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Amethystium - 2003 Aphelion

ARTIST: Amethystium
ALBUM: Aphelion
LABEL: Neurodisc
YEAR: 2003


LINEUP: Řystein Ramfjord - all instruments

TRACK LISTING: 01 Shadow To Light * 02 Garden Of Sakuntala * 03 Exultation * 04 Ad Astra * 05 Gates Of Morpheus * 06 Autumn Interlude * 07 Elvensong * 08 Shibumi * 09 Hymnody * 10 Withdrawal * 11 Berceuse


This website occasionally steps outside the traditional boundaries of melodic rock and AOR. We don't usually cover the new age or ambient genres but there are some fringe acts that could sit quite comfortably if given the time of day by our writing team. Acts such as Vangelis, Tangerine Dream, Enigma, Australian artist Mars Lasar and Japan's Kitaro may very well get a look in at some stage. In the meantime, I'll kick it off with Norwegian act Amethystium, which is really the project name for composer and synthesist Řystein Ramfjord. Ramfjord has released four albums since 2001, with 2003's 'Aphelion' arguably his best, though all are worth collecting if you're into a very melodic blend of ambient synthesis. I found Amethystium by chance to be honest, and haven't looked back. Ramfjord's work is very similar to Enigma's Michael Cretu, with a penchant for lazy shuffly back beats and layer upon layer of gorgeous melodies with ambient piano taking the lead for the most part. There's the occasional Gregorian Monk/Chant thing happening, but it just adds flavour to the recipe rather than overcooking the broth.

The Songs
I've been listening to 'Aphelion' the most, a gorgeous album that is gooey thick with syrupy layers of synth and pinpoint streaks of lead instruments as a counterpoint. There are many points of contrast throughout, the songs much like a visual canvas whether it be an Indian setting or Celtic like imagery. The dreamy 'Shadow To Light' leads off with a simple but spicy synth melody driving us through. There's a pan-flute that's used as the lead instrument. 'Garden Of Sakuntula' starts out with a slight Indian flavour to it, perhaps you'll hear this at some retreat in Goa where all the spiritual gurus can be found in that South Indian location. It's a beautiful listen regardless. 'Exultation' is the first tune to lock into that Enigma like groove, the lead synth takes awhile to enter the fray but when it does its impact is immediate. 'Ad Astra' is played at a slower tempo and drifts on a bed of cross-panning synths and chants. 'Gates Of Morpehus' is closer in style to soundtrack era Tangerine Dream, while the sounds of nature waft through on 'Autumn Interlude'. This one is very lush and graceful though it picks up some tempo toward the end. 'Elvensong' gravitates back to that shuffly set of rhythms but its melody is slightly darker, while 'Shimbumi' features more vocal interaction with the music than any of the earlier songs. Without doubt, my favourite tune here is the exquisite 'Hymnody', containing some delightful passages and a haunting piano motif all the way through. It segues into a darker soundtrack oriented piece called 'Withdrawal' though still highly melodic. The finale 'Berceuse' is a floating number, highly ambient in sound with that Cretu influence shining through once again on the rhythm and backbeat shuffle.

In Summary
You should be able to locate the Amethystium albums without too much trouble. Give them all a go if you're into this sort of thing. Ramfjord has released a shorter EP called 'Aurorae' during 2012, and is still active, but do yourself a favour by chilling out to this when AOR and hard rock becomes a bit too much and you require a change of scenery.

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#1 | Eric on October 21 2012 20:46:45
Speaking of Tangerine Dream, their 1987 album 'Tyger' is very nice, similar to Alan Parsons Project/ Mike Oldfield.
#2 | gdazegod on October 21 2012 22:00:50
TD's albums through the mid-late 80's are well worth a mention here.. In the queue 1986's 'Underwater Sunlight' plus maybe 1988's 'Optical Race'.
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