Category: Hypnos Reviews

Two Reviews of The Deception of Reality by Numina

As before, catching up with posting some reviews of recent Hypnos titles. This time it’s The Deception of Reality by Numina.

“The Deception of Reality is the fourth Numina release on Hypnos, the first since 2007′s Shift to the Ghost. Still present is Numina’s trademark sound, combining abstract deep-space textures with subtle melodic and rhythmic elements, but with a new emphasis on more vivid sonics. Listeners seeking smooth, creamy synthesizer background textures will still find them, here overlaid with more “up front” accents. Extra care has been taken in the mixing and mastering to preserve the separation and placement of individual instruments, and we believe the result is the best pure sound experience Numina has ever come up with.”
–Review by Lloyd Barde

“From the opening moments of his new release, The Deception of Reality, ambient artist Numina creates a true sense of spaciousness, of a vast and immeasurable place that collects and holds sound, and then proceeds to immerse you in it. This disc is filled with big, rich pads that draw long arcs across the sky, their vapor trail remnants crossing and playing off each other. The strata run very deep here, and superbly dense, paired in places with a sense of melody pulled out to the distances, to create phrases that reveal themselves over time.

The disc opens in tenuous territory with “The Illusion Transmission.” Dark curls of sound, moaning vocal samples, and a persistent bass drone lay the foundation. The movement is languid and dream-like, but the dream is dark and brooding. With his usual finesse, Numina slowly tweaks that feeling, and by mid-track the mood has lightened and lifted. The change is so subtle that you likely won’t notice it until you feel it–and that’s testament to the effect of the music. The shortest offering here is over nine minutes long, so Numina is giving himself ample room to stretch out what’s he’s got to say, and cover a lot of sonic and emotional ground. It’s a seamless flow; the “tracks” are just index points marking time along the journey, because you will, in fact, become lost in it. Each track also has its own distinct sensibility, and the movement through them feels sensible and solid. Light and buoyant notes sing across much of “Our Elegant Experience,” perfectly airy against the thick wash behind them. As the track rolls along, Numina changes the texture of this repeating pattern, keeping it from going stale. This simple mantra of notes marks waypoints in the depths of a very mesmerizing flow. “In Cerulean Haze” takes another extended bass drone as it launching point, then widens out into broad ambient drifts, quiet and calming and quite affecting.

“Empire of Nothing,” the longest track, carries on that meditative flow, but adds a more distinct touch of melody in glittering high notes. A slowly rising and falling waveform threads its way through the track like a breath. It ends with a rush of synth wind that takes us into the final track, “Translunary Return.” The character here is one of slight melancholy, borne on that wind (which packs a nice classic electronic music feel) and more vocal pads singing in a soft chorale. Once again, the layering is splendid; you can listen to it build here quite well, new elements dovetailing into the mix as the piece progresses.

Like all of Numina’s work, The Deception of Reality is a disc I would be glad to just leave playing on infinite loop. It takes on stunning dimension in headphones, and I find myself wanting to listen to it at volume. It’s got a real visceral quality to it, thanks to his excellent hand at creating textured sounds, and the emotional potency of the work as a whole is undeniable. A truly outstanding
work.”
–Review by Hypnagogue

We have some other recent reviews for this fantastic album, but don’t want to post them all at once — more soon!

Purchase for $12.99 on Hypnos Online Store

Reviews of The Martian Chronicles by Seren Ffordd & Oophoi

Catching up on posting reviews received… going to combine several together! Here are three for The Martian Chronicles by Seren Ffordd and Oophoi, reviews by Hypnagogue, Joseph Pe, and Terrascope UK. Our thanks to all reviewers, both official and informal!

Drone masters Seren Fford and Oöphoi interface with the spirit of Ray Bradbury on the long-form ambient work The Martian Chronicles. This is an impressionistic work, the sounds and drones carving images of the Martian landscape in your mind. And that landscape evolves across time. At the outset, the scene is sparse, windswept red dust issuing over cold ground. A sense of loneliness gnaws through the sound. Late in the first track, “The Long Years,” the feeling is so stripped down it becomes almost unnerving. The duo carry the unease straight into “Dead Cities,” where low funereal drones moan under a quiet, freezing hush. As the piece goes along it slowly grows in vibrancy and light, moving us into a more inviting landscape. It’s the first sense of forward motion, of narrative discovery. We understand that we’re on the cusp of something, and it arrives in “Blue Fire” with some unexpected percussion. We’re taken through a brief passage with tribal overtones, like a look into some lost civilization’s past or the finding of some indigenous culture’s outpost. It’s a great touch, even as slight as it is, after such a long ambient stretch. This is where the tone of the disc begins to shift toward the optimistic and organic. Water is discovered in “Canals,” the sound quietly burbling over warm ambient cloud formations. Again, the tone here is warmer and more welcoming than in earlier tracks. We’ve arrived somehow at a different, hospitable Mars. More signs of life come with “Flamebirds Waiting for the Storm.” The chittering of a thousand electronic Martian avians bounce and dance over a virtually unchanging drone. Thunder begins to roll in the background. The simplicity of the undercurrent tone is amazingly effective, a straight-line constant against the chaos laid over it. The disc closes with the prayer-like chant of “Unremembered,” a quite straightforward ambient piece, meditative and reverent.

Throughout The Martian Chronicles, the layering of sounds is incredible. Even in the most still-wind moments there’s motion and depth and interplay. This is the kind of disc where you pop on the headphones, lay in the dark, and let your mind start building scenery. The sensations that Seren Fford and Oöphoi are able to convey through their sounds are quite visceral and moving. In addition, the movement of the disc, start to finish, is one of the best examples of creating a sonic narrative that I’ve heard in a while. There is an arc here, and it’s fully developed and completely realized. This is a truly masterful piece of work.

–Review by Hypnagogue

“…this new release really surprised me. A masterpiece, it has brought out the best of the two artists–a true synergy here. This work will be a classic (if it’s not one already). Another win for hypnos!”

–Review by Hypnos customer Joseph Pe

The Martian Chronicles by Seren Ffordd and Oöphoi is an album of sparse, atmospheric electronic music inspired by the classic SF novel written by Ray Bradbury. The album takes its inspiration from the Martian aspects of the novel in particular, opening with a fifteen minute cut ‘The Long Years,’ which through a combination of perfectly judged drones, synths and deeply reverberated sounds evokes the coldness and distance of the environment. ‘Dead Cities’ brings in a different set of textures to the mix, based on a drone that sounds like a long, alien breath, breathing in, out, in… haunting and effective. Half way through, the textures change to bring a more technological feel to the sound. ‘Blue Fire,’ the third fifteen-minute cut, continues the theme of slow drift drones overlaid with mysterious effects, this time sounding like reverberated voices, though they’re probably synths. ‘End Of A Changeling’ plays with the structure of the book and the album, which is presented in reverse order; the cut is brief, composed of sections from all the other tracks mixed by Seren Ffordd into a pivot, around which the album turns. ‘Canals’ brings field recordings of water into the mix, while ‘Flamebirds Waiting For The Sun’ features weirdly mutated bird sounds to create a particularly effective and atmospheric track. Album closer ‘Unremembered’ features a synth drone like a heavenly choir, completing the experience in suitable style. For those who’ve read the book, this ambient delight will be an intriguing discovery.”

–TMC review by Stephen Palmer on Terrascope – http://www.terrascope.co.uk/Reviews/Reviews_October_11.htm#SynthRoundup

Purchase for $12.99 on Hypnos Online Store

Ping Things Reviews Avatara by Steve Brand

You can read the full review of Steve Brand’s Avatara by Rik of Ping Things HERE. An excerpt:

“Steve Brand’s “Avatara” seriously impresses me. It’s a beautiful release that envelops me as I listen, a circular cycle of music where an organic atmosphere is formed by a delicate blend of echoing drones and quiet percussion elements.”

Follow the link above to read the complete review. Our thanks to Rik for the coverage!

You can also purchase Avatara from Ping Things via that link above (may be advantageous for those of you in Canada) or from Hypnos at this link: Avatara for $12.99

Urbs Review by Electronic Music Mall

Here’s a recent review of Urbs by Bruno Sanfilippo, by Electronic Music Mall.

“Experimental ambient and expressive field recordings.

STYLE This deeply evocative album centres upon carefully selected urban field recordings gathered by Bruno Sanfilippo from such diverse locations as churches, train stations, subway platforms, streets and bars. Apart from sounds of Grand Central Station in New York, the recordings were obtained within the cities of Europe using just an iPod Touch. Not just textures to add interest to the more crafted sounds of music; these ghostly audio presences are the main forms within these blurry ethereal soundscapes. The opening track blends intriguing noise and dream-like musical abstraction from the very start: delicate tonal swells, twinkles and electronic burbles harmonise with soft footfalls, percussive disturbances, metallic clatter and echoing human hubbub. The second track The City Reflected has a somewhat harsher sound for the first fourteen minutes or so than its predecessor – distant voice fragments and turbulent movements hang among dissonant bell tones and uneasy synth pads. The conclusion softens into hypnotic harmony and leads comfortably into Chaotic Order a twenty-five-and-a-half minute nocturne of welling beauty and environmental sounds presented as if refracted through a heavy veil of sleep. The relatively brief end piece drifts in elegant meandering half slumber – muted chimes and far-off social interactions beclouded by sonic fog.

ARTWORK This glossy two-panel digipack follows the current Hypnos format: broad black upper border with expressive photo-imagery below. Ambiguous urban abstracts of turquoise and red light patterns fill both inside and outside spreads. Repeating fluid swirls pool and flow in and out of shadow like a night-time city in the drenched in rain. Cover notes reveal that the imagery was “captured inside a bus in Berlin City.” The rear cover lists the four tracks against their respective times with a quotation from Aristotle musing upon the relationship of an individual to society. Inside, the right panel supports the disc in a clear plastic grip; the left delivers recording information; thoughts on the nature of the music and relevant contact details.

OVERALL Bruno Sanfilippo plunges further and further into the abstruse depths of ambient experimentation with this new release – leaving his more melodic new age origins far behind. This is the first release by the Spanish musician on the renowned Hypnos label and a mighty introduction it is: bold, confident, luxurious and expansive. Here Bruno Sanfilippo has softened his sound palette into such subtle tones that it is pleasingly difficult to define “the boundary between [musical] sound and noise.” The usually inexpressive noise of the city becomes another instrument in the arsenal of this skilled audio-sculptor. The four tracks are of fourteen minutes forty-one; twenty minutes twenty seconds; twenty-five twenty-nine and six minutes fifty-eight seconds respectively. You can explore the music at Hypnos or the official Bruno Sanfilippo website.”

–Review by Electronic Music Mall

Purchase for $12.99 on Hypnos Online Store