By Mark Tucker (Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange) www.acousticmusic.com/frames/fame.htm
Well, I have to tell you that you only think you know Jimmy Haslip, bassist for the Yellowjackets. In his partnership with Hamilton Sterling, the daunting musician reveals a side no one quite suspected, co-writing and co-playing a highly engaging, wildly pastiched, very three-dimensional opus cohering multiple modes and styles into one segmented narrative that's vanguard progressive—in fact a continuo on what the electronic pioneers (Subotnick et al) and musique concrete and other wizards (Xenakis, Crumb, etc.) were sallying towards in their own times.

The Yellowjackets were an aspect of the jazz world which was fusing a good deal of emerging modernity into trad/trad-fusion baselines. How good were they? Well, I caught 'em at a JVC Jazz Fest opening for Miles Davis, and they were very very good. But they, Steps Ahead, Cassiopeia, Mezzoforte, Passport, and a small double handful of fusion bands were creating infectious hybrids in modes true artists can't help but wring from heightened sensibilities. Thus, per se, Migration shouldn't be as big a tectonic shift as it is. However, consider that even more exploratory sounds came forward and advanced under Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Loren Nerell, and others. Next came Vidna Obmana, Coma Virus, and the entire electronica scene—perhaps most intriguingly in the glitch mode, which is employed here as well. Toss in Aphex Twin, Orb, and assorted kindred, and you have a pretty rounded window. Migration weaves all that together and even harks back to Weather Report, updated (City of Light and Spiral, Dreams of Home).

Sterling's a musician but also a sound designer, a talent that's becoming increasingly important in several worlds, the proof of his skill lying in an omnipresent in-demand status because of his work in The Dark Knight, War of the Worlds, and Master and Commander. Then interpolate the fact that Haslip has recently been a member of Alan Holdsworth's band—AH being one of the most respected guitarists in the world, possessor of an inimitably singular vocabulary—and the possibilities inherent in the duo begin to gush forth.
Migration is quintessentially immersive and presented via audiophile matrixing in dual DVD form, one side a choice between 5.1 surround sound and PCM high-rez two-channel stereo, the other side strictly way high end 5.1 DVD-Audio surround sound (think Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs and then some), also extremely high resolution. All three formats are prime headphone material. There are no visuals, Sterling's using DVD format only to encode Migration at the highest possible level. Thus, the completely sonic presentation of the disc is a combination of the painterly, the explosive, and the sublime, oft understated, enticing the imagination to interconnect more broadly.

An epigram ("Man could not stay there forever. He was bound to spread to new regions, partly because of his innate migratory tendency and partly because of Nature's stern urgency"—Huntington Ellsworth) foreshadows the transplanetary nature of the music, from Earth to the stars, and that's exactly what the listener undergoes, with many strange dimensional shifts along the way. The most salient elements of the disc are neoclassical and experimental, sculptures and pigments via notes and silences. More than a few passages reflect Eno and Jon Hassell's quirky ambientalisms and jungle strangeness. You'll also hear shades of John Serrie, Beaver & Krause, Wendy Carlos, and more than one influence from the hallowed electronische Nonesuch days of the 60s & 70s.

All those marvels to the side, myself having decades ago tasted the delights of a well set-up quadrophonic environment, later many times luxuriating in the surround sound version of Apocalypse Now at the Picwood in Westwood (Calif.), I suggest the reader indulge his or her hedonisms and play this disc in the fashion meant. Haslip and Sterling are doing for pure sonics what Cameron has done for visuals via Avatar. Evolution, ladies and gents.

By Sarah Bowden (Playback Readers’ Music Reviewed Published in SoundOnSound, August 2011) http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/aug11/articles/playback-0811.htm
Hamilton Sterling is a sound designer, composer, editor and musician who has worked on films such as The Dark Knight, War of the Worlds, and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Jimmy Haslip is a producer, composer, musician and founding member of the jazz fusion group Yellowjackets. If you haven’t heard of him, let’s just say that he’s won two Grammy Awards and been nominated for 17.

On this album, Hamilton Sterling and Jimmy Haslip take the listener through a dark and progressive soundscape that begins somewhere in Africa and ends up floating above the earth in what I can only describe as some sort of a transcendental balloon. Haslip and Sterling successfully create an immersive piece, though they go slightly overboard on the audiophile listening experience: side 1 of the DVD is a 5.1 Dolby Digital version and a 2-channel, PCM, 24‑bit/48kHz version. Side 2 is a 5.1, 24-bit/48kHz DVD‑Audio version. Overall, it’s a highly accomplished album with repetitive, cinematic and evocative moments that you find yourself unable to switch off, despite feeling strangely claustrophobic while in their grasp. It is, as their press release rightly says, a genuine and idiosyncratic album. Worth checking out if you get the time.

By Pete Pardo (Sea of Tranquility)
Migration is the collaboration between Sound Designer, Composer, Editor, and Musician/Programmer Hamilton Sterling and Yellowjackets bass player, Producer, and Composer Jimmy Haslip. Part jazz, part avant-garde, and part World Fusion, Migration is more an aural experience than something you just throw on for background noise. Created as a soundtrack to take the listener on a journey beginning in Senegal and ending up on another planet, Migration uses enchanting soundscapes, live nature recordings, bass, and percussion, all to great effect. The opening 15+ minute track "Senegal Suite" fuses chilling avant-garde noises with melodic jazz as well as sweeping World Music soundscapes, while the title track is an intoxicating brew of natural water sounds and buzzing electronics, giving the listener a feeling of being isolated out at sea, floating on a lonely raft with no rescue in sight. "City of Light" builds and builds from low cascading drones to huge swells of Asian accented instrumentation, in what is easily one of the more bombastic pieces on the CD. After the brief, Tangerine Dream-ish "Sadness, Away", comes the ominous "City of Water", and just as the duo succeeded on "Migration" of making you feel like you were stranded in water, this one is a suffocating amalgam of space images, with Haslip's muscular, effects laden bass rumbles squeezing through a haze of unearthly noises and soundscapes, giving the effect of being drifting hopelessly in space. The finale, "Spiral, Dreams of Home" brings everything together in a positive tone, a caustic, jazz-fusion number, reminding the listener that all is not lost, as the busy instrumentation and bright colors end the album on a lighter note.

We were given to review both the CD version and the double sided DVD, which contains the album in 5.1 Dolby Digital and 2 channel PCM 24 bit 48kHZ, both DVD Audio & Video. Depending on the type of equipment you have will depend on which is the best choice for you, but all the available formats sound absolutely breathtaking. Migration certainly isn't going to be for everyone, but if you are a prog or jazz fan who likes things on the avant-garde side, you might find this to be a pleasing journey into adventurous worlds, courtesy of Sterling and Haslip.

By John Collinge (Progression Magazine, Issue #59, Spring 2010)

This is the type of music often found on the spotted Peccary and Lotus Pike labels — soothingly ambient, mysterious, yearning, sometimes haunting and awe-inspiring.

The jazz tag follows Hamilton Sterling and especially Jimmy Haslip for obvious reasons. Bassist Haslip is a founding member of fusion group The Yellowjackets. Sterling is a sound designer/multi-instrumentalist with roots in jazz and film, his credits including The Dark Knight and War of the Worlds.

“Cinematic” certainly applies here. These flowing soundscapes suggest an impressionistic soundtrack of man’s evolutionary journey from the cradle of Africa to interstellar travel. Brimming with textural crosscurrents, exotic percussion, and ranging from world-music motifs to semi-industrial drones (even some jazz), this is not passive listening. From 15-minute opener “Senegal Suite” to closer “Spiral, Dreams of Home,” the duo keeps you guessing what’s next.

Audiophiles note: this is a two-sided DVD-Audio disc. Side one is a 5.1 Dolby Digital version and a two-channel PCM 24-bit version. Side two is a 5.1 24-bit DVD-Audio 5.1 version. Plug in your surround sound and turn those lights down low.

By Carla Scaletti (Symbolic Sound)
In Migration, Hamilton Sterling and Jimmy Haslip take us on a journey that begins in Senegal and ends up on another planet. Using Kyma timbre-scapes and live performances on bass and percussion, Haslip and Sterling create an immersive soundtrack tracing humankind’s restless and inevitable journey out of Africa and outward to the stars. Inevitable in part due to what Huntington Ellsworth calls human kind’s “innate migratory tendency” and partly due to “Nature’s stern urgency” (COP15?). The best listening is in surround-sound with the lights dimmed: Side 1 (white band) of the DVD is a 5.1 Dolby Digital version and a 2 channel PCM 24-bit 48 kHz version. Side 2 (red band) is a 5.1 24 bit 48 kHz DVD-Audio 5.1 version; this is definitely a ‘hi fi,’ ‘audiophile’ type experience. It’s a soundtrack that creates its own visuals inside your head… evocative cinematic ambiences, accessible ostinati punctuated with alien outbursts, and ‘outside’ improvisations. The result feels both genuine and delightfully idiosyncratic.

Track 1 (Senegal Suite) establishes a stationery ambient background, ostinato middleground punctuated with ethnic flutes and percussion in the foreground.

By Track 2 (Migration), we are on the move with powerful electronic sound masses and African drumming patterns.

Track 3 (City of Light) is one continuously building timbral evolution of insinuated vocals, piano ostinati, drums, and strings, gradually building a sense of hope and promise (with occasional jabs of alien electronics).

Track 4 (Sadness, Away) is time-stretched granular mandoline-like plucking, drenched in rain and distant animal sounds.

By Track 5 (City of Water), we are in deep space on our interplanetary journey. Haslip's crazed walking bass solo with alien craft fly-bys, shimmering vocals and tremolo strings.

Track 6 (Spiral, Dreams of Home) finds us on a new planet. Alien birds and bells and a new form of jazz with D&B tempos, chaotic snare, detuned piano strings (Haslips’ ultra-processed bass), and a restless, anxious energy. Even on this new planet, we still feel restless. Nervous grainy bells, voices, and flutes gradually relax into an calm loneliness and ends with a dry-throated drone.

Listen to a preview and order your own copy from Helikon Sound, CDBaby, or Amazon.

By Peter Van Laarhoven (Unamuta - United Mutations)
A couple of weeks ago, I received “Migration,” a new project by Hamilton Sterling and Jimmy Haslip. I knew Jimmy Haslip from his fusion group, the Yellowjackets, and from his collaboration with Allan Holdsworth, Alan Pasqua and Chad Wackerman. Hamilton Sterling’s name didn't ring a bell, but he's probably best know for having contributed (sound editing) to two Acadamy Awards winning films: “The Dark Knight” and “Master and Commander.” So this is quite an unusual team-up, and a pretty good one.

“Migration” is the duo’s first release. The music on this album is one big soundscape. The liner notes describe it as “A world-ranging, dark-ambient journey from the rural to the urban and beyond. It was conceived as a journey in sound.”

“Migration” will take you on a trip, and every effort is made to make it as enjoyable as possible. This is no jazz or prog-rock. This is contemporary music that will make you close your eyes and travel in space. Bass, percussion, synths and computer programming. I love it.

Did I mention that this disc is food for audiophiles: side 1 has a DVD-video 5.1 Dolby Digital version, and a 2 channel PCM 24bit 48kHz version. Side 2 contains a DVD-audio 5.1 24 bit 48kHz version.

And just to show you how serious these guys are: the cover and inside pictures of “Migration” are courtesy of NASA!!

By J. Jury (Morpheus Music)
STYLE: Lush spacey ambient instrumentals. Migration is an album of deep, beguiling top-quality audio. Taking a freeform approach, the music of Migration shifts in character frequently throughout its length from rhythmic business to drifting loneliness. That said, certain themes and styles recur and dominate. Most evident is a cinematic sci-fi nature where broad, futuristic electronic environments are carefully soundscaped and developed: lush pads and smooth atmospheres support loose structures of digital tone. The melodic content gives the impression of being almost improvisational, often utilising highly original synthetic sound manipulation as the prime voice. There are moments where distinct jazzy influences surface and there are passages of heady, earthy global music — most notably as tribal beats and intense hand drumming stir the music into rhythm. Much of the sonic palette is unique, commonly being difficult to identify the origin of a sound - distorted deformed brass phrases, heavily altered vocal material, audio disturbances and liquid turbulence. In speaking with Hamilton about the music, he explains “the idea of the piece is that it begins in a difficult rural African world where a kind of dictatorship (the strange voice-like elements) exist along side elements of Western culture (the chaotic city sounds) with both being equally troubling. The Migration occurs, and there is a danger to it. We arrive in the City Of Light and are dazzled (the 7/4 meter knocking one off balance). We continue to move through light and darkness, possibly off-world, until reaching a kind of frenzied apotheosis with the processed bass solo at the end, then dream of the sweeter elements from where we came.”

MOOD: The mood alternates constantly from remote galactic isolationism to worldly intimacy and multi-cultural juxtaposition. A number of pieces effectively interweave disparate influences establishing entertaining interplay between contrasting structures. Percussive sections fuse international elements with programmed hits and effects. Nimble jazz bass lines burble against insectile sibilance and abyssal synthetic expanse.

ARTWORK: Migration arrives in a slick DVD case where the classy artwork is nestled within luxurious black grounds and borders. Utilizing images courtesy of NASA/JPL Cal-Tech, the front cover features a rich graphic of flaming reds and oranges where cloud-like formations well up within sharply delineated spaces. An overlay of flowing white arrows runs from left to right drawing the eye across the image. The rear cover is laid out around the curve of a planetary orb — titles in the expanse above, general information grounded below the horizon. Within, the single sheet insert expresses recording information and thanks as well as credits and download details.

OVERALL: Sound Designer/Composer/Editor Hamilton Sterling and Producer/Composer/Musician Jimmy Haslip combine their musical and production talents in the creation of this striking DVD audio release Migration. The duo have an impressive range of experience: Hamilton Sterling having worked on such films as The Dark Knight, War of the Worlds, and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; Jimmy Haslip being a founding member of the jazz fusion group, Yellowjackets and also playing in the Allan Holdsworth/Alan Pasqua group, The Jeff Lorber Fusion, and Jing Chi. The album presents six tracks varying in length from the brief two minute fourteen Sadness, Away to the fifteen minute seven second Senegal Suite. The music on the two-sided disc is presented in three different formats so that maximum benefit may be derived from the impressive sound quality: a 5.1 Dolby Digital version, a 2 channel hi-res PCM version and a DVD-Audio 5.1 hi-res version. The music is also available as a download for those preferring audio, from iTunes and CDBaby. Promotional material explains “MIGRATION is a modern programmatic composition in six movements. A world-ranging journey from the rural to the urban and beyond.”

WHO WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM: Migration is an album that is hard to pigeon-hole, and probably all the better for that. There is understandably a strong filmic nature to much of the music that will appeal to listeners that like to be transported. There is an ambient quality despite the melodic detail that will be enjoyable to many. My recommendation is that you listen to the music yourself at the Helikon Sound website.”

By Daniel J. Greenspan (Los Angeles)
It is not totally uncommon to have to think in a way you haven't thought before, or imagine in a way that you have never been called upon to imagine. It does not entirely take you by surprise when, occasionally, an artist or even nature might compel you to see something - to make sense of something visually - in a way that you could not have up until that moment, standing before Twombly’s “The Anatomy of Melancholia,” maybe, or watching the sun rise over the glacial emptiness of the antarctic. It is even more rare, I think, when your ears are taken by surprise, overwhelmed, and granted the supreme pleasure of hearing again for the first time. Migration will do this to your ears, several times over; you will like it.

FEEDBACK - Radio stations from around the world

Clive Craske (RadioReverb)
Wow! What a brilliant album. Perfect for my Sound Laboratory show. I played tracks from this over a whole month of shows. Do you guys have any more albums? Are you ever over in the UK? It would be great to set up a gig here in Brighton. -Clive

Graham J Barclay  (Soundwave FM)
Hi Hamilton. Many sincere thanks for the CD "Migration" that you sent us recently. BRILLIANT – EXCELLENT. We have enjoyed it immensely, and have added tracks from it to our playlists. Your presentation of music, inside the style and personality reflected in the tracks is very refreshing. Keep it up. Many thanks again, and please stay in touch.  -Kind regards Graham J. Barclay 

Paul van Kuik (Radio 0162 Dongen)
Hi Hamilton and Jimmy, I enjoyed your album very much and hope to hear more from you. I had great reviews from my listeners. We are really waiting for your next one. -Regards and love Paul van Kuik Country Express Radio 0162 – Dongen, The Netherlands

Harry Boerman (Veluwe FM, Radio Putten, Radio Ermelo)
Great CD. We enjoyed it immensely and have added it to our playlists several times (and will). Great stuff for our radio station. -Harry Boerman Veluwe FM

Pascal Dorban (Radio ARA , Luxembourg)
21st original century jazz or at least borderless improvised music. Hard to talk about it, better listen to it to find out what it all about.  -Pascal Dorban Radio ARA, Luxembourg

Vasja Ivanovski (94.1 FM RADIO 2)
Hello Hamilton & Jimmy, Greetings from Skopje, Macedonia. Enclosed is one of my recent radio playlists which include your excellent material. Always interested to present more from you when possible! Regards, Vasja Ivanovski Jazz Spaces Tuesdays 10PM-2AM 94.1 FM Radio 2 Skopje, Macedonia.  -Producer & Host: Vasja Ivanovski

Alex Pijnen (BRTO Radio)
Fantastic Album. Great stuff for our Radio Station.

Migration has played on the following radio stations:

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