Archive for the 'Ambient' Category

Album – Last Embrace (Deluxe Edition) – Northern Room

Posted by admin on 20th December 2007

I received both the Last Embrace and Only Seconds EPs a few weeks ago and have to admit I was in a bit of a dilemma. When approaching a new band, I like having the opportunity of listening to earlier releases, as well as the latest one, to give me an indication of how the band has developed. Unfortunately sometimes it’s hard for me to not review both at the same time. While pondering this, I heard back from the band that they’d just released a new deluxe version of Last Embrace, which in effect combined both of the EPs, added some live acoustic songs and a bonus track, making to all intents and purposes a full album. This solved my dilemma and also gave me the opportunity of hearing even more tracks from this excellent band.

The album opens up with “We’re on Fire”, which very much defines the Northern Room sound, sounding at times a cross between Indie Launchpad favourites Black Labs, and Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers. There’s a real sense of a band who are extremely comfortable playing together and also a real confidence that shines through. This is a cracking track to begin the album with. This sound carries over into “For All These Years” and although the sound is familiar, it’s a sound that really gels well with me and is carried over the next two tracks “Galaxy” and “Dutch Radio”. “Stars of God” slows things down somewhat and really gives the lead vocals a chance to shine. There’s also a wonderful orchestral arrangement that floats in and out to dramatic effect. This track for me is just sheer magic.

“Last Embrace” the title track, actually features twice, once as a studio cut and one as a live cut. Again, I’m not sure if it’s me being a finicky git, or whether my expectations are unrealistic, but I always like a title track to be a kind of backbone for the rest of the tracks to lean on. While “Last Embrace” is a pleasant track, it’s not that killer track that I like to find. “We’re on Fire” would have been a much better track, but I can understand the title, wouldn’t really sit well as an album/extended EP title. “Waiting” and “Let Me Out” are similar kinds of tracks and though I hate to say it, they feel very much like filler tracks. However putting it into context they are still very good tracks, but it probably has a lot to do with the running order of the tracks. The album opens very strongly and I think this makes it harder for the later tracks.

The album begins to turn around again with “Everyday”, but dips again a little with “This Wreckage”, which feels very lacadasical and rambling. With the studio tracks now over, the album takes a slight change of direction with 3 live, acoustic tracks. “Last Embrace” is the live version of the title track and even live, it does little to change my opinion. It does however show the bands musical prowess and sounds exceptionally good, for live material. “A Witness” is a live track that has no accompanying studio version. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric track, which while could be considered a bit of a rambling track, at least musically, but when the vocals kick in, it takes the track in a whole new direction. Again for live material, this is very nicely done. “We’re on Fire” closes the live tracks, as it opened the studio tracks, and the live version is every bit as good. It has a very different feel to it, being more laid back, rather than the rock flavoured original, but it’s every bit as good, if not better.

Closing off the album is “Home”, a gargantuan 11 minute track, that I thought may have been added just to pad the album out. Upon listening however, this thought simply evaporated. Fairly conventional to begin with, but at around the 4 minute mark, the track goes off in a dreamy, ambient direction, that really reminded me of the best in repetition. I always feel I have to add, here I mean repetition in the best sense of the word. Think of the organ segment in the Who’s, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, or Pink Floyd’s, Echos. Truly outstanding.

Conclusion : Whilst I loved the individual EPs, together as an album with all the extras, it’s a fantastic body of work that I’m sure will capture the attention of a legion of new fans, while providing enough new and interesting stuff for existing fans who have already bought the previous 2 EPs.

Posted in Alternative, Ambient, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Good Night – William Fitzsimmons

Posted by admin on 19th September 2007

Mellow is probably a bit of an understatement when talking about Goodnight from William Fitzsimmons. I found out about William via another artist, Ingrid Michaelson, who I’ve also been trying to review. I saw Ingrid recommmend a few other artists on her MySpace page and knew instantly upon hearing William’s music that here was something truly magic.

This 13 track album opens with “It’s Not True”, with vocals that are barely more forceful than a whisper. Indeed the whole album is very much of this style, so while you are not going to put the album on to get the adrenalin flowing, it’s a good album to do the exact opposite, so lay back and let the world pass you by. Whilst being mainly acoustic, there are subtle hints of electronica, namely I think either drum machines or sequencers, but it’s very well thought out and doesn’t kill the flavour of the music.

Due to the style of this album, it’s really hard to pick out killer tracks, but several come to mind as ones I partcularly enjoyed. “It’s Not True” being probably my favorite track on the album, closely followed by “Everything has Changed” and “Please Don’t Go”, which also features vocals by Ingrid Michaelson. Funnily enough, I found this last piece of information on William’s MySpace page, and as coincidence would have it, these three tracks also feature on William’s MySpace player.

Conclusion : Certainly an album that you’ll need to conciously chooseto play, rather than haphzardly throw on, but once those lilting music and lyrics wash over you, you can be sure that your fractured soul will nicely heal.

Posted in Acoustic, Ambient | No Comments »

Album – Vanity – Brown Shoe

Posted by admin on 12th July 2007

As soon as this album began to play on my CD player, with the track “The Ship” it reminded me of Pink Floyd’s, Division Bell. That familiarity soon subsides and is replace by a more 80’s/90’s indie rock sound, similar to one of my favorite 90’s bands, the Inspiral Carpets. Although great care has obviously gone into the bands sound and production, you still get that real sense of lo-fi, making the 13 tracks seem almost like live takes. This is sometimes an unwanted distraction, but here it really adds to the flavor of the band and also gives me a good idea of how the band would sound live. I’m sure live gigs are quite an aural feast.

On the bands mySpace page, they pretty much describe their style as indie/ambient. I didn’t quite get the ambient feel from this album. I’m not sure if it’s just this album, but in my minds ear, I can just imagine some cracking ambient mixes of these tracks, easily allowing them to be stretched over a much greater length. Whilst I wouldn’t really consider them ambient, it’s still a very laid back album, which certainly puts you in the right frame of mind to relax.

One of my favorite tracks would have to be “Goodnight Old Man”, not surprising when you hear the Pink Floyd influence surface again. It’s also a very deceptive track, which seems to go on forever, but lasts just a tad under three minutes. “CBC” is the track that rounds off the album and at just over 7 minutes is one of two mammoth tracks. It has that perfect blend of simple melody and an almost rolling wave of repetition, which if you’ve been reading Indie Launchpad for a while, is something I absolutely love, when done right and this is done to perfection.

Conclusion : A great band, bringing a sense of familiarity, but also firmly rooted with a more contemporary vibe.

Posted in Ambient | No Comments »

Album – The Bluebird Sings – A Whisper in the Noise

Posted by admin on 26th February 2007

If this album were any darker it would probably have it’s epicenter in a black hole. Consequently this isn’t going to be an album that you throw on for a cheery sing song. That being said, I’m a great advocate for the darker side of music and sometimes love to wallow in the depth of someone else’s despair. The album opens with “The Tale of Two Doves”, which I have violins that just drive me nuts. It’s almost like someone dragging their nails down a blackboard. The title track has a a very manic and almost psychotic, bordering on the edge of madness vibe, which at times is I have to say a little unnerving. It’s like peering into the mind of a mad man, but there’s something strangely compelling.

“The Carpenters Coalmen”, sees the album take a more relaxed and friendlier sound, all the while though, you feel yourself being lulled into a false sense of security, standing like a deer in the headlights, you can’t help but wait for final impact. “Through Wounds We Will Stitch” the more relaxed tone continues, with a lovely piano rift repeating throughout the whole track. In fact this lighter sound continues with “Hell’s Half Acre”, which again makes great use of the piano.

By the time we get to “Havoc” that manic, maudlin sound returns, but again it’s like being a witness to a car crash, unable to avert your gaze. Unfortunately that violin returns for “Until the Time It’s Over”, which if I were listening on headphones would probably feel like someone sticking knitting needles in my brain. It’s not that I have any kind of aversion to the use of violins, just when they wail like banshees. “The Sounding Line” and “Bridal” fortunately revert to the more relaxed and mellow (but still maudlin) sound.

Final impact comes with the absolutely amazing Bob Dylan cover of “The Times They Are A-Changin'”, a beautifully haunting rendition of the Dylan classic and a fitting end to the album. This was the track that brought the band to my attention and must surely go down as one of the great Dylan covers.

Conclusion : I put this album on the house stereo and it wasn’t long before my wife gave me the look that says it all. So it’s not going to be your usual family friendly CD, but still I find myself coming back for one more listen. Amazing stuff.

Posted in Ambient, Experimental, Rock | No Comments »

Album – For Relaxation – Satori

Posted by admin on 23rd November 2005

  • Band / Artist : Satori
  • Genre : New Age / Ambient
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD :
  • Buy Digital Download :
  • Rating : 8 out of 10

Sometimes I just like to relax and not have to concern on anything around me. Ambient music goes some way towards achieving this goal, but it still stimulates the mind. This CD is great for anyone want to go to that next step. It’s especially good for meditation where you want to drift off to a higher plain. That’s not to say that this is just ordinary mindless music. It isn’t. It’s a wonderful fusing of natural sounds and soothing harmonies.

The following is a list of track available on the album and pretty much gives you an idea of what to expect:

  1. Rain Surround
  2. River Surround
  3. Sea Surround
  4. Forest Surround
  5. Night Surround

The opening track is my favorite as I just love to curl up in bed, listening to the rain outside. The rest of the tracks pretty much deliver what you’d expect. Sea, also is a particular favorite of mine. There’s something about the sounds of nature, that really allows you to take your mind off the hum-drum of life and pause for a moment.

Conclusion : Every collection needs an album like this. When everyday life is getting you down and you just want to escape for a while. Hit the play button and relax.

Posted in Ambient, New Age | No Comments »