Album: And Awake
Released: 18 November 2011
When friends talk about Ishq, the music project headed by Matt Hillier, the name connects us to a distinct musical aesthetic. Listeners will find it easy to trace the connection between this work and its more kinetic club counterpart. Bringing crowd-pleasing elements (melody, harmony rhythm), Hillier adds his own ambiance into the mix to realize a unique spacey-eastern-earthen chill music. The CD And Awake is equal parts aural exploration and mood experiment - offering us tranquility in its Ambient sections, certainty in its melodies and steady strength in the rhythmic parts. We are moved to these different introspective states through the arrangement and organization of sound. Slinky basslines urge the music on as round warm notes slowly play through the middle of the piece. A few tracks move along an outward-reaching arc while the others drift inward on the stillness of thought. Whispering voices and subtle environmental field recordings mixed within slowly expanding drones and swirling electronic modulations give off the feel of the natural world - all the while keeping in touch with this music's digital roots. Somehow Ishq is able to take even the simplest of synth sounds and through processing, playing, placement and pacing transform them into cyber-ethno textures and explorer-friendly lead lines. Feeling the pull of the east Ishq has found something godly that is part of no religion. And Awake is very much of our time but still in touch with the sacred. It is a pleasure to listen to this album.
- Chuck van Zyl/STAR'S END 10 November 2011
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