This is one of those very rare and special tracks that comes along once in a blue moon for every composer. Writing it was a totally spontaneous act that occurred without any pre-thought or effort - like taking dictation direct from Source.
It happened one night in early August 2013, when Mike Westcot (Terra Nine) and Jeremy Bringué (Squazoid) were jamming at a party in Jeremy’s studio in Paris. Mike picked up his viola and began to play a couple of notes - which grew into a few more, then Jeremy added a bass line and the story of this song grew from there.
Cello sounds were added, together with more strings and rhythms, until within an hour, the basic structure was born.
By the end of the evening, we had an amazing piece from start to finish, with a beauty and depth of emotion that we reduced us to tears.
Jeremy then stayed up all night, searching for an appropriate name that would fit the energy of the track - and by morning, he had found one - ‘Karuna’ - Sanskrit for ‘Compassion’.
After this time, we played the track to a number of other artists, who expressed a desire to remix it - and thus, the ‘Karuna’ remix project was born. It has taken a while for everyone who participated to come up with their version, but it has definitely been worth the wait…
REVIEW by Brett Sense Elliot (Director of Living Essence and one of the organizers for Subsonic Festival, Australia):
"In this new EP, 'Karuna', Terra Nine, Squazoid and the various remix artists deliver a effulgent score of rich textural underlays and rising dramatic tension celebrating love and the sublime perfection of the human condition".
REVIEW from Gareth Hovey of psy-amb.blogspot:
Terra Nine & Squazoid - Karuna – Review
Two psychedelic wizards joined forces back in 2013 for an all night jam session that exceeded both artists’ expectations. Terra Nine (Mike Westcot/NZ) and Squazoid (Jeremy Bringue/FR) hooked up at a party in Squazoid's Paris studio where they began playing music without any thought of where the journey would lead. As time passed, with Terra Nine providing classical elements in the form of cello and viola and Squazoid laying down the bass line, they both realized that they had conjured up something rather special indeed.
By the end of the evening, their collective consciousness had given birth to an exceptional song so full of depth and emotion that it reduced both artists to tears. From there, several other artists, after hearing the track, expressed a keen interest in remixing it, providing their own interpretations on an instant classic. The result is an exceptional EP from Altar Records.
The EP begins with the original track. Running to approximately five minutes in length, it is a little short when compared to most tracks you come across in the psychedelic chillout realm. However the range of emotion and energy created within that short time span blows a lot of other music away. It has some beautifully trippy delayed guitar sounds that Mike created with plucked viola - that almost sounds U2 like in a way (when U2 didn't suck). Haunting, hovering hallucinations of holographic realms come to mind as you get wrapped up in the ethereal atmosphere of it all.
Given how manic (in a good way) Squazoid's music can be, I was quite surprised by the result - this is polished, sensuous music, comparable to the emotions derived from Jaia's classic "After The Rain" and OTT's "The Queen Of All Everything".
The first of the remixes is provided by Peter Ardron. Peter is a super talented musician with a long history in the psychedelic electronic genre. A classically trained pianist, he has formed a number of bands including Orchid Star, created music festivals and continues to work on various projects both musically and visually. His style can be a bit hard to pin down but it’s always quality, no matter what he produces. I really dig his solo work such as the track "Qawwali Roll" on the old "Electr'Oriental 2" compilation back in the early 2000s.
His remix of Karuna is a delightful dubby house version with a captivating shuffling groove. A perfect example of how to produce a quality remix. Keep an eye out for his new (10th!) album "Unexpected Pleasures" due for release this year. As an aside, if anyone knows the riff at the very start of this remix, please drop a comment below - I've heard it before and it's driving me mad not knowing where I heard it!
Following Peter is a remix by the legendary Kick Bong. This version takes the original track on more of an uptempo sojourn. It retains many of the signature elements of the original but gestures it on its way down a slightly different path. Maybe it’s just me but it does seem to have a bit of a gloomier vibe going on, maybe due to The Cure like guitar riff giving an introspective Gothic feeling. Kick Bong and Squazoid are well known collaborators, having worked together on many occasions in the past. I guess it helps if you both live in France. Everything they cook up together is good and this track is no exception. Quality listening to be sure.
Ralph Knobloch has been around for over two decades but may not be so familiar to you if psychedelic downtempo is your thing. After two decades of producing thumping psytrance, Ralph released his first downtempo album last year under the "Unknown Reality" moniker. This remix is a real gem. It's as if Ralph has taken every individual element of the original version and injected them with steroids - everything just feels beefier! None of the emotion is lost of the original either, so this really is an exceptional version in my opinion. It doesn't deviate too much from the original in its overall structure but it definitely has a more deep psybient vibe to it. Ralph has quite a few singles and EPs available for download (some of them for free!) on his Bandcamp page so be sure to check it out for more superb listening.
Next we have the first uptempo remix on offer, this time by psychill legend Astropilot. Astropilot is famous for his celestial psychill sounds and driving bassline driven tracks in that Ultimae Records/Altar Records style. Personally I find this track a little disappointing and feel he could have given this one a bit more oomph. It starts well but does have, for most part, a feeling of a drum loop slapped over the original without much change until the last minute. I would have enjoyed more builds that play on the potential emotions available from the original. Quite a stomper best suited for early morning dance floors.
Russian Anton Morozov aka Cloower Wooma does a much better job of things I think. Here we have an uptempo version that really hits the sweet spot. A deep bassline and gated effects build on floating melodies that fall like showers of sparking jeweled rain. This one sits comfortably in that chillgressive (a slowed down version of progressive trance) genre so frequented by artists like Alwoods, Dense, GMO etc. It does finish rather abruptly, which is a bit of a shame - would have been nice to hear it smoothly fade out into the vanishing horizon leaving you on a high. Great remix all the same.
The final remix comes from one of the new stars of the psychill/progressive trance scene - Suduaya. Suduaya is a project by French producer Louis-David Roquefer. After a number of remixes he gained fame with the release of his highly acclaimed debut album "Unity" in 2013. Since then he has been in much demand on the international festival circuit as well as remixing duties. He has quickly become known as an expert remixer and this version of Karuna he provides is a testament to that. Here, he packages the original track into a mini cosmos of retro futurism and sends it hurtling out across the galaxy. It’s anthemic but maintains that original intimacy of the original version. Beautiful as ever from Suduaya - he certainly understands the idea of a big hook.
Altar Records and all artists involved should feel justifiably proud of this wonderful release. Not only does it continue to solidify the reputation of Altar Records as one of the leading psychill labels on the planet, it highlights, how when artists listen to their hearts and not their minds, that beautiful art can be created for the world to enjoy.
Let's hope that Terra Nine and Squazoid get together for more of these impromptu sessions where they switch off and let the energy of the cosmos guide them in the creative process.
Karuna - Terra Nine and Squazoid is available from June 13 via Altar Records Bandcamp page with some super cover design by label head DJ Zen.
REVIEW from Ian Taylor (aka Liquid Lounge):
Terra Nine & Squazoid - "Karuna EP" It's been a while since Terra Nine has released an ep and with the collaboration of Squaziod, this particular release has all the right ingredients to entice the listener into the world that Terra Nine and Squazoid have created here...
The "Karuna EP" is a collection of 7 tracks consisting of the truly inspired and awesome original by Terra Nine and Squazoid plus equally enthralling remixes from the likes of Suduaya, Unknown Reality, Astropilot, Cloower Wooma, Kick Bong and Pete Ardron.
You could say that this EP can be divided between the laid back atmosphere of the chill out and that of the more uptempo dance floor... with 2 mixes aimed towards the downtempo genres, 2 for the more chillgressive moments and 3 which will certainly entertain the more beat laden floors... and all have that trademark viola that has made Terra Nine such a unique producer for our time...
For me the original is the one that raises the goosebumps and tickles the audio receptors the most, as I say it is an inspired production and full of emotion and feeling, a sublime track that already has the tag of "classic" in my world... Suduaya's mix retains the atmosphere of the track and pulls in some deep frequencies to compliment the production.
Unknown Reality adds his particular touches to again pull in another clever mix, full of sweeping frequencies...
Kick Bong adds to the tally with his take of the track and keeping the mood of the track in tact and providing another downtempo remix... both will entertain those in the middle ground between the chill out and the more uptempo floors...
Astropilot turns the track on it's head an provides a proper stomper for those inclined to the faster tempo, which I'm sure will be suitable for those who need their beats a little faster...
Pete Ardron adding his deft touches and fills, his hypnotic and inticing mid tempo beats..., Finishing off this collection is Cloower Wooma, with another uptempo-ish number taking this track into new realms and that of the chillgressive floor...
For me it's the original version that has my vote, closely followed by that of Suduaya and Unknown Reality...
But hats off to Terra Nine and Squazoid for producing a track that will remain as haunting in 10 years time, as it does now...
REVIEW from Robin Triskele:
Fantastical and flowing movement... smooth sounds with just the right amount of depth. This EP serves many facets of the downbeat genre and will suit many a festival arena!
Well played Mike and Jeremy, you guys are hidden gems !
Robin Triskele : Triskele Management / Merkaba Music
Terra Nine is the electronic brainchild of Michael Westcot - hardly your typical digital artist… a classically trained
violinist with his roots in the Australian dance music scene, he produces a truly unique synergy of lush organic strings, mind bending psychedelic sounds and a fat bottom end full of twisted beats and dubbed out bass lines…running the gamut of trance, dub and psy breaks......more