Music Reviews

Artist: Matt Davignon (@)
Title: Pink Earth
Format: CD
Label: Ribosome Music
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****
With "Pink Earth", Matt Davignon continues his experiments with rhythmic-devoid, amoebic-tinged drum machine treatments. It is a curious endeavor to utilize devices intended to create patterns and mostly sounds with a very specific function for virtually everything but. Still, the end result sounds made-to-measure and fits perfectly within the confines of a concept album that, "represents the experiences of an expedition team on a strange new planet, and their impressions of the landscape, flora, and primitive fauna that they encountered."

19+ minute opener 'Arrival / Pink Earth' percolates unhurriedly, beginning with the rising/descending sound similar to that of a buzzing insect, purposeful in its virtual-sounding complexion. Gradually we digress into spiraled, mildly-distorted long tones accompanied by percussive accents, and then a near orgy of subdued blips accompanied by sped-up-/slowed-down fragments of what I'd guess are treated field recordings. The end result of the multifarious, disjointed particles is surprising: an organic-sounding, sonic thicket of sorts.

Most of the other tracks follow suite; some, such as 'Lepidoptera', are more congested than others, featuring acute, concentrated thwacks tirelessly layered to forge yet another fabricated environment. 'Departure' effectively arrests the team's expedition with sampled singing coupled with the sound of radio tuning. It's a concise, fitting end to the album's prolonged aural exploration.

At numerous moments traversing "Pink Earth," visions of a synthetic woodland at nighttime were conjured. I'd wager that's a mission accomplished.
Artist: DMT
Title: Ultimatum
Format: CD
Label: KultFront/Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
DMT's 'Ultimatum' is the second album in "Die Zeichen" series run by kultFRONT and ZHELEZOBETON labels. The first part was released in 2013 - Sal Solaris "Die Scherben 2004-2010". The new album is a tribute to Dmitriy Tolmatskiy who unexpectedly passed away in 2009. Dmitriy was one of the few journalists who popularized the alternative culture in Russia. In late 90's he created the web portal RWCDAX and his famous "Industrial Culture Extended FAQ" which unveiled previously unknown layers of post-industrial art for many Russians. The album mainly consists of compositions never officially released before, taken from CDRs which Dmitriy gave to his friends. There are also a few tracks from the compilations he had time to participate. The album provides a glimpse into various periods of DMT's sonic experiments from 1999 to 2008. It also features fragments of a live performance together with Alexei Borisov in St. Petersburg in December 2005.

As you might expect, this is a very mixed bag of compositions, and as such, cannot be expected to have much in the way of thematic, or musical unity. The first couple of tracks- "Funeral" and "Helter Skelter[Passage 1]" are very much industrial noise pieces, the first with a somewhat slow-paced drum track, the second with monstrous industrial percussion. (The latter is a fragment from a live performance at the Thalamus III festival from 2005 in St. Peterburg.) Both are very heavy on noise chaotics, but somehow there is still a degree of control. I initially listened to these tracks before knowing anything about the CD, and feared this was going to just be a juggernaut of constant noise. Fortunately, such was not the case. "Cambodia" is a bit more ambient, with moody industrial electronic background and and gnashing metallic sounds before some thick ominous chordal pads herald in a freight train of pounding percussion which soon passes. Eventually a less obstreporous industrial rhythm is settled on with menacing electronics over the top. "Waiting for the Rest" offers a kind of industrial ambience with a somewhat martial beat. "Think About It" has some echoed electronic sounds playing over an industrial beat, and the voice sample ("think about it") is repeated often. The next four tracks - "DA 8," "The Call," "Ultimatum," and "My God" are all previously unreleased. "DA 8" has a nice strong industrial rhythm component; "The Call" begins in a kind of orderly fashion with a rhythm track akin to a certain type of pressurized lawn sprinkler, and then is overtaken by hyperactive snare shooting off into oblivion. Title track "Ultimatum" sounds old-school all the way, from the programmed drums to the synths, and even the spoken-word lyrics (in Russian of course). "My God" struck me as a bit ridiculous with an ever more frantic voice babbling away in Russian over an increasingly noisy industrial music background. Disaster? Calamity? Probably, but perhaps not the kind the artist had in mind. "Helter Skelter [Passage II]" also from the Thalamus III festival begins with a sample of the chorus from the original Beatles song, but is soon drown in a miasma of electronics, noise and vocal moaning. "Are You Ready to Die" copiously samples Timothy Leary's dialogue with Ralph Metzner from his 'Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out' album over DMT's electronic psychedelic ambience. A bit rough, but still interesting. "Happines in Pride" is one of the earliest (1999) and also one of the weirdest tracks on this compilation. Its main component is an ascending LFO pitched noise sequence over early Scorn-like percussion. It's repeated nearly over the entire track, and has the effect of being deviously hallucinatory. "Main Stream" is a cacophony of radio voices(at first) and noises, then settles down to a minor roar of industrial and electronic drones and noise. "Lynch," appropriately dedicated to David Lynch is an unsettling but low-key piece of pulsing dark ambient electronica that's relatively easy to digest. "Desert Noise" is black industrial dark ambient reminscent of Lustmord. Final track, "Escape" is the calmest piece on the album, but in its own way, perhaps the eeriest. A nice way to end it.

As I said in the beginning, 'Ultimatum' is a mixed bag, but a good chunk of it will appeal to noise enthusiasts, while industrial and experimental electronica fans should also check it out. It's a shame that Dmitriy had to shuffle off this mortal coil. Who knows what DMT might have been capable of, but at least this as a kind of memento mori. Limited to 300 copies.
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Artist: M.B. - Maurizio Bianchi / Ryan Martin
Title: As Strong As Death Is
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Backwards (@)
Rated: *****
“As Strong As Death Is” is presented as a representation of "the abstract concept of marriage based on the biblical Song of Solomon" and was released as a double cassette on Robert & Leopold imprint and is now reissued by Backwards on a double vinyl. It's always a risk from an artist like Ryan Martin working on a similar theme with a legend like Maurizio Bianchi whose musical personality is at the core of a whole genre and could even be dominant as it's perhaps an influence of his collaborators. Focused on a religious theme, the central concern of Bianchi's work from his return in the 90's, the result is the juxtaposition of the Martin's violin and a controlled form of noise by M.B. which is divided in four parts.
The first side of this release, "Place Me As A Seal Upon Your Heart", starts with the looping notes of the violin and a menacing intense sonic background and, instead to degenerate into a noise track, evolves in the meditative territories of the first part as a sort of contraposition. "As Strong As Death Is" seems to follow the same structure of the first side but, after a static interlude, it returns to the first part of the track as in a musical circle. The third side, "Insistence On Exclusive Devotion", is a noise track which sounds even meditative in the first part until the juxtaposition of sound fulfill the audial spectrum as in the classic Bianchi's musical form. The final side, "As Unyielding As She'ol Is", starts as a follow up of this release and evolve in a meditative ambient track whose quiet resonances are interrupted by sparse noise interludes and closes this release with distant voices and a strange mystic feeling.
Almost predictably in a bunch of moments, specially in the second vinyl, this release sounds more as a proper M.B.'s release than a collaboration but, from a certain perspective, it's the real virtue of this release as it's amazing how there's a religious atmosphere that can be created with noise. Another sure pick for fans of M.B.
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Artist: Keosz (@)
Title: Be Left to Oneself
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
Sometimes a label as Cryo Chamber, whose output is rooted in a strongly codified genre, tries to escape the limits of this approach signing a project with a slightly different approach. Keosz is a project from Slovakia which is not so concerned with darkness and sonic details as other artists of this label and is, instead, closer to the canonical approach of Ambient music so the "analogue touch" of the liner notes sounds like a reference to the roots of this genre.
The soundscape full of details of "Be Left to Oneself" opens this release without the elements shown in "Occurred" which is the core of this release: instead of relying in sonic crafts, Erik Osvald decides to develop a sort of melody so it sound closer to so called Modern Classical than Dark Ambient, as it inserts some violin lines and it doesn't rely too much on drones. "Forfeited" is quiet return to the canonical form while "Forlorn" tries almost a full melody that couldn't be catched as the listener's attention in on the drone rather than in the elements in the background. "Traitor" shows how the violin voice of the synth is treated in an almost orchestral way and "Insecure" is a dreamy ambient track. While "Clearance" is almost an slow orchestral tune, "Low Down" is based on slowly developing melody using tones rather than drones. Above the drone at the base of "Before the End" there's a clear recording of rain giving a vague sense of sadness to the track.
This release is almost a surprise as it marks a sort of crossover of some elements of Dark Ambient and more pop elements so the result is an enjoyable release that tries a melodically approach to the genre which could attract fans of other musical styles. A really nice release.
Artist: Monocorpse
Title: Cease To Exist
Format: 12"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Though every track on Monocorpse's second EP is dark and twisted in its own way, there's a lot of variation between tracks. Opening track "964 Old Topang" channels genuine anger, second track "10050 Cielo Dr" switches to paranoia, yet "12000 Santa Susana Pass Rd" sounds like what you'd get if AI robots in two millenia's time unearthed a book about how to make glam rock and tried to interpret it in a post-apocalyptic underground music studio. "3301 Waverly Dr" sounds like a corrupt MIDI file rendition of "Vienna" by Ultravox, but in the best possible way.

The track names, in case you're wondering, are all genuine US addresses associated with Charles Manson murders. While there's definitely a deep undercurrent of sinisterness running through the whole thing, there are gaps in the visage. The rubbery basslines and the slightly 8-bit robot synths veer some of the production slightly closer to cheap 1980's B-movies than Monocorpse probably intended. Mr and/or Mrs Monocorpse keep themselves tightly under wraps it seems, with their press info and social media showing only the plain covers of their 12"s without any sense of the artist underneath. There's something just a touch too obvious and middle-class about it all, as though it's music that wants to homage David Lynch rather than music that really wants to scare you.
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