Music Reviews

Artist: tētēma (Mike Patton & Anthony Pateras)
Title: Geocidal
Format: CD
Label: Ipecac Recordings
Rated: *****
tÄtÄma is a new duo formed by the unstoppable and untiring Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, Mondo Cane, Tomahawk, John Zorn interpreter) and Australian pianist Anthony Pateras (Thymolphthalein, Pivixki, Pateras/Baxter/Brown, Beta Erko).
I have seen Pateras solo opening for Patton's Mondo Cane in Australia a few years ago I remember being impressed by the vigor with which he beat the shit out of the grand piano on stage. I knew they were friends, but that Patton would find the time to write a whole record with Pateras, all the while writing the new Faith No More record and doing a million other things was undoubtedly a surprise!
"Geocidal" is a concept record about the killing of a place, maybe because it was a created in so many different places, since the two artists live half way across the world from each other and most everything was recorded in a different country (mostly France, Australia and the US). It is an incredibly interesting, original and exciting concentrate of raw power, evil chants, shamanistic percussion, mysterious atmospheres and violent eruptions of screams, distortion and instrumental abuse.
The album features a cast of 12 special guest (including drummer WiIl Guthrie) and is just another testament to the originality, versatility and pipes of the amazing Patton and the quality of the collaborators and co-writers he surrounds himself with.
Absolutely not to be missed!
Artist: Francisco López (@)
Title: The Epoché Collection vol. 1 & 2
Format: CD
Label: Nowhere Worldwide
Distributor: A Closer Listen
Rated: *****
I have very mixed feelings about these two releases. Here is why:
Francisco López's "Epoché Collection" is an ongoing series of untouched environmental field recordings from tropical forests all around the world.
Volume 1 ("Hyper-Rainforest") contains a continuous one hour long mix of recordings made between 1990 and 2010 in tropical, sub-tropical and cold rain forests in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Gambia, Japan, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, USA and Venezuela. These recordings also were the sonic part of a 2011 installation of 82 speakers at the EMPAC (Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center) in Troy, New York, where these sounds have been played back to an audience in the dark at the facility's large concert hall.
Volume 2 ("Yanayacu") contains unadulterated environmental sound matter from the Peruvian Amazon and is divided into 5 pieces totaling 51 minutes.
Both CDs are limited to 300 copies and their sonic imagery are as absolutely beautiful, soothing and relaxing as they come. I've listened to these CDs multiple times, at home and in planes, letting myself be transported to these remote locations and imagining the humid and lush vegetation surrounding me in this auditory voyage.
The reason I initially said that I had mixed feelings, which is also why I have given this 3.5 stars and not more, is that presenting non-transformed field recordings does not really require any particular artistry or skill, other than the skill of recording them properly and managing one's travel expenses to reach all these far away places. Of course I do appreciate the fact that Lopez has traveled far and wide to collect these sources and document them. Without him, there might be no such pristine recordings in the first place! But can one sound artist and composer really claim these as his own creations? Isn't it just the creation of nature that Lopez simply recorded? Isn't he just the recording engineer? The fact itself that he points out himself that these recordings are non-transformed, further validates my doubts about the artistic validity of such exploits. They certainly have historic and geographic validity, but their artistry is questionable in my opinion.
All that said I absolutely love the recordings and Lopez did a fantastic job capturing them and mixing them together on these CDs and I, for one, will continue listening to them over and over. Whether to waste mental energy over validity and purpose, I will leave up to the hopefully many other listener who will get to enjoy the sounds of these forests.
Artist: Gazelle Twin (@)
Title: Unflesh
Format: CD
Label: Anti-Ghost Moon Ray/Last Gang (@)
Rated: *****
Elizabeth Bernholz - I thought her surname was Walling when I had a chat with this brilliant Brighton-based artist after her excellent debut, but linear notes highlighted this relevant pittance - came back as Gazelle Twin on late September (sorry for the delay, but you can vaguely imagine how many releases I daily receive on my exploding mail box...) by an album that differs a little bit from "The Entire City", but I'm pretty sure she didn't dash expectations. In spite of some slight changes of the style she explored - you could easily notice that Benge had a hand in the balanced mixtures between analogue electronics, Wiccan house sonorities, gothic nuances, electro-pop and Knife-like trip hop -, her vocal interpretations wisely dig into personal statements, signs of temporary possession, memories, fear and mindsets by means of a wise matching between lyrics and vocalizations that are going to render her states of mind in a vivid way. I personally prefers the moments where industrial vein as well as the musical flesh more clearly pulsate as it happens on great songs like "Still Life" and "Belly of the Beast", but the whole album is really stunning. Without any sycophancy, Gazelle Twin's last output is really unmissable...
Artist: Feuerseele (@)
Title: Hinter Spiegeln
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Feuerseele is a German folk-rock metal band with bagpipes! as their lead instrument. All the songs are sung in Deutsche, which is not likely to gain them much of a following here in the U.S., or other primarily English-speaking countries. On one hand I admire their uncompromising aesthetic in this regard, but on the other, I'm left out in the cold, not really comprehending what the hell songs are about. 'Hinter Spiegeln' is their second album, but of course I've never heard their first. The music has kind of a medieval bent, and vocalist Markus is quite capable of carrying it off in a Larry Kirwan kind of way. There's some nice variety on the tracks of 'Hinter Spiegeln' and the playing is spot on, but I have to say the constant use of bagpipes is a bit disarming, and eventually becomes kind of tedious. Most of it is pretty jovial, uptempo stuff, and Markus has enough emotion in the vocal department to make an impact. Feuerseele could be a very cool party band at a Renaissance Faire (that allowed electronic instruments), and a stein of brew is an absolute must here. I suppose if you like bands such as Corvus Corax, Alestorm, Skyclad, Subway to Sally, and even Black 47, you might like this. Although I don't hear any "big hits" on 'Hinter Spiegeln', strong tracks are "Jabberwock", "Golgotha" and "Alles Show". Still, if these guys want to expand their market, singing in English on the next album is a must. I think they've got a lot to offer in the medieval folk-rock metal genre, but English is the universal language of popular music, and there's just no getting around that. BTW, translated, the band's name Feuerseele = Firesoul, and the album title 'Hinter Spiegeln' = Behind Mirrors.
Artist: Dryft (@)
Title: The Blur Vent
Format: CD
Label: n5MD (@)
Rated: *****
Mike Cadoo - head of the n5MD label, formerly half of the band Gridlock with Mike Wells, also his solo project Bitcrush (which I reviewed here back in 2013), and now Dryft, which has been in existence since 2000, and 'The Blur Vent' is that project's fourth release. This is the first Dryft release I've heard, but in a way it's not far removed from the aforementioned projects, then again it is, leaning heavier on the cinematic ambient side. I though rather than describing the music on 'The Blur Vent' in terms of the mechanics and components (drones, rhythms, instrumental and synth techniques, etc.), I'd go more with the feeling it gave me, perhaps being a more authentic, although quite subjective evaluation.

Pulsing waves washing over me, and soft, synaptic explosions as the barriers of consciousness break disappears momentarily, then jettisoned on a journey, I'm propelled into over a fantastic landscape of indescribable beauty. Somewhere in space there is a strange game of cosmic ping-pong being played by colossuses that expand space and time. Swarms of tiny, buzzing technoid creatures are busy reshaping terra, and all I can do is watch in awe. Such a variety of color and shapes in the topography, it practically brings tears to my eyes.

A slow climb up a monumental hillside, yawning chasms in the distance, the atmosphere is thick with anticipation. A voice permeates the haze distantly, and there is a certain sense of serenity in the labor. Continuing onward, the atmosphere is thinning and I'm becoming lightheaded. The haze has lifted and the blue sky stretches toward infinity in any direction. At the summit I can see life carry on below- great and terrible things, the history of a thousand civilizations flash before my eyes. So much drama and trauma, then it all fades to dust, as if it never happened. We are left with naught but memories, as if it was all but a dream.

Ever so slowly we proceed through the thick miasma; little gravity like hopping on the moon. Eventually we gain our bearings and navigate this bizarre landscape, limbs moving in awkward directions, narrowly avoiding pitfalls, every so often crunching on the surface. Near the precipice the void appears - sparks of light can be seen in the distance of the great beyond. We know we cannot cross that vast ocean of the unfathomable, yet we yearn to. I want to feel serenity, yet all I perceive is sadness.

Waking from the dream I wonder if it was a dream at all, or a glimpse of the way the universe really works. Human perception is so finite compared to the cosmic mind. Logic becomes irrelevant and the dance is the only thing that matters. Just coming to this conclusion is a revelation in itself. So revel in it. Joy overcomes sorrow and regret. We can only move forward, and there are no mistakes. Regardless of the path or paths we take, the journey is as important, if not moreso than the destination.

Well, there you have it. Your take on 'The Blur Vent' is likely to be quite different than mine. It's an awesome work that probably won't play the same to any listener, and may not play quite the same on repeated listenings. Cadoo has come up with something really incredible here, and I heartily recommend it.
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