Reviews 03-14-2010


Music Reviews 




by Atomic Skunk

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Atomic Skunk is the alter ego of Rich Brodsky and definitely not odorous as the name might at first imply. Portal is the second release from Rich under this name with the first being Binary Scenes. Not having been exposed to Rich's music previously I was somewhat apprehensive when I first received music from someone known as Atomic Skunk to be reviewed on Ambient Visions but after listening to Rich's latest release for only a few minutes it was apparent that his music did indeed belong on Ambient Visions and definitely had a place in the collections of AV's readers. Rich mentioned in the interview that is currently running on Ambient Visions that he wanted the name to stand out and be something that folks wouldn't forget and you know worked!  

From the opening sounds of nature at the start of the album you know that the name Portal is a fitting title for this release because the listener is transported into Rich's lush soundscapes of beats, rhythms and voices that are woven together in such a way as to envelop the listener allowing them to leave behind their day to day existence for awhile and enter completely into his world. I am not always a fan of sound effects in music when the mixes are heavy handed and not blended gently into the surrounding music because it seems like they were tossed in as a gimmick with no real relation to the rest of the sound environment. I am happy to say that Rich has done an expert job as he moves from track to track with nature sounds and other samples acting as pauses between tracks that allow the mind of the listener to prepare itself for the next step of the journey.  

My review copy was a large single MP3 file which was not track delineated so my review here is not going to mention individual tracks so much as comment on the entire project as a whole instead of pointing to individual tracks and trying to describe how they fit into the overall album. I did read another review that did not care for the interlude that was provided by the The Waltz of the Frog Prince which was actually a narrated fairy tale accompanied by Rich's music which acted as the soundtrack to the story. Granted this was rather strange in the midst of an album that was  predominantly filled with rhythmic atmospheres to this point but not altogether out of place. In keeping with the concept of a portal being something that takes a person away to distant fantastic place a fairy tale could very well be considered yet another part of this emotional journey and as such was just another welcome diversion along the path that one was walking.  

I have learned to enjoy music for music's sake and I bring very little preconceptions to the table when I put on a piece of music to listen to. If the music grabs and holds my attention it is in control for the duration of the journey. The songs on Portal flow one into another with each being a slice of the overall picture but with each acting as road signs pointing the traveler towards their next destination. Don't get me wrong because the songs are sometimes quite different and you should not expect to float through this album on an ambient cloud of space music or gentle introspective music because at times like the song Osiris the music demands your attention with a persistent drum and the voices that call to prayer during the song. Not something that you can ignore but very rewarding sonically because the drum beats immerse you in the created atmosphere and allows the listener to enter completely into the music.  

As the journey comes to an end we find that we have come full circle and are back in a place that is familiar to us filled with the sounds of birds singing and the gentle washes of the synths creating an other worldly environment as if to ease us back into our real life before the music ends. Ahhh but it doesn't end there. Rich once again brings back the beat that has been our companion throughout this trip and brings it to bear on this song. Yet this still does not break the spell woven by the album as a whole but is instead like the upbeat anthem that one might find at the end of a movie as the characters once again achieve victory over whatever it was that they battled over the course of the movie. Rich sends his listeners back to their everyday lives with this song that offers hope and one can always use more hope as they approach each day of their lives.  

Rich's album Portal shows us that as an artist he is capable of creating a sonic adventure with his music that will stand up to repeated listenings and will deliver an enjoyable emotional experience to his listeners no matter how many times they decide to partake. Rich was able to move from delicate sound environments to pulsing rhythmic beats without missing a step which shows me that a lot of attention was paid to every detail of the sounds that created this album and even to the interludes that separated the tracks. Rich is a talented individual who has been able to create two great albums so far and I am sure that we can expect more from this artist in the years to come. AV recommended album.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of Ambient Visions