French label Ultimae have by now quite firmly established themselves as a frontrunner in the downtempo and chillout stakes and the latest release from French composer Vincent Villuis working under his Aes Dana pseudonym shows no signs of altering that trend. As is the case expect spacious and often distant percussive work as well as broad sweeping plains of synths rolling back and forth across your field of hearing.

As releases go this has a little more bite than some of Ultimae’s recent output. Tracks such as ‘Bam’ and the opener ‘Alignments’ have some darker shades to their presentation. You could almost pull frames of references from the likes of Orbital on work like this. Villuis does manage to capture something of a fairy tale mood with the subtle bell like chimes amidst tracks like ‘Oxyd’. There’s even the faintest hints of glitch in tracks like ‘Heights’ and if this is an indication of the label perhaps moving into different territories then by all means it would be a welcome diversion and one I think Ultimae would prove to be most proficient with.

If there is any criticism I would level at this album it is probably one I have made of Ultimae releases before. In their album form some of these tracks could use something of a trim in length. In a club environment as part of a downtempo chiller set these tracks would undeniably work well as head nodders and Sunday shufflers and in that context a seven minute length would be perfectly acceptable (which is the average length of a piece on the album). In album form though scaling back the tracks to say…maybe five minutes wouldn’t be too much to ask.

Still that is just one quibble with the album, as always the production is glacial and beautiful l and the packaging is as always consistent. In truth if the world of ambient and chill out and dare I say soundtrack music is one you enjoy then you will find this album to be something of a delight.