Leylines (INRE 034)
Aes Dana, Vince Villuis one of the Co-founders of Ultimae Records (which is still one of my favourite labels around), is out with his 4th album Leylines. Vince’s ambient style of soft floating melodies and subtle beats being broken up by big thumping beats is a style that has enthralled me in the past. His first 3 albums, Season 5, Aftermath & Memory Shell were incredibly fine works of art. They are the kind of albums that whilst listening to in your living room with the distraction of your partner/kids/pet/work/etc never sound that interesting but take it into a relaxed space without any distractions and his music opens up for you. The level of sonic structures and the melancholic feeling that seems to be the calling card of many Ultimae artists, flows over you and I for one never get tired of hearing it. With this right place, right time and right frame of mind style it can be easy to buy the album not connect and put it on your shelf. This I have done with about half of all Ultimae albums I have bought but I have come back to all of them and in the end I have ended up loving them.
Leylines has it all, it has some purely soft ambient tracks like the opening Alignments as well as other tracks that are a mix of soft ambience then some pounding ketamine trance then back to ambient like Lysistrata. Both have a very urban night time feel to them and are very visual allowing my mind to create all kinds of urban scenes for me to watch as I am listening. For the totally ambient tracks it is easy to float away, I feel like I am rising high through the city, up and over rooftops and looking down at the limited night time activity in the streets below. I really get a feeling of that orange street light that bathes everything in a warm glow that can make you feel toasty even on a winter’s night. With the soft trippy beats that massage my mind I can float on in peace dreaming up different situations, a woman silently shouting at her boyfriend in the middle of a street, a man walking home after finishing very late a work, a dog running or even a homeless man trying to stay warm. All of these urban scenes are bathed in that warm ethereal glow and played out silently as if completely detached from my own reality. The tracks on Leylines with more of an upbeat feeling allow for a more active role in the events that unfold in the mind. Instead of floating above everything I am in the thick of it. In the middle of a dance floor at a warehouse party, operating the machines in a factory making something that nobody know what it actually is or walking in the street as a Chinese carnival procession snakes its way through you. These are of course just some examples but every time I listen to Leylines I see different scenes unfolding. For me this album Leylines is the aural equivalent of people watching. I think the perfect time & place to listen to Leylines would be with good headphones sitting next to the window of a second storey coffee shop overlooking a busy street and watching everyone as they go passed, see how they interact with each other and with the world.
Stand outs include Oxyd a very soft track on Leylines that always has me feeling like it is going to kick off into something much harder but never actually does. It has my heart pushed right to edge of a cliff & I can see the huge fall down to the bottom & I have the feeling like I could fall but I never actually do. The melody in this track is really nice. It is dreamy and it feels like it never tries to make you like it; it is natural and never rushes anything giving the track a lovely feeling of going at your own pace. The title track, Leylines as it is a perfect example of simple ketamine trance. The beat is steady and plodding the whole way through. The melodies are simple and infectious and the background has a lot of dreamy ethereal synth drones going on. It has breakdowns and build-ups just like regular trance but at a much slower pace. It’s like really good progressive being played through a dense fog. Magic stuff. The best on the album is Lysistrata which was also on Opus Iridium last year but even after a year it is still a masterpiece. I have played it in my sets time and time again and it always goes down well. The real beauty of this track though is the vocal/melody. I’m not sure what it is, some kind of synth but it puts me in mind of lost souls desperately crying out to the intruder that has stepped into the ocean of lost souls & trying desperately to scramble up & escape the tedium of the nether world that tortures them eternally. It’s beautiful in a really depressing way. This has such emotion that can only be got from electronic music of the highest order. Signs is simply a haunting ambient track with a synth drone like a light howling wind and a vocal that sounds like it is coming out of a church in a dark religious horror flick.
This album Leylines is another winner from Aes Dana. I had my doubts when I first got it as I thought I had the perfect place (my very own music room, just for listening to music) but my head was not in the right place. My mind was too cluttered and I didn’t focus well enough, always thinking of a distraction. Problems at work kept filtering in as well as domestic problems. But once I relaxed and was easily able to empty my mind, this album emptied its contents into my head. I really love it now and I think it is not just a time & place album but a time, place and state of mind. Some albums help me relax, no matter what’s happening in my life I can put them on and my troubles float away. This is not one of them; I need to be relaxed already before I put this on to fully enjoy it.
The CD Leylines comes in a deluxe digipak with a 16 page booklet. The pictures are as usual very beautiful and match the album’s music very well. I love the feeling of cartography on the inside of the digipak although I am not falling in love with the front cover, something about the hands that I just don’t like. The booklet again is filled with great shots, my favourites being the bud on the inside of the front page and the tribute to Season 5 on the inside of the back cover with the ladybird. My least favourite is unfortunately the picture of the man himself, it’s just so out of place.
Abasio – psynews.org