Aes Dana "Memory Shell"

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Review by PKS
New album by Aes Dana out on Ultimae Records...

Aes Dana (Vincent Villuis) is back with his third album on French Ultimae Records. He has got a good reputation after releasing his album Season 5 in 2002 and the limited edition CD called Aftermath last year. He is known for going deep into spacey ambient and down tempo trance. With this release you also get a fat booklet with text and several pictures.

Aes Dana “Memory Shell” Ultimae Records 2004 (Inre014)

1. Chernozem
2. Iris Rotation
3. Dusts
4. Opalin
5. Memory Shell (Lost Radio Edit)
6. Haze
7. Shouting Valley
8. Cities Update
9. Sub Morphing
10. Grounds Around
11. Exposure (Aes Dana Rmx)
12. Chernozem (Closing)

First out is a short track with slow, mystic sounds gliding in a relaxed way. Nice and chilled intro on the album. Track 2 continues the deep, floating soundscapes. Aes Dana always delivers very spacey sounds, with mystic and relaxing vibes forcing us to calm down. In this track we also get some relaxed experimental beats and a beautiful humming voice. Reminds me a bit of the deep cold, so called arctic ambient, artists such as Biosphere etc. produce. These tracks float over in each other so it becomes a nice journey. Track 3 has a bit more dramatic vibe. Still totally deep and floating. You also get a voice in this one and the track slowly builds up. After a while a relaxing down tempo rhythm sneaks slowly into the track. A beautiful voyage into deep ambient music. Track 4 starts totally slow, before we glide into a pumping down tempo groove. With this kind of chill out, you can just sit and relax or take a slow dance. This should be perfect for an early evening trance set too. Track 5 continues the deep, dark vibes. It starts with someone telling a little story, we hear the sound of water, before we float further into more mystic vibes. Then comes the stumpy beat back on track. Very drifting with spacey, deep sounds all the way.

Track 6 is one of my favourite tracks on this album. It has a beautiful voice and some very nice atmospheric floating sounds. Totally relaxing with slow, experimental, drifting beats. Track 7 has some very mystic vocals, and almost no beats at all. Just floating deep sounds. About as deep as ambient can get. Track 8 goes to a bit lighter level and we get more groovy down tempo beats. Track 9 is another floating, little masterpiece with a bit more earthy sound, still going a mystic direction. Relaxing drums and beautiful sounds. Track 10 takes us to an even deeper, relaxing level. Perfect when you are tired and want to listen to something really dreamy. Track 11 is originally made by Aural Planet, but here we get a remix by Aes Dana. The original track is on their album called Acoustic Plantation Releases, released on Flow Records earlier this year. Aes Dana gives us a deep, relaxed version of the track, with his typical spacey floating vibes. The last track Vincent gives us on this album is a short finishing track floating like the intro we get on this album.

Aes Dana delivers another strong album full of deep, relaxing ambient and down tempo grooves. Very different from the tribal chill we get in most psychill releases, but also very refreshing to hear something as deep and spacey as this. Very dreamy music all the way through. Recommended.
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Aes Dana - Memory Shell
Death Posture 08.09.2004 23:25
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
Distribution: Ultimae
Date: 22 September 2004

Track listing:

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!


External links:
Ultimae Records: (soundclips available!)
Virtual ‘e-flyer’:
Psyshop: (Audio samples available!)

[Look out for this release in more online shops very soon!]

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