Review of A Produce & Loren Nerell’s Intangible, by Phil Derby

Soon after we received the news of the passing of Barry Craig, also known as A Produce, we also received this very nice review of Barry’s latest CD Intangible, a collaboration between A Produce and Loren Nerell.

NOTE: This review was written on Monday, September 5, 2011 — the day we learned that Barry Craig (A Produce) died unexpectedly at the age of 59. This review is dedicated to Barry and to the musical legacy he leaves behind.

Though A Produce and Loren Nerell have been composing ambient music for years, Intangible is their first collaborative effort. A gentle, bubbly sequence lightly introduces the title track, a superb number that pulls us right in with its silky blend of soothing sounds. It is deceptively simple and eminently listenable. “Planet Atmo” is a more free-floating affair, lighter than air with a gently pulsating undercurrent. Light and dark elements play off each other perfectly. It has distinctly organic and synthetic components to it, a subtle, sublime piece of music. “String Theory” takes things in another direction, with a strong rhythmic, world music feel it, a well-placed change of pace. “Area 51.1” pulls us back firmly into the ambient realm, though a few soft beats remain. The lead sound here is captivating, perhaps a processed sample from a didgeridoo or a drum of some type. “Lost in Transformation” is the darkest, most adventurous piece, churning and gurgling from otherworldly primordial origins. Soft rhythm returns on “Meadow Dust,” courtesy of a djembe or bongo drum, imbued with warm pads and gentle drones. “Pot Covers at Dawn” brings the album to a dreamy, atmospheric close. Each track excels at defining a theme then subtly exploring its nuances without pomp or circumstance. Intangible is a highly cohesive and satisfying listen; a worthy addition to Loren Nerell’s canon, and a fitting finale to the work of A Produce.

Review ©2011 Phil Derby / Electroambient Space

We thank Phil and everyone else who embraced and supported Barry’s music. As I mentioned in the tributes on the Hypnos Forum, Barry was very pleased and excited at the positive reception to the new album.

Steve Brand’s Avatara, Reviewed by DeWaard and VanZyl

Steve Brand’s Hypnos release AVATARA has been getting some nice radio airplay, and we also have some reviews to share. Congratulations to Steve on the great response to his first Hypnos release, following two albums on our Hypnos Secret Sounds imprint. We’d also like to thank Chuck VanZyl of Star’s End Radio, and Frans DeWaard of Vital Weekly, for helping us spread the word.

“To state that AVATARA (61’16”) is “Experimental” is only half the story. While it is an album of sonic experiments, it is not just a random organization of sound. Ambient artist Steve Brand tells a story – although AVATARA does bring more questions than answers. As it wanders the terrain of the possible this work asks you to adjust your sensitivity to music and its possible variations. Some of the pieces are controlled collisions of carefully rendered tones, while others breathe and expand beautifully across a brain-churning expanse of space. Opening with a curious metallic clamor Brand sets an unusual atmosphere. By continually introducing new timbres and captivating designs, across six tracks he sustains a striking sense of wonder. Moods range from dark and questioning to luminous and hopeful. Born of digital, this experience gets better with each pass. The mind seeks patterns, in the world and in music and art. Works like AVATARA at first seem formless. But one must tolerate being lost to appreciate this music. Through active listening we find this work’s structure and then its meaning – grasping the whole from the sum of its parts.”

–Reviewed by Chuck VanZyl, Star’s End Radio

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“Following the abundance of the name Augur, Steve Brand now works under his own name. I must admit I didn’t hear a lot of his solo music, which was released solo as well as in collaboration with Ishq and Disturbed Earth, and hearing Augur is a long time ago, but there have been some changes in his music too. Augur was more on the experimental edge of ambient music, whereas his current direction is more along the lines of what Hypnos is in general about: long sustaining patterns of sounds, based on synthesizers or perhaps any type of sound processing which goes on for quite some time (maybe field recordings?) and on top there is the rattle of percussive sounds. ‘Avatara’ means ‘descent’ in Sanskrit, ‘in the sense of a deity’s descent from heaven to earth’ and this the main idea behind the album, the descent of avatars in various cultures. Now that sounds all a bit too new agey for my liking, but its easy, I guess, to see the music by itself. On a somewhat grey and cloudy day, like today happens to be, this ambient music in which the element of percussion is kept to a minimum, compared to his previous ‘Children Of Alcyone’ (see Vital Weekly 712), in favor of more drone like music, makes perfect sense. Majestically it unfolds itself. Great one.”

–Reviewed by Frans DeWaard, Vital Weekly

Purchase for $12.99

Great Reviews Rolling In for Intangible by A Produce & Loren Nerell

Our latest Hypnos release, INTANGIBLE by A Produce & Loren Nerell, has been very well received. It’s getting a lot of radio play, including the tough-to-crack Hearts of Space radio show, and we’re starting to receive reviews for this album which indicate the rest of you think it’s fantastic, just like we do. Below, I’ve included both “official” reviews and casual remarks from ordinary listeners on the Hypnos Forum. If you don’t like reading long, in-depth reviews, just skip to the end of this post for some succinct, casual endorsements.

“Part of the pleasure of the collaboration is hearing the unexpected results. Such is the case on Intangible (54’48”), the wonderful CD by A Produce & Loren Nerell. As each track spins out we feel their thrill of discovery. From open empty space into which the hearer will project their own imagination to vivid soundscapes of primeval atmosphere, Intangible manipulates our sense of time and space. There is really quite a bit going on within the seven sound designs of this album. Barry Craig and Loren Nerell manage to capture the mysterious vibe of the electric jungle – a mystical place where synthesizers, samplers and signal processors coexist beautifully with native flutes, ethnic drums and ringing gamelan solos. Each piece offers a distinctive mood – either built on the seeming stillness of shifting drones, lush currents of detailed sound and environmental recordings or the rhythmic energy and repetitive structure of traditional percussion runs.

Intangible delivers realizations of deep-thought ambiance alongside rousing compositions of diverse beats. Exotic more than it is alien, harmonically rich and introspective without being dull, Intangible hopes to transport the listener to an imaginary untouched place between our early history and these technology driven times. Central is the interplay between these two musicians – who complement each other perfectly. This duo has the talent to match their ambitions.”

–Review by Chuck VanZyl, WXPN Stars End radio

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“Some more musicians who have been around for some time, are Loren Nerell, who had some fine albums of Soleilmoon and Side Effects and A Produce on Hypnos and Trance Port. If Nebulae and Steve Brand are downright ambient with a small tendency towards new age, this collaboration is the one that drifts slightly towards the realms of ambient house. Not as ‘pumping’ or ‘driving’ as some others, but the plinky plonky rhythm elements are surely present, along with small melodies, as opposed to endlessly sustaining material. It reminded of the earlier solowork by these two, but also a fine reminder of the Silent Records catalogue, especially the work of The Heavenly Music Corporation, or the pseudo/quasi ethnic percussion of O Yuki Conjugate in ‘String Theory’. This is where ambient house was at its most ambient and least house related. Great atmospherics going on here, the perfect chill out music, in case anyone knows what that was all about. Great late night music, or very early morning.”

–Reviewed by Frans DeWaard, Vital Weekly

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“A Produce and Loren Nerell, two highly respected, in California based, sound explorers in the genre, remained quiet for the last few years. But since summer of 2007 they were sporadically working on new project that firstly ended up as a soundtrack to Bart Santello’s short film “Intangible”. Now, few years later, they are striking with long time awaited collaborative effort “Intangible” on Hypnos. Stunning digipak artwork (art and design by Hypnos’ Mike Griffin) catched immediately my attention, shortly followed by truly exciting sonic landscapes. Yes, Barry Craig and Loren Nerell deliver amazing blend of gentle atmospherics and crispy tribal rhythms, all made in a very distinguished manner showing enormous potential of like-minded musicians who are uniting their talents and styles. The title track “Intangible” opens this show with its delicately crafted warm atmosonics, tranquilly and graciously floating around my ears just like the cover image, wonderful intro!!! “Planet Atmo” fits exactly its title, another beautifully evocative aerial ambience with occasionally raising and falling texture, a true intergalactic voyage at its most captivating level! Earthy and galvanizing power of tribal drumming, tinkling bells, suggestive flutes and strange sounds enrich exotic perfumed “String Theory”. The next cut, “Area 51.1” merges gently deep space drifts with slowed down trance-like rhythm, a very smooth and mesmerizing, crystal clear listening experience, totally magnificent!!! “Lost In Transformation” is slightly more experimental, ghostly and meditative, flavored with singing bowls, voice samples, bells, assorted metallic sounds. A very impressive exploration of deep and mysterious realms! “Meadow Dusk” incorporates again tender tribal drumming blended with peaceful and melancholic floaters, another strongly visualizing composition. The CD ends with hypnotic “Pot Covers At Dawn”, the most naturally sounding piece with occasionally emerging tribal beats. Every piece on “Intangible” is masterful, A Produce and Loren Nerell delivered the best of their masteries. This is one of the best albums so far for 2011, so if you like a truly sophisticated mixture of immersive sound painting with sensitive tribal elements, you can’t go wrong with “Intangible”, it’s highly recommended!”

–Reviewed by Richard G¸rtler (Bratislava, Slovakia)

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“I love this recording! I agree with Forrest, my fav cuts are Lost In Transformation and Pot Covers At Dawn. Excellent release all around.”

–David Michuda on the Hypnos Forum

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“Really nice! One of the highlights of 2011 so far.”

–Eric719 on the Hypnos Forum

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“Great album. An “instant classic” in the Hypnos catalog, and probably the best thing I’ve heard this year.”

–Drone On, on the Hypnos Forum

A Produce & Loren Nerell - Intangible

Our thanks to everyone who has purchased and listened to Intangible, whether they’ve reviewed it or not. Remember, if you listen to a CD and enjoy it, you should spread the word to others who may enjoy it as well!

Purchase for $12.99

(all February 2010 news updates are combined to one entry below)

2010.02.26

Here are four new reviews of Hypnos and Hypnos Secret Sounds discs, by
Textura.
The text of the reviews appears below, with cover graphics inserted because people like cover graphics!

Four new releases from the Hypnos camp, three of them very much ‚Äòin the tradition’ and the fourth a surprisingly noisier recording. Regardless of individual
differences, they’re all quality releases, much as we’ve come to expect from the label.

Let’s start with the earliest of the four, Seren Ffordd’s Stellar Nurseries, which is actually a reissue of a 2004 release (the first in a planned series of recordings
previously issued on Umbra and Penumbra, Italy-based labels managed by Oophoi) he created using a Korg 016 and a Yamaha PSR 262 keyboard. It’s an hour-long,
single-movement work that the Wales-based Ffordd splits into four figurative sections: ‘Out of the Void,’ù ‘Storm Movement,’ ‘Spiral Dance,’ù and ‘Floating, Dreaming.’ù
By way of context, the artist’s notes describe huge, drifting clouds of molecular gases that turn star-like, then gradually increase in heat and movement until ignition
occurs, after which lighter and heavier elements are pushed and pulled by gravitational forces until planets form. There’s a suspended and drifting quality to the
material, with cloud-like washes and tones extending for minutes at a time like massive exhalations taking place thousands of kilometres above the earth or perhaps
nebulae coming into focus in slow-motion. Shifts in emphasis alternate between the rumbling lower to ascendent higher tones, and wave-like surges in intensity
occur too, lending the material an industrial character in the process. An undercurrent of controlled aggression and pressure dominates the first half, until an
abrupt termination strips the material down to a sole, organ-like nucleus around which synthetic tones languorously congregate as the sound mass thickens. In
contrast to the first, the mood of the second half is lambent, serene, and melancholy, rather requiem-like in spirit as if in mourning for the death of a star. Ultimately,
the programmatic connections between the section titles and the work itself are easily drawn in Ffordd’s beautifully sustained meditation.

A supra-terrestrial theme also runs through Children of Alcyone, the second release by Steve Brand (who’s also issued recordings under the Augur name) to appear
on Hypnos Secret Sounds. The inspiration for the work came from the writings of Barbara Marciniak whose books supposedly channel information from the Pleiadians,
distant ancestors of ours from the Pleiades constellation (Alcyone, incidentally, the name of the constellation’s ‘central sun’). Initial sound sketches for the recording
were produced in September 2007 during a master class taught by Steve Roach and were refined subsequent to it at Brand’s studio. The material on Children of
Alcyone is minimal, even simple, by design but is alluring nonetheless. Lonely tones whistle to one another across immense expanses, and a melancholy spirit
shadows the four calming meditations. A brooding epic of long tones and ringing percussive flourishes, ‘Outside the Grid of Time’ forcefully draws the listener into its
murky depths, but the recording’s coup de grace is the stirring ‘Light Age’ where minimal synthetic tones unfurl gracefully for an entrancing twenty-three minutes.
Showing a deft and pitch-perfect touch, Brand skilfully weaves the elements into hypnotic form, never hurrying the material along nor slowing it down too much either.
The result is that rare thing: ambient music that’s both artful and moving.

The fifty-minute Primal Mystification is the first release by Mystified (aka US ambient-electronic musician Thomas Park) to appear on Hypnos Secret Sounds. Park is
no novice, as he’s collaborated with artists such as Nunc Stans (One Thousand Dreams, Dataobscura), Robin Storey (Rapoon), and Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions).
The four tracks on Primal Mystification are restrained in character and induce a state of calm in the listener‚Ä”which isn’t to suggest they’re uneventful, as there’s lots
of activity and detail on display. Likening the mercurial drone sounds to the emergence of human beings from the ‚Äòprimordial ooze,’ Park shapes minimal elements
(some of it created from field recordings) into ten-minute-plus settings of placid design using ringing ambient washes, willowy synthetics, elemental percussive
patterns, and simple melodic phrases voiced by piano. In ‘Massive Turning,’ù elegant piano playing drapes itself across long-form droning tones anchored by a gently
swinging rhythm track made up of acoustic-sounding percussive elements (hand drums, bells). ‘Departing Certainty’ exudes a ghostly, even tribal quality in its
crystalline swirls and cavernous rumble, while both ‘Not Knowing Where,’ its nocturnal whistling tones animated by a midtempo rhythm track, and ‘Back to the Primal,’ù
its ethereal shimmer augmented by Eastern-sounding percussive pulsations, are energized by comparison.

The relative wild card of the four, Viridian Sun’s Infinite In All Directions is a different animal altogether. The group itself is a joint venture into abstract improvisation
involving Hypnos founder Mike Griffin and Hypnos solo artist David Tollefson, whose last Viridian Sun album, Perihelion, appeared a decade ago. Eschewing
synthesizers, Griffin and Tollefson build the album’s seven tracks from electronically treated and looped guitars, basses, and percussion. On the surface, there’s
not a radical degree of difference between Viridian Sun and the other artists in terms of sound-tones stretch out as extensively on Infinite In All Directions as they
do on the other recordings, and Griffin and Tollefson also shape their base elements into sustained drones but in a number of pieces the elements themselves are
often harder-edged and swell to more extreme levels of intensity and aggression (check out the industrial guitar squalls that blow through ’40 Hz Emergence’ as an
example in a way that’s a tad reminiscent of Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint too). The material also often exudes a trippy character that verges on psychedelic
or phantasmagoric. At certain moments, for example, ‘Four Times I Slept For A Year’ becomes an almost kosmische musik-like exercise when cycling elements
pulsate to psychotropic effect. Elsewhere, sheets of metallic sound surge during ‘Magnetars Cast No Shadow,’ and phantom guitar drones spiral through ‘Light Years
From Here.’ The rawness of Viridian Sun’s attack may give Infinite In All Directions a visceral edge over the three other recordings, but again it’s all quality stuff that
more than enhances Hypnos’s reputation for distinguished soundscaping.

February 2010

Our thanks to Textura for the quad-review!

2010.02.25

Latest batch of imported CDs from Oophoi (and some associated Italian ambient artists) just added to the
Hypnos Store today.

Aqua Dorsa – Cloudlands
(Glacial Movememnts category)
(Price: $12.99)
Aqua Dorsa is a new musical Italian ambient project formed by Enrico Coniglio and Oophoi.Their first work Cloudlands is a
perfect mix of glitch,classical and orchestral glacial ambient soundscape….
(more/buy)
Oophoi – Whispers from the Noisy Void
(Databloem category)
(Price: $12.99)
Re-mastered reissue of Oophoi’s classic album. Compilation with tracks from Cryosphere, Lightnoise and World of Shadows Oophoi
plays synths, samples, sampled voices, percussion, lap steel guitar, electronics….
(more/buy)
Oophoi – The Dreaming of Shells
(Databloem category)
(Price: $12.99)
Considered by many as one of Oophoi\’s best albums. Oophoi\’s The Dreaming of Shells is a breathtaking descent straight to an unknown
chasm where small clouds of fine luminescent dust drift away, splitting obscure cold waters, swaying to the sound of cavernous tones… This is a submarine
hidden chorus, an ode of sirens\’voices singing ageless chants… a rain of fragmented glittering particles brushing submerged walls, while golden refractions
sleep buried in the fissures… The dreams of shells is a meeting with a resonating radiant world of its own, a long dive in apnea scattered with amazements.
Oophoi plays synthesizer, electronics, flute (bamboo), percussion, performer (monochord, crystals), voice, singing bowls….
(more/buy)
Zaum Vol. 1 (various artists)
(Miscellaneous category)
(Price: $12.99)
A selection of Italian ambient works, specifically composed for this release. Compiled by Enrico Coniglio & Emanuele Errante,
this is a stunning mix of beat & non-beat pure ambient tunes that shift between isolationist & glacial atmospheres….
(more/buy)

2010.02.15

We’ve wanted to put one of our favorite Jeff Pearce albums back in print for a long time, and it’s
finally here!

Artist: Jeff Pearce
Title: Daylight Slowly (2010 reissue)
Label: Hypnos CD

Jeff Pearce - Daylight Slowly

2010 reissue of Pearce’s first Hypnos album, out of print since 2002. Many Jeff Pearce listeners
missed this original release, and may have wanted to catch up on this wonderful collection of
early Jeff Pearce guitar ambience. Pearce has moved on to a more direct and musical (as opposed
to ethereal and absctract) direction in recent years, and uses a Chapman Stick now rather than an
electric guitar, so if you miss the earlier work in this style, give this a listen. We even
replaced the old-fashioned Real Audio samples with ultra-modern new MP3 sample clips!

Examples of praise for the first release:
“Best of the year list.”

–Eric Meece, KKUP Radio

–Vladimir Jovanovic, Inner Space Radio, Zagreb, Croatia

–Scott Raymond (#1 ranking for the year), WVKR radio

–Chuck VanZyl, Star’s End Radio, WXPN, Philadelphia

Daylight Slowly, his latest solo album, is another deliciously slow,
shimmeringly serene album of processed electric guitar. “
–John Dilberto, Echoes Radio

“The most “romantic” cd of Hypnos Label. Has a strange light and a sensation of time slow-down…”

–Massimo Pavan, Italy

Daylight Slowly tracks include:
01. Inner Light MP3 sample
02. Spirals MP3 sample
03. Cloud Water Rising MP3 sample
04. Labyrinth MP3 sample
05. Quiet and Clear MP3 sample
06. The Broken Places MP3 sample
07. Known Presence MP3 sample
08. Delta MP3 sample
09. Through Darkened Halls MP3 sample
10. 11/11 MP3 sample
11. Inner Storms MP3 sample
12. Daylight Slowly MP3 sample
13. Passage to Home MP3 sample

Purchase direct for $10.99

2010.02.12

We just received a bunch of extra copies of the Saul Stokes album Abstraction
so VERY many copies that we’re going to drop the price (with Saul’s approval). It was
$14.99 originally, $12.99 when the Green House label shut down, and we’re offering these
last copies on the
Hypnos Store at the very attractive
new price. Here’s the direct link to
buy Abstraction for $9.99.

2010.02.11

Just received the discs for our long-awaited reissue of Jeff Pearce’s out of print first
Hypnos release Daylight Slowly. We’ll be assembling copies and making the CD
available on our Hypnos Store very
soon.