keith berry ambient musicianKeith Berry ambient musician

TWO INCHES OFF GROUND is the website for the ambient musician Keith Berry

Like falling snow, his dreamy work drifts with a poetic chill and tranquil hypnosis through which peripheral elements tease the listener with subtle details. It's so damn beautiful...

The Wire [Jim Haynes]

Keith Berry Ambient Musician


My main interest is in generative music systems, simple rules that can create complex music, the process being just as interesting as the product.

I like to think what I do is akin to a small seed that, given the right conditions, can grow into something far bigger than the work itself.

Keith Berry's work has been released on such labels as Infraction, his own label VSM Theory, trente oiseaux, invisible birds, Crouton Music, Authorized Version, Twenty Hertz, Elevator Bath and non visual objects.

Viable systems 5

keith berry viable systems 5” title=
  1. Label:


  2. Format:

    CD in Digipak

  3. Release Date:

    October 2022


A generative music album release on Keith Berry’s own label VSM Theory, generative in the sense that Keith is interested in creating systems that he can put in place and let run to produce music - not that the listener needs to be aware of this as the output from these systems is also very musical, something which is important to Keith.


track listing

Some ambient artists fastidiously list every piece of gear used in a production, as well as provide background details about the project as a helpful entry-point for listeners. London, UK-based Keith Berry, on the other hand, provides nothing but the material itself and track titles that while allusive are ultimately enigmatic; any number of possible interpretations might be gleaned from a title such as “Synhistanai” or “Natsukashiik,” for example.


None of that matters much, however, when the music is so striking. This fifth volume in his Viable Systems series shows Berry's refined his art to a point where the beauty of the timbral palette and the hypnotic impact of the musical patterns speak for themselves. Unlike some artists associated with the ambient genre, Berry eschews distortion and rough edges for tracks whose polished surfaces gleam.

As endlessly as Eno's cited when talk turns to ambient music, it's next to impossible to review the release without mentioning him. Berry's tracks exude a delicate, radiant glow that calls to mind the terrific ambient material Eno issued during the ‘70s and ‘80s, and settings such as “Sicilian Defence,” “Quiet Desert Failure IV,” and “Cloud Seeding” rival the best that Berry's colleague created. In the latter, soft, flute-like tones drift across a glimmering backdrop, their overlap reminiscent of the tones' staggered appearance in Discreet Music. As a lower-pitched woodwind emerges to join the warbling flutes in graceful counterpoint, “Cloud Seeding” grows all the more transfixing. No lapse in quality is evident in the eight peaceful, time-suspending, and entry undulating soundscapes that follow, each one a testament to its creator's command.

Details do differentiate the tracks. The sound design for “Corbusian Utopia,” for example, works bass guitar in amongst its flutes and electronic washes, and bass clarinet-like sonorities similarly breathe life into the sleepy warble of “Natsukashiik.” And while most pieces last three to five minutes, two eighteen-minute pieces appear on the seventy-four-minute collection. With sleepy cricket sounds punctuating its convulsing haze, the shimmering, piano-sprinkled oasis “Pollen Drift” could conceivably be programmed to run forever; “Terminal Beach,” surprisingly, could pass for an alternate version of “Pollen Drift” when it shares many of the same sound details. Still, as absorbing as the two are, the shorter pieces are actually more potent, perhaps because their concision ensures listening engagement never strays.

However much Viable Systems 5 is grounded in generative strategies is impossible to determine from listening; regardless, it's the musical result that matters, and in this case it's generally spellbinding. For all I know, Berry's got the sixth set already completed and is perhaps envisioning something on the order of a tidy ten-volume total.

Brian Eno's 'Discreet Music' is the first album of what he termed ambient music. Laying in bed because of the accident, a friend brought a record, but the volume was very low, and he could not change it. Nevertheless, he liked what he heard, including the rain outside, and decided to make music that could be played at a low level and regarded as something beautiful or ignored. Simply have a few loops of different duration running, which will overlap differently. This is not something I recount because I think Keith Berry does something similar. He writes that this Eno-invented process is something that he wants to promote. I reviewed the two previous instalments in this series (Vital Weekly 1259 and 1278, so this fifth took some more time), and I mentioned Eno the first time. Keith Berry doesn't inform us how these loops were made. I also find it hard to say something sensible in that direction. For all I know, Berry uses a laptop and software, but it could very well be a more complex set-up with bits of hardware. Berry's music is not static, as one could, maybe, think when you think about loops. Listen closely, and you will hear that new sounds occasionally become part of the piece, and others disappear while the same patterns remain on the surface. The music we can undoubtedly call atmospherical, but it is never all too dark. Instead, Berry stays on the lighter side of music but avoids all too obvious new-age doodling. Sometimes with his light piano and bell sounds, he comes close, but a darker synthesizer sound always saves it. One of the terms Eno used, generative music, springs to mind here also. Unlike Eno, however, Keith Berry hasn't, as far as I know, ventured into that area, but I think it could be exciting to have his music as part of an application. For now, we have to do with another excellent CD, which is fine too.

Viable systems 4

keith berry viable systems 4” title=
  1. Label:


  2. Format:

    CD in Digipak

  3. Release Date:

    March 2021


A generative music album release on Keith Berry’s own label VSM Theory, generative in the sense that Keith is interested in creating systems that he can put in place and let run to produce music - not that the listener needs to be aware of this as the output from these systems is also very musical, something which is important to Keith.

10 4-H PSA

track listing

With the fourth chapter in his venerable Viable Systems series, Keith Berry presents another impeccably crafted collection of ambient soundscapes. Fifteen settings appear, all subtly different from the others, yet each exuding a serene tranquility and each again reflecting the high level of artistry the London, UK-based producer has established with the project. Atmosphere is key but even more is timbre, as Berry uses his highly developed handling of sound design to create meditations that are veritably orchestral in their richness.


No background details are included to clarify how and when the material was produced, but the omission isn't off-putting. Their absence simply leaves the listener to focus on the material itself, and the experience in no way suffers as a result. Berry's music sparkles but softly, such that a representative production such as “California Dreams” beckons one to swim in its peaceful and spiritually replenishing waters. While no info clarifies the gear Berry used to generate the material, suffice it to say the arrangements are rich in synthetic textures, and sounds of piano, flutes, and electric guitars emerge within the mix too. “On Vanishing Land” couldn't be more Eno-esque in title, “Eigenvectors” includes slow-burning textures that would sound right at home on Music For Films, and as with previous instalments Berry's latest holds up credibly alongside classics by his colleague, ones such as Ambient 4: On Land, Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, and Music For Airports.

In “Living Pod,” the gentle breath of a wooden flute intones amidst bucolic sounds of insects and birds; in contrast to its title, “Concrete Towers” evokes the peaceful vistas of the natural outdoors more than anything industrial-related. Listening to “Gruen Transfer” is akin to submerging oneself in an outdoors pond on a sweltering afternoon, but not so far below the water's surface that nature sounds are reduced to inaudibility. Berry throws in a few unexpected wrinkles here and there—the woozy pitch-shifting effects near the end of “On Vanishing Land,” for example—but for the most part stays the course and hews to the template he's used throughout the series. The question naturally arises: how many chapters will there be? For all we know, Berry has the fifth finished or nearing completion, and chances are it'll evidence no drop in quality from those currently available.

The previous instalment of Viable Systems wasn't that long ago (Vital Weekly 1259), and now the fourth one arrives. The gap between two and three was bigger. I can only speculate about the speed and would think this is because the COVID-19 pandemic keeps Berry housebound and what else can you do, other than doing new music. By now, Berry has a clear vision of what he wants with his music and number four is very similar to the previous three works in this series. While much of this stays in very much the same musical territory as before, and it is hard to write about such things in renewed glowing terms, (see what I said last time about!) I think there the devil here is in the details. I still have very little idea as to what Berry does with his sound and how it is all generated. There is the well-known piano sound, set against an ambient background that reminded me of the best of Brian Eno doing ambient music, but I believed to be hearing guitars as well and in 'Liminal State' the sound was broken up with an effect that reminded me of an eroded tape. There is quite a bit of variation in the various moods and textures here, some between lighter and some darker, some very smooth and some a bit rough. Oddly enough, the last one I played on a quiet Saturday afternoon, and so I did with this one, and again on random/shuffle repeat for quite some time and again pondering over the fact that an application in which the listener is allowed to control sounds that Berry produces would indeed be something to desire.

In the fourth installment of Keith Berry’s Viable Systems series, the composer is once again orchestrating comforting soundscapes that drift on open aural seas. “Tropical Sediments” loses track of space and time, adrift on the open ocean into a vast unknown. Drenched in sweeping reverb, “Vapid Bucolia” sits in a pocket of melancholic lament. Scouting the next peak on the horizon, gauzy synths seep into every pore like a passive virus, coaxing you to continue the journey forward. Sunrise beckons on “Gliders” as gleaming sonic surfaces reflect light into a prismatic display. Berry extracts warm, gentle tones while deep bass pads and sparse guitar plucks act as guideposts. Viable Systems 4 is cool to the touch, but that glossy exterior shrouds an engaging and sympathetic embrace. Berry’s explorations always tap into auditory dimensions meant for traveling. Viable Systems 4 is another beautiful chapter in this continually unfolding story.

Viable systems 3

keith berry viable systems 3” title=
  1. Label:


  2. Format:

    CD in Digipak

  3. Release Date:

    November 2020


A generative music album release on Keith Berry’s own label VSM Theory, generative in the sense that Keith is interested in creating systems that he can put in place and let run to produce music - not that the listener needs to be aware of this as the output from these systems is also very musical, something which is important to Keith.

02 VIVISYSTEM 39169020
05 VIVISYSTEM 11942220

track listing

London-based composer Keith Berry delivers the third instalment in his well-received ‘Viable Systems’ series. Like its two predecessors, ‘Viable Systems 3’ weaves synthetic textures and shimmering, nebulous ambient elements into minimalist pieces that evoke tranquility and excitement.


Keith Berry is but one of a vast number of artists whose work falls into the ambient category; he is also not the only one operating in the field of generative music. Such a state of affairs would therefore seem to make it all the more difficult for the London-based composer to distinguish his work from that of his peers, yet Berry nevertheless succeeds in doing so, the third installment in his Viable Systems series compelling evidence to support the contention. More than anything the thing that accomplishes that has to do with timbre, the specific sound character he gives to his productions. Berry's is individualized enough that it's readily identifiable as his, at least to listeners sufficiently acquainted with the ambient genre and its primary practitioners.

The sound Berry presents in these atmospheric settings (fourteen on the CD, fifteen digital) is abrasion-free and sonorous; complementary to that is the material's tranquil, soothing tone. The tracks, which range from two to ten minutes in duration, are polished in production terms, suggestively titled (e.g., “Transmitter Towers”), and encourage a restful, meditative response in the listener. Generally speaking, the music is neither sombre nor oppressive but instead harmonious and spiritually nourishing, such qualities amplified by the bright multi-hued display on the package's panels.

As stated, it's timbre that is one of the recording's most striking aspects and something for which Berry has developed acute sensitivity in his many years as a sound artist. Consider, for example, the arresting woodwind-like element that appears alongside drifting textures and piano accents in “Dominant Curve,” or the entrancing flute-like tones that give “Shakkei” its defining character. As much as the recording emphasizes brightness, it's not without a brooding episode or two. “Autumn Landscape With Mist,” for instance, assembles timbres suggestive of mellotron, tenor sax, piano, and vibraphone into a sober elegy.

It's next to impossible to not cite Eno as a natural antecedent for Berry's material when stirring evocations like “Vivisystem 39169020” and “Yellow-Red-Blue” could pass for missing tracks from 1978's Music For Films; that's especially so when their defining features include warbling synths, gauzy atmospheres, and auras of stillness and mystery. There's no shame in an ambient artist being influenced by Eno, however: no one would castigate a contemporary classical composer if a work showed signs of a Beethoven or Debussy influence, and the same could be said of artists working in any tradition, musical or otherwise. Taken on its own terms, Berry's recording offers state-of-the-art ambient splendour.

London composer Keith Berry with another very likeable CD of calming ambient drones. He didn’t always used to be so digitally-oriented, unless I’m imagining that, but for now he seems to have chosen a computer path. Viable Systems 3 (VSM THEORY VSM 006CD) is not unlike Viable Systems 1 which we heard in 2018 (there was a volume 2, but we never heard it), in that it’s produced with generative software. At least I assume this is the case, as I’ve had to deduce this information from reading other reviews of his recent work; the release itself, with its plain abstract art cover, tells us nothing about his method or the equipment used. If generative software was indeed used, then it’s only slightly curious why every one of these 15 instrumentals follows the same slow-moving pace, as if the algorithms had to be coaxed into life to emerge from their rockpools and unwind their tails, like very shy marine life. Another endearing aspect is the track titles, each one giving a glimpse of a futuristic city on another planet; from the sound of the music, it’s a good place to live. Bill Nelson, for one, would recognise this kind of sci-fi utopia.

About a year ago, I reviewed his 'Viable Systems 2' (Vital Weekly 1197) and this new one can be seen as an extension to that. Pieces are now from two to ten minutes but essentially are on the same ground as before. I have no idea what kind of tools Berry uses these days but I bet it is something digital and smooth. This is far removed from the drone work he started with. This is quite mellow music, and some mildly slowed down bell sounds remind me of new age music, to which this all comes quite close. As before, the name of Brian Eno should be mentioned, as he is very much in similar territory with generative music. Music, once set in motion, needs very little work, it lives and breathes and transforms all by itself. It is music that the listener should create and, again as before, I would think the music is very suited to arrive in the form of a tablet/phone application, with possibilities by the user to change moods, instruments, textures and such. Now, it is Berry who does this for us. You could argue if this is a good thing or not, it is what it is. Oh, and sorry for harping on that 'as said before', reading is a very suitable activity while playing this music. You have seventy-two minutes of undisturbed listening time, and daring listeners switch to 'random' and 'repeat' and let it run until you had enough. In my case that took some time, but on a quiet Saturday afternoon, I am just a very lazy sod.

Viable systems 2

keith berry viable systems 2” title=
  1. Label:


  2. Format:

    CD in Digipak

  3. Release Date:

    August 2019


A generative music album release on Keith Berry’s own label VSM Theory, generative in the sense that Keith is interested in creating systems that he can put in place and let run to produce music - not that the listener needs to be aware of this as the output from these systems is also very musical, something which is important to Keith.

05 PROTOPIA | 5’44
06 LOST LUGGAGE | 7’24
09 FUTURE BLOOM | 3’40

track listing

Regular readers of my reviews (I sees ya) will remember I said that although Joan Shelley's new album, 'Like The River Loves The Sea', didn't push any boundaries in folk music, sometimes it's just nice to hear a collection of well-crafted, beautiful songs. This is also how I feel about Keith Berry's new album 'Viable Systems 2'. Although it doesn't have the strange originality of Benoît Honoré Pioulard and Sean Curtis Patrick's 'Avocationals' project or the beautiful intensity of Ellen Arkbro's work, it's still good to hear traditional ambient music done well. 


Fans of Brian Eno will find a lot to enjoy about this album. Both Berry and Brian make full use of vast, sweeping synthesizer pads and glacially slow tempos. I suppose 'Viable Systems 2' feels a little more alien than Eno's ambient work. Listening to it feels like you are gliding around some huge synthetic Bladerunner-type landscape. 

Production-wise 'Viable Systems 2' sounds very balanced and full. This is often to its detriment as I find the most enjoyable ambient music has little imperfections and deformities. If a piece of ambient music is stripped of background noise, of little crackles and sonic blemishes, then it feels soulless and not in a good way. Ambient music should sound like its imbibed that which it exists in. 

If you enjoy alien-sounding albums that immerse you to the point of mild discomfort, then 'Viable Systems 2' is the thing for you.

Perhaps it’s reticence on behalf of the composer, or the influence of this reviewer’s instinct for highlighting contradictions. However, I can’t push myself to attach the foreseeable “ambient” tag to Keith Berry’s current production, despite his intention of creating “mood and textures” complementing one’s listening space. Obvious comparisons were made in the past with Brian Eno’s work (that’s right, me too), and they’re still ongoing from what I can gather. But this second volume of Viable Systems, as its 2017 predecessor, offers much more to the vigilant ear than mere “pleasantly quiet company” (although it definitely works fine in that regard).

For sure part of the problem depends on the inevitable mutability of moods. In a period of dispiritedness, an individual tendency will presumably reflect a self-predisposition – adaptation, if so preferred – to the wavering harmonies and tenuous melodic particles generated by Berry, whose assuaging tonalities exude class as always. The line that separates aching melancholy from mild relief is subtle: the fourteen subdivisions of Viable Systems 2 show once again the Londoner’s ability in producing excellent soundtracks for transitoriness, in all senses. Surrounded by elegantly introspective sonorities, we can choose between reasoning at the deeper levels of intuitive consciousness, or just annihilating any kind of commitment while mesmerized by benevolent synthetic emissions.

But it is exactly when one focuses on the latter that the aforementioned “ambient mask” falls down, revealing what distinguishes this gentleman from the thousands of dabbling simpletons who too frequently assault our mail boxes (and, for the misfortune of credulous audiences, find fertile ground in the Bandcamp/Soundcloud parallel universe). Berry’s timbres are endowed with a substantial grain: linearity is turned into profoundness, as if carefully programmed presets had been improved by additional processing in view of a target residing in the addressee’s psyche. Several sections are typified by remote shifts and imperceptible alterations of the acoustic domain; there’s no trace of such subtleties in the bulk of today’s soothing electronica.

Let yourselves be nestled by these charming refractions, then. Without moving a feather.

massimo ricci

Anyone seduced by the swoon of Keith Berry's inaugural Viable Systems volume will be as entranced by its second. Born in 1973, the London, UK-based composer brings his refined ambient artistry to another engrossing collection, this one featuring fourteen constructions clocking in at eighty minutes and available in CD and download formats. As with the earlier set, Viable Systems 2 includes no information save track titles, each one evocative and suggestive. Texture and mood are paramount, but, as before, what impresses most are the sultry timbres Berry coaxes from his gear, whatever it might be. Lasting anywhere from one-and-a-half (“Kingdom Protista”) to twelve minutes (“Protopian Mode”), these reveries whisper, shimmer, glisten, and gleam, making for a multilayered sound design that's a consistent treat for the ears.

Of course those warbling synth tones that flood through the opening moments of “Nearest-Neighbour” might call Eno to mind, but it's almost impossible for any ambient producer's music to not suggest such affinities when the ambient output by the one-time Roxy Music dadaist is so far-reaching. Associations aside, Berry's ominous soundscape hints that the neighbour in question is probably best avoided. In keeping with its title, “Synthetic Exotica” exudes humidity, and with gauzy washes and radiant tones unfurling in slow motion, the piece seemingly conveys the experience of a heat-dazed visitor struggling to resist mental disassociation. As a title, “Air-Conditioned Eden” could be seen as a sly acknowledgement by Berry of his music's potential for evoking paradise using synthetic means.

However discombobulating a few of its tracks are, Viable Systems 2 for the most part soothes with its becalmed, meditative aura. Even “Lost Luggage,” which, given its title, one would expect to suggest distress or upset of some kind, is generally peaceful (though not without restless activity), perhaps suggesting the individual in question has opted to stoically accept the turn of events and look for a silver lining. Regardless, Berry shows himself throughout to be a master at atmosphere, arrangement, and sound design. While the pieces share certain commonalities, each registers as a self-contained mini-universe, an adventure distilled into sound. “Future Bloom” lasts a mere four minutes, for instance, but its resplendent bloom is so captivating the impression it makes remains long after it's over.

Following 'Viable Systems 1', there is now the second instalment of what Berry calls " a catalogue of moods & textures over the series, that the listener can use as an aid to there [sic] environment" (see also Vital Weekly 1101). The viable system, as explained before, is "a model of the organisational structure of an autonomous system capable of producing itself." Again Berry uses synthesized sounds rather than processed field recordings, which he used at the start of his career, and I am inclined to think this is music that sets itself in motion. Give it a few parameters and then let it explore itself. You could think this would lead to long pieces of slow drifting sounds, but that doesn't happen here. The music is slow indeed, but none of these pieces is overly long. At close to eighty minutes and fourteen pieces, these pieces are average five to seven minutes, with some being longer and some being shorter. The slow arpeggio sound of before is now gone and the music is mostly long drifts of sounds along with occasionally bell-like ringing sounds. I was asked a while ago to explore the various apps that Brian Eno made and noticed that bell ringing sound in several of his apps. I am sure Berry doesn't use these apps, as mister Eno has some more trademark elements in his work that aren't part of this, but throughout it made me think that Berry's music here is in various alike that of the inventor of ambient as a genre. He's not alone in that, of course, but a clear one for sure. The slow drifts of the music can have many purposes I can imagine, relaxing probably the number one there, along with creating a pleasant environment. As I was saying with Stephan Mathieu's music recently, I can imagine that Berry's music would also be a very good generative app allowing the listener to create his version, and have a true viable system going. That way the listener can create something that is even more suited for its aims. Purely as a listener/reviewer, sitting up, thinking what to write (and occasionally look something up), I would think, like before, that this is surely another long CD. That's, of course, me aiming wrong there, I know. Let me shut-up, pick up a book and play this again; that seems to be the most suitable activity for this music.

Two years after unveiling the first in his VIABLE SYSTEMS series, London-based composer Keith Berry presents the sequel—an extension of the immaculate, sanded-down sound of the first. Across 14 tracks, Berry morphs and warps synthetic textures and ethereal, abrasion-free ambience. With tracks that evoke emotions from afflicting melancholy to exciting enchantment, Berry creates a soothing yet captivating illustration of the sound of modern life through his generative works. Fans of Brian Eno will appreciate the airy elements of Berry’s second volume here, as well as the steady pacing.

The Best New Ambient on Bandcamp: September 2019

Viable systems 1

keith berry viable systems
  1. Label:


  2. Format:

    CD in Digipak

  3. Release Date:

    September 2017


A generative music album release on Keith Berry’s own label VSM Theory, generative in the sense that Keith is interested in creating systems that he can put in place and let run to produce music - not that the listener needs to be aware of this as the output from these systems is also very musical, something which is important to Keith.

02 ISOMORPHIC | 6’00
04 ENTELECHY | 4’52
07 PHENETIC | 4’42
09 HIVE MIND | 5’00
12 SYSBIOSIS | 5’08

track listing

Presumably the first in an intended series, Viable Systems 1 is the inaugural release on a new imprint by London-based composer Keith Berry (b. 1973), whose releases you'd locate (if there were such a thing anymore) in your record store's ambient bin. No info appears on the release's colourful packaging aside from the release title, artist name, and thirteen track titles, many of which suggest associations with biology, physics, mathematics, and philosophy (“Entelechy” automatically triggers connections to Aristotle, for example). While that means I can't share any details about the gear Berry used to produce the material, I can tell you that Viable Systems 1 is one of the most beautiful sounding albums I've heard in a long time. Its gleaming, gently sighing synthesizer tones are as free of abrasion and as smooth and polished as one could possibly imagine, and anyone in search of a soothing collection of instrumental synthesizer music would be wise to investigate.


Viable Systems 1 is described as a generative work, which means that Berry devised systems that once put in place generated the thirteen settings. Some relinquishing of control on the creator's part is thus involved, even if parameters are established during the formative stage. Though the tracks range from three to eight minutes, each piece could, in theory, run for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years, depending on the capabilities of the equipment involved. Consequently, a setting presented as a relatively brief sound sculpture on the recording could effectively function as accompaniment to a gallery installation that's active for months on end.

It's also important to emphasize that Berry's settings, while they might suggest some degree of commonality with loop-based constructions, don't repeat in the way a piece built from loops does. If I'm not mistaken, being generative means that the music produced retains a consistent character without necessarily ever repeating itself. Regardless, the material featured on Viable Systems 1 is never less than musical, and it's easy to find oneself so entranced by the softly warbling tones of placid reveries such as “Autopoiesis,” “Abiotic Factor,” and “Equilibrial” that one wishes their resplendent tones would go on forever. Long-time ambient listeners will likely find it impossible to hear Berry's set and not be reminded of classic Eno and Roedelius releases, but one also imagines that were he presented with Viable Systems 1 Eno himself might deem it the best ambient album he never produced.

As I wasn’t sure what VSM as an acronym stands for, I looked it up and wiki tells me: “The viable system model (VSM) is a model of the organisational structure of any autonomous system capable of producing itself. A viable system is any system organised in such a way as to meet the demands of surviving in the changing environment. One of the prime features of systems that survive is that they are adaptable. The VSM expresses a model for a viable system, which is an abstracted cybernetic (regulation theory) description that is applicable to any organisation that is a viable system and capable of autonomy”. Which made me think whether the music from Keith Berry on a CD also called ‘Viable Systems’ should be seen as something that can create itself, i.e. without too much involvement of the composer. Berry is the driving force behind the label, which will mainly focus on releasing his own work. So far we know Berry mainly from his heavily processed field recording based works but in his two recent releases (see Vital Weekly 1073 and 1094) there was a shift to be noted towards the use of synthesizers, creating ambient works that were a bit lighter in tone than his previous work and that is something that he is now using full force. In each of the thirteen pieces on this release there is a lovely slow arpeggio sound to be noted; repeated tinkles or chords or a combination of both. Each piece seems like a system by itself, perhaps I am distracted by the label’s name, and it is now always clear how much of this sees Berry playing it himself or if the machines are on some automatic pilot. Not that it really matters of course; as always I am interested in the result, and that result is great. Maybe seventy-four minutes is a bit long for all of this, as he got his point across pretty much after eight pieces, but I am sure this is not about getting points across, but to play some highly atmospheric music for quite an amount of time and transport the listener to an altered state of consciousness (always a bit difficult when you try to concentrate on writing a review), and as such it also isn’t that important that the compositional model of some of these pieces is very alike, and also the way sounds are used. It all has to do with the overall piece, all thirteen pieces together and as such I think Berry delivered a great release.

Viable Systems 1 is a true ‘Generative Music’ album: a system that is ‘put in place and let run to produce music’. This means that the selections in these thirteen tracks are captured moments of music that could theoretically last forever. No one plays music forever, so it’s good to document the result on musical algorithms on album.

There’s no further info on which exact system he uses, but the result is definitely a pleasurable listen.
The music resembles the generative experiments of Brian Eno, in concept more than in sound: the synth sounds are somewhat sharper (less rounded) and have a nice analog feel. Overall, the atmosphere is light: these are obviously good-natured musical system.

Haven’t heard from Keith Berry in quite a while. His The Golden Boat was released by Trente Oiseaux in 2003 and after that we heard The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish, packaged by Crouton Music in a box with some loose tea-leaves. Zen philosophy might be one guiding light for experiencing or understanding this music. Most of Viable Systems 1 (VSM THEORY VSM 001CD) is very much in the Brian Eno mode, sounding like perfect copies of the more ambient instrumental cuts on Before And After Science, but that’s not a bad thing. Titles of the 13 tracks all allude to the generative systems he used to create this album, such as ‘Cellular Automaton’ or ‘Isomorphic’, which is another Eno-ish thing to do. Although entirely synthetic and systems-based, it’s still beautiful music, having a very calming and therapeutic effect with its slowly-evolving forms and peaceful harmonies. (30/10/2017)

VSM Theory is a new imprint created by Keith Berry, whose interest at the moment seems to lie in generative process-derived works retaining the principal qualities of today’s finest incidental soundscapes.

He even tags Viable Systems 1 with the definition “furniture music” as a sort of homage to the genre’s precursors. However, it’s not so easy when the Londoner is involved. If anything, I’d call these tracks a caressing acoustic complement across variable weather conditions.

Indeed this writer approached the collection during a melancholy-inspiring warm afternoon, then kept the experience going in a subsequent morning where an abrupt turn for the worse occurred – damp coldness, grey sky, rain.

In between these meteorological issues Berry’s sweetly resonating matters never failed to assist, allowing a listener’s intuition to comprehend the basic fragments of melody defining a given piece as the underlying harmony shifts with the deliberate massiveness of a formation of clouds.

It is all very assuaging, an aural charm characterized by the same transcendental dignity of a person still trying to smile after having been subjected to a heartbreaking loss.

Factors of recurrence and disappearance are essential. The “picture of now” is visible but somewhat flickering; the “then” inevitably returns with customary “when did I choose the wrong direction?” flashes.

Those, too, are destined to vanish; in a few minutes, another combination enters the scene and you’re left to other kinds of consideration.

In vaguely comparative terms, echoes of Eno, Roedelius and even Tim Story may be recalled at times. This notwithstanding, it only takes a couple of spins to realize that this is quintessential Berry.

I have always liked the title of an old album by Henry Kaiser and Jim O’Rourke, Tomorrow Knows Where You Live. Somehow, this music helps preparing that threatening visit, implicitly suggesting to welcome that tomorrow with a cup of hot tea in the hand, ready for an eye-to-eye silence.

For silence is what informs the purest form of love.

massimo ricci

What point is there to life if you can’t pretend you’re a cloud every now and then? Keith Berry (not the boxer) knows exactly what it's like to be a floating body of evaporated water, and his new album Viable Systems 1 is like a warm cocoon of gently shifting and transposing pads. Think Pausal, think beatless Selected Ambient Works, think Kompakt's Pop Ambient series.

Synth sounds are coming for you. Like a selection of the best, most foggy-sounding synths from the seemingly never-ending Pop Ambient series from Kompakt (or perhaps from Aphex Twin’s ‘S.A.W.’ series), coming at you all at once, only to stop and hover, weightless, over a body of shimmering water, perhaps. Keith Berry, with the inaugural release on his own VSM Theory label, has created a body of work here full of ambient synth tones that he has (sternly) instructed to: “just keep chillin’”.

Berry is a man interested in generative music; of systems that can be set and let run to freely, riotously (gently) produce their music… y’see, hence ‘Viable Systems 1’. Possibly the first of many, then, and here’s the first artefact to attest to this. In musical CD form, no less.

The synths play, hover, bloop, fade away… and come back again to bloop some more. All in a very relaxing way, conducive to cogitation or mediation. You’re welcome to do whatever you like when this CD is on, I never judge. With tracks titled like ‘Isomorphic’... ‘Autopoiesis’... ‘Equilibrial’ and ‘Cellular Automaton’ -- you get the idea: floaty, deceptively simple, seemingly free-form but often surprisingly melodic and statuesque.

These synths may well run on and on and replicate pretty sounds ad lib, ad infinitum… ad nauseam. Perhaps... Nice synths, though.



keith berry simulacra
  1. Label:


  2. Format:

    2CD in mini-LP style gatefold sleeve. Each CD is housed in an envelope style cardstock sleeve with full artwork. Original source imagery by Griffin Lamb. Design by Timothy O'Donnell.

  3. Release Date:

    May 2017


“The Hassidim tell a story about the world to come that says everything there will be just as it is here. Just as our room is now, so it will be in the world to come; where our baby sleeps now, there too it will sleep in the other world. And the clothes we wear in this world, those too we will wear there. Everything will be as it is now, just a little different.”

-Ben Lerner, 10:04

The word “simulacra” comes from the Latin, “simulare,” and refers to simulations: forgeries, copies, or imitations that stand in for actual realities. The French thinker Jean Baudrillard cited maps as good examples of simulacra - artificial renderings of the real world whose relation to the landscape is merely symbolic.

It comes as no surprise then that Keith Berry’s excellent new album of the same name is itself a fake mapping of a fictional world. There are tracks titled Spektr Forest, Kristall Ridge, Kolrox Beach, and Mont Lux, along with imagined bodies of water like Praxis Gulf, Perma Bay, and Kritikon Sea - tracks whose post-linguistic names invoke a bizarre nostalgia for some artificial, hyperreal future.

From the first listen, Berry’s weird titles fit. The two-disc album calls to mind a distant, earthlike planet whose landscape is unknown yet strangely familiar, like the landscape of a dream. Berry’s sound here is pure potentiality: dark washes of wavelike synths, colorful swells of sound that ebb and flux. Most of the tracks hover around the six-minute mark, which is just long enough for you to absorb the intended effect without it wearing on you or becoming redundant.

At various points in Simulacra, fans of the genre might sense a correspondence with the works of Markus Guentner, 36, (Dennis Huddleston) and/or Donnacha Costello. But Berry’s sound, while sharing formal qualities with each of these artists, remains uniquely his own. This may have something to do with the spread of texture he carefully layers over each track, soft deposits of textural fuzz, blips, or glitches that complicate the refrain and lend a rich, finished quality to the work. While it’s clear the album is meant to be listened to as a whole, several tracks deserve specific mention.

“Perma Bay,” track one, the longest track on the first disc, is a haunting symphonic reprise that calls to mind the iterative work of William Basinksi. But whereas Basinski’s stuff sounds like music in decay, music resurrected from the past, Berry’s creepy piano riff sounds more like music from the future, gifted backwards in time.

“Xylocopa Point” also stands out. Simple and mysterious, it evokes the extraterrestrial feel of Dennis Huddleston’s 36 project - albums that conjure up beauty in the cold void of space. Berry’s work feels messier than Huddlestone’s melodies, and not in a bad way.

The third track, “Mont Lux” shares qualities with the Buchla-based albums of Donnacha Costello wherein patient tonal melodies are played out, stretched out, and warped out to their limits. Berry’s sound is more liminal than peaceful - a push and pull toward some end never realized.

Track 6, “Cape Dusona,” is reminiscent of the beatless long-form work of Pop Ambient artists like Markus Guentner. Berry’s track, like many of Guentner’s, expands and contracts but ultimately goes nowhere at all until the arrival of a frantic, digitized arpeggio leads us home.

The final two tracks, “Spektr Forest” and “Kristall Ridge” come as a welcome departure at the end of the album. Both give off a futuristic vibe with a retro feel, naively optimistic in the vein of Carbon Based Lifeforms or Boards of Canada. Both songs could be soundtracks for virtual reality software or the background music for a video game on pause. One gets the sense the tracks could play for years and years…

Simulacra’s second disc is just as good. Given more room to breathe, Berry takes his time here, paring down his sound to the bare essential. “Simactia” is nearly forty minutes long and has the hypnotizing quality of watching aquatic plants shift underwater. “Muaulra” at twenty-one minutes has the dramatic quality of migrating whales.

“Kolrox Beach,” track 8 on the first disc, is the standout track for me. Taken as a whole it is the richest, most satisfying example of Berry’s signature style: simple piano chords echo out under an expansive dome of sound that soon dissipates altogether.

Taken as a whole, Simulacra is a significant achievement. In every instance, Berry’s world-building is beautiful - beautiful because it is eerily familiar, easy to imagine. Cinematic and sedate by turn, it’s the kind of album best listened to lying on your back in a smoky room or from the window of an airplane. Less meditative and more introspective, listening to Simulacra is something like finishing a great novel, whereupon you find the world you reenter slightly unreal and gently altered, or as Lerner writes, “a little changed, a little charged.”

Daniel Williams

The surely sleepy Keith Berry makes music while hibernating, creating the sort of brain-fogged beauty I can only imagine coming out of a pure and dreamless night. Having made lovely records like ‘Simulacra’ for a long while now, he knows exactly how to make an ear-coating lullaby, using slowly avalanching chords and raindrop tape hiss towards total peace. That this record was in fact made from repurposed leftovers of past album ‘Elixir’ makes sense -- his music has a green footprint in that it can be made again from itself.


These slowly enrapturing phases of sound are familiar, echoing the plethora of quietly crackling releases by Chihei Hatakeyama and Federico Durand, but they should put their listener way too far at ease to make comparisons. This record’s minimal sound works in frames of drone we’re used to -- it foregrounds blaring but gentle chords and lets the acoustics quietly bristle against them -- to create a much needed domain of rest.

Norman Records

The title of Keith Berry's double-CD set for Infraction comes with no small amount of baggage, considering how solidly tied the word “simulacra” now is to the writings of Jean Baudrillard, most obviously his 1981 work Simulacra and Simulation. Berry's release isn't an homage, however, though a connection could definitely be made to one of Baudrillard's central themes, the idea that in postmodern culture artificial renderings of the real world have so thoroughly supplanted that which they're representing that reality now imitates the model. In that 1981 text, he writes, “The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory—precession of simulacra—that engenders the territory.”

How this aligns with the Infraction material the British sound artist, whose esteemed work (The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish and Towards the Blue Peninsula, for starters) has appeared on labels such as Trente Oiseaux and Elevator Bath, has created becomes clear when one scans the opening disc's twelve track titles. Imaginary locales, among them “Xylocopa Point,” “Spektr Forest,” and “Kolrox Beach,” are identified, as are bodies of water such as “Perma Bay” and “Kritikon Sea,” the twelve settings combining to form a vivid portrait of a fictional world whose details call J. G. Ballard to mind as much as they do Baudrillard. The features in question could just as easily be referring to those at a newly discovered Earth zone as ones on another planet.

At the album's start, “Perma Bay” evokes a vibrant scene teeming with dramatic activity and resplendent in detail, whether it be surface crackle, radiant synth flourishes, or sparkling keyboard textures. “Xylocopa Point” is as evocative, with this time metallic accents and sea breezes conjuring the image of some mist-coated watery vista, but so too are all twelve in their own way (the mist is so thick, in fact, during “Kritikon Sea,” you might begin to feel as if Simulacra has suddenly transformed into a Basic Channel release). Particularly lustrous is “Praxis Gulf,” whose softly glimmering elements bring to mind images of fireflies darting through the air on a dusky evening, while “Cape Dusona” catches one's ear by working a pulsating synth pattern into its lulling loops. Contrasts are plentiful, never more audible than in the change that occurs when the serene “Muir Lake” is followed by the bleepy reveries “Spektr Forest” and Isan-like “Kristall Ridge.” Berry's but one of a large number of ambient producers, of course, but Simulacra and its verdant, sometimes mystery-laden landscapes show him to be among the genre's best.

Whereas most of disc one's pieces are relatively concise (the opening twelve-minute setting the outlier), the second's trio are all long-form, two of them twenty-minute settings and the first thirty-seven. As satisfying as the shorter pieces are, it's perhaps the second half's that speak most powerfully on Berry's behalf. It's one thing to engage the listener with a five-minute production; it takes a special talent to sustain interest for nearly forty minutes, and that “Simactia” does so testifies to Berry's gifts as a soundsculptor. With simple, Discreet Music-like figures softly intoning within an oceanic mass of hiss and crackle, the material relaxedly wends its peaceful way as if it could go on forever. Much the same could be said for the subsequent two, “Imaculara” and “Muaulra,” both of which advance as leisurely as “Simactia.” There are subtle differences, however: “Imaculara” appears to bury its repeating melodic fragments even more deeply under a softly flickering concretion of static and thrum than “Simactia,” whereas “Muaulra” strips away much of the textural detail for a purer presentation of placid, slow-motion synth expressions.

Berry includes with the release a long list of the hardware used in the production of the material, but one would be misguided, I think, to take this as any sign of gear fetishism. More likely, it's simply Berry choosing to share information about the technical dimension of the project with technology trainspotters, as well as remind listeners in true Baudrillardian fashion that the imaginary realms so vividly conjured on the recording are after all nothing other than abstract constructions generated using physical means.


Among the many drone artists there is a lot who create many works, one by one in high speed, Keith Berry is however someone who releases his work sparsely. Since his debut in 2003 there have been, more or less, eight official albums of his work. Only quite recently I reviewed ‘Elixir’ (see Vital Weekly 1073) and it is now followed by ’Simulacra’, a double CD of recent works and here he lists his synthesizer and sound tools on the cover. I must admit I don’t really have an idea what all of this are, just synthesizers and effects, I assume. There are some differences between both CDs in this package I think. Disc one has twelve pieces, spanning seventy-three minutes while the three pieces on the second disc last seven minutes longer. Looking at the three titles on the second disc, ’Simactia’, ‘Imaculara’ and ‘Muaulra’, I would believe these pieces are in some way connected or maybe even extensions of the same material, even when they sound different, with the first being lighter in tone than the second. It’s here where Berry sounds like the Berry we know from his earlier works; long, sustaining synthesized drones sounds, with maybe some kind of field recording, heavily processed feeding through the same synthesizers and effects and occasionally creating some kind of glitch. Those glitches, sounding sometimes like the blank groove of an ancient 78 rpm, are also part of the pieces on the first disc, which have, obviously, a much shorter time span, even when the opening piece, ‘Perma Bay’ is close to twelve minutes. In these pieces Berry does something that is less abstract and that may be labelled as musical, with shimmering melodies on a piano, or a slow arpeggio on a synth, such as in ‘Mont Lux’.  Some of this reminded me of cosmic music from the seventies (in ‘Cape Dusona’ for instance) and of course Brian Eno’s original take on ambient music. It seems to me some departure from his previous work (like the one on disc two) and I must say that this is a varied bunch of music and I enjoy this change of scenery quite a bit. I hope Berry will continue to in this new style for some time to come.

vital weekly

Having grown accustomed to Keith Berry’s prolonged silences between releases, it is with a mix of surprise and contentment that we greet a couple of new items in a restricted temporal frame. There is a reason, though, as Elixir and Simulacra – the latter a double CD – originate from a different handling of equal sources. Except from episodic similarities grounded on Berry’s methodical lulling of our consciousness via looping wiseness, we find typically riveting indications of the Englishman’s prowess. At the same time it comes quite obvious to join the albums in a single sentence, perhaps divided into not two but three equally persuasive, if occasionally enigmatic acoustic settings.

Elixir symbolizes a somewhat perturbed sense of anticipation for events that are not necessarily going to occur anytime soon. In terms of strictly harmonic content this is most probably the music that strikes deepest: everlasting chordal suspensions constitute the prevailing color, nailing us to an emblematic “need more” perspective within a womb of bottomless reflections and fluctuating imageries. Halfway through marine calmness and oxygen-less gloom, this work could be employed to set forth the transition from adolescence to adulthood, including all the dreaming – happy ending or no.

The first disc of Simulacra seems to gather Berry’s respectful nods to some of the illustrious precursors and/or past and current influences. Now and then the “symphonic reiteration” factor appears to signal the composer’s appreciation of William Basinski’s vision (without transcending to the “mere representation” status: Keith always knows when to return to his own conception). Even stranger, there are segments where certain melodic sequences – either peaceful or just about obsessive – involuntarily summon echoes of the Cosmic Couriers era (name your favorites here). The artist bares the psyche with humility and sincerity, warranting the expulsion of any residual uncertainty in regard to his modus operandi.

The second disc is a triplet of lengthy pieces, the duration ranging from 36 to 20 minutes. We’re in “ultimate mesmerism” territory: fragments repeated ad infinitum, collateral noise and soothing melody coalesce into an alliance of lethargic nuances, which we never get enough of. This section is brilliant under many aspects, working extremely well both as “home installation” material (Eno-esque dilatory drifting not omitted) and as a means of mental isolation. Rather than simple recollections, Berry looks to explicit selected shades of the imagination in an attempt to bring out at least a few memorable details of an otherwise untroubled REM phase.

Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]


keith berry Towards the Blue Peninsula
  1. Label:

    invisible birds

  2. Format:

    Gatefold sleeve & CD professionally manufactured. Artwork by Matthew Swiezynski. Design by Mount Analogue.

  3. Release Date:

    March 2017


the alchemist jim haynes said of his work: "like falling snow, his dreamy work drifts with a poetic chill and tranquil hypnosis through which peripheral elements tease the listener with subtle details. it's so damn beautiful..."

a bit of background on this release: one of the great inspirations for invisible birds was bernhard günter and his seminal label trente oiseaux. the releases had an enormous influence and one of the gems was keith berry's the golden boat. it was with much pleasure when mr. berry wrote asking invisible birds to release his newest work elixir, and after listening to the wonderful kosmic washes of sound, there was no question than to proceed. the CD features abstract drawings by matthew swiezynski, and graphics by the brooklyn-based design kollektive mount analogue (chi yun and matthew swiezynski).

mr. berry said of the release: "the source material for the heavily granular processed sound that makes up elixir stems from another album of mine titled simulacra to be released shortly by infraction. not so much a remix album but a different take on material that had a strong pull on me, wanting me to return to it and explore the permutations that digital editing software allows."

keith berry is one who gathers many moments of sound over a period of time. the material for this recording (and simulacra on infraction records) traversed through berry's editing system like an alchemist's mystery-liquid, distilling through his alembic and becoming a final sonic spirit that takes innumerable forms and can no longer be recognized. this process is so beyond words and creates work that is further beyond words; the listener enters a complete void.

British ambient/drone artist Keith Berry (last spotted on Infraction) offers up an enchanting medicinal potion comprised of twelve gulps, that once ingested induce something akin to that temporary state between sleep and waking, where time seems to stop.


‘Elixir’ can be viewed as something of a different take on source material that was originally used for a forthcoming album on Infraction. This tranquil, blurry, foggy ambient is the type of style usually executed over longform tracks, but these shorter durations mean the works are more concise - like a concentrated solution. I recommend swigging it all down in one hit. An immense amount of gorgeous, subtle detail emerges from the delicately fluttering layers - the impact something like a series of daydreams - like one of those moments where you might look out of a window at a tree and for a brief moment, you’re somewhere else -- outside of the window. A lot of artists in this field really churn them out - Berry isn’t a particularly prolific artist in terms of back catalogue - listening to ‘Elixir’  really gives the impression of a meticulous, focussed creative process. There’s something inexplicably stirring, mysterious and ghostly about this album - as though once finished, the master tapes received some additional production by supernatural forces.

Norman Records

After four years, we finally have a new Keith Berry album. I loved his last release, Towards the Blue Peninsula, so I was anticipating this one with high expectations. I must admit I was disappointed on first listen. On Elixir, Berry sticks to the style of textured ambient drones that characterized the last album, but here the sounds are darker, deeper, and not as immediately accessible. That’s not a bad thing, it just takes more effort to appreciate.

The album spends a lot of time with gauzy, layered, syrupy textures. There is a melancholy feeling to many of the tracks but it never feels cheap, saccharine, or maudlin. Rather than have all the tracks blend into each other, Berry has sequenced the album so that each piece uses fading techniques and volume increases to signify the progression to the next track. Although this can be tricky to get right, I think he made it work here.

Some of my favorite moments on the album are when Berry does something unexpected. For example, just as I’m settled into this being a dark album, track five, dufourea, hits me with some lighter, ethereal washes of warm ambience that represent a shift in tone but fit perfectly into the flow of the album. Likewise, the eleventh track, scopesis, weaves in a palette of various synth melodies, glitches, and loops I’d call chaotic beauty.

Elixir is an excellent album, but one that will probably appeal most to seasoned ambient and drone listeners that appreciate subtle, well-crafted albums that fully reveal themselves over repeat listens. I found the album very rewarding and recommend it highly.

everyday ambient

It’s fitting that 14 years after the release of The Golden Boat, Keith Berry’s debut for Trente Oiseaux, that he should find a home for his new album on the Brooklyn based Invisible Birds label. After all, it was those auspicious releases from the likes of Fransisco López, Bernhard Günter, Steve Roden, Richard Chartier, and Berry himself, that in part inspired Matthew Swiezynski to dream up Invisible Birds in the first place. The scope of Swiezynski’s label has been anything but strictly defined, birthed from the notions of transcendence, memory and nothingness, and how they might link – romantically or otherwise – to landscape and birdsong. These notions, presented cryptically on the Introduction section of the label’s website, are but a glimpse into the complicated workings of a mind that, above all, seems unflinchingly dedicated to the boundless possibilities of art.

Invisible Birds is in no hurry to shed it’s more romantic ideals, particularly the one that finds endless allure within the mysteries of the human psyche. In this regard, Elixir is another unearthed cave for which the listener can explore. The last I heard from Berry was his limited run picture disc from 2008, The Cartesian Plane. While that album’s finely-tuned drone work swayed toward the emotionally ambiguous, Elixir sees Berry take more risks with mood, opening his sound up to a wider spectrum of feeling. It’s not necessarily happiness that these track’s instill, more like an elevated calm, a contentedness. It’s not the feeling of watching the sunset, but the one where the sun has long set and you just can’t seem to divert your attention away from the slowly darkening sky just above the horizon.

I cannot help but draw comparisons here to the work of GAS, Wolfgang Voigt’s now legendary ambient / minimal techno project from the late 90’s. Voigt will be releasing a new GAS album this year – the first in 17 years – so his music has inevitably worked it’s way back into my listening regime. On Elixir, Berry’s drones are as airy as voigt’s, but he seems perfectly content in foregoing any musical element that one would typically associate with rhythm. I’m reminded, too, of Tim Hecker’s earlier releases for Alien8, back when his music was a lot simpler and before he became hooked on the use of compression algorithms to beef up his sound. On that note, Berry’s music is certainly about doing more with less, where even a small misstep in any given piece might’ve changed the mood to something less desired.

Attached to the release of Elixir is a paragraph by Berry regarding his process in making the album. The parts that struck me were his mention of “a heavily granular processed sound” and his explorations of the “permutations that digital editing software allows.” Perhaps these statements would be of no surprise to someone with a lot more software experience than myself, but to me, they seem in almost direct contradiction to how effortlessly this music flows, how organically the elements seem to come together. Sure, this is electronic music, and I get the difference between a computer making music and using a computer to make music, but this particular music sounds as natural as the flow of water over a creek bed.

Much like Voigt, who claimed that his intention behind GAS was to “bring the forest to the disco, or vice-versa,” one gets a similar sense of amalgamated intent behind Berry’s work. However, Berry’s intentions have never felt as cut-and-dried, and unlike Voigt, he’s been lurking more or less in the shadows for 15 years, emerging every so often with an album that shines like a beacon among the year’s long list of drone releases. When 2017 eventually rolls to a close, you can bet that Elixir, too, will stand out among the lot.

The Alcohol Seed

There is not a lot of music available by Keith Berry, unless not all of it makes it to my desk. The last one, 'Towards The Blue Peninsula' was actually reviewed not that long ago, Vital Weekly 937. Infraction Records released that, and 'Elixir' seems to be the counter part of 'Simulacra', which the same label will release shortly, but then as released by Invisible Birds. That label's name is inspired by Bernard Gunter's Trente Oiseaux label, which released 'The Golden Boat', Berry's 2003 debut, both of which were a massive influence on the American label. In the short text that comes with Berry gives away much of how he works, 'heavily granulated processed sounds' and 'explore the permutations that digital editing software allows', which leaves a lot less to ponder about; 'maybe he recorded glacial movements of hissy cassettes, at half speed, on the top with a cold storm afar'. That sort of vague description is now not part of it. Well, most likely we still have no idea what kind of sound went into this machine, but my best guess would be it is some kind of field recording or some kind of instrument. If I was to learn that these sounds were orchestral in nature, then I also believe it, as some of this surely sounds like it. The twelve pieces on this release are each their own piece, and not twelve parts of one long on-going composition. Berry uses that well-known drone idiom of long sustaining tones, coloured with some sound effects and shifts in the frequency range, as to make the differences in the piece. It is something he does very well, that much is sure, but it is also something that he does for a long time. That I would say is the downside of this; after all these years much of this sounds alike. But then, as some would argue, why is it necessary to change? Berry did only seven releases in fourteen years so what's the rush with changing the tune? I was reading a book last night and I had this on repeat along and as such this music worked just perfectly.

Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]

It is a rare occurrence to come across an album which pulls you out of your surroundings so completely; when I received ‘Elixir’ I could not make heads or tails of it, I’ll admit. With several listenings under my belt I can now definitely state that the record in question clearly is cut from a far stranger cloth than I could have imagined. 2017 bodes well for experimentalism if this is the caliber of it already in March. Oh woe to you who happily bob along on the surface of popular culture, you’ve no idea how intense the currents are beneath your vacuous ego… all one must do is look down. Go within.

The music which this man composes is wrenched from every emotion a human being is capable of feeling.

This is my first meeting with Keith Berry and it won’t be the last: his music hangs in the air never abating, refusing to give up any sort of explanations. If you’re afflicted by technology then this is the perfect curative; the text fragment within parses out a few clues but obscures them by means of literary cunning, design motifs and illustrations which look older than written words or recorded sound. Further into the overwhelming, murky past that is the subconscious we are pulled. The tracks keep playing, the thoughts continue wandering, the waking mind becomes more an abstract concept.

Concrete reality disappears.

Mutterings of swirling, endlessly decaying audio compliment and collaborate with one’s memories in this place; it is easy to sense the passage of time through these compositions and if you close your eyes while listening you’ll feel it moving through all the synapses, nerves, vessels and cells the body possesses. ‘Elixir’ is not merely a salve for the soul it is an immersive crescendo of unbound imagination breaking every which way. That he’s managed to contain such a volatile combination of hostile elements is impressive and it is truly moving to recognize how he did so: through the usage of beauty.

Across the years. Through the triumphs, losses, adulation and laments. Slowly the songs dissolve much like dreaming itself. I knew a moment ago where I’d been but now it is gone, no amount of concentration can bring it back. That landscape which had been rendered in perfect detail is now nothing more than tatters of memory… to know and yet not know, this is the effect Berry’s stylings have. Taken into the furthest regions of existential space; casting out one’s own inhibitions, sacrificing all. The reward is to see revealed before you a realm of glittering possibilities which become tangible only for the blink of an eye before vaporizing into the ether.

Santa Sangre

Towards the Blue Peninsula

keith berry Towards the Blue Peninsula
  1. Label:


  2. Format:

    CD is housed in a gloss cardstock envelope and then in a tip-on, mini-lp Japanese style gatefold outer sleeve. Designed by Timothy O'Donnell

  3. Release Date:

    January 2014


This is a previously unreleased and new work from Keith Berry. Partially inspired by Koda's "Movements" full-length recording from almost 10 years ago, Berry has moved away from the computer-based compositions of 'The Ear That was sold...' utilizing Akira Rabelais's Argeiphöntes Lyre software to something a bit more windswept perhaps or at times aquatic and organic sounding. Not that prior endeavors were ever easily categorized as computer-based, or sterile environments - quite the opposite. What makes Berry's recordings so engaging, is that one is never quite sure what the source of sound is. It doesn't matter - each piece in their own right is magnificent from the debut 'The Golden Boat' to the twin masterpieces, "The Ear That Was Sold to a Fish" and "A Strange Feather" to "The Cartesian Plane" LP and now "Towards the Blue Peninsula". Berry's recordings are the result of letting ideas take their course, revising, re-visiting and letting the works breathe.

Edition of 500 copies. CD is housed in a gloss cardstock envelope and then in a tip-on, mini-lp Japanese style gatefold outer sleeve. Designed by Timothy O'Donnell.

Here's a rare treat from veteran ambient powerhouse Keith Berry, which the press release says he has "moved away from the computer-based compositions of 'The Ear That was sold…' utilizing Akira Rabelais's Argeiphöntes Lyre software to something a bit more windswept perhaps or at times aquatic and organic sounding", but that technical stuff goes way over my head most of the time. It's a completely captivating collection of drones on a beautifully packaged CD, with submerged melodies poke out from soft pillows of static in languorous repeating patterns, dense subtly shifting chords blurred into shimmering clouds of tone.


It's mostly beautiful, calming music, grandiose in an almost spiritual way, although towards the end things take a turn for the sinister and discordant, somewhat briefly. I can't find a track list and the tracks run into one another but it is split into distinct sections. All in all a weighty but floaty treat.

Norman Records

As I observed Iain Stewart’s cover photograph, the ebbing-and-flowing attributes of Towards The Blue Peninsula brought my memory back to the magnificent 58° North, a DVD from 2008 which paired Stewart’s achingly beautiful imagery of Scottish marine areas and Keith Berry’s evocative music. Unwilling to snatch that item from the jaws of my messy archive for a comparison, I’m nevertheless sure that this previously unreleased work shares a few of its acoustic traits with the former. Straight away: it’s a new glorious illustration of Berry’s capability of impacting the listener’s cognitive states through blurred sonorities that cannot fail to set the mechanisms of yearning in motion.

The twelve tracks segue one into another, all revolving around massive reiterative structures hypothetically linkable to galactic landscapes, in addition to the feel of "underwater orchestra" representing the initial reaction to what we hear. The dilatory looping, the gradual changes of scenario and the suggestions generated by camouflaged pulses let us envisage a wise old man in his death bed, the chest moving slowly during the inspiration and expiration phase, mnemonic retentions released as the last ounces of physical strength are leaving the body. There’s an implicit, cryptic serenity behind all this. A soothing confirmation of the natural justness of what inescapably waits for all of us despite the forces uselessly spent to nurture the illusion of being remembered.

At the same time, we keep spinning the album to better penetrate its sonic detail. Yet this is not allowed by Berry, who works with frequencies so heavily equalized that, on occasion, one can imagine cumuli of two, three or more chords melting in an undefinable palette to emerge as pure harmonic vapor. Once again we have become addicted to that mix of mental absence and perception of the post-existence that typifies the finest chapters of contemporary minimal electronica. Don’t you dare to call this "ambient" – Mr. Berry doesn’t know the meaning of the word "wallpaper". Concentrate and listen deeply, enjoy the penultimate shades of awareness while preparing for the eventual leap into the cuddling arms of Mother Resonance. It takes a lifetime, but you should have known since the very beginning.

Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]

In a review of a previous Keith Berry Infraction, The Ear That Was Sold to a Fish, affordance theory was invoked, his music seen as a kind of ‘sonic prosthetic for personal world-making.’ Pretentious maybe, but somehow in keeping with an artist with goals beyond—one purporting ‘to plant a little seed in the listener that given the right conditions could grow into something far bigger than the work itself.‘ So… no slick mouse–click trickster he, steeped in Eastern philosophy (Wabi–Sabi, Zen, I Ching) and Sufi poetry (Hafiz, Rumi)–not to mention Western Thought (whisper it quietly: Huxley, Castaneda, Nietzsche). Early works on labels like Trente Oiseaux led to his bracketing with lowercasers like Günter and Roden, Feldman’s minimalism often attendant, and the air of Rabelais ware everywhere. Yet extremes of microsound and minimalism are largely subsumed to more fulsome expression, harmonic development and textural richness, marking him more a croney of Drone–Lords of The North—of Potter, Tate and Bradley, of Coleclough and Chalk.

Berry trails a decade of releases, from debut The Golden Boat to The Ear… and A Strange Feather, to The Cartesian Plane, each sui generis, yet adepts will spot his acousmatic signature straightaway; the bent for eerie beauty, for quiet, evanescent soundscapes–a slow unravelling of unmoored revenance, of cryptic vanishings. Towards the Blue Peninsula draws on Koda’s Movements, a decade–old low–light classic from Infraction‘s early back catalog, making of it something more aquatic and windswept. The sound is expansive and unreal, Berry’s summoning to oneiric elsewhereness a complement to the allusion to Joseph Cornell’s eponymous work, which seems to describe a kind of imaginary projected existence. It’s also reminiscent of his collaboration with photographer Iain Stewart, 58º North, a video work on which his OST is ‘naturally’ linked to a sometimes serene, sometimes perturbed, gaze on the sea’s movements and the horizon’s aspect. The way to Berry’s Blue Peninsula finds us similarly engulfed in swathes of rich timbrality—sombre swells streaked with soft digitalis and odd environmentalia, granular orchestration flecked with strange sutures. A spatial driftzone between the nothingness of Köner and the eternity of Basinski (or vice versa), engrossing drones and submerged melodies emerge from soft staticky pillows in languorous recursions, dense chord-shift blurred in washed-out tone-clouds.

Towards the Blue Peninsula is possessed of a grandeur that belies the lowercase subtlety of the compositions, bearing a freight of ineffability, the key the finding of a feeling of something somehow transcendent in enigmatic tonalities—‘…a kind of strange new romanticism, marrying postmodern compositional sensibilities of self–conscious forms with the deep inner content of romanticism.’

Igloo Magazine [Alan Lockett]

Some years ago he had a bunch of releases, more or less at the same time, or so it seemed, but in the last few years things were quieter. He still works within that field of drone music, all relatively dark but never too dark, all highly atmospheric and you never know how this was made. Most likely, but perhaps not at all, this is music generated from heavily treated field recordings. The odd thing, well perhaps in Berry's case, is that it's divided into twelve pieces, with a total length of fifty-one minutes, and these pieces something flow right into each other and sometimes they have a fade out, but during which the next piece also fades in slowly. There are no separate track titles, so probably it's one piece after all. Berry, from the UK, stays close to his UK counterparts, Monos, Ora, Paul Bradley, Jonathan Coleclough, Mirror, Andrew Chalk and maybe, at times, also a bit William Basinski like, with a slow decay over time. An excellent release of moody atmospheric music.

Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]

Packed in a strikingly beautiful gatefold sleeve of thick carton ('tip-on mini-LP Japanese style'), together with a glossy inner photograph sleeve, this CD is a real gem to hold. But it's a real pleasure to listen to, too!
Though divided into 12 tracks, all named 'Untitled', it is in fact one continuous 50 minute 'flow' of 'windswept or at times aquatic and organic sounding' dronescapes.
"Berry's recordings are the result of letting ideas take their course, revising, re-visiting and letting the works breathe."

AmbientBlog [Peter van Cooten]


the cartesian plane
  1. Label:

    elevator bath

  2. Format:

    Picture disc LP

  3. Release Date:

    July 2010


Elevator Bath's ongoing series of picture disc LPs (each record being adorned with full-color artwork by the recording artist) continues with Keith Berry's debut appearance on vinyl: An absolutely mesmerizing cycle of deep, meditative tranquility inextricably linked to Berry's otherworldly painting which appears behind the record's grooves.

The soundscapes along The Cartesian Plane are beautifully absorbing, heavy with the slow unraveling of emotions, almost beyond belief. There is an immense weight to these recordings, the richness of which belies the careful subtlety of the compositions. The sound is expansive and unreal, a perfect complement to the record's visual aspects which seem to describe a kind of alternate existence. Like bookends, the colorful images house a wealth of experiences, wonderful and frightening. As you gaze upon the rotating colors and Keith Berry's dense dream-sounds pour out of the speakers, total immersion in The Cartesian Plane is more than probable, it is certain.

Five years have passed since Keith Berry's masterful The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish, a disc that was something of a revelation for the lucky few who were able to obtain a copy of the original release. Since that time Berry's reputation has steadily grown, even though his discography has not. Aside from a few compilation appearances (including Elevator Bath's A Cleansing Ascension), he has remained silent. The release of The Cartesian Plane then truly calls for celebration, as it is precisely the record those of us who admire Berry's work have longed for.

Elsewhere I write about David Wells and how it took him a long time to come up with a new work. In that list of the UK drone minds one name is missing, Keith Berry, and perhaps its because, alike Wells, he hasn't released much lately. He too makes up this omission with the release of a picture disc on Elevator Bath, which grows into a nice series of releases by now. As said Berry is also on one of the UK drone heads, but unlike his many peers, he doesn't opt for a single track per side, but one side has two tracks and one has three. Its hard to say what the input is for these compositions, which is the usual case with drone music I guess, but my best guess is that Berry uses some kind of heavily processed field recordings to tell his five stories. Unfortunately there is not much difference between those pieces, so perhaps we should regard them as different parts of the same piece. Each of the five pieces is a strong monolithic block of sound, with very little to no movement. The perfect guide to absolute drone music. Majestic, slow, humming, atmospheric. And nothing much new under in that area, sadly to some. Perfect late night music.


Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]

The fallibility of a human mechanism is inversely proportional to the illusions from which it absorbs nourishment. Confidence and unsettlement, inflexibility and hesitancy are but two of the infinite contrasts that perceptive beings meet while assembling a buried universe of personal inclinations alimented by their deepest wishes. Accordingly, another remarkable manifestation of necessary imperfection is the disproportion between the latter – meaning “any aspiration” – and the lack of occurrences that might help in fulfilling those expectations. This is the starting point of that kind of silent, inexplicable interior grief that can devastate a psychically fragile person, or fortify that individual’s awareness if the process of growth was accurately carried on.

Intent in listening to one of the five movements comprised by The Cartesian Plane, I notice a fantastic image cut by the frame of an open window: a perfect blue sky spotted by white clouds in a corner, and a wealth of green given by fully flourished branches. All around, a nearly scary quietness is fought by the incessant chant emitted by thousands of cicadas, in turn overwhelming uncommonly infrequent chirps – even birds seem to look for answers this afternoon. A typical flash during which I found myself asking “why”, not focusing on the cause of my controlled qualm. The reasons behind strange phenomena and dubious behaviors, I’ve stopped searching for them since ages. The rightness of certain combinations of sounds and colours is something that must not be rationally examined. At least not neurotically. That left me alone with the mere question. Why?

Still no response. The music is repeating its course for the third time, the reconnection with Keith Berry’s vision turned on via indiscernible hues and infinitesimal details. A side of this 12-inch picture disc (a limited edition of 233 copies) contains a pair of segments that are harmonically permanent, though we detect subliminal modifications in the fundamental matter of the droning formation, characteristically not specified by the composer. The other face of the album features a slightly different approach in terms of change: somnolently elliptical pictures of desolation are outlined in blurred stupor over the remaining three subdivisions, letting us intuit the vague presence of corporeal entities. It could be a sluggish orchestral fragment or a moribund choir, voices in the wake of the eternal issue. Why?

Following a lengthy stretch of almost complete silence, all it takes for Berry to put together again the threads of his resounding solitude is 47 minutes of merged tones that are both majestically entrancing and soul-consuming. Finding comparisons is a hopeless exercise reserved to pen-pushing bureaucrats. On the contrary, we will keep raising questions without receiving a solution. There’s a reason why people don’t really want to know that explanation, staying within the borders of a self-styled reality. When the truth finally materializes, it’s going to be terribly late for a dull analysis.

Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]

the ear that was sold to a fish / turn right a thousand feet from here

keith berry the ear that was sold to a fish
  1. Label:


  2. Format:

    Design by Timothy O'Donnell - the 2xCD set are each housed individually in cardstock envelopes and then packaged in a Stoughton mini-lp gatefold.

  3. Release Date:

    Originally April 2005 reissue April 2011


This is the place where film and mind intersect. An intricately detailed and mesmerizing follow-up to this London artist's release on trente oiseaux.

London composer Keith Berry's The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish is a complex, albeit soothing piece, stretching over nine tracks. The movement of the piece is akin to closing one's eyes while floating gently down a nightime river. But ironically, this slow pace demands quick attention, as the sound all around you passes you by. Fortunately, unlike a river experience, one gets the opportunity to discover additional nuances, that in themselves each open new worlds with repeated listening. Infraction is pleased to present this mind encompassing new work from one of the brightest electronic composers in the UK today. His previous work has been released on such labels as trente oiseaux, Authorized Version, and Twenty Hertz.

01 The sun rays of another pale afternoon | 5’12
02 Cars keep passing by | Rose Blood | 6’14
03 To me, it's just an oddness | 4’53
04 My backward voyage | 5’02
05 Surrounded by dark waters? | 5’17
06 Fuscous presages | 4’04
07 Knelt over the water | 5’43
08 Tomorrow I'll become adult | 0’59
09 You left me behind - but I can swim | 6’24

track listing

This double set from Infraction is going to turn heads for those who like something a little more majestic from their ambient music or the densely populated world of modern sound artists. 'The Ear That was Sold to a Fish' was originally released on Crouton six years ago and has since become a cult classic of the "genre", whatever that may be! Listening to this closely accompanying my morning brew I can see why it's considered a bit of a milestone. Taking the almost foreboding & isolationist sound-world you'd equate with some of Thomas Koner's best work, Berry adds intriguing layers of rumbling, snuffling exploratory scrunch to many of the stately pieces. There's powerful sampling of evocative plucked strings which adds a ponderous vibe to a subsequent number or two and investigating even further he proves himself to be an undoubted don of textural manipulation and atmosphere building. It's a deep sonic world this music inhabits. Dark & faintly ominous tones glide & envelop your mind whilst submerging you into an unsettling field of uncertainty. There's an aura of desolation to some passages but you're always left feeling rather excited by what's in store, like you've landed somewhere alien yet unimaginably intriguing, like being stood in an icy cavern crackling with untold secrets. The extra CD of unreleased material in this set displays an almost chamber-like classical grace – two beautiful, deep long movements instead of the numerous insanely titled pieces of '…fish'. He definitely takes his time over his work with years between each release and '…fish' has been an out-of-print collectors item for a while now. See what all the fuss is about, you know Infraction is one of the world's finest ambient stables so you should really consider adding this profoundly dense & affecting work to your library.


Norman Records

Keith Berry is an artist with ambitions beyond the ordinary, seeking “to plant a little seed in the listener that given the right conditions could grow into something far bigger than the work itself,” further articulating his ethos in quasi-spiritual terms: to “…work with blocks of sound in the same way a zen koan might work, in the sense that these “blocks” are supposed to be “triggers,” which, though they do not contain enough information in themselves to impart enlightenment, may possibly be sufficient to unlock the mechanisms inside one’s mind that leads to enlightenment.” Berry’s conceptualization has interesting linkages with affordance theory, where music is cast as a kind of sonic prosthetic for personal world making, music’s customary focus shifting from what it presumes to depict or say about the world to the worlds it makes possible. No fly-by-night mouse-click trick turner, then, Berry has steeped himself liberally in Western Thought (viz. Huxley, Castaneda, Nietzsche), Eastern philosophy (Wabi-Sabi, Zen, the I Ching), and the Sufi poets (Hafiz, Rumi) – just some of those whose ideas purportedly inform his artistic practice. Berry’s oddball title in fact derives from Hafiz, who writes of “a boy who couldn’t travel far so in his mind sells his ear to a fish and his eye to a bird.” Musically, though, it’s Akira Rabelais’s Argeïphontes Lyre & Recalcitrance programmes that are the stars; Rabelais’ ware is everywhere in The Ear‘s eerie air, giving new voice to captures from recorded sources (apparently including Les Baxter’s Exotica), tweaking a chair creak or twirling a bicycle wheel into spatial and glacial.

The suite sets out somewhere in a zone of liminal noise, proceeding, delicate, deliberate, each movement formed of a drone-drift-wash backdrop against which small acts incide – a flicker, a whisper, a remote rumble; a soft teeming of mandible chatter, insectoid scuttle, later traces of – what’s this? – strings and a piano. The hisses and crackles, and sudden lacunae are choreographed into pared back sound art vignettes which afford any number of images, metaphors, and ideas. The whole unfolds with a cadence akin to floating gently eyes-closed down a nightime river (Berry’s own analogy). Earlier release history has led to Berry being grouped along with the lowercase likes of Bernard Günter and Steve Roden. And the minimalism of Morton Feldman is often invoked as a presiding deity. But Berry largely eschews the more austere ends of microsound and minimalism in favour of subtle development and textural richness. Minimal in not making a fuss for attention, his relative fulsomeness of expression actually shows more of an affinity with the North-West Drone-lodge of Ora, Mirror, Monos, of Chalk and Coleclough, of Potter, Tate and Bradley. Minimal in means, Berry takes a pinch or an inch, then expands, taking pains over frequency range and emplacement. Recursive strategies are deployed – parts assembled and reassembled, revenants in subtly altered states, new acquisitions and mergers forming a perpetually evolving internal structure. “Cars Keep Passing By,” for example, resurrects part of “The Sun Rays of Another Pale Afternoon”, subtly elaborating in timbral glimmers whispering something like melody. And, to clinch what’s already a done deal, the accompanying unreleased LP is just as good, as evidenced by “It Might Be Better To Fail With Land In Sight”.

Like Rock, Drone is an area periodically pronounced dead by would-be arbiters of genre currency. Keith Berry’s The Ear That Was Sold to a Fish is one of those albums whose inner life and fertility is compelling evidence that Drone is not only alive, but with designs on immortality. The artful construction and architecture of this post-minimal space drone suite shows how spare means can be harnessed to rich ends, making it one of the most engrossing records of the year – whether 2011 or 2005.

igloo magazine [Alan Lockett]

When it was originally released in 2005, The Ear That Was Sold to a Fish came housed in a box filled with dyed flower petals – an ambitious statement for London-based artist Keith Berry’s third effort to see the light of day. However, Berry is nothing if not ambitious, drawing inspiration from Zen Buddhism and Sufi mysticism in a quest toward enlightenment – a lifetime-spanning endeavor.

This reissue scales back the craftiness of the original release, yet still packs a visual punch. Berry’s drift-inducing tones arrive in a crisply designed miniature gate-fold jacket complete with envelopes housing the individual discs – a bonus composition entitled Turn Right a Thousand Feet From Here is included on a second platter. Berry’s own photographs complete the package.

Not having been privy to the original sonic construction of The Ear That Was Sold to a Fish, I can’t comment as to the effect of Berry’s remastering efforts. That being said, the drones, field recordings, instrumentation and digital smatterings are effortlessly mixed such that even the most minute sounds make their presence known. This is not a blanket of sound – it is a sonic ecosystem to be experienced, cherished and immersed within.

While the palette sourced for The Ear That Was Sold to a Fish includes crackling, digital chirrups, string plucks and the like, the thirty-minute “Turn Right a Thousand Feet From Here" appears to be almost completely based in a world of amorphous drone. The sensation of intended isolation arises as the piece progresses, and is almost overwhelming. The inclusion of this second, previously unreleased, composition was a clever decision by those involved. The juxtaposition enhances the overall effect of both pieces, and extends the duration that the listener is allowed to engage with Berry’s sound world. Bravo!

Foxy Digitalis [Bryon Hayes]

This is the third work I encounter from Keith Berry, following his CD on Trente Oiseaux (Vital Weekly 416) and Authorized Version (Vital Weekly 450). Berry studied a lot of philosophy - from Lao tzu to Nietzsche and from the I Ching to Wabi Sabi - after which he decided to set these ideas to music. Using just a computer and software, he creates some beautiful drone related music. I believe that the sources he uses are the usual field recordings, but on some of the pieces on this new work, I am led to think they might also be real instruments, at least in a couple of tracks. Usually Berry takes a minimum of sound information and expands just on that little bit of sound information. Stretching it, altering it, making multiple layers and what other tricks the computer has to offer. Maybe what Berry does is quite simple but it's hardly of importance (see also the review of Jonathan Coleclough and Lethe's new CD). A lot of things are simple and easy to make, but to make it stand out from the rest is where the real power of the music lies. And in these nine pieces on this CD, Berry shows that he can definetly join the ranks of Mirror, Ora, Monos and Coleclough. I guess it's something in the UK air that these people breath that makes them produce such wonderful, beautiful music.

Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]

Perseverance, circumspection, specularity. Longsuffering renouncers should never expect to be rewarded with anything different from an additional repassage through their own voiceless doubts; just like followers will continue to hold their breath until the necessity of oxygen will finally clear their salt-burned eyes, consumers of juvenilia will always be linked to moments and events that don't exist anymore - and maybe they were fallacious in the first place. Then, your time to delineate a personality is up and of course you're gonna pay for it, but indefiniteness becomes an instant gratification for those needing to hide behind a mental shelter; yet, it's likely that sorrow will constantly be a faithful companion throughout the trip. Thus, consider "The ear that was sold to a fish" like an undespoiled retrieved drawing of the many and one personal projections generated during childhood's games, all gathered under an incommensurable shadow of heartbreaking awareness which won't stop swallowing the few remains of that time we believed abundant and now are crying about as mostly wasted.

Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]

Of all the artists I've learned of in the past year, few – or perhaps none – have intrigued me more than Keith Berry. Initially, the apparent minimalism and stillness of his music reminds the listener of his sometime Trente Oiseaux labelmates Bernard Günter and Steve Roden. Upon close listening, though, Berry's music isn't so minimal or still after all.

Berry's music is most notable for its textural fullness; The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish is only minimal in the limited sense in which nothing that happens ever begs, or even asks, for the listener's attention. Beyond that, Berry's music is very generous – the sounds are exquisitely chosen and placed, there are more of them than there initially seem to be, and although he uses repeating gestures, he doesn't usually base his music around them. Berry's music also sounds like it was created with the recording in mind; The Ear… sounds as good in headphones as, say, a late Labradford album.

The apparent stillness of The Ear… is just the absence of an aggressively pursued direction. Berry likes to say that his music is like drifting down a river (he released an album in 2003 called The Golden Boat), and his simile is apt. The music doesn't stay in the same place; it just sometimes seems that way because it doesn't seem as if anyone is too worried about where the boat ends up. It's directional, but it takes its time to get where it's going, and the travel from point A to point B is more important than the points themselves.

Because of its textural richness, deliberate pacing and directionality, The Ear… will strike many listeners as evocative and cinematic, which sets Berry apart from many musicians who are otherwise reasonably close points of reference: Roden, Morton Feldman, and Michael Schumacher, for example.

Crouton is releasing The Ear… in a limited edition of 300, which is a shame – more people should hear it. If it becomes unavailable, you might find The Golden Boat or 2004's Buddha's Mile. They're all fairly similar aesthetically, but The Ear… is probably the eeriest of the three (pun not intended).

Dusted Magazine [Charlie Wilmoth]

As if ironically commenting on the size of the machine that produced it – a laptop about as large and heavy as a folded Sunday newspaper – much recent electronic music, from the subaquatic mysteries of irr. app. (ext.)'s Ozeanische Gefühle to the windswept Icelandic folk choirs of Akira Rabelais's Spellwauerynsherde, has explored vast reverberant space. London based sound artist Keith Berry came across Rabelais's ingenious software before discovering his music ("I was into Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies and Wabi Sabi, and his programs shifted what I was reading and feeling into the computer/software domain perfectly"). He used Rabelais's Argeiphöntes Lyre and Argeiphöntes Recalcitrance software to sculpt material culled from sources including Les Baxter exotica albums, high frequency test tones reworked to sound like insects, a creaking wooden chair and a bicycle wheel into the nine spacious, deceptively simple and hauntingly beautiful soundscapes that make up The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish, title courtesy of the Sufi poet Hafiz. It's Berry's most accomplished work to date, following on from his impressive 2003 debut The Golden Boat on Bernhard Günter's trente oiseaux imprint and last year's CD-R release Buddha's Mile.

Sufi poetry and Zen are important influences on Berry, who compares his working methods to the Japanese calligraphers who spend a whole day preparing brushes and paper then execute their drawings in a single burst of fast and inspired action, his goal being "to plant a little seed in the listener that given the right conditions could grow into something far bigger than the work itself". The album is accompanied by nine brief evocative prose poems by Massimo Ricci, to whom Berry sent a collection of old childhood holiday snaps and ideas "about a boy who couldn't travel far so in his mind sells his ear to a fish and his eye to a bird", and, in keeping with Crouton Music's original design aesthetic, comes in a six by five inch Kraft box filled with blue Indian Smalley leaves.

Wire [Dan Warburton]

In case such a declaration matters in the grand scheme of things, The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish is my Record of The Year for 2005.

That said, there is a unique facet to Keith Berry's impressionistic masterpiece that I cannot fully enjoy. You see, I have a very limited sense of smell. I've always blamed it on my pyrotechnic stunts during my college days when I would light my paintings on fire; and as grandiosely stupid as this made me look, the sensorial failings of my nose is more the result of genetics than anything I could have done to it. So when I opened the box for the first time to Keith Berry's The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish, I got a small tingle as something perfumed and pleasant drifted from the contents of the box, which contained not only a CD and booklet but also a delicate pile of dyed flower petals. Those of you who are not sensorially damaged might be able to place the scent; but I simply cannot. Regardless, Berry (with the help of the fine folks at Crouton Records) engineered an amazing feat: an album with a fragrance.

For very obvious reasons, the smell-o-rama trick is not what attracts me to the record; it's the seductively restrained compositions for quiet flickerings, muffled rumbles, and whispered reverberations that truly captured my imagination. Berry defines his work through the teachings of Zen Buddhism and Sufi poetry, striving for an artform that could "unlock the mechanisms inside one's mind that leads to enlightenment." In doing so, Berry begins with a series of unremarkable sounds which fall somewhere in the hushed white noise territories, possibly including the sound of a gentle spring shower or the empty spaces on shortwave bands. He molds these hisses, crackles, and shadows into subtle repeating forms which do, in fact, lend themselves to any number of images, metaphors, and ideas. Given that he landed his debut album on Trente Oiseaux, Berry's work falls in the lowercase school of ephemeral electronics alongside Steve Roden and Bernhard Gunter; but there is an antiquated tactility to his albums which hint at the same temporal netherworld as heard in Philip Jeck's avant-turntable melodramas.

Aquarius Records [Jim Haynes]

This is sound artist Keith Berry's third CD, following on from The Golden Boat (trente oiseaux, 2003) and Buddha's Mile (Authorized Version, 2004), both of which the music press garlanded with praise. Berry works with what are now, since the invention of the sampler and the ascendancy of the laptop computer as a sound forge, familiar combinations of material - fragments of instrumental sound, field recordings, and his own electronics and treatments. Hundreds if not thousands of composers and improvisers are doing almost exactly the same thing, but barely a score of them have produced works that are worth revisiting. Berry can definitely be numbered among the successes.

Though the way he uses repetition and permutation is perhaps not too far removed from how Michael J Schumacher and Steve Roden work, his music sounds as little like theirs as they sound like each other. The computational indeterminacy (if that isn't a contradiction in terms, despite being literally correct) of Schumacher's ongoing series of Room Pieces, and Roden's more flowing, improvisatory mode of presentation, use time as a key determinant in the structure of the music, but in very different ways. Berry's approach to time-structure is to present the music as a series of evolutionary fits and starts, mimicking the way successive generations of humans have to relearn, to at least some degree, the history of music before finding a way of adding to it. So material on track two reiterates, with subtle changes, some of the material from track one, and new material is added; track three reiterates some of the material from tracks two and one (though perhaps less of the latter), then adds to it; etcetera. It gives the music an ever-evolving but readily comprehensible structure, so comprehensible in fact that you soon cease to be conscious of it and end up focusing solely on the graceful way the music unfolds (which sounds especially good on headphones, by the way). As in almost all of Morton Feldman's mature compositions, the material Berry uses may intentionally be limited in quantity and scope, but what's there is deployed in such a skilful manner that the possibilities are never exhausted and what ensues is enchantment rather than tedium. One shouldn't overplay the Feldman card, though; his and Berry's musics have little else in common. Other key factors that have influenced his work are Argeiphontes Lyre and Argeiphontes Recalcitrance (software programmes designed by Akira Rabelais), Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies (which can be accessed on Berry's website:, and Zen. The last of these is apparent from the titles of his CDs alone. The Ear . . . is drawn from the work of the Sufi poet Hafiz, and it concerns "a boy who couldn't travel far so in his mind sells his ear to a fish and his eye to a bird". Massimo Ricci has written a set of nine rather splendid little prose-poems for Berry, and these comprise the titles of the pieces on the CD. The CD and the poems are housed in a cardboard box together with a windfall of blue aromatic leaves. On the lid of the box there's a photograph of a fish swimming in a coffee cup; leaves dapple the water's surface. Everything connects up - title, music, poems, packaging; such close attention to detail is rare in this slapdash, makeshift world. That factor alone would make The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish cause for celebration, but the music transcends everything.

Sound323 [Brian Marley]

Ambient bedeutet ja auch immer: auf im weitesten Sinne angenehme Weise die betroffene Umgebung beinahe unmerklich verändernd und sich nicht zwingend in den Vordergrund drängend auf den Hörer einzuwirken. Das hier ist keine Ambient-Musik. Dieses kleine Schmuckstück zieht einen vom ersten Augenblick an, lenkt die ganze Aufmerksamkeit auf sich. Es beginnt bei der ungewöhnlichen Verpackung: in einem kleinen Karton, bis oben hin gefüllt mit künstlich gefärbten blauen Blättern, befindet sich eine schwarze Papierhülle, darin die CD. Weiters ein Blatt Papier, mit poetischen Kommentaren zu jedem der neun Tracks. Die Musik selber: fantastisch. Sehr leise, aber durchaus nicht ruhig, ständig ist Bewegung vorhanden, eine Richtung nicht immer erkennbar. Die Grundstimmung ist etwas unheimlich, dunkel, irgendwie: unter Wasser. Kann aber bei Gelegenheit gerne euphorisch-symphonische Züge annehmen. Wenn das passiert, ist es eine Art 'lowercase-Euphorie', also: nur wenig überschwänglich, phasenweise vielleicht mit den erhebenden Tape-Loops von William Basinski vergleichbar. Keith Berry nimmt sich Zeit, um Details in den Vordergrund zu Fokussieren, großflächig innezuhalten, während sich der Rest der Musik unvorhersehbar, jedoch nicht ziellos weiter ausbreitet. Mittels Kopfhörern: Bewusstseinserweiternd. [Tobias Bolt]

Architecte des microcosmes sonores, Keith Berry offre avec cet album une vue imprenable sur le versant «concret» et naturaliste du continent «ambient». Un travail d'orfèvre musical qui, comme rarement, concilie les notions de fluidité, de méticulosité et de dépouillement.

Familier des philosophies orientales, des mystiques soufis et des élans de plénitude de la pensée zen, le compositeur Keith Berry développe avec la même sensibilité complexe une approche musicale se diffusant comme des vapeurs d'encens dans une brume matinale ouatée. Loin de toute forme de surcharge, The Ear that Sold to a Fish se dévoile comme un jeu d'ondes subtiles, grossissant et se rétractant dans des empreintes sonores reptiliennes, aux douces rondeurs organiques. Fluide comme le fil d'une rivière, la musique de Keith Berry s'emploie à envelopper l'auditeur de ses atmosphères pénétrantes, microcosmes organiques mêlant minimalisme instrumental et bruits de matières amplifiées. Comme sur ses précédents travaux, publiés chez Twenty Hertz et sur le label de Bernard Günther, Trente Oiseaux, cet album symbolise une écoute replacée avec un soin méticuleux au coeur de la source sonore, une approche environnementale, envoûtante et résolument ambiante de la musique concrète, où jamais la matière ne vient s'effriter dans des "white noise" bruyants ou dans un chaos "dark-ambient" frontal. Dès lors, même aux limites de la rupture, percluse de marques de grésillement ou de silences fixants, la musique de Keith Berry reste étonnamment compacte et coulante, comme une nappe sensorielle dont les nuances dépouillées s'accorderaient sur un rythme diffus dans une unité harmonique fascinante. De l'ambient-music qui coule de source en quelque sorte.

Octopus [Laurent Catala]

In September 2004, Keith Berry had politely made a request of the Helen Scarsdale Agency to listen to one of his recordings for consideration for future release through the Agency. Unfortunately due to the Agency being on working holiday in Australia, we were unable to get back in touch with Mr. Berry about the matter. While it is such a shame that we could not publish the recording in question, the good people at Crouton has enough sense to pick up from our failure and release Berry's remarkable album The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish. This marvellous construction of post-Feldman spaciousness and ghostly traces of somber melody make this one of the best records we have encountered in 2005. Handsomely packaged in a small cardboard box filled with perfumed and dyed petals. Truly delightful!

Helen Scarsdale [Jim Haynes]

" To a frog that's never left his pond the ocean seems like a gamble... " What initially drew my attention to this piece of music was the quote from Rumi on the inlay card ( the C.D also comes nestling on a bed of blue smally leaves and includes original photographic work by the artist. ) I found instant reassurance in his words as I am at the beginning of a great adventure myself, I am new to this city and don't really know what I am doing here, yet. "The movement of the piece is akin to closing one's eyes whilst floating down a nightmare river. This latest offering by the London composer has definitely retained a sense of movement and adventure, certainly in a mysterious place but not necessarily nightmarish, a train journey in warm grey oceans, perhaps. I found it very comforting though the repetitive nature of some of the pieces can be some what tedious at times but once involved again what you have is a wonderful visual experience.The title of the album stares up some lovely imagery and questions. The composer's use of subtle nuances and harmony throughout brings you to some conclusions. All in all it's a place worth a few visits.

Phosphor [Smm]

Ancor più avvincente il lavoro del londinese Keith Berry, già apprezzato in precedenti incisioni su Trente Oiseaux e Authorized Version. L'idea è quella di rendere (in) suono le suggestioni suscitate da letture di un certo peso (Castaneda, Huxley, Nietzsche, Lao Tzu, i grandi maestri sufi come Jala al-din Rumi, le filosofie orientali...): ne vien fuori una musica dal profilo sommesso e scavato, in apparenza lineare eppure granulosa e piena di sostanza, un assorto procedere di elaborazioni materiche via laptop (sembra di scorgere suoni naturali e field recordings, ma anche strumenti reali), minimi sintomi elettroacustici dalla grande serenità narrativa, assimilabili a certe opere dei connazionali Andrew Chalk e Jonathan Coleclough. (8/9)

Blow Up Magazine [Nicola Catalano]

Drone music is a field that this humble writer had once believed to have completed its life cycle. But this release by Keith Berry dispels that notion, showing the possibilities of how one can use simple means to achieve absolutely remarkable results. Beyond the objets d'art of the sort that Crouton is fast building a rep for (a tan, keepsake-size cardboard box, within which the disc and booklet rest on a bed of scented green leaves, cues the very leaves floating in the boxtop's tea cup), the listener is taken on a journey of very powerful soundworlds, all related to a subtlety of movement, with total care given to each tone. As far as emotional impact is concerned, this style of slow intensity calls to mind the work of fellow Englishman and turntable texture-sculpter Philip Jeck. Berry seems to give great importance to the frequencies range of sounds he uses. A large portion of a given track may be built from extremely low frequencies but occasionally a well-tuned, very high-register chirp will interfere, initiating a sudden moment of suspense. In its own marginal way, this is very "rhythmic" music, not on the scale at which we normally judge rhythms to occur but on a very large scale, the way tectonic plates might shudder along a faultline, rubbing gigantically yet slowly under the earth's surface.

e/i [Roddy Schrock]

Keith Berry est un personnage à part, un artiste qui compose sa musique comme il vit, influencé par quelques penseurs, poètes, le tout saupoudré de philosophie et pratiques orientales telles que le I Ching. Sa musique est ainsi, douce, contemplative, et comme les haikus, raconte beaucoup de choses en peu de notes. Adepte d'un minimalisme complexe, Keith Berry nous offre ici une suite à The Golden Boat, son précédent album paru sur Trente Oiseaux, le label de Bernhard Günter, largement consacré aux oeuvres minimales.

Il y a peu de différences entre chacune de ces pièces ou, pour être plus précis, peu de différence entre un morceau et le suivant, mais au fil des neufs pièces qui le composent, une lente évolution se poursuit au cours de cet album.
On commence par des drones lancinants, sortes de nappes glacées et envoûtantes, parsemées de quelques bruitages épars, discrets, comme des objets qui roulent sur le sol, des cliquetis, sifflements ultra-aigus, le tout concourant à créer une ambiance à la fois apaisée, sereine, mais inquiétante car habitée. Les drones et nappes se superposent sur le deuxième morceau, gagnant en profondeur, les bruitages nous font penser à une usine dans le lointain, et les grésillements frétillants forment bientôt des chants d'insectes. Les bruitages sont alors plus présents, plus denses, les drones subissent des variations un peu plus importantes, et les ambiances s'enchaînent, aux insectes des champs font suite les clapotis de l'eau, puis les crépitements d'un feu, avec toujours cette même structure mouvante en guise de squelette, ce même mélange de drones et nappes acoustiques avec des micro-bruitages électroniques.

A mi-parcours les nappes ébauchent une mélodie, et ce qui semble être une corde de contrebasse pincée ouvre de nouvelles perspectives. Elle répond aux autres bruitages, côtoie des artefacts numériques, des chocs métalliques. Un moyen de préparer le septième morceau avec ce qui semble être un instrument traditionnel à cordes pincées, produisant une lente mélodie. On reste dans le domaine de la contemplation, et ce qui débutait un peu comme un album de Biosphere se trouve ici comparable à une production de Stephan Micus, ambient-world acoustique qui trouve son pendant néo-classique sur l'avant-dernier titre de l'album, au piano.
Sur le dernier morceau, on retrouve un peu tous les éléments qui composent le disque, de manière assez organisée, et toujours la même finesse, la même subtilité dans l'intégration d'éléments électroniques sans concession sur une musique plus acoustique et apaisée. Un mélange surprenant mais à l'origine de toute la richesse de la musique de Keith Berry.

Un disque que le fans de Biosphere doivent se procurer de toute urgence (car limité à 300 exemplaires), tout comme les amateurs de productions ambient et minimales.

etherREAL [Fabrice Allard]

Véritablement noyé dans la sphère littéraire, à l'image du poisson qui orne sa pochette, Keith Berry à nourri sa culture et sa musique aux captivants écrits d'Aldous Huxley, Carlos Castenada, Lao Tzu ou Nietzsche , sustentant aussi sa démarche musicale de l'esthétique des poèmes Sufi de Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz, Jala Al-din Rumi ou de la philosophie Wabi Sabi, Zen, Compositeur électronique Anglais, Keith Berry a forgé son habilité, sa sensibilité et son savoir -faire sur des labels tels que trente Oiseaux, Authorized Version ou Twenty Hertz. C'est ici Crouton , label qui a contribué à l'essor d'artistes et collectifs tels que Collection of colonies of bees, ou Jon Mueller qui met ici l'accent sur ce jeune musicien d'outre-manche S'appuyant sur des softwares similaires à certains musiciens contemporains (Akira Rabelais) Il développe une musique planante, atmosphérique et ambianteS.. De cet amour pour la littérature, il aura transposé cet appétit pour la perception profonde de chaque chose, où l'ordonnancement des sons, comme celui des mots répond à une logique de sens. Une musique intelligente et subtile, réfléchie et spontanée de laquelle émane une belle fragilité extrême-orientale. L'usage d'instruments japonais n'étant sans doute pas étranger à l'affaireS Relaxant et posé.


Keith Berry plaadil on pikkade helidega ambient, mille kaugest sügavusest näib kostvat pehmet krõbinat või kõlksumist, siin-seal lisavad närvilisust teravad ja kõrged toonid. Kindlasti on see muusika, mis tõuseb paremini esile süvenenud kuulamisel, et, nagu artist ise soovib, "päästa kuulaja vaimus valla valgustusele viivad mehhanismid". Viimane küll sedapuhku ei õnnestunud (kahtlustan, et mind takistasid need kõrged pininad). See on ses mõttes haruldase tekstuuriga plaat, et miski, mis kõlab, nagu ta seal olema ei peaks, on seal ikka, enesestmõistetavalt ja jälle, mõjudes samavõrra tehnilise defekti kui kompositsioonilise elemendina. Teose kompositsioon põhineb vahelduvate helide blokkidel, mudel töötab ühelt poolt irregulaarse uneluse ja kompositsioonilise aegluse ning teisalt kõlalise intensiivsuse ja võõrapärase äratuse rütmil. Plaadi lõpus toimub kaks muutust: esmalt ilmuvad rauged ja lagunenud idamaise kõlaga helid, seejärel (esimest korda albumil) mõneks ajaks diskreetne rütm, misjärel kogu plaat suubub taas vaikse raginaga eikuhugi.

Muusika [Erkki Luuk]

Housed within a small cardboard box filled with blue aromatic leaves, adorned by the composer's photographic work, and further complemented by nine short poems by Massimo Ricci (the source for the titles of the CD's nine pieces), Keith Berry's The Ear That Was Sold To A Fish (derived from the Sufi poet Hafiz, the title concerns "a boy who couldn't travel far so in his mind sells his ear to a fish and his eye to a bird") is presented so arrestingly, one fears the music on the London composer's third recording might suffer by comparison. Such fears are immediately allayed by the nuanced caliber of its ghostly contents, though that won't surprise listeners familiar with past Berry recordings like The Golden Boat (Trente Oiseaux, 2003) and Buddha's Mile (Authorized Version, 2004). There's a natural temptation to group him with artists like Bernard Günter, Steve Roden (both also affiliated with Trente Oiseaux), and Morton Feldman but Berry 's work largely eschews microsound minimalism for development-understated and incremental, admittedly-and textural richness.

Working with Akira Rabelais' software programs Argeiphontes Lyre & Argeiphontes Recalcitrance, field elements, and a large array of textures, Berry 's album unfurls quietly, sometimes nearly below the threshold of audibility, with repeating sounds intensifying as each piece builds on the one before. After faint rumblings, droning washes, and insect chatter quietly inaugurate the album in "The Sun Rays of Another Pale Afternoon," "Cars Keep Passing By," for example, resurrects its material and then ever so subtly elaborates upon it with tonal glimmers that hint at an elusive melody. In the haunted "Can You Elevate Yourself," phantom orchestral sounds loop in the background, almost smothered by crusty ripples of gouged vinyl, while "Knelt Over the Water" exudes the ritualistic aura of a Noh play. One becomes so attuned to the album's restrained presentation that when the pluck of an acoustic bass and a koto-like twang appear in "Fuscous Presages Don't Help" and "Knelt Over the Water" respectively, the moments almost startle. Though Berry himself likens his music to the experience of drifting down a river, a better analogue might be to the blossoming of a flower in slow-motion.


Der Waschzettel preist diesen Londoner Komponisten, dessen dröhnminimalistisches (Evre bisher auf Trente Oiseaux (The Golden Boat, 2003), Authorized Version und Twenty Hertz erschienen ist, als jemanden, der mit Huxley, Castaneda, Lao Tse und Nietzsche per Du, der in Sufismus, Wabi-Sabi und I Ging eingeweiht ist und nur noch auf die Akira Rabelais′schen Softwareprogramme Argeiphontes Lyre & Argeiphontes Recalcitrance wartete, um nun mit eigenem Magischen Sound-Realismus den Schleier der Maya zu durchdringen. Berry versteht seine sanften und flach gewellten Soundblocks als Koans, die zwar nicht die Erleuchtung selbst bedeuten, aber als Katalysatoren fungieren könnten, als Schlüssel für die Pforten der Wahrnehmung. Diese pure und explizite Esoterik und Audiognosis materialisiert sich in sehr subtilen Dröhn- und Knistermikrophonien, Klängen die sich auf Schwingen dahin bewegen und dabei die Luft verwirbeln und mit lnsektenbeinchen feines Sandkorngeriesel lostreten. Und nach zwanzig Minuten vollster Konzentration mit geschlossenen Augen spüre ich, von Vögelchen umpiepst und während eine Koto plonkt, tatsächlich, wie der Schlüsselbart einrastet. Die Erleuchtung nähert sich mir in Gestalt von... Nietzsche?! Unterm Arm hat er seine kaputte Schreibmachine geklemmt, am Schnauzer kleben noch Reste seines geliebten Gelati und er drückt mir einen Zettel in die Hand, lässig und routiniert wie ein Pizzabote aus dem Jenseits. lch entfalte ihn und lese - ver - dammt, wer soll denn dieses Gekrakel entziffern? ...anfangen, über eine komische Lösung nachzudenken"???

Bad Alchemy [D]

One of two newish releases by this droning London-based minimal fellow. Sadly this one's a bit on the dull side; seems to comprise no more then a series of very forgettable, and very similar, short ambient pieces, made from slow and vague synth-generated scapes. The only small saving grace is the addition of some extremely subtle sound effects, so low in the mix as to be almost indiscernible, but vaguely suggestive of something watery (perhaps subliminally). Indeed, the intention seems to be to evoke the experience of 'closing one's eyes while floating gently down a nighttime river'. Perhaps some tracks also allude to episodes in the life of said fish, and when interpreted in this way it does convey a fine sense of peace and loneliness, as though exploring a marine world or a deserted island, all alone. Not much more than that though. Berry is no lightweight; he's immersed himself in Zen, Sufi poetry, Oriental and Western philosophy, and even the i Ching. He's trying hard to find a way to work these intellectual profundities into the hard drive of his Apple Mac, and create blocks of electronic sound that function like zen koans, in such ways as to 'unlock the mechanisms inside one's mind that lead to enlightenment.' Despite this, I still feel there may be a problem with depth of content, and not enough going on musically or intellectually to fully engage you. However, I intend to prove myself wrong on this account, and will continue to listen to Berry's work. Arrives packaged in a box with tea leaves.

The Sound Projector [Ed Pinsent]

Berry tends to state that his music is like drifting down a river, and indeed this is easy to see — his rich, texturally full movements ripple like minute waves that reflect the sun's rays in ever-changing shapes, caress them for a moment, and finally carry them in their bosom down underneath nuanced blocks of sound.

Neumu [Max Schaefer]

Keith Berry's earlier works were as still as a coy pond, but this effort is generous in its textural fullness. That being said, he's made mention that his music is like drifting down a river - a statement which still applies. With samples and field recordings in hand, these compositions don't ask for anything, but provide a rich weave of peculiar, nuanced blocks of sound.

Lost At Sea [Max Schaefer]

Berry's delicate, zen-influenced aural structures have previously been released on Trente Oiseaux, Authorised Version and Twenty Hertz. This release for Crouton comprises one piece indexed into 9 shorter pieces. It's a delight to listen to and immerse oneself in. Gentle drones hang in the air, punctuated by insect-like high-frequency sounds and movements whilst later the entrance of strings and a piano add yet more layers. A recommended addition to his catalogue of works.

Adverse Effect [David Wells]


keith berry a strange feather
  1. Label:

    twenty hertz

  2. Format:


  3. Release Date:

    June 2005


turn right a thousand feet from here
  1. Label:

    Twenty Hertz

  2. Format:


  3. Release Date:

    June 2005

  4. Limited Edition:

    100 (included with the first copies of "a strange feather")

The first 100 special editions, come with an extra bonus disc titled 'Turn left a thousand feet from here'. When this has sold out a second standard edition will be released without the bonus disc.


Twenty Hertz [Paul Bradley]

There is something absolutely enormous going on in Keith Berry's music, though I don't know what it is. Which makes me certain that there is something absolutely enormous going on in there.


Having debuted on CD only three years ago, and using only a small range of software programmes on his computer, he produces a kind of ambient music that might be called "thinking music" after the subtitle of a Brian Eno album (one of his influences). But it might also be characterized as "stop-thinking" music, music which helps wipe clean your mind so that it might better deal with the here and now.

Influenced by calligraphy, Zen and the Sufi master poets, Berry's A Strange Feather hovers somewhere between heaven and earth, sacred and profane, ethereal and material: Utterly beguiling sections of floating music are often juxtaposed with short samples of what sounds like very corporeal, organic material.

A new artist to watch whose inherent minimalism is both unique and uniquely spacious. [Stephen Fruitman]

You have been warned before: Keith Berry is an upcoming name in the world of drone music. This new work (or if you are fast, two works, since the first 100 copies come with a free CDR) follows his releases on Trente Oiseaux, Authorized Version and Crouton Music (see Vital Weekly 416, 450 and 468) and this new one will further strengthen his position in that musical field. Also as noted before, Berry uses field recordings and computer treatments to create his music. Although he may arrive at similar music as say Monos, Ora or Mirror, it differs from them, since Berry's work exists in the digital domain unlike the others. Whereas they sound much more analogue, Berry uses the digital techniques to arrive at similar results. In that sense he is alike the label-owner of Twenty Hertz, Paul Bradley, who works in a similar way. Over the course of 'A Strange Feather', Berry occasional leaps into total silence, with just a single sound stirring everything up again and gliding back into this dark mass of sound, of an unidentifiable nature. The bonus disc is a twenty minute piece, 'Turn Left A Thousand Feet From Here' is one long piece of darkness, less refined than 'A Strange Feather', more single minded, but setting deeply in your brain. Not with much innovation, but with a great, subtle impact.

Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]

No available reason to justify our continuous fencing of shrouded instincts. We aren't willing to admit it yet, but an undeviating route to becoming totally forgotten by the rest of our own world of insulse acquaintances and uneducated friends is being traced - right now. With impassive perfectionism, superior presences give answers that are still too evasive, as one wants to know more about those strange fumes coming out of the underground; they modify their colour according to the feeble, sloping glimmer of casual watchers' smiles. Still speculating about our right of remaining misinterpreted, we stand still while perceiving a warm wind of docile dejection that swallows shapes and movements, drying tears before they're dropped on a book which is opened on the same page since weeks. Halfway through a poised strength and the desire of completely evaporating after being exposed to the malign disease of a rudimental menticide, we shut the windows, turn off the TV, pocket our small change and turn backwards, squeezing a sheet of handwritten memoranda into our sweaty palms until the ink gets blurred. Lying behind these undescribable impressions, the laziness of the senses is progressively exuviating; its remains will help the reason to be restored, as fear recoils from our newly acquired tranquillity.

Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]

It's a mystery how we managed to miss the previous recordings from the British ultra-minimalist Keith Berry, because if there's any justice in the world, he should be mentioned alongside such blue-chip drone artists as William Basinski, Thomas Koner, Bernhard Gunter, and Akira Rabelais. Yeah, his work is that good! He's got the sublimely romantic melodicism of Basinski, the glacial pacing of Koner, the hushed restraint of Gunter, and, um well, he's got a copy of Rabelais' legendary Argeiphontes Lyre software in his repertoire. But Berry is no mere aggregate of previously mined aesthetics, there's plenty to his work that speaks of his own beliefs and agendas which all draw heavily from Zen philosophies. While Berry's previous work The Golden Boat (Trente Oiseaux, 2003) and The Ear That Was Sold To The Fish (Crouton, 2005) were both exceptional releases (with the Crouton album easily being the best smelling record of 2005!), each of Berry's albums makes small adjustments that add up to an improvement and refinement of his sound; thus A Strange Feather stands out a remarkable achievement. Like all of the previously cited composers, Berry's fundamental structure is the drone supreme into which he bends field recordings, subtle instrumental arrangements, and small tactile events. Like falling snow, his dreamy work drifts with a poetic chill and tranquil hypnosis through which peripheral elements tease the listener with subtle details. It's so damn beautiful; and oh yes, the double cd version is very limited to 100 copies.

Aquarius Records [Jim Haynes]

Over recent years, Keith Berry has quietly produced an evocative body of glassine minimalist music that flirts along the event horizon of audibility with releases on trente oiseaux and Crouton. Heavily indebted to the contemplative quiet of Zen teachings, Berry works with sound from the inside out, moulding delicate fragments of sound into timbrally radiant swells that tumble in and out of silence through evolving patterns and repetitions. The thoroughly compelling A Strange Feather emerges as a snowdrift kaleidoscope in cold greys, wet greens and luminous whites. Within these elegant swells of wintry sound, gestural events punctuate Berry's blurred orchestration with down-pitched tactile bristlings and delicate electric vibrations. With the possible exception of Thomas Köner and William Basinski at their very best, no one else gets close to the overwhelming beauty and sombre tranquillity of Keith Berry's work.

Wire [Jim Haynes]

A Strange Feather and Turn Left A Thousand Feet From Here are the fourth and fifth lengthy works Keith Berry has released in the past two and a half years or so. That might sound like a lot, but Berry is a small-m minimalist in the extreme, and his ideas take longer to explore than those of most composers. It's hardly surprising, therefore, that he'd need several CDs to document them all. A Strange Feather is his most recent; Turn Left A Thousand Feet From Here is a limited-edition 20-minute bonus disc that accompanies it.

All of Berry's albums are based around electronic sounds, but on these two, Berry seems to use fewer of the field recordings that were prominent on his earlier Buddha's Mile and especially The Golden Boat. Thanks in part to the variety of different sounds, those albums sounded cinematic (The Golden Boat even had a programmatic theme, albeit a very loose one), but the new ones only occasionally do.

Many characteristics of Berry's music – like its slow changes and its occasional repetitive patterns – might remind the listener of Morton Feldman or Steve Roden. But here, it's not the repetitions or even the materials themselves that are most important for Berry; it's their sound quality. Berry's focus here is timbre – the all-encompassing richness of Berry's lengthy, swelling electronic sounds is pretty amazing here. They have the sort of inconsistency and complexity of sound quality that listeners often appreciate about acoustic music.

Take, for example, the repeated whispery sounds that first enter about eight and a half minutes into A Strange Feather. They're grainy-sounding and their component parts, including a bit of non-pitched hiss and a faint high-pitched sound, seem to fight with one another for primacy, giving the final result a subtly trembling urgency that brings the passage to life. Both records are filled with noises like these, and these albums therefore sound amazing in headphones or on speakers in a dark room.

Dusted Magazine [Charlie Wilmoth]

With a few releases on cult labels like Trente Oiseaux and Crouton, UK soundmaker Keith Berry is not exactly a newcomer, and his name is probably already familiar to many drone listeners. This limited edition cdr, professionally released on the exquisite Twenty Hertz label, features a lengthy and suggestive track of vanishing sounds and recurring ambiences. While soft digital cracklings and more recognizable environmental sounds punctuate the whole work, the emphasis is on the exapanding and immersive drones, which have a sort of melancholic and elegiac overtone. The inner writing actually seem to witness a moment of self release: "All the craziness, all the empty plots, all the ghosts and fears, all the grudges and sorrows have now passed. I must have inhaled a strange feather that finally fell out". While Berry's bent for quiet (though not necessarily "peaceful") composition easily explains his presence in the Trente Oiseaux catalogue, his thoughtful and slowly unfolding ambient music belongs to the same family of Mirror or Twenty Hertz's own Paul Bradley (especially in his recent "Anamnesis").

Chain D.L.K. [Eugenio Maggi]

On découvrait Keith Berry il y a quelques mois et ce fut une véritable révélation. Auteur d'une musique ambient minimale, l'Anglais est déjà de retour avec cet album sorti deux mois seulement après The Ear That was Sold to a Fish. On est alors logiquement en terrain connu. Nous n'avons par contre jamais parlé du label Twenty Hertz qui est en fait la résidence rêvée pour Keith Berry puisque ce label créé par Paul Bradley est dédié à l'ambient et aux drones. Paul Bradley oeuvre d'ailleurs exactement dans le même registre.

L'album est étrangement composé d'une seule piste d'une quarantaine de minutes, empêchant l'écoute-zapping. Ça tombe bien, la musique de Keith Berry se prête plutôt à la longue immersion en apnée. Pourtant A strange Feather semble être découpé en pièces distinctes, séparées par des silences. Peut-être ne sont-ce que des pauses, moments de répit ou ponctuations.
On ne passera pas des heures à décrire la musique de Keith Berry, finalement assez simple : superposition de nappes glacées infinies et rémanences de sonorités acoustiques (cordes, piano). Chaque son semble être un dernier soupir, et si cette musique est a priori apaisante, elle crée aussi une certaine inquiétude liée au silence et à la solitude. Amateur de poésie et de philosophie orientale, Keith Berry joint un petit poème à son album, dans lequel il est d'ailleurs question de folie, de fantômes, de peurs, de chagrins.

Si dans l'espace le silence absolu est maître, on a quand même envie de parler du vide sidéral qu'évoque cet album qui aurait pu servir de BO à 2001 L'Odyssée de l'Espace. En même temps, dans ce vide, tout semble être dit, un peu comme le blanc qui est la somme de toutes les couleurs.
Quelques field recordings viennent nous rappeler que l'on est encore sur notre bonne vieille Terre et pas au Paradis, quelques tintements de cloches, des frottements d'étoffes, des chuintements qui apportent aussi un peu de relief à une musique d'une linéarité stupéfiante.

Tout comme The Ear That was Sold to a Fish, A Strange Feather est un achat indispensable à tout fan de Biosphere. Pour information, les 100 premiers CDs sont dans une version double CD avec une autre pièce de 20 minutes intitulée Turn Left A Thousand Feet From Here

etherREAL [Fabrice Allard]

Quelques mois après la parution de l'album The Ear that Was Sold to a Fish chroniqué par nos soins, Keith Berry revient avec un nouvel opus largement à la hauteur de son prédécesseur, pour une promenade dans un jardin japonais - la philosophie Zen étant une influence notable chez le Britannique - aux proportions hors du commun.

La flânerie ne saurait toutefois être linéaire, le parcours s'apparentant à un complexe labyrinthe sonore, impliquant moult détours, propices à la divagation de l'esprit. Par chance, rien ne presse, le temps s'est figé dans une parenthèse bienvenue, laissant ainsi le champ libre à … l'espace. Transparaît alors pleinement une des forces majeures de cette pièce s'étirant sur une quarantaine de minutes : A Strange Feather repose sur une dynamique spatiale faite d'amples allers et retours, sous-tendue de courants tantôt ascendants tantôt descendants, ondes fluides et vaporeuses. Immergé au sein de fréquences légères et caressantes, l'abandon n'est cependant pas de mise car le sentiment de lévitation sert au contraire à favoriser une concentration accrue, obligatoire pour parvenir à une complète perception de ces textures organiques veloutées, alliance parfaite de field recordings et d'électronique subtile. Aux côtés de Matt Waldron (Irr.App.Ext.), Steve Roden ou Jonathan Coleclough, Keith Berry maîtrise chaque étape de la création musicale, de son origine conceptuelle à sa présentation visuelle en passant par sa réalisation formelle. Une telle complétude artistique est rare, précieuse.

Octopus [Aymeric Lozet]


keith berry buddhas mile
  1. Label:

    authorised version

  2. Format:


  3. Release Date:

    October 2004


Following on from his recent release "the golden boat" on the trente oiseaux label, "buddha's mile" is a delightfully rich yet extremely subtle balance of electro acoustics and field recordings which calmly shifts and evolves throughout. A thoroughly "deep" listening experience.

Phil Julian Authorised Version

Endless seconds of silence transport the first sounds out of the speakers: a peripheral urban area that one watches from a safe distance while going home in a slightly rainy evening. From this desolated sense of grieving awareness we go to an even deeper level, to fading images of constantly shifting environmental sights. One moment it's like walking along a marsh with your dog sniffing and rustling around; right after a corner you meet a shortcut to incogitable, mind-bending materializations of unexpectedness. What transpires from the body reactions is our incapacity of accepting the unexplained; the soul is inappetent when it all comes down to fear. Passing halos of low drones make clear that the readmittance to a daily routine will carry a high-price tag; a final crumbling mass becomes just a symbolism for contemporary brainlessness. While thinking to all this, you've missed the last bus to home: your path starts now.


Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]

Berry's first full-length, The Golden Boat, was released in 2003 by Bernard Günter's Trente Oiseaux label, and Berry is similar to Günter in his use of space and his determination to not allow his music to force itself on its audience. But Berry's music is very much his own. Berry's sense of pacing is extraordinary and, as a friend of mine remarked (I made all my friends listen to The Golden Boat), makes his music seems like improv even though it's completely pre-planned. The sounds Berry uses, which come from acoustic and electronic sources, are lush and extremely well chosen.

Dusted Magazine [Charlie Wilmoth gushes about his favorite records of the year in 2004]

In Vital Weekly 416 I reviewed the first Keith Berry disc and I was quite amazed by the quality of his drone related material. Moving a long the lines of Mirror and Andrew Chalk, I thought back then, that Berry used sampled classical instruments to create his music. I still know nothing more about Berry, other than on this new work (one piece, thirty six minutes) he uses electro-acoustics and field recordings. But me thinks that there is also the use of sampled piano's and strings. In the opening sequence the vague rumble is apperent of what could be field recordings, but after the thirteen or so minutes, treated piano sounds drop in and the sustained sounds of processed strings. After that passage field seem to be moving in again, but this time maybe even more obscured. I gathered these as rain and wind sounds. These various movements are cross faded in a slow and peaceful order, leaving everything time to develop. Just like his previous release, this is another very nice work. For those who love Ora, Mirror and Chalk but also into more serious avant-garde music.

Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]

Keith Berry's music has previously appeared on Bernhard Günther's label Trente Oiseaux, which makes a lot of sense soon after hitting the play button. A world of microscopic detail opens itself to us, and we are allowed to submerge ourselves in a sonic environment populated by noise, fragments of what seem to be melodic structures, organic textures and machine-like sounds. Shifts are very gentle, further enhancing the ability of the recording to draw one inside. After six minutes, the environmental noise slowly makes way for grim, drone-like sounds that are augmented with gentle crackling. Again, the comparison with music on the aforementioned label can be drawn. However, Berry's music does have a more fast-paced narrative, and does not tend to situate itself on the border of the audible and the inaudible, as Bernhard Günther's music (or that of one of the more usual microsound suspects Richard Chartier), sometimes appears to do. Instead, we find here a kaleidoscopic world of folding and unfolding bits and drones, elegantly shifting its envelopes and working out its possible configurations. I cannot help but sometimes feel something lurking, sometimes near, other times further away. Other times, the drones build a majestic soundtrack for a world that is vibrant, complex, and unrecognizable. Highly recommended.

Phosphor [Matthijs Kouw]

This one is 35 minutes of quiet field recordings, minimal music, and very gentle distant clanking sounds. Succeeds in creating an aura of mystery where the other CD doesn't quite manage it. Extremely delicate and subtle sound work, a very odd voyage in time and space, whose context and meaning is extremely elusive, nostalgic, and full of poignancy. Reminiscent of misty mountains, cool air, and silent films. Another fish-themed recording (there's a fish on the cover at least). Again, it can sometimes veer towards dull Ambient moaning, but not so badly as to break the powerful spell it casts. Aye, Brian Eno has become the Stockhausen of modern electronica, in the sense that some people just focus on one thing he did; in this case, probably 'Through Hollow Lands' from the Before and After Science LP. Vague impressions of floating on the sea in a boat (perhaps the same as Berry's own Golden Boat), of birdsong in a forest...a pleasant pastoral dream, quite beautiful.

The Sound Projector[Ed Pinsent]

the golden boat

keith berry the golden boat trente oiseaux
  1. Label:

    trente oiseaux

  2. Format:


  3. Release Date:

    October 2003


Keith Berry is a sound artist based in London, his The Golden Boat consists of four pieces all quite consistent in style and sound quality to the point that they form, not unlike my own Un Peu de Neige Salie, a unified whole. Keith's work is very musical and beautiful, evolving at a slow pace, like the passing of clouds. It has a strong spatial quality, especially on headphones, and uses a variety of sound materials ranging from concrete to instrumental to electronic.

And this is where my ability to describe it ends: i'm afraid i'm not capable of a description that does Keith's music justice - the only way to deal with it is to listen to it, and all that is left to for me do is to strongly recommend it. The Golden Boat is certainly one of Trente Oiseaux 's highlights of 2003.

Bernhard Günter trente oiseaux

01 Under the boat | 5’12
02 no river | 6’14
03 On the river | 4’53
04 no boat | 5’02

track listing

Some of the best sound artists make music where vagueness is a virtue. While listening to this CD I felt the necessity of remaining seated, waiting for events coming out of a cloud of silence and undetermination; sure enough, soft frequencies, nebulous waves and mixed strokes were soon joining the strange, pre-rainstorm calm atmosphere made of mist and haze that characterized my afternoon's weather. I'd say "The golden boat" is the perfect record for early birds, right in those moments where even the smallest noises are shoved out like a persona non grata. You can pledge a hour of your life putting your ears in full reception mode, devoiding your room of any additional intrusion as Keith Berry's work must be fed with generous doses of reflective spaces and stimulated by total absence of speech. Let this sweet mizzle wrap you completely and enjoy its beauty.


Touching Extremes [Massimo Ricci]

This is the first work I have heard from London based sound artist Keith Berry. The first piece presents a series of "scenes," appearing then disappearing, passing us by as we travel on the golden boat, as we imagine ourselves drifting on the river, we open our eyes and close them, see things, dreaming still others, formulate narratives, impressions, respond with emotion and intellect, consider the journey, the sounds, the trees along the shore, reflecting calmly on the moving stream. Three more pieces follow, shorter but still belonging to the same journey, the same logic of sounds. Berry uses field recordings, electronics, piano, perhaps other instruments and objects, and has created a set of strong compositions that reveals its details slowly, rewards the patient listener, invites you to stay a while, dream with it for a while. Stillness and movement, light and dark: these are the elements in this compelling journey, certainly at home in the company of other Trente Oiseaux releases, although it clearly cuts a distinct, engaging path.

Incursion [Richard di Santo]

It starts with silence, as well it might, released on bernhard günter's trente oiseaux label, but the four tracks - movements might be more accurate, as the album is best experienced played through from beginning to end - that make up Keith Berry's The Golden Boat, while evidently influenced by günter's aesthetic (perhaps more so than his music), represent an intriguing synthesis of several areas of lowercase sound. From the world of static and predominantly tonal drone (think JLIAT ca.1996) via fractured laptop glitch to inside piano and - inevitably, one supposes - field recordings of water, Berry's music proceeds as a set of discrete events interspersed with silences of varying lengths. As is often the case with trente oiseaux music, you won't get much out of it unless you stop everything else you're doing, breathe deeply and listen intently, but The Golden Boat is no turn-on-tune-in-and-switch-off affair; the digital shudders and reverberant thuds are as unsettling as his sense of pitch and timing is astute, and despite the warmth of günter's mastering, Berry's creaking, scuffed surfaces, coloured by extremely delicate ultra-high frequencies, are cool and enigmatic. Along with Matt Waldron (aka's Dust Pincher Appliances, this is one of the past year's most original and rewarding pieces of electronic music.

Paris Transatlantic [Dan Warburton]

Keith Berry's debut The Golden Boat was released on Bernhard Günter's Trente Oiseaux label, and it unsurprisingly shares much in common with Günter's own music. The Golden Boat begins with a half minute of silence and hardly rises above a whisper after that.

Still, this isn't the sort of record in which each sounding event is bookended by several minutes of rests, the kind that, even when it sounds wonderful, leaves you wondering if you should feel foolish for purchasing a CD containing sixty-eight minutes of silence. Berry's music has much in common with the recent works of silence-obsessed musicians like Radu Malfatti and Taku Sugimoto, not really because of Berry's use of space, but because Berry achieves with sound what Malfatti and Sugimoto often achieve with silence: a music that isn't ego-driven, that creates a sense of stillness and rewards intense concentration. In many ways, The Golden Boat is a very minimal record. But it's packed with ideas and careful details, and it's texturally rich and lovely from start to finish.

Berry, a little-known sound artist from London, creates his music using samples from CDs and, occasionally, from field recordings. Every so often, he uses straightforward samples of traditional instruments - some strings, a Japanese biwa, or a bit of John Tilbury-like piano. Most of the time, however, the sounds on The Golden Boat feel electronic. They're also gorgeous: Berry's high-pitched whines, pitched sustains and quiet scraping noises intermingle subtly and beautifully, and much of the album features trembling bits of static so tiny and fragile that a breeze could blow them away.

Berry's distant drones and hisses sound purposeful while still feeling as if they weren't conceived with the listener in mind - like the sound of a rainstorm, or a car horn heard from a mile away on a quiet night. Structurally, the album features no obvious signposts; it perpetually changes but never really develops. Berry writes, "The piece presents a series of 'scenes,' appearing then disappearing, passing us by as we travel on the golden boat, as we imagine ourselves drifting on the river." In the hands of a lesser artist, this approach might not work, but the lack of an obvious formal scheme makes perfect sense given Berry's control of his craft and unassuming style. The Golden Boat is one of the best records I've heard this year.

Dusted Magazine [Charlie Wilmoth]

One of the most beautiful releases lately comes from the London-based artist Keith berry. His latest output entitled The golden boat consists of four refined minimal soundscapes. Piecefully long drawn-out static noise has been combined with deep electronic frequences and concrete sound particles. Time seems to have been given another dimension, space has been extended unlimited.

Keith Berry creates relaxed ambient atmospheres in which slowly evolving elements form a detailed map of tranquility. The golden boat slowly floats on a big ocean. Another highlight presented by the label Trente Oiseaux.

Phosphor Magazine [Paul Bijlsma]

It's a pity that the small press blurb doesn't say much about who Keith Berry is or what he does, but that first sentence says 'four pieces all quite consistent in style and sound quality to the point that they form, not unlike my own Un Peu de Neige Salie, a unified whole' - the 'my' being of course Bernard Günter. This is where the labelboss and composer perfectly melt together. No distance (unfortunally). But no info on Keith or his music. That leaves the reviewer with some wrongly guessing I assume. I think Keith samples instruments - maybe recorded at his studio, maybe from a CD - like violins and piano's and treats them in the computer. Unlike the famous Günter CD 'Un Peu de Neige Salie' this is on an audible level and also unlike that work, this sounds less electronic to me. There is a certain nice warmth to this music that operates on a drone level. Thos who love Mirror or Andrew Chalk will find this of interest too. Especially the first and third, untitled piece is a perfect example of this. The fourth piece is less dense and almost vulnerable in approach. A sound here and there, with room for silence. The short second piece is by contrast the most musique concrete like piece with a love of acoustic objects. Altogether a fine CD, which isn't exactely coherent. Not that it matters very much, because what's pressed on the CD is indeed very good.

Vital Weekly [Frans de Waard]

La nuova proposta della trente oiseaux è un sound artist londinese e testimonia dell'orientamento decisamente più melodico che la label di Günter ha assunto con le ultime uscite. Un disco che si insinua gradualmente nell'ascoltatore fino a irretirlo completamente, con una serie di eleganti drones e stralci melodici intervallati da ampi spazi di silenzio. Il risultato ha un che di impalpabile che nei momenti migliori trascina nelle sue atmosfere rarefatte ma che d'altro canto richiede un'elaborazione più organica, che riesca a dare compiutezza a materiali ancora troppo frammentari e poco coesi. (6/7)

Blow Up Magazine [Daniela Cascella]

Let Berry's 'golden boat' carry you away on a pleasurable's a sumptuous drone and crackle piece, whose front cover photograph suggests boat floating on a lake of honey, and that's pretty much the sensual experience it brings to listener. Very much in the late Brian Eno mode; simple, touching, and gentle. The sleeve note poses the conundrum 'Under the boat no river, on the river no boat'. So while you ponder this Zen-like riddle and try to figure out what the golden boat may be and where it is, you can enjoy this gorgeous, soothing, minimal music. For a Trente Oiseaux release, it certainly has a lot of activity going on...a trip on an imaginary canal in Cleopatra's barge with lovely English landscapes for company.

The Sound Projector [Ed Pinsent]

We could safely hazard a guess that even if this CD came with no indication whatsoever as to the artist and the publisher, quite many would identify it as a trent oiseaux proper, or at least related, production. Certainly not the latest release for the label, Keith Berry's debut album deserves a mention even now, two years since its premiere, as Bernhard Günter, trente oiseaux's owner refers to it as to one of his label's highlights of 2003. It begins with silence, unfurls unhurriedly and continues in this manner throughout the whole of the four untitled tracks. Abstract droning, high-pitched electronic tones or scraps of field recording ebb and flow, masterly arranged, undisturbed by any abrupt action, always at more or less steady pace, yet never monotonous. They resonate slowly, sustaining the overall effect of harmony and serenity, which sets in from the earliest minutes of the first track. The artwork, though a tad abstract at the first glance, reveals a close-up shot of a drop about to hit the surface of crystalline water, with the circle wave distorting the golden-tinged bottom. The photo seems to capture visually what Berry's work seems to embody aurally - re-tuning of human senses, usually accustomed to the rush of cursory following everyday banalities, in order to register the minimal, temporary, motionless, delicate and detailed. A work of exquisite beauty and sophistication.

eld rich palmer [Przemek Chojnacki]

Not unrelated, but more mannered and perhaps less generous, is London composer Keith Berry's The Golden Boat. While Berry's work shares with the aforementioned releases (referring to Marc Behrens and Francisco López's a szellem alma release) an antipathy to narrative development and compositional contrivance, it relies on somewhat heavier-handed gravities, as well as (to its credit) a more naturalistic spatial situation of sonic material. Relying on piano, bass, brass, harmonium, tapes and cell-phone audio and other electronic interferences, to interdependent purposes, The Golden Boat at its best is a tableaux of fishing wharfs, carpentry workshops and foghorns–dinghy tarps rent in three by bleeding, calloused hands at midnight for mysterious purposes. That it lends itself to the overlay of such cinematic imagery is both a strength and shortcoming.

e/i [William S. Fields]

Keith Berry uploads the brain universe that compressed the acidHUMANIX infectious disease of a chemical=anthropoid to the biocapturism corpse feti=streaming circuit of this abolition world.

Kenji Siratori author