Music Reviews 

 

Reviews 8-26-2001

 

Transicity

by Simon Williams

Visit SVP Records

This album from British artist Simon Williams is an exercise in incongruity. A soundtrack of birdcalls and nature noises accompanies it throughout, but the music, rather than being serene “relaxation” ambient, is almost all rhythmic disco-style dance music. It’s as if a rather mild dance party were held outdoors somewhere, or more likely, an aerobics exercise class. The beat remains the same almost the whole way through, as does the key and the “instrumentation,” which is piano, synthesizers, and drum machine track, although there are wailing (or whining) female voices in tracks 7 and 8. At times, Williams’ effort very closely resembles some of the British and European electro-pop of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but without its “edge” or any memorable melody.

The tracks move without a break, one into another, which eventually leads to a rather monotonous quality. The collection also has little dynamic range, so that it’s the same loudness all the way through. While ducks are quacking and hawks and loons calling, this artificial, mechanical-sounding music pumps its way through the sonic forest. Those poor creatures must be wondering what has gotten into their pristine environment. Imagine – all those kicking ladies in woodland-camouflage tights from Victoria’s Secret, working out in a virtual wilderness!

Note: On the Website this album is offered in a version without the "nature sounds," which is probably the better option if you should want to order it. 

HMGS rating: 1 out of  5

Reviewed by Hannah M.G. Shapero 8/26/2001

 

Mist

by Thom Brennan

Visit Thom Brennan's website

I was first introduced to the music of Thom Brennan through his eighties album, “Mountains”, and also his two track work with Steve Roach on the classic album “Western Spaces”. He then seemed to vanish from the scene for a while and I often wondered what had happened to him and his music, as his rather unique blend of rhythmic and meditational synthesizer music was quite original and enthralling. For example a lot of people considered “Mountains” a true classic in its field, of which Steve Roach played a major part in its production.

Thom has finally made a comeback, and with the help of MP-3 and the Internet we are able to appreciate his music once again. Thom has re-issued “Mountains” and other older works on the MP-3 format of making compact discs, which has helped many musicians reach a wide audience through new technology, and more conveniently priced disc production. “Mist” is his first new music for six years and is the first compact disc of a two-piece set, the other being “Secret Faith of Salamanders” which is also soon to be released.

These cds are inspired by Thom’s continuing appreciation of the beauty and majesty of the Olympic Rainforests of Western Washington.

The music on “Mist” is of a floating drifting nature. There are no rhythmic elements involved in the music at all.

Titles such as “Cedars Stand Against the Rain” and “Raingardens” manage to entice the listener into a cocoon of ethereal almost subliminal ambience. The four tracks melt into each other very easily and one can imagine walking through the rainforest during an early morning walk while the forest breathes and the dampness of the forest is felt underfoot.

This is a strong release. In some ways  “Mist” reminds me of the long form releases by Steve Roach and like those releases it could be played in the infinite playback mode to really fully absorb this most entrancing of releases.

Six years is a long time between releases but it is evident that the wait has been worthwhile.

Reviewed for Ambient Visions by Gary Andrews

 

Wind Journey

by Erik Wollo

Visit Spotted Peccarry's website

Composing music since the eighties, Norwegian Erik Wollo has released several fine albums mainly in Europe. “Wind Journey” his latest album has been taken under the wing by Spotted Peccary’s subsidiary label Wanderings, a label designed to release albums from a broader spectrum of countries other than its North American original foundation.

Wind Journey” as the title suggests is a light filled and gently melodic journey through soundscapes of synthesizer sound and guitars both acoustic and electric. The guitars are an important ingredient to the music as they are Erik’s main instrumentation and therefore the backbone of his sound. His previous release “Guitar Nova” for example was a fine example of acoustic guitar led compositions that somehow managed to sound refreshing from the mainstay of similarly styled albums.

There are twenty-three tracks that make up “Wind Journey”, each a delicately put together musical vignette. When we get to the ninth track onwards the tracks become the seasons suite starting with the track “Sea”. This features very laid-back guitar put through some form of effects, which lead us into “Open Land” that features some electronic rhythms that gradually pick up pace which helps give contrast to the overall feel of the album.

The whole album conveys to the listener the differing seasons in all their glory in a very picturesque way. A lot of musicians can play their music well. To actually play and convey the feeling of the different seasons, landscapes and the sheer magical joy of journeying through the wind by balloon as the albums cover depicts is a hard thing to do, but Erik has managed it very well.

Reviewed for Ambient Visions by Gary Andrews

 

Return Home