Dimitris Korontzis, 5 Elements, 2019

Dimitris Korontzis - The 5 ElementsDimitris Korontzis is a guitar player from Athens in Greece. He has released his first Jazz-Fusion LP Empathy in September 2017 and here we have his second one by the name 5 Elements. It is described as an ambient guitar album related to the Chinese tradition of Wu Xing. There’s more:  according to this philosophy everything in the universe is made of this 5 elements Earth- Metal- Water- Wood- Fire

The basic music scale of the Chinese is the major pentatonic C-D-E-G-A and every note is related to each element, C is Earth, D is Metal, E is Wood, G is Fire and A is Water. The order of the notes he used is called the Productive Circle in the Wu Xing philosophy.  All songs are built using only these 5 notes with that specific order and a drone with the basic note of each element.

And for a guitarist it is a remarkably restraint effort. In Earth the guitar is hardly recognisable, while you can hear it play its gentle parts in tracks like Metal and especially Wood and Fire. The guitar is heavily processed with use of effects like reverb and delay and such. This makes it an album aiming for atmosphere rather than technique.

Something to chill to!


Crystalline Dream, Seventh Chakra, 2019

crystalline dream - seventh chakraBeen a while since some kind of instrumental ambient / new age typed music arrived. But here we have Crystalline Dream, which is in essence Richard Ross and guests. As far as I can tell this is his fourth album under this moniker. With of course 7 tracks, all clocking in at around 7 minutes.

Opener Grounding is a slow and brooding track. The addition of a guitar finger picking throughout, while the sequencers ebb and flow, is a bit surprising. And on the other hand, the addition of flute(s) is something I hear a lot in chilled music. More flutes on Sensual Waters, the longest track. There is a bit of chirping going on in the first minutes, as well as something that sounds like monks chanting in the background. My guess is that this would be perfect background music for meditating.
Next up is Inner Will, where son Korey Ross (see Volte) adds guitars. For me the combination of percussive sounds with the synth pad layers and the guitar playing really works well. There is also more melody in this one, which always suits me more.
It will not come as a surprise the remaining tracks work just as well within this described frame.

So there you go. Anyone looking for new music to relax to, for meditation, or just to enjoy some chilled sounds, have a listen to this!


Electric Mud, The Deconstruction Of Light, 2018

electric mud - the deconstruction of lightAfter repeated listens to this album, I still was struggling a bit with how to describe it. So I checked the website, and there the answer was: “moving from krautrock to ambiant, from post rock to traditional prog, from edgy to contemplative. Imagine Deep Purple and Camel jamming together with Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream”.

And I must say, the unique feel of this album hit one of my soft spots. Because you might be lead to believe that all these influences lead to a patched up collection of sounds and ideas. But the reality is, that this is not the case. If anything, the project have managed to deliver an album that keeps you on your toes, anxiously waiting for what will happen next. Ideas develop, and then slowly transform. So you do get all these different genre typicals, but the 3 guys (Hagen Bretschneider; idea, sound concept and bass – Lennart Huper: rhythm guitar and Nico Walser on all other instruments and… sound alchemy) mix and match, transform, evolve and warp everything. So what sounds like an old fashioned obscure and rocking Deep Purple song at first, might end up sounding like an ambient Tangerine Dream like electronic track.

Add to that: this is another example of how to create interesting instrumental music. It is creative and exciting, and is definitely exploring new grounds. Recommended!


XSyntax, Watermusic, 2017

xsyntax - watermusicXSyntax is the alter ego of fellow Dutchman and synth enthusiast Richard Aardenburg. Richard claims to be influenced by Rick Wakeman, Jean Michael Jarre and Tomita and describes his music as a mix of EDM, ambient, downtempo and urban. And this is his first release.

Alas I am not an expert in these genres. All I can say is that since most of the songs have beats in them, EDM seems closest, with a bit of ambient here and there. But maybe that’s just me.

For him, music is like water, so it can come in different modes and shapes. So where I was expecting songs around a theme of water, this is not the case here. Instead we get songs like the calm Dream On, the uptempo Technix V where sequencers and beats dominate, or the mid tempo Caravans In The Desert.
There are 11 songs and a bonus track on the album, and most of the songs are around 3 minutes.

I think the ideas are there, but XSyntax needs to work a bit more on finding a good balance in the mix. In some tracks certain parts are so much louder, they drown out the rest. What is good is that he keeps trying to find new sounds to use. Also he always works with melodies, but could sometimes do with a bit more arrangement. A drum computer and a melody does not always give enough body to the songs. But again, that is just my opinion.

If you are into the genres mentioned, check for yourself!


Janet Feder, This Close, 2015

janet feder - this closeDon’t know about you, but I kinda like it when an artist releases music that is so personal and intimate, it is unique. And for me Janet Feder just did that. I can understand why she writes that previous work happened in her head and this comes from the heart. And even if only 3 from the 9 songs contain her vocals, she speaks volumes with her guitar as well.

With a background in folk and rock, but also classically trained, the tools were already there I guess, but the decision to just be, paved the path for these songs. And don’t expect to be overpowered by technique. When I say intimate, that is what you get. It feels like she is there in the room with you pouring her heart and soul out through her playing or singing.
The album opens with Crows and Ticking Time Bomb, 2 of the vocal tracks. Brooding with atmosphere and suspense, these suck you into the album immediately. Happy Everyday Me is the first instrumental track. Nylon stringed guitar and various sounds that enhance this composition. No Apology contains almost unidentifiable sounds behind another classical guitar piece.

And yes, the playing is impeccable, but what counts most for me is the way this music has been enriched. Janet and her friends succeeded in creating timeless music that touches on a deeper level. That Close indeed!


Sara Forslund, Water Became Wild, 2015

sara forslund - water became wild For me the second album on the Volkoren label, and one with similarities to that first one, from David Ahlén. And one of the reasons for that might be that the latter is co-producing and arranging here. First thing to notice is another striking package from the label. Beautiful photo’s of the singer in a natural environment. Which fits this album to perfection, as this is another collection of songs that are earthly in approach, minimal in execution and spiritual in perception.

Sara has a lovely voice that reminded me a little bit of an old favourite, Paula Cole, albeit this album being much more laid back and intimate. This is music to consume with full attention, drifting away on it’s mellow tones and soft dynamics. I don’t think many people realise how hard it is to bring music in this way. So gentle and fragile, sometimes whisper soft, and yet so commanding. Huge kudos  for that!
Maybe not the right music for any time of day, but surely of high calibre. So if you are looking for quality and don’t mind spending time with an album, this is surely something to pick up. Beautiful music that transcends genre tags and will appeal to anybody willing to listen. Intense!


David Ahlén, Selah, 2015

david ahlen - selahThis is my first acquaintance with both David Ahlén (sorry can’t find the o to go above the A) and his label Volkoren. And I must say, this is something special in my humble opinion. David wrote the songs and sings and plays guitar and harmonium. And that is the core of all songs. But wait, there are guests, on piano, vocals, zither, harp, cello, vibraphone and some percussion. But most of that is sparse and serves to add some accents in the mood created by said voice and (acoustic) guitar. About the voice, Ahlen chooses to sing most, if not all, with his falsetto. This combination creates a very intimate setting, but if you pay attention to the music (which is obligatory in this case) it makes for a wonderful experience!

The overall sound is like a feather in the wind, or the eye of a storm. Calm, peaceful, maybe sometimes a bit haunting, but in a good way. It creates a condition where one cannot help but relax and sit back to undergo the unique qualities of this. It creeps up on your spine and sucks you into the imagery of the artist. Timeless if you ask me, and praise to both David and the label for bringing us this unique and wonderful album that actually defies categorising!


Yagull, Kai, 2015

yagull - kaiWell, this release of MoonJune certainly turned out to be surprising. Whereas most of their releases are in the Jazz, Fusion, Prog field or a combination of those, this release is something completely different. Based around Sasha Markovic on guitar, bass and percussion, and Kana Kamitsubo on piano, Kai is a very intimate sounding album that is simply wonderful from start to finish. Some songs have guests that are familiar MoonJune names, but centre stage is for named duo.

Their brand of instrumental music is very accessible, a delightful palette of moods and melody. Take for instance their take on 2 famous classic rock songs, Burn by Deep Purple and Wishing Well from the Free. Unrecognisable to some extent, but yet so familiar and convincing. The other 10 tracks are originals, with 2 of them reworked versions of earlier work. They master their instruments to such extent that it is almost like they speak to you directly. Great tone and vibes all around. A song like Z-Parrow reminds a bit of old Jethro Tull because of the added flute. But with or without outside contributions, this album will appeal to anyone that takes the time to listen to it. This defies genre tagging, this is music that goes straight for the heart and the soul. Simple as that, so fully recommended!


Sylvium, Waiting For The Noise, 2015

sylvium - waiting for the noiseWith yet another new line-up (now adding scene veteran Fred den Hartog on drums) Sylvium are back with their third release. And while my thoughts on their previous one was that it lacked a bit a colour and versatility, I feel that this release is easy their best one yet. Their mix of prog, rock and ambient now blends well and the rock factor is really there.

Not that they have turned into a full blown metallic monster. But this collection of songs at last move around, sometimes heavy, sometimes fragile and everything in between. Thus creating a mood and experience. Also more vocals this time, and that also helps getting into the music. This time 7 songs and 44 minutes on the album, with highlights for me being Signal To Noise, Fragile and Coda. The voice of Richard de Geest might still remind me a bit of The Mission, there is no doubt that he can carry a tune and really reaches out to the audience.

So for me the band are on the right track with this album. It is colourful, moody and versatile. Dutch label Freia-Music did the right thing and I congratulate all parties with this recommended release!


Oceans Of Night, Midnight Rising, 2014

oceans of night - midnight risingAll around nice guy Scott Mosher (guitars, bass and keyboards) and his Oceans Of Night project are no strangers to the blog. So it is with pleasure that I write some words on the new album, Midnight Rising. Typed as ambient metal, or progressive metal if you will, Midnight Rising was again mixed and mastered by Joey Vera and features guest appearances by Vivien Lalu, Chris Rifkin and Stephanie Warren and as before, lead vocals by Scott Oliva and drums by Alan Smithee.

Like on its predecessors, Oceans Of Night deliver a melting pot of prog metal, melodic hard rock and ambient sounds. So you will understand that there is a lot of light and dark here. But Mosher bridges the styles to compliment each other, rather than write songs in specific genres. Listening back and forth to this, I think the balance between power / aggression and dynamic / flowing is pretty good on this album. And I also feel that production wise this is one of the best sounding releases of him so far. Damn nice if there is still progression after six releases!

With 10 tracks ranging from just over 3, to 10 minutes, this is almost an hour of music. Soaring guitar solos, guitar riffing, keyboards in multitude and melodic choruses, it is all here. I like this music very much and heartily recommend it to lovers of the genre. Should you be afraid of ambient, just think of it as prog metal and give it a try!