Afterlife – Mother Nature Land – Subatomic

Attention to detail. Attention to life. Afterlife continue a ceaseless soundtracking of the seasons with this latest collection which as the title states is a timely reminder of the importance of the source. Mother Nature Land pulses with strident drums and an almighty blast of heavenly persuasion in the form of cool chords, sweet strings and vocodered voices. Beautiful. James Bright’s excellent reworking of Rising Up follows criss-crossing the boundaries of breaks and Balearic most wonderfully, arriving packed full of rich heart-warming melodic exchanges.

The intensely primed Unity Gain plunges your circuitry inside a web of sonic fusion next combing elements of techno, bliss and pure liquid funk. Leaving the cool combination of Café del Mar resident, Ken Fan and Afterlife to serve up the ultra-smooth Ibango Dub featuring the most notable percussionist Trace Harris, a key inspiration behind the Ibiza collective Ibango Tribe, who together provide a crescendo of rhythmic paradise while seeking out a never-ending high.

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Afterlife – Mahalo EP – Subatomic

Mahalo sounds like the party has already started. Dancing with crazy pleasure, lost in a tomorrow of future Jazz incantations, sharp beats and smooth chords talking up soulful yesterday’s while notes melt together celebrating. The title track from this latest collection is, and I seem to be repeating the words again, one of his finest to date exploring uncharted combinations of fizzy electronics with a hot Latin percussive pulse, there seems to be something new at play here, like a spring in the step. Sundrops feels more like Afterlife at home reclining in the sunshine of our days with cool grooves driven by the joyous rhythms of excess alongside the rapture of fizzy keys. The standalone Liberty Cap follows plugged into somewhere else entirely with broken drums fixing a hole where your mind might wonder through an escape of cosmic keys and moody 1980’s cinematic synthesizers accompanied by the flickering haunt of nostalgia. To end, Morning Dub visits another favourite territory for the artist as the shuffle of Jamaica meanders off into the distance of sunny uplands grasping a positive charge of depth, soul and echo. Excellent.

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Afterlife – Rising Up – Subatomic

A song for our times. Rising Up sums up the yin and yang transcribing the capacity of music to effect the possibility of positive change. I think this has to be one of my favourite Afterlife compositions to date, something to do with that meandering, warm bass and pads accompanied by a summer of excitement as the sounds dance, tempting fate. Then that beautiful piano appears in a short burst.

The slightly surreal Casual Bungalow dives into suburban bliss next relaxing the tempo with some serious vibes, smooth and low. Then what can you really say about Medicine Man apart from soak up that wondrous journey all for yourself, it’s a glorious piece of music primed to expand mind, body and much else besides. Which leaves us at the point of no return with the final, tense pulse of Way Out West ending on a series of captivating chords plus a seductive shuffle of melodic inclination, best described as hot sublimity causing synthesizers to soar and burn.

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Afterlife – Medicine Man – Subatomic

Beginning with an evocative splash of delayed reverberation time rapidly expands into the New Year as hopes, dreams along with a selection of desires tempt the mind. Once again Afterlife finely tune organic strains of music into likeminded thinking, this time round enveloping you in life reassuring instrumentation by replacing the clouds outside with a positive vibration of sunshine. This in ways feels lighter than previous releases and yet is so very beautifully uplifting until the very end

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Afterlife – Way Out West – Subatomic UK

As originality in music continuously breaks down its good to return like a shot of summer sun to Afterlife’s next release tempting you with the element of continued surprise. By way of introduction a throbbing bass, followed by a twist of surreal synths which are then offset by the chime of exquisite keys. From there on in the trademark of imagination is engaged across a shimmering array of punchy, melodic tones that put simply warm the soul in these chilly climes. There’s a lovely breakdown after the climax of excess as the groove highlights the deeper nature of it all leaving you in little doubt as to exactly who you are listening to.

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Afterlife – Bluedog – Subatomic

Chasing your own tail can be a distinctive, timely occupation that many of us will be familiar with. The by-product of some ancient tradition or due to more contemporary stresses and strains, either way if it’s good enough for dogs then why not humans. This latest number in the sequence sees Afterlife exercises the ghost of a bluesy past with haunting keys colouring the field of vision, drenched in history while reflecting questions about matters blue, until a wash of electronics rise across the background cementing emotion and content splendidly. I’m not usually one for fade outs but in this case it seems like the right thing to do as the music enters, makes its presence felt, then exists having spoken the universal language of understanding.

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Afterlife – Metamorphosis of Narcissus – Subatomic

If music of distinction is about provoking emotions, while capturing the essence of the human spirit in all its complexities, then for some inexplicable, perhaps even hidden reason The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly springs to mind when listening to the opening sequence of Metamorphosis of Narcissus. Not in a nostalgic way but reinforcing the possibilities of creative excitement and forward reaching motion, just like he did, within the power of sound to grasp at the radical contrast between revolution and romance, rather than the safe, soft escape into a rose-tinted history which is so prevalent today.

However, a little after mid-point all of that joyful celebration and wonder crumbles to be subsumed by a much darker brush of brutal intensity highlighting the storm of narcissism currently igniting the cultural horizon (which you can see reflected on the video). And therein lies the beauty of Afterlife’s immersive divergence, juxtaposing the elements to confound expectation. I can almost hear the echo of Hendrix or Jimmy Page coming into to play in amongst the breakdown of what is holy to reveal the spectre of Narcissus as the song plays outside of itself powerfully, without compromise. Not that this is about past reference or mixing up genres in any way – who would dare cofound the division of genre labelling after all – but more about exploring sound in enriching, life-affirming ways.

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Afterlife – Sitting At The Piano – Subatomic UK

Ambient feels like too small a word to describe this awe-inspiring trip through a prism of reverberating echoes. Perhaps the meaning is more appropriately located somewhere in-between the phrases Classical and Electronic to serve the music produced with some evident justice. My only complaint though is that the immersive overlap of warmth doesn’t carry on a number of times longer, for it’s an avenue you will want to find yourself at home in.

Centred on a succession of terse piano notes that are underpinned by an overpowering humming which whirs away almost unnervingly in the background, as synthesised stabs come and go, is one possible way to elicit meaning from words rather than listening. More so is just the simple, purposeful title itself Sitting At The Piano which once again confirms the power of music to generate, connect with and then to explore the impossible dream.

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Afterlife – Moksha – Subatomic

Fuelling a lifetime of experience are Steve Miller’s uniquely crafted sonic journeys which begin at the point of imagination, ending up somewhere down the line at fast-forward destinations. In the case of Moksha that proves to be a fiery blend of sizzling electronic tones creatiing a free-form of expression, hinting at classic Detroit, while adding up a wealth of Jazzy sensibilities. Next and probably my favourite of the four numbers are the beautiful, life affirming notes that adorn Ad Astra. Taking the listener into other aspects of the possible this sequence of soul-drenched chords are not just indelibly human but together with a shuffle of drums and unison of voices they feed the feeling of exultation.

The pulse that is Jamaican dub is never far from reach via Afterlife and Abraxas testifies to that very influence as the sway of rhythm breezes throughout its cool keys and hot vocal touches that yearn for the embrace of Grace. The final number Dreadbox (featuring Cafe del Mar DJ, Ken Fan) again channels those vibrant colours into skanking pleasure, this time sprinkling rolling drums and bass with even more earth shattering depth.

Release: August 25
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Afterlife – Ambient Meditations – The Ambient Zone

I had been so busy with the assumption that Afterlife produced certain sounds that fitted into particular styles of music – notably Balearic etc etc – I hadn’t even realised that Ambient wasn’t one of the genres touched upon. Which in a way seems rather strange as you would imagine it to be a natural space to occupy given the immersive explorations of mood and atmosphere readily kindled across the years. Thankfully though, this must be some of the most engaging work to date from the producer behind the guise not least of all because of the rich intensity, almost too intense at times, which has been created.

Singularity is an epic opening, unfolding in warm waves of reassuring emotion that feels gently blissful throughout each aspect of its meditation on living life. So much so that the proceeding impact of The Lost Birds is like a small shock to the system, aside from the fact that it could be one of my favourite pieces of music in amongst all of the past twelve plus months of madness. I don’t know about you but if music is indeed a universal language then you will also sense a yearning, or loss, located somewhere in the hardwire of memory (hidden from view) as a vigorous whir of contemplation extends beyond conscious belief. There is something about the liquidity of water contained within the body of the sea which conjures up a captured stillness here, pictures from a black and white timeframe that are worn and lost. You may well evoke something completely different of course, unique to your own experience in the process of listening. Everest, follows by reverberating across the space of notes generated from piano to dawn, observing the blur between wind and snow as the energy of raw emotion drips effortlessly across the screen. Next, Secret Life completes the release likewise returning to the grain of torn keys, this time pitched alongside the contrast of eloquent pads seeking out future tomorrows amid the passage of time…and as the music leaves the stage it still echoes within.

Release: June 23.
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https://theambientzone.co.uk

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