Music Reviews



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Artist: Elian
Title: Harrowgate
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
One of the relatively older entries on Home Normal that reached my headpones after some months is the second album for the excellent Ian Hawgood's imprint by Richmond-based electronic music maker Michael Duane Ferrell, better known as Elian. Such a time shift could make sense as I won't wonder if it came to us from some dimensional port facing on the past or the future due to the sci-fi scenery that Elian's music manages to evoke, as the five parts of "Harrowgate" could trap listeners by an interesting amalgamation of pre-Kraftwerkian electronics - think about all those composers such as Mel Kaiser, Oskar Sala or Tom Dissevelt, whose stuff got largely used by science fiction movie makers- fter a digital repainting and a series of contemporary compositional tricks such as binaural beats ("Harrowgate 2"), flangered echoes ("Harrowgate 3"), dark symphonies that sound like having built by means of overlapping of electronic particles ("Harrowgate 4") and droning vacuum injections ("Harrowgate 5"), which highlight the sense of derangement of listening experience. Besides this somehow old-fashioned and heavily synth-driven nuance, "Harrowgate" could dip listeners into a mental reverie over outer space, where gravitational pulls are just like an ancient memory of an almost forgotten previous life.
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Artist: John Chantler (@)
Title: Still Light, Outside
Format: CD
Label: Inventing Zero
Rated: *****
The main sonic input of the fourth album by British sound artist John Chantler, the pipe organ at London's St John at Hackney church, which got processed at Stockholm's Elektronmusikstudion EMS, got almost immediately saturated to the point that some listeners could imagine a pious organist had some mystical experiences while playing on it and decided to turn his session into a piece of psychedelic space-rock suite: its holy halo on the opening title-track "Still Light, Outside" got highlighted by almost dissonant reverberations and distortions, heavy tonal overlapping and circular tremolo which could give the impression that John tuned the organ to the light effects that stained-glass windows of some churches project into the building during certain hours of day. The first of the three parts of "The Long Shadow of Decline" pierce listeners by means of a very low frequencies which got simultaneously played alongside likewise high ones and electronic subterranean pulses and noises, which could let you imagine they come from the maintenance of submarine; these three inputs sound like having been reshuffled in the following second and third part, but John manages to dip them into different luminous intensity by replacing them into almost hypnotical overstretched organ tone (part two) or amniotic fluids inside which even electronic fragments, noisy disturbances and flaky scrapes sound somehow densely and harmoniously compacted.
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Artist: Enmarta
Title: Sea of Black
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This project is shortly described as 'combining ritualistic elements, fine texture work, throat singing and live viola' and, interesting enough, this means that it layers melodic pencils upon a dark ambient canvas. This way, this album avoids that sort of déjà vu which is the main problem of this scene.
After the field recordings of a sea, "Enmarta" introduces the listener in an apparently conventional dark ambient setting but, after a barely audible line, an harmonic chant enters to shift the musical palette in another direction. "Dark Asylum', after a first part with rhythmic field recordings, evolves juxtaposing lines of synth. "Aesthetics" is almost a piece for violin with a drone as texture. "Nekrosis" uses drums and violin as an almost inaudible elements as they are buried into the soundscape. 'Putrefaction Chamber" is almost static track with sudden moments of quiet noise. "Ecstatic Paradigm" closes this release with lines of synth slowly evolving in the final drone.
As it stays at the border between a dark ambient album and a melodic, post-rock in a certain sense, it's a release that is a sure pick for fans and should be heard by whom is convinced that some project at least try to create something new. Truly recommended.
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Artist: Metatron Omega
Title: Gnosis Dei
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
Metatron Omega is a Serbian project inspired to Eastern/Western esoteric and religious traditions so it tries to enact the musical space that is typical of the use of resonances and harmonics of this traditions. The main characteristic of this release is that, instead of slowly evolving a drone, they lasts usually less than a minute and are mixed rather than layered so it's as closed as structure as open in the musical outcome.
The initial track, "Apotheosis', is based on a sequence of drone and some field recordings while "Godhead Emanation" uses some distant voices in the middle of the track. "Eye of Providence" sequences the drone to the point to have almost a proper track. "Ordo Draconis' returns, only in the first part, to the typical use of resonance to fill the musical space. "Hierosgamos" uses bell's samples and field recordings while "Hypostasis" and "Transfiguration" close this release trying to focus on sound aesthetic rather than musical development.
As all tracks are based upon the same musical structure, this release starts to be a little too predictable in the second half; however the careful production exalts the choice to use drones to move sound rather to simply expose it. A nice release.
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Artist: SuperImpose (@)
Title: Edinburgh
Format: 12"
Label: Wide Ear Records (@)
Rated: *****
Named after the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh where they recorded it on live stage - at Reid Concert Hall on March 2013, to be precise -, SuperImpose, the bicephalous project by German trombonist Matthias Muller - I already introduced his name when writing about Foils Quartet - and jazz drummer Christian Marien - the first time I heard his hits occurred three years ago on "Nulli Secundus", another interesting release on Portuguese label Creative Sources where he performed together with Andreas Willers and Meinrad Knee -, recently submitted this impressive live recording for Swiss label Wide Ear to my aural attention. Their session was splitted into two long-lasting (approx 18 minutes each) parts, whose experimental grip turns the listening experience of their interplay into a possible games of association of ideas and images they could evoke, where they keeps on exploring the boundaries between sound and noise, lack of rhythmical structures and rhythm. They don't render an embryonic or primeval stage of sound, but it seems they explore the stages that immediately precede sound. For instance, the first ten minutes of "Part 1" could give you the idea that SuperImpose translated the biological growth of some mysterious entity, so that the disarticulated percussive joints and the noises that Muller make by dampening breath and restricting modulations within his trombone could sound like the somehow ponderous steps towards a proper phrase or sound. Check it out to tickle your imagination.
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