Music Reviews



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Artist: Torba (@)
Title: Laavg Drjòt
Format: Tape
Label: Monorail Trespassing (@)
Rated: *****
When Monorail Trespassing releases a new album from an artist I have never heard I usually end up frantically searching the web for more information about them. Jon Borges is probably one of the top 3 label curators in my personal opinion.

A new name (for me) that appeared on his release schedule was Torba. I was very interested in the project when I saw the Musique Concrète label attached to the genre and I also discovered they have been around since at least 2009, shame on me for not finding him sooner.

This tape titled Laavg Drjòt contains samples of several experimental artists from over the last century, these artists include Philip Corner, Curtis Roads, Mercury Hall and Uroruro.

The first track Laavg starts out with some quiet field recordings which are extremely relaxing sounds, I could personally be convinced that the sounds are of a boat resting on a lake at night and also of crickets in the surrounding area. After a few minutes of that unsettling but peaceful sound we are driven into a solid blast of noise.

The second track sounds almost like a continuation of the first but it has more quiet distant spoken parts and more expertly crafted noise.

Torba is a force to be reconned with and I'm sure he will not disappoint in future releases.
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Artist: Strom Noir
Title: Maľované Kvety & Xeroxové Motýle
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
"Maované Kvety & Xeroxové Motýle" collects two unpublished works originally recorded with the intention of releasing them on cassettes. The first one, "against a dwarf", was completed in 2016 and is essentially a drone release while the second one, "painted flowers and xeroxed butterflies", is more oriented towards quiet noise territories as it's from 2011.
The first part is opened by "Widely Opened Window", a track based based on slowly moving drones juxtaposed in such a way that resonates each other and create a suspended atmosphere. "Rozkyv Duše" is based on a similar structure but the drones are substituted by noisy tones. "Saturday Is Gone" develops highly reverberated lines of guitars, or so they sound. "Against a Dwarf" proceeds by accumulation of drones until there's quiet and wide mass of sound that seems firm but it's constantly moving. "Echo v Tebe" closes the first part of this release with a static drone.
The second part is opened by "Tlkot Dreva & Bzukot Kovu" where the guitar tries to emerge from a background of small noises until it covers the sound spectrum becoming a drone. "Painted Flowers & Xeroxed Butterflies" seems to continue in the same path but it remains in a dialectic with the background evolving without a resolution. "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" is an ambient track divided in a quiet first part and a noisier one. The almost unfiltered guitar of "Ttoollosk" is the base for the most evocative track as the overall sound search an impossible hook with a distant past using the reverb to obtain a sound vaguely similar of an old record's one. "Pure II" closes this release with a juxtaposition of guitar notes and a sort of noisy field recording.
This is a really good release for fans of the project as it doesn't sound at all as a collection of outtakes, as it's usual for this kind of operations, and the first part could be well received by fans of drone music and the second part by fans of experimental music. It's worth a listen.
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Artist: Pausal (@)
Title: Avifaunal
Format: CD
Label: Dronarivm (@)
Rated: *****
Pausal is an audio/visual duo from UK which could be classifiable as drone music if they only wouldn't escape the construction of a flat sonic surface using a series of elements to obtain a musical movement.
The first part of this release is made out of "Murmuration", a piece in three parts developed from a performance in Pembrokeshire using new material crafted for the show and new equipment including voice microphones used, perhaps, for the insertion of the sounds recorded into the large hall where it was performed. The first part,"Murmuration I", is developed using violin samples, the crackles of a turntable and the overall structure is a crescendo obtained by the sonic space which add resonances and the synths that, in the second part of the track, construct a loud drones rippled by the violin line. The second part, "Murmuration II", is much more meditative and based on synth whose structure is based on the development of small sustained tones with the background of small sound cells. "Murmuration III" proceeds by accumulating drones and generating movement underlining one of them until, in the final part of the track, they begin a sequence of subtraction until the track ends in silence.
The second part is formed by three track obtained reworking the recording sessions of "Murmuration" and taking the musical material into different territories."Spiral", an impressive bustle of sustained tones that give a great variety to the track, "Scatter", based on small sound elements, which could be tones or small metallic beats or small noisy cells, interacting to obtain a complex audial space and "Soar" that closes this release with a quiet soundscape obtained with slowly moving drones and an almost inaudible background noise giving movement to the most static parts.
Even if it could be unfair to say there's nothing ground-breaking here, there's a lot of work of creating a personal sound from a well established musical framework and there's a lot of ideas developed in the tracks. Absolutely recommended for fans of the genre.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Harsh Noise London #1: Parliament
Format: Tape
Label: Harsh Noise London
I wasn't expecting much from these brutally worked-over recycled cassettes, but the first couple tracks, a live set from Animal Machine, effectively grabbed my attention after a couple minutes. AM radio static-like landscapes, crunchy transitions, walls of deep-belly noise, and hooting high-frequency tendrils poking out of the mess once in a while.

PCRV, opens with a thick, all-lows pulse bomb that switches between sub-flub and feedback squalls, spacey delay creep outs, and surprising flashes of violence that get more intense as the track progresses. I found myself wishing for more clarity in the mix, since the performance was so exciting and seemed a bit coated in filter muck, but damage is damage, and I'm just happy there was so much to listen to.

Gen 26 moves slower than the first two artists, but dizzying stereo field alternations either from effected panning or clashing signals almost made me hold my head in pain/sickness. It's a deceptively simple presentation of a complex assault, but I'm not sure I'll be listening again anytime soon. Seasickness or vertigo-inducing malevolence. Making someone a bit ill with a harsh noise recording is usually regarded with respect, so kudos! Bleah. Like any slow-moving, monolithic piece like this, I eventually was lulled into a head-bobbing trance, but I'm still not interested in taking this ride again.

When the final track from Nryy started, I said, "Wow, this sounds Japanese!" Had to check to confirm, but, yeah, it's totally Japanese. That's not to say it sounded formulaic or stock, I just think Japanoise is always going to have a distinct flavor. The tip-off for me was the "WAAAH WOW WOW WAAAAH" Masonna-esque vocal delivery. A discernible pattern of push-pull tension/release develops as the piece progresses, sucking in with thick walls and lashing back out with squelching highs. Surprisingly, I still feel like the Animal Machine and PCRV tracks moved a bit more, but this is a solid track.

Overall a very tasty compilation. I'd love to hear the full-fidelity recordings of some of these fantastic performances outside of the recycled-cassette muddiness, but I suppose that would be defeating some of the purpose. I'm looking very forward to hearing the other Harsh Noise London offerings.
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Artist: LCC
Title: Bastet
Format: LP + Download
Label: Editions Mego
Accompanied by a press release which shuns talk of performance or instrumentation in favour of discussing the Egyptian goddess after which this release is named, and with cover artwork that frankly makes me squeamish, Ana Quiroga and Uge Pañeda’s second album as “LCC” seems to be setting its stall out early as difficult and inaccessible. The audio behind it, however, is not nearly so harsh.

Almost purely electronic but with other ambient noises blended gently in, it’s a mixed bag of synth-heavy pieces involving washes and oscillations that gently ebbs and flow, backwards and forwards in a mostly very relaxing fashion. It’s sometimes arhythmic, but with tracks like the drum-heavy cinematic tension of “Ka” break it into distinct pieces.

Longest track “Ba” is to me the most successful, blending some analogue synth noises with some sparse heavy percussive hits and wailing higher tones, and utilising the classic grandfather clock tocking sound for steady heartbeat regulation.

Pieces like “He” have synths that move more towards 1970’s Tangerine Dream territory, deceptively simple and slowly evolving, though sometimes cut a little short and deprived of the full prog rock experience, while final track “Us” is notable for its deeper and more mesmerising drone.

It’s a fairly familiar-tasting blend of elements that doesn’t really push the envelope, but as a dark synth work with a filmic ambience, it’s smartly polished. One of those releases that really benefits from good headphones and a darkened room.
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