Music Reviews



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Artist: Phi Bui (@)
Title: Unnoticed Moments
Format: CD
Label: Eilean Rec.
Rated: *****
Almost simultaneously to the pin added by Daniel K.Böhm, French label Eilean Rec. added another point on its sonic map employing another debut, the one by San Francisco-based beatmaker, composer, and producer Phi Bui. His elegant combination of lo-fi trip-hop and ill-hop movement (in order to give you a vague idea of what you are going to listen, many tracks in "Unnoticed Moments" could stylistically resemble stuff by Naohiro Fujikawa aka Bisk - check in particular "Moonstruck Parade" - or some outputs by German label NON by Martin Eugene Raabenstein), concrete sounds and a set of samples, that sound like musical or sonic clips from more or less defined moments of the past, are the main ingredients of this beautiful record. The last aspect I described is maybe the most relevant, as Phi Bui seems to exhibit a set of watercolors or engravings taken from old pamphlets by an hybridization of tape or vinyl hissing, streaming of samples from a range of old TV movies, chiptunes, looping lullabies, harp, piano or guitar driven mini-melodies and other resounding entities, shuffling ages and "antiquating" each tune. Nuances of a vague melancholia don't sound off-key at all. It deserves an aural check.
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Artist: Phurpa
Title: Chöd
Format: 2CD (double CD)
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
The title of this work is a Tibetan term which roughly means “being cut off” and is the practice of sacrificing the body. According to the liner notes, this practice include the completeness of existence which includes the bright part of being and the darker ones. As in their previous releases, the musical form is based on voices and traditional instruments and is based in a relatively non occidental canon as their vision of drone is less related to sound and completely focused on an aid to meditation.
The first part of this release starts with a vocal chant where the most bass frequencies of the voice are explored to obtain something between the religious rite and experimental music; where the voices stop sparse beat appear as a small interlude between sections. The second section of the track is based on traditional wind instruments, with a sound similar to a bagpipe, that create a dialectic between the two registers as if there's was a cold and a cold light. The voice return in the third section with a more tight dialogue with the drum and is resolved by the voice which returns to the point where the track started.
The second part is opened by the wind instruments which develop the tension of the second section of the first part into a sort of juxtaposition of two lines, a fast one and a slow one, and their dynamics is able to evolve in a clear dialectic as one voice is highlighted with respect to the other in real alternation until the fast line close the section. The second section is focused on the chant which slowly evolves from bass pitches to higher ones with small silent section with sparse cymbal's shot between the tone's change, until the resonances of the recording room close this release.
This release is a sonic monolith which could be rated as a masterpiece without any doubt, however their music is so extreme that the casual listener could be overwhelmed and eject the disc after few minutes. The patient ones, and fans on drones, will be taken into a deep reflection on existence and meditate a lot on it. Obviously unrated but it's one of the records of the year.
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Artist: Metatron Omega (@)
Title: Sanctum
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
The follow up of "Gnosis Dei" is another exploration of esoteric and religious traditions in the framework of dark ambient and from the liner notes it seems influenced by templar like orders where elements of warrior's culture were mixed to monastic ones. So, tones vaguely similar to the gregorian ones are particulary evident but are balanced with menacing ones as if there was a hidden enemy.
The solemn opening of "Transductio" evolves from a background of field recording of birds into a drone in the second part of the part to generate a sense of journey to a place to another. "In Search of Lost Wisdom" exposes an inverted structure: while the first part is based on drones with a rich structure, the second one is based on long and sustained bass tones. While the first part of "Cultus" has a sort of religious atmosphere, the second one has a menacing one as sometimes the track approaches silence. The bells of "Trinitas" introduces another track with more or less the same structure and exposing an acute sense for small evocative noises. "The Eastern Star" slowly evolves as a sort of journey with all the elements of the previous track but a sharper sense of narrative. "Sanctum" closes this release juxtaposing drones until an apparent return to solemnity preludes to silence.
This is a solid release in the path of the previous by this label which continues to publish releases that could not apparently present particular differences between them but are developing a sense of narrative which lacks only a visual element. While "Gnosis Dei" lacked a variety of structures, this one shows a progress from this perspective so their next release could even be something remarkable but this one is recommended only for fans of the genre.
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Artist: Marco Marzuoli (@)
Title: Appunti
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: éter (@)
Rated: *****
After some really good releases with How To Cure Our Soul, it's time for the first solo release of Marco Marzuoli. "Appunti" is a quiet short sonic watercolor focused on loop rather than drones but the hypnotic effect of his output remains intact.
The track revolves around a melancholic bass guitar loop tying together another bass guitar loop and a fistful of effects which create an aural spectrum similar to the cover image i.e., while everything seem static, something begin to evolve. The structure is able to escape the boredom that could arise in a so minimal framework with a sort of poetical afflatus created by the underlying drone slowly generated by the resonance which is fully audible in the background of the second part of this release.
This is a release whose radical writing could be not so well received by listeners accustomed by entertaining sound that reawakens the attention as soon as possible in a sort of thought's privation. Music for humble meditations.
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Artist: Alexis Tyrel
Title: Know It When You See It
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: LessIsMore
Minimalist house label LessIsMore serve up a stacked EP here, four original tracks plus two remixes.

The four original tracks are all thumping, tribal affairs with heavy kicks, vocal grunts. With two-bar and single-bar stabbed riffs and sparing use of twinkling upper-end effects, it’s a familiar and comfortable set-up that satisfies without being exciting.

“Brick House” has a repeating vocal snippet saying “house” (possibly an Eddie Amador sample, I’m not sure) which feels like a throwback to late 80’s Chicago sounds. There are tricks reminiscent of old Deep Dish mixes in the rhythms as well, giving things a distinctly retro flavour at times.

“New Religion” is already the most floaty track in the pack, and Herman Cattaneo & Soundexile’s remix softens things up somewhat in the drum department, and brings some unusual glitchy breakdown effects around the five minute mark, but essentially these are subtle dressing changes on the original recipe, rather than any kind of radical rework.

Gideon’s remix of “Man In The Sky” adds a little urgency to proceedings and re-addresses the builds and drops in interesting ways, treating the track to an evolution rather than a revolution.
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