Music Reviews

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Artist: Kasper T. Toeplitz & Anna Zaradny (@)
Title: Stacja Nigdy w Życiu
Format: LP
Label: aussenraum records (@)
Begins with Penderecki-esque hornet swarm cello sounds. Static begins to creep in, square-wave harsh hints that never overwhelm the mix. Maintains a solid, legit sense of dread. Midway through the first side, there are no jump scares, no jarring peaks. This is just a good, unsettling mood piece.

The didgeridoo was unexpected, but didn’t cause me to leave the experience. I respect its presence here as a reference to the darker edges of tribal existence, i.e., heads on sticks in a desert plain.

A choral drone rises behind whiplash, downed power-line freak-outs. This is the harshest the side has been, but, again, nothing that has me racing for the volume knob. It all has its place, it is all expertly mixed. The drone bed holds everything in place. The subtlety of everything is brilliant.

Holy shit, there we go. There is a sudden explosive sound like a piano being dropped on its lower end. Everything fades out. That actually scared me.

I hope I get to say things like this more often, but this is really all I ask for with music of this nature. There probably aren’t any breakthrough concepts here…electronic sound effects over dismal drones, EQ tricks, crossfaded textures…but it’s done absolutely right, and mixed with great care. This is a fine presentation. Without knowing anything about the artists involved, it’s obvious to me that they know what they’re doing.

Helicopter pulses. Densely layered stuff: the bed, noise washes, a sine tone, static prickles, synth droning… I’m looking forward to flipping the record. The first side ends with a sound of a distant storm, not to use a tired cliché for describing elements of noise. This legitimately sounds like a distant storm.

Second side begins with a piercing, high-frequency bed. Organ-like drone pulse. Bubbly, rapid synth LFO ray gun behind a curtain of static. I think I hear a sad sax. Yes, it’s sax. (This was a blind listen, and I later realized sax was indeed involved). Very slow and tasteful, Breathed into carefully. Feedback-like squalls a couple layers underneath. More high-frequency tones, lots of stereo gymnastics… I have to say again, though, everything firmly in place, maintaining tasteful subtlety.

Heavy sub tones approaching. Big bass pulse. Feedback squalls sounding more like guitar. I haven’t noticed the sax again, and I believe it’s just being expertly massaged into a nebulous presence in the mix.

Square, harshly digital synth squalls somehow easily finding their place amongst very warm textures. Some wah-type effect starting. Guitar or bass, and as it leaves the mix, I realize how thick things have become. Not quite a wall, but definitely a thick haze. Buzzing. Now some very harsh, peaking, clipping prickles far up front. Death siren drones right behind, and another sub-rumbling storm rolling in. I’m now comfortable with the idea that much of the background drone presence is sax.

Sub frequencies have gotten intense enough to rattle some things off a nearby shelf, but I’m still not interested in turning this very balanced material down. The possible sax drones morph into watery synth bubbling. Growling lows push signal limits near clipping-point. Once things start to strip down again, there is one low, growling synth pulse met slowly by another high-frequency whine. Glass tones around the edges as the lows leave, and an insect song that recalls the hornet swarm at the beginning accompanies a sustained mid bed, like a guitar left against an amp a few miles away. Fade out.

The credits reveal that this Switzerland duo used bass, saxophone, and computer on this recording, causing me to wonder if the didgeridoo was either the sax or a sample? Anyways, thank you Kasper and Anna for a fantastic listen. The Penderecki reference I made in the beginning of the review is deserved and apt. This is a fine descendant of his brilliance.



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