Music Reviews



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Artist: Lean Left
Title: Live at Area Sismica
Format: CD
Label: Unsounds (@)
Rated: *****
I guess that if a seismologist listens this live recording (the second one on Unsounds catalogue after the one at Cafe' Oto, London) at Area Sismica, a nice place in Forli', Italy, where the noisy collision by The Ex former guitarist Terrie Ex and Andy Moor, the hectic drummer Paal Nilssen Love and the brilliant jazz composer Ken Vandermark, who played a baritone saxo, a tenor saxophone, a bass clarinet and a phone, held the final incendiary date of a very long tour on 22nd September 2012, the day when Ken celebrated his 48th birthday, he would include their opening tuning as possible earthquake precursors together with radon emission, variations of the ratio between the velocity of seismic primary and secondary waves, electro-magnetic variations, fits of pique by barking dogs and nervously croaking frogs! Four minutes of somewhat menacing tuning precede the moment when Lean Left begins to frack the grounds of free jazz on "Traitors Head", whose lava flow and lapilli placidly merge into "Moti", where you can almost envisage and smell the smoke from charred underbush, volcanic ashes and the slow fiery run of lava rivers which etorts the first clapping by lucky audience. The clapping sounds more enthusiastic at the end of the two following long-lasting eruptions that they conveniently named after two volcanoes, "Terpuk" - the moment when their technical skills reaches the acme - and "South Sister", whose churning explosions are so intense that a chilling break on "Cleft Segment" is almost a necessity before the final fury of "Gada Ale". Really incandescent live-session!
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Artist: Vaniish (@)
Title: Memory Work
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
Memories of dark, new wave and Uk post-punk scenes have not totally vanished in the musical epiphany by evergreen (or I'd rather say everdark) Keven Tecon (former drummer of Wax Idols, The Soft Moon and Veil Veil Vanish), who grouped some fellows of his previous bands (Nick Ott on drums, Adam Beck, second guitarist and keyboard player, and Amy Rosenoff on bass) together for this new interesting project that came after the death of Keven's mother, as Vaniish could be approximately placed in a sort of stylistical interzone in between Sad Lovers and Giants, Bauhaus and Savages even if there some moments when other bands could come to mind (particularly Killing Joke, who could be reminded by the refrain of the title-track "Memory Work", whose words - "Nothing to remember/Nothing to regret/Lights becoming faces/waiting to forget" - get easily impressed upon listener's memory, or Young Gods, whose sound came to my mind on the turbulently paranoid "Observatory Time"), whereas lyrics evoke a consciousness which could be more collective than you could expect as if Vaniish managed to demonstrate that the sonorities they reprised and the emotional realm that belong to Keven, all things considered, could stick modernity. The moments of the album when Vaniish get closer to synth-wave such as "Succession" or "Kaleidoscoped" as well as the closing French song "La foi au fil de l'eau" are the best ones according to my ear response, but fans of both dark and new wave could be hooked by other tracks by this San Francisco-based band.
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Artist: Machinefabriek (@)
Title: Stillness Soundtrack
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements (@)
Rated: *****
This release collects some tracks composed for a series of short films by Esther Kokmeijer and are focused on a more narrative musical forms than previous releases from Rutger Zuydervelt. Even if based of the usual elements, notably a focused melodic instinct, the underlying soundscape is methodically based upon drone and field recordings, perhaps original records of the movie, so it's more evocative.
The quiet melodic lines of "(Chinstrap)" open this release forcing to understand the term stillness as tranquillity rather than boredom. Stillness #1 (The FRAM, Greenland) is an hypnotic track based on a drone and an almost martial beat. "Stillness #2 (Ilulissat, Greenland)" reworks the lines of the first track using a more subtly constructed soundscape while "Stillness #3 (The Protector, Antarctica)" recalls the drone of the second track focusing on the musical impact. "(Chinstrap)", it's not a fault but another track with the same name, acts as an interlude to the second part of this release formed by two long tracks: "Stillness #4 (Yalour Islands, Antarctica)" based upon a simple melodic line but developed for the construction of a quiet and evocative soundscape that is the picture of the places of the title. "Stillness #5 (Lemair Channel, Antarctica)" closes this release with a sad melodic line based upon string instruments.
With his blend of field recordings, synth lines and careful production this is one of the best release of this artist and one of the most evocative and beautiful release of the year. It creates a desire to see the movie. Highly recommanded.
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Artist: Aabzu
Title: It Came from Outer Space
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
Aabzu is the project of Maciek Szymczuk and Åukasz SzaÅankiewicz and it's more related on pop culture than their projects. They stated that "the title is not a direct reference to the science-fiction classic movie from 1953" but it shares that sort of naif attitude towards a form that is perfect for the times when someone is searching for a sound acting as a furniture for his relax time.
The drone of "Beginning Of The Mission" opens this release with a politic's speech to evolve in a dancey tune. "Shambhala Vril" is a nocturne track while "Reptilian Eyes (In Dub)" is based upon a dub-influenced beat. "The Greys" features a bass synth that is the focus of an evocative track. "It Came from the Sky" return to more dance territories while "Perfect Zombie" is based on a carefully constructed drone. "Pleiadian Agenda" is almost a pop tune while "Stellar Converter" deals with a drum'n bass background. "Bohemian Grove", the longest track of this release, is truly evocative with his blend of a noisy soundscape and a sharp beat. "Deep Secret" closes this release with the most subtle and well constructed sounds of this release abandoning the beat for the cause of the atmosphere.
More oriented towards pop atmospheres than experimental ones this release is something that fits good in a party or driving in a car and is a product well constructed, perhaps mastered with a too high volume but it's one of the sign of the times. It won't be on the end of the year playlist but it will stay in the car stereo for a while.
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Artist: vhr-1.7 (@)
Title: lost angle
Format: CD
Label: Eilean (@)
Rated: *****
The entrancing excursion of "Lake Side" where the warm melodies that will swathe listeners on the following "Lost Angle" glimmer introduces this fascinating ambient journey (the 83rd point on the 100-points map of Eilean record label) that Japanese sound-designer Kei Komatsu undertakes on his project VHR 1.7 which overlaps granular synthesis, processed field recordings and brilliant acoustic textures. The lukewarm embrace of the title track definitively tunes listeners to a lovely reverie that carries on the electric breezes where sonic grains occasionally seems to collide with the thick sonic gel that imbues "Meon", whose final bloating low frequency sets the stage for the magnetic permeating dronescape of the following "Occasion", the ephemeral return to an opaque clarity on "Kalon" where the reprise of processed guitar-evoked languor of the title track strikes melancholic chords over a moor of distant traffic sounds in a rainy day as if Kei tried to render the recent halcyon moments, whose emotional fragrances begins to seep in the twinkling piano of the clanking echoes of ordinary life on "Tope" and the taut billows of blurred human voices, boiling pulses and electronic stabs on "Para" before getting lush on the flooding saccharin vacuum on the synth-driven finale of "Meoncentric Theory".
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