Californian By An Ion is a duo composed of Ray Aguilar and Alex Gonzales. Merging the worlds of ambient synth and contemporary music, creating a stunning sound that echoes their melody driven vocals. Dreamy and cinematic, the music speaks of personal and relative topics to the listener. Both members have a similar yet distinct sound to their vocals, which makes the music that more interesting.
Aguilar and Gonzales discovered the power of their chemistry whilst in the studio and playing in different electronic acts. They describe themselves as best friends and brothers and compare this chemistry to literally finishing each others sentences. By An Ion’s heavy use of synth pads and reverb give the music a euphoric and angelic ambiance without shying away from the sometimes abrasive electronic drums. Their layered, lush synthscapes fill every inch of the spectrum, whilst maintaining a balance that keeps listeners rooted in their empathetic songwriting.
Leading single ‘Autre Vie’, highlights the bands signature style of beautiful, ethereal melodies which emit a sense of tranquility. Fusing nostalgic electronica, atmospheric aesthetics and building anthemic drum beats, the band have succeeded in producing a dynamic song to portray a sense of peace and understanding. 'Autre Vie', meaning “another life” in French, was written in a time of need during Aguilar’s struggle with a temporary illness. The illness consequently forced him to be house bound. Aguilar reveals, “they say that a man's character is best defined when they are alone, my journey led me to discover a specific musical sound that brings peace and freedom to whatever someone is going through”. The single expresses how love is the most powerful thing to conquer ones personal moral state of being.
‘Fenestra’ is a shimmering serene song, which takes listeners to a place of utopia. Immersed in ambient melodic hooks over celestial backdrops and 80’s drum machine beats, By An Ion have created a unique sound reminiscent of vintage M83 fused with Depeche Mode.
By An Ion’s eagerly awaited upcoming EP, Violet Sky has already had the stamp of approval from industry professionals, being mastered by Pete Maher (Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Rolling Stones, The Killers). They have also worked in the studio along side with The New Division's John Kunkel, TimeCop1983's Jordy Leenearts and Spanish Synth Pop artist Sergio Palacios from Puerto Aereo. Aguilar and Gonzales continue to collaborate with various artists and are quickly propelling into the next chapter of their musical journey.
" Without You" talks about the effects of depression on a relationship or partnership. It’s Sarah Hiltz's way of saying that for better or worse, when one person in a relationship is suffering, it can bring them both down, whether they want it to or not; and that when you commit to living life side by side, it means living through all the peaks and valleys you both go through- together.
Sarah Hiltz's new album "Beauty in the Blue" is coming out on November 7th. The album is a compilation of songs and stories culled from Sarah’s multiple journeys across Canada as a traveling musician on cross-country Via Rail passenger train, “The Canadian”. Hot off a UK tour supporting Canadian darlings Running Red Lights, Beauty in the Blue is Sarah’s first studio project featuring long-term stage collaborators, drummer Jordan Michaelis and multi-instrumentalist David Puzak.
Beauty in the Blue (2017), co-produced with Kevin Howley (Running Red Lights), is a response to those stories, a full-hearted return to Sarah’s Canadian folk roots, rounded out with the cross-country experience of her train travels and the desire to dive deeper than most pop artists her age with a rich voice that belies a soul in tune with the balance of both pain and beauty, suffering, and art.
Crafting a concept album is an incredibly difficult task. Tying together a cohesive narrative across a record’s worth of songs isn’t just daunting, it’s an endeavour that even some of the industry’s finest have failed to do memorably. This task, however, becomes notably more difficult when you’re dealing in the abstract via instrumental soundscapes. That is what Chronotope Project, the moniker of composer Jeffrey Ericson Allen, attempts to do with his latest project, ‘Ovum.’
‘Ovum’ “is a concept album that poetically reflects on the nature of beginnings, seeds, and primordial states of being,” Chronotope Project muses in their liner notes. The project is Allen’s attempt to explore the depths of time and space utilizing complex sonic landscapes. Surprisingly, ‘Ovum’ does this particularly well, conjuring longform instrumental pieces that are worth listening to - an impressive feat.
As with any concept album, ‘Ovum’ is best served by being listened to in its entirety. This is quite the commitment given the length, but it gives the best insight into Allen’s creation. The first track, ‘Olduvai Dreams,’ clocks in at ten minutes, making in the album’s most weighty effort. It introduces a very ethereal, mystifying sound. In this track, though, it’s also a very earthy sound. The sound is chock-full of African tribal influence, Native American flutes and percussion, and so much more.
Throughout its ten minutes, ‘Olduvai Dreams’ proves completely enthralling. The title track, on the other hand, proves less accessible, digging its heels deeply into long, drawn out synthesizer sections. The track is best served by a quality sound system due to its slight variations as time goes on, but it’s definitely more nuanced in its accessibility than its predecessor.
‘Mariposa’ is very similar to ‘Ovum,’ providing a sublime dive into angelic, soft-spoken synthesizers. Some of the instrumentation draws very thin parallels to, perhaps, Nordic influence, but by and large ‘Mariposa’ lacks the earthly qualities of ‘Olduvai Dreams.’ The track culminates into a much stronger finale than ‘Ovum’ as well, one that builds as synthesized choruses and a percussion section enter the fray in a beautiful fashion.
‘Primordial’ is a rather beautiful tune, one that harnesses soft, cricket-like sound effects over soft orchestration. It feels like a combination of ‘Olduvai Dreams’ and its familiarity and ‘Ovum’ and its otherworldly nature.
‘Epiphany,’ too, proves a fairly compelling listen, the synth-driven experience is a fascinating one. The same could likely be said for the finale, too, ‘Starry Messenger.’ It is a wonderful ending that pulls flute back into the forefront, likely to strike a contrast to the first song.
‘Ovum’ is, for the most part, a strong effort. The songs are surprisingly intriguing to listen to, which can rarely be said for ten minute instrumentals. The conceptual part of ‘Ovum’ is very subjective and abstract, but it does do a fine job exploring the dichotomy between earthly and celestial sounds. On the whole, ‘Ovum’ is a treat for experimental instrumental fans worth spending time with on a good sound system.
Blair Coron is a musician and composer residing in Glasgow, Scotland, blending the borders between contemporary classical music, ambience, flourishes of electronics, folk and poetry and with the aid of a string ensemble his primary intention is to create enchanting atmospheres that sets course for introspection.
When he is not performing with the band, he regularly collaborates and composes for those in the other arts with a keen interest in how the arts can be translated between one another. Currently he is scoring the soundtrack to a play by Andrew Edwards (winner of the Roxy Theatre award), which will be performed throughout the whole of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Orellana is a neo-classical/post-rock collective hailing from Bristol, UK. Their new album “52”, released in late December, brought in the new year with it’s explosive and intricate sound. The project’s music transcends genre definitions in order to focus on a broad, diverse concept that is more emotional than tangible. This particular release is full of rich and diverse arrangements, but it is also a powerful exercise in minimalism, one that showcases the strength of very few notes placed in the right spots. The simplicity of the arrangement is actually one of the strongest aspects of this entire release: there’s a palpable stillness created by the long, drone notes in the background, which almost makes you feel like the world is happening in slow motion. When the chords and notes change, it feels quite monumental due to the beautiful contrast between the stillness of the background textures and the expressive sound of the guitar-based melodies.
Davenport Rex is a music project based in Detroit, Michigan. Their sound is diverse and challenging, yet accessible and appealing. The band’s music stands out as a combination of tasteful progressive rock, with shades of various influences, ranging from alternative to symphonic hard rock, just to mention a few.