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The Halo Effect
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1The Halo Effect   Preview $3.00 [Buy MP3]

"The Halo Effect is a twenty-one minute ambient confection by newcomers Paradigm 9. It's on an aesthetically pleasing three-inch CD, and proves over repeated listens to be a recording of great depth and variation.

The Halo Effect functions over the constant drone of night-time crickets, always in the forefront of the mix, that gives this entire recording the distinct flavor of Brian Eno's On Land in its dusk-toned, evening ambience. Though these nature samples give the entire work a cohesive structure, the instrumental touches over the twenty-one minute length slowly shift the composition along through a number of complimentary sonic themes. In the beginning of the track, one hears a flute-like sound that seamlessly gives way to a vaguely menacing underlying drone (perhaps from a guitar). Gradually, a more recognizable guitar strums along with the ambience, warming things up with rich, sustained chords. This becomes somewhat similar to The Azuza Plane, as the track glides along dreamily, as if one is slowly floating along a murky lake at night.

A horn rises up, very low in the mix, quietly playing in the background. Gently the track begins to take a meandering, relaxed quality. We are drifting on the lake in a verdant, humid place. There are homesteads along the shore, with music drifting softly from their windows, as if played on distantly wound Victrolas. The air of mystery is thick around; in nighttime, plantlife begins to appear more alien and undefined. A vague piano is heard--someone ashore is playing, perhaps, though only isolated notes are audible. The droning has taken on the quality of processed cello by this point as we continue to drift along the overgrown, dark shore. Dissonant textures come and go, always low in volume, and never distracting. This is a pleasant journey, one that oscillates between wakefulness and sleep as the sonic surrounds quietly shift along with the landscape. By the track's end, the lullaby-like guitar sounds recede into silence, allowing the crickets to take over as one drifts off into infinite night. All that is left with the vocal insect choir is the faint sound of a finished record, skipping on a groove, somewhere ashore.

The guitar sound is one of the highlights of this recording, providing a resonant atmosphere. This is a seemingly improvised recording, and the musicians involved seem to synch very well with each other, contributing complimentary touches without any one element taking precedent over another. The overall sound is neither dark nor light, an ambiguousness that suits the work quite well. The recording itself is somewhat murky, with low-fi, indie production that normally turns me off. However, the atmosphere presented by Paradigm 9 is well suited by this lack of crisp sound, giving the work an aged feel, as if it were being played on well-worn vinyl. Sonic purists beware.

This is a terrific little gem of a recording from a group and label I'd not previously heard. The EP length is just right for the piece, not too long, welcoming the listener to play it repeatedly. I'm quite impressed by this work, and fans of deep, nighttime ambience will not be disappointed with the dreamy effects of The Halo Effect." -Ambient Review

"Here is a single twenty-one plus minute deep ambient piece, drawn from sound sources both natural (nocturnal noises, such as crickets and other night critters) as well as electronic (swirling drones and evocative reverberating electric guitars). Even when the "music" carries a hint of the sinister or the mysterious, the overall effect is still inviting, if not downright seductive. The CD's soundfield on headphones is most impressive - it sounds like you are standing in the middle of a rural field late on a summer's eve, surrounded by the "music of the night," as well as being immersed in a subtle series of faintly musical tones that come and go, sometimes having a bell-like quality, other times being closer to washes of minor key notes. Now and then (and this has to be heard to be believed) from a great distance, comes what can only be described as a pleasant 1920s- tune played on a solo muted trumpet. For some reason, I was reminded of coming upon a deserted cabin in the woods and hearing what I took to be an old 78 RPM jazz record playing from inside. It's a very surrealistic experience when you first detect this on headphones, because you're likely to think (as I did) "What the fuck IS that?" Somehow, Paradigm9 makes it work.

The blanket of sound that forms the actual basis of The Halo Effect is ultra-cool too, as later in the EP resonating strummed guitar chords echo and fade into the mix, amidst the chirping of the crickets and the other creatures calling to each other. These guitar textures impart a feeling of sadness (you might say that this EP is really a very s l o w l y played delta blues number, recorded live in the bayou, I suppose! But then how to account for that jazzy trumpet?

Well, no matter. The Halo Effect is a fascinating and atmospheric recording, albeit since it's an EP, it's over shorter than you might like. I'd slot this one alongside of other electro-acoustic/organic soundscapes like Lost at Dunn's Lake (James Johnson and Stephen Philips) and Silence Speaks in Shadow (Paul Vnuk). It's not as impressive as either of those (of course, those two are classics of the genre), but for twenty-minutes, it's pretty damn cool! For someone like me who is immersed in the drudgery of a cold Minnesota winter for five months of a year, this short trip to a warm summer's evening is a delightful escape from bitter reality!"

-Wind and Wire


"I never heard of either Magnanimous Records or Paradigm9 before, before I received this CD. A little search on the label brought me to their homepage, which revealed to me that they had several releases all somewhere between ambient/drones and postrock. This release is the third release of Paradigm9 on the label, and it comes as a limited 3 cd-r.

The record consists of 1 track, spreading itself over almost 20 minutes. The track starts out with cricket sounds, setting the ambience for the rest of the record. Slowly meandering guitars are introduced, to form a second layer on top of the cricket sounds. This forms the basis of the entire track. Later on you will hear fragments of distant trumpet and piano playing. The guitars might remind you of bands like Stars of the Lid, but this record lacks the tension of bands like that.
Overal the records gives you a feel as if you are on a holiday somewhere in a warm country, sitting at the beach near a small village, where someone is playing some jazz music wich just reaches your ear, while you are overlooking the sea at midnight.

The record is actually very enjoyable, although it doesnft deliver anything new nor does it create any real tension. I found myself playing the track several times, just because itfs a very relaxing track. Perfect music to dream away on. A very pleasant introduction to both Magnanimous records and Paradigm9". -Funprox


"Winner of the sparsest packaging award, this 3h mini-disc comes in a clear jewel case with a clear insert, providing only the name of the artist and disc and no other information. Magnanimous is a small label is out of West Virginia, and if this is typical of their offerings, fans of atmospheric drones and minimal ambience should definitely check it out. The primary sound is somewhat cricket like, though a bit more synthetic than that. The overall effect, while doubtless the product of electronic wizardry, sampling and processing, is quite organic. This is heady, meditative stuff, perfect for late night listening." -Electroambient Space