Music Reviews



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Artist: Splice
Title: Silent Spoke
Format: 2CD (double CD)
Label: Loop (@)
Distributor: Cadiz
Rated: *****
The obscure abrasive bass, the dragging on drums and the menacing saxophone vents on "Dust Devil", the opening track of this astonishing release which got recorded in 2012, premiered at the 2013 EFG London Jazz Festival and released on late 2013, even if it recently reached my desk as a part of the pack of records coming from University of Huddersfield's CeNeReM - The Centre For Research In New Music -, could evoke some stuff from adjoining stylistical fields like the obscure trip-hop by Sofa Surfers or some excellent outputs by Dj Krush, but the following tracks of "Silent Spoke" render the elegant sonorities that this fourtet masterfully explores by drawing elements from doom metal, free jazz and electronic wells. Cymbals and winds keep on saturating the sonic sphere like an odourless poison gas, a subtle trepidation shines through the faint electronic blanket of their music, curvy stretches of dark tonal roads got slowly climbed by trumpet and clarinet with occasional accelerations, propelled by octopus-like drumming over broken grounds such as on the astonishing "Mobile Piece" makes this listening experience really adventurous, while hanging in the balance between haunting delicate beauty and obscure billows. The prowess by Slice in feeding this catchy musical procession got easily explained by the background of their members: the name of Canadian composer and performer Pierre Alexandre Tremblay (bass guitar, electronics), founding member of the no-tv collective, which preaches a life without tv-sets, should be known by all those ones who follow my reviews for a release on Empreintes DIGITALes I introduced and is strictly connected to University of Huddersfield where he teaches Composition and Improvisation; the name and the style by Norwich-born Dave Smith (drums, percussion), one of the co-founder of Loop Collective, is mainly known for his work with traditional Sabar drumming from The Gambia, Afro-Blues group Juju and Robert Plant presents the Sensational Space Shifters; French saxophonist and clarinettist Robin Fincker (tenor saxophone, clarinet, guitar amp), who also co-founded Loop Collective, got described as a dynamic "project instigator and in-demand sideman" and such a reputation got confirmed by the impressive number of projects he belongs; last but not least, British musician Alex Bonney (trumpet, trumpophone, electronics) is a leg of a critically acclaimed improvising duo with bassist Dave Kane, often appears as a sideman in several London-based bands (Brass Mask, World Sanguine Report, Nostalgia 77 and many more) and works as a producer and mix engineer for several record labels. Highly recommended listening experience!
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Artist: akisai (@)
Title: colors
Format: CD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
A sense of playful naivety makes a splash since the very first minutes of this release on Japanese label Schole, which derives from a soud-visual performance by visual artist Koichi Nakaie, whose curriculum got filled by a plenty of experiences as a stage producer and fashion brand designer, and composer Kaname Suzuki, a classically trained pianist and keyboardist whose roots in the fields of jazz, J-pop and progressive tunefully resurface on Akisai. The sprightly rhyhtmical patterns, a seemingly innocent candor, the iridiscent variations they weaves over simple melodies could be vaguely associated to a possible crossbreeed between the compositional freshness of Keigo "Cornelius" Oyamada, who sounds mirrored on the brisker moments of this album like the opening "Line", the graceful weaving of a melodious guitar with a simple four beat-based pattern and a lively keyboard on "Synchrotronica" or the low-pitched sounds of "Yumecasy", some piano-driven acts of French electronics such as Nova Nova and some UK chilled electronica acts like Middleton's Amba or Bruce Bickerton's Alucidnation. It could be interesting to check how Suzuki's music reacts to Nakaie's visuals, but the way of rendering the abstractness of "emotions" by means of a multicolored bouquet of melodies results into a pleaseful listening experience in any case.
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Artist: The Great Saunites & Attilio Novellino
Title: Radicalisme Mècanique
Format: 12"
Label: discreetrecords (@)
Rated: *****
This new release is a one sided lp that last a little less that twelve minutes and is the result of the collaboration between Attilio Novellino, a sound artist, and Great Saunites a duo, playing bass and drum, working in the field of developing melodic lines out of traditionally rhythmic instruments.
A lowly distorted guitar line and cymbals introduce the listener in the initial part of this track where samples and a drum giving the rhythm of the track create the frame for the other instruments for the development of the track. The almost hypnotic overall mood is vaguely reminiscent of krautrock, his most rock oriented paths at least, and is conducted by the string instruments, guitar and bass, developing their lines slowly until a sax is left almost alone, at a low volume acting as a sidekick, and starts the second half of the track, while the beat continues assuring the cohesiveness of the track. When the guitar enters again, the sax stops, and the last part of the track begins in a crescendo that creates a sonic mass that slowly ends to let the sax ending the track in solitude upon a noisy soundscape.
This release sounds more like a live recordings of a concert rather than a fully conceived release and, for someone, this is one of the best statement available. If only it lasted a little more...
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Artist: Mike Cooper
Title: New Globe Notes
Format: 12"
Label: NO=FI Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
If you appreciated the recent album "White Shadows In The South Seas" by 72-years old odd musician Mike Cooper, whose particular declension or proper manipulation of exotism that whisk together lap steel, tape music techniques and field recordings that he collected during his journeys over Pacific islands could let you think of his style as the possible sonic outputs of a Tiki devotee, who has to face the mutation of his own tropical escapism after Moruroa-like nuclear tests, you can get this tidbit from Italian indipendent label No=Fi out of your hand. "New Globe Notes", which sounds even more dazzled than the above-mentioned release on Room40, includes nine experiments by Mike Cooper, which got previously released on hiw own personal imprint Hipshot Records as well as a 32-page booklet with texts and images by Mike Cooper himself and an introduction by David Toop, where weird guitars, chirping birds, occasional lopsided percussions and other symptoms of exotic fever are parts of wonky collages that render, in Mike's own words, 'imaginary, exotic, ambient soundscape of places that didn't exist'. Lovely and somehow disquieting musical tchotchke!
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Artist: Datashock (@)
Title: Keine Oase In Sicht
Format: 2 x 12"
Label: Dekorder
Rated: *****
Once upon a time, there was a mysterious anchorite whose spirit took possession of music after necromantic chemical evocations although his body lied seemingly motionless in the middle of the desert, but a group of "young punks pretending to be old hippies", as Dekorder defined Datashock, decided to sleuth him by sifting those desert lands and even the spiritually figurative ones that our "civilized" world constantly provides and generates. That's how a fable about the interesting direction that this leaderless collective gave to its musical research could begin. All those listeners who say that once fire becomes ash, it cannot be re-lit, could be belied as they could get a glimpse of unforgotten pioneers of psychedelic prog-rock and astral bodies of cosmic knights and krautrockers - Amon Duul, Popul Vuh, but laso some mystical stuff from Delerium Records could resurface from the depths of your musical memory - into the mystical bonfires they lighted over the eleven stages of this musical journey, even if the distinctive trait of Datashock sound is the dilution of notorious long-lasting rides so that notwithstanding the stylistical territories their wandering over "Saarvannah", a wise combination between the name of the most known desert of the planet, Savannah, and the name of the well-known German industrial district, Saar, which highlights the topicality of the association between evoked desert lands and the cultural and spiritual desertification as well as the mirages which got accelerated by moribund capitalism, they wisely dissolved elements into a variegated pot-pourri whose fragrances (from the more "totemic" moments like "Tod in der Saarvanne" or the opening "Mudschahidin der Liebe" to the electronic glimmering coiling or levelling of "Fanta Morgana" or "Desert Lustgerte, Goldnougat Gobi", from the improv-oriented eruptions of "Ekstase der Wahrheit" to the oxidations of above-mentioned mystical prog-rock stuff on tracks like "Rubinregen aus der spirituellen Sphaere" or "Der verschleierte Helm des Pharaooze") uniforms with the manifest final possible destinations: the mecca of magical melodies, the shrines of mind-expanding sounds, the sanctuary of musical friendship and the Dyonisian temples of love and excess so that it's not a real problem if any oasis (or dead anchorites) are in sight!
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