Music Reviews



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Artist: Langbard
Title: Remnants Part One
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: 6913 Digital
“Remnants” is a four track EP of two fairly distinct halves. The first two tracks, “Kroma” and “Buurn”, are instrumental melodic techno with a gentle, synth, spacious flavour. The simple but endearing bouncy melody on the former and the expressive lower lead synth rises and falls on the latter make them DJ-friendly in a progressive, mid-set way- not entirely flat, but neither particularly dramatic.

“Precipice” and the title track are also techno, and essentially have the same ingredients, but with a clearer darker flavour from the off. Thicker, pounding kick drums and a classic acid line on “Precipice” make it quite indulgent in a retro way, placing it somewhere in the mid to early 90’s, but it’s a winning formula and I’m always happy to hear it. The title track is not quite so dark, flipping back round melodically to the lighter tones of the earlier tracks, but here the darkness comes from other sources- the rumbling bassline, and the long-ish and quite abstract breakdown with ghostly voices.

As well as providing no info about the artist, the promo pack mis-spelled “Remnants” as “Remanants” more often than not. If you can’t find it searching “Remnants”, try “Remanants”, in case it’s been distributed under the wrong title too. Apparently this is the first in a series, so hopefully the spelling question will be cleared up by part two! It’s a pedantic spelling point but it’s a point worth making, as it IS worth seeking out this EP.
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Artist: Clarice Jensen
Title: The Experience Of Repetition As Death
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: 130701/Fatcat Records
Brooklyn-based cellist Clarice Jensen has recorded and performed with an impressive range of artists, notably Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Björk, and many more. Her second album “The Experience Of Repetition As Death” was recorded in late 2018- not long after Jóhannsson’s death- and whether deliberately or not, it feels very influenced by that composer’s work, as well as drawing Philip Glass comparisons at times.

What’s remarkable about this album is that it’s entirely created on a cello, but through an impressive and deft use of effects and layering, it ends up sounding like an entire ensemble work of multiple instruments, both acoustic and synthetic. The ‘proper’ cello sound does not get preferential treatment, although it is certainly integral to pieces like the beautiful sign-off piece “Final”. But if you weren’t explicitly told it was all cello-sourced in the liner notes, there’s a strong chance you might not realise.

“Day Tonight” exemplifies the overall sound neatly in a twelve-minute, self-contained form, with its rotating array of star elements ranging from choral-like hums at the beginning, through to short acoustic melodic loops towards the end, always accompanied by more familiar-sounding super-long plaintive string sounds.

The Philip Glass influence is most noticeable in “Holy Mother”, with its relentless organ-like chord arpeggios sounding very much like the “Koyaanisqatsi” bonus track you never heard before.

It’s certainly quite conventional, and doesn’t push on experimentally in any way from some of the composers mentioned above, but overall it’s a beautiful, velvet-like album of rich comforting sonics. It might be just the tonic people need in these troubled times.
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Artist: tētēma
Title: Necroscape
Format: CD
Label: Ipecac
Rated: *****
Tetema is the cross-continental duo project by American composer/singer extraordinaire Mike Patton and Australian composer/pianist Anthony Pateras.
Patton needs no introduction, he's simply the the most amazing, transformational, eclectic and creative singer alive. Anthony Pateras is a composer and ground breaking pianist whose interest in analog synthesis and tape loops have sparked this collaboration into life.
Their last album "Geocidal" came out 5 years ago and this time they are actually joined by violinist Erkki Veltheim and drummer WIll Guthrie, effectively turning the project into a quartet.
The 13 tracks present their most stretched out visionary sonic voyeurism yet, a true kaleidoscope of influences, ideas and cross-cultural collision. Where on their previous record the piano (and all the sounds generated with/by it) where the fabric upon which Mike could weave his vocal acrobatics, on "Necroscape" the harmonic content gets a lot more intangible, like a bubbling magma of organic soundscapes ("Invertebrate", "Sun Undone", and the Morricone tribute "Funerale di un Contadino"), while the physicality comes in the form of a greater rhythmical dexterity and more defined pulse ("Wait Till Mornin", the Neubauten-ish "All Signs Uncensored", "Dead Still", "We'll Talk Inside A Dream") and aggression ("Cutlass Eye", the Geocidal-ish "Haunted On The Uptake", "Soliloquy" with its micrtonal buchla).
This broadness of approaches offers Patton an even greater field of action, so much so that you can hear him sing, scream, beat box, throat-sing, whisper and creepily lullaby you just like he starts off with in the opening title track.
Anything Patton touches is pretty much gold, so the question here is not whether it's good or whether it's gold, but what is built around the gold and with all that gold when 3 other creative people add fuel to an already highly combustible fire! I think you know the answer!
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Artist: Bernard Parmegiani
Title: Violostries
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Recollection GRM
Recollection GRM’s unearthing and revitalisation of its rich archive of avant garde and music concrète recordings this time offers up three long compositions from Bernard Parmegiani, from between 1964 and 1971.

The title track “Violistries” (1964) spends most of its first half littered with violinist Devy Erlih’s staccato stabs and squeals that feel skittish and impatient, but then takes a deep sombre dive in its second act with a combination of low drone and strained string that sounds decidedly horror-movie-ish, quite Kubrickian, sinister and not for the faint-hearted.

“Capture éphémère” (1967) is fascinatingly different, an electroacoustic array of phased drone sounds, breathy vocalisations and radiophonic sci-fi buzzes and zaps from the lower end of the frequency spectrum, interspersed with periods of impulsive, dense, chaotic atmospherics. Contrary to the previous piece, this work gets busier rather than gentler overall, but not predictably or consistently. Originally recorded as a quadraphonic work, this is a 1988 stereo version that despite the channel limitations, still feels immersive and encompassing. It would certainly have sounded amazing live.

“La Roue Ferris” (1971) is a far more scientific work, solely focussed on electronics, short and long wave patterns (from or inspired by a Ferris wheel’s spin), and long overlapping resonances that become their own textures. There’s a melody at play here, a short three-note pattern that emerges out of the overlapping and loops at length, with the occasional unexpected shift keeping proceedings tense. Some overlaid slams and percussive hammering adds a surprisingly aggressive human touch.

This is a very diverse range of pieces, that without the label, you could certainly believe were the work of three different composers. Putting them together in one collection frames them nicely though, and the progression between them feels musically logical rather than just chronological.

I would recommend that you ignore the oddly naive cover artwork, which mis-sells the depth and compositional maturity on display here. For people like myself not already familiar with Parmegiani, the Recollection series offers up another release that, with hindsight, was ahead of its time.
Mar 31 2020
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Artist: Freddy43
Title: EP03
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk
Over two years after “EP02”, Freddy43’s “EP03” is a pack of three downtempo electronica instrumentals from the Dutch producer. It’s characterised by some crisp trap-like beats, and a hip-hop swagger combined with a very clean sound, and some rich subbass work that really give your speakers some exercise (much-needed exercise now that your speakers aren’t allowed to go outdoors nowadays).

There’s a slightly bubbly twist in each one, in different ways. “Blowfish” gives a breathy, backwards-style synth, while “Polo” has a squeaky, curious arpeggio line that feels oddly damp.

“Serpent” is the odd-one-out of the three, with a much more laidback beat and bassline that step surprisingly close to jazz. Its oddness comes from the expressive, wobbly and relentless melody line and vocoder-ish noises that are decidedly Luke Vibert-ish at times.

Averaging under four minutes each, these feel like instrumental versions of radio tracks rather than DJ-friendly items, and the sheer amount of empty space in the mid- and top-range really make these tracks feel like grime tracks with the raps taken off. A smart lyrical rapper could have a field day working with these, they’re practically ready-made.

If you’re not a rapper then this is an interesting little pack of electronica curios with a nice quirky character. Something gently different.
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