Three Heat Death Records EP reviews for you this time with two releases from March including Zvuku and Listening Mirror, plus one from Gimu to be released in April.

Zvuku (pronounced za-voo-coo and meaning ‘of sound’) is the Irish and Dublin based artist Karl McGrath. Karl was involved in the 90’s/early 00’s electronica and dance music scene, but became disillusioned with the direction of beat driven dance styles in the last decade and started to turn to ambient music for new inspiration. His last release ‘Half Full’ on Rural Colours was well received.

The Midway Slump release on Heat Death is a three track EP full of lush classically influenced ambient drones. The sounds originate from piano, violin, cello and acoustic guitar but are transformed by an array of reverb, echo and octave shifting effects into beds of shimmering and pulsing strings with occasional violin and piano phrases breaking through. The first track, Mid, pulses gently on bowed strings and has something of the wave-like rhythm of the sea about it with a short appearance by bright acoustic guitar at the end. The opening to the second track, Way, sounds like a requiem with its doom laden tone but this lifts to a more hopeful vibe half way through. The last track, Slump, was the best on the EP for me with its rising strings accompanied by gentle bells providing a hint of rhythm while cello phrases pan around over the top – wonderful stuff!    

Listening Mirror (Jeff Stonehouse) takes up where Zvuku finishes with his EP ‘Spires, Spirals and Stones’. This is a two-track release of Jeff’s distinctive piano-drone led ambient and field recorded sounds which is full of dreamy nostalgia and faded memories.

Distant voices echo amidst a quiet pulsing drone with piano chord phrases and masses of spacial reverb on opening track ‘Glass Slopes’. The second title track starts quietly and builds on heavily reverbed piano while strings shimmer in the background. Recordings of what sounded to me like someone stomping around in a spacious room while peeling sellotape off the walls and holding a sparkler firework  join the mix and the track fades out on panning airy drones and echoing voices. Yet another wholly enjoyable and restful release then from Listening Mirror.

Gimu’s ‘A Prayer for Time’ was the surprise release for me of these three offerings. I can find almost nothing about this artist on the web except that he is a sound designer from Brazil who had a debut release titled ‘Beluga’ on the Audio Gourmet label in December 2010. As with Zvuku, Gimu had an earlier musical career in electronic pop, but moved away from this scene when his band ‘Terrorturbo’ broke up. Like so many other strays from the electronica scene he moved to more sedate musical explorations in the contemporary ambient world and has a particular interest in repetitive, mind-expanding soundscaped works.

The three tracks on ‘A Prayer for Time’ are all epic soundscapes of spacious and celestial electronic drone. My skull does not feel like a suitable chamber for these colossal sounds to reverberate in and you really need to take a wall of amps out into some vast natural arena and blast the tracks out there for the full effect while looking up and imagining there are two extra suns and a few extra moons hanging in the midday sky – that’s what it sounds like ! 

All three of the above releases are available from Heat Death Records here http://www.heatdeathrecords.co.uk/ as limited CD releases, or as downloads on the Bandcamp page. Zvuku and Listening Mirror are available now and the  Gimu EP will be released in mid April 2011.

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