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V/A - Fire


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#1 Jon Cocco

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 07:27 PM

V/A - Fire
Altar Records
2009


altarrecs03firefront2.jpg


01. Chronos - Anahata Fire ... 3:56
02. Asura - Crossroads Limiter ... 11:01
03. Tentura - Resonance ... 5:53
04. Aquascape - Phoenix Dance ... 6:49
05. Chronos - Deep Unity ... 10:43
06. Aes Dana - Inter [Dawn Edit] ... 6:49
07. Astral Waves & Astropilot - Karma Cleaner ... 9:42
08. Zymosis - Summer Twilight ... 7:06
09. Uth - Around The Sun In Seven Days ... 5:46
10. RA - Tears Of Fire ... 8:00



Fire is the third compilation in the Elemental Series by Altar Records which will be released throughout 2009 and 2010. Such compilations include Air (released), Water (released) Earth, and Either. The compilation begins with an ambient influenced downtempo number by Chronos and ends with a new downtempo track by RA. The compilation has a variety of psy influenced down and mid-tempo numbers. A full review ensues.


01. Chronos - Anahata Fire begins with what appears to be flute, as a beautiful wave of ambient permeate the senses, like a spiritual horizon approaching. The opening to this track is instantly satisfying, echoing an ethnic influenced epic, in the concept of Asura's opening gem from their Life2 album. The number is compiled with tribal drums, several foreign/female hymns, beautiful melody/sound elements, and an awakening, musical sound and backdrop that create a wonderful beginning to the journey that awaits. I can't say that there's anything wrong with this number, though it could have been a little longer. I'm hooked from the very start. I like album's that start strong and improve as they move forward. This is a beautiful opening track. A-

02. Asura - Crossroads Limiter follows up after a heavenly opening; the atmosphere is more provocative and creates a strong foundation for a more ambitious track. The song, not including the ambient intro, is comprised of three general parts with build up and/or transitions into each one. The first act begins around 1:27, and includes a suspenseful, quietly moving (like an observer through an arguably dark and/or imaginative world in the "what happened?" sense) intrigue. Complimented by strong, alerting the conscious sounds, such as at 2:46, eerie echoes ride through the delectable soundscapes and atmosphere like lost souls. This first or so part is enhanced by the most simple of well selected sounds around 4:35; it's powerful, and I'd love to hear more work by Asura like this. At this song's point, I can imagine a star ship slowly going over a destroyed alien battleship, or an abandoned, mysterious planet; the ship is exploring uncharted territory, or going deeper into Pandora's box without the evil/Hell essence, rather the brooding mystery. The intro included first part's 5:25 is excellent. Suddenly, what I'll refer to as the second part begins around 5:26. This next section is shorter, and includes a variety of sound changes from the previous section, though one with a foreign, female singing voice from 5:26 to 6:12. While the music is good, the female voice seems somewhat out of place here relative to all that preceded it. To compensate for her arrival, I imagined a woman suddenly appearing, like a Phoenix spirit and dancing around a fire. However this sudden entrance drastically affects the wonderful cosmos-driven arrangement and appeal. The voice doesn't correlate well with the overall set up, and although the her voice sounds nice, this element could have been put to greater use in a less space/psy ambient driven song. Simply put, I love the track around this somewhat catchy but offbeat part. Past this smaller second part, a transition with a brief female moment takes place, from 6:25 to 7:16. The last section begins... At this point I'm very curious as to where the song will go... A gripping ambient layer arrives into the atmosphere around 7:50. Suddenly the beat picks up, supported by a strong Psy-altered melody; more sounds enter the rhythm to great effect, until one quite elegant provides great emphasis at 9:00 forward, gripping work. This last part is fluid, flowing, epic, and ascending. Included is a beautiful evolution too. The song may have received a perfect grade from me had the female's voice not been present, offsetting the journey momentarily, for me at least. The rest of the song is heavenly, a reflection of love, light, and awakening from out of the darkness I infer. With few exceptions, this is one of Asura's finest works to date. Strong, ambitious track. A-

03. Tentura - Resonance isn't as ambitious or as epic as the previous number, but it's involved and elegantly driving nonetheless. The first two minutes create a smart build up; various pleasant sounds mix into more psychedelic and moving particles in the downtempo era, until a strong and healthy moment lifts the tasty sound design into the air at 3:01. The slower tempo transforms into mid-tempo, as numerous Hallucinogen/Twisted's L.S.D-esque sounds compliment a sweet atmosphere. A wonderful evolution takes place around 4:20; pushing the song forward with infectious psy-rhythm and energy. Unfortunately this part only lasts a minute and the song isn't that lengthy, yet it's filled with enough delight to warrant good/greatness. This is very well done number with a great finish. B+

04. Aquascape - Phoenix Dance is the follow up since last I heard a track by them on Altar Record's Air compilation; my favorite song from that album. While that track by them was more like a Heaven's crescendo, a buildup to a celestial awakening, this focuses more on having a consistent, trekking across the lands feel. Numerous elements are creatively arranged, developed. They, along with a breezy atmosphere compliment the voyage. Aquascape's sound is more motivating, uplifting, and romantic rather than psychedelic or danceable as was the previous number to some degree. But I really like their style and sound. It's positive, warm, creative, and developing. That said, there's not any particular moment here where the song wows me. But that's okay. It's fluid, fresh sounding from beginning to end. The melody work is effective and the drifting atmosphere compliments it. Good, if not great track. B+

05. Chronos - Deep Unity can be compared to some degree with Asura's epic here, in the sense it's the second most lengthy track on the album; it's comprised of several distinguishing parts, like chapters in a saga. The introduction is fairly subtle, save for a fantasy-like sound at 0:32 which opens the door to an absorbing world. Build up begins among a sea of ambient and atmosphere around the first minute. This moment is elongated until joining one of the most simple and catchy downtempo particles I've heard so far all year. At 3:37, this moment begins; an electricity-esque sound a la Space Cat's old school Goa material. This infectious, sleek little sound is so catchy. It enhances the less sharp melodies and sounds that are more in harmony, reflecting nature and/or beauty to the traveling concept. The song is energetically lifted after a short, atmospheric, and more sounds enter, creating a beautiful mixture that is complimented by the addictive, little electronic element that I like so much. The track's first five minutes are excellent, but where will it go from here? The vehicle soon arrives at a space station, or interlude of sorts. Like a fast, powerful space ship getting equipped with boosters, stronger weaponry, and various other enhancements, the beat is enhanced by other drums; the song picks up into mid-tempo and really blossoms with energy and brightness. The latter enters around 7:12 and sounds great. Gone are the thumping sound effects, rhythm that would excite a dance around a fire. Fortunately, the development that provided power and electricity earlier on returns in the eighth minute here, though it's rather encore, conclusive. The cool sound like a short melody sentence then leaves to compensate for a great musical evolution. Returning in the end is the tasty, little electricity sound. This song is so engaging from beginning to end, and one of the best tracks I have heard all year. Superb track. A

06. Aes Dana - Inter [Dawn Edit] was the one track that concerned me, because not since the artists work on the Memory Shell album have I been engaged. It appears that the kick or beat has been raised however when hearing numerous compilation tracks over the year(s). Applying that observation to this track; this retains its strong kick. The first minute offers some pleasent sounds, meditative water like a flowing stream in the background. Sustained notes sound nice around the quick tapping of hi-hats. There's a catchy ambient sound in the background around 1:04; it repeats, and these elements I wish were more developed by Aes Dana, as what's heard around 1:37 to 1:42, and again around 1:53. A slow beat emerges, giving the track a different feel in its first third. The beat shifts into mid-tempo great at 2:31 and a catchy sound/melody arrives to encounter it into the second act. Background elements blend well into the driving beat, and aside from having a nice backdrop and atmosphere, the song basically follows one direction throughout its second half, adding various little alterations and sounds as it progresses. My problem with this track isn't the track in general, but how it sounds in relation to the other tracks on this album, which had so much more evolution, imagination, involvement, unpredictable area(s), and overall result. While this is a pretty good song, and from an artist that once made me smile, the track isn't as strong as the previous songs so far on this compilation. B

07. Astral Waves & Astropilot - Karma Cleaner has a very pretty sound to it in the beginning; the extended intro flows into the second minute until a beat emerges around 1:35. Layers soon begin to delectably blend, updating their harmonies with more emphasis around the beat at 2:37. The song has a worldly influence, from oriental to tribal at times and possibly Indian. Incoherent and/or foreign words skip a la Shpongle. The song is really a pile of great sounds all poured, then carefully arranged, pinched and tweaked like a fine broth. A center interlude makes possible the return of a slowed down beat, or one less fast than the previous mid-tempo section. An atmospheric buildup takes place, and the best part is around 6:57, where the song soars high above the clouds. Gone are the fluid waves from earlier on that kept the vehicle closer to Earth. The beat changes up, and the combination of melodies and sounds that join it are beautiful. Towards the last third is a great sound, though not too highlighted, reminding me of a sweet sound from older Enigma; the potential crossover, from New Age to downtempo works well. The song is also comparable to track 4 due to its healthy, wind influenced feel. However this has more movement because of its various, quicker melody/sound work. Great work. B+

08. Zymosis - Summer Twilight is the one song on this album; I thought I was initially listening to RA's number do to Zymosis's flute(s), and an electronic sound in the background that reminds me of a sound from a track on the RA - 9th album. Those sounds work well here nonetheless, similar in concept to what Chronos did in track 5, though such sounds were more effective there. This sounds influenced by RA initially; the music that shifts this attractive yet less original impression begins around 2:12; it's good. The song appears to be building up, going through numerous motions in speed, though the beat stays back early on like an observer, waiting to jump in around 3:30. It enters like and/or along with breaks; the fast paced beat work merges extremely well with the sounds, creating ore zest, style. The sound art flows into a subtle interlude, growing musically varied though this peaceful transformation where the beat appears to slow down. The song emerges as an evolved kind like a human shedding its skin to a more aware presence. The song is just as gripping as before. The fast piano work stands out; it's great; I really like piano and wish more artists took advantage of it in their music. The song has a clean finish. From what began as a RA sounding rendition surprisingly immersed my ears as a refreshing number. I'm glad to see the artist(s) possibly inspired, and turning something into their own. Another great track. B+

09. Uth - Around The Sun In Seven Days starts out with a deep hymn as if in prayer, meditation. A warm ambient emerges to growing sounds, soon accompanied by a strong beat. Catchy strings compliment a subtle hymn, but the beat and altering, shifting backdrop works best so far. During its first three minutes, the downtempo song develops a fairly psychedelic combination of sounds around more acoustic instruments. It doesn't seem like a core rhythm has been formed yet, but one with a continuously changing in structure literature. It isn't until 3:23 that a tune arrives; the fairly rearranging textures change less to support this lead. It's pretty catchy. I just think more could have been done with it, as it grows fairly repetitive, though soon changes up to accommodate a higher, more uplifting (and catchy) ground. It soon leaves however, opening the path to entering atmosphere, a beat-free interlude around 5:00. Unfortunately, the song ends soon after. This track reminds me of the third in the sense it's simple in execution, buildup, and offers many subtle variations around its less subtle sounds as it builds up to something. That something here however nice and improving as it progresses, is short lived. It would have been cool to reach an area even more evocative and worth evaluating, as the song sounds really nice. It's just not that eventful. Overall this is my second least favorite track on the compilation after Aes Dana's. Nonetheless, it's a good song with many nice sounds and elements. B

10. RA - Tears Of Fire ends the album with a downtempo track. It offers the gradually progressive structure of previous tracks, however it's execution is so simple, yet gripping. The center interlude is mysterious and compassionate, like an angel reflecting a heart rather than a human with a soul; the song sounds free from form, easy to move into whichever area of celestial realms it desires. Aspect I enjoy includes the beat's emphasis, and the momentary chorus-like enhancement that leads up to that beat, such as from 2:24 to 2:26; these take place numerous times throughout the song. I like the enriching sound around 3:37, and how the song so seamlessly, gradually strengthens as it moves forward. The little piercing the air sound at 3:52 is good too. Some may find the track good, others great. I simply wish RA experimented a little more. The song retains the spirit many of us have come to love, and the song flows extremely well as one would expect from the artist(s). Simply put, it would be fun to hear something more innovative, while also being gripping too by them every once in a while; they end the album with a solid number nonetheless. Great track. B+


In conclusion, Fire is possibly Altar Record's best compilation to date. As with Water, the songs are consistently strong for the most part. The album peeks multiple times, ending with a solid number by RA. Surprisingly there are a handful of tracks that impress me more than RA's. Fire is one of the strongest Psy/Chill (down/mid-tempo) compilations of 2009. I couldn't say that for Air, though I said it for Water that was released earlier in 2009. Both Water and Fire, along with Solar Field's - Movements will be on my TOP 5 Chill Albums of 2009. Well done!


Favorite tracks - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10


B+



Samples / Order here


Psyshop
http://www.psyshop.c.../alr1cd003.html


Altar Records
http://www.altar-records.com/fire.html

http://www.altar-rec.../preorders.html



#2 frozen dream

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 09:21 PM

ah you beat me to it jon, i'm loving this stuff, can't tell which one it is from chronos but one of them is really da bomb! uth, ra, all very beautiful tracks!

#3 Uth

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 11:17 PM

Thank you very much for the excellent review! I have listened to this album many times and I could confirm that this is the strongest compilation of Altar in my opinion. :)
Chronos track is just beyond words. Amazing.

Thank you Zen for this yet another wonderful compilation! -and giving me an opportunity to be in it. :rolleyes:

#4 Klas

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 08:42 AM

This is not the best of the three Air/Water/Fire for me. Itīs hard to decide a favourite though...
I think it has fewer stand-out tracks than the earlier two ("Voda", "Voice of the universe" etc). The only two tracks I actually remember slightly and have wanted to hear again after some listenings is the Zymosis and the Ra tracks, with "Summer twilight" being my favorite. I love the positive-uptempo feel in that track, which I strongly miss in especially tracks like Aes Danaīs and UTHīs. Chillout music doesīnt JUST have to be floating and deep, but needs some excitement, (melody) and/or personality put into the mix aswell. Colour! Something to make me remember it and wanna listen to it again and again...

Itīs definitely a solid album though and will be great as background music, without me having to stop reading my book because of a lot of standout (say hallelujah!) moments... :)

All of these artists (well, UTH I donīt know about, since I haveīnt heard anything from [him?] before)have the potential to make masterpieces though. I would for example love to hear Chronos make a new track like "Mayan artifact (twisted breaks mix)" or Aes Dana make a new "Summer lands", but I guess itīs not that easy being that perfect all the time... :)

I will be following the upcoming Altar recordīs releases with thrill and anticipation.

#5 djzen

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 03:12 PM

All of these artists (well, UTH I donīt know about, since I haveīnt heard anything from [him?] before)have the potential to make masterpieces though. I would for example love to hear Chronos make a new track like "Mayan artifact (twisted breaks mix)" or Aes Dana make a new "Summer lands", but I guess itīs not that easy being that perfect all the time... :)
I will be following the upcoming Altar recordīs releases with thrill and anticipation.


Hi Klas,
You can hear more about Uth here:
http://www.myspace.com/uthmusic

Cheers

#6 Klas

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Posted 04 November 2009 - 04:20 PM

Thanks!

Will listen as soon as I get home.

#7 Banan

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 12:21 AM

I really can not name any bad track here. :)

#8 Uth

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 01:09 AM

All of these artists (well, UTH I donīt know about, since I haveīnt heard anything from [him?] before)have the potential to make masterpieces though. I would for example love to hear Chronos make a new track like "Mayan artifact (twisted breaks mix)" or Aes Dana make a new "Summer lands", but I guess itīs not that easy being that perfect all the time... :)

I will be following the upcoming Altar recordīs releases with thrill and anticipation.


Working ;)

#9 Redington

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 01:43 AM

I hear that there's at least two other elements that need to be done for these compilations from Altar.

So that means we got Air, Water, Fire...

What's next? Earth? I can't think of any other elements (my brain's drawing a blank <_< ).


Anyway, this is a great comp. Love every song on it! Can't wait until the next one. :)

#10 frisbee

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 01:02 PM

aether.

#11 Uth

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Posted 06 November 2009 - 08:46 PM

I hear that there's at least two other elements that need to be done for these compilations from Altar.

So that means we got Air, Water, Fire...

What's next? Earth? I can't think of any other elements (my brain's drawing a blank <_< ).


Anyway, this is a great comp. Love every song on it! Can't wait until the next one. :)


Yes Earth and Ether are the remaining ones. :)

#12 Redington

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Posted 07 November 2009 - 12:24 AM

Ether. Never would've thought of that.


I can't wait, though. :)

#13 Helios909 (rx7style)

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 08:04 AM

This album is excellent on the whole. However, this CD could be purchased solely for Asura - Crossroads Limiter. This track just whisks you away to a spiritual place where only you and sound exist together in harmony. I love the Eastern influences laden throughout, and this is why it seems to be otherworldly for the listener when "ancient" sounds are combined with cutting edge production and ambiance. I think this is one of the finest pieces I have heard by Asura to date, and that's saying a lot given the fine music that's been produced beforehand. It could have culminated into a more powerful ending, but instead it hypnotically lowers you gently back to your consciousness. I'll accept that even though I felt a bit let down that it didn't, however it could have dwindled on the beautiful voice a bit longer before progressing as that moment was so rich and pure I didn't want it to end.

Anyway, the other standouts for me were Zymosis - Summer Twilight, and Ra - Tears Of Fire. But bravo Altar for releasing yet another wonderful addition to this magical series you've created that seemed to stumble out of nowhere.

#14 Jon Cocco

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Posted 19 February 2010 - 10:03 PM

Nice review Helios909 (rx7style).

 

I hope the forth and the fifth are great too.



#15 Klas

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 08:41 AM

Zymosis - Summer twilight! - one of my alltime favourite tracks! So colourful and beautiful! And the rhythm, when it explodes in pure enjoyment I feel like i´m flying!

And yes, i´m competing for the cheesiest comment of the year! ;) Sue me.

#16 Jon Cocco

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 11:55 PM

That's strange. When I google Water psynews.org ... that compilation appears right away. When I google Fire Psynews.org ... some other comp named Fire from 2002 appears. This doesn't. :(

 

That said, after years of listening to all 5 compilations in the elemental series many times over, WATER and FIRE are my favorite of the bunch, followed by EARTH. Air and Either are the weaker of the bunch, though there's solid work on all 5. These are some of the more underrated compilations in the Psy-Chill / Down/Mid-tempo genre.

 

And it should appear in google. I don't know if the "filter bubble" has anything to do with it. Like if it comes up for you but not me, or vice-versa. Some countries are more restrictive of what comes up, in what context and how frequently. Like I type in Egypt in the United States and a bunch of propaganda on terrorism and overthrowing dictator appears. But I read online that a person in Egypt types in Egypt and gets a bunch of hotel resorts, for example (the filter bubble)... governments (really special interests) trying to control the flow of information. Naturally that Fire doesn't appear right away may have nothing to do with the filter bubble. Just a thought.






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