Posts Tagged roach

Hypnagogue Review: Souls Adrift, in Disrepair

Big thanks to John Shanahan (Hypnagogue) for his review of Souls Adrift, in Disrepair (original post here).

After over a decade, John is putting aside the Reviewer’s hat to undertake new ventures. His enthusiasm, keen observations and support will be greatly missed.

“It may not matter to you that Souls Adrift, in Disrepair began its life as a set of live improvised pieces to accompany an art installation. It’s nice to know, sure, but not necessary to take the voyage this album offers. All that really matters is how easily you got lost in the sound. Ambient guitarist Eyes Cast Down (Greg Moorcroft) provides five nuanced soundscapes in this “…spiritual journey, facing down sorrow and loss, in order to see through them and beyond…” There are long stretches of grim shadow, passages of optimistic light, and a mostly seamless sonic topography that gives your mind’s eye plenty to gaze into as you go deeper. “Fading Angel” opens the album in a light space, presenting floating ambient washes. It’s the lightest Souls… gets–or, at least, its longest sustained stretch of lightness, and as you get more into the album, you understand that this is something of a cleansing breath before it’s time to get deeper and darker. Impatient listeners may have issues with the mist-wrapped, near-static drones of the next track, “Astral Drift.” Moorcroft keeps the voices very low on this piece, both in volume and in timbre, and although there are shifts of sound and the emergence of fresh textures and directions, they come at a glacial pace in this 17-minute journey. Those who appreciate drone work will go deep into this one. I find myself halfway between. On different listens I have alternately been pulled completely into it or gotten to a point where I want something to happen. Regardless, its dark and mysterious flow makes a fine counterpoint to the lighter tracks. In fact, “Sirens of Maya” leaps into your head after that down-the-well experience with high, bright tones that bounce into view. They get somewhat smoothed out as they go along, but also spend some time working through a hint of dissonance that rolls through the space. I pick up chime tones in the wash, and wavering pads that ripple across the piece’s surface. “Transcending Memory” is a Steve Roach-style piece, the kind that blends moody darkness with a bigger stellar sense–The Magnificent Void comes to mind. It’s a dynamic ambient work, its pads in constant morphing motion like swirling storm clouds. The Roach sensibility rears up in sudden dramatic swells, and the whole thing has an ominous tone. That carries into “At This Body’s Final Hour,” which frankly is where Moorcroft loses me a little. He shoots for upping the dramatic ante, but chooses to do so by dropping in some big kettle drum tones. I understand the idea, but it comes across as out of place from what has gone before, and he’s already using super-heavy bass notes to give the piece the cadence and gravity of a funeral march. He offsets that weight with a rising, tonally brighter piano line, creating a powerful mood that doesn’t need the extra bombast.

“I like the balance of light and dark that runs through Souls Adrift, in Disrepair. I think there’s just enough of a challenge in the heavier pieces, and Moorcroft skirts the edge of alienating listeners who don’t want that kind of experience. As droning as “Astral Drift” gets, Moorcroft gives it enough dynamism to make you maybe want to keep listening even if it’s not your thing. We can all use a little darkness now and then. It sets you up for the next step of the voyage, and that path the album takes makes excellent sense overall.”

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Memory Palace Review by Bert Strolenberg (Sonic Immersion)

Many thanks to Bert for his close attention and support! His original post is here. (I added the links.)

*****

The origins for “Memory Palace” go back to Christmas 2010, when Greg Moorcroft (aka eyes cast down) approached Chris Russell with the idea of starting a groove-based collaboration. Greg would take care of the rhythmic side of things while Mr. Russell would be in charge of all additional textures, soundscapes and synthetic sounds. Both musicians focused on a full-album release after the first idea materialized smoothly in a track for the Relaxed Machinery sampler “reBOOT“.

The first half of the the 5-track/70+ minutes album is centered around electric groove patterns using mostly acoustic drum and percussion samples and the sounding of Greg’s much-favored wooden frogs alongside tasty synth textures and circular atmospheres, all creating quite an intense and more upfront sonic statement with a certain psychedelic edge.

The third piece “Touchstone Array” (defined as electron crackle) reveals certain contemplativeness, but evolves eventually into a weird and abstract/experimental effort led by acoustic samples set to a racing tempo with lots of bleeps and sound modifications running alongside.

Fortunately, gentle curling and shifting atmospherics make up the core of the two remaining tracks, with assorted (occasional tribal) rhythmic elements pushed further back in the spacious, transparent sound design on “Afterimages”. The fast but not upfront table-percussion on the final 22-minute piece (which alternates odd-meter electronic rhythms with live tribal drumming) reminds slightly of the Roachcollabs with Mr. Fayman.

The result on “Memory Palace” comes down to quite peculiar ambient, expecting the listener to think out of the box quite a bit.

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eyes cast down Interview by Headphonaught

Many thanks to Thomas Mathie for posting this interview and for his nice support! The original post is here.

Thomas, aka Headphonaught, is a music lover, artist and designer, and keeper of the We Are All Ghosts netlabel, the Circumambient podcast and the Nanolog blog. Don’t miss his interview with my colleague Scott Lawlor.

Seven questions with … Greg Moorcroft aka eyes cast down

There is something wonderfully spiritual about some forms of ambient music … I find these forms reach into my soul like no other music. The music may be created to be spiritual and then again it may not … but, due to its very nature, it is possible to project a spirituality onto it whether it be the deeply meditative of certain longform drones or the wildly joyful of more upbeat, trancey sounds … this is my ‘worship’ music now.

One proponent of this form of ambient music is musician Greg Moorcroft aka eyes cast down. His contributions to the Free Floating winter compilations all|is|calm are exceptional. I have recently obtained a promo copy of his latest album – Divinations – and look forward to digging into that.

As is my way, I asked Moorcroft if he’d be interested in answering a few questions for this ol’ blog. I’m delighted to say he agreed.

———-

1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Greg Moorcroft. I use the artist name eyes cast down. I am a composer, musician, recording artist and live performer. I work primarily – though not exclusively – in the ambient-atmospheric world.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just released Album #2, Divinations, on my Kalindi Music label. Album #3, Pastimes of Creation, is very nearly finished, so that’s the priority now.

3) Who inspires you?
– Name an artist who has inspired you.
My main man is Steve Roach, whom I hugely enjoyed interviewing three years ago. His music provides an endlessly-deep well of inspiration.

– Name a place that has inspired you.
I love getting out into nature. The most inspiring place I’ve been to is Cranberry Lake Park in upstate New York, on a camping holiday.

– Name some “thing” that has inspired you.
Drumming. I go to a monthly group, which is tons of fun. I really should take my portable recorder next time, because some good grooves often magically appear.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
The word “drive” says it all. I have to make music. I don’t have any choice about it; it’s in my bones. I love it. I would do it for myself alone, if I had to, but being able to share it is better.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
True spirituality, which requires humility; love, which can grow only from that point; the courage to undergo necessary introspection; and a delight in the amazing power of Creation, of which I aspire to be a medium.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
In this sense, “community” means “kindred spirits” who value the music as I do – as critically important, as soul-shaking, ritual, deepcore magic. It’s fantastic that such a community exists; for me, its hub is the Relaxed Machinery community.


7) What is next for what you do?
The next project is either: begin recording Album #5 (which is entirely written), or finish writing Album #6 (which is half written). After those are both recorded, I think it will be time for the Concerto for Ambient Orchestra project. That is going to be … something other.

———-

Thanks Greg.

The first four tracks of Divinations were all released on Free Floating netlabel – Conceptionall|is|calm 2011all|is|calm 2013, and all|is|calm 2012 – with the final piece, Ensō (a live laptop/softsynth improvisation with Avian and human voices added during postproduction in May 2014) originating from an art show in May 2012.

I’m glad to have all these tracks in one place and recommend you check out the album: Divinations.

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A Fledgling, New to Flight

After a five-month break, during which I played only one live event (a laptop-driven atmosphere for an art show opening in mid-May), I emerged from The Keep in September for a workshop and my highest-profile concert so far.

Having determined to begin exploring a more earthy, tribal sound, I recently added a djembe and clay pot drum to the percussion section. And for these shows I finally got to bring along my keyboard controller, as there were no space constraints. So I had the artistically-necessary feeling of leaving behind the safety of the nest. This timing was perfect, especially given the nature of the first event.

September 15: the Carving Through Shadow workshop was an exploration in going within and expressing the journey through drawings. I’ve been keen on working in such a situation since I started playing live, so I was jazzed to finally have a chance to give it a try.

The music followed the workshop’s three-part program:

1. Getting Comfortable was a purely atmospheric, slow-moving and fairly minimal synth zone. It’s a great pleasure playing around in this mode.

2. Getting Uncomfortable, an inward descent, got down, dirty and earthy. The whole percussion section came out for this.

Getting past some discomfort of my own, I finally undertook to use my voice as an instrument, to open another door inward. Immediately, a couple of the participants joined in, giving voice to their own work. That was a good start, for a direction which I hope to pursue down the road. (Anyone know an overtone voice teacher anywhere near Chicago?)

3. A New Way was about coming back up to the surface and integrating what was discovered. For this I used mostly layered guitar loops.

The energy was good all around, as everyone came ready to go for it. Many thanks to expressive arts therapist Eve Brownstone for running the event, and to everyone who took part!

Set List:

1. Haven
2. Inanna
   First Day Apart
3. Emerge

eyes cast down Live Rig

September 25: Music of Many Worlds – concert at Chicago’s Daley Plaza, under Picasso’s famous unnamed steel giant, as part of the Daley’s lunch-hour concert series.

Chicago Picasso - Photo by J Crocker 2004

Photo by J. Crocker, 2004

This show also celebrated the one-year anniversary of my move from Toronto to Chicago.

To help capture the mood, I picked up a wonderful eagle T-shirt from the Amerinkas gift shop. So now it’s a feeling of leaving the safety of the eyrie – hopefully to soar.

Apropos of this, the most exciting development from this show is the Fledgling suite, which came about of its own volition. Three pieces that were intended to be separate simply drew together (both musically, and as a concept, when their titles turned up). The middle one, First Expanse, is modeled on one of those formative studio jams from Spring 2004 (see my First Iterations blog).

Like many pieces from this year’s shows, these are works in progress, hybrids of composition and improv, trying out some cool ideas. I’m excited to see how they move forward; Fledgling could end up being the centerpiece of an album as well as live shows.

eyes cast down Live at Daley Plaza 9-25-12

The program was completed by guitar staples First Day Apart and Radha’s Tears, which will open and close the Separate Ones album, along with one cover: Future Tribe, from the Serpent’s Lair album. I’ve dreamed about opening live shows with this piece for years. Hopefully I’ll really nail it sometime, so I can send it to Steve and Byron.

Along with taking photos, my wife recorded about 20 minutes of video on her iPad, some of which I will post as soon as I can get it together.

Big thanks to the team at Daley Plaza for helping to make this happen!

Set List:

Future Tribe (Roach/Metcalf)
First Day Apart
I Am But a Fledgling…
First Expanse
… New to Flight
Radha’s Tears

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