Music Reviews



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Artist: Isabelle Duthoit, Alexander Frangenheim, Roger Turner (@)
Title: Kochuu
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
I follow Alexander Frangenheim's adventures in the sonic universe with an individual interest, so that after having introduced some of his stuff (and more recently his solo album "Talk For A Listener") on this webzine, here it is another awesome collaborative output. The title "Kochuu" refers to an idea belonging to Japanese architecture: it means "in the jar" - ...and there's no whiskey into it! - and relates to the tradition of creating small physical spaces to create a sort of detached universe from the surrounding environment. If you are interested in this kind of subjects, I could recommend a documentary by Jesper Wachtmeister, dating back 2003. The sound that Alexander on double bass rendered together with percussionist Roger Turner and the amazing French vocalist Isabelle Duthoit (performing on clarinet as well) manages to develop such a concept using guessed stylistic choices. Full of unpredictable twists and turns that could remind that branch of Japanese theatre, where nothing seems to happen all over the play before that dramatic moment that disrupts a supposedly stable balance, the seven tracks on this album got titled as parts of an imaginary agonizing body: since the opening "Blind Stomach", where Isabelle'0s voice seems to emulate the voice of a starving stomach, whose almost soul-breaking need for food and unuseful discharge of gastric acids match the piercing instrumental and rising dramatic instrumental parts, to the final "Dark Haunch", a visionary crescendo that seems to portray of a prisoner on its last legs, the sound on "Kochuu" evokes a scenario where an imagined confinement got easily turned into a sort of sonically acceptable madness. In many moments of the album (particularly on "Deaf Heart" and the almost disturbing "Loose Liver"), the style this trio explored (the release is a recording of an improvisational session they performed at Berlin-based Frangenheim's studioboerne45 in April 2013) sounded so subversive that even some of the boldest free-jazz improvisations could look like stuff for weenuses.
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Artist: Monochrome Vision
Title: The Revealer Of All Life
Format: Tape
Label: Under (@)
Rated: *****
I could find nothing on this artist, and the website for the label seems to be offline. The entry for the label on Discogs says that it is discontinued. That’s a shame, because this is an excellent release and it really should be released in an edition of more than 18. This is a tape of heavy drone, full of hypnotic soundscapes that draw you into another world filled with fog, smoke, and barely perceptible shadows. The different tracks are similar in style, providing a sense of coherence in the work, but still different enough to remain interesting. One could easily see this as a soundtrack to an H. P. Lovecraft story, where the universe is indifferent to the plight of humanity and cosmic horrors and madness are lurking around every non-Euclidean corner. But this is not music that is trying to be scary. If anything, it is peaceful and dark. This cassette is well worth checking out for dark ambient fans. This is a C90 cassette limited to 18 copies.
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Artist: K.K. Null X Dao De Noize (@)
Title: Mizuchi Creation
Format: CD
Label: 4iB Records (@)
Rated: *****
K.K. Null needs little introduction to readers of Chain D.L.K. I was less familiar with Ukrainian artist Dao De Noize. The title references a Japanese water deity that resembles a serpent. To that end, the label describes this album thus: “Just like the impending ferocity of the serpent gliding through expanse of calm water, the album effectively maintains its sonic equilibrium of noise and soundscape through the complex balance of structured pulses, rhythmic noise, drones and hisses with the serene ambiance of nature, mythology and life.” We know that this is going to be a noisy ride, so let’s get into it. This is one long track, but it is supposed to be broken up into two tracks. The first 20 minute section is noisy and hypnotic, with plenty of static to tie it all together. It’s pleasant and relaxing for those of us who enjoy noise. Then the track shifts with piercing, high pitched tones and, oddly enough, bird songs. After several minutes, we have waves of drone, warbling tones, and static. Just after the 40 minute mark, we have more high pitched tones and bird songs. This never really becomes wall of noise, but it is intense and well crafted. I am not much of a fan of high pitched noise, so some of it was not really my cup of tea, but your mileage may vary. This album weighs in at around 47 minutes and is limited to 200 copies.
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Artist: Psicopompo (@)
Title: Synchronicity (Theory of Carl Jung)
Format: CD
Label: 4iB Records (@)
Rated: *****
Psicopompo is the work of German composer and musician Hermann Kopp on violin, tambourine, and electronics, and Italian noise artist Lorenzo Abattoir, who plays the Shruti Box, Timbal & electronics. According to the label, they took for their inspiration Psicopompo, the death guide that accompanies the dying to the afterworld, and synchronicity, the occurrence of two or more events that appear to be meaningfully related but not causally related. In this composition, they left the results “entirely to chance.” Kopp explains this process further: “In no more than a week we recorded several eight-minute-long improvisations – one of us recording the ‘rhythmic’ part, the other one the ‘melodic’ part, without knowing what would be the final result. The mixing was realized with hardly any effects or post-production, two tracks him, two tracks me.” Cool premise – let’s see what it sounds like. Lorenzo Abattoir opens the disc with “Blackfrock,” a track of static mingled with dissonant drone. Kopp counters with “Trovatore,” which increases the dissonance significantly. Like a bag of angry cats with a hornet’s nest thrown in. These two tracks set the stage for what will come next in the collaborative tracks. “PP1” keeps the dissonance going with the addition of sparse junk percussion, then shifts to quiet, plucked strings before getting noisy again. “PP2” shifts gears with a simple, calm, hypnotic synth line, but with sawtooth waves that still give it an edge. This would almost be peaceful if it were it not for the jagged waveforms. Then the percussion comes crashing in to remind you that you’re walking with a supernatural entity into the afterlife. There is some spoken word buried in the mix, but it is difficult to make out anything. Nicely done. “PP3” is a calmer track, with droning tones interspersed with strings and snare drum. “PP4” finishes the disc off with more strings for a nice, calm ending. Overall, this is an interesting disc that brings some of the experiment into experimental music. The music is engaging and interesting and manages to keep you guessing as to where it will go next. Just when you think that it is starting to mellow out, the noise comes back in. But this is not harsh wall noise. Instead, there is considerable restraint shown here. Well done. This album weighs in at around 67 minutes and is limited to 250 copies.
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Artist: Shroud of Vapour (@)
Title: Suicide Forest Sessions
Format: CD
Label: 4iB Records (@)
Rated: *****
Shroud of Vapour is the work of four musicians: Hiroshi Hasegawa (Astro), Hiroko Hasegawa (Rohco), Daniel Sine (L’eclipse Nue), and Yoshiko Honda. I was already familiar with Hiroko Hasegawa and Hiroshi Hasegawa’s work in the legendary noise ensemble C.C.C.C., but the others are new to me. I must admit that my first thought on seeing the title and the cover art was that this would be pretentious neo-folk or worse, but it seems that the title is drawn from the actual place in which the recordings took place, The Suicide Forest in Aokigahara, Japan. According to the label, “The dense forest and its still quiet void of almost all wildlife bring out the very nature of the artists’ true intent, reflecting the atmosphere of desolation and despair of a haunted suicide ground. The weaving in and out of distant female wails and ambient like soundscapes seem to echo the lost spirits of those that have chosen to take their own lives here.” Sounds promising, so let’s get into it. “In Memory Of” is a 49 minute slab of intense soundscape. It opens with a woman singing simple tones (rather than words) This continues throughout the track, giving the composition an otherworldly, mournful feeling (which complements the title well). The music, however, becomes increasingly more forceful, with waves of gritty noise threatening at times to drown out the vocalist. This ebbs and flows, with noise giving way to burbling electronics and static. This track does a lot with the tension between calm, peaceful passages and static-laden, aggressive noise. In some ways, you know that one will follow the other; it’s just a matter of waiting for it to happen. The vocalist gives no clues either, as I could not understand any of her words, making it just more of the composition. Later on in the track, we have some male chanting, but this is just as difficult to decipher. The track eventually ends with a slow decrescendo of noise. Well done, if perhaps a bit too long for my tastes. “If it Pleases the Deceased” keeps the female vocals, but then buries them under a nice wall of noise. Like the previous track, there is a battle between dissonance and quiet, and although the winner seems to be static, the calm wins out in the end. Overall this is a nice blend of noise and ambiance, with just a hint of dread thrown in for good measure. This album weighs in at around 67 minutes and is limited to 250 copies.
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