"Astralfish hails from the Spirits Burning collective run by Don Falcone, a San Francisco ambient/electronic/space musician who founded Noh Poetry Records. Main Astralfish members Falcone and performance artist/musician Bridget Wishart (Hawkwind) are joined by a host of collaborators including Gong's Daevid Allen, Grindlestone guitarist Doug Erickson, Gong Matrice bassist Pierce McDowell, Mooch guitarist Steve Palmer, and others. The album was mastered by renowned electronic artist Robert Rich.
"Far Corners" is all-instrumental save a lyric-less vocal on one track. The second half of these 18 tracks differs from the first half via the ample addition of rhythm bits, bass and guitars. The albums first half, though not beat-less by any stretch, makes liberal use of string sounds, bowed bass and violin. These tracks are more ambient and spacey.
Only one track breaks the five-minute mark and the recording feels like a series of mood pieces for film or television. The sound is excellent and seamlessly varied throughout. There are several great guitar performances, something you don't get a lot of in this genre."
-- Rick Tvedt, Progression Magazine, #63, Spring 2012 (rating: 14 out 16)
"Bridget Wishart seems to be hitting a peak of productivity. Added to her occasional work with Spirits Burning, and the Djinn collaboration with Alan Davey, there have now been several Omenopus releases and the two Allies and Clansmen compilations featuring several of her other side projects. Although best known to Hawkfans as a vocalist, much of her recently released work is instrumental. On the mainly instrumental "Far Corners" she plays EWI ("electronic wind instrument") facsimiles of clarinet, violin, oboe and synths. Don Falcone of Spirits Burning is the main collaborator but several other familiar names appear, including Daevid Allen, Steve Palmer of Mooch and Richard Wileman of Karda Estra. "Far Corners" is less austere than Karda Estra, more disciplined than Spirits Burning and less spacey than Mooch. In fact, despite its title, "Far Corners" is probably as close to mainstream as her Bridget's work gets, smoothly combining easy listening, modern classical, jazz and ambient music. "Clouds Gather" even slips into space rock territory but almost everything else is mellow and melodic, and only occasionally slightly more challenging. This very enjoyable CD was released on Noh Poetry this year. [Well Worth A Listen (**1/2)]
-- Graham P., Starfarer's Hawkwind Page,
"Astralfish is a new ambient project by Don Falcone from the US and ex-Hawkwind singer Bridget Wishart. They have previously collaborated successfully on several Spirits Burning albums. Also featured are 13 other more or less familiar musicians like Gong's Daevid Allen so theoretically this could also have been a new Spirits Burning release. On the other hand, this album is almost completely instrumental and the music differs a bit from the in itself very varied Spirits Burning stuff. The album combines space, ambient, jazz, rock and symphonic music and for the first time fully showcases Wishart's EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument).
You can immediately recognize Daevid Allen's glissando guitar in the short opening ambient piece "Far", and "Lil Utburd" continues from there with its electronic rhythms, bowed bass etc. This is the album's longest track and includes guitar by Steve Palmer. "Pepper Sky" is a mystical, peaceful track with some Eastern vibes and the beautiful "Riding The Seasons" verges on classical music. "Seven 8" is an exciting and small-scale piece based on Wishard's layered, wordless vocals and "Summer Snake" a soft, jazzy number with lots of wind instruments. "Song for a New Banana Day" is a pretty psychedelic, interesting short piece, and the longer "Pacifica" keeps up the soft atmosphere including for example some great guitar by Doug Erickson. "The Otter" is a bit faster but also quite soft and minimal track that also has some acoustic guitar. Bringing to mind Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk, "Key Rings" is perhaps the most intense track on the album and this one exceptionally also has an acoustic drum set. Perhaps the best moment on the CD! "Seeds at Night in a Trickster's Yard" continues in the little more energetic style and it has great going that slows down and mellows out towards the end. "Foray" is a bit more experimental track while "Cloud Gather" almost even starts to rock with real drums and guitar by Steve Palmer. The softer "A Short Thaw" and "Treepers" sort of bring to mind Massive Attack due to their electronic trip hop beats and the last track "Near" is a nice combination of acoustic guitars and electronics. In summary, "Far Corners" is a very pleasant, great and interesting album, although personally I might prefer some of the Spirits Burning albums that also have some heavier space rock touch."
-- DJ Astro, Psychotropic Zone,
June 7, 2012
"If you're looking for a bit of eclectic listening, you've come to the right place. From trippy space-jazz to charging prog to freeform funk and various points in between, the broad collective called Astralfish touch a number of musical bases on the rightly titled "Far Corners." Fronted by Bridget Wishart, who spent some time in Hawkwind, and Don Falcone, last seen around these parts as half of Grindlestone, Astralfish call on a number of side musicians (including Gong guitarist Daevid Allen) to help snap out 16 tough-to-classify tracks in under an hour. As much of a mixed bag as it is, it works well-especially if you have a short attention span or have your i-Whatever set to shuffle. With the longest track barely clearing five minutes, "Far Corners" is a small-plates kind of disc, but the sounds are so dense and well packed that you get a lot of unique flavor in each bite. This varied crew can handle a straight-up, rock-edged piece like "Cloud Gather," which begins slowly but kicks into wild, prog-guitar overdrive at the whump of a bass drum, just as well as it can coolly glide through the lounge-worthy, Middle Eastern airs of "Pacifica"-which also has its moment of guitar glory, all the more delicious for the way it flails against the watery rhythms behind it. The group's soft side is showcased in "Riding the Seasons," a piece that carries a strong dramatic/narrative feel without having to really raise its voice. "Lil Utbird" is a playful piece that starts out wearing a symphonic mask, which it whips off to reveal a tight, techno-style electronic side. Rich bass runs lay down an anchor as this one takes off on spirals of glitch. Falcone and Wishart are well known in prog circles for their work as Spirits Burning (which I confess I have not heard); with Astralfish, they may be able to bring their talent to a broader audience; there's certainly enough variety here to catch your attention, whether you're prog-ish, ambient-ish, or just good music-ish. Well worth a listen."
-- John Shanahan, Hypnogogue,
May 2, 2012
"Astralfish is a musical project formed by Bridget Wishart, Hawkwind's vocalist and performance artist between 1989 and 1991 and Don Falcone, leader of space rock collective Spirits Burning with whom she teamed up in 2003. In the ensuing years, Spirits Burning has featured members of Hawkwind, Gong and other space rock family members.
But this is the first album which fully features Wishart on EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) which makes it a fascinating showcase for the possibilities this sound sculpting piece of trickery can deliver.
Mastered by well-known ambient recording artist, Robert Rich, Astralfish harnesses the talents of 15 musicians, all of whom have previously worked with Spirits Burning and other bands like Culture Shock, Gong Matrices, Quiet Celebration and YAK.
It starts off with the cosmically driven "Far" on which Gong's legendary Daevid Allen appears on gliss guitars and the influences within it lean heavily towards that band.
From there, "Lil Utburd" takes off with delicious synthy and violin orchestrations from Wishart set against some explosive arpeggio synths, squeals, rattlers and kicks from Falcone. It is probably the defining track of the album with its many moods and textures - and would not sound out of place played within the Ministry of Sound or at an Ibiza festival.
A darker rhythmic storm brews in "Pepper Sky" with a penetrating synth sound and double basses against solid, echoing drums while a low piano underpins the trance-like melody line of "Riding The Seasons" before a swell of synths and Cyndee Lee Rule's violin washes over the soundscape.
"Seven 8" gives an all too brief chance to hear Wishart sing in loop of multi-tracked vocals and chorus with a simple drum beat underneath. Hauntingly simple it is too but very effective.
"Summer Snake" takes the use of the EWI to another musical space with it set to French horn and trumpet while Purjah's delicious tenor saxophone gives great breadth and soul to the composition.
"Song For A New Banana Day" gives Falcone a chance to channel sitars, strings and marimbas through his keyboards and "Pacifica" has the EWI sound set to Uilleann Pipes bringing about a deliciously Celtic ambience.
Falcone provides the percussive leads on "The Otter" through shifting rhythmic patterns which then moves into a gentle acoustic ending. "Key Rings" opens up into sassy electronic rhythms, hallmarked by a cool choir-like sound from Wishart's EWI.
"Seeds At Night In A Trickster"s Yard" unleashes a huge swirl of ambient sound before it pegs back into a more controlled guitar-led holding pattern. "Foray" is a delightful array of changing tempos and moods performed on such instruments as Izmir pipsi and with Doug Erickson's acoustic guitar giving it a mellow edge.
"Cloud Gather" takes on an edgier rockier dimension with Steve Palmer's guitar cutting through the swathes of percussion and fluting synths interspersed with almost jazzy electric piano.
Just a brief walk on the ambient side through "A Short Thaw" with violin textures interjecting from time to time before "Treepers" brings together a swathe of orchestral meanderings and "Near" returns it to its spacey roots first encountered at the very start with "Far."
Overall, "Far Corners" is a delightful way to spend an hour with its shifting moods and spacey patterns ebbing and flowing but never overstaying their welcome. Wishart"s use of the EWI is accomplished and polished, her rapport with Falcone at all times bringing great impetus and energy throughout. The next Astralfish offering can only build and develop on this firm foundation."
-- Alison Henderson, DPRP,
May 13, 2012
"Writing 'space' instead of 'space rock' would just have been confusing, but there's relatively little here that sounds distinctly like rock (a noisy romp of an exception like "Cloud Gather" notwithstanding). There is the occasional outbreak of distorted guitar, but it's rare, and far from dominant; there are, however, a ton of sounds that are frequently to be heard in such bombastic company. Rock itself is a peculiarly eclectic meta-genre, able to assimilate more or less any musical language, and that magpie sensibility is a powerful force here. There are elements of jazz; some distinctly Celtic melodies (and echoes of Afro Celt Sound System); moments of a modern classical flavour ('Riding The Seasons', more so than the wonderful Richard Wileman's contribution, surprisingly); a concern with the atmospheric that sometimes brings the music to the fringes of ambient; and several grooves that verge on funk. It's hardly unusual for accomplished musicians (and these are nothing if not accomplished) to have a wide range of stylistic interests, but there were a large number of creative minds involved in this project. The core of Astralfish consists of Don Falcone (synthesiser auteur and veteran of San Francisco's 1980s club scene) and Bridget Wishart (one-time Hawkwind vocalist), but on each track they collaborate with one or more additional musicians, both as composers and players. The best known of their collaborators is doubtless Daevid Allen, but all of them seem to be very active in the arena of psychedelic/ progressive/ spacey music, and I've even heard of a couple of them (including the aforementioned Richard Wileman, whose band Karda Estra is the name attached to some of my very favourite music); one of them, Jasper Pattison, is the bass player on some my favourite music from another field of endeavour, the anarcho-punk/ ska of Culture Shock and Citizen Fish.
I often valorize music that is edgy, challenging in an abrasive way, or psychedelic in a brutally overwhelming way (like sludge metal), but there's more than one way to skin a cat, and Astralfish (to over-stretch a singularly inappropriate metaphor) are able to skin all kinds of animals in many different ways. Their music sounds coherent across the whole album, which is partly due to the use of a consistent vocabulary, and certainly owes something to Falcone and Wishart's instrumental voices, but also has a lot to do with a distinctively warm and smooth production. The sound of the record is not at all spiky or angular, but expansive and inviting, and when it kicks off, as it does in 'Key Rings', 'Seeds At Night In A Trickster's Yard', or especially 'Cloud Gather', it is imbued with a powerful drive and excitement. Lead guitars sound entirely appropriate to the space rock idiom, as do many of the other sounds, while the basses and Wishart's EWI frequently reference jazz fusion, sonically if not rhythmically.
The terms of this vocabulary are so long established that, although they retain their capacity to signify, and have indeed gained much connotative value over the years (as with the synthesizer's long and torrid affair with electronic dance music), there's very little about them that sounds inherently transgressive now. As a kid, when I heard Steve Hillage or Here & Now (for example), there was something subversive about the sound, something intrinsically connected to the small squares of cardboard we were all so keen on, a sense of shared countercultural secrets. Nothing strikes me as particularly 'druggy' about this musical language nowadays, but Far Corners continues to mine a vein of compelling visual narrative in the complexities of orchestration and timbre that their musical resources enable. This is a deceptively complex, very hospitable and absorbingly atmospheric recording."
-- Oliver Arditi, Blog,
May 3, 2012
"The Astralfish CD is completely instrumental; it deepens and highlights the more electronic side of Spirits Burning, taking apart the elements typically associated with rock. Not surprisingly, the mastering job was entrusted to a sage of ambient music, Robert Rich. The album's sound maintains an ethereal, dreamlike quality in large part influenced by Falcone's work at the ambient label Silent Records, and by the experiences of Wishart in Hawkwind's "Palace Springs" and "Space Bandits."
In the quieter moments, like the song "Far" (as played by Daevid Allen), the atmosphere of "Far Corners" approaches the cosmicness of Gong and of solo Steve Hillage. Elsewhere, a psychedelic mood is diluted into a strange mixture of sounds and situations that are different yet complementary in ways: i.e. sinuous electro-jazz atmosphere and shadowy twilight to a classical old decadence worthy of Simon House. A few steps further evoke a rather restless and alien landscape, while others surf towards a relaxing and elegant semi-acoustic trance music with implications towards a "new age" soft symphony or even ethnic Indian ragas.
Despite the vast repertoire and a vague impression of chaos and disorder in the many different styles enclosed in short pieces, it compares to Spirits Burning. The sound of "Far Corners" holds together, beyond the initial concerns, after a few plays ... even taking into account that, in my opinion, the most interesting tracks are inserted around the middle of the disc and onward. Astralfish, like Spirits Burning are certainly a good addition to our progressive discography!"
-- Giovanni Carta, Arlequins,
April 28, 2012 [translated from Italiano]
"Astralfish are Bridget Wishart and Don Falcone, who here create cosmic melodies with a whole host of special guests including Daevid Allen from Gong. With sixteen tracks across its shimmering disc we should venture forth into the beautiful beyond to tell you all what glories there are to behold.
The opening track "Far" includes Allen's gliss guitars and has a other world feel similar to the Sacred Geometry releases and touching slightly on Eno's Apollo soundtrack. "Lil Utburd" begins like an Indian raga but moves into some big Vaughn Williams-style chords that break down into a funky bass section which kicks in the drums. A lilting melody carries through the piece giving its busy beats an underlying feel of melancholy.
"Pepper Sky" has glacial keyboards and rolling ethnic percussion similar to the works of Steve Roach in their ambient feel; then more forceful drums come in and the synth takes over the main theme again. "Riding the Seasons" has a lazy summer country afternoon feel, but one where there is something lurking in the woods and spies at you from between the leaves. Bridget's wordless vocals start "Seven 8" and gives off a similar resonance as Sheila Chandra's "Speaking in my Ancestors Voices." The Mellotron adds a haunting quality, giving the piece an ethereal feel. "Summer Snake" drifts with its haunting trumpet and sax and yet more Mellotron, this touches on the sound of David Sylvian's Gone to Earth, album especially the almost Robert Fripp-sounding guitars.
"Song for a New Banana Day" is an odd piece of quirkiness - its electronic percussion and gamelan rhythm making it sound like Eno and The Residents had mixed each other's music together, but it also feels like a prelude to "Pacifica." Here percussion holds together languid guitar chords and a synth melody while the bass hits a rumbling rolling Colin Moulding style, and when the lead electric guitar hits in, it's pure bliss. "The Otter" reminds me of Sylvian's "Words With the Shaman" - its deep forest percussion and desert guitars drag up vistas in the mind of exotic places the way they are seen through a camera lens rather than in actuality. "Key Rings" starts with an Eat Static burbling bass line that builds into a steady rhythm as the drums kick in. Here the synth melody feels underplayed while the percussion crashes away in a sound reminiscent of Phil Collins' later Genesis drum fills and rather excellent work its is too from Shannon Taylor. "Seeds at Night in a Trickster's Yard" starts with some powerful lead guitar which works into a driving rhythm and some carnivalesque organ before the track changes into a laid back guitar piece that sounds similar to Bill Nelson's expansive and atmospheric guitar fugues.
Ambient drones begin "Foray" while the guitar plays a sort of arabesque before the track drifts into segments of unease and then is jolted back into its earlier uplifting melody in a very Another Green World kind of way. "Cloud Gather" starts with a slight jazz piano before it punches into a straight ahead space rocker, all screaming guitars and thunderous bass and gurgling synths, at times reminding me of the Ozric Tentacles in its atmosphere. "A Short Thaw" is a minute and a half interlude that shimmers within its short running time and ends before you latch on to its melody proper. "Treepers" lulls you into a beatific state as its lush keyboards drift as if taking to the air, its sunset melody brings out the warmth of the end of a day. To end the album, "Near" relies on its steady rhythm while lark ascending violin creeps up the skyscaper over singing acoustic guitars.
The album is a mixture of what feel like film soundtrack sequences and sunlight drifting through chinks in a curtain ambience. Some of the pieces, I felt, could have hung around for longer so the listener could bathe in their atmosphere without being moved on to the next track too quickly, and its this that makes parts of the album seem like a soundtrack record. But this is only a small quibble up against all the wonderful ideas and music that hold the album together like an exotic tranquil afternoon. Search out this album, turn off the phone/computer etc. and wallow in its atmospheres."
-- Gary Parsons, Freq,
March 26, 2012
"Since both Don Falcone and Bridget Wishart are involved in this project, as they are in Spirits Burning, one might expect this to sound like that act. Certainly the space rock tendencies are here, but this is really quite a bit different. It's got more of a jazz element on a lot of it, while some sections feel closer to symphonic or chamber music. Among the other musicians here is Daevid Allen, bringing a connection to Gong. This is a cool disc that's really not like anything else out there."
Track by Track Review:
Atmospheric musical textures make up this cool instrumental. It's pretty and mysterious.
There's sort of a similar vibe to the previous track on the opening of this, but then it becomes more rhythmic and starts to rock out more, threatening to move into Hawkwind-like territory. The bass is pretty awesome as it swims around in the backdrop. There are some violin sounds and heavily processed, distant vocals on the tune. It turns more towards atmospheric tones after a while with a keyboard driven melody that takes it out.
There's almost a horror movie sound to the music that opens this and as it continues to build it does feel rather creepy. After a time it turns almost jazz-like for a while. Then a real symphonic element is heard along with the other sounds as this evolves. It's quite freeform and also very cool.
"Riding the Seasons"
This number is quite classical in nature, early on. As it continues it resembles space rock flavored chamber music. At times it feels quite quirky. At other points it seems to follow pretty satisfying lines of musical reasoning. Later it takes on a motif that's more like a symphonic progressive rock jam, rising up pretty far in volume and passion. A piano based section closes it.
Percussion and layers of non-lyrical vocals create a real world music sound to this piece.
Space meets jazz on the early portions of this piece, at first just melodically, and then some rhythm joins as it builds out. It becomes more electronic after a time, but there is a definite organic texture in place. Harder sounds come in later as guitar and saxophone seem to fight for domination.
"Song for a New Banana Day"
There is definitely a sense of freeform chaos here as this piece combines electronic music, jazz and classical into a rather strange (but tasty) tapestry. The bass really steals a lot of the thunder on this one.
A slow moving piece, this has a lot of world music mixed with space rock, classical and other textures. As this develops the space elements turn a little noisy, but in a good way.
This bouncy number feels a lot like world music. It's quite percussive and intriguing. There is space onboard, but this really is a world music number.
Feeling very space oriented as waves of sound swirl around early on, this grows gradually at first. Then the rhythm section joins and this tune really powers out nicely. It's among the most purely space rock numbers here and the bass really drives it. There's still some fusion in the midst.
"Seeds At Night in a Trickster's Yard"
A dancing, driving bass line holds down the early parts of this while a melodic guitar soars overhead. Then it works out to more of a pounding kind of space rock for a while. It drops way down to a mellow, slow moving, keyboard laced sound from there.
Noisy, yet mellow, waves of space open this. The cut works out to a moving procession from there. It has a definite space meets fusion and RIO sound as it continues to reinvent itself. It drops to very open and sparse areas of space later and this has a very freeform aesthetic, yet still seems to flow in a logical way.
After a brief section that's quite sedate and rather freeform, this powers out to the hardest rocking space jam of the whole set. Guitar screams over the top and keyboards join at points. This thing really pounds away, working through a couple different timings as it continues. It works back out to similar sedate territory to end.
"A Short Thaw"
The bass figures prominently in this arrangement, one which combines space rock and jazz nicely. Although short, it's dramatic and powerful.
There's an almost symphonic nature to the waves of electronic meets jazz and space sounds that make up this cut.
The space rock sounds dominate this one with violin and keyboards creating the majority of the melody and majesty. It works through pretty organically and in a satisfying way.
-- G. W. Hill, Music Street Journal,
March 26, 2012
"The Astralfish album is structured much like a Spirits Burning album, with Don and Bridget assisted by contributors that vary from track to track. When asked why Far Corners didn't become the third Spirits Burning-Bridget Wishart collaboration, Don explains that the Spirits Burning albums with Bridget feature vocal songs, showcasing Bridget's voice. Astralfish intentionally goes in a different direction, being all instrumental and providing a platform to fully feature Bridget's EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) playing for the first time. Furthermore, the duo decided to go with smaller ensembles than is typically seen on Spirits Burning albums.
Far Corners consists of 16 tracks, mostly in the 2-5 minute range, and the music is more stylistically consistent than most Spirits Burning albums (which are intentionally varied). The album is characterized by a space-ambient-jazz-orchestral-world music flavor, though it can rock out as well. The EWI is quite the chameleon of an instrument, with Bridget emulating a range of instruments including clarinet, violin, oboe, trumpet, guitar, synths, and uilleann pipes.
I won't cover all 16 tracks but will touch on some of the highlights. "Far" is a space-ambient-jazz piece with beautiful gliss guitar from Daevid Allen, alien synths by Don, ambient jazz ("bowed") bass from Karl E.H. Seigfried, and Bridget"s EWI doing clarinet. "Lil Utburd" is a varied track, starting off spacey orchestral, and then launching into a rocking mixture of electro-dance, funk, reggae and jazz, with an EWI produced violin lead melody. "Pepper Sky" has a soundtrack feel, being dark, intense, orchestral, jazzy, with lots of impressive thematic development for only 4 minutes. "Summer Snake" features EWI produced saxophone playing jazz leads, accompanied by stinging guitar licks from Frank Hensel. "Pacifica" is one of my favorites, being a kind of Space Rock-Prog-World Music blend, with EWI produced uilleann pipes and synths and nice acoustic and electric guitars from Doug Erickson. "The Otter" is a beautiful tune, with a space-ambient-jazzy vibe and a cool rhythmic pulse. "Seeds At Night In A Trickster's Yard" is one of the more rockin' tracks, at least initially, with a driving electro beat and guitar leads from Richard "Karda Estra" Wileman, but suddenly it descends into slow grooving melodic ambience. And then we're really rockin' on "Cloud Gather", with ripping guitar from Steve Palmer (Mooch, Blue Lily Commission), though it also has its ambient-jazz moments.
So yes, after having been immersed in the album it makes sense that Don and Bridget decided to call this project something other than Spirits Burning. Another fine effort from two of the more creative, diverse, and active members of the contemporary Space Rock scene."
-- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations,
March 26, 2012
"Astralfish is Don Falcone and Bridget Wishart in instrumental mode producing sixteen tracks that 'mixes space, ambient, jazz, rock and symphonic,' with support from Daevid Allen (who appears on the track "Far"), Richard Wileman of Karda Estra, Martin Plumley of Chumley Warner Bros, Culture Shock's Jasper Pattison, Mooch's Steve Palmer and a number of other members of the space rock, Spirits Burning, fraternity."
Don and Bridget certainly do explore all of those genres that they identify in their press release, but the record still sounds like a cohesive whole. These are short, sometimes almost thumbnail sketched tracks - none of the elongated movements that so often appear on records reviewed here - and it"s fresh and approachable because of that. At the same time, the textures through the pieces have a nicely varied feel due to the revolving cast of musicians and instrumentations. So "Summer Snake", gloriously smoky and atmospheric, derives its sense of identity from Purjah's tenor sax, while "Riding The Seasons" is informed by Cyndee Lee Rule's violin and across all of the tracks there's Bridget's EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument) delivering a range of tones from violin to oboe, French horn to pipes, synths to guitars. 'Key Rings' has a bright ease about it that colours-up its repeated electronic rhythms, "Cloud Gather" cuts a heavier line with some nicely distorted guitar work - it's all about that sense of range.
So, while it's not really possible to describe this simply as a diverting change from standard Don Falcone / Spirits Burning fare, since there are other diversions from the SB format that Don's been releasing recently, such as the ambient-industrial Grindlestone album Tone from late last year, and because SB fare is 'non-standard' and unpredictable in any case, Far Corners clearly represents another angle both on Don's work generally and his collaborations with Bridget more specifically. It's a little 'background' perhaps but again that's part of what makes it work - I do like to have this sort of thing easing the work along when I'm writing - and it's multi-faceted enough to intrigue the listener into following its gentle meanderings, listening out for the next texture change and picking out its nuances and moods."
-- Ian Abrahams, Spacerock Reviews,
March 18, 2012
"When music has no lyrical content, its titles become gnomic and mysterious, intentionally or otherwise. 'Our Floor With All Its Beliefs' could be taken in so many different ways, but to be honest I think it's best not to take it at all. Unless there is a very clear relationship between the musical themes and title it's safest to assume it's some kind of private joke or reference, and concentrate on the sound instead: and surely the point of music which refuses, not only verbal language, but the established tropes of musical narrative, is to present itself to the auditory cortex abstractly, as sound, in just the same way that the stone reproduced as the cover of Tone presents itself to the visual cortex. The experience of listening, I suspect, is intended to resemble the experience of seeing such a piece of stone, and touching it with the fingertips; it certainly struck me as analogous.
Grindlestone do not use the term 'field recording' in relation to this album; that term implies a degree of documentary rigour in the representation of a sound, an assumption that it is harvested whole. These sounds are very much constructed, although in some cases their source is an act of musical performance, and in others it is a 'found sound'. The degree of mediation involved makes it hard (if not impossible) to identify their origins, and indeed obscures the distinction between the intentionally musical and the aleatory; as the very idea of ambient music confounds, to some extent, the conventional distinction in use value between music and non-music, this seems to reinforce the searching questions that are asked of us, as listeners. The pieces collected on Tone are structures of long notes, extended textures, albeit that some of them are highly granular, or proceed in pulsing judders of attack and release. Some elements are tones, of which some are apparently generated by bowed strings, others synthesised or gathered from the wild; other elements are noise, although very few are harsh or abrasive. They come and go in accretions that build up to, and retreat from, defined maxima of density, outweighing the textures of chamber homophony (for example) but stopping some way short of a stampeding orchestra. Their ebb and flow is pelagic, surrounding and enveloping the listener.
'Elevator Music In A Silent Hotel' seems like a microscopic close up of the sounds that inhabit an elevator shaft, as much as it mimics in any obvious way the action or effect of an elevator. 'Fragments Of Past Sounds' is haunted by the human voice, but the element that resembles a voice is firmly the other side of the comprehensibility horizon, and could plausibly be the singing of tensile elements in a mechanical structure (but then, it occurs to me, isn't that what the human voice is anyway?); as the piece develops the sound mutates, and its vocal qualities recede. 'Of Enough Importance To Fear' drops small sounds into a hugely reverberant, bassy space, a vast gap between equally vast masses, like the central shaft of the Death Star, or the canyons of Ridley Scott's dystopian Los Angeles. There is sometimes a specific warmth, a harmonic richness to these sounds, but their ambience is that of a cold and somewhat threatening space, it seems to me. There is something of a rusted, urban pastoral about this music; it resembles the night noises of a somnolent industrial cityscape.
This is not 'heavy' or disturbing music, but its atmospheres are clearly both unsettled and unsettling. It is assembled with a meticulous attention to the interactions between its elements, its various layers often painstakingly equalised so that, even at its points of maximum density, the music is sonically open, orderly and comprehensible. These sounds are mixed in stereo, but the resulting spaces are convincingly three dimensional, locating the listener as a subject within the soundworld rather than an external observer. Clearly the consequence of a thoroughly considered creative agenda, realised with intelligence and expertise, Grindlestone's aesthetic is a fairly desolate one, but it is an aesthetic in the conventional sense; there is beauty here."
-- Oliver Arditi, Blog,
May 21, 2012
"Tone is the second CD by cosmic, experimental ambient project Grindlestone that was formed in 1999 by American musicians Don Falcone and Douglas Erickson. We are familiar with these guys from bands like Spirits Burning, Spaceship Eyes and Thessalonians. The music of Grindlestone is created by manipulating music performances and found sounds generating a rather minimalistic, peaceful, experimental and other-worldly whole. This 53-minute-long CD has nine tracks that are all very ambient in nature. There is almost no beat and the music just floats onwards with its own cosmic flow. At times I'm reminded by for example Steven Wilson's Bass Communion but I guess they have been influenced for example by Fripp's and Eno's ambient works. The long track "The Fascination of Semantics" includes at first also some faint spoken word and I can also hear some guitar. Most of the very interesting sounds are made with manipulation, anyway, and the end result is very weird and special but also pleasant and soothing. This is just the kind of music that you feel like listening to when you want to close your eyes and detach yourself from reality and let your imagination fly. Some of the music on this album has been used on TV programs and there is a video of the opener "Our Floor with All Its Beliefs" on YouTube. Check this out!"
-- Dj Astro, Psychotropic Zone,
January 26, 2012
"With steam-engine hisses and the begrudging grind and squeal of well-rusted gears, Grindlestone's Tone escorts listeners along a path of dark industrial ambient. Taking sound sources ranging from "normal" instruments to field recordings of construction equipment and an MRI, the duo of Douglas Erickson and Don Falcone churn their way noisily through spaces that are minimal in structure but abrasively textured. While Tone never quite reaches the level of brain-crushing density common to the usual dark ambient, it's definitely cloaked in thick shadows and makes a good run at alienating the listener. However, you're kept in place by pulses of rhythm, sighing drones washing through the background and enough space between elements to make you want to hear what else is going on in there and where you're going next. In "Pictures We Almost Take," a repeating five-note rise and fall acts an an anchor in a sea of pulsing electronics and scraping sounds before Erickson and Falcone briefly clean out the space with wavering synth tones - and then let those five notes whisper at you from under the flow. It's not gone, and it's still watching you. "Once There Was Only" is the smoothest track, a quite-ambient flow of pads that, coming later in the disc after you've been trained to wait for a harshness of sound, spools out a line of expectancy for you to follow. Sounds that lift above the droning wash make you jump just a bit - because that may be the moment where it all turns. And then, brilliantly, it just doesn't. This is where Tone finds its core: the rasp and snarl of the industrial tones in most tracks mix with drones and moments of phrasing to leave a distant emotional sense in their wake, and that sense can carry over as the disc moves forward. These two musicians know their way around sound manipulation; they've been at it, in various guises, for a number of years. Grindlestone is just one expression of their output. At times bordering on inaccessible but capable of suddenly turning up a moment that fully captures the listener, Tone will be better received by fans of abstract expression and grim soundscapes. But even if that's not your usual taste, I guarantee that if you take the time to listen to it once, it won't be the only time you listen. Give Tone a chance to take hold."
November 17, 2011
"Grindlestone is Spirits Burning mainman Don Falcone and Doug Erickson from Zesty Enterprise. OUR FLOOR WITH ALL ITS BELIEFS: Instant out-thereness!! Sincere deep weirdness with Falcone and friends. Experimental industrial space strangeness. PICTURES WE ALMOST TAKE: More loveliness. Don Falcone always releases very quality relevant music. I think experimental music should be conducive to achieving a high state of meditation and to multiple listens and this CD is!!! ELEVATOR MUSIC IN A SILENT HOTEL: Great title and more great music. Not sure what instruments are involved or who's playing what but it all sounds excellent; droney spacey. The fact that mainstream America and even most "alternative" musicians aren't even aware of this genre of music makes it all the more special. FRAGMENTS OF PAST SOUNDS: I run out of words to describe this music but this track is a continuation of the excellence... super intense (without being abrasive) spaceness. LAST DREAMS OF AIR: More, more, more... If you were up for an evening of inner psychedelic exploration this would be the CD for you! Just put it on a loop. ONCE THERE WAS ONLY: When I met Falcone in 1998 he seemed to be musically immersed in a Hawkwind influenced sound but I would have to say this CD is much more evolved and original than that. What I always loved about space rock was the pure essence and realness of musical deep spaceness, as opposed to copying the song structure and stylings of famous space rock bands! THE NICHE IT CARVES: Sounds like a train going into the mountain of madness or space spiritual blissness. Don also always gets a really good, clean sound on his CD's that makes repeated listens a must. THE FASCINATION OF SEMANTICS: And the beat goes on except without the beat, just space weirdness and beauty. The only thing that would make this better would be to have Sharon and Carlton's Book of Shadows adding their layer of space magic on it, are you listening Don? OF ENOUGH IMPORTANCE TO FEAR: Last track, I've run out of words to describe the authentic coolness of these recordings. For me most CD's let me know within 30 seconds why they are not relevant, usually because the music is obviously derivative. But like I've said, this CD passes the test.
" -- Carlton Crutcher, Aural Innovations
#43, October, 2011
"Grindlestone is a collaborative project between Douglas Erickson and Don Falcone. You may recall the name Don Falcone from the old San Francisco Silent Records label, and his involvement in projects such as Thessalonians and Spice Barons, and his solo project, Spaceship Eyes. Don heads a space-rock collective called Spirits Burning which has been around about a decade and includes such luminaries as Gong's Daevid Allen and members of Hawkwind. Erickson has attended Robert Fripp's Guitarcraft workshops, performed with a couple of California Guitar circles, and also Spaceship Eyes and Spirits Burning.
The music on 'tone' is kind of an ambient-electronic soundscape punctuated with bits of noise and sequenced noise, LFO manipulations, etc.. There are 9 tracks but although there is space between them they seem to flow together into a complete work or soundscape. Not to say that there isn't variation from track-to-track (there most certainly is), but there is an unworldly similarity throughout. Actually, a good deal of 'tone' is downright spooky, eerie, and sounds as if it could have been made by ghosts. In spite of Doug Erickson's guitar background, I didn't hear anything that resembled normal guitar. (If he is playing any, it's been processed out of recognition, maybe Frippertronically so.) There is not much in the way of rhythmic elements, keeping the music in the cosmic ambient realm. I suppose you could consider much of it dark too, although dark ambient seems to imply a certain malevolence which is not present throughout. While not entirely minimal, much of the album is based on drone tones and dronish soundscapes but there are elements introduced throughout the various pieces that remove it from the realm of minimalism. Some of the ambiences could even be considered 'Enoesque'. While much of the album is placid to some degree (at least not violent) there are exceptions such as the rumbling eruption that begins 'The Niche It Carves' where it sounds like some huge spaceship has just invaded the galaxy as if it was piloted by Lustmord.
Interestingly enough, this album was mastered by Robert Rich, a name you should be very familiar with. Overall, 'tone' is great stuff for enthusiasts of cosmic and dark ambience, and beatless space music."
-- Steve Mecca, Chain D.L.K., October 3, 2011 
"The second Grindlestone CD is out as of June 2011, and it's not called "Two." The title is "Tone." As much as I liked "One," "Tone" completely blows it away. Not a bit of Fripp and Eno here (well, perhaps just a bit). This album is still Don Falcone and Douglas Erickson, but stylistically it's a world apart ... and above "One." This is really an album of what they used to call Musique Concrète, though I'm sure these guys use comuters and samplers to fold, spindle, stretch, pitch-shift, and otherwise mutilate their "found sounds" into this incredible atonal symphony of noise rather than the tape machines and splicing the original Musique Concrète composers used.
This album owes more to the likes of modern classical composers like Györgi Ligeti (famous among non-classical folks for the two spacey pieces used in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey) or even more like Basil Kirchin's Worlds Within Worlds. The sounds are unearthly, yet nag at the back of your consciousness as being somehow familiar. These are obviously not synthesizer effects, but manipulations of recorded sounds. You can even occasionally make out a mangled guitar sound. The subtle sounds can best be appreciated using headphone or high-quality ear buds (not the pieces of crap they give you with your iPod). Mastered by Robert Rich, who clearly "gets it" as to what an like this is supposed to sound like. This album is completely major-league music. It has nothing to do with progressive rock (or with either word by itself) or even space rock. But it is completely spectacular and highly recommended! Who needs LSD? Be prepared to have your mind expanded!
So here's where the wiseguy critic gets to guess the name of the next album. Stone? Or maybe Throne? Hey, I just hope there is a third album. They can call it anything they want to."
-- Fred Trafton, GEPR
Reviews, June 28, 2011
"Being newly introduced to this sort of sound by Grindlestone, I guess I would say it is sort of ambient-industrialish. All the different sounds are enticing and kept me wanting to hear more trying to figure out how the sounds were made. Echoes, storms, buzzings, distant voices, creepy stuff all coming together to make a beautiful album that could be a sound track to a movie I've never seen the whole way through, like Stigmata or Gothika or something similar. Very spooky! Had no problem listening to it during daytime driving but quickly turned it off and locked the doors while waiting for a friend at night. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed "Tone". Don't listen to this creepy shit alone." --Victoria West, KFJC Reviews, July 13, 2011
& The Deep Fix
"Low fi cuts from an unfinished
oddball science fiction radio opera. Has a Tom Waits feel, and
maintains the aesthetic found on old super hero records (a la
MF Doom / RZA samples). These are demo tapes from unreleased
album sessions by famed science fiction writer and figure Michael
Morecock with songs based on two of his novels." -- Barbra
Reviews, Dec, 2009
"The well-known science fiction/fantasy
fiction writer Michael Moorcock collaborated for a long time
with space rock legends Hawkwind and has also written some lyrics
for Blue Öyster Cult. His 1975 album "New Worlds Fair"
released as Michael Moorcock & The Deep Fix featured some
musicians from Hawkwind, among others, and the original vinyl
is highly collectable. After that the man haven't really released
that much music, apart from a couple of singles in the 80's and
occasional compilation releases. Moorcock was also involved on
the Alien Injection album by international space rock project
Spirits Burning released last year. The Spirits Burning main
man Don Marino Falcone was also the head producer on this CD
that includes demos based on Moorcock's Entropy Tango and Gloriana
novels. Michael, who has an interesting voice and a surprisingly
wide range sings and plays for example guitar while Peter Pavli
takes care of the other instrumentation (including cello, bass,
mandolin etc.). In addition, writer Langdon Jones plays piano
on one track. The album has as many as 30 tracks, most of which
are pretty short. A couple of pieces are also included as alternative
versions, and "The Tale of The Entropy Tango" originally
from the Hawkfan #12 album put together by Hawkfan zine's Brian
Tawn, that I'm sure the die-hard Hawkwind collectors have previously
heard, makes are-appearance too. These rather primitive and minimal
demo recordings that were made around 1977 and 1978 never led
anywhere and both the projects were dropped. So it's really great
that the original recordings have been unearthed and digitalized
and made public to the fans." -- DJ.A, TimeMazine Issue #4
really great that the original recordings have been unearthed
and digitalized and made public to the fans. Musically speaking
this is not exactly the Holy Grail of space rock, in fact it's
not really even rock. There are influences at least of folk music,
tango and experimental modern music. Manager Doug Smith was totally
confused about the duo's sessions, and so have been many other
people, as well. They were going to do Gloriana for the BBC and
Entropy Tango was supposed to be released along with the book
of the same name. The original idea was to get Brian Eno as the
producer. It would have been nice to see what might have been
achieved, but now we have to settle for these demo recordings
that I'm sure will be interesting for all Moorcock and Hawkwind
fans. Moorcock's health doesn't allow him to play anymore, but
he can still sing, so maybe we will hear some new music by him
one day." -- DJ Astro, Psychotropic Zone, 7/14/09
"The first thing to
note about these recordings is that they're exactly as described:
demos. Very underworked, unfinished, piano-and-strings- based
pieces with Moorcock's rich, winsome, vocals. That's not to say
that enthusiasts won't find this release of keen interest. The
dedicated Moorcock follower will find these tracks a charming
pointer to what might have been if there was the opportunity
to develop them further, so, from a historical perspective, a
great service has been done in getting these sourced and released."
-- Ian Abrahams, Record Collector, Febuary 2009, Issue
" . . . . an interesting historical
document." -- Starfarer's Hawkwind Page,
Part 28, March 2009
" "One" is the instrumental project
of California artists Doug Erickson and Don Falcone. Consisting
of ambient textures with guitar soloing, one can find hints of
industrial music with a canopy of loop based samples and self
described avant garde approaches. While not always prevalent,
their influences are Eno and Fripp, Robert Rich, Bass Communion
and Tangerine Dream. Fans of guitar-leaning ambient and tribal
experimental music may find this an interesting listen."
-- Mike V. Chain D.L.K., July, 6, 2009
One is a very
pleasant album to listen to, although occasionally the mood gets
rather dark. The music is mainly quite minimal and cosmic. All
in all, this is a very nice album that is perhaps best to put
on if you want to relax and get some distance from the dull everyday
life. -- Dj Astro, Psychotropic Zone, January 15, 2009
"Ambient electro, very chill and downtempo
and sparse to be almost experimental, but a definite presence
of electronica and beats, if swallowed. Very pretty and ambient.
Local artists." -- Your Imaginary Friend, KZSU Zookeeper
Online, October 21, 2008
" . . .
the two have created a musical entity something initially pointing
to modern Tangerine Dream or a clever sci-fi soundtrack with
the occasional nod to techno. However, the research and development
thrust of the collaboration appears to be in maintaining a balance
between digital pulse and background wash with a keen grasp on
restrained manipulation." -- Jeff Melton, Exposé
Magazine, October 2008
"If Fripp and Eno's two '70's
albums No Pussyfooting and Evening Star had included
Edgar Froese from the same time period (when he released Aqua,
Epsilon in Malaysian Pale and Macula Transfer), then
they would have sounded like One. Since these are among
my favorite electronic albums of that day, and totally defined
the "ambient music" genre (in my mind at least), it
makes me really like Grindlestone. Actually, though One
starts off this way, it also starts to incorporate some darker
ambient elements partway through (they've compared this aspect
to Robert Rich, which I must agree with), and these elements
fit nicely into Grindlestone's sound.
One is their debut release, and I love it. This is
some of the best ambient music I've heard since the '70's by
those very bands I just mentioned. For those of you who share
my passion for this style, you'll need Grindlestone's One
in your collection. I'm hoping for Two some day." -- Fred
Trafton , GEPR, December 12, 2008
guitars, bass, and a laundry list of synthesizers, samplers,
effects and percussion, Don and Doug have created a space ambient/soundscape/sound
exploration album that defies simple categorization. There are
13 tracks, and while they are consistent in their basic sound,
there's something very different happening on nearly every track.
. . . This is definitely an album that
begs multiple listens. Too much variety and so much happening
in this music to absorb it all in a single listen. And that's
a good thing." -- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations
#40, September 2008 [full review]
noise centered space ambient. I enjoyed it all." -- DJ Geoff
reviews, Jan 14, 2007
to a very few, Don Falcone and Stephen Palmer aren't exactly
household names in the gentrified electronic neighborhoodand
why in hell not? Falcone's been milling about under a variety
of guises since the post-techno days of the chill-out room, making
some tentative, low-key gestures first under the auspices of
Kim Cascone's former ambient brand Silent, trading as half of
Spice Barons, then later under the cheesier nom de disque Spaceship
Palmer's persona has achieved
higher visibility sloughing it out under his usual Mooch alias,
a moniker that's emitted five slabs of primo British synth-dub-prog
gooeyness on an irregular basis throughout the 90s, all hopelessly
obscure, all jim-dandy records that should be hugged tightly
to chest lest they vanish.
Ships is of a similar stripe to its predecessors, except
in this case the parts are often greater than the sum, which
itself is nothing to sneeze at. One uses "atmosphere"
a lot in the average musique critique, but Falcone and Palmer
paint their surroundings in big bold super-expansive swatches
that reek so strongly of far-flung alien utopias the average
olfactory sense needs the frontal lobes of Jeff Morrow's Metaluna
scientist from "This Island Earth" to process it fully.
No wonder Mooch's alter-ego's penned works of science fiction
in his spare time; such sounds are integral to the phantasmic
minutiae populating their Aldebaran studio, subsequently transferred
to disc. A splendid time is guaranteed for all present. Gesticulating
Moogs, rocket booster synth surges, robot-army percussion marches,
shimmering acid rains whipped by tornadic electronics, all makes
book there'll be many tooling up Gothic Ships quicker than Palmer
and Falcone's other cold-cranked hallucination engines."
-- Darrin Bergstein. e | i magazine, Mar 2007
"Lots of adventures in sound and fun freakiness!"
- - Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations
"All told, electro-fusion
music kind of ahead and not of its time, and frontal lobe-expanding
to boot." -- e | i magazine, Issue 6, Spr. 06
". . . this is fairly relaxed material, not
jarring, angular or edgy dare I say mellow? These
are eventful and intelligent sounds one can use for background
listening." -- Peter Thelan, Exposé
#32, September, 2005
& often captiviating ambient, space music. Features Kim Cascone
(from noisers PGR and early 90's experimental/ambient label,
Silent Records) and Larry Thrasher who's worked with Psychic
TV. Great late night listening." -- Ragnar of Ravensfjord,
reviews, Aug 24, 2005
recorded in 1996, 'Solaristics' (Noh Poetry, 2005) features a
trio of electronic musicians (Don Falcone, Paul Neyrinck, Kim
Cascone) as well as percussionist Larry Thrasher. The style ranges
from the linear jamming of Solaristics (funk guitar, cosmic-psychedelic
keyboards, African percussion) to the abstract electronica over
a steady tabla beat of E-Space, from the suspenseful waves
of noises and voices in Drowning Weather to the dissonant
dance music of Mining Camel." -- Piero Scaruffi
"Big bass and deep textures makes 'Solaristics'
the perfect chill pill." -- Thomas Dimuzio, Gench
"... you won't be the least bit
surprised to find that this is one of THE finest ambient albums
of early classic Orb/hints of early T.Dream - influenced magic
to come out in years. Right from the opening eight minute title
track, you'll hear chunky electro-percussive beats and rhythms,
swirling synths, electronic backdrops, a huge depth to the sound,
plenty of layers and a constantly shifting, solid yet wholly
atmospheric soundscape that just transports you to another dimension."
-- Andy G, CD
The northern California band Fireclan explores
the ambient side of space rock. Mychael Merrill (drums, percussion),
Luis "Zero" Davila (synths, percussion) and Don Falcone
(bass, keyboards, percussion, production) make a kind of meditative,
gentle space music that brings Tangerine Dream to mind, with
traces of Pink Floyd's more abstract tangents.
Overall, Fireclan is on the new age end of the
ambient scale. The song titles, dreamy white noise washes, bird
sounds and delicate synth bells make Sunrise To Sunset seem like
the kind of CD you would find at the hippie candle and import
store. That said, instrumental rock fans who look past the new
age trappings will be well rewarded. -- Nick Bensen, Free
City Media, 2007
The mind of this group is Mychael Merrill, a
daring percussionist who, in early 2000, began working with the
keyboardist Luis Davila, both struggling with soundscapes. With
Don Falcone - celebrated poet/musician of the Americano underground.
- did the rest, projecting the group Fireclan in a really more
adventurous and exciting dimension.
We can write a book on Falcone, here we limit ourselves to say
that this is one of the most prolific American musicians, active
in the first seminal Thessalonians and then in space-gods Melting
Euphoria and in a thousand projects like Spaceship Eyes, Trap
and Spirits Burning.
in the murky waters of unconscious. An excellent work. -- Donato
Zoppo, MovimentiPROG, Average rating: (8) [translated from Italian]
started as some "sonic soundscapes" (I read that as
"jam sessions") to 4-track-tape with drummer Mychael
Merrill and synthesizer player Luis Davila. After adding Don
Falcone to the project's roster ... they re-recorded everything
and invited some guest artists (including Gong's Daevid Allen)
to play as well. The result is a very spacey album that sounds
a lot like modern Gong (Daevid's glissandoz guitar is unmistakable,
though he plays on only two songs, and the bass lines sound particularly
Gongish as well). Recommended for those who might like a less
adventurous (and less silly) version of instrumental Gong but
with some modern touches as well. -- Fred Trafton, GEPR,
debut album, called Sunrise To Sunset is a wonderful, mostly
electronic work reminding one of the melodic atmosphere of Melting
Euphoria, but without most of the psychedelics.
It should be noted that Gong founder, Daevid Allen is on this
album and has more than a few co-writing credits for the album.
The album is very much in the vein of Ozric side project, Nodens
Ictus, but goes deeper into the Electronic world of Andy Pickford,
Synaesthesia, Early 80's Tangerine Dream and Valley Forge, also
interlaced with mid 70's era Pink Floyd. The music is what you
would expect from a former Psych band, spacey melodic pieces
with a great amount of atmosphere and depth behind them.
It's difficult to say whether you would like this album if
you are a Melting Euphoria fan, as this is definitely a different
music altogether. But if you like Melting Euphoria with a dash
of Electronic Music, pick this one up. Fireclan will definitely
Sunrise To Sunset. -- Adrian Mitchell, ProgressiveWorld.net
of 2004 list for Synth Music Releases -- CD Services Andy G.
"Now, it's not often in the field of electronic music
that someone does something genuinely new with it, but here is
a prime example - and it works!! ...For the most part it's multi-layered
synth soundscapes with lush backdrops, melodies, rhythms and
full-sounding expansive textures, but with this amazing rhythmic
propulsion from the bass and drums, all so accessible and atmospheric,
melodic and solid at the same time, but it's like no-one else
around, yet just fantastic music.
one of those albums that is intriguing and fascinating on first
hearing, then you really start to get into it on second play
so that by the time the third play is almost demanded, you are
just so into the heady magnificence and strong drive of this
rich and uniquely arranged set of compositions, synth music sounding
stronger than it's sounded in years, in fact more than mere "synth".
By anyone's standards, this is one superb album, timeless, accessible,
strong and confident, produced to perfection and simply amazing
-- Andy G, CD Services
. . (an) outstanding set of fluid instrumental spacerock tracks
that groove effortlessly and flow through numerous portals as
they make their way through dense clouds of sonic coloration."
--Peter Thelan, Expose #30, September 2004
"Overall, this is a solid effort by Fireclan.
It will appeal most to fans of the various space rock outfits.
. .an enjoyable album of superior 'chill-out' music."
-- Tom De Val, Dutch
Progressive Rock Page, Vol 48, 2004
". . . this is an outstanding set of mind-expanding
space rock that takes the legacy of Melting Euphoria in new and
exciting directions. Highly recommended."
-- Jerry Kranitz, Aural Innovations, June 2004 [Complete review]
"Chilled out grooving sonic
A cross between 'Rainbow Dome Music' & 'Stroking the Tail
of the Bird' constructed on an eclective percussive platform.
As always, Daevid's gliss guitar is transformatory. A very relaxing
pipe full or two of music indeed." -- Planet Gong, Kasbah, May 2004
". . . These three (Mychael Merrill, Luis 'Zero'
Davila and Don Falcone) along with a few guests . . . have produced
a brilliantly beautiful space rock opus entitled Sunrise To
For those of you out there who've been waiting patiently for
a new Melting Euphoria disc, this should definitely satisfy your
needs. Most of it is quieter and more atmospheric but it should
be an excellent addition to any space rock collection."
-- Floyd Bledsoe, Progressive Ears, May 15, 2004 [Complete review]
"In the world of ambient/synth-based
music it's nice to hear a release of dark, thought provoking,
ambient music, rich in depth and dimension, such music that is
on my sort of level. Deep, dark, atmospheric (for the most part,
It all adds up to a nice collection..." -- Alan Freeman,
"All in all, this is a hell
of a standout release for the oversaturated genre." -- Chuck
Innovations, Issue 17, September, 2001 [full review]
"... this is a good collection of (dark)
ambient tunes." -- Henrik Stromberg, Igloo Magazine, August 26, 2001
"A half dozen foreboding ambient recordings
best heard far in advance of bedtime. This is sound etiolating
as it unfolds." -- Marc Weidenbaum, disquiet.com, August 5, 2001
"... my favorite track on this recording
is probably Kim Cascone's Pythagorean Sea II ... This
piece is also my favorite type of Ambient because it changes
very subtly very slowly, almost like it's not changing at all
... Another work that really stuck out to me as a sort of perfect
Ambient piece was Steven Wilson's A Grapefruit in the World
of Park. This is a weird, very quiet Ambient piece. It's
definitely a slow drift atmospheric work ... this (CD) is
a fantastic recording that clearly represents a new school of
Ambient/ sound art ... Great job and great work. Definitely worthy
of a listen." -- Matt
Borghi, freelance music journalist/ AMG staff writer, July
"A great ambient space
music compilation ... Wild, experimental space and recommended
deep listening album." -- Dwight Loop, Earwaves Network, CD reviews Jan-Jun, 2001
"Just one of the very best rhythm-free
space-ambient albums you'll find on the planet with six tracks
of deep, dark, atmospheric, layered electronic music that is
so chilled and cosmic as to transport you into new dimensions.
... all equally ethereal and on the dark side of spacey. ...
this is fantastic from start to finish - you cannot live without
this album." -- Andy G. CD Services
"Here is a new collection for those who prefer the darker
side of ambient. ... Look into the face of dark, amorphous ambient;
this is your music collection. This third release from San Francisco's
Noh Poetry Records is a slick compilation." -- Lloyd Barde,
Falcone is probably best known for his keyboards and synth work
in the space rock group Spaceship Eyes. A prolific performer,
he's been active in the ambient and space music scene since the
early eighties and has recorded several albums with various groups
and contributed to numerous compilation CD's.
Quiet Celebration is his latest project and finds him exploring
interesting new avenues and infusing jazz and world music influences.
He is joined by frequent associate Edward Huson playing tabla
and bayan, Ashley Adams on contrabass and John Purves from Spirits
Burning, providing woodwinds (mainly sax and flute). On a number
of tracks, Falcone adds to Huson's percussion with the Udu drum,
giving them an upbeat quality and strongly enhancing the world
Quiet Celebration is entirely instrumental and all ten compositions
are by Falcone. For the most part, his synths are spacious and
atmospheric, providing a broad canvas for developing spacey or
jazzy themes. Sax is used frequently as the lead instrument and
along with Adams' acoustic bass, gives the music a late-night,
jazzy feel. However, it never threatens to become bland incidental
music, and has more than enough variety to maintain the interest.
Some pieces have a delicate, oriental quality, particularly when
Purves switches to flute, while others are closer to Falcone's
ambient roots, with subtle layering of sound textures and nicely
Falcone and Quiet Celebration have produced a near-perfect
blend of ambient and jazzy/world music, relaxing and mellow,
but always stimulating and engrossing. I was often reminded of
artists on the ECM catalogue (Jan Garbarek and Trilok Gurtu are
two that spring to mind) and I think fans of the label could
well find a lot to enjoy." -- Dave Griffith, Audion,
"This could well be Falcone's most impeccable recording.
Each atmosphere is carefully crafted, and the multiform style
never breaks down into discordant textures. On the contrary,
each piece is a clockwork of metabolism.
is as organic as music can get." -- Piero Scaruffi
"The sound is low
key and very organic, often reminding this writer of some elements
of Pseudo Buddha's Motive, with hints of classic Embryo, Popol
Vuh, or even some of the recent work by Urban Sax. This is definitely
excellent music for relaxation, meditation, or even sleeping.
Synths generally provide background coloration and lead melodic
elements that work cooperatively with the winds, as well as some
sampled percussive elements that, together with the tablas give
the set a distinct eastern flavor. ...it all flows very smoothly,
but at the same time it's not new-age fluff either... This is
one of those discs that gets more engaging with each successive
listen. Recommended." -- Peter Thelen, Exposé
a really atmospheric mix of ambient and jazz, electronic and
ethnic, electric and acoustic, all served up over ten tracks
that are totally enticing and largely uptempo thanks to the percussives
giving the rhythms a very Moroccan-sounding feel. ... melodic
and rhythmic for sure, as opposed to textural drifting, but with
a feel, heart and soul... Overall, a superbly played, composed
and produced album of exotic and accessible, timeless instrumental
delights. " -- Andy G., CD Services
"Here's an album
that could give "new age" music a good name: a rich,
well-written set of pieces which use the tools of the new age
lexicon to tell a story worth hearing. Truth be told, there seems
to be almost as much jazz influence here as anything ... Picture
Chris Botti sitting in on a really, really good Windham Hill
album. Quiet Celebration is, as the title suggests, a
very sedate disc... A great package in most respects." --
James Bickers, Progression, Fall 2000/Winter 2001
release expands on ambient and new age world musics with misty
explorations into distant influences. The result is calming to
the point when "Coal (July 9)" leaps out of the shadows
with its pulsating tabla and exulting saxes exploding. Further
listens will reveal more such ebbing within the sonic undergrowth
here, rewarding your return.."
Baker, Gajoob, Nov. 27, 2000
"Bayan, tabla, contrabass, udu and woodwinds
lend an almost ECM type sound to this music, which can be traced
back to Heavenly Spice Barons and the like. Late night drifting
sounds make up a kind of world-jazz, ambient style in this Quiet
Celebration." -- Lloyd Barde, Backroads Music, September-December
Celebration is a very different undertaking, being a combination
of ambient space music with jazz, classical, and world music.
I love the mixture of ambient space with real percussion. The
music is sometimes eerie, but is, overall, uplifting and has
a spiritual quality. I even detect at various times some Native
American and Oriental influences. Imagine Shadowfax without guitar
and you'll get something like Quiet Celebration." -- Jerry
Kranitz, Aural Innovations, October, 2000
keyboard lines have inherited the spookiness of Allen Ravenstine's
synthesizers, the fresco-like quality of Klaus Schulze and the
fluidity of jazz-rock.
The album is a marvelous display of post-psychedelic music in
the age of electronica." -- Piero Scaruffi
Eyes will appeal to spacers who are looking for something less
heavy and more dreamy. And I give it a thumbs up for being image-inducing
without chemical aid." -- Jerry Kranitz, Aural
Innovations, #3, July, 1998
". . . Think Hawkwind and TD, but then add the experimental
and tribal edge of Can and you'll be in the right ballpark."
-- Jimmy Possession, Jimmy's Riddle/Robots and Electronic
Brains, February, 1998
"In the vein of psych-trippers Hawkwind and the electronic
projects of the Krautrock artists, mainly Klaus Schulze and Tangerine
Dream." -- Marcos Cardozo de Oliveira, Metamúsica
#7, June, 1998
"This is a CD that one can listen to regularly - every time
it will probably approach in a different way. Another aspect
that leads this production out of the normal are hints from techno
genre ... a real unique release created in complete musical freedom."
-- Lord Litter, March, 1998 reviews
"Very pleasant listening is guaranteed here! Kamarupa
is ... something like a cross between Tangerine Dream and the
legendary Michael Oldfield... New age for the space age?! Great
material for the ones into that kind of trip... Or open enough
to discover it!!!" -- Remi Cote, Soundscape #2, January
". . . this is more designed for lying on your bed clutching
a glass of wine - or whatever chemical enhancements you desire
- and let the whole thing flow over you. If you are into Dream,
Tim Blake, Bo Hansson . . . then this could be right up your
street." -- Frank Blades, Avebury Project, December,
" . . . this recording clearly leans more toward the electronic
and explorative . . . feed(ing) seemlessly into one another,
forming a long continuum that is in a constant state of flux,
unfolding and growing, shifting and drifting. In all, high marks
for originality, overall concept and execution." -- Peter
Thelan, Exposé #13, Summer, 1997
"Falcone has a unique knack for being alternately playful
and awe-inspiring with his deep, fluid, flipped-out synth manipulations.
... Kamarupa is a sophisticated album for all space/ambient/psych
freaks, and is well worth checking out. " -- John Collinge,
Progression #24, Summer, 1997
". . . this is really a rather excellent multi-layered,
vari-soundscaped, superbly paced, ambient synth album with real
drums adding to the rhythmic range and a good, varied, solid
set of compositions featuring some superb synths and keyboards
work with a hand on the tiller of melody, perfect for anyone."
-- Andy G., CD Services
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