Reviews – Memorophilia (2006)

MEMOROPHILIA (2006)

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Nominated Best Electronic Album

Zone Music Reporter 2006 

 

Soundician – Memorophilia CD-R, Private Release, 2006 “Memorophilia” is the fifth cd of the English duo Odette and Kit Johnson on which they continue the musical path of its predecessors. Soundician’s output always had a rather unique style and sound, and on this recording the duo further investigates the boundaries of their minimal oriented rhythmic/melodic style. Although dedicated to “those we have loved and lost”, the overall impact of the album is positive and warm. The album nicely kicks off with the great melodic soundings of “Cornfield”, followed by twelve more tracks ranging from uplifting textures (“Dawn”) to moody, introspective outings (“Edge”) or almost heavenly, quieting soundscaping (“Lullaby for Jay”). It’s great to see these two musician deepen and further sculpturing their musical skills, I hope lots of Em-fans will finally dig and appreciate their noble excursions of well composed and produced electronica with a slight vein of new age. Again, well done, Kit & Odette.

Bert Strolenberg – Bert Strolenberg – emportal.info – 2007

 

&etc 2007_1 – at last! Soundician always seem concerned that they will not fit in here – but for me an essential component of my music is variety (see the web stuff down below). The Johnson’s are working in the region of melodic ambient, layering tones with melodies that shimmer and shine with slower bass material. Memorophilia (www.soundician.com) is their fourth album and finds them in fine form. This is a very enjoyable album of beautiful music that dances and washes across the soundsphere with a lightness that is relaxing and joyous. There are many highlights, such as the oriental feel of Seconds or the deep throb in Warrior. The Soundician sound is developing and evolving and continues to provide music for pleasure.

Jeremy Keens – Ampersand Etcetera – Memorophilia (2007) 

 

Memorophilia is the latest album from Odette and Keith Johnson who record under the name Soundician. Though new to me these artists have four previous, and apparently well received, albums under their belt. Falling somewhere between electronica and new age, and skirting a few other genres, their music is bright, melodic, and sometimes minimalist. The album gets off to a great start in “Cornfield” where a bright melody of sparing piano notes plays out over a minimalist chattering rhythm. High pitched angelic chorales periodically pad out the background along with bass notes. Later in harpsichord style notes join in the melody making. Listening to this piece you can imagine children running through a cornfield with all the energy of youth. The next couple of tracks are also bright and continue the uplifting emotional resonance of the music experienced so far. In the track “Edge” there’s a more serious feel as synthetic waves and deep bassy disturbances in the sound field create a swell like being on a restless ocean. Ticking percussion and a melody of pingy notes conveys a slightly pensive or expectant mood. In the piece “Lullaby for Jay” the artists show they can also do quieter more restrained tunes. Sparkling Kitaro-esque notes like a cosmic music box create a backdrop for a slow restful tune complemented by will-o-the-wisp wordless vocals and gentle plucked string notes. Soundician excel at mixing repetitive rhythms and open melodies that easily capture one’s interest. I especially like the tribally edged rhythm using a stick sound on “Seconds”. Airy vocal washes and a pipe or flute sound reminiscent of world music adds a further exotic element to this mesmeric piece. Now I’ve heard Memorophilia I intend to seek out more of the work by this talented duo. They have a distinctive sound and style which I thought occasionally verged on the baroque. The unabashed pretty and innocent, but not superficial, melodies make it a delightful album.

Dene Bebbington – Melliflua – December 02, 2006

 

SOUNDICIAN Memorophilia Soundician (2006) Odette and Kit Johnson, the English duo who are Soundician, favor us once more with an album filled with their unique hybrid of electronica, chill-out, ambient, EM and new age instrumental music. Memorophilia, recorded (per liner notes) “for those we have loved and lost,” signals a return to a tighter more cohesive sound for the pair, in comparison to their previous release, Seven Sisters. While their musical “signature” is readily apparent from the very first track (the sparkling up tempo “Cornfield” which pulses forward on a bed of staccato synths while a forlorn digital piano plays the melodic refrain in the foreground), there are new wrinkles here as well, which is to be expected since the Johnsons never dwell in a musical clearing for long. All three of their previous recordings after their debut (The Beauty is knowing…, Tranquilicity, and Seven Sisters) displayed a flair for introducing new instruments, motifs, and subgenres even while retaining characteristics which earmark their albums as uniquely “Soundician.” One thing that is new on this release, at least from my perspective, is the incorporation of more obvious European chill-out elements, such as the shuffling beats and sunny Ibiza-like melodies on “Sundial” which ripples on an electronica sky-blue horizon like the sun rising over the ocean. One thing I have always praised in the Johnson’s music is how well-layered all the disparate/different elements, instruments, textures, and effects are, and this song is a perfect example, as dissecting everything going on in the mix would take a dexterous ear! “Dawn,” the next cut on the CD, slows things down and offers both the familiar (those sparkling twinkling synths which are patently Soundician) and a subtle lounge feel, via organ washes and a laid-back rhythm track. Retro-electronica/ambient fans may delight in the swirling washes of keyboards, spacy effects, and synth-pop drum programming (slow tempo) on “Edge,” while those who favor less rhythm and more of a classic spacemusic approach can look forward to the serene charms of “Lullaby for Jay.” “Shadows,” while not sunny or cheery, is also not dark in mood except when contrasted with other pieces here. A rock-steady bass beat anchors the slow tempo while washes of keyboards flow underneath the lead synth line. “Seconds” sees the duo incorporate some hushed breathy wordless chorals juxtaposed by ethno-flute samples, koto-like strings, and what can only be described (by me) as a washboard-like rhythm! How it all works is beyond me, but it does! “She Wanders the Earth” features another unusual combination with a harpsichord loop blended with an undulating ambient drone and soon joined by some ultra cool retro-spacy electronic blooping effects and delicious neo-classical strings and harps! “Warrior” sounds like a track from a Composure (a.k.a. Bill McGee) CD, with sampled ethno-percussion beats, vague jungle-like ambiance and layer upon layer of assorted keyboards. The album concludes with another great chill-out track, “Waverley,” which hits just the right amount of twinkling synths, background washes, and mid tempo cheerful rhythms. I’ve been on the Soundician bandwagon from day one, when Odette and Kit were releasing music in a digital only (non-CD format) way before anyone else had considered doing it. They consistently deliver some of the most engaging, likable, yet unique electronic instrumental music, spanning several genres, that I have heard over the years. So much of what’s on Memorophilia will probably put a smile on your face or set your feet a tapping that I believe only the most stubborn curmudgeons would not enjoy at least some, if not all, of this album. I highly recommend it, especially to fans of European chill-out and electronic new age music. Bravo, Odette and Kit, bravo! Bill Binkelman Producer and Host Wind and Wire and Music reviewer for New Age Reporter

Bill Binkleman – Wind and Wire / New Age Reporter – Memorophilia (2006)

 

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