Abakus - That Much Closer to the Sun


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Baltimore, Maryland
My last post seems to have dissapeared in the server move. So here goes:

Abakus - That Much Closer to the Sun
Liquid Sound Design Records
Released: April 23, 2004

1- Igmatic
2- Shared Light
3- Nightwalker
4- Circles
5- Magenta
6- A Whole New Way to Look at the Day
7- Indu
8- California Sunshine
9- Lux Boutique
10- Last Summer Dub
11- That Much Closer...
12- Opaque (Bonus Track)

The name Abakus always catches my attention. I consider Russel Davies one of the kings of compilation. His contributions generally tend to outshine all others in my eyes. From California Sunshine on Youth in Dub, to the ingenious remixes on Wider Horizons, I've never come across an Abakus track I didn't love. Beats so chilled that they melt in your ears and psychadelia that immerses you completely. Not to mention his role as one half of Nada, a collaboration that certainly appeals to me for it's stunningly chilled vibes and intelligent beats. Naturally, this put me in a position to have high expectations for his debut album.

"That Much Closer to the Sun" begins with Igmatic, a floating, airy track. The beat eases into the scene 0:50. All percussive instruments are textured and perfectly in a deep, soothing groove. Heavy delays and great atmosphere throughout the whole thing, driven by a rumbling bassline and energetic beat. This is music in a whirlwind, elements spinning about each other and ideas floating up out of the ground. Windy, blown instruments mark the closure of the track. Igmatic sets the stage for the rest of the album, immediately place a high standard of great chillout.

Shared Light begins with a cheerful string of synthesis. It just so happens to fit the beautiful day outside perfectly. Positive and dubby, Shared Light breathes with a life of its own. This is aided by the samples of birdcalls and a little girl saying "Don't be afraid." A short, but agreeable track that is really more than meets the eye if you look at it as moving the album forward instead of by itself.

Nightwalker really starts off marvelously. This track has soul! Bassline and beat, melody and madness... its all here. There is a delicious section bursting at the seams with funk around 2:30. This is when it really takes off. This track really deserves to be played cruising down a back road on a spring night in a convertible, I mean it. At 3:30, the track is back in full swing, leading me down paths of uncharted groove. Really fantastic track all-around. One of my favorites.

Circles surprised me right off the bat with a straight 4/4 kick. Not the sort of pounding kick you find in psytrance but a more mellow, reflective one. It fits the track snugly, although I can't help but be a little turned off by the straight 4/4. Matter of personal taste really. There is some great rhythm behind the kick in the secondary percussion parts. Backlit melodies filter in and out that emphasize the pulse dictated by the kick. They wax and wane under the weight of their own filters. A subtle flute is the melodic center of a good portion of the track. Circles is a perfect name, as there is a circular structure that gives the track its own feel with respect to the rest of the album.

Magenta starts in an icy cave, dripping and luminescent. Quickly you realize this cave isn't on Earth at all. As we get Closer to the Sun the ice begins to melt and a truly twisted, engrossing beat takes over. Fast-paced kick and snare work with a myriad of squelching delights in the exterior. Great psychadelic images can be found, if you look in the right places. This track captures a slightly bizzare, alien essence that is really unique. I would call this "Exploration Fantasy" over "Chillout," but that is a matter for the genre fiends! In fact, I would just plain call this track "Excellent" and be done with labels entirely.

A Whole New Way to Look at the Day comes from down the way, with a vibe fashioned in some kind of spiritual oasis. It has a flute melody of such depth and emotion that haven't often found outside of Shpongle. Atmosphere on this track is multifaceted and shimmering. I feel weightless, helpless, fantastic. But who needs weight or help when you are floating through an oozing passage of colors and sounds? Splendid. Vibrant. I'd very much like to wake up with this track kicking off the day; it has that kind of serene relaxation.

Indu is an edgy, forward-moving gem that strikes me as the kind of track that would drive a chillout venue crazy. It is just so invigorating that I am hardly able to resist putting my tea down and dancing. A chopped vocal beautifully lifts the thrashing beat into higher spaces. The down pitching of a bass note on the first beat of some measures rolls and pulses like a machine given life. Squirming, self-reflective, psychedelic soundscapes give focus to ideas lying underneath the surface. Fresh ideas abound!

California Sunshine was my absolute favorite track from Youth in Dub. The bassline, the guitar, the sparse beat... I can't get enough of it. Closer to the Sun's is just as good, I assure you. I find this track to be a superb delight to listen to. It is chocked full of emotion, brilliant melodies and great production. The vocals have a kind of intrinsic sadness to them that balances the scale of musical yin/yang to a point where I can't help but just close my eyes and be swept away. The reawakening at 4:10 is pure bliss. At 5:30, the guitar again takes the stage and finishes off a brilliant track in a tasteful and pleasing way.

Lux Boutique is an electro joy. Bleeps, glorps and shponks are the sounds of the day in this track. The main bass/snare beat is downplayed, giving space for the electro-rhythm to work its magic. This is music for a mood elevator, going up. Great vocoder work, excellently manipulated. Sadly, it stops before getting the top floor. In that respect, it works brilliantly as an avenue into Last Summer Dub.

Last Summer Dub is a Drum Druid track remixed by Abakus, first heard on LSD's Wider Horizons. Starts off funky and certainly doesn't disappoint. Percussion is of the sort that is relatively simple, but undeniably well done. Works perfectly with the bassline to keep this track moving forward. All sorts of subtle synth approaches and withdraws give great substance to the track. Vocal sample is perfectly integrated, subtle but defined. This is the kind of track that lies on that sublime border between chillout, dub and dance. Great remix overall. There are several differences from the Wider Horizons version, all of which are still true to the spirit of the original while giving it a touch of Davies' remixing delight.

"That Much Closer..." has a warm, vintage feel served with forward-thinking electronic spice. Great bassline, moves from note to note effortlessly and with a great deal of groove! Percussion work is flawless, as usual. Every sort of juicy fill and flam, roll and rhythm you could think of. This track is a certifiable groover; I can barely keep still to write this review.

Opaque is a bonus track that begins fluidly, dotted with spoken samples. Filter work on the synths is all over the place, giving off a great psychedelic vibe. The beat glues together all flavors of synthesis magic. There is a guitar part that is infrequent but powerful. At 4:00, an abrasive synth melody reminds you this isn't your standard chill-out fair. You best keep on your toes! Opaque begins to spin down upon itself, which serves as a great ending to a great album.

"That Much Closer to the Sun" is a refreshing blend of styles and ideas from Russel Davies. Each track has its own unique feel and environment that keeps your attention and demands the senses. The varied ideas and gripping beats found inside are sure to capture the mind of listeners and attention of chillout enthusiasts and DJs around the globe.
thanks and new reviews

thanks for the kind words. this album does really seem to be hitting the spot ! with great support from Mixmaster Morris & Pathaan from the chilled scene and all the Big Prog Dj`s with the dancier stuff. I think this album is set for something big! roll on the summer !

here are some other reviews :

review: abakus, 'that much closer to the sun'

when i first heard the finished product of ... 'that much closer to the sun', i was not disappointed. however much i could give you a detailed review on what i think of every track on this cd, i think it best to leave that up to you. i could confidently say that this cd will become part of your soundtrack of the summer, and beyond ... with cross-generational, international, universal, and multidimensional appeal. every year an album comes out which stands out as the 'good feel album of the year', and i believe this is the one. this is the album of the now. like the sent of a beautiful flower, this music draws you into the moment, reminds you how beautiful the moment is, and will never let you forget it. the beautiful melodies linger. you'll get hooked on the funky groovy melodies of tracks such as 'nightwalker' and 'ismatik'. the soft voluptuous melodies of tracks such as 'circles', 'a whole new way of looking at the day', and 'california sunshine' will carry with you and have you humming, keeping your glowing aura shining bright throughout your day. the sensitivity of the simple track 'shared light' loosens up your heart chakra so you can fully absorb the kindness of this music and gentleness as the music floats around your soul caressing each and every part of your being. musical yoga for the body, mind and spirit. if you're feeling low, stick on 'that much closer ...', and you'll remember, we're all in this together, and we're all in this to help each other. love is the way. and 'that much closer to the sun' reminds us, love is the only way.


IsraTrance Junior Member
I'm amazed.... here comes my review:

Abakus is a name you will for sure hear a lot this summer. This is Russell Davies from the UK, who has allready released several tracks on various compilations on Liquid Sound Design, the chilled side label of Dragonfly Records. Now he is out with his debut album, which will for sure surprise many people with his beautiful summer chill. This release also came as a special Japanese edition where you will find a slightly different catalogue number and a bonus track. I am lucky enough to have the Japanese version... After hearing his tracks on several compilations, I have been really looking forward to this one.

Abakus “That Much Closer To The Sun†Liquid Sound Design 2004 (BFLWCD72)

1. Igmatik
2. Shared Light
3. Nightwalker
4. Circles
5. Magenta
6. A Whole New Way Of Looking At The Day
7. Indu
8. California Sunshine
9. Lux Boutique
10. Last Summer Dub
11. That Much Closer...
12. Opaque (Bonus Track)

First out is a beautiful atmospheric track, with relaxed down tempo beats and a fantastic floating vibe. About as beautiful as it can get. The melodies make you really float. Perfect for chilling out in the sun. Track 2 is another melodic masterpiece, with a groovy bass and a relaxing tempo. The melodies are light and happy, but not too fluffy. Nice one. Track 3 is a totally chilled down tempo track, with some really nice easy listening melodies. The melodies are so happy that it will for sure result in many smiles in the chill out areas this year. Another perfect summer track. Track 4 is surprisingly a progressive trance track. But it is really soft and floating, so it is still very relaxing. Drifting beats and beautiful melodies and sounds. A track for the early evening dance floor or for your chilling out in the sun somewhere. Track 5 goes a bit more experimental. Cool experimental beats and twists, mystic melody and an almost scary bass. Definetely more psychedelic vibe in this one. Really good. Track 6 is one of the most beautiful acoustic tracks I have ever heard. Acoustic guitar and a wonderful flute played by Rebecca Lawrence. You also get some dubby beats, and I wish this track lasted longer, because it is a bit short (only three and a half minute). One of the best chill out tracks I have ever heard.

Track 7 (Indu) starts with dubby beats. Then the floating beautiful melodies drifts into the track. This sounds just fantastic! This track is also released on a 12â€on Liquid Sound Design with an extra remix of this track done by an artist called Shiloh. After a while, the dubby beats goes over to a stumpy down tempo rhythm you can either dance to or chill out to. Another all time favourite, but again I wish it lasted a bit longer. Track 8 (California Sunshine) was first released on the Youth In Dub compilation on Liquid Sound Design last year. This has also got some acoustic guitar and a lot of etnic vocals done by someone named Ranajit Sengupta. This track reminds me quite a lot of some of the tracks by Angel Tears. Track 9 starts with some weird relaxing sounds. Then a light melody sneaks in. One of the slowest and most experimental ambient tracks on this album. Weird, but beautiful. Track 10 was first released on the Wider Horizons compilation on Liquid Sound Design. This one is made together with Jeremy Van Kampen who was previously one half of Cosmosis, now most known as Laughing Buddha. A totally relaxing down tempo track with some nice tribal drums and happy melodies drifting above. Track 11 is actually the last track if you have got the European version of this compilation. This is an absolute masterpiece. The melodies in this one are so incredibly beautiful! Mixed with totally relaxed down tempo beats and a floating vibe, this makes it to another favourite chill out track of all times! Fantastic! I just wish the track lasted a bit longer. The bonus track you get on the Japanese version is a mystic ambient track. Deep and floating with experimental beats. Nice one.

This album is in my opinion the best album released so far on Liquid Sound Design! This will for sure be one of the best albums of 2004, and I will play it over and over again this summer. So if you are after some really fresh, pure quality chill for the summer, I would suggest you to check this out. Recommended!
PK (shivapks@hotmail.com)
more thoughts



Another Perfect jem from the highly talented LSD stable. Although there is an air of retro in this disc through its subtle balearic rhythmns, DnB basslines and references to classic LSD releases of the past(Last Summer Dub), the pace and drive of the disc is very definately frameworked in the here and now through 21st Century production techniques, innovative ideas and well timed hooks. This "works" as an album and should be thought of in terms of one continuous piece of music as opposed to 11 individual tracks.


I really like this album, beautifully produced and full of familiar sounding melodies, it is certainly going to hit the spot this summer. While i could not classify this as psychedelic trance, the album defies categorisation. Clever little guitar hooks blend with many styles, funky balearic, dubby, breaks that wash over your senses. It has a psychedelic feel to its sounds and production quality and is going to work well in an uptempo chill.
great album !! go get it if you like sun drenched chill .....

.... I especially like last track and track 4 ( i think its track 4, sounds a bit like the Beloved ..... ) but still nowhere near to complete digestion of this album yet ... an experience I will enjoy I am sure !!

Thumbs up ! ( fnaar fnaar ! )