Music Reviews



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Artist: Ferran Fages & Ernesto Rodrigues (@)
Title: CRU
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Anytime I listen to something by Spanish sound artist Ferran Fages, who gained some acknowledgements in the improv scene for a set of interesting experiments mainly on electronic devices but also on turntables and guitars, I have the impression he manages to enhance silent brakes in between more or less drone-like sounds. On the occasion of this release, he co-signed with Ernesto Rodrigues, who inserted some snippet of more or less modified tones of his viola, you could imagine that those silent brakes is the field recording they took in the middle of some street, which features the 37-minutes lasting track and is the really pervasive elements of this recording, where their inserts (I'm not sure they recorded and inserted in different moments or simultaneously, even if I could guess Ferran and Ernesto put their resounding stuff in different moments as the linear notes say that "CRU" was recorded in Barcelona in 2013 and in Lisbon in 2014) could be like thoughts or feelings in between the overwhelming and somehow disturbing "silence" of road traffic noise, which managed to interrupt the stream of consciousness of the sentient passer-by or bystander. It's neither an exhibition of samples nor of compositional skills, but it could be considered a likewise fascinating listening experience.
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Artist: Konstantin Sukhan/Yury Favorin/Alexey Sysoev
Title: It Don't Mean a Thing
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
The mixing board of Alexey Sysoev has no input, but its hissing white noise sounds like a fog which gradually submerge the hits on piano's strings and board by Yury Favorin and the strangled sound that got emitted by Konstantin Sukhan's trumpet, two instruments which are closer to somehow phantasmagorical entities in the rising magnetic saturation of seemingly empty noises or I could rather match them to dangerously radioactive objects, whose radioactivity got measured by the noises coming from the mixer in the first part of this release. The second part got ignited by the ringing noise of a sort of broken intercom, where this skilled sound artists implanted a set of almost disturbing interferences, a sort of metallic chewing and locking that got supposedly derived from piano elements, a wheezing tone of trumpet and occasional hits on piano keys by rendering an electrically charged cloud, which gets more and more evanescent, but the peak of compression got reached on the third and last part of this output, where the three sonic entities seem to mirror the noises of invisible bugs in a nocturnal urban scape. Anyway don't try to look for a meaning of what these guys made while Maxim Khaikin recorded their sessions in Moscow (it dates back the 1st of July 2014), as It Do(es)n't Mean a Thing and this kind of intellectual honesty can only be appreciated.
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Artist: Starving Insect (@)
Title: The Great Nothing
Format: CD
Label: Dark. Descent. (@)
Rated: *****
You can guess a certain skill in approaching somehow old-fashioned sonorities of Stockholm-based producer Alexander Kassberg, the guy behind Starving Insect's torn curtains, since the opening "Overhead Without Any Fuss, The Stars Were Going Out", whose fuss lies on a typically thumping bass tone that was extensively used by gabber-techno makers in the glorious age of pink elephants, which rises together after getting down the shaft of claustrophobic industrial sonic entities in the first part of the track, where a menacing voice states that "all life is a waste of time" sets the slightly disquieting emotional ground. The knocking dry beats got intersected by the rubberlike "gabberesque" ones, squeaking chains, weak claps and morbid blowbacks on the following "Breeding The Threnodies", the first collaborative track with Robin "Omnicide" Alander as well as one of the most recently recorded by the insect, which keeps on digging mazes into previously fertile grounds on the more dark/EBM oriented "Sleep Is Death", over the agonizing roars of distorted bass of "There Are No Doors", the slaughtered bass-pumped procession of "IDDQD" - "something different" or "nothing at all" according to the sampled voices that Alexender inserted in the track -, the quasi-epic sinisterly fetid breezes of "Dormant Storm" - the atmosphere of a forthcoming tragedy got nicely emphasized by an alerting shout, warning of a coming storm - and the snarling hits of "Visions of the Blind Dead", which features an ill gothic dulcimer melody over the same old mincing of sharp hammers. The second collaborative track with Omnicide, which ends this release, titled "Allt Dor", is maybe the one where the above-described pre-apocalyptical poisonous fumes got their better shape, whose combination of dark nuances and wisely decelerated hardcore techno steps could let you imagine a rave-party for zombies (or maybe for a growing part of our plagued societies, which seems to be haunted by starving insects...?). The author suggests to play it loud...consider his suggestion!
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Artist: deNeuve (@)
Title: Ugly
Format: CD
Label: Blowpipe Records (@)
Rated: *****
It wasn't terribly long ago that I reviewed deNeuve's 'Old Bruce' 12" and I found that work enigmatic and difficult. 'Ugly' might be considered deNeuve's "commercial album" in comparison, although it is far from commercial. André Bach & Mark Tegefoss have been busy constructing short pieces (only one is a couple seconds over 5 minutes) that rely heavily on layered loops. Now obviously looping is nothing new in electro-industrial music, and from all the technology available now to do it there has never been a better time for the looping artist. Unfortunately there has also never been a worse time as any yahoo with a decent digial toolbox can create and layer loops. (I even have some experience in this myself.) What matters though is how interesting these compositions are, and a lot of them tend to get boring due to the repetition factor, and also a lack of creativity. Plenty of repetition here on 'Ugly' but nothing I would call boring or uncreative.

From the get-go on the opener "Wolfspace", deNeuve go absolutely cuckoo with industrial beats and synths and samples of children's voices. It's an attention getter to say the least and you can bet your ass I'm going to that little girl's party just to see what the hell is going on there. The tracks are unified by certain elements - looped drum and percusion rhythms; looped synth sequences; recurring cinema dialogue samples; other looped elements. On "Our English House" there is a dance beat, low moaning synth, looped bass guitar pattern, looped dialogue sample ("there are certain things"..."you can't understand"..."the moon"..."repeated"..."do as I say"..."let me worry about"...) and other elements. It has a tribal feel, and although the rhythm is nearly constant, other elements change over time. Intense without going into overkill. "Anna Camprena", a fairly slow piece, makes use of what seems like orchestral string samples and foreign dialogue samples, among other elements. Some cleverly combined rhythm loops - drums/percussion, bass, musical box, form the basis for "Paris Deaux 55", and they're pitch-shifted over the course of the track, while various snippets of French dialogue are woven throughout. "Molotrop" makes use of trip hop drumkit and percussion loops and accompanying bass while various voices electronically manipulated beyond intelligibility appear and disappear into the mix. There is a weird feel about this one that just has to be experienced rather than merely described. Still, maybe the most "normal" thing so far. The rhythm doesn't begin on "Western" until 1:25 has elapsed, and prior to that you get some bassy synth sonics and other electronics, snippets of dialogue samples, and squawking guitar chord samples. When the rhythm comes, it's relentless (with a few breaks) and the mix of samples is controlled chaos. "Young Lines" sounds like spastic Philip Glass in a blender. I particularly like the electro-acoutic rhythm looping that begins "Killing Alvin", but that changes soon enough. Electronic seagulls, vocal and dialogue snippets, an incessant bass rhythm, and other rhythmic elements combine to form a very strange scenario. I can't even describe "1980 Anger" but it just might be the most abrasive thing on the album. Quite relentless. "Lee and Margot" has an aura of mystery to it, depending on a variety of echoed electronic (or electronically manipulated sound samples) for its rhythm. Psychedelic to say the least. The Ugly Mix of "Old Bruce" doesn't do much to change the original in my estimation, but it does seem to fit right in with this album. Finally we have "Morning Boy" (also from the 'Old Bruce' 12", and here this piece seems to fit right in as well.

While many might find 12 tracks of this madness a bit overwhelming at once, in small doses (a couple of tracks at a time) it should be easily digestible and often quite rewarding. There is plenty of variety, and enough variation so the repetiveness doesn't get tiresome. I know a lot of work must have gone into this, and hopefully deNeuve will be rewarded by enough purchases from the fine folks at Blowpipe to affirm the quality of their latest endeavor.

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Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: Blue Days
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
The new release from Robin Storey's project is a return to a more concise form while his previous releases of new material were based on long composition mostly based on drones or on sonic research. "Blue Days" is a partial return to his classic style with great emphasis on the rhythmic element and the meditative use of oriental wind instrument, however in this release there's a research for a defined sound spectrum that was absent in those releases that were mainly based on the hypnotic effect.
The metallic beats of "winters chime deep" introduce the listener into a sonic field vaguely reminiscent of the past of this artist but with an better attention to details. "On frozen air" is an hypnotic track based on a sound texture and a fistful of samples. The synth line of "no one came" gives an undoubtable charm to the track while "in black" is characterized by the oriental beats typical of his classic pages. "Long time ago now" is one of the few track featuring a proper vocal track while "the angels called" recalls the ability of Robin Storey to develops tracks using almost only percussions as elements. "In golden church" is an ethereal track based on drones while "with dance of trees" is based on loops of flutes. "Air gliden" is based on a soundscape obtained by filtered samples to expand their resonances and echoes. "Black shadows" features his known structure for flute and percussions. "In static bursts" is a small noise interlude while "small light" is another interlude for bells. "Endless" is a meditative track for voice and synth and "blue days" uses an hypnotic beat and slowed down samples and the voice closes this release singing the album's title.
Obviously far enough for any important deviation from a form which has influenced many artists, it's a release that confirms the Rapoon's ability to evolve his language neither overturning it nor being trivial. It's really worth a listen.
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