Review & Press
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END - 20 October 2015 - From the grain of dust lying in Earth's orbital plane, to interstellar clouds and vast plumes of vaporized debris, the music of Dave Luxton portrays the magnificence of the cosmos - and attempts to connect us to our own inner universe. Strange Environs (51'43") contains nine tracks, each a unique spell cast by Luxton's slow motion synthesized fields of harmony and grandeur. His music is serene and calm, and meant to liberate these states which already exist within each listener. Atmosphere, texture and mood all unite in gentle converging psychological currents. Ethereal melodies play out across a building electronic choir, until darker notes remind each of a coming wrath. Secret tones emit warm glows amid rushing forms, as abandoned solo lines echo and hover above undulating sonic designs. Strange Environs bestows upon us a feeling somewhere between the dreamy realms of ritualistic portent and galactic comfort. This work is in no particular hurry to get to its destination - we shall arrive whenever we get there. Luxton knows he cannot provide us with meaning, but does offer a path towards it - striking deep chords that words cannot approach.
Bert Strolenberg/ Sonic Immersion -2015 - Composing cinematic music giving a voice to and feel of cold, hostile but beautiful places is something Boreal Taiga has become very good at. On "Return to the North", JimDís contemporary, occasionally minimalist ambient compositions are captivating, quieting, dreamy and mesmerizing. Airy, slow curling and evolving drone soundscapes, environmental sound recordings along slight hints of rhythm are at play here for almost 80 minutes, transporting the listener to the arctic realms of Spitsbergen and other territories found in northern Norway. Free form soundscape stuff fills the first half of the recording. From there things are set in gentle motion, with rhythmic-spiced pieces such as "Finnkirka" with its ethereal choral sample or the smooth, beat-driven "Nordland Storm" and "Snow Shoe". Same as on Boreal Taigaís previous albums, headphone listening is recommended to get the full scope and sense the impact of this environment-inspired music with a solid Arctic edge.
Bert Strolenberg/ Sonic Immersion -2014 - Compared to his previous releases, JimDe hereby presents of his deeper ambient endeavors, taking his listeners into the icy splendor of slow moving glaciers. The concept album was set in motion when Jim came face to face with the Yentna glacier, found in Alaskaís Denali National Park, which draw him in the fascinating, if not haunting world of these massive natural phenomena. The track dedicated to the Yentna glacier is found halfway and is a special, immersive ambient gem of its own. As a full-length album, "Glacia Form" has been in the making for the past year and a half, and is based on 12 different glaciers found throughout the world. The composer created cinematic music with each glacier in mind to allow the listener to freely float to those environments to experience the majesty, beauty and intrinsic power of this ice phenomenon. In addition, some tracks were even built around the feeling of anticipation of traveling to a glacier, the preparations, the journey itself and of explorations. In the intense process of shaping and molding the ambient-drone soundscapes with occasional sequenced lines and groovy-esque undercurrents, the composer also used various binaural field recordings made in Norway extensively. The 78-minute outcome of imaginary, slow morphing and overtly lush textures influenced by the northern hemisphere and arctic environments is most intriguing but also quite out of the ordinary. Itís at times rather minimalist approach works out quite hypnotizing, most certainly when one immerses in these fascinating, shape-shifting and slow-breathing sound worlds while using a good pair of headphones. I for one am especially touched by the intrinsic nature and tranquil beauty embedded in the already mentioned "Yentna Glacier" and the five tracks following after it, all found in the second half of the album. If all goes according to plan, summer 2014 will see the release of "Moraine", the sister album to "Glacia Form". Soundwise this will be a different story, focusing on down-tempo, psybient and chill-out music.
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END - 5 September 2013 - Dave Luxton provides great music for mind travelers. Fuzzy Music (50'34") contains 12 small tracks about one big subject - The Cosmos. Often thought of as a vast unfeeling infinity The Universe as portrayed by Luxton becomes a salvational force. Fuzzy Music offers fresh testament in a genre continually thought to be ten years ahead of its time. Exploring the strange magic at the heart of the listening experience Luxton crafts subtle nuance then summons stratospheric power. Choosing dark soundscapes loaded with intriguing textures he moves the mood to a purer plane - with passages so soft so as not to ruffle the vulnerable listener. Overtly electronic Fuzzy Music's synthesized chords move wondrously outward. We hear its foundational drones supporting twinkling effects and vaporous melodies. Along with pushing the keyboard based sounds through space Luxton also plays electric guitar - his fluid leads ringing through the backbone of night. The atmosphere lightens and darkens as the listening experience extends into dramatic sonic imagery and tender elegiac laments. A moving tribute to those of us in tune with forces bigger than ourselves, Luxton's music is a celebration of the wonder of existence.
"Bert Strolenberg/ Sonic Immersion - 2013 -"At Gutú" ("woods" or "forest" in Tlingit-language) is Boreal Taiga's fifth ambient release with Wayfarer records. It’s is a concept ambient album influenced by the expansive forest-environments found in USA’s Pacific Northwest and the ancient Tlingit tribes that have been living in this region for thousands of years.
Inspired by its rainforests, deep greens and giant conifer trees, the evocative arctic ambient music makes an immersive listening experience painting beautiful imagery before the mind’s eye.
The tribal and the realm of ancient times and traditions shake hand here, which is emphasized by the occasional use of tribal voices/chant in the soft pulsating and morphing textural movements.
Like Boreal Taiga’s previous releases, the transcendental music is best listened to in an undisturbed environment with a good pair of headphones to sense and perceive it full impact.
"Bert Strolenberg/ Sonic Immersion - 10 September 2012 - yg:drasil", subtitled "Modern Interpretation of Northern Sounds", is Boreal Taiga's fourth release with Wayfarer Records and also his first double album.
The recording, clocking over 2,5 hours, features ambient and deep space tracks on the first cd that explore the vast regions of our Arctic environments. On the second disc though, there’s a switch to down tempo ("Lofoten Night"), chill-out techno and ambient dub tracks in the tradition of the Basic Channel label ("Rein Dear") along more experimental pieces with beats that continue the further and in-depth exploration of the northern sounds and environments.
The lengthy recording, oncemore containing many binaural recordings, was inspired by Northern Tribal mythologies (such as the Sami, Evenk, Aleutian and more) as well as the ancient Scandinavian myths based on the poetic Edda. "Yg:drasil" was created from a lot of older material the composer wanted to release. But instead of using that older material, he wrote new tracks based on those sounds. Therefore, a lot of the tracks have something in common with two previous albums,"Northern Shamans" and "Podkamennaya Tunguska". Both are on the composers list for future release after some proper remastering.
A closer look to the albums music reveals the first part of well mastered and produced"yg:drasil" is an exciting journey into beautifully rendered ambient and drone spaces, accompanied by lots of found samples and an array of field recordings.
One can e.g. hear faint radio sounds, crackling ice, wind, rain, jet pilots chatting, small stones, shaman drums, radio frequencies from space, astronomers discussing the Southern Magellanic Clouds (you can hear this on the track "Antarctic Magellanic Clouds"), cuckoo birds (featured on the third track "Gullesfjorden"), helicopters, airplanes and much more. Besides that, I love the intrinsic stillness and hidden dynamic undercurrent running through the music, as e.g. in "Conifer Polar", "Above the Taiga" and the mesmerizing "Flying low over the high glacier". With headpnones, this stuff works miracles.
As said previously, the second part of"yg:drasil" is a different story, as JamesDe (aka Boreal Taiga) wanted to create a more varied sound and take the plunge into the down tempo and experimental avenues. A more pure and accomplished form of down-tempo can be heard on the smooth pieces"Arctic Doppler" and "Discovering New Ice"found at the end of the release. Notable other takes here are e.g. "Aleutian Village", that contains an actual Alaskan Aleutian tribe sample of children singing, and "Tunguska Evenk" (where JamesDe implemented real Evenk tribal chants and prayers in the music). Boreal Taiga’s already mentioned albums"Northern Shamans" and "Podkamennaya Tunguska" explore these tribes in more detail and sounds.
What the composer especially loved a lot about this side of the album’s music are the different percussion explorations, both challenging and enjoyable. On that behalf, these all reconnect to the more percussion-based tracks created in the earlier days of the Boreal Taiga project with a more ethnic and down tempo feel.
Nice going, JamesDe!
Bert Strolenberg/ Sonic Immersion - 21 August 2012 -In the last couple of years, I’ve reviewed quite a few cosmic albums by US-ambient composer Dave Luxton, who’s also the owner of the Wayfarer Records label. Those who are still not familiar with his music hereby get an excellent opportunity to do so after all.
"Music From The Firmament" is a 56-minute collection of smooth drifting and warm ambient space music that exemplifies his exploration into that genre of music. "Music From The Firmament" contains 11 remastered space tracks, ranging between three and six minutes, that all were previously released with the exception of one composition.
"One Way Voyage", "Long Delay Echo", and"Worlds Unknown" have appeared on the 2010-album "Darkmoon". From the same year we find "If the Sun Fades Away" (taken from"When The World Was Young") besides the tranquil/ethereal pieces "Nebula", "Return to a Distant Star" and "Coriolis" that all were part of the full-length "Portal".
Dave’s older music is represented by "The Moon and The Sea" from 2008's "Hidden Music"along the track "Remote Transmissions" that appeared on 2008's "Futurus". The most recent contribution comes from 2011's"Dreams Ghosts and Parallel Universes" by means of the take Reverse Orbit".
As said earlier, the album also incorporates one previous unreleased track, "Shadow Clouds", that nicely showcasts Mr Luxton’s soothing atmospheric textural work.
All in all, the outcome make a very nice introduction to all who love cosmic soundscape music.
Hypnagogue - 26 March 2012 - Music from the Firmament is my first exposure to Dave Luxton’s work, but this disc lets me play a bit of catch-up. Pieced together from works previously released between 2008 and 2011, this hour-long journey is crafted in neatly executed spacemusic memes with a flowing, and at times symphonic, New Age timbre. Choral pads sing high, soft notes in a suitably ne0-angelic way, electronic spacewinds swirl and the stars glitter and blur as the listener glides through Luxton’s interstellar constructs. It’s a comfortably familiar journey; Luxton isn’t reinventing the sonic starship here, he’s just painting a good, vivid image of the ride. From the light liftoff of the opener, “Worlds Unknown,” to the thematically dense and appropriately worrisome dronework of “If the Sun Fades Away,” Luxton does a great job of modulating the flow to create moments when your awareness rises back up out of the comfortable lull. The requisite radio voices in “Return to a Distant Star,” filtered through the wash of waking-dream pads, anchor the listener to the real world. There’s a definite hold-your-breath beauty to the easy drift of “Shadow Clouds”; again, it’s not a groundbreaking piece–you’ve heard its like many times before if you’re a spacemusic listener. It just happens to be very well done, Luxton’s minute pauses between pads timed just right to amplify the feel of the next one. Here, those minor shifts carry enough impact to make you come around to take notice. I have gladly taken the round trip on this disc several times over; the uninterrupted, consistently smooth flow loops without you even noticing. I suggest having a seat and taking Music from the Firmament‘s first-class ride.
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END - 26 October 2011 - Dreams Ghosts and Parallel Universes (58'57") is an album on which every piece sounds as inspired as the next. These 12 ruminations by Dave Luxton lighten and darken according to the dramatic force guiding each. The use of simplified forms imbues his work with dramatic monumentality. With his phase shifter prominently displayed Luxton creates vintage sweeping effects intermingled with digital ringing tones and hollow crystalline accents. Overall the sound is quite warm, with fluctuating open spaces countering those more tempestuous and densely detailed. In a few places we hear the energy of arpeggiated rows of notes, or the pulsing of a modulated drone. But other than these few instances this CD is quite smooth, with its contour built on layers of harmony and slowly played melodies. Made using machines, this music can make us feel more human. From songs that crackle with energy to regions of atmospheric grit the tracks on Dreams Ghosts and Parallel Universes alternately explore musical material dark as night and themes clear as day. Luxton's confidently crafted realizations have serious pull and lasting reverberations - leaving the listener enchanted.
Bert Strolenberg/ Sonic Immersion - 21 August 2011 - With "Dreams Ghosts and Parallel Universes", US synthesist Dave Luxton brings us an album offering twelve atmospheric space music tracks, making up almost an hour of listening pleasure.
During the spacious ride with minimal use of rhythm or sequences, Dave keeps things drifting in a pleasant and accessible comfort zone, using smooth evolving and ethereal textures and light dronescapes that have both a meditative as soothing impact. I can only second that Mr Luxton has succeeded in creating some naturally flowing three dimensional musical spheres, warm, lush and imaginary.
I think "Dreams Ghosts and Parallel Universes"is his best effort so far. I’m sure fans of freeform cosmic music will love this release.
Hypnagogue - 5 May 2011 - Daren Keck glides through cool post-rock, glitchy rhythmic structures and flows of experimental music in his very listenable debut, 7 Years Under, and he does it without breaking an artistic sweat. The disc opens with “Go in the Black,” where a piano that can’t help but call up thoughts of John Lennon sings against a textbook-perfect glitch backdrop. The followup, “TDG,” is similarly structured, but Keck dials back the glitch a bit–only to ramp it back up again two tracks later on the heavily electronic “Nap Heist.” The laid-back stretch of “Pensive” and “Lean Sine” gives Keck a chance to pull out his deeper emotional side. “Lean Sine” in particular makes great use of held notes and fading pauses. These two lead in to perhaps the highlight track here, “Crumble,” where Keck brings it all together; piano melodies, rhythm shifts, high-speed twitchy accents and my favorite touch, a little shot of Latin percussion. It’s a big, sexy, cinematic track. The closer, “October Winds,” builds from charmingly hesitant guitar and courses its way through dark spaces populated by disembodied, muffled voices. Another favorite. The only time Keck goes a bit far afield for me is on “Barnyard Hedgehog Soup,” where when an accordion sounds breaks into the midst of an otherwise relentlessly repetitive structure–before it lands briefly in an Oldfield-ish pastorale. It’s a weird little piece, but has an odd allure to it. I just can’t listen to it as often as the other tracks here.
Keck is a talented musician and fully in control of his sounds. I found the depth of sound to be surprising, and there were a lot of “Oh, nice” moments for me. This one started strong and just got better with repeat listens. A solid debut, and an indicator of more good things to come.
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END - 28 April 2011 - Sonic Frontiers I: Ambient Dreamscapes (60'05") is the inaugural anthology CD released by the Wayfarer Records label. Containing music by eight notable artists this compilation demonstrates the breadth of the Ambient/Spacemusic community. Each track possesses its own distinctive color and tone, due mainly to the many different approaches and mindsets represented here - so no two sound remotely alike. Yet as different as these artists are from each other they all work quite well next to one another. Sonic Frontiers I: Ambient Dreamscapes begins with "The Highest Cloud" by Ombient. Getting back to basics Michael Hunter plays endlessly looping guitar textures in what feels like an ambient ceremony. From this churning stasis rises "Passage" by The Tangent Project. Synthesist Jeff Coulter and guitarist Harrison McKay create a mysterious and minimal spacescape based in both classic Spacemusic ideals and New Age pleasure. Their track quietly and elegantly changes shape as it slowly drifts through the listening space. Boreal Taiga's "Bjørnøya" gives this CD some momentum with its slowly skipping synth patterns running amidst mellow metallic rhythms and warm electronic drone. Most lovely and ethereal is "Isois" by EchoHALO which layers delicate tones to build a briefly achieved beautiful sonic environment. With "To the Titanic" Dave Luxton provides enough grand chords and watery effects to cause the listener to feel many fathoms beneath the sea. Filling the need for some contrast "Marine Layer" by Ambient Research Collective wanders along a strange arc. With rough timbres rubbing against a languid bassline and lilting chords this track offers much to ponder. Next, a solo realization by Jeff Coulter reveals a dramatic narrative - as chirping and ticking e-percussion wind out within big organ harmonies and sweeping synth pads. The album concludes with "Sanity Generator" by Spider God, a somewhat precarious composition full of recurring synthesized shrieks and deep humming drones. With the ending of Sonic Frontiers I: Ambient Dreamscapes such an open-ended matter listeners will happily seek out the next installment in this well-done anthology series.
Sonic Immersion - 2011 - For "Arctic Remixes", Norwegian-based Boreal Taiga (aka JimDe) composed various lush ambient electronic atmospheres that are profoundly influenced by the northern hemisphere and its arctic environments.
Moreover, the album’s quite hypnotic, non-rhythmic music features beautiful slow flowing ambient soundscapes with occasional sequencers along organic undercurrents and a range of binaural field recordings. These immersive, free-form sonic paintings easily evoke visions of the vast and remote white outdoors, frozen oceanic environments and its overwhelming natural splendor.
So it came to no surprise excerpts of Boreal Taiga’s deep morphing pads have also been used successfully as the score to Richard Sidey’s stunning arctic movie "Landscapes at the World's Ends". The latter is a multi-dimensional canvas of imagery filmed above the arctic circle and below the antarctic convergence, on which JimDe and the New Zealand nature photographer and filmmaker share their unending passion on the beauty that exists over the endless frozen seas.
In addition, JimDe also made a special mention to the album’s closing piece "Tumran Meditation", a gentle ambient/space piece containing a real tumran (a Jew jaw harp made of reindeer bone) samples along a slight beat. These minimal samples make this track the most "active" one on the album, but overall it remains quiet and most pleasant to immerse into.
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END Update - 17 February 2011 - With the release of Dark Moon (48'09") synthesist Dave Luxton has really hit his stride. This vivid Spacemusic study creates a fascinating sonic realm suspended between the Earth, her moon and the cosmos. Each of the subtly brilliant, spacey to the core tracks touch the listener in a heartfelt way. An electronic slow dance of whooshing synthesizers and ethereal choirs, Luxton's sonic collage of nine pieces finds continuity in its lunar theme. Most often we find the music advancing outward in cascading chords and rumbling drones - with Luxton's talent for pacing and sound design on full display. Yet Dark Moon can also morph suddenly into moments of emotional power. As mysterious voices are mixed amidst churning soundscapes, tones collide like charged particles in a slow reveal of this artist's reverence of all things celestial. In the same league as albums by Spacemusic legends Michael Stearns and Jonn Serrie, Dark Moon is bound to feel familiar - which will allow us to savor its individual details all the more.
Bert Strolenberg/ Sonic Immersion - Ambient musician JimDe, who currently resides in Norway, is the ambient musician who initiated the down-tempo project Boreal Taiga around 1999. The electronic music found on "Isopectic Isotac" is graced with a nice sense of wonder, as it draws its inspiration from the expansive and remote Arctic region and its grand natural scenery. One can almost feel the cold coming in, as the carefully moulded and lush textures meander and curl in an elusive, but also original manner. Those who love quiet, spacious and cinematic tapestries with occasional moving patterns and environmental sound effects will find lots of their liking here, such as the flowing sonic landscaping of "Polaris" and "Kotzebue Sound". With this type of music, the beauty and immersive impact easily reveals itself when having a close listen in a comfortable position. Well done!
Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END - 12 August 2010 - Dave Luxton shows great promise on Portal (49'16"). This release features eight studies in tone production. Instantly accessible, the music seems familiar yet cannot be traced back to any one source. While it does align with the Spacemusic of Jonn Serrie, Palancar and other Contemporary Instrumental artists, this album follows its own interesting path. Perhaps it is the upward direction of each piece, or its connection with the ambiguous idea of interstellar longing, or the sense of summation these works bring that so engages the listener. As each composition unfolds a distinctive mood arises amidst the sculpted sonic textures and warm ambiance. But for one track, Portal proceeds without rhythm, relying on synth string chord progressions, slow ethereal melodies, swelling drones and sparkling spacey modulations to create a wondrous cosmic atmosphere. But Luxton knows that wonder has a short half-life and so does not allow his compositions to linger for too long. It is amazing where he can take the listener in just a few moments. From digital elysium to a somber sense of the elegiac, Portal is an encounter with secrets from the treasurehouse of stars.
Stillstream.com Featured Release September 2010 - We had no idea what to expect the first time we heard this luscious new album by Dave Luxton, but we were blown away. A collection of beautiful ambient space music, this is an album that we think is a must-have for anyone who is a fan of the lighter forms of ambience. His other music is well worth your attention as well. We encourage all our listeners to check out this release and the work of Dave Luxton in general. Highly recommended.
Bert Strolenberg/ Sonic Immersion - The concept-album "Hidden Music" -intended to facilitate a meditative process- is centred around the idea that natural places and phenomenon withhold an underlying energy, order and beauty that can be perceived and experienced emotionally by the human observer when he has an open attitude to them.
Recorded during the second half of 2007, the twelve free form textural compositions (all ranging between 3-5 minutes) on the album have a minimal, harmonic approach, put together of flowing ambient drones with a melodic twist.
"Reflecting Pool" and "A Cirrus Sunset" echo "Ambient #2" by Brian Eno and Harold Budd, while tracks like "An Empty Space" or "Snakes in the Grass" open the door to a grander, symphonic atmosphere.
It's the relaxing, meandering mood which makes this music an enjoyable listen. "Hidden Music" is primarily be available for download, but a limited run of cds is available from CDBaby.com.