Posts Tagged russell

Review: Souls Adrift, in Disrepair

Big gratitude to Richard Gürtler for his review of Souls Adrift, in Disrepair! It’s deep listeners like Richard, who thoroughly understand and love the music, whom I’m always hoping to reach.

Here is Richard’s full review, which can also be seen here:

Four years ago Chicago based Greg Moorcroft, the sole protagonist behind Eyes Cast Down, debuted with his album “The Separate Ones”, which I was fortunate to review several months later, in May 2013. In the meantime, during 2014, second solo album “Divinations” saw the light as well as collaborative recording “Memory Palace” with kindred soul Chris Russell. “Souls Adrift, In Disrepair”, the latest album by Eyes Cast Down, which is out since July 12th, 2016, was released by artist’s own Kalindi Music label and it’s packaged in a 4-panel digipak featuring stunningly immersing paintings by Royce Deans and Tali Farchi. This strongly enrapturing interaction was firstly born during a spontaneous, improvisational setting before premiering on a live art show in Chicago at April 1st, 2012. And four of five pieces presented on this album are connected to this multimedia jam.

Nearly 10-minute “Fading Angel” reveals layers of longing guitar drones, which drift, meander, reverberate, mesmerize… Introspective, smoothly sinuating passages distinguishably commingle with intricately high-pitched ear-tickling dissonant vistas. Although the mood might be rather minimal, hidden inside are lyrically enveloping nostalgic canvas, which masterfully amalgamate with the album’s visuals.

17-plus minutes long “Astral Drift” straightly dives into jaw-droppingly gargantuan depths, humming ultra deep drones briskly invade the scene and steal this magnificently transporting spectacle. A splendiferously dronescaping powerhouse is fully activated here!!! Ephemeral overtone-like groans sneak in here and there, but the magmatic flow is devastatingly adventurous and undeniably unlocks the gates of eargasmic transcendental Eden. Around 10th minute slightly relieving glimpse arise, but that’s just an “optical” illusion as the scenario quickly finds its tracks and resurrects all drone ghosts. Eerie ocarina calls arise as well and I am still swamped with ominously unfathomable drone walls. Even my weirdest expectations were surpassed with this composition, this is certainly Eyes Cast Down at its most exquisite, monolithic and desolate, a Drone Hall of Fame awaits!!! Enter now the Void!!!

The next piece, “Sirens Of Maya”, takes me back to earthier terrains sculpted with kaleidoscaping electric strings wizardry and painting thrillingly reflective and isochronally spiraling spellbinding images. As much rawly dazzling as harmoniously engrossing!

“Transcending Memory”, another longer track clocking to nearly 16-minute mark, maintains the deeply evocative route, where subtle monochromatic drone guards above, while relentlessly helixing desolations peculiarly bridge with poignantly magnifying, yet sinisterly traversing meridians. Aberrantly engulfing listening experience awaits here each devoted ears, this is obviously another epic composition superiorly exhibiting Greg Moorcroft’s extraordinary soundsculpting techniques. Bravo!!!

Transient pounding bass drum quite unexpectedly announces 18 minutes long “At This Body’s Final Hour”, which closes this highly astonishing journey. Mysteriously labyrinthine drifts are knottily counterpointed by poignant, yet evanescent piano patterns. Hallucinatory groans and voices are hanging above, interrupted occasionally by drum outbursts. Auxiliary female chorus (credited are Dasi, Greg’s wife, & Leyla) surreptitiously sneak in and numinously augment this ambiguously shapeshifting aural phenomenon. A grand finale indeed!!!

Greg Moorcroft, who mostly utilizes 6- and 12-string and fretless electric guitars, EBow as well as synths on this tour de force recording, has shown an enormous creativity and potential. This is a sensationally prodigious album, a truly triumphant 74-minute showcase of a challenging ingeniousness by its visionary force. I somehow can’t remember what my predictions were before exploring this album, but this doesn’t really matter, because as mentioned earlier, Greg Moorcroft has blew them all away with such glorious performance. A true gem, and still enormously hidden, among the most gifted pinnacles of 2016!!! Darker than the darkest, deeper than the deepest, hats off to Greg Moorcroft/Eyes Cast Down for this milestone, which must be encountered and applauded!!! A non-glass mastered format is the only limit here…

Regarding the latest updates, the next album by Eyes Cast Down is already recorded, it’s entitled “The White Island” and it should be out during the spring. The final mixing and artwork still has to be done. And last but not least, if you live near Philadelphia, mark in your calendar the date October 7th, 2017, because Eyes Cast Down will open for the iconic ambient guitar virtuoso Jeff Pearce at The Gatherings, which celebrates its 25th year. Then, after the concert, an hour live to air on Star’s End at WXPN Radio at the University of Pennsylvania will follow. Greg, you truly deserve such exposure!!! I really wish I could join…

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October Grooves – Building a Memory Palace in the Forest

My wife and I have taken several long-weekend trips to the Tibetan-Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center near Bloomington, IN, and from the first visit (18 months ago), it became our go-to getaway place. It features pervasive quiet, pristine grounds for walking, deer wandering fearlessly, tranquil temple space, and four retreat cabins nestled in a woodland ideal for hiking.

Dasi & Deer

So you might imagine my anticipation of a full nine days there, during my favorite season… my first real vacation (meaning, a week or more outside the city) in at least three years. Kalman Cat accompanied us in all his royal pomp.

I took the laptop, and spent a couple of hours per day working on several projects.

The primary focus was on Album #3, Memory Palace, a duo with Chris Russell, which was about half-finished, but on hold since my Stateside move two years ago. I’m wearing the Percussionist hat on this project.

The first task was to listen to the three pieces already done. Fortunately, I still like my parts, and I only made a few tweaks to one of them.

So, my parts for two pieces remained to be done. Elements for one of them had already been recorded on New Year’s Day ’13, so only the arrangement remained. This one is atmospheric rather than rhythmic, and utilizes some amusing homemade/processed samples. I think of it as the album’s slow movement.

The final track is more complicated, as it will be alternating acoustic and electronic grooves – with some potentially thrilling polyrhythmic crossfades, as the electronic parts are all in odd-number time signatures (I got to wear my prog rock drummer hat again!). Anyway, I got those parts done, so hopefully a studio session or two with the acoustic drums will finish this. Then it’s over to Chris.

There was enough time to spend one day each on two future projects:

First up was the Ambient Orchestra Concerto. It was time to get clear on the basic parameters, so it’s not merely a warm and fuzzy idea any more. I hope to start working on this late next year, with 11 colleagues signed on and hopefully more to come.

Kalman Walks the Line 2

The last day’s task was listening to some live improvised pieces from last year, and making notes on how best to work them into proper compositions. There are probably two albums’ worth of these, and I hope to get them moving in the new year.

Forest 26

Finally, the Retreat Center’s Cultural Building looks like a fine live setting for the music, and its visitors are very likely to be an ideal audience. So I’ve begun a discussion with the events manager. I’m hopeful that we’ll arrange a performance for the spring or summer.

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Album Review: Home by Chris Russell

Album cover: Home by Chris Russell

Chris Russell has released his third album on the Relaxed Machinery label, and fifth overall. Home is a double-CD and definitely a significant step forward in Chris’ musical progression. It’s easily his most personal and intimate album yet – his own River of Appearance, if you like. That’s the parallel which immediately came to mind for me.

As with the vidnaObmana classic, the decisive factor here is the use of piano, a recording first for Chris. You could call it Ambient Salon Music, and the piano at times sounds appropriately French. The pieces’ titles each succinctly capture their feel and meaning in one word.

The piano dominates the first disc, a strong presence in all eight pieces, lending a sense of place – of home. My two favorites here are the album’s longest and shortest tracks: Solace, a backyard sanctuary on a warm day, with the intensity ramped up at times by strings and strong bass, and relaxed by a quiet organ; and Glimmer, with bouncing hollow leads weaving a charged light-matrix, over an understated piano. Perhaps the album’s most striking piece.

Welcome opens the album with an almost Oriental feeling, aided by searing tambura-like lines, establishing a comfortable atmosphere. February closes the first disc with a quiet solo piano interlude, evoking the stillness of a sunny winter day with repeating three-note motives in the right hand.


Comfort by Chris Russell

The eight pieces on the second disc move into more ineffable and unfamiliar territory, as the title of the first, Ethereal, announces, with its long droning organ-string-pad chord and far-distant piano. Horizon has bass guitar harmonics under shimmering, reedy organ-strings and flitting synth-flute. In Dusk you can practically hear the sun setting, with a terrific, serene yet charged synth patch over clanky loose-strung bass guitar tones.

In Eventide, Chris builds up a big string synth chord, the sound of which neatly morphs, as if with the waning sun. Together Again closes the album with lots of processed birds and a soothing string pad, lending a serene feeling of homecoming.


Together Again by Chris Russell

Home flows by smoothly, but not lightly – rather, full of feeling and personal meaning. This album is a fine companion for a day… you know where. It’s available on MP3 from CD Baby, and is coming soon on lossless FLAC from AD21 Music and CDR from Hypnos. Highly recommended!

Wallpaper: Home by Chris Russell

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