Aes Dana – Memory Shell
Artist: Aes Dana (France)
Title: Memory Shell
Format: CD (digipack w/ 16 page booklet)
Label: Ultimae Records (France)
Cat. #: INRE 014
Date: 22 September 2004
01. 03’25” Chernozem
02. 06’20” Iris Rotation
03. 07’15” Dusts
04. 07’11” Opalin
05. 08’49” Memory Shell (Lost Radio E-dit)
06. 07’42” Haze
07. 04’51” Shouting Valley
08. 05’53” Cities Update
09. 05’50” Sub Morphing
10. 04’09” Grounds Around
11. 06’28” Exposure (Aes Dana Rmx)
12. 03’08” Chernozem (Closing)
Sound corals and vast hypnotic beaches…
Ultimae – the number one ambient label, is now releasing its 14th album, and this time it’s by none other than big cheese label boss Vincent Villuis in co-orperation with Sunbeam, under the Aes Dana moniker… It’s the third full album by Aes Dana which was responsible for half of the brilliant H.U.V.A. Network album released earlier this year on Ultimae… That album was absolutely stunning, so my expectations for this are sky-high… Let’s see if they are met!
Let me take you thru the tracks…
#01: ‘It was raining in Vargö when we met the sandmen on the boarder of the ocean…’ Smooth organic intro – beatless, only soft, floating ambient soundscapes and the beautiful voice of Mahiane… Let the journey begin…
#02: The CD is mixed, so we drift seamlessly into ‘Iris Rotation’ which is another little ambient gem, though more focused, and up-beat… Carried by simple, familiar melodies… Dubby in nature, with a thick underlying groove… Lovely!
#03: And then it’s time for ‘Dusts’… Somehow Vince manages to take electro-sounds and make them sound organic – check out the beautiful mood he manages to set, just by some digital birds and what sounds like a human choir far, far away in the background… Add some subtle percussion, and you’ve got yourself an amazing, trance-inducing tune… This is psychedelic ambient at its best!
#04: And the groove gets even phatter now… This is the ‘fastest’ track on the album, and I don’t know quite how to label it - progressive ambient? Whatever it is, it sure rocks…Sweet, sweet track with a funky, downbeat groove and the lovely voice of Pascale Auffret… I really, really like this… Yummy!
#05: Time for the beach track ‘Memory Shell’ which was already released in a special Mindgames Festival Live Version last year on Fahrenheit Project Pt. 4… This track intelligently incorporates the sound of some of nature’s elements – wind and water… When you close your eyes and listen, your mind instantly takes you to the beach… Mahiane does more storytelling here, and we also get a subtle, fitting bassline to set the mood… Magic!
#06: A long, peaceful intro… And then the soothing, beautiful voice of Pascale Auffret … Oh my, this is stunning… So simple, yet so beautiful… The subtle, dubby percussion only adds to the flavour… Enough said – listen, and enjoy! ;o)
#07: This track is about the Shouting Valley of the Golan Heights in Syria where people have been communicating with family and friends across the border thru megaphones for the last 35 years… A bizarre situation indeed… The track itself consists of a bunch of elements… More sweet Pascale singing, walkie-talkie static, panpipes and long floating organic pads… A calm track – much calmer than the Shouting Valley, I reckon… Nice track!
#08: Straight from the Shouting Valley of Syria, to the sound of a hectic, pulsating, vibrant city – as portrayed by Vince himself… We get a lot more layers than in the previous tracks – beats, percussion, synths, etc… But don’t get me wrong, it’s still very much a chill track… The percussion here isn’t really my cup of chai though – somehow, they are a tad too ‘noisy’… It’s not bad; it’s just not as great as the rest… Decent track!
#09: Time for the aptly named ‘Sub Morphing’ which incorporates various industrial & electro sounds into an otherwise ‘normal’ downbeat track… We get hints of metallic hisses, tribal percussion and all kinds of indecipherable lyrics… And all that makes a very interesting combo… Nice little track!
#10: If ‘Memory Shell’ was the summer-track, then this definitely is the winter track… This is a stripped down, ‘dark ambient’ piece… Marching sounds, cutting sounds, radio static and an overall melancholy, eerie and cold atmosphere… Very interesting track – if only it was a little longer…
#11: This track was originally made by a dude called Konrad Gmurek – and this is the Aes Dana remix… I’ve never heard the original, so I can’t tell you what was changed… What I can tell you though, is that this kinda has the same ‘dark ambient’ feel as its predecessor… This is slightly faster though – and has a bassline… Subtle, but a bassline nevertheless… This is the soundtrack to a dark, peaceful winter-forest lit by the moonlight… Nordic exposure – you’ll love it! ;o)
#12: And finally the closing part of ‘Chernozem’ with Vince on hanging shells and kalimba… It picks up where track #1 left off … Virtually beatless, the sweet voice of Mahiane – and perfectly knitted bits and pieces for a sweet, floating ambient piece… I cannot think of a better way, to end this CD… Superb!
Where my expectations met? Yes – very much so… With only a few minor glitches, this album is absolutely brilliant… This album was a year in the making – and it shows! Or sounds rather: Everything just oozes quality – from the rich, extremely well-polished production to the beautiful packaging and the very impressive booklet… Every track has its own page with credits and stunning, art-photoes… I’m impressed! ;o)
If you’re looking for some of the finest, most well-produced and soothing ambient and subtle downbeat morning trance – look no further… This is an ambient/downbeat journey, that will stick with you for years to come… 2004 have already brought some amazing chill-out releases, and this is another strong Ultimae-contender for ambient release of the year… Enjoy!
Ultimae Records: http://www.ultimae.com (soundclips available!)
Virtual ‘e-flyer’: http://www.ultimae.com/memoryshell
Psyshop: http://www.psyshop.com/shop/CDs/inr/inr1cd014.html (Audio samples available!)
[Look out for this release in more online shops very soon!]