The best compilation ever to be released from Ultimae records is Imaginary Friends. I am not counting the Fahrenheit compilations here, but I doubt any of them can surpass this gem. We can find here new material from Field Rotation, Cell, Solar Fields, James Murray, Asura, Aes Dana, and more. One of the artists appearing here which surprised me in a very positive way is Off thesky. The line up is second to none, Ultimae really has gathered the top tier of artists resting within downtempo music, and you could call this an all star compilation. The tone of the compilation is towards what I want to call, a more electroacoustic sound, or maybe put in better words neo classical. I think the psychill genre has advanced enough, or at least a big portion of it did, so that it is unfair to put such a non satisfactory name on it, as downtempo, psybient, psychill or any other term referring to this music. Electroacoustic or neo-classical should be the terms to use. If anyone who reads this is familiar with Fluid Radio and/or Fluid Audio, you will probably have at least a vague idea as to what direction this music is taking. What is nice to see is the development of the artists within this compilation, and also the label as a whole. Just as the parts of the label, namely the artists, are evolving and ever changing, so is the label with them and vice versa. Older compilations do not sound at all like this one. This music is a lot more mature, profound and sophisticated. The music throughout has indeed a new type of sound, I could describe it as more mainstream, but that word has an ugly notion to it. It is not mainstream in the cheaper sense, but mainstream in the sense that it could be accepted and enjoyed by earlier generations, who appreciated the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Hendel and so forth. What has been a big problem for neo-classical (downtempo, psychill...) music (or the psychedelic scene in general for that matter), is the negative stamp it has been marked with. To me this compilation and the rising of Fluid Radio, Ultimae and other labels such as Aleph Zero, which is also trying new directions with their newest album Falling through the Earth, marks a new step into bringing this kind of music to the masses, and in doing that maybe finally giving the psychedelic scene/mind it's rightful attention. Do we want this? Well, I don't think it's a question of whether we want this or not. It's going to happen, the question is, where will you be?
The opening track by Field Rotation, Regenzeit II, is a wonderfully picked opening, deeply emotional and contemplative, with that strong neo classical touch. I bet Mozart would be playing this if he was able to hear it, he might have even been impressed by it! There are a lot of remixes on this compilation, and this is by no means negative, as all of the remixes are done with great care and love, and they are reworked enough to give the sense of a new track or improving it to magnificent proportions, as in Times Are Good (sometimes remix) (T10) by Solar Fields, which is Leaving Home, fused with the intricacy of Movements, while still having a new touch to it, and Eleven (decades remix) (T11) by James Murray. As I mentioned earlier Offthesky also makes an appearance with Gently, Drown The Scene (T4), a lovely track keeping that glitch ambient feel that Jason Corder is a master of, a welcome addition to the Ultimae rooster. What else is in this bag full of goodies? Murya with Grey Daze (T5), this is a lovely lovely track, which had without doubt been my favourite if not for Solar Fields. This is one of the most beautiful tracks I have ever heard, it's so simple yet it gets under your skin, there it evolves to tremendous proportions. It has a way of creating so much that is not directly heard in the track itself. I don't know who this artist is, but there is something very female about the music, it's pure audio beauty. Surrender yourself to this track, and you will become rich of pure pristine emotions. Aes Dana has never really been my cup of tea, but he is showing up a new side with Resin (T7), very appealing. Almost every artist releasing music on this compilation brings a 'wow' factor in comparison with their previous works, and this is no different with Asura. Longing For Silence (T9) brings a more organic approach. There is still that Eastern feel that the flutes bring with them, but it feels much more alive and breathing, a living entity morphing like a fractal that is ever changing and constantly renewed. It is also a lot more profound than anything I've heard from Charles before. I can do nothing but to abdicate myself completely to this track. Hol Baumann makes his appearance with Handwritten Notes (T8), a great improvement from his earlier works on the Human album.There the sound was more hectic, almost upbeat, while still containing quality and great composition, here Olivier takes a way more subtle approach, but there is no mistaking his unique sound. I embrace this new approach, fantastic!