All posts by Vytautas

Arafura HUMORES I - IV Review - Cover

Arafúra “HUMORES I – IV” Limited Edition Pre-Order CD REVIEW: A Science of Everything


To build an album around the stages of life, which themselves are viewed from the perspective of ancient medicine theory was definitely not a simple task for Michel de Jong when album was released late in the 2012 – supplying the underlying ideology and principles of thinking with audible medium calls for massive responsibility and mostly any compromise is out of the question.

I’m genuinely happy to say that “HUMORES I – IV” is an album absolutely worth your time – in multiple dimensions literally. Here’ s why.

0001055020_10

Lenght-wise the album itself is relatively short, 4 tracks sum up to only 30 minutes and 57 seconds. Even though most of the time the length is irrelevant, I strongly believe that this time we have a genuine exception. An abstract nature of Ambient music genre usually allows the artist to expand the emotional message to almost indefinite length, but that’s not the case with HUMORES I – IV. This is where immediate value is seen. For an album which primarily wraps the sound around the stages of life itself, Michel knew that this invaluable asset, unfortunately is well subject to the flow of time. Result of the album having 4 tracks is nonetheless fantastic. Hearing an ambient music which is respectful to the laws of time focuses the emotional levels into short bursts of melodic journeys that surface from the great instrumental buildups noticeable in each of them.

Each individual tracks have their own mood “attached” to them. Generally they relate to happiness, bliss, content, calm, melancholy, ecstatic and sad. However, it’s the overall progression through those moods is what makes the overall experience so special. Never I had experienced the feeling that I have heard the similar emotional pattern in previous track. The variety of moods being mostly isolated in individual tracks provides subtle certainty to music which is very open-ended otherwise. Conception, birth, life and decay are all very, very well expressed here.

0001055027_10

Properties of each individual piece relate extremely well to the theoretical part of Humorism itself. It’s hard not to relate the qualities of the track with the qualities of Humour – Track 1 being cold and moist, Track 2 – warm and most, Track 3 – warm an dry and Track 4 being cold and dry. The way how those qualities are being embed in the tracks is immediately heard as the selection of instruments perfectly provide accurate association of them. Playing the last track immediately after the first one would demonstrate a great level of perceived contrast between the two.

Another great thing about the album is how it manages to be infinite around it’s progression through the tracks. A seemingly definite conclusion of the track 4 quickly becomes irrelevant if you immediately start playing it again from track 1. Much as a life cycle itself, when something ends – something begins, and such cyclical tone could not be more welcome considering the idea and philosophy around the release. There is a great deal of emotional value packed and I was repeating the album over and over to get the most out of it.

As no album is perfect, HUMORES I – IV has a small drawback of that it is relatively easily forgettable. Of course, this is subject to personal impression and could not be applied to absolutely everyone who will ever listen to it, but I found myself detached from it roughly an hour after finishing listening. It is great and totally immerse while it lasts, but lasting “afterglow” is not there some time after. Don’t let that keep you away from it though!

0001055025_10

At the beginning of the review it was briefly mentioned that HUMORES I – IV is worth your time in multiple dimensions. Apart from the fantastic tracks that you will hear there are also little things that come together with the disc and add significant value to the purchase.

First is the Arafúra button that came along with the package. It looks great!

I have also got a sticker of the label which released the album.

There was also a very nice thank-you note attached. I personally appreciate such short and warm messages to the listeners…

And last but definitely not least, something that I absolutely loved was the little piece of artwork that was made by Yvonne Brouwers. The artwork has been cut into pieces and everybody who pre-ordered the album has received one. This shows that the central theme around the release can’t only be limited to the CD itself, but materialise around it, too. Mine is numbered 18…

857941_292054924256992_814540911_o

All these little things clearly show that Michel de Jong and everyone who has worked on this project have put their hearts and souls into making the album. Such warm and caring relation with the listeners cannot be overlooked, and definitely adds more value to already fantastic offer.

Overall HUMORES I – IV is a great, unique and carefully crafted album that makes a significant contribution to the genre – applying unique and bold ideas which are expressed through array of organic and smooth instruments, and evoking relevant emotions along the playlist. I strongly recommend the album to the fans of the genre and I do recommend it to anyone who is yet to experience it.

Purchased copy of the album was used to write up this review. A total of 15 active listening hours have been committed before submitting the impression.

===================================================

Arafúra @
Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/arafura

Arafúra @
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ArafuraMusic

Arafúra @
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/ArafuraMusic

Arafúra @
Bandcamp:
http://arafura.bandcamp.com/

Please support the artists you love – they have been working long and hard to provide their best efforts for your lasting pleasure listening to something you enjoy. Times have changed and great music is really not that expensive. Thank you. 

Even Though We Sleep

Stray Theories “Even Though We Sleep” Limited Edition CD Review: Deep Dive

I will admit straight away – it is not easy to write a review for an album which does not impose any clear idea as to what the song wants to communicate to the listener. The amount of space and depth that Micah Templeton-Wolfe presents us in his album “Even Though We Sleep” is immense, but is it enough to represent the top tier in the genre?

Let’s find out.

0002147985_10

One prominent feature of the album is how fast it indulges the listener to the absolute sonic heaven starting track 1. Even though there is a definite beginning and  ending of each track in terms of musical harmony, it feels like it has been arranged to actually begin on first track and end, well, when the album itself ends, even a bit open ended. Such continuity and integrity, when properly maintained throughout the album, without any doubt creates nothing short of a story, which is up to the listener to create. It is clear that the album itself does not try to establish a dialogue with the listener. Rather, it feeds the abstract harmonic melody in the soul and leaves it up for the receiving end to create whatever they like. It is without any doubt, a great thing. As long as you set aside from the environment and commit to spend some personal time with the help of the music, great emotions will surface.

Musically speaking, there does exist a somewhat mild emotional contrast throughout the album. Mood variations are present in some tracks (Everyone Falls, Blackout ) and truly surface in a couple other ones (Even Though We Sleep, Existence). You will be taken up and down the emotional wave, but none of that is too disturbing or disorienting. Healthy oscillation between uplifting, alarming and epic feelings is there, but it never knocked me out to the point where overall integrity of the playlist would break.

0002147971_10

Perhaps only one minor drawback of the album is that it does not explicitly close off itself to a definite conclusion. The last track, regardless whether you count the bonus one in our out, leaves the listener in vast open-ended domain without hinting a resolution to the epic journey. Taking the effort to build up entire set into consideration, I had to look for a definite conclusion of the listening experience outside the disc, namely playing tracks like “All I Know”,  “Exposure” and “Signs of Life”. It’s an absolutely minor drawback though, and overall impression of the album does remain nothing short of amazing.

Even Though We Sleep

“Even Though We Sleep” overall, does live up to the expectation with flying colors. Presenting the unique, omnipresent and lasting ambient sound through well maintained emotional journey and rejuvenating the soul and mind is what it does the best. You couldn’t ask for anything more when it comes to ambient music, really.

I strongly recommend the album to anyone who likes the ambient, cinematic music genre, and I do recommend it to anyone who has yet to experience it.

Purchased copy of the album was used to write up this review. A total of 10 active listening hours have been committed before submitting the impression.

===================================================

Stray Theories @
Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/straytheories

Stray Theories @
Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/straytheories

Stray Theories @
Twitter
https://twitter.com/straytheories

Stray Theories @
Bandcamp
http://shop.straytheoriesmusic.com/music

Please support the artists you love – they have been working long and hard to provide their best efforts for your lasting pleasure listening to something you enjoy. Times have changed and great music is really not that expensive. Thank you. 

atb-face-to-face-video-snippet

“Contact” by ATB is hitting the stores soon. Here is why I’m hyped up.

We are more or less 5 days away when ATB’s newest 2/3 CD album “Contact” hits the stores. An international star DJ blasting out amazing tunes for more than 15 years is ready to release it’s 9th studio album, and it looks like this time it’s going to be something special. Check out the album preview mini mix while I explain why.

Levels ok? ok. You see, I personally believe that during a career of successful producer, one is eventually bound to deviate from his own roots in a name of progress and evolution, innovation and fresh content. As much as there is nothing wrong with that, to the fanbase which has been nodding their heads off one of the very first ATB tunes the need for the original and time proven sound is becoming more and more evident. To me it sounds like Contact will be the album that is going to re-visit those roots more than other albums which came out after No Silence. It’s obvious that technically it won’t be the same is it was back then, but the emotional presentation is where you go like: “Yep, he’s back”.  Perhaps this feeling is why I’m really looking forward to the release date. Contact should be that missing, nostalgic connection to the past which Andre himself has created and that’s why I’m hyped up.

Take it easy.

 

Borderlands Wallpaper

Top 10 Games I loved the most in 2013

Yeaaaaaaaaah boiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii! It’s this time of the year to list the best games of 2013 isn’t it? Ok I admit it’s a bit past due, but hey, nothing wrong setting that in stone right now. 2013 has been a great year for gaming. Not only there has been lots and lots of great games released, but we have also been blessed by the launch of the next generation consoles by Sony and Microsoft. I picked 10 games which I have enjoyed the most in 2013 and will list them here in descending order. Keep in mind though, that this list contains titles which were released before 2013. Then again, a great game is a great game and release year should not matter at all.

I can recommend all of the games in this list. They kept me busy playing them for considerable amount of time and met my expectations.

So here we go, my TOP10 starts right here. Let’s go!

Number 10 – Crazy Machines Elements


If you like the concept of Rube Goldberg machines, this one will most likely appeal to you a lot. Crazy Machines Elements provides a significant number of puzzles to solve, features a nice soundtrack and high quality graphics. It is also a very reasonably priced game, which means that you will get what you pay for and then some. Combine all that, and it truly deserves 10th position in the list.

Number 9 – Final Fantasy XIII-2


Final Fantasy XIII-2 might not be the best one in the series, but I definitely enjoyed 40+ hours of playing it. It has a decent story, great OST, good characters and lots of replayability. The game might have deviated from it’s roots, but for one I did enjoy it a lot and will definitely pick it up some time again.

Number 8 – Saints Row: The Third


Wacky-ass open world action, gang fights, over-the top setting, great characters and cool story kept me playing this game for oh so long. Saints Row: The Third wraps you into it’s crazy world and just doesn’t let go. It’s original, it’s got unique personality to it, and it’s well worth to be number 8 on this list.

Number 7 – Driver San Francisco


There is no Denial that Ubisoft has paid a proper attention to the newest installment of Driver series. Driving all those different vehicles proved to be fun and entertaining, and even though it’s not a simulator type of a driving game, the mechanics of driving were something that I really loved. Offering a huge selection of cars and multitude of crazy challenges, as well as introducing the oh-so-fun shift mechanic to the game made me play it over and over again. The story is not something that this title can be proud of, and multiplayer is essentially dead, but it nails the most important part of the driving game – the driving, and that’s why it’s at honorable 7th position in my list.

Number 6 – Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch


At the time when it looked like that JRPG genre has ran out of any good titles to put on the table, Level5 studios have dropped one of the most amazing games that I ever played. It is the story and art that are absolutely fantastic. It is the great game mechanics and replayability that makes it so damn good. If you are an RPG fan, it’s a must have. If you are not an RPG fan, you might become one upon playing it. Art style of iconic Studio Ghibli ;soundtrack composed by Joe Hisaishi, Rei Kondoh and performed by Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. Top quality stuff.

Number 5 – Far Cry 3


This one is truly an amazing and insane game to play. An open world FPS with great story and mechanics – Far Cry 3 provides truly immerse experience featuring one of the best villains to EVER come in the video game. Extremely well balanced to tailor to your gameplay style, whether you are sneaky bastard or commando style player, Far Cry 3 is not to be missed. Oh did I mention that graphics are absolutely fantastic? And that there is co-op mode featuring separate story? In short, do not miss this one.

Number 4 – DmC Devil May Cry


There has been a lot of negative blabber going on about the new Dante and I am glad I have gave this game a try regardless. For a hack-and-slash type of title you are going to get so much action and style it will make you crazy. I think Ninja Theory really did almost everything about the game right: Story is not the best one out there but it has good momentum and flow. Soundtrack is absolutely BONKERS, and I couldn’t help but appreciate the badass vibes that Noisia and Combichrist provided for the game. Level design is gorgeous and most of all, the style and fun factor is over the top. Add great replayability, variety of weapons, crazy bosses to the list and it’s at the fourth place easily.

Number 3 – Borderlands 2


When this one was given away for free on my PS+ subscription, I did not expect much. I was so, so wrong. In 2 weeks this game was able to capture my full attention and I can’t wait to play more of it every day. SO MANY THINGS ARE DONE RIGHT ABOUT THIS ONE: It has a funny, engaging and interesting story, the characters are unique and done extremely good. Voice acting, art direction, soundtrack, millions of randomly generated guns, grenades, loot, side missions and online. All of that is so well done I’m concerned that this game would eventually end up in the 2nd or 1st place of this list had I played it through entirely. A good reminder for me to keep from “judging the book from it’s cover” and give it a chance. If you like FPSRPG genre, do not, I repeat, DO NOT miss this one. It’s a must have. I love you Gearbox.

Number 2 – Bioshock Infinite


The title that has turned me into HUGE Bioshock franchise fan right away. A love-hate relationship at first which came to conclude as one of the most emotionally engaging and challenging one. A story that spans 3 Bioshock titles altogether and the detail of everything that this game offers. I was blown away. It is extremely rare that a game franchise gets better and better over time, but Irrational Games have done it oh so well. When you watch the credits roll with your jaw on the ground and try to realise what just happened, and then replay the game to put all the pieces together, and then replay it again, you know you have played on of the best games this generation – and that is Bioshock Infinite. Nobody should miss out on this title.

Number 1 – Tomb Raider


There are so many emotions going through my head when I think about this game. Maybe it is because original Tomb Raider was one of the first games I have ever played. Maybe it is because of the danger, adventure and epic tombs to explore. When you look at the game cover and so many great memories rush into the head, you know you are dealing with a masterpiece. I have been waiting for a new Tomb Raider for so long and what we have got did not disappoint what-so-ever. Crystal Dynamics were put under huge responsibility when they started to work on Tomb Raider – you just cannot make a half-assed reboot of a franchise which has millions of fans all over the world. They have met and exceeded all my expectations, bringing a game which has fantastic story, soundtrack, game mechanics and replayability. I have spent hours and hours playing Tomb Raider and taking everything what the island had to offer. This is a franchise reboot that has set off on extremely good track and I can’t wait to play more of Tomb Raider in the future, and this is my personal Game Of The Year 2013.

 

This concludes my personal Top10 for 2013. I hope you will give at least one of those games a try and enjoy playing them. I sure did. 2014 is here and there are already a few titles which I am looking forward to play, but let’s see how it turns out at the end. Take it easy!