I will always welcome another project by Keef Baker since announcing the retirement of the main output under his slightly bastardised own name (Keith). This time his attention is focussed squarely on an official soundtrack for John Ossoway’s ‘River of Heaven’ role playing game released by D101.

Utilising the notion that the river of heaven is the name given to the Milky Way by the Chinese, it’s easy to grasp the concept of Baker’s intentions musically as the album opens. A firm grasp of Sci-Fi enthusiasm makes way for an aural cosmos of rich starlit sounds, which utilise key essences of computer game technology sound-wise and are wrapped up with clinical, yet warm beat play that stands firm with the aesthetics of Hymen Records.

There is much to be made from the press bumpf that namedrops Tron Legacy and John Carpenter soundtracks. Thematically speaking, the source material sustains the concept musically and the warping electronics enriched by glowing pads, drive home a vision of past future notions made reality; all within a balloon of modern space age electronica.

As always, Baker is the consummate professional where musical structure and composition is concerned; every note has a purpose, every ambient backdrop a rich bed for harmonies to bounce across whilst the rhythm sections remain razor sharp. This is a much different album from what we have heard previously from Keef, whilst retaining the ever so slight nuances that firmly stamp home the name of the composer.

Overall, ‘River of Heaven is one of those releases that I would have loved to seen released on hard copy to join my collection of his exemplary work; from an artist with more strings than his bow could possibly brace.





US based Australian composer David Shea returns with a semi-acoustic wash of immersive dream states pegged as ‘Rituals’. Shea spent time immersing himself in Buddhist and Taoist traditions; and in some respect these have come across in this aural representation of his thought processes.

Opener ‘Ritual 32’ drags on classical influences, interwoven with Dark Ambient, obscure pipes and piano work that glides off into a vast ravine as the song stumbles graciously; purposely losing its footing on the edge of the crags, whilst ethnic chimes clang in the distance.

In contrast, ‘Emerald Garden’, is a darker affair that loiters within a web of psychosis. Reverberated drama unfolds in a backdrop of cinematic terror, eventually concluding in a calming swamp of blissful drones; and whilst ‘Wandering in the Dandenongs’ meanders pointlessly in self-absorbed Tibetan dribble, ‘Sunrise’ picks up the pace with a range of tribal drum work; providing a welcome abstinence from an obsession with incense sticks and hessian rugs.

It’s at this point that I find myself torn whilst listening to this latest album. I have a deep appreciation for the majority of work on this release, especially where the ambient tones are concerned; however, I have never been a lover of music that bases itself of eastern tribal influences. Don’t get me wrong, Shea’s interpretation of such sounds, holds itself together better than the works of Z’ev and such like; but it’s still an irritation, in what is a competent display of pitch and tone.


LAWRENCE ENGLISH: Wilderness of Mirrors LP/CD ROOM40


LAWRENCE ENGLISH: Wilderness of Mirrors LP/CD ROOM40

Two years in the making, a lot is expected of English, given the amount of work the press sheet states, went into the production of this album; based on the poem ‘Gerontion’ by T.S. Elliott and a phrase that became associated with the campaigns of miscommunication within the cold war.

‘The Liquid Casket’, opens up the proceedings with frost tinged pads that splice quickly into a barbed overdrive of fractured distortion. Layer upon layer of ranging drones purposely envelop and swamp the track as it glides forward until they eventually amalgamate into a brash sea of dark ambience that envelops the listener; whilst still retaining a rich grasp of harmony.

Seamlessly folding into the title track, you could be forgiven in missing the crossover between songs, as there is little to differentiate between the two sound wise; and it’s up to ‘Guillotines and Kingmakers’ to source a break. Providing a quieter undercurrent of machine-like hums however, this once again tallies onto the shirttails of its companions as the epilogue of their story.

Lawrence has cleverly produced a seamless body of work, which drifts through nine tracks that pay no attention to conventional time constraints. Covering a wide range of Dark Ambient, teased with soaring pads and the odd undercurrent of rumbling power electronics; this is one of those albums that arrives at its destination without the listener noticing the clock steadily tick by.

‘Wilderness of Mirrors’, is an excellent display of engaging inky black atmospheres and attention to detail, that holds itself well within the genre; outshining many of the scenes top brass with ease.





Much is to be expected from London based Wrangler, upon noting their ranks contain ex-Cabaret Voltaire man Stephen Mallinder, Phil Winter of Tunng and Benge of John Foxx fame; as expectations are immediately set to a high level of anticipation.

‘Theme From Wrangler’ doesn’t disappoint as an opening gambit, with whispering visceral vocals, cutting through an electronic obscure, analogue glide; floating across a sea of drum machines and rich bass attack. In contrast, ‘Lava Land’ owes more to the earlier works of John Foxx, delving into more marketable territory as 80’s danceable synth is spliced apart with more Voltaire-isms than you can shake a stick at; and is as infectious as it is disconcerting.

‘Music IIC’ plays on Kraftwerk sensibilities, whilst ‘Space Ace’ thuds along in repetitive percussive and pulsating fashion; only to be bettered with the paranoid and psychotic ‘Harder’ that weaves, bobs and turns and pulls on all their influences overall, as one long unsettling journey.

Channelling Dark Ambient territory, the eighth and closing track to this album ‘Peace and Love’ is anything but, in a musical sense. Maybe this is all the love (and indeed the peace) that these stalwarts can offer us, as the grinding electronics come to a staggering halt. One thing is for certain; and that is, I do have a lot of love for the majority of this release.

British music has always revelled in its pioneer status and Wrangler hark bark to era where artists from these shores flew that flag with a vengeance. There is something wonderfully comforting about ‘LA Spark’ for an older listener such as myself, as the cycle of sound spins full circle; and back to an age, where there was an integrity to creating music as an art form that should be revered.


FRODE HALTLI: Vagabonde Blu CD Hubro


FRODE HALTLI: Vagabonde Blu   CD Hubro

‘Vagabonde Blu’ is Haltli’s fourth album represents his first true solo output and is recorded live in a studio created by the artist Emanuel Vigeland in Oslo1926; in his garden. The building eventually served as his mausoleum and has been used for recordings by Diamanda Galas and such like; and here, Haltli presents works by Composers Salvatore Sciarrino, Arne Nordheim and Aldo Clementi, relying on the studio’s (apparently acclaimed) dynamics; to a throng of chosen individuals.

The opening title track is a sea of reverberation and droning harmonies that are fairly unobtrusive; whilst track two, ‘Flashing’ is a nonsensical mess of stabbing sounds, that only come to life at towards the end of their laborious 14 minutes timespan. ‘Ein Kleines…’ represents the better work on this CD with a variety of instrumentation that holds its own as a rich display of uninterrupted musicianship that if embodied the whole album, would have produced a different reaction from myself, with regards to this being released.

As a sound installation, this once again holds the notion that most musical interpretations of this ilk are usually best served for the live audience alone. As a whole, without a visual accompaniment, this release becomes lost in its own interpretation.


DEAD FADER: Scorched LP Small But Hard Records


DEAD FADER: Scorched   LP Small But Hard Records

Released in conjunction with another album ‘Blood Forest’ (which wasn’t sent to me with this release), it would have been interesting to see how penning two releases at once panned out with regards to quality control overall; and apparently the two albums together do differ in sound.

Opener ‘Creeeeeep’ comes to life with a screeching distortion, interrupted bluntly with a crashing rhythm section and grinding bass, culminating in a sound not too dissimilar to a more electronically sterile EYEHATEGOD. Overall, this is an effective opener that luckily doesn’t meander on too much as to get stale.

‘1000 Test’ sets off in oompah oompah fashion, with a simplistic array of electronics and beats that fails to ignite the senses; and following on with the soulless ‘Dusk’ is a let down after the promise given by their opening counterpart.

The non-entity of ‘Danger Zone’ is an insult to ambient music, where little happens to engage the listener and is saved by the trip-hop isms of ‘Tubed’; that at least has a sense of purpose. ‘Ja’, thankfully has a blistering display of grinding electronics in its favour; with a decent display of beat play, that just manages to hold on from falling apart of the seams; which appears to be Dead Fader’s main failing.

As a project, I find DF infuriating at best, as there is much on here that could have been amazing if left in the hands of someone more competent when it comes to programming. The production is nothing short of shocking and whilst some individual sound sources are excellent, the sheer lack of compositional skill has culminated in a release, that is a disgraceful waste of vinyl when others are more worthy of the format.


[BASEMENTGRRR]: A Certain Kind of Decay CDr Raumklang Music


[BASEMENTGRRR]: A Certain Kind of Decay CDr Raumklang Music

‘After the Devastation’ opens this latest release by the curiously titled [Basementgrrr], in futuristic Dark Ambient style. Vicious whispers and clatters scythe through the machine humming mix and provide an effective deception at the true nature of this acts staple genre.

‘Dead Planet’ hits with a blast of complex electronics and science fiction led synths that flare through a barrage of rhythmic sources and scattered patterns; that are reminiscent of the underrated Totakeke. This all consummately feeds well into ‘Polyarnyy’; opening up with emphatic pads that meld into soundtrack arpeggio led beats and chimes, that are broken down into an effective structure that oozes competently with atmosphere.

‘A Certain Kind of Decay’ is one of those albums, which whilst doesn’t set the world on fire, nails down all its key components well. Fusing the occasional smattering of commercialism into the mix along the way (as on the furious ‘My Darkest Part’) supplying a relevant break in the bleak soundscapes envisaged; and provides enough twists and turns to keep the listener on their toes.

As a solid piece of electronic music that tightly knits dyed in the wool scene friendly industrialism, this latest album ticks all the relevant boxes and should please the many over the few. There is however, something that just fails to raise an adequate level of excitement in me and I struggle right now to place my finger on what it is; regardless of the obvious talent [Basementgrrr] so obviously possesses.