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BEATTOPIA

by William Hancock.

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triskele management

Sysyphe – The Cities of Silver Trees.

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“European Downtempo Integrates With Festival EDM Scene”.

French downtempo act Sysyphe (Phillip Contamin) released his second album through psy-trance label Hadra in July of this year. Leading hand of the chill section at the Grenoble-based label, Sysyphe brings another textured electronica composition to his repertoire. Influenced early on by Gothic Rock that led to jockeying psy-trance records and eventually programming the international Hadra Festival, it was an encounter with The Orb in 1995 sparked his interest in the slower genres.

The Cities of Silver Trees tells the tale of an internal quest amongst the meandering of a youthful forest. A haven of peace and source of all life where the trees are made of sap, with stone and light the décor. It’s through this universe that Sysyphe invites us to take an ambient stroll, evolving into a deeper journey of pure electronica charged with an edge of trance-flavoured synths and stabs. Highlights include a deep, momentous and atmospheric Body and Mind chugging away, a reggae inspired Dubspell and a delightfully spacious ambient introduction full of forest critters and life in A L’Oree.

With a definite psy-chill angle and a finish that could almost be classed as slower EDM, The Cities of Silver Trees carries off a saturation of synthesisers tastefully, with a successful composition orientated towards an outdoor audience.

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Pan Electric And Ishq – Elemental Journey.

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“Re-issued Album Brings Global Awareness To True Purpose ”.

Elemental Journey is an ambient and downtempo album by electronica heavyweights Pan Electric (Matt Coldrick) and Ishq (Matt Hillier), first released in 2005 and recently re-released under Rouge Reptile Records, Pink Lizard Music’s re-issue label.

The EP spans the lower strata of the downbeat genre with Air totally ambient, yet Fire Dance dropping into a high-tempo drum and bass section before fading back into an epic couple of minutes of well constructed synth pads. Band from Atlantis brings forth a Pink Floyd-esque downbeat track tripping balls through oscillators before floating off in atmospheric colour. The first track Terra Firma can be found here for a complimentary download.

Coldrick hides not from the true motive of their collaboration; “This album, co-created with the mighty Ishq from Cornwall has seeded a die for a multimedia exhibition. I firmly believe and have done since 2004/5 that many of humanities problems rest in the disconnect with the natural world that has grown alongside our increasing dependency on technologies. This is compounded by our gradual loss of indigenous mythologies. This album offers a gateway to a visceral and spiritual connection with the forces of nature using the elements as a gateway.”

It seems many are feeling frustrated at the lack of respect being given to our planet and its resources. One may refuse to listen to words, yet humans have no choice but to experience an emotional reaction to music.

“The project is dedicated to reminding us of our elemental relationship with the planet.”

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

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“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.

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“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 – Remix EP.

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“Another Fine Remix EP from Another Fine Day”.

Now here’s an interesting spin on some new tunes. A few weeks ago Interchill released Tom Green’s new album A Good Place To Be under his moniker Another Fine Day. A few days ago Interchill released the Remix EP of that album. 5 tracks. 36 minutes. Well worth the look. Two of the track Spanish Blues and three of And Dream Of Seals.

Off the cuff the first tune is a ripper. Entitled Spanish Blues – Hibernation Remix this one has all the jazzy subtleties of the original. The keys, the cymbals and the delicacy coupled with a big bass synth locking in with the solid yet gentle bed of the beat. A few punctuations over the top with a grinding, dirty, textured sound and this instrumental/electronica masterpiece grooves away with the jazz contrasted beautifully with the electronic component to give a balance that is solid, toothy and downright funky. Hitting the mid-section we open into a section of pure electronica before cutting back over the top with the jazz elements of the piano. These two teams jostle back and forwards for the remainder of the game that ends in a friendly back-slapping draw of smiles and beers. The composition gives both the jazz and the electronica due process, recognition and executes it in a way only a true artist could pull off.

More of the same meaty electronic goodness in the second track, Spanish Blues – Greg Hunter Remix. Maintaining the integrity of the jazz elements and balancing the palate with deep, dark electronica. The grinding shadows give focus and clarity to the original. A slower beat count is welcomed.

Then we leave the Blues in Spain to Dream of some Seals…..

And Dream of Seals – Another Fine Day Chaos Theory Remix. The chaos comes into this one with a discordant cacophony of almost irrhythmic percussive-style background. And it seems to work musically. While not the sweetest sounds an ear can hear it certainly brings an interesting spin as the contrasting chimes float over the top.

The Alucidnation Remix of And Dream of Seals is indicative of the composer in his true style. Right at home in the ocean of sound, Alucidnation has embraced the watery feeling, kept the seals frolicking in the sunshine and even seems to be able to write the sunlight streaming through the water into an almost ambient feeling downtempo track.

And Dream of Seals – Ishq Remix. Each of these three seems to get slower and more spacious and this is one very chilled piece. With the addition of some haunting vocals and chanting, spacious atmospheric pads and a little caressing, the environment is conveyed to the listener in a way that reminds one of floating around a pool on a clear summers day.

Greens been writing music for years and after the last album, its very refreshing to see people with similar tastes working with some of his material. The release is nicely balanced with some darker electronic elements, ambient sections and mid-range downtempo all present.

Suns of Arqa – All Is Not Lost But Where Is It?

 

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“Father of the Suns Collaborates with Downbeat Heavyweights to bring Life”.

Suns of Arqa have been hailed at times as one of the greatest pioneers of downbeat and world fusion in the modern era. Coming together in the late 70’s under the watchful eye of Michael Wadada, the collective has since ushered through over 200 artists, let fly around 60 releases, been recording for over three decades and have just released their latest full length album on Liquid Sound Design, All Is Not Lost But Where Is It? Featuring The Orb, Youth and Raja Ram.

Wadada formed SOA in 1979 after receiving higher guidance during a trip to Kingston, Jamaica whilst working with Prince Far-I, the traditional roots reggae chanter of legendry status. Invited by Peter Gabriel to play at the first WOMAD festival The Suns have released on Virgin, EMI and their own label Arqa Sound, played Boom, Roskilde, Glastonbury and Big Chill and have been credited with prolific and seminal influence on the World Beat sound. Finley Quaye, Zion Train and Steve Hopkins are amongst a hefty list of collaborators with Alex Patterson from The Orb, UK producer Youth and Raja Ram of Shpongle featuring on the latest release. Featuring the spoken words of John Cooper Clarke, produced by Martin ‘Youth’ Glover (as his first release since Pink Floyd’s The Endless River) the album is under distribution from Arabesque Digital with the release being directed by Triskele Management.

 Over the years The Suns have worked across the realms of World Music to combine the Piobaireachd music of the Scottish Highlands with Hindustani raga systems and Nyabinghi roots drumming of the Rastafari. The result is a deeply spiritual vibration that merges cultures, faiths and musical genres.

Erasmus Dub begins with a haunting wood flute from Raja Ram before dropping heavily into a Shpongle-esque dub flavoured beat. Several different male voices for the sampling and some deep driving bass lines fleshing out the halting rhythm make for a track that quenches any Shpongle-lovers thirst. The video is worth a quick look on Liquid Sound Design’s Facebook page.

The Fool Ascends is a progressive electro downbeat masterpiece. Dipping and rolling through waves of synth-washed, deep, bassy beats the acoustically instrumental flute floating over the top contrast beautifully to keep the listener locked in and flying high. Strangely enough the beat count comes in at around 120 but feels a lot slower. Perhaps there’s even a Terence McKenna sample in there to keep us on our toes. Either him or John Cooper Clarke.

Pablo’s Lament runs over the eight minute mark and begins inncocently enough in a reggae flavoured track complemented by harmonica. The oscillators begin working themselves in after about a minute and double time the background to create a marvellous composition of true downbeat textbook definition. Textured with many different samples and sounds one can only wonder why Pablo was lamenting so, and wether this track cheered him up or not.

The background of the band is impressive, the album itself delivers an electro downbeat sound worthy in any afficionado’s collection and is obviously the tip of the iceberg in a career spanning millennia, several major changes in popular music formats and an impressive release list. The spirituality of Wadada is evident in the progression of the band. He sums it thus; “It is the ultimate sound to take us through the changes to come. Where sound is not just a backdrop to life but ultimately is life itself”.

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