Various Artists - Weightless, Effortless
Title: Weightless, Effortless
Label: Hypnos Recordings
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"
Purchase direct for $8.99
Reviews"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 well together."
--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."
--Vladimir Jovanovic, 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.
Weightless, 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 enthusiastís collection."
--John C. Smith / Outburn Magazine
"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 AmbiEntrance
"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 personality."
--Chuck VanZyl, 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 atmospherics.
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."
--Hans Stoeve, 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'."
--Frans DeWaard, 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 decide."
--Phil Derby, 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 theme.
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 soundscapes.
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