The Martian Chronicles Reviewed by Textura

Here’s a recent review by Textura of THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, the latest from Seren Ffordd & Oophoi.

Speaking of extraterrestrial, The Martian Chronicles, the first collaboration between long-time Hypnos contributors Seren Ffordd & Oophoi, takes its name from a story collection by Ray Bradbury (by the way, Seren Ffordd, the alias adopted by Andy Benford is Welsh for Star Road, Way of Stars, or Milky Way, while Italian ambient-drone composer Gianluigi Gasparetti is the man behind Oophoi). The seventy-four-minute set elaborates on its sci-fi connection in seven ethereal moodscapes the duo recorded between 2006 and 2009 using synths, samples, percussion, and field recordings as the primary sources (the album was mixed at Benford’s StarWeb studio, aptly enough). The journey is mysterious, deep, and immersive, especially when the settings flow uninterruptedly from one to the next. The second track, “Dead Cities,” already finds us inhabiting deep space, as suggested by the lulling ebb and flow of the gaseous exhalations that dominate its early goings. A choir seems to faintly intone alongside the instrumental sounds (also during “Canals”), though that could simply be a hallucinatory response to the alien sounds in play. Cavernous rumblings convincingly conjure the vast emptiness of space before “Blue Fire” brings a rather more serene mood to the album. An occasional real-world sound, such as the chirping birds and rain downpour in “Flamebirds Waiting for the Storm,” adds a more concrete dimension to the generally abstract character of the sound design. Regardless of mood, the tracks unfold slowly, a move that in turn heightens their immersive potential, and there’s a grandiosity to the pair’s material, not to mention drama and depth. Though it’s very much in the deep ambient tradition, The Martian Chronicles is also a superb example of the genre and one aficionados would do well to investigate.

–Reviews by Textura

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Sonic Curiosity Reviews Avatara by Steve Brand

Sonic Curiosity sent us this great review of AVATARA by Steve Brand.

This CD from 2010 offers 61 minutes of cosmic ambient music.

Synthesist Brand is accompanied on one track by Matt Hiller (from Ishq) and Charity Masters (from Holon).

Pensive percussives match introspective electronics to produce gentle auralscapes of a cosmic milieu.

The electronics are mainly textural in nature, harmonic vapors that generate a seamless realm of celestial clarity. These atmospheric vistas are augmented by additional tonalities that flesh things out without achieving an intrusive density. Changes deceptively occur in the flow, hidden by their gradually evolution.

These tenuous drones approximate an extended breathing pattern for reality, allowing the listener to slip through gaps between molecules and find themselves adrift outside of space and time. The listener’s perceptions of the textural flow becomes intensified by this removal from conventional tangibility.

While rhythms are present in one track, they generally manifest in processed form in other pieces, often transformed into beatless sounds (like gongs expanded into infinite stability) that suitable fit with the textural sonic foundation.

These compositions exhibit a stately character, a soft authority that derives its puissance from subliminal influence rather than any boisterous bias. Presented in songs confined to lengths of five to fourteen minutes, this music doesn’t indulge in protracted growth but instead swiftly establishes its gist and elaborates on that ethereal structure without undue delay.

–Reviews by Sonic Curiosity

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Avatara Reviewed by Richard Gürtler

Almost caught up with all these reviews I’ve been posting – here’s another for Avatara by Steve Brand, reviewed in this case by Richard Gürtler.

“Steve Brand has already collaborated with Hypnos before when releasing his “Bridge To Nowhere” and “Children Of Alcyone” albums on Hypnos Secret Sounds during 2008 and 2009. This time he landed on the main Hypnos imprint. I was very curious about this one since the very beginning, when the album was announced on Hypnos. Now finally in my hands, with gorgeously looking cover artwork (by Kati Astraeir) and ready to be fully exoplored and enjoyed. “Avatara” opens with mysteriously beautiful and unique title track, amazing echoed intro I must say! The next one, “The Far Shore”, is more slow-breathing ambience later unfolding into slighly more monumental, but tranquil mood, at times more gloomy or meditative. “Morning Glory” is by far more active piece nicely crossed with silent interruptions and aerial ethereal washes, another huge one, a real masterpiece! “Still Here (Breathing Space)” takes us to exciting outer space voyage, later on enriched by crispy bell sounds. Credited for additional sounds on this masterfully absorbing composition are Matt Hillier/Ishq and Charity Masters/Holon, carefully executed! “Act Of Creation” with its longing feel is the most organic and resonant piece, colored by environmental recordings. “Avatara (Deathless)” is even more mysterious than the intro part of this title track and also perfectly fitting closer for this album. “Avatara” is certainly one of the best and most polished, if not the strongest, works of Steve Brand. Last but not least, it’s well deserved for this highly creative sound artist to have his album finally released as pressed CD and packaged in nicely looking digipak, so extra points go also to Mike & Lena of Hypnos. “Avatara” is without any doubt absolutely breathtaking listening experience!!!”

–Richard Gürtler (Bratislava, Slovakia)

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Review From Ping Things – Steve Brand’s Avatara

One more recent review (this time from Ping Things) for Steve Brand’s Hypnos album Avatara.

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. Smooth pads weave around each other while warm tones echo throughout the soundscape, punctuated occasionally by brief bursts of sound and the occasional field recording. It’s all really quite appealing.

It’s an album that’s not afraid to use silence as an instrument as well, where spaces are just as poignant and meaningful as the sounds that surround them. While many artists attempt to fill up the spaces in a track Brand uses that empty space as a complement, as a way to both clearly distinguish sounds and to further develop the tension of a piece. It makes for more active listening, where I find myself constantly pulled deeper and deeper into the work until it becomes an almost meditative experience.

I quite like Steve Brand’s work as a rule but to reiterate my earlier comment, “Avatara” really impresses me. It’s a beautiful, polished, artistic release that appeals to me on a variety of levels, and I have every faith that it will continue to find itself in regular rotation at Casa del ping things.
–Reviewed by Rik – ping things

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Hypnagogue Reviews Avatara by Steve Brand

Another installment in “catching up on posting reviews of Hypnos CDs,” this time from Hypnagogue.

In just four notes, Steve Brand effectively sets the tone for his new release, Avatara. Within this one phrase at the beginning of the title track there is a sense of mystery, of revelations to come, of the curtain being pulled back as Brand opens his exploration of the persistence of the presence of the Avatar–the earthbound manifestation of deity–throughout cultures. For this portrait Brand chooses big, expansive synth pads that hang in the air and slowly fade for a classic ambient sound. At the same time there’s intimacy in the details. Brand is skilled at pulling the listener close to isolate the effect of small moments before releasing them back to see the bigger picture again. Brand’s timing is also impeccable; in “Morning Glory” he lets his drifts quiet to silence or near-silence, then suspends the moment before the next note, giving that stretch of time an air of contemplation and expectation. When that next note does arrive, it’s like an awaited, cleansing exhalation. Even when his constructs are at their biggest, they remain delicate to the touch. In the spacemusic-flavored track “Still Here (Breathing Space),” windchimes add an earthy accent to whispering electronic winds. The bold chords that form “Act of Creation” rear up to make themselves known, but then blend together readily on the way back down. There is power, and there is peace, side by side. Expertly, Brand revisits those first four mysterious notes in the closing track, “Avatara (Deathless),” and the listener understands that the story has come around to its conclusion. This also lets the disc seamlessly take hold of its own tail and begin again.

Avatara is a deeply immersive disc, a warm and vast blanket of meditative sound that’s a pleasure in which to find yourself enveloped. Repeat listening is a must, and the piece is ideal for low-volume play.
–Reviewed by Hypnagogue

Purchase for $12.99 on Hypnos Online Store