by William Hancock.



Matt Coldrick – Music for a Busy Head, Vol. 1. 


“Hard-dance Goes Soft with Deep Ambient Re-release”.

Matt Coldrick has a colourful past, having been part of a popular psychedelic trance act ‘Green Nuns of the Revolution‘ with Dick Trevor and Neil Cowley. This unit was formed in 1994 and still performs in various forms today. Coldrick has also released music under the moniker ‘Pan Electric‘, at one stage collaborating with the ambient heavy-weight producer Ishq.

After developing an interest in vibrational healing and sound therapies, Coldrick produced Music for a Busy Head, Volume 1. Seven tracks written to correspond with the seven chakras of the human body or etherically,  the seven colours of the visible light spectrum. “It helps me get to sleep” he states.

Designed for deep relaxation, all of tracks sit below 65 beats per minute with each written in a key that corresponds to the vibration of an energy centre within the human body. Listening to the album from start to finish will assist one in entering a semi-conscious state, where the bodies natural repair systems can kick in for some deep self healing. Through changes in the timbre, volume, note, resonance and key of the tracks, Coldrick carries us into the realms of deep-ambient sound healing.

First released in 2001 on the Absolute Ambient record label, the album has been unavailable for several years. The present re-release is under the  Pink Lizard Music banner.

Deeply relaxing, well composed and highly produced this meditation masterpiece is a must in any spiritual warriors quiver.

Zen Connection 3 – One World Music.


“Old Classic Deserves Recognition for Ageing Timelessly”.

Here’s an oldie but a goodie. Zen Connection 3. Part three of a four part series compiled by DJ Leigh Wood of Sydney based One World Music. Classic Downtempo Electronica. Released in late 2004, this little gem sports two discs of the good stuff. The name celebrates and reflects Sunyata, the state defined in Mahayana Buddhism as the emptiness associated with skilfully disentangling oneself from the unsatisfactoriness of life. It means potentiality. The present is pregnant with potential. Through untangling ourselves we allow this potentiality to arise. Listening to this little beauty seems to be a step along the path towards this place or more accurately, state-of-mind.

The discs are aptly titled Left Turn and Right Turn. Disc one (Left) meanders through a journey of top downbeat artists that include The Christophe Goze Project, Nitin Sawhney and Jon Hopkins, finishing with a beautiful rendition of a Hindu Spiritual classic Ganapati Om by Donna De Lory (Eastern Sun Remix).

Turning Right leads us into tracks from Kaya Project, Prem Joshua (Mangalam sits in an 80 bpm groove superbly), Ott and the Banzai Republic featuring Natacha Atlas before finishing where we started with a reprise of Devotion No.1 by the Loop Guru.

Where the first disc tends to relax and unwind, the general tempo of the second is noticeably quicker. Perfect for relaxing or entertaining, the double disc seems almost perfectly designed for afternoon drinks leading into a quiet dinner party. The first disc for the drinks and the second for the cooking.

The decidedly obvious spin of World Music on the publication is a real asset. With instrumental sounds from across the globe and producers located across the planet this album is not only the middle path of downtempo but brings into balance the duality that is east and west, unifying it in a very enjoyable way.

The sign of any great album is timelessness. Still listening to it years later. Still enjoying. Still available. Still here.

Another Fine Day – A Good Place To Be.


“Another Cult-Classic From Solo Downtempo Producer Finds It’s Place”.

21 years after Another Fine Days’ Tom Green released the ambient-dub, cult-classic Life Before Land, he returns with a fresh basting of ambient-jazz styling in their latest release A Good Place To Be, out now on Interchill.

Fusing natural soundscapes with jazz, percussion and a smattering of instrumental electronica, the ambient and downtempo styles embraced in A Good Place To Be provide the listener with a captivating journey into the realms of natural music and sound. Birds and insects blend with jazz infused keyboards, ambient percussive punctuations, atmospheric synth pads and halting time signatures. Covering a spectrum of musical styles and genres this album doesn’t fit into any narrow slots, with synthetic and natural sounds and music creating a collage of sonic artwork across the board.

Greens’ colourful and varied past is apparent in the composition of this album. Rising from a post-punk outfit in the late seventies, blending with outfits including Baka Beyond, The Orb and Natacha Atlas and writing screen music for the likes of the BBC through his music production company Apollo Music, he contributes regularly to quality music libraries for Universal Music, EMI Production Music and Accorder Music. Tom also dabbles in various unique side projects including an ambient commission released in 2012 called Music For Tai Chi and a composition designed for installation in a new MRI scanner complex at the Royal Infirmary in Bristol, UK; Music For MRI Scanners.

Track 2 on the album A Good Place To Be, called And Dream of Seals blends affected bird calls with melodic keyboards and mallet percussion to create atmospherics that sit delicately over a bed of subtle beats, set back in the mix. Rising to an excited cacophony of oscillators supplying the playful seals in a wash of percussive waters, this downtempo creation is topped by an icing of electronic synthesis.

Enfolded is an ambient piece, wrapping the listener in temperate washes of electronic waves created using progressively arranged atmospheric synth pads, punctuated quietly yet powerfully with almost a hint of angelic brass in the wind.

From Tiny Acorns embraces Eastern-influenced strings and mallets in a percussive melody lifted by a bed of progressive, oscillator-effected beats. Atmospheric pads complete the palette as the track rises to the rhythmically melodic crescendo of a string-infused summit, all while the beats track nicely through the piece.

The influence of World Music on A Good Place To Be should not be overlooked. Subtle yet distinct, the instrument selection and devices used in the composition reflect a global connection transcending cultural boundaries and merging into a cohesively international blend of sound. Greens background producing with the likes of Abdul Tee Jay and his side project Newanderthal clearly influence this albums creation and its Remixes.

Even at these early stages of release, Another Fine Days’ new album A Good Place To Be obviously has the heavyweight staying power to become another cult classic in the lighter and more delicate styles of the ambient and downtempo music genres.

by William S. Hancock.

Waypoint by Interchill.


“Coming of Age Chill-out Label Makes for 21 Strong Compilation”.

A very interesting compilation as far as downtempo electronica goes. Put together by Andrew Ross Collins this Interchill album is the 21st ‘various artist’ release from the Canadian based label.

The track selection textures contrast nicely together with a wide perspective of chillout. Nothing too different to keep them all flowing along the same line. Nothing too similar to bore the listener into a complacent sense of the norm’. Strong downtempo with electro-style inflections and an infusion of jazz-styling instruments and arrangements make for a delightful journey without even moving off the couch.

Hibernation pulls out a remix of Grouch’s ‘Indifference’ with a d-and-b/reggae edge, smatterings of psychedelic-electro and indigenous Australian percussive punctuations. Frederick Ohr and the boppy, almost waltz-laden introduction of ‘In Orbit’ lulls us into a childhood mindset before dropping through progressions of Asian-influenced strings and into a psychedelic bed of solid but not uncomfortable beats. ‘alucidnation’ makes an appearance with ambient synths and spacious strings over atmospherics in Prefer to Stay In. Kaya Project puts in an appearance with ‘Dust Devil’ (Hibernation Remix) dropping acoustic double-bass contrasted with dub-step-like punctuation. The jazz infusion for the album doesn’t stop there. Another Fine Day’s ‘Walk Tall (Throwback Dub)’ riffs jazz-laden keys over a bed of beats and bass. Varient Field’s ‘Dulcet Dalliance’ shows a crisp and lively stream of production with summer time melodies and samples leaving a fresh aftertaste. Yum.

Wrapped up in some great visual detail from Shichigoro-Shingo, drawing inspiration from Japanese Manga illustrations into a blend of bio-mech composition, the album is indicative of the quality we have come to expect from the label. The digipak cd is distributed through Arabesque and available at

Pravana – Eastern Meditations.


“Yoga and Meditation Soundtrack Takes an Epic Flight”.

For any music buff now and then a song comes along that stops us in our tracks. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. A nugget of gold plucked from the soil. Searched for, wished on and carefully panned out of the river. One of these such tracks is a piece from downtempo electronica act Pravana. Its called Garuda, from their 2009 album release Eastern Meditations. With a carefully selected angle into the yoga, meditation and relaxation sector this asian-flavoured menu’s main course is named after a large, humanoid bird from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. The Phoenix is a contemporary representation of the animal and Indonesia has adopted a more stylistic representation as its national symbol, the Javanese Eagle.

The track starts with a percussive bed reminiscent of the hammered dulcimer over tabla inspired beats. It’s the strings that take flight in a well arranged and brilliantly delivered scalar sequence of epic proportions. For a chillout track this is one gigantic bird taking flight. The bed tracks forward on the rails, filled out with the melodies of bells as the strings wind progressively through a duet of viola and cello that is breathtaking.

It’s a well thought out album angle with the relaxation, meditation and yoga all bound into the production. Not too busy, yet not too quiet it hits the spot for any downtempo inner-work accompaniments, providing a fresh and uplifting soundtrack for meditation, yoga and dreaming. Well composed, easily digested and beautifully produced it is the third sonic adventure from Simon Lewis, creator of the chillout/world music outfit, Amanaska. It fuses typically ancient stringed and percussive instrument sounds of the east, with the Australian indigenous call of the didgeridoo, bringing together sonic lands as far away as Bali’s Gamelan and the Tibetan Harmonium.

A great album to chillout, work or just breathe with. Complex in its simplicity and unassuming enough to sit subtly in the background or to turn up loudly and dominate a yoga flow, assisting in introspection or a flight of fancy.

Marconi Union – Weightless (Ambient Submissions Vol.2).


“Ambient Heavyweights Keep The Juggernaut Rolling”.

The best way to describe the music of Marconi Union seems to be not so much in terms of jargon or lingo relative to the music industry but in terms of watercolour-painting techniques in the art world. Illustrative and impressionistic the colours and washes associated with these sound-scapes are both dark and bright, vivid and cloudy, coloured and contrasted yet always textured, balanced and spacious. If their paper is wet, the colours bleed together to form new blends and boundaries. Brushes are changed, sometimes the paper is dry and allows for more defined borders. Yet throughout their creations the standard of composition is astounding, the production and mastering impeccable. True artists in the very sense of the word.

Their new album Weightless (Ambient Submissions: Vol.2), released 22nd of September 2014 on the Just Music label levers off the back of their 2011 release Beautifully Falling Apart (Ambient Submissions: Vol.1). This album, combined with the seminal, heavily career- defining and until now unreleased track Weightless, created on the 16th of October 2011, was a defining moment in the bands career for many reasons and is still being written about to this day.

Beautifully Falling Apart was a junction in the career of the band, indicating a departure from the darker, more percussively punctuated albums including A Lost Connection (originally on the bands own digitally-based label Mu Transmissions in 2008) and an embarkation into deeply-ambient soundscapes with almost no rhythmic bed. Although risky in terms of career choice, this decision was well-received by critics and indeed the industry at large, obviously bolstered by a unique and until then unrecognised approach to collaborate that would see the band rise in terms of production, composition and acceptance into a standing applause from the mainstream.

Marconi Union created the first Weightless track when a representative from the British Academy of Sound Therapy approached them to create a piece of relaxing music. The piece was to be tested by the Mindlab Institute to try and ascertain its effectiveness for relaxation. Marconi Union jumped at the chance to be involved in such an interesting project and began writing in earnest. After testing was completed involving many subjects, scientists concluded that the music indicated reduced blood pressure, a slowed heart-rate and decreased levels of cortisol, a stress related hormone. Immediately after the results were published there was huge media reaction with some channels reporting that Weightless was “the most relaxing song ever!”. The track was reported in Time magazine as one of the “2014 Inventions of the Year” and one newspaper even warned motorists not to drive while listening to it. On the recent September, 2014 release the track is labeled as Weightless Part 1.

The band came together in 2002 when Richard Talbot met Jamie Crossley at a record shop they both frequented called The Polar Bear in Birmingham. It wasn’t until after the 2010 re-release of their now CD format album A Lost Connection that the band formally welcomed Duncan Meadows as a full time member. Meadows had previously played with them at a number of live gigs and 2012’s release Different Colours (again on Just Music) was the first for the now three-person outfit.

The culmination of this historical evolution has resulted in the release of Weightless (Ambient Submissions: Vol.2). An album that while not particularly lengthy at 42 minutes more than makes up for in terms of quality. Released at the same time was a video clip for the first and title track on the album, the 2011 juggernaught Weightless (Part 1). The video shows a remote-controlled ‘drone’ flying above the lake district, lit up with LED lighting at night. The frame-rate has been slowed and effected to create an hypnotic and highly effective piece of video.

Inspiration for the band comes from many places. The more usual books, films and travel but also cities (their 2009 album Tokyo), buildings and even records they really don’t like, using them to inspire adaptation and change.

If the pop charts are the fast food empire of the music industry, then Marconi Union are the a la carte, 5-star restaurant. The soundscapes are designed to inspire and relax, pulling you forward into an adventure in the air, rather than a journey on the ground. With tones one could be forgiven for believing are relatively simple, this complex and highly engineered sound design is of a calibre only masters could create. Both relaxing and highly-invigorating at the same time, the tracks create a timelessness divorced from the bondage of this dimensional body. A dimension that while necessary for our earthly survival may one day become simply a step into the greater universes bound by the forces of sound.

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