Vibrasphere - Exploring The Tributaries

Tribal Vision, June 2007

Author: pr0fane
Date: Jun 17, 2007
Views: 6247

Review by:
Jannick Andersen // DJ pr0fane (Iboga Records)

Artist: Vibrasphere
Title: Exploring The Tributaries
Label: Tribal Vision
Format: CD
Released: June 2007


After 3 albums on the two Swedish labels Spiral Trax and Digital Structures, Rickard Berglöf and Robert Elster are now ready with their 4th full-length album \"Exploring The Tributaries\" on the Czech label Tribal Vision - a label which in the last couple of years has marked itself as one of the best and most important new labels in the progressive scene. The Swedish duo, which is widely known under the name Vibrasphere, has been around for far longer than Tribal Vision Records, releasing some of the best and most emotional progressive trance, and is an act which has always had huge impact on me personally.

After the 3rd album released last year, \"Archipelago\", Vibrasphere released a track called \"Floating Free\" on Tribal Vision, and it turned out to be a huge success, getting plays by some of the biggest DJ\'s in the wide trance scene like Armin Van Buuren, Paul Van Dyk, Christopher Lawrence and Markus Schulz, and the new album is promising to be a more experimental and targeted towards a wider audience than the usual progressive psytrance crowd. So Vibrasphere is definitely a bigger name now than they were just one year ago - but are they any better? Read along for my opinion.

01. Heading North
The album starts with \"Heading North\" which is a 5-minute chillout intro. This can\'t really be a surprise, since all the first 3 albums also started with one chillout-tune to set the mood for the tracks to come. Surprising or not, it really does the trick - the theme is around leaving the civilation behind, with the sound of a train in the background and atmospheric voice-samples by Jasmine Ntoutoume. Great opener.

02. Erosion [117 BPM]
\"Heading North\" fluidly and effortlessly transitions into the steady beats of \"Erosion\". Running at only 117 BPM, this has a lazy, underwhelming feel to it, yet still with a sense of class and big, mesmerising sounds. It contains vocals by Irina Mikhailova who, truth to be told, never really impressed me with her singing, but this is an exception. Warm and stellar music suitable for both the chillout, as well as openminded dancefloors.

03. Isolation [125 BPM]
The tempo is raised a bit with \"Isolation\", the first of the really dancefloor oriented tunes on the album, and with vocals by Lisa Larsson. It has a big, trancy sound but with a more lazy approach, and an underlying trendy hint of electro in the low-end, compared to the material on \"Archipelago\". A bit anonymous at first, but when the Vibrasphere-trademark melodies come in the last 3 minutes, it does turn into a pretty good tune.

04. Vertical [130 BPM]
With \"Vertical\" the intensity is given a notch up - a trendy electro-groove gives it a bouncy, dancefriendly touch, yet still with the wide, trancy sound. With the current electro-trend in mind, this is bound to be one of the tunes from the album getting most plays at parties this year, but to me it seems a bit lacking some of the epic qualities to really make it a winner. Good, but not amazing.

05. In Control [134 BPM]
\"In Control\" was released as a single prior to the album with remixes by Chris Micali and Duca, and it\'s no surprise why it was chosen for a single-release. It\'s the first and only track on the album running over 130 BPM, and in sounds and structure it sounds pretty close to the hit \"Floating Free\", meaning phat and rolling electro-inspired bass, simple, yet effective vocals and catchy melodies. Good stuff.

06. 102 Miles From Here [128 BPM]
After some good but not excellent tunes, \"102 Miles From Here\" is, to me, the first track where Vibraspheres brilliance really shines through. The groove is so funky, yet not stressful in any way, and the immaculate Jean Michel Jarre like melodies and atmosphere in the peak of the track is the moment of the album for me. Simply a beautiful track - a tribute to the good times in life.

07. Wasteland [127 BPM]
The dancefloor section on the album ends with \"Wasteland\" - probably one of the most experimental trance-tracks Vibrasphere has made over the years. Gone are the intense rhythms that\'ll have the dancefloor in a frenzy, and instead we\'re treated with some lazy, minimal techish grooves for the after-hours, but still embellished in rich, trancy pads and melodies. Great track.

08. Forever Imaginary
Okay, on to the downbeat section on the album - Vibrasphere has always made some great chillout, and people have been hoping for a pure chillout album from the duo for years. \"Forever Imaginary\" starts out quite ok with uplifting and optimistic melodies, but over the 7 minutes it almost gets too much, bordering towards the too naïve and cheesy. Not a bad track by any means, but not great either.

09. Ensueño
Things get drastically better with \"Ensueño\". It has much deeper approach, with some truly beautiful acoustic guitar play by Mattias Johnsson (who also contributed to \"Forever Imaginary\"), subtle layers of blissful melodies and once again some beautiful vocal-work by Lisa Larsson. In my opinion one of the best downbeat-tunes Vibrasphere has ever made.

10. Mountain Lake
\"Mountain Lake\" is a fairly organic tune, with the calming sounds of water and with elements of both acoustic guitar, melodica and electric bass. The mood is melancholic, almost depressive, but still with an underlying hint of optimism. Nice track.

11. Yaku
The finale on the album is \"Yaku\" - a short (running for just over 2 minutes), but really emotional piece of music with voice-samples by Tina Casana Colque, spoken in the ancient Inca\'s language Quechua. Fairly interesting ending to the album.

Bottom line:

\"Exploring The Tributaries\" is no doubt the most experimental of the Vibrasphere albums so far, with a generally much slower and laidback approach than the first 3, a bigger emphasis on downbeat/chillout and elements from electro and even minimal - and surprisingly enough it doesn\'t sound as rushed as I had feared, since their last album was released only a year ago. That being said, I\'m not as impressed as with the last two - there are moments of brilliance, but they aren\'t as frequent as on \"Lime Structure\" and \"Archipelago\".

Saying I\'m disappointed in this album would definitely be wrong though - being a huge fan of their earlier releases, I\'m guessing I was quite critical in my review, but overall I still think this a solid album, where Vibrasphere manages to evolve their sound. Recommended buy.


1, 2, 6(!!), 7, 9




Vibrasphere @ Myspace:
Tribal Vision Records:
Tribal Vision Records @ Myspace:

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