Music Reviews



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Artist: Klangwart
Title: Transit
Format: CD
Label: Staubgold (@)
Rated: *****
In order to propel a hot air baloon air, Koln-based Klangwart heat this lovely release by an awesome amalamation of old-fashioned electronic music in between the balearic orbits by Manuel Gottsching, the cosmic joyrides of German kosmische knights, some waveforms by William Orbit and the hydrocarbon rhythmical chains and the delightful analogue trajectories by Terry Riley (the closest one to Klangwart's "Transit" is maybe Riley's "A Rainbow in Curved Air"), whose minimal music together with the one by legendary Steve Reich has been a source for inspiration since the times when Markus Detmer and Timo Reuber (the minds behind Klangwart's curtains) met in a seminar on electronic music in 1992 when theyr were students of musicology. The listening experience they offer on "Transit" is other than a bunch of nostalgic inserts as some unforeseen events and unexpected rising of the injecting flame at the bottom of balloon's envelope occur during the flight since the "Passage I", the first journey (remarkably shorter in time than his more-than-10-minutes lasting anthem) after the intro "Ante", where the typical analogue sequence, that could be matched to BBC news jingles or some bizarre experiments of genetic engineering, sounds like heaten by hot flushes of muffles low frequencies before getting siphoned by wide reverberations on the following "Express", which sounds like some psychedelic drifts by Chemical Brothers. The organic chirping of the beautiful "Station", which is closer to some analogue mellotronic stuff from many Swiss producers, and the gentle rhythmical blaze of "Transit" precede the ecstatic electronic secretions of "Plateau", whose injection of soothing feelings didn't get endangered by the molecular agitation of the following "Passage II" or the analogue wrapping of "Exile", whose gradual overheating sounds like the perfect track for the crossing of the space-time continuum inside a starship that seems to land over the fuzzy rippling of the final "Rendezvous". Klangwart's "Transit" could really be considered one fo the most intriguing varnishing of the so-called cosmic music.
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Artist: Cazzurillo
Title: Ghosts Are Surfing Now!
Format: CD
Label: La Solita Minestra (@)
Rated: *****
First off, I have to say that I love the album cover. It evokes the old school vinyl of the 1960s, while keeping it weird with ghosts on surfboards. This self described 'accidentally odd sounds composer and 'one girl band'' from Italy writes on her Facebook profile that 'Cazzurillo would like to resuscitate Syd Barrett and run away with him to the North Pole.' This should give us some indication of what we are in for. This disc consists of only one song that is essentially a really weird rendition of 'Surfing Safari,' as reflected through a lot of funhouse mirrors and strong hallucinogens. I see this in the same spirit of Current 93's appropriation of 'California Dreaming' in their track 'Great Black Time II.' My wife stated that it reminded her of some of the Beatles' more experimental works (e.g., 'Revolution Number 9'), although Cazzurillo seems to have a much better sense of humor. I'm looking forward to hearing more from her. This album weighs in at around 18 minutes.
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Artist: Docetism
Title: Breaking The Circle Of Life
Format: CD
Label: Tavern Eightieth (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this Polish project, but the label explains that the album 'explores the idea of a peaceful escape from life and the service of impulse and desire, aiming to express the possible contents of such an escape. The result is a set of gentle, moving ambient productions combining forest field recordings and murky choral samples with dubby bass and thick, droning strings.' Sounds good, so let's get into the music. 'Poisons' kicks it off with a 2 minute track of peaceful dark ambient. Then 'Parsifal' shifts gears as the clouds part and the sun appears overhead. Peaceful, hypnotic music with a bass line buried low in the mix (at first I thought it was coming from the car next to me). 'Forest Monks' brings the beat to the forefront with a prominent bass drum and voices singing and chanting. The overall feel is still pretty chill, though. Next up, 'The Wheel Of Ixion Stands Still,' a title which comes from the Schopenhauer quote in the liner notes, keeps the mellow vibe going with slow moving, peaceful ambiance and ethereal female vocals. Finally, 'Samadhi' features heavily processed spoken word that seems to be guiding a meditation session at the beginning, middle, and end. Singing bowl tones open and close the track while heavy drone permeates the track. A bass beat runs through it like a heartbeat, adding to the contemplative feel. The best way to describe this disc is something to put on when you need to slow everything down. Very chill stuff. This album is limited to 100 copies and weighs in at around 32 minutes.
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Artist: mic&rob
Title: Archi Cons
Format: CD
Label: Amok Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
I couldn't find much on this duo from France. The label describes them thus: 'mic&rob is live experimental electro-dub-jazz techno music by Nicolas Boutines and Pascal Gully.' Yes. That clears things up. So let's dive right in. 'Allegro' kicks it off with glitchy music reminiscent of 8-bit video games and toy voice box synthesis over warbling, heavy bass drone. It's fun, but at over 18 minutes it seems to go on a bit too long. Next up, we have 'Adagio,' which reminds me of Negativland's sample-heavy music, only without the humor or political commentary. We have snippets of Bach's 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring,' but performed through a slowly disintegrating midi file, which is then joined by samples of the horns from Masterpiece Theater, and eventually a children's choir joins in the ruckus. "Menuet" gives us some of the 'electro-dub-jazz techno' as we even have something of a beat here, although it is not really much you could dance to. Heavily processed voices mix with the occasional clear sample (e.g., 'the bass drum'). Finally, we have 'Rondo,' with clattering noises and percussion throughout, which seems to slow down over the course of the song. There's a lot going on here, but I found it to be less engaging than the rest of the album. Thankfully, this was the shortest track on the album. Overall, this was a pleasant listen. This album weighs in at around 55 minutes.
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Artist: Fanum / Karna (@)
Title: Something Else
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
I was not familiar with these Russian acts, but I have enjoyed the material that Zhelezobeton has put out over the years so I was interested to see this addition to the label. Before you even put the disc in the player, you'll notice a quotation on the disc from Y. Mamleev that states 'We have to know how to suffer without a reason... We have to master pure suffering, have to learn to suffer amidst happiness.' This may give some indication of the feeling that they are trying to evoke here. Thankfully, this was anything but suffering. First up, we have Fanum, with the track 'Final.' This is a nice slab of spacey dark ambient that the label describes as 'an unhurried drift through deserted mechanized spaces, slow loops of soft noises and streams of vibrant drones. It seems like birds singing somewhere? Or is it just a rusty flap creaking in the wind?' It's pulsating and gritty, and at time it evokes the feeling of being in a factory with machinery creaking, whirring, and humming all around you. At other times it shifts to a more spacey feel, with deep, rumbling bass drone. Nicely done. Next up, we have Karna with 'Afterworld,' which the label describes as 'a monotonous post-apocalyptic soundscape imbued by cold moonlight. Lifeless space, painted with pulsating low frequencies and grainy crackling of the electrified air.' The piece kicks off with an air raid siren before diving into noisy, droning ambiance. Over time, it slowly shifts to a more structured feel, with a slow, pounding beat, before dissolving back into diffuse drone. Although they are different in style, they are similar in feel. As such, this hangs together better than one could expect from two different bands. If you have enjoyed the dark ambient music coming out of Russia in recent years, this will be right up your alley. This album weighs in at around 53 minutes.
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