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Somamag.de - 28/09/01 (Germany)

Rough Translation of Soma Review:

This LP 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 reinserts even.

XLR8R - #47 (San Fransisco, USA) FEATURED REVIEW

Imagine 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.

I Witness 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 rhythms.

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 overtones.

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.