Andrulian's blog

Creating sounds | Making music | supporting fellow musicians | reflections in time

Review of Ritual Music album by Simon Irvine on Pink Dolphin Music Ltd — September 12, 2019

Review of Ritual Music album by Simon Irvine on Pink Dolphin Music Ltd

This is an excellent album, atmospheric tracks with great layering of superb synth sounds, drumming patterns and pads. The songs often have contrasting elements that give an edge of tension and add to the vibe. There’s a great range of uptempo, more laid back and darker sounding songs. 

Incantation 1

An evolving soundscape with synth drone, background sound effects and a subtle kind of voice, the arp and drums give momentum. It has a trance feel at times, the vocoder gives a great syncopated rhythmic effect. 

Incantation 2

Atmospheric opening from pad and synth lead, drumming enters to give momentum. Great use of vocoder again. Really like the chilled vibe. 

Watching (Featuring Rusty Keys)

Superbly atmospheric opening from pad and keys, vocoder vocals add a great element.  I like how the subtle drumming pattern changes to a more upfront style. A song with reflective qualities. 

Make it so (An Ode to Picard)

A pulsing type synth sound, drum pattern and soft, delicate lead is accompanied by a more upfront synth lead. The arp adds a great element. 

Incantation 3

Opens with a speech from a film leading into an idm sounding drum pattern. Metallic sounds compliment really well, a riff adds momentum and is accompanied by excellent synth. Kick adds a sense of urgency, it’s an atmospheric and edgy track. 

You and You Only

Synth with vocal qualities saying the title of the song to open, drumming patterns adds momentum. Nice change of feel with the synth lead, there’s a mystery / anticipation to the song. 

Thump (interlude)

A solid vibe from percussive rhythm, pad and disconcerting synth lead that adds an edge of tension. 

Wasted (Featuring Colleen Peterson)

Atmospheric pad, kick and shaker are accompanied by lovely vocals with a haunting quality. 

Late Night (Interlude)

A chilled, atmospheric track with subtle movement in the pad and synth sounds that contrasts against the percussive rhythm. 

Incantation 4

A glitchy percussive rhythm with a tribal, looping quality contrasts against a subtle background pad. An excellent soundscape. 

Bells in the Manor (Simon Irvine and Bufinjer)

Synth lead and solid drumming pattern to open, it’s a solid synth vibe with an edge of tension from vocal effects. Nice changes of feel with the different synth leads. 

Incantation 2 (Screamershocked)

Quite a subtle remix, has a more uptempo vibe.  I really like the delayed vocals, adds a rhythmic element.

It’s time to stop thinking in terms of ‘old music’ and ‘new music’. Here’s why. — September 6, 2019

It’s time to stop thinking in terms of ‘old music’ and ‘new music’. Here’s why.

I originally posted this on Steemit a while ago, thought I’d update and repost it on my blog. 

I read a tweet from Doom Trip Records saying there’s no such thing as old music, just music you’ve heard and music you haven’t. 

This really resonated with me and got me thinking.  From a conventional perspective of time, of course there is such a thing as old music. Classical music is around 400 hundred years old (more if you include medieval and renaissance periods); Big band is around 90 years old, rock and roll around 60 years old and rave is pushing 40.

The first point to consider is what is music? I’ve previously written about ‘real’ music vs the music industry on my blog and to be fair it’s one of the hardest things to explain concisely and without ambiguity. 

Stanley Kubrick once said ‘The feel of the experience is the important thing, not the ability to verbalize or analyze it.’  Presumably he was talking about film but the principle is the same for music.  It’s about making a connection with the listener, evoking some sort of emotional response. 

So this means that we can rule out a lot of popular music.  I’m not saying all popular music but the sort that gets played on the most commercial of radios, the sort that you are supposed to listen to and buy now, the sort of music that if you don’t listen to it now, you are not on trend and what you are listening to – although the listeners of this type of music won’t care  – is most likely rubbish because they haven’t heard of it.  If you listen to this music in six months, that won’t count because it’s out of date.  This is more of a product than music and one with a very short shelf life to be bought and consumed at a specific moment in time.  

Another factor is the changing landscape of the music consumer.  Even in the relatively short period of about 20 years, there’s been a huge shift from physical only media of tapes, CDs, and vinyl to digital and streaming services, both paid for and free internet radio.  Interestingly we are now seeing a resurgence in physical media such as vinyl and tape. 

Incidentally I’d say tape has had a much bigger renaissance, probably because it’s cheaper, easier to produce and you can do limited runs of whatever number and colour you want.  It’s the ultimate in DIY media. A lot of commentators completely miss the point about cassette releases though.  It’s not really about sound quality or massive distribution, rather the process of producing them and having your music as a physical thing. The fact they are produced on such a small scale is part of the appeal.  In this pristine digital era there is something really alluring about producing a run of tapes that all sound slightly different and have imperfections introduced as part of their production. 

This change to social and streaming has necessarily been accompanied by a rise in technology with another consequence that making and releasing music has become much easier and cheaper.  There has been a huge increase in the number of releases partly driven by the fact it is now a relatively easy process for artists to produce pro-quality sounding music, self-release and promote themselves and their work on social media.  The downside is because anyone can do it, everyone is doing it making it very difficult to get your music heard.

As a music blogger I receive a huge number of review requests, far more than I can answer let alone review. Even if I could run the blog full-time I wouldn’t have enough time to keep up – and that’s from a handful of labels, PR companies and direct submissions.

As a music producer and having released over 70 albums, I know that despite a lot of self-promotion, the market for my music remains rather limited.  Attempts to reach a bigger audience on Spotify do not appear to be gaining much ground, listens on Bandcamp appear to be tailing off.  As much as I try not to be obsessed by stats, it’s hard not to keep a watching eye on them but I know that a handful of enthusiastic listeners is worth a lot more than big numbers.  People could discover my catalogue at any time and the same is true for anybody else in the same situation, in fact I often discover new artists and labels, many of which have a similar discography to me.    

And this is exactly why we need to think differently about music and stop applying timescales because they are irrelevant.  There is so much being released it is impossible to keep up to date with every release, even if you’re only listening to a specific style.  Thinking about music in terms of music you’ve heard and music that you haven’t is a much more appropriate way to approach it.  

There’s so much great music out there to be discovered.  Some may well have been recorded a number of years ago but if you’ve never heard it before, it’s new to you and that makes it new music.  Similarly if it takes a while to get round to listening to a release, it doesn’t matter because it will be new to you whenever you listen to it – despite its release date.

Antelope Audio announces availability of three new Synergy Core effects for recently-released audio interface namesakes — September 4, 2019

Antelope Audio announces availability of three new Synergy Core effects for recently-released audio interface namesakes

Trailblazing pro audio manufacturer Antelope Audio is proud to announce availability of Opto-2A (compressor) alongside the self-explanatory Space Flanger and Vari-Speed Tremolo — three new Synergy Core effects for the cutting-edge company’s recently-released Discrete 4 Synergy Core and Discrete 8 Synergy Core audio interfaces including its premier real-time effects processing platform anchored around two DSP (Digital Signal Processing) processors paired with a proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chip, respectively handling up to four effects channel strips with eight effects slots each for a maximum of 32 effects instances at any sample rate and eight effects channel strips with eight slots each for a maximum of 64 effects instances at any sample rate, respectively equalling four and eight times the processing power of their (non-Synergy Core-equipped) predecessors, freeing up host computers from running Antelope Audio’s acclaimed real-time effects.

As an authentic-sounding Synergy Core effect, Antelope Audio’s Opto-2A carefully captures all the subtleties and nuances of an iconic Sixties-vintage electro- optical compressor that needs no introduction. Its continued use in broadcast and recording studios worldwide over half a century after its inception is testament to its audio engineering excellence. Exceptionally warm sound and gentle compression character have endeared it to generations of artists and producers, possibly gracing more hit records than any other outboard unit in hardware history. Having said that, key to its unique personality is the T4 optical attenuator, the outcome of time spent developing optical sensors for the US military. Its sonic signature is the two-stage release, greatly contributing to its smooth and musical compression. Clearly, Opto-2A is exceedingly simple to dial in, with only GAIN and PEAK REDUCTION knobs needed to tweak the resultant sound as the user sees fit; flick a switch on Opto-2A and the compressor becomes a limiter — just like the historic hardware from which it draws its inspiration. Infinitely versatile though it is — in spite of those (misleadingly) minimal controls, Opto-2A works especially well when applied to vocals due to its incredibly pleasant response to the human voice — try talking or singing through it to hear its incredible impact on any performance! Talking specifics, the compression ratio varies, depending on the source signal; the average attack time is fixed at 10 milliseconds; the initial release time is around 60 milliseconds for 50% of the release, with the remainder occurring gradually over one to 15 seconds before the signal returns to 100%; the release timing responds to the length and strength of the incoming signal — slower when under prolonged heavy compression or above threshold signal level, faster if below threshold signal level. Thanks to the authentic-sounding Synergy Core effect that is Opto-2A, a new generation of ITB (in the box) artists and producers — recording audio and processing/ mixing in a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) — will be equally endeared with Antelope Audio’s realistic recreation of an exceptional warm sound and gentle compression character that has stood the test of time.

It has been quite some time since recording innovator Les Paul — one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar — and The Beatles — regarded as the most influential band of all time, integral to the evolution of pop music into an art form as well as pioneering recording techniques — first experimented with flanging in the Fifties and Sixties, respectively. Though the effect itself has not changed much throughout the years, brilliant minds have come up with dozens of different approaches. Antelope Audio’s gives it a distinctly modern twist. Taking advantage of the Synergy Core platform’s unparalleled computational capabilities, Space Flanger is capable of producing phases, sweeps, and swooshes that sound truly out of this world! With Space Flanger, vocalists and instrumentalists can prepare to blast-off by setting the following controls for the heart of the sound: GAIN — adjust input volume (-12dB to +12dB); WAVE — choose between triangle and sine wave modulation;FEEDBACK — adjust the amount of output signal being fed back into the input (produces resonance); DELAY — adjust the offset between the source and delayed signal (in milliseconds); RATE — adjust the frequency of the modulating wave (perceived as a change in modulation speed); DEPTH — adjust the amplitude of the modulating wave (perceived as volume change); and MIX — blend between the DRY (unaffected) and WET (processed) signal.

Tremolo… the modulation effect that started it all! Anterior to the first tremolo units being built into vintage amplifiers, nobody knew what guitar effects were. While it may be a simple concept — creating a change in volume, tremolo went on to define the iconic sound of surf guitar, spurring a wave of innovation among musical equipment builders. But Antelope Audio’s Synergy Core-powered Vari-Speed Tremolo presents a fresh and versatile take on vintage tremolos with its five-position WAVE selector and the addition of a VARI-SPEED RATE knob. Needless to say, by adjusting how quickly the frequency of the modulating wave varies, Vari-Speed Tremolo users can spice up their tremolo effects with a welcome touch of unpredictability. Users can quickly set sounds, though, thanks to the following controls: WAVE selector — turn clockwise to choose between sine, triangle, square, sawtooth, and inverted sawtooth modulating waves; RATE — adjust the modulation speed; VARI-SPEED RATE — adjust how quickly the frequency of the modulating wave varies; DEPTH — adjust the amount of amplitude (volume) modulation; and MIX — blend between the DRY (unaffected) and WET (processed) signal.

So, with the timely introduction of Opto-2ASpace Flanger, and Vari-Speed Tremolo, the range and scope of real-time effects available to owners of Antelope Audio’s recently-released Discrete 4 Synergy Core and Discrete 8 Synergy Core audio interfaces just became better, thanks to that premier processing platform anchored around two DSP (Digital Signal Processing) processors paired with a proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chip. But better still, those three new Synergy Core effects will be becoming available for Antelope Audio’s recently-announced Orion Studio Synergy Core, advancing its acclaimed audio interface series’ workhorse with ‘hot-rodded’ hardware from the ground up to include six ARM-based DSP (Digital Signal Processing) processors paired with two proprietary FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips combining to produce phenomenal onboard processing power, freeing up host computers from running Antelope Audio’s acclaimed real-time effects as a well-oiled machine like no other audio interface in its class! 

Initially available for Antelope Audio’s recently-released Discrete 4 Synergy Core and Discrete 8 Synergy Core audio interfaces, Opto-2A is priced at $75.00 USD/€75.00 EUR while Space Flanger and Vari-Speed Tremolo can be bought together for $55.00 USD/€55.00 EUR directly from here

Opto-2A and the Space Flanger plus Vari-Speed Tremolo pairing will subsequently be made available at the same pricing for Antelope Audio’s recently-announced Orion Studio Synergy Core audio interface — when it is released — directly from here

Review of Ambient Techno and Electronic Dreams sample pack by 5Pin Media — September 3, 2019

Review of Ambient Techno and Electronic Dreams sample pack by 5Pin Media

Ambient Techno and Electronic Dreams is a 1.2Gb collection of royalty free techno sounds and loops. It is available as a 24 bit download in Apple Loops, Ableton Live 10+ pack and wav formats from Loopmasters typically priced at £27.95 for all full versions and £22.95 for loops only versions.

Drawing inspiration from seminal artists such as Bicep, Bearcubs, Daniel Avery, Jon Hopkins, Deepchord and Four Tet, Ambient Techno & Electronic Dreams gives you a robust set of loops and one-shots for creating the perfect Ambient Techno or Leftfield Electronic Soul track. No element has been forgone in creating the complex layers that define this deceptive style, which is often more about feel, than an exacting formula.

Expect a hefty 420 loops (WAV or Apple formats), 220 one-shots, 40 Musical Starter Kits and 1 Live 10 Project on offer.

This review is for the main zip file that is arranged in 4 folders. There’s an info folder that contains the licensing agreement; musical kits folder; Ableton project folder and a loops folder.

I really like the organisation of the kits and loop folders, these have sub-folders labelled by tempo (90, 110, 120 & 130) and the samples are also labelled by key making searching for tempo and/or key matched sounds much easier. Of course DAWs and software like Loopcloud can automatically stretch the loops to the tempo or key that you are using so you are not limited to using loops with the same key and tempo.

The kits folder contains 11 kits for tempos of 90 and 110 and 9 kits for tempos of 120 and 130. These kits typically contain 2 or 3 loops comprised of bass, synth and chords and are excellent for kickstarting inspiration.

The main loops folder contains a number of sub-folders – atmospheres, bass, chord and motif, drum, fx, pad, percussion, synth, texture, vox that are also organised by tempo.


A range of pad, percussive and delayed effects that have a warm and saturated sound.


An excellent range of deep, subby and reso bass sounds that are sometimes subtle other times much upfront and aggressive sounding.

Chord and Motif

A collection of atmospheric keys, synths and arps with subtle reverb and saturation.


What’s great about the drum loops is that they have been broken down to offer a mix and match approach that can also be used to add variation to your drum patterns. As well as the full drum loop, there are hi hat, percussion, stripped and top loops. There are 6 sets for 90bpm and 8 sets for each of the other tempos. I really like the diversity of these drum loops, a great variety of rhythms that are interesting and sometimes intricate.


A range of delayed risers, impacts and percussive sounds.


A collection of shimmery keys and synth based pads with subtle movement and evolution and a warm saturated sound.


A collection of natural sounding percussive loops to add an extra element either individually or in combination with the drum loops.


These have a range of sparse, subtle and more upfront sounds to give an excellent variety of leads.


These are like a combination of percussive and pad sounds that can be used to give another layer of interest.


These are provided for 90 and 120 bpm, typically vocal snippets that are delayed and have percussive qualities.


This is an excellent sample pack, it offers a huge range of potential for the more ambient side of techno, including a downtempo or more leftfield sound. The loops are excellent quality and have a warm, saturated sound that really lend themselves to this style of music but they also have an edge at times too giving a great diverse range of sounds.

They are excellent in their own right and can be used out of the box but creative use of effects and samplers can greatly extend the range of sounds and styles that this pack can be used for.

I’ve used the pack to create the mix embedded at the top of the post. It was created entirely from the sample pack in a single project in Mulab 8. The samples were mixed with SP 2016 Reverb, Ultrachannel, H3000 Factory (Eventide) and Outlaw (W A Production) and mastered in MuLab 8 using Magnetite (Black Rooster Audio), Stage (Fiedler Audio), Elevate (Newfangled Audio) and Youlean Loudness Meter. 

Spitfire Audio announces collaborative calling with London launch of BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at Barbican Centre keynote — September 1, 2019

Spitfire Audio announces collaborative calling with London launch of BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA at Barbican Centre keynote

LONDON, UK: having teased with the telltale This is London calling... video, intriguing in advance of its biggest release to date, the wait is finally over for all as Spitfire Audio is proud to announce (upcoming) availability of BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA — launched during a captivating keynote at London’s legendary Barbican Centre as a world-class orchestra within the sound-specialising British music technology company’s award- winning standalone plug-in, providing a solid foundation for any composer’s toolkit and workflow within a single sample library like no other; the expansive result of an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind venture created in partnership with BBC Studios, the British television production and distribution company that is the commercial arm of the oldest entertainment organisation in the world, and in collaboration with the world-renowned BBC Symphony Orchestra to which it obviously owes its notable name.

BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA is a universal starting point for orchestral sample libraries, letting everyone talk the same language. It is so much more than a product release; rather it is the start of a movement. After all, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is a worldwide, trusted institution of huge cultural significance, and, much like Spitfire Audio, its core values are rooted in both accessible learning and innovation. Indeed, as a world-class, cohesive concert orchestra known for its standard in playing and commitment to innovative education work, the BBC Symphony Orchestra has been at the heart of British musical culture since its creation, coming up to its 90th year. Yet the BBC has happily put its name — and its principal broadcast orchestra — behind BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA. Is it little wonder, then, that this represents Spitfire Audio’s most expansive and ambitious project to date? Duly it is worthy of being launched with such collective company pride during a captivating keynote at London’s legendary Barbican Centre, a world-class arts and learning facility famed for pushing the boundaries of all major art forms, including dance, film, music, theatre, and visual arts — This is London calling... indeed!

Innovatively recorded to trusted superlative standards by Spitfire Audio at London’s legendary Maida Vale Studios — a complex of seven BBC Sound studios sited in one of the BBC’s earliest premises, pre-dating Broadcasting House, and the centre of the BBC News operation during World War II, before being used to record thousands of classical music, popular music, and drama sessions for BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, and BBC Radio 6 Music from 1946 to the present — and performed by an orchestra renowned for its remarkably homogenous performances, honed from playing some of the best and most challenging works together for years and selling out concert halls the world over, the comparatively youthful sound-specialising British music technology company has pulled out all the stops with BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, creating a future-proof classic comprising the finest strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion.

Put it this way: with BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Spitfire Audio has succeeded in creating a comprehensive, professional product made up of 99 players, 55 different instruments, 418 techniques (180 String, 110 Woodwind, 84 Brass, 44 Percussion), 33 legatos, and a staggering 20 signals — two mixes, five spill signals, 11 mic positions, and two atmos (front/rear) — for ultimate creative control. It is the definitive symphony orchestra made accessible to all through the cutting-edge technology of Spitfire Audio’s award-winning standalone plug-in, providing a solid foundation for any composer’s toolkit and workflow within a single sample library like no other. As a collaborative platform that is perfectly positioned to take orchestral music into the future, sampling has truly arrived and the possibilities are endless. This is just the beginning.

BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA can currently be preordered from Spitfire Audio as an AAX-, AU-, and VST-compatible plug-in that loads directly into a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for a time-limited introductory promo price of £679.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$749.00 USD/€749.00 EUR (inc. VAT) until November 14, 2019 — rising thereafter to an RRP of £899.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$899.00 USD/€899.00 EUR (inc. VAT)
Spitfire Audio recommends that customers purchase BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA on its SSD (Solid State Drive), which will come with custom packaging specifically for the product with an RRP of £199.00 GBP (inc. VAT)/$199.00 USD/€199.00 EUR (inc. VAT); please note that the last day this can be ordered to be delivered by the release date is October 14, 2019.

About Spitfire Audio (
Spitfire Audio is a British music technology company that specialises in sounds — sample libraries, virtual instruments, and other useful software devices. It collaborates with the best composers, artists, and engineers in the world to build musical tools that sound great and are exciting to use.

© 2019 Spitfire Audio Holdings Limited

Review of Level One compilation by Various Artists on Arcade Audio —

Review of Level One compilation by Various Artists on Arcade Audio

I’m delighted to be a part of this compilation, it highlights the talents of a number of members of the Arcade Collective.  If you like any of the artists I’d highly recommend checking out their other material and also the Arcade Collective itself for more information and how to join in. 

It’s a superb compilation that covers a range of styles from synth pop, ambient soundscapes, trance vibes to glitch idm sounds. 

Androgyne – Ain’t Nobody

A superb slice of synth pop, it’s a very catchy song with singalong qualities. I love the range of synth sounds, everything from string chords, sparkling leads, twinkly sound effects to arpeggio basslines backed by excellent vocals. 

Digital Horizons – Wild Life

This is an excellent soundscape, an evolving ambience with plucked chords, pads and synth leads, it’s multi-textured with a slow growing tension with a final release. 

A J Hellenbach – Forbidden Pleasure

Plucked synth and evolving basslines propelled by drumming, its an uptempo synth sound with a trance vibe. Excellent layering of sounds to build and release tension, the vocals add a great element. 

Digital Horizons – Silver Slipper

Atmospheric swirling sound to open is complimented by a delayed synth lead line, complex rhythms from delayed elements weave around a synth pad. Drumming gives a more defined momentum. 

One Vista – We Just Got it Wrong

Slow synth groove from synth, bass and drums with dreamy vocals. A solid upbeat pop vibe, piano adds a superb element. 

Andrulian – Reflecting on the Passing Days

This is mine so I’ll let you leave your own comments! 

Dallok – Perpetual State

Sound effects and sparse riff to open builds tension to a bassline groove propelled by drumming and percussive sounds. Distorted riff adds a great element. Riffs and bassline compliment each other really well, building tension to a final release. 

Blume – Odyssey Two Movements 3 & 4

Contrasting ambience with plucked string riff and excellent subtle reversed background sounds, the song has an excellent building momentum with contrasting slower parts, an excellent soundscape. 

Bispatial – Lifeline (Poptronik Mix)

A solid synth pop groove from synth, bass and drums, the vocals are smooth and have a laid back vibe. There’s just an edge of angst that contrasts really well with the more upbeat elements. 

Muesk – On Second Thought

Superbly atmospheric opening, contrasts really well with the glitchy / idm vibe from lead and percussive sounds. It’s superbly arranged, great contrast between ambient and the harsher / glitchier sounds. 

Jupiter Jaxon – Voices

Sparse drumming pattern with pad leads to into a solid 80s R&B / pop / soul vibe, funky bassline, superb synths, keys and excellent vocals. 

Bleepeater – White 2

Superb glitchy rhythms, its a bit bonkers and sounds all the better for it. Extremely well produced, its bleepy, glitchy and harsh at times. If a dial up modem took speed and acid, this is probably what it would sound like. 

Review of Eclectic EP by Erin at Eleven — August 30, 2019

Review of Eclectic EP by Erin at Eleven

This is a beautiful EP, there’s a sadness to the songs but also an inner strength, defiance, that gives a positive, hopeful outlook.

The arrangements are excellent with a great range of layered sounds and instruments. The vocals really stand out, they’re stunning. Full of emotion, they’re captivating with an edge of sadness. 

Only Myself to Blame

Superb vibe to the opening, it’s kind of twinkly to start with a contrasting distorted bass and drum pattern that gives an edgy, upfront sound. There’s a sadness to the vocals but also a resolute inner strength.

One Thing

Strummed acoustic to open, drumming and distorted lead create a tension leading to an edgy sound to the song with swirling synth sounds and layered effects. Superb vocals again, passion with defiance. 

All Roads Lead Back

An acoustic, almost country vibe from acoustic guitars propelled by solid drumming and bass. The vocals are superb, captivating with lovely harmonies. A reflective song with great warmth and humour. 

Over You

A simply beautiful song, soulful and jazzy. A superb stripped back arrangement of piano, organ and vocals. 

Keep up with Erin at Eleven:

website | soundcloud | bandcamp | twitter | facebook

Review of ‘lutra’ album by smallhaus on Linear Obsessional — August 17, 2019

Review of ‘lutra’ album by smallhaus on Linear Obsessional

This is an excellent album, it has a great ambience with soundscape / cinematic qualities. The sound is big and expansive, often with subtle movement and an edge of tension. 

a wave from the water

Evolving drone to open, there’s an ominous feel to the start of the song. A  big expansive sound with subtle movement, the melody adds an ethereal feel. 

part scientist

An atmospheric opening, percussion adds an urgency. A big expansive sound again, the riff  compliments the subtle melody really well. An excellent build and release. 

to the birds, to the light

Evolving opening, there’s a sparser feel, a suspense. Shimmery guitar builds the sound really well. A slowly evolving soundscape with a brilliant floaty quality. 


A glitchy, reversed noise type sound to open, it’s a sparse feel with evolving riff and sparkly background sounds. It’s got reflective qualities.

the first time we saw all the stars in the sky

Evolving pad sound to open, there’s subtle movement in the sound with a slow evolution. It’s a great soundscape. 

marsh wind

Vocal string type sound to open against a gentle swell, like waves breaking on a beach and birds in the background, the glitchy percussive sounds adds an excellent contrasting element. 


Evolving pad to open with an emerging melody, there’s a great building tension to the ambience which evolves into more of a noise / drone feel. 

back to the river

An evolving opening with strings and a distortion / feedback type of sound, there’s subtle movement in the sound with a build and release. 

Review of The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson published by Solaris / Rebellion Publishing — August 13, 2019

Review of The Return of the Incredible Exploding Man by Dave Hutchinson published by Solaris / Rebellion Publishing

An ARC copy was provided by Netgalley and Rebellion Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  I’ve written the review as spoiler free as possible.

I absolutely loved reading this book and found it captivating, but not in the way I was expecting. 

The story centers around an out of work science journalist, Alex Dolan, who gets offered an opportunity from one of the world’s richest men, Stanislaw Clayton, to write a book about the Sioux Crossing privately funded supercollider coming on line. It’s one of those opportunities you can’t really say no to. 

He moves from Boston to Sioux Crossing and the story follows his progress in the new community and the writing of his book.

In many ways, neither his book nor the supercollider are the focus of the story. For me it’s more about how Alex develops relationships and finds living in a small town where everybody knows your business. It’s an intriguing situation, normally in a small town everybody knows everything about everybody else but this feels different, people seem to know a bit too much for it to be just gossip, appear at exactly the right time and strangely this seems to be accepted as part of everyday life.  

The writing is excellent, there are some really perceptive observations and a range of cynical, mysterious and flamboyant characters that develop through the story so you gradually learn more about them, there’s an excellent human element to characters and their interactions. 

I say the supercollider isn’t the focus of the story, that’s because the first 80% or so of the story focuses on the town and exploring the facility. The last 20% does involve the facility, some extreme quantum weirdness and subtle links back to events earlier in the story. 

The ending does feel a bit sudden after the build up though, that said, thankfully the author resists the temptation to drag the story out or develop too complex or farcical plot lines so overall it still works really well, even though I’d have liked it to have lasted a bit longer. 

Review of Gavin Goode by David B Seaburn published by Black Rose Writing — July 29, 2019

Review of Gavin Goode by David B Seaburn published by Black Rose Writing

A copy was provided by Netgalley and Black Rose Writing, in exchange for an honest review.  I’ve written the review as spoiler free as possible.

I really enjoyed this story, its opening sentence is quite intriguing… 

“I don’t know how and I don’t know why, but I think I died today.” 

What follows is the story of how we get to this point and dealing with the consequences. 

There are nine main characters, I really like the way you get to know them through the story.  It has excellent character development and chapters are named after the characters, giving a layered and evolving story, often giving different people’s view of the same situation giving an insightful perspective into both their behaviours and attitudes. 

There’s a few twists and surprises and elements of mild suspense, these run through the book and build with the developing story and characters. The story explores the infallibility of people – character flaws, choices, mistakes and dealing with the consequences. People aren’t perfect, they have secrets and get things wrong and ultimately it is about the strength of family bonds and sticking together, love and dealing with whatever life throws at you. 

The writing very cleverly resolves the elements of tension and brings a sense of closure. Despite the circumstances the writing maintains a positive feel. It’s very engaging and thought provoking, the sense of perspective puts a spin on right and wrong depending on whose viewpoint you are considering. It also makes you think about the choices we make and how some have more serious consequences than others, even if we are not aware beforehand.