Sara Ayers - Sara Ayers creates unflinchingly intimate soundscapes using her voice: sampled, layered, looped and pitch-shifted. Combined with occasional guitar washes and a warm bedrock of molten noise, she creates richly textured sonic atmospheres that vary in tone from the haunting whispers of angels to wall-of-sound banshee wails
Rose Bolton - Grew up in Toronto, where she began her musical training on classical violin and piano. Since studying music at McGill university, she has worked as both a classical and electronic composer, and a fiddler
Gydja - Gydja is the dark ambient/experimental/drone project of graphic designer, video artist, and writer, Abby Helasdottir who is based in New Zealand
The Floating World - This ambient/ experimental musician, real name Amanda Votta, lives in Ontario, Canada
K. Cornelius - A multimedia artist working in music, film/video, installation, performance, and other media. The instruments K. plays range from a whole world of musical territory and studies, including Djembe, Tabla, Doumbek, Darabouka, Frame Drums, Rattles, Waterphone, Sitar, Tanpura, Piano, Guitar, Drum kit, Marimba, Balaphone, Bells, Bowls, Electronics, Found Objects and more
Lena Griffin - This multi-instrumentalist released her debut CD, Extended Gestures for Cello, on Hypnos Secret Sounds in 2007. She resides in Portland, Oregon, works as the full-time manager of Hypnos Recordings, and assembled this collection
Track listing with mp3 sample clips:
1. Margaret Noble: "Nufon" mp3
2. Stellaria Fennica: "Hibernia" mp3
3. Kristin Miltner: "Slew Wave" mp3
4. Clarissa Borba: "Floating Tones" mp3
5. Sara Ayers: "There Was No More Time" mp3
6. Rose Bolton: "An Unheard Message" mp3
7. Gydja: "Wave-Particle Duality" mp3
8. The Floating World: "Kanam" mp3
9. K. Cornelius: "Of The Ancients" mp3
10. Lena Griffin: "She Forgot, She Dreamed" mp3
Purchase direct for $12.99
Reviews"My compliments for Echoes of Polyhymnia, great album!"
--Dennis Koepper, Databloem Records
"A wonderful compilation from Hypnos, featuring women in ambient music. Highly recommended."
--Scott Raymond, WVKR-FM
"Women artists as a group are seriously under-represented in the Ambient Music genre. The Hypnos label rectifies this situation somewhat with the release of Echoes From Polyhymnia (67'55"), an anthology presenting ten works by ten innovative and imaginative female sound designers. Although each track seems drawn from a different background, this CD sparkles with a common tender energy. Among those contributing to this effort is Sara Ayers and her piece "There Was No More Time". Within its sustaining space are heard layers of voices and synthesizer pads, all rising, shifting and receding in dramatic confluence. Kristin Miltner realizes a restless extended soundscape full of distinctive vocal textures and curious metallic tinged drones. Her "Slew Wave" is a rare work that is as sophisticated as it is lovely. "Wave-Particle Duality" by Gydja creates an odd quietude. Its breathing synth chords conjure up a magical atmosphere as intermittent spacey drips, beeps and chirps keep the listener from drifting away. On "She Forgot, She Dreamed" Lena Griffin continues her foray into the dark and reverberant tones she elicits from a viola and digital signal processing. The remaining tracks provide equally wonderful experiences. From sound collage and tone poem to pulsing sequencer rides and breathy celestial choirs, Echoes From Polyhymnia moves easily from the experimental and academic, to the sentimental and spiritual - while keeping a cohesive vision and common destination. Hopefully more women will venture into this genre - bringing with them their inherent qualities and distinctive abilities. Ambient Music can only benefit from more diversity among its artists."
--Reviewed by Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END
"Currently listening to Echoes From Polyhymnia. I haven't listened to this in awhile. It is an excellent release. I've stated before that I'm not a big fan of compilations. Some of the recent Hypnos comps have made me rethink my stance."
--Harry Dibrell on the Hypnos Forum
"Hypnos manager and composer Lena Griffin curated this superb specially-themed compilation which features ambient sound works composed and recorded exclusively by women (in Greek mythology, Polyhymnia was the Muse of sacred hymn, hence the choice of recording title). Though the “female composers” angle provides an imaginative hook, it's ultimately of secondary import (if not altogether irrelevant) once the music starts. What's more notable is the recording's stylistic diversity, with the artists exploring multiple genres (ambient naturally but also drone and electro-acoustic) and moods (everything from pretty to portentous) in the seventy-minute set's ten compositions.
The collection begins promisingly with “Nufon,” a reverie-inducing overture by Margaret Noble wherein glimmering and chiming tones dance lightly, but the skies darken immediately thereafter when Stellaria Fennica's (real name Mari Aho) “ Hibernia ” arrives with dramatic, piano-based tribal atmospheres and Niklas Adrian's hypnotic vocal chants. Kristin Miltner follows with the release's longest piece, “Slew Wave,” a thirteen-minute celestial setting created using computers, bells, birds, and wordless angelic voice that resembles a flower blossoming in slow motion. Elsewhere, Torontonian Rose Bolton contributes “An Unheard Message,” a pensive meditation for piano, cello, and percussive textures that is as much an exploration of silence and reverberation, while Clarissa Borba layers vibes and chimes over a medium-pitched string drone in the melancholy rumination “Floating Tones.” Also present are Sara Ayers' gently flowing streams of choir-like tones (“There Was No More Time”), Gydja's humid oasis of awakening organisms (“Wave- Particle Duality”), and The Floating World's softly piercing flute tones and phantom whooshes (“Kanam”). In Griffin 's own haunting closer “She Forgot, She Dreamed,” choir-like moans well up from deep, echo-laden caverns and ethereal viola tones stretch across vast spaces. Echoes of Polyhymnia ultimately proves to be a fine addition to the Hypnos catalogue, regardless of whatever gender-related conceptualizing entered into its creation."
--Reviewed by textura.org
"It sort of beats me why after a mere three months we get another compilation by Hypnos. Of course with many new names, but if a compilation is to promote the artists on your label, then why not release those artists? The two CDR releases also received are by people who I haven't seen on either of these compilations. The only name I recognized was Gydja and no doubt Lena Griffin is connected to labelboss M. Griffin. What ties these ten tracks together is the fact that all of this are by female composers. Some of them operate in the strict Hypnos field of ambient music, such as Kristin Miltner, Margaret Noble, Sara Ayers, Gydja, Amanda Volta (though quite dark there), K. Cornelius (with too much reverb). The exceptions here are made by Stelleria Fennica, whose pieces has some ethereal singing (think Hyperium' 'Heavenly Voices' series), the marimba and glockenspiel minimalism of Clarissa Barba and the treated piano of Rose Bolton. Lena Griffin's piece for heavily treated viola might pass on as true Hypnos music too, but its so dark that it falls outside the well-known paths too. These four tracks make the difference here, but throughout it was a most enjoyable compilation, with many interesting names to watch out for."
--Frans DeWaard, Vital Weekly
"Haven't seen many (any?) comments on this CD so thought I'd dive right in with my review. This one's turning out to be the perfect soundtrack to the fall/winter season, full of melancholy floating watery soundscapes. The beautiful cover art on this release really fits the music contained within. Unfortunately, the disc opens with an awful track that annoys rather than soothes, "Nufon" by Margaret Noble. Didn't quite see how this one fit. Luckily it is only 3 minutes! Onto track 2, "Hibernia" by Stellaria Fenica. Now I never would have guessed I'd hear something like this on a Hypnos album, but it's great stuff. File under "goth ambient." If you're familiar with the Swedish goth band Arcana, who are one of the few (IMO) artists to do the Dead Can Dance style with class and originality, this will be right up your alley. Martial drumbeats, melodic piano, Lisa Gerrard-like vocals, and tons of reverb. This would have been a much better opening track. Track 3, "Slew Wave," by Kristin Miltner. Wow, what a great track. Think female Saul Stokes, I kid you not! Drifty experimental ambient w/heavenly processed female vocals. 13 minutes very well spent. Track 4, "Floating Tones" by Clarissa Borba. Keeps the "water"' imagery going with what sound like a xylophone and bells. For some reason I think of Harold Budd on this one, perhaps in that it's quite "musical" and a bit avant-garde. Very nicely done. Next up is the Sara Ayers track "There Was No More Time." She's one of the few artists I'd heard of before on this collection. Some great (female of course)choral voices reminiscent of Eno's "Music for Airports" augmented with beautiful electronic drones. Definitely one of my favorites on this disc. "An Unheard Message" by Rose Bolton--we're back in Harold Budd-land with Budd-like piano chords and tinkly flourishes of notes, cello, bells, some Alio Die-infused organic scrapes, and nice effects processing. Again, quite "musical" like the Borba piece, and again very aquatic sounding. Next up is Gydja, who I'd heard before with her excellent Mystery Sea release a couple years back. Nice electronic based soundscape with watery effects, some samples of a female scientist(?) speaking about cosmic rays. Another very cool track. "Kanam" by The Floating World (aka Amanda Votta) is a dark ambient stunner done in collaboration with Gustaf Hildebrand (Cyclic Law label). This is some very deep cosmic/organic ambient, Oophoi fans take note. An amazing track. "Of the Ancients" by K. Cornelius fuses reverb-drenched bells, and echoing electronic effects, reminded me very much of Rapoon/Zoviet France (two very good reference points!) Another fantastic piece. Finally, we have Lena's "She Forgot, She Dreamed," heavily processed viola piece with a very big Alio Die feel to it. A great way to close this very psychoactive and meditational album. This disc is really successful in keeping a theme going (for me, that was water) and moving seamlessly from one track to the next, even though some of the pieces are quite different stylistically. I am counting "Echoes of Polyhymnia" among my top five of 2008. Great job, Lena!!!"
--Reviewed by "drone on" on the Hypnos Forum
"I received "Echoes of Polyhymnia" yesterday and have only been able to listen to it once. I agree with Drone On that this a very good release. I used to not care much for compilations, but the recent batch of Hypnos comps have made me change my mind. I look forward to listening to this release a lot more this weekend. I disagree with Drone On , however, about Margeret Noble's track "Nufon". I did enjoy this piece. The second track, "Hibernia" did catch me by surprise , but not in an unpleasant way. All in all, another excellent Hypnos release. Way to go, Lena."
--Reviewed by "hdibrell" on the Hypnos Forum