Howard and I are so honored that Sylvain enjoyed our newest release... "Source of Compassion". We post it here with gratitude and humility...thanks, Sylvain!
HOWARD GIVENS/MADHAVI DEVI: Source of Compassion (2016) a review by Sylvain Lukari, Synths&Sequences webzine...
“Source of Compassion is among the best ambient opuses to get out of the American continent”
Spotted Peccary|SPM-9091 (CD 66:32) ****
Here is a very beautiful album of ambient music to get out of the imagination of Howard Givens and of Madhavi Devi (Cheryl Gallagher). With its synth lines to colors as lively as those of iris and as much strident as the lamentations of many star's songs, “Source of Compassion” frees many synthesized incantations which dominate ambient rhythms of which the minimalist loops are source of bewitchment. Passive and hypnotic, these patterns of rhythms evolve with an approach which remains to be tamed by the turbulence, and the word is low here, of the winds and the multi layers of the synths which shape at the same time some attractive and fascinating, if not sibylline, soundscapes. Soaked of these textures of ambiences, the music in “Source of Compassion” remains not less shaken by soft rhythms which bring out these moods of their astral bed, without for all that that they overflow. Seduced, my ears have no other choices than to classify “Source of Compassion” in the category of Structures from Silence, M'Ocean and other jewels of meditative music to get out of the American continent.
A very beautiful album which makes the proof that ambient music can go along with musicality and emotionalism.
The opening of "Intention" is embroidered into intensity with synth lines which float with an increasing stridency under the passive prickles of carillons forgotten on an ice floe of sound waves in suspension. These lines moan such as tears of winds and get transform into a vast sonic mirror from where hatch the delicate notes of a celestial harp. A sequence, as so fragile, stimulates an ambient rhythm whose the ascent of the minimalist loops is partially smothered by this concert of azure winds which looks like a gigantic cloud of iridescent lamentations which also lose some more musical lines. Ringings turn up around the 4th minute and the sequence becomes then more perceptible. But the beatings of "Intention" stay prisoner of the anger of an Aeolus fascinated by the range of sounds which widens in a heavy humming oxygenated by the reflections of ice. And "Intention" doesn't inhales anymore of its ambient rhythm, but of these mooing which have invaded its opening. "Emergence" is this kind of music which passes under the radar, so much the vestiges of "Intention" are rocking its tranquility. Here, the multi synth lines get agglutinate in a drowsy sonic mass which is a little warmer than the one more ochred of the opening track. There is a beautiful balance between the amorphous approach of the synth layers and the others which are more lyrical. It's ideal to tame insomnia! But the more we move forward in “Source of Compassion” and the more the intensity can disturb your race for sleep. "Omkara" is the key point of this album. Its intro follows the soporific curves of "Emergence", except that a delicate rhythm embroidered in loops escape from it in order to mold a rhythm as ambient as the one which breathed hardly in "Intention". The loops of sequences and of synths, which are rather melodious, are fast seized by percussions of which the stoical and regular beating hold in thrall our attention while wishing for a rhythmic awakening. Awakening stifled by a beautiful moment of contemplativity before the rhythm switches for another skin, as that of the trot of a wild horse that the nature has tamed. And little by little "Omkara" bends the back to offer a more pulsatory rhythm where every beating amplifies the liveliness of this mass of synth lines which preach by the idleness. It's a very good title and we note a certain Amerindian tribal approach there which is clearly more perceptible on the ambient rhythm of the title-track. A line of bass draws it in sub-relief a movement of sensualism which would make waltz the spirits of deserts while the groans of synths, or/and of the lap-steel guitar, are at the height of the sentimentality with a poignant and very intrusive approach. Here the intensity is going full swing and the shudders win the meanders of our soul. I would say that it is actually the nirvana in “Source of Compassion”. This write without prejudices to "Pathless Passage" which, after an intro flooded with a mixture of hollow breaths and of sung breezes, offers a more steady structure of rhythm with an approach which is inspired by the second portion of "Omkara". The oscillations roll in undulatory circles and offer a long series of minimalist loops which win in velocity, we always stay in the field of the ambient rhythms, and which team up with another delicious lascivious bass line. The movement is pleasantly mesmerizing and crawls with a certain sensualism under the weight of the astral songs and the carillons which shine as fireflies which romping over the lights of a campfire. "Connected Space" ends this first album of the duet Howard Givens/Madhavi Devi with the same contemplative passivity of "Emergence". We let go ourselves. We fall asleep little by little with the promise to listen again to this work which literally seduced me with its approach which mixes marvelously the sibylline and cosmic songs of Steve Roach and ofMichael Stearns. A very beautiful album of ambient music!
Sylvain Lupari (October 6th, 2016)