- 28/09/01 (Germany)
Translation of Soma Review:
already ignited in such a way when first hearing, as it did for a long
time no different one. Eleven groovey Downtempo tracks with beautiful
melodies and unusual Samples bind the listener from first to the last
tone to their seat furniture and paralyse the bad Skip finger for at
least 62 minutes and 17 seconds. And even after it only a renewed Play
succeeds. I would write gladly still more to this disk, but the paralysis
- #47 (San Fransisco, USA) FEATURED REVIEW
yourself as a traveller present for the discovery of a new island. You
soak in the imagery: every leaf becomes a universe of intimate details,
every beachhead a highway to potentially rich terrain. Now imagine returning
home and describing all that you've seen, felt and experienced. Without
photos or evidence, your words and first-hand anecdotes become the visuals.
In the same way one is eyewitness to a momentous event, so too is Martin
Stovey's (a.k.a. Sykes) chillout mastepiece I Witness a document that
tells an abundant story fleshed out through music. Stovey's spacey downtempo
track "Echo Chamber" (on LTJ Bukem's Cookin' Volume four Compilation)
immediately gained attention this year for its fusion of effervescent
synth currents and the snappiest of drum programming. Similarly, this
album's 11 tracks glisten with the gold-flake of perfectly arranged
strings, soulful guitar riffs, hazy synth banks and intrinsic piano
improvs. Tracks like "Everything I Dreamt I Saw Happen" and
"Flawless Secrets" are oases of cool blue melodies that roll
along at 95 beats-per-minute (the average throughout the recording)
slyly weaving in a 1001 Strings sample here or a rare groove beat there.
Joining new school peers such as Bonobo, Broadway Project, Blue States,
Unforscene and pioneers like Global Underground and Attica Blues, Stovey
has found the perfect way to testify to the beauty of his artistic discoveries.
AMBIENTRANCE (December 2000) 9 out of 10.
is the full-length debut which finds Martin Stovey (formerly of Elixer)
taking a solo turn as Sykes. A great first impression, he delivers 11
tracks of delicious beatronics which explore many moods, most being
in a rather energetic vein.
The tunes themselves may sometimes have an "elevator music"
quality, but backed by catchy, smartly-rendered rhythms, this elevator
only goes up! The downtempo grooves begin right away as let my mind
wander merges cool beats with subtle sax riffs and twinkling xylo-tones;
a short lull introduces streaming strings atop quieter tropical-flavored
Mercifully brief turntable antics lead to swaggering drums which are
met with wispy synth chords and a boppy bassline in everything i dreamt
i saw happen as lead keys trill occasionally. Entering beatlessly, flawless
secrets soon enough steps into an action-oriented mode as spirited e-percussion
stirs a smooth lounge act of string, light guitar tweaks and some sophisticated
ivory tinkling. Strutting down some forgotten city avenue, lore &
disorder is notable for its softly crooned lone-voice street-gospel
phrases entwined with brass and beats.
Adeptly scattered piano notes trickle through a glowering fogbank of
espionage, to rendezvouz with a lightly spattering wash of cymbals.
A bold synth presence overtakes the proceedings as scritchy beats pound
against a veil of symphonic strings. missing people disappears into
a buzzily surging cloud which emits a shower of flailing drums and ominous
Opening on borrowed boys-in-the-band chatter, paper (3:28) tears through
a funky Motown-style funfest complete with whirling Wurlitzer sounds
and a poppy retro-rhythm. A dreamier mood wafts through past futures
(part 1) (7:43); steady drumming pulses through a latticework of xylophonic
notes and a stair-climbing tonal progression.
Tribal influences are evident in the clattering drumwork which empowers
the shifting synthdrifts and bass pulsations of dunes. Brassy currents
sweetly flow from interactivity and golden layers swell in past futures
(part 2); the only beatless piece closes the disc on a zig-zagging cycles
of notes and chords. Smooooth! (Almost) everpresent, but never-overbearing,
beats build a stylish structure upon which Sykes drapes his light e-melodies.
These ears see I Witness as one of the coolest grooves around. Such
a good time deserves a 9.0.