Music Reviews



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Artist: Ensemble Progresivo (@)
Title: Hesitancy
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Another awesome release from the stack of releases by Creative Sources comes from Ensemblo Progresivo, a project that Madrid-born composer, saxophonist and clarinetist Ricardo Tejero made by a simple idea, that is improvising within a compositional context. I can't say such an idea is totally new, but the very fact that Tajero belongs to those musicians who believe that all those more or less academic debates about the distinguishing elements between composition and improvisation, which caused a remarkable waste of breathe and ink, are not really useful. The stronger argument for such an idea is the way this ensemble implemented this coexistence which is not only peaceful, but almost idyllic as you can easily verify by listening to some of what they define "progressions" by this ensemble by means of what they call "progressions" is really amazing. according to some words that got written when the Ensemble Progresivo moved its first steps: "The concept of progression is ever-present in the work of this band. Following the principle of non-repetition and ephemeral existence that improvised music has at its core, ensemble Progresivo aims to draw upon what they like to call "Progressions", pieces where the structure is prearranged using a combination of references and musical elements worked out by Rocardo Tejero, achieving different form every time a new "Progression" is played. in this way, every time the band performs they play a different "written progression" or piece, never to be repeated again". It should be pointed out that Ricardo carefully selected the musicians of Ensemblo Progresivo, as all of them - Alison Blunt (violin), Adrian Northover (alto sax, soprano sax), Marcio Mattos (cello, electronics), Roberto Sassi (electric guitar) as well as Ricardo come from the London Improvisers Orchestra... they are not new fishes in the pool! - and such a high level of expertise is clear over the nine funny progressions: the opening " Progresion 22 - Misnuet" departs from a sort of austere minuet, which sounds like groaning for its own figure till the point it almost autonomously begins to self-deconstructed, the amazing struggling by compositional elements between Mattos's cello and Tejero's alto sax on the following "F.A.Q.", the almost psychotic overlapping of sketched (or I'd rather say hesitant) musical phrases on "Ida y Vuelta", the clarinet melody which sounds like choked in it sleep by a convulsive violin on "Moundfield" or the limping symphony of the funny "Mannock" are just some examples of their modus operandi, and you can imagine how many times formal compositions got melted down by improvisational flickering over the 19-minutes lasting central piece "Dilema"... Some words by French magician Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin came to my mind while listening to this release. He used to say that "a conjurer is not a juggler". I won't say this could be true for this great bunch of musical conjurers!
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Artist: Glice (@)
Title: 51433213
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Apparently, the word, 'Glice' was coined by Justin Bieber who inadvertently spliced 'glad' and 'nice' when he replied to greetings as in, 'It was glice to meet you'. This may or may not where Amsterdam-based noise experimentalists Ruben Braeken and Melle Kromhout got the moniker from. Perhaps it means something else in Dutch or maybe it is just a word that sort of sounds cool. The album cover art, suggests reference books on magmatic rock and studies on minerals deposits, mostly compliments the music nicely. I say mostly because it does not account for the ban's more whimsical side. Subsequent, 'deeper' listens to 51433213 trigger not unpleasant recollections of Saturday afternoons as a child watching old Godzilla films on TV. The analogy fits because the often jarring and cacophonous audio effects that clamor through this ep suggests jams by Godzilla and friends from monster island--when not stomping on cities and hapless inhabitants. Not one for elaborate album titles, Glice starts off with 'J', where Megalon croons ironic, post-rock vocals while Godzilla joins in with instrumentals, at first lightly strumming high-voltage power lines, then gradually agitating the power transformers to get just the right power chords mid-way through. Understated backing vocals are provided by King Ghidorah. The next track, 'Q', is where Godzilla probably got a claw full of tightly wound fiber optic cables still riveted to the ground and with enough tension to pluck out some resonating, bulbous basslines. Midway through, Godzilla picks up an idling farm tractor for its rhythmic staccato effect before charring it to a molten husk with his breath in a kind of improvisational flare. On 'B' we have Gigan on guest vocals while our favorite giant lizard tries to figure out the inherent benefit of power transformers, modulated to varying megawatts to get just the right reverberating drones. The ep is capped with 'U', Mothra's cover of Bruce Springsteen's 'I'm On Fire', a song I'm sure most on monster Island can relate to. Lots of exotic and abrasive textures are on this album with enough effects to do your head in, but sometimes delivered with the uninhibited abandon of a 4 year old given a mic and sound system to play with after being fed a tray of brownies and a pitcher of Kool-aid. Sheer nuttiness and larger-than-life noise.

Now Glice also asked their follow-up one-track EP, 'H' also get reviewed. This one is a bit more reliant on vocals, which seem more incantational. Sort of like a cult calling for an encore of the monster jam band while also firing up a sub-dimensional device to open a portal and bring some more mega oddities from 'other-realms-of-there'. With any luck, Cthulu will join in. Lots of vocal effects and electronic modulations that intensify near the end of the track. The portal is open and the story will be concluded in Glice's upcoming full length. Bring your safety gear.
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Artist: Dasha Rush
Title: Sleepstep - Sonar Poems for my Sleepless Friends
Format: CD
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
Raster-Noton keeps on pushing its stylistical horizon over explored edges by means of the artistical pulls of the charming sound of Dasha Rush, another fascinating amazon, which follows the landing of another brilliant female sound artist - Kyoka - on the label wisely managed by Carsten Nicolai and Olaf Bender. Mainly known for her praiseworthy sets and release in the field of techno, Dasha shows a darker and mysteriously alienated side on "Sleepstep", whose subtitle "Sonar Poems For My Sleepless Friends" underpins the different perspective behind this nocturnal outputs. Some attentive listeners would find some similaraties to other artists' stuff: for instance the lulling "Sleep Ballade" sounds like Trentemoller's "Miss You", the gothic lyricism of "Sail Away to Her" could remind some stuff by Socialistisches Patienten Kollektiv or Dead Can Dance as well as the ominous breaks of the awesome "Abandoned Beauties and Beasts", the debris on the the digital ether of the opening "Space Privet For Cosmonauts", the amazing alien clocking of "100 Hearts", where irregular plastic heart beats seem to act like gears of a mysterious engine, or the darkwave nuance of "Fog, Dogma and Bread" could lay in between the absorbing frequencies of some ambient outputs of late 90ies (Omicron, Lagowski's SETI) and the likewise absorbing outputs by other brilliant squires of the label such as Frank Bretschneider and Emptyset. Besides any possible analogies, Dasha's debut on Raster-Noton sounds homogeneneous and in line with the nocturnal dream-like atmosphere that she often tries to emphasize by means of subtle electronic airflows and catchy readings from her own poems (included in the 32-pages booklet on the cd version of the release, which includes some snapshots by Dasha as well) such as the one in French language on "Scratching Your Surface", which features a magnetic dark dub sneaking movement, the almost hypnotical one in English language of "Lucy In The Sky, Lost Diamonds" or the daydreaming surrealism of "Life Time Poem" and "Micro Universe", which could fit the palingenesis of an intimate dreamscape. You don't need to suffer from insomnia to appreciate Dasha's enchanting sonic pills, which act like other than downers.
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Artist: Labasheeda (@)
Title: Changing Lights
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Presto Chango Records
A female fronted post-punk trio (Saskia van der Giessen - vocals, guitar, violin, viola/ Arne Wolfswinkel - guitar, bass, keys/ Bas Snabilie - drums) hailing from a place already known for its eclectic music scene (Amsterdam), Labasheeda is nothing short of a piercing audio experience. Their latest LP, "Changing Lights" can easily confuse you with its unruly experimentation with guitar, bass, drums and unnerving vocal tones. But once you refrain yourself from hitting the stop button and become curious about how this album might eventually unfold, you're in for the kind of musical feast that is more instinctual that you would care to admit. Openly engaging with your grungier senses and not with your intellectual understanding, songs as "Spiral Song", "My Instincts", "Wasteland" or "Into the Wide" make you wonder what will come next as everything on this album seems to be keen on fueling your expectations as a listener. Juxtaposing an angry violin at the least expected moments, "Changing Lights" by Labasheeda delivers the kind of sharp and cool tonalities that are everything but the perfect match for a rigid audience meaning that you will find yourself nodding, moving your feet spasmodically in virtually no time and striving to keep up with the lyrics sometime in between. Because yes, there are also some great lyrics on this album. Apart from digital download and the band's profile on bandcamp.com, "Changing Lights" is also available on transparent blue vinyl with cover design by Arne Wolfswinkel.
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Artist: My Home, Sinking (@)
Title: Sleet
Format: Tape
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The thorny stems on a white background of the sleeve artwork is the diaphragm of this lovely sensorial experience by My Home, Sinking, the project by which Venice-based musician Enrico Coniglio build an ideal bridge between his visionary approach to ambient music and acoustic instruments and the theme of the release, which got announced by the title of the first track "Super Sad True Love Story", perfectly matches both the cassette format and the very first sensation that hits listener's sense, which is not aural but olfactory. The scent from two dried brambles in a little sachet surrounds listener just like the melancholic music, finely crafted with the support of Piero Bittolo Bon (flute), Katie English (cello), Giovanni Natoli (drums) and Peter Paul Gallo (vibraphone), emphasizes the heart-rending somber story told by the voice of Natalia Drepina. The guessed balance of enchanted pastoral folk-like detours and electronics over the whole release erupts into a daydreaming drone just in the final part of this storytelling, when "Cold Stars" gives even more impetus to the narration. Just 66 copies have been printed of this graceful sonic trinket. I warmly reccomend to add one to your musical collection.
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