Obscure Sound: Review of Inclusions – 2024

Mike Mineo, founder and editor of Obscure Sound which has been around since 2006, was kind enough to write a track-by-track review of Inclusions.

“A diversely atmospheric rock sound permeates Inclusions, the most recent album from Australian artist Minorarc. From serenely introspective guitar murmurs to frolicking piano effervescence, Inclusions showcases a riveting blend of classical, prog-rock, and electronic influences.”

Extravafrench: Review of Inclusions – 2024

French blogger with a delightful and amusing review.

“Basically, “Inclusions” is the album to throw in your headphones when you want to get lost in the music and forget the world for a moment. Minorarc, aka Ivan Bullock, didn’t do things by halves. He builds a universe where each note has its reason for being, and frankly, it’s heavy.”

York Calling
: Celebrating two decades of Australia’s Ivan Bullock
York Calling is an international music and culture blog based in York, UK. They put York on the international music and culture map through promotion of the local scene and connecting with artists across the world. Graeme, their Editor-in-Chief, through research and an interest in Ivan’s story, wrote a feature about the artist’s life devoted to underground music, and Minorarc’s “Inclusions” album.

“For now, it’s okay to take a moment and look back with a nostalgic smile. In discovering Ivan’s story, I’ve certainly rekindled aspects of my own that had been lost to time and memory. Those of us who lived through the ’90s and early ’00s felt we were at the vanguard of a digital revolution…”

Sound Pollution: Podcast Interview with Ivan – 2023

Raynelle and Uncle Brent of the Sound Pollution Podcast had a chat with us about the new album “Inclusions”. It was a pleasure to be interviewed by such committed and knowledgeable music-lovers. Topics touched on included the track-building process, DAW operation, AI, Bandcamp pre-sales and more.

Skylight Webzine: Review of Inclusions track “Bleeding Facet” – 2023
Based in Greece, Skylight has been online since 2000 and specializes in presenting new artists from jazz, progressive rock, alternative rock, hard rock and all kinds of metal. They wrote a review of “Inclusions” track, “Bleeding Facet”.

“… What truly makes “Bleeding Facet” an intriguing piece is its willingness to pay homage to the free jazz form. The sporadic and seemingly improvised elements interspersed throughout the track create a sense of controlled chaos. The absence of lyrics allows the instruments to communicate in a language all their own, evoking a range of emotions and thoughts in the listener. In conclusion, “Bleeding Facet” is a remarkable example of how music can transcend traditional boundaries and captivate its audience through bold experimentation.”

Metal Temple: Inclusions Review – 2023

Many thanks to Metal Temple and Dave, for their unsolicited review and thoughts on Inclusions.

“… Are things any clearer? They are at times, but don’t close your eyes for too long. Overall, none of these songs are straightforward. Indeed, there is such a variety of sounds presented that, as a listener, you are on the tips of your feet throughout the album. What Ivan set out to accomplish, he did. Read the introductory passage again…contradictory, disjointed, and a person desperate for answers. That is exactly what I hear on the album. Songwriting: 8 Musicianship: 8 Memorability: 7 Production: 8”

The Progspace: Inclusions highlighted in Releases of the Week – 2023

The Progspace took us all by surprise and included the latest Minorarc album in their Releases of the Week write-up.

“Instrumental project Minorarc is the brainchild of Australian multi-instrumentalist Ivan Bullock, sonically exploring the wide fields of progressive rock, dark classical and modern electronic music, with some excursions into jazz and metal in between. What might appear like a weird selection of genres at first sight gets actually smoothly interwoven to wonderful, new soundscapes. “Inclusions” starts with the beautiful piano track ‘A Drizzle’s Vagrant I’, accompanied by light background string arrangements, followed by ‘Seven Times Burnt’, that has rough black metal chords besides bright neoclassical piano and guitar runs. ‘Meet the Blade’ offers a dense, dark orchestration, on which he lays shimmering melodies, and with the diverse drumming always serving the songs. The journey continues, takes us through the more uplifting ‘Three Times’ to the rather harsh ‘Bleeding Facet’ and an atmospheric ‘Triclinic’, before he closes the circle with a dreamy Part II of the opening track. While I wasn’t familiar with the work of Minorarc before, “Inclusions” was a pleasant surprise this week, offering an amazing soundtrack to drift away for a while.” ~ Katha

Lelahel Metal: Interview – 2023
Lelahel Metal from Algeria, conducted a detailed written interview about Minorarc’s past incarnation as Mystral Tide, the evolution of the projects, Melbourne’s Enzyme event series, and how recording processes have changed during the course of two decades.

Sounds Good Webzine: Review of Inclusions track “Seven Times Burnt” – 2023

“Seven Times Burnt, a new song, gives us an engaging and overwhelming listen, the progression of which generates a vortex of aggressive vibrations, with rough and sharp connections that leave room for more technical and refined riffs, classics of the typical metal sound. A dynamic listen with an intense flavor with the intent, in our opinion, successfully makes the song as a whole very fluid and dynamic, thus making its excellent contribution to the cause.

With this single, Ivan undoubtedly leaves an excellent impression, playing with ease and naturalness and demonstrating how Minorarc knows how to move in his musical environment, offering a captivating and current genre that easily remains in the mind.”

Metal Junkbox: Review of Inclusions track “Meet The Blade” – 2023

“The Australian band Minorarc has just released its latest single titled “Meet The Blade” on September 1st, and it is part of the band’s fourth album, the recently released Inclusions. Minorarc is a progressive metal, dark classical and experimental electronic music project led by Australian producer Ivan Bullock. The band manages to navigate exquisitely through various styles and aspects, inserting considerable doses of its own identity. It is important to highlight the quality of the musicians involved, who are of the highest level.”

PROGland: Pre-Release Review of Inclusions track “Seven Times Burnt” – 2023

“Seven Times Burnt is definitely an intense musical journey in song form. Starting with a slow and gloomy start on guitars and synths to the dramatic heavy build from the middle of the song, we have a song that takes the listener to another plane, be it mental or musical. Musical mainly because in addition to the dark side of the track, melancholy, intensity and adventure are feelings present in each chord and section. And all this in a synergistic, natural and subtle way, without sounding pedantic or dragged.

Finally, the musical journey present here is something unique. In weight, intensity and emotion. The truth is that the track and Minorarc’s unique work is a journey beyond pure music, but the journey of artistic authenticity. And the authentic beauty here is second to none, and perfect.”

Divide and Conquer: Interview – 2022
Ivan was interviewed at length about his musical background and the development of Untold and Overburden.

Sound Pollution: Podcast Interview with Ivan – 12/4/2022

Raynelle and Uncle Brent of the Sound Pollution Podcast present regular interviews with a huge spectrum of independent musicians, from all around the world. We really appreciated the opportunity to have an hour-long chat about Untold, Overburden, writing, record collecting and much more.

Divide and Conquer: Untold & Overburden Review – 2022

A track-by-track review of “Untold” and “Overburden” by Matt Jensen.

“Piano comes and goes, drums feel like they are warming and occasional metal guitar is present. There are a lot of builds and sometimes the music locks into groove but Bullock isn’t afraid to tear it down.”

“…Overburden starts with the title track, there’s a very cool repeating piano melody as the song starts that feels pensive and cerebral. It eventually subsides and leaves you with heavy pads, trickling piano and bass that chooses the specific notes to highlight. As with many songs, once the distorted guitar is introduced things feel much more heavy. On this song distortion drips from chords while a couple different leads create the focal point…”

“Whitewash” was one of the highlights on the album. I thought the grooves were great but there are a lot of different types of energy on this song and an almost endless supply of changes which felt seamless.”

Metalperver: One shot – 2022

A shout out about Overburden, by Turkish Metal Blog, Metalperver.

“Australian Ivan Bullock’s project Minorarc, in which he uses progressive metal, electronic music, ambient and classical music elements, to produce music that is both atmospheric, epic and enjoyable to follow when viewed from the production / music side. The track A Brief Afterthought is from the new album Overburden , which was released at the beginning of March.”

Avant-garde & Prog Metal: Weekly Recommendation – 29/3/2022

“Overburden: This album is not only a journey between genres like Prog Metal, Djent, and Electronic, but I also feel like it is a journey in time. Reminding me sometimes of the 90’s with some Trip Hop and House keyboards, and then moving on with Post Rock and going back to the past with jazz, giving a relaxing and lounge experience. FFO: Animals As Leaders, Russian Circles.”

Nagamag: Interview with Minorarc – 2022

Nagamag International Music Magazine featured an interview with Ivan about “Untold” and the concepts behind the 2022 release. The project also answered questions about musical influences and early discoveries, Minorarc’s background, and “Untold’s” companion albums “Blind” and “Overburden”.

A Closer Listen: Minorarc Untold Album – 2022

Mentioned in 2022 Winter Music Preview ~ Rock, Post-Rock, Folk & Jazz.
“…Minorarc‘s cinematic sound is a blend of darkwave and electronic: snarling guitars balanced by passages of piano. Untold was released on January 2…”

Avant-garde & Prog Metal: Minorarc Deluge – 2021

“Alternative, Djent, Industrial, Progressive, Metal, Synthwave. A preview track from the upcoming 2022 album. A beautifully eerie composition that oozes melancholia and unease. Sensuous guitars effortlessly fold into the restive ambience.”

TEN Network Australia: Formula 1 Grand Prix, Rnd 16 South Korea S11/E55

Mystral Tide track “Aurora” was used in the Ten Network’s coverage of the 2011 Formula 1 Grand Prix. We are currently awaiting footage from the National Film and Sound Archive as evidence. The APRA cue sheet is above.

AGIM: Interview – 2017

Read the extensive interview with Ivan about Dawn Industry’s projects at the Australian Gothic Industrial Music website

La Croche Lune: Project Listing by David D’Halleine – 2011

D’Halleine, David (2011). Lulu.com. La Croche Lune. p. 23, 45, 74, 189, 379. ISBN 978-1-4709-6520-4.

La Croche Lune is the mirror of a sensitivity and its reflections are born from an authentic passion for emotional music and the gothic movement. Focus, detailed files and playlists make up this book exposing a range of artists in styles including ambient, atmospheric, batcave, celtic, cold wave, dark ambient, dark electro, dark folk, dark wave, death rock, down tempo, dream pop, ebm, electronica, ethereal, future pop, gothic, heavenly voices, indie pop, neo folk, new wave, post punk, post rock, shoegaze, touching pop, as well as their broadcasters, associations, distributors, forums, labels, places, press, radios, webradios and webzines.

Mick Mercer: Review of Infectious Unease Radio Compilation 1, and Mystral Tide’s “The Error” – 2010

“They’re not wrong when they call this a colossal compilation, with 4 CDs housed in a 4 tray dvd case, but as Gordon Taylor has been faithfully running his radio show in Australia for seventeen years it deserves something special to mark such an effort and this International compilation is certainly very special. He plays pretty much anything on the darker side of independent music, with a clear interest in electronic styles but there’s Goth, Post-Punk and Industrial hybrids aplenty, making for an absorbing cross-section of what’s happening today. Come and catch something…. MYSTRAL TIDE start things off superbly in ‘The Error’ with the delicate keyboards and softly pattering triphop-plus rhythm, which swells according to the vocal murmurings and is very neat…”

Alternate Parallel Reality: Minorarc CD Review – 2010

“Background: Sean Cooper has a very diverse musical background and has spent many years producing, supporting, reviewing and releasing music. From the long-ago days of major Australian band Tainted Violets, through to operating the independent label Zeitgeist Records, and his current project Alternate Parallel Reality, he is well known amongst the underground music community for his honesty, analysis and ability to write… long, in-depth and powerful rants about music, the industry, and above all his love of the sonic artform. We thank Sean deeply for taking the time to review the first Minorarc album, and thank him for his eternal support of so many musicians choosing to self-release over the years.

Review: Sometimes an artist just has to look at their body of work and ask themselves if they’re using the best tools for the job, in terms of expressing their message. Sometimes that means a radical and extreme reinvention. Like Rimbaud, who left behind a prestigious and respected career as the most talented and promising poet of his day to become a pirate and gun runner (“this is my poetry now!”), Ivan Bullock has shed his skin and assumed an extreme new form. He decided he’d taken his former project Mystral Tide, known for it’s lush grandiose Gothic introspection, and assumed the identity of Minorarc… which is darker and considerably more menacing. The beauty has become the beast.

That’s not to say that Ivan’s turned his back on what he does best. You’ll still hear the expansive piano, the ethereal pads, syncopated percussion and elegant use of fade-in and fade-out. Tracks are still gothic in tone, operatic in structure and monumental in scope.

It’s mostly the attitude that’s changed. Where Mystral Tide lamented the human condition, Minorarc willingly embraces it. Where Mystral Tide was an archeological project, looking back and deeper for meaning, Minorarc braces itself and casts it’s hungry gaze to the future. Where Mystral Tide stared into the abyss, Minorarc jumps right in…

And what we end up with is an ambitious and impressive debut album that’s one of the deepest and most interesting I’ve heard all year. Featuring by Ben from Cassandra’s Myth and Brett from Sarcophony, we have a long-player that ranges from the classically ambient to the menacingly metallic – with touches of futuristic electronica and even the occasional hint of rap – though we’re not talking about anything gangsta…. recall the kind of vocals Love And Rockets employed on ”**** (Jungle Law)” or the vocal styles of some early Sister Machine gun tracks, and you’ll get the picture. Trust me, it fits perfectly.

To this Mystral Tide fan, it feels more like a natural progression than a complete makeover. When I first heard preview snippets of the new material, I thought about the difference between Carl Mcoy’s Fields Of The Nephilim and his much-harder Nefilim line-up. In fact, I thought a lot of the guitars, bass and vocals recalled and reflected this sound (though Mystral/Minorarc has a very different aesthetic, philosophy and dimensions given by pianos and classical influences that mark out Ivan’s work as unique). I know the last few discs have been mostly ambient, but if you’ve seen Ivan crank up the amplifier and jam along to Strapping Young Lad, you’ll know that the gothic ambience and atmospheres conceal a heart of metal.

Truthfully, and Ivan might not like me for saying this, I feel that the Minorarc album is everything I wanted the last two MT albums to be, and more. Mystral Tide releases are consistently good and I would recommend anyone with good taste in music to get themselves at least one or two in their CD collection… but while I feel that each release was improving, they weren’t evolving like I wanted them to. I yearned for the daring next step, the next chapter, the new insights and newer techniques. I didn’t want MT doing the same thing only better – I wanted signifiers of growth. I wanted a brave new vision. With Minorarc, I got my wish, with interest.

I won’t do a track-by-track review, because I loathe that reviewing style (which never fails to ruin the album for me, and reminds of people who evaluate a movie for you by telling you everything that happens in it. Not only do you get their second-hand surface-level insight, but they’ve also managed to rob you of the discovery and the secrets). What I’ll tell you is that we have an extremely ambitious and daring debut album that stands alone stylistically with all the gothic grandiosity you’ve loved before, but effortlessly fuses a harder edge (both attitudinally and sonically) and futuristic electronics to come up with a listening experience that you’d expect from darkwave legends at the peaks of their careers.

It’s sounds great too. It’s polished, with all the production skills Ivan’s refined over the years. It’s quite an accomplishment to make a new musical identity and give it both cred and a unique voice while still making it sound like an experienced established act that’s well and truly found it’s voice and mastered it’s craft. Minorarc is an embodiment of this principle, though.

Even though I’m reminded of classic recordings by Nefilim, Sex Gang Children, Velvet Acid Christ, nobody sounds quite like Minorarc. Nobody’s doing what Ivan and his cohorts are doing here. And somehow this brave new voice has produced a debut album that sounds like the peak of a career. I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic in the least when I say that the Minorarc album is a future classic that all goth, darkwave and industrial fans will want to have in their CD collections.

Did I mention that it comes with remixes that rock? I’m not just saying that because my own remix of In Prime is on there (and, IMHO, the best remix work I’ve ever done), but extremely good mixes from Milkrun and Nigel Moore appear to make this a very worthy release indeed.

If I sound like I’m excited by this album, you’d be very right. One of my favourite artists (and good friend) has made something that’s impressed the hell out of me. And considering the high expectations I’ve learned to have for his work, that’s quite something. I’m spending a lot of time listening to the Minorarc album, and I think you should too.”

IndustrialNation: Scene Spot Japan Article – July 2003

Solomon Grundy (2003). Industrialnation. Issue 18. p. 10. ISSN 1062449X.

Article covering the state of the industrial music movement in Japan, which makes mention of Ivan Bullock’s Mystral Tide project collaborating with hAj of Seij minus aÇ and their performance at Wave Gotik Treffen.

Goth Nation: Whirlpool of Souls CD Review – May 2003

Jay (2003). Goth Nation. Goth Nation Magazine. Issue 3. p. 32. ISSN 14474476.

“This is a very interesting disc from Canberra’s (previously, Tokyo’s) Mystral Tide, a band featured on the “Dissonant Structures” DCD compilation of last year. This disc might be a year old (at the time of writing) but is well worth tracking down.

The CD is largely instrumental and each track is unique with a common thread running throughout. What little vocals exist are unusually low in the mix, and are distorted and delayed, sounding very similar to the vocal treatments used sometimes by Velvet Acid Christ. Musically, most tracks seem to be based around a simple but repetitive monolithic bass sound with classically influenced piano forming a central feature. This is the main element which differentiates between this CD and a lot of EBM because while it is grounded in EBM, the piano gives the music a dramatic, orchestral feel.

The best track on the album is “Force”, starting off with a creepy synth line before a dense bass is lowered into the mix. There doesn’t seem to be any percussion whatsoever in this track, which kind of reminds me of the theme music for the “Halloween” films. Listen to this track in a darkened room. This CD is definitely worth hearing.”

The Drum Media: Whirlpool of Souls CD Review – May 2003

Paris Pompor (2003). The Drum Media. Rural Press. Issue 654, 17th June 2003. p. 24.

“There’s something intrinsically dramatic & dark about this long player from ex-Tokyo producer Ivan Bullock, now facing a significantly lower skyline in hometown Canberra. Released without a great deal of fuss sometime ago on domestic label Zeitgeist, it’s available afresh, supported by his ability to do live shows locally.

There are elements of trance, industrial, ambient & even gothic amongst the surging grandeur of the string soaked, piano riveted, melodically anthemic electronics. Describing this first album journey as taking an “industrial/classical” route, Bullock also advises that in the year or so since it’s initial release overseas, the Mystral Tide sound has shifted as it scans the horizon for its future.

It’s this ‘Medieval facing the technology future’ image which illustrates so well the stirring chordal shifts & mythically tenebrous mood that spans the 15 tracks herein, where shadowy, dialogue invaded intros allow lurking electronics to eventually swell & charge from the misty backdrops. As a listener it’s quite easy to concoct widescreen darkworld fantasies unfolding to the synthesised & orchestrated rhapsodies.”

BMA: Canberra Locality Article – April 2003

Shawn Stanley & GMAN (2003). BMA. Radar Media Pty Ltd. Issue 178, 24th April 2003. p. 16 & 19.

Canberra’s local street press mentioning availability of “Whirlpool of Souls” at Impact Records, and short article on the eXXcentricity fund raising event for 2XX radio.

Electroage: Whirlpool of Souls CD Review  – 2002

Electroage was a European music site, covering all forms of industrial and electronic music.

“Mystral Tide is a project from Ivan Bullock, an Australian currently living in Tokyo who delivers here a very intriguing album. Whirlpool of Souls is perhaps the middle point between darkwave and EBM, with an hint of ambient and classical; giving an unique and engaging work of electronic music.

Whirlpool of Souls has an undeniable soundtrack-like persona, and this album’s facet is where resides the strength behind Mystral Tide.

The melancholic piano of Abandoned opens the album, rapidly followed by a superb Lucid mixing orchestral movements with a distant EBM groove. Removed is the perfect representation of Mystral Tide movie-like ambiences, atmospheric synths are floating around whispered speech samples, melancholic piano and guitar echoes. More classical oriented and beautifully rendered are the three parts of Regression; while Isolation and especialy Return lead more toward technofied EBM with melodic piano and a subtle dose of ambient.

The whole album is a tenebrous affair, where smoky ambiences and electronic rhythms collide together for a surprising result. Even more surprising regarding Bullock’s minimal equipement used for the album, and Whirlpool of Souls just suffers from a sligthly unequal mastering and post-production.

Rare are those artists who are making such an impression with a first album, but behind Mystral Tide there is a true musician who isn’t afraid of breaking genre’s boundaries. The music is superbly crafted and the continuous melted ambience of beauty and fear makes of Whirlpool of Souls an impressive work of electronics.”

The New Empire Online: Whirlpool of Souls CD Review (Album of the Month) – 2002

Founded in 1998, The New Empire was a site from Bochum Germany, covering all kinds of alternative electronic music.

“An album made in Australia, recorded with minimal equipment in Tokyo featuring danceable EBM and almost classic, melancholic arrangements done with piano and guitar sounds is something special I’d say and so it is my task to bring this unknown “Dark Wave & EBM” act from Tokyo to the light. The musician is not Japanese – Ivan Bullock doesn’t even sound like it. A very intensive track is “Sinner” with the hectic piano and the soundtrack-like, epic synthy-layers. Only a very soft rhythm in the background makes up a fragile skeleton for the oppressing, powerful music.

Followed by the breath-taking “Isolation”. It’s a sad fact that the production of the album is a little bit too silent, because especially this track lives of the driving beat. Almost Jungle-like technoid beats combined with an enormous bombastic sound of synthetic strings and again a piano. The dark speech-sample is a perfect addition and makes the whole track really a killer.

A very wild and loud track is called “Perseverant”. Bombastic sounds like choirs and the pressure of a galloping beat combined with samples of horses and only whispered voices make it my favourite on the album.

A silent, melancholic track is “Creation” with some rattling and whiling sounds, string-arrangements and a sadly dripping piano.

Finally the album holds two rare and unreleased tracks (well, I guess if you consider the level of reputation of this project, all tracks are rare) as add-on. The whole music appears instrumental. No disturbing vocals here. If there are vocals in the tracks they are hidden between the sound. Like distant whispers, used like an additional instrument and not to shout some meaning into the world.

Wow, this album is good! It is really a joy to listen to the complex, atmospheric and catchy sounds of Mystral Tide. How the different real instruments are mixed with the electronic part of the music is unique and the whole sound appears homogenous and perfectly balanced. The sound is warm, dark, almost “European” and maybe you can find the influences of a megapolis like Tokyo in the technologically interpreted melancholy of the music.

A sad, brilliant masterpiece. And don’t wonder: the CD has 16 tracks but there are only 15 songs. Track 14 is 29 seconds of silence so it doesn’t count. Coolness: 10/10 Rating: 5/6″

21st Century Goth: Project Review by Mick Mercer – 2002

Mercer, Mick (2002). 21st Century Goth. Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1-903111-28-5. p. 65.

“Ambient and medieval inspired Gothic/Darkwave/Industrial solo project based in Japan. Nice site in English, with Japanese and German versions planned. Bleak imagery really doesn’t work on cheery approaches, which leaves the bio/news a touch neutered. Ivan Bullock’s solo Darkwave rumblings will impress.”

Metropolis Tokyo Magazine: – February 2002

Dan Grunebaum (2002). Metropolis. Mark Devlin. Issue 411, 8th February 2002. p. 26.

“The latest entrant to Tokyo’s growing ranks of one-man production units working in tiny, six-tatami-mat recording studios is Mystral Tide, aka Australian expat Ivan Bullock.

A Tokyo resident of three years, Bullock seems to have spent most of his time at home with his keyboards, effects and mixers, if his debut album is anything to go by. A decidedly moody work influenced by industrial-oriented dance music, Whirlpool of Souls is a carefully constructed album that shows the results of Bullock’s years of classical study of the violin and piano.

The album kicks off with the ambient atmospherics of “Abandoned,” before continuing through 13 dark yet danceable tracks with names like “Sinner” and “Creation” that indicate the artists spiritual concerns.”

Windows 100% Tokyo Magazine – MP3 Feature – 2001

Various (2001). Windows 100%. CD-ROM. Shinyusha. October 2001 edition. T1111863100802.

The MP3 of “Altercated” track “Forged”, was requested and included on the CD-ROM accompanying this issue of Japanese PC and technology magazine, Windows 100%.