Music Reviews



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Artist: Explosion Technology
Title: Manifestation
Format: CD
Label: Artificial Sun (@)
Rated: *****
Next newcomer project for our Western-based ears which hails out of the huge ex-Sowjet territories: This Ukrainian project out of Kharkov debuts on the Russian Artificial Sun label with a 9-track album. If it comes to describe their music, they are too based mainly in the Industrial-/Metal-Crossover genre with Russian lyrics throughout the album. What makes them standing out of the wide mass of mediocrity is surely their influence of Alternative- and Soundtrack-like anthems. The vocalist with his energetic and angry performance sounds very charismatic and natural-clear in his expression. He is surely one of the best Metal-shouters signed so far to the Artificial Sun roster. The straight, a bit on the likes of Ramstein reminding track 'Impuls Life' represents one of the best tunes here. Same counts for 'Na The Side', which starts calm and gently, until theMetal-driven rage storms in. The definitely best track is the cinematic driven, with some synthesizer bass-lines supported last instrumental track which approves their talent for thrilling Soundtrack-related scenarios. This one got fucking great produced! Maybe this album is a bit too short-timed produced, but it has some good potential and talent under its roof and since it is a debut, you can expect more intense produced stuff of this Ukrainian talent for the future. This strictly limited album (101 exemplars only) comes out including a multi-media section which features bio, photos and the MP3 version of this album.
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Artist: Northcape (@)
Title: Exploration and Ascent
Format: CD
Label: Sun Sea Sky Productions (@)
Rated: *****
I don't think we've ever reviewed anything by Northcape here at Chain D. L. K. before which is odd because Northcape has three other releases and has gotten a lot of Internet play. So who is this Northcape anyway? Well, Northcape is the project name of Alastair Brown from Warwickshire, England. Been there, nice place for making music like this. This electronic music artist makes easy to digest downtempo electronica ' synths and drum programming. It's quite mellow instrumental stuff, occasionally tinged with a bit of melancholia, but living in Warwickshire might do that to you. 'Exploration and Ascent' is sort of non-melodic melodic, meaning there's no set or memorable melody but still has an overall melodic feel to it. Gentle arpeggios and drifting synth lines, percussion that never becomes obtrusive, but moves the music along as an integral part of the whole is largely what this is made of. Although sometimes it skirts IDM the music never strays too far from its simple form. It's often hypnotic while not even trying to be, and there is just enough variation to keep it from getting boring. With the title, 'Exploration and Ascent' there would seem to be some allusion to mountaineering, but I'm not necessarily getting that out of it, except that some of the compositions on this 11-track album seem rather airy. For me, it was a very pleasant listen, smooth and never jarring, good for contemplation, drinking a cup of coffee (or tea) and reading a good book. Northcape's 'Exploration and Ascent' will likely end up in rotation at my bookstore; it's good ambience for this place. Northcape's not breaking any new ground here, but definitely planted some worthy seeds in the old pasture.
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Artist: Lingouf (@)
Title: Terre de pierres
Format: CD
Label: Ant-Zen (@)
Rated: *****
Lingouf is French artist Vincent Ingouf who has oodles of releases, none of which I've ever heard until 'terre de pierres'. Look at the cover of this C D. It will give you NO CLUE what this music is like, and yet nearly every clue about the elements in the music music. Lingouf's cartoon aesthetics (as seen on the CD cover, his website and elsewhere) translate to some degree to the music. The music here is sample-based electronica and glitch electronics using a good amount of acoustic sound source material. Most of what you see on the cover represents in some part, the sound of this CD, but then again, not really. Let me explain the pieces. First track 'l'horioge a mimi' has the ambient sounds of birds, metronomal mechanical clocks and winding of the same, and eventually clock chimes. This develops into a clocky melodic rhythm of chimes with light percussive elements becoming a beguiling little tune. It could have gone on for another five minutes and I'd still have been entranced. Title track 'terre de pierre' begins like a foley fiesta (still some birds in the background) also with analogue echo machine feedback bringing in tinkling chiming elements into this glitch-driven rhythm that also uses some electronic sounds. Very crafty and sort of cartoonish. 'la marche du vent de glace' has surf/wind noise, barking dog, a variety of little acoustic percussive and non-percussive sounds (shuffling, scraping, etc.) before accordion chords prompts the piece to develop some rhythmic impetus. A Bontempi organ also helps develop a melodic theme. It's very simple stuff but so cleverly done I can't help but be enamored. 'accordrobion' begins sounding like someone just learning the accordion (long sustained chords and simple arpeggios) playing with a rhythm ace but turns into something much deeper as it builds and expands on a simple ascending chord progression becoming a dub extravaganza with some other interesting electronic variations employed. The ominous deep drone and metallic squeal beginning of 'varionuguicaa' doesn't give a clue to where this hallucinatory piece of weirdness is headed, and the howling dog lends a strange touch, along with the snippets of human coughs, voices and other ephemeral sounds incorporated in the music. Before you know it you're steamrolled by a mad gamelan orchestra. 'b 22 le soufflÃé du feu' has a female voice sustaining a single note (and later, female voices sustaining chords), fast accordion arpeggios and a rhythm before it completely weirds out into an electronic fantasia. Recorded street conversation (in French of course) and ambience begins 'l'annee du chat' and then a marching band on speed comes along but then an IDM inspired dubstep crew takes over and things become really bizarre. Am I giving you any idea how crazy this is getting?

Lingouf is big on building on simple dramatic minor progressions, lots of arpeggios and adding as many unusual sounds as he can get his hands on, be it water, hammers, birds, oscillating electronics, modulated accordion, water glasses, whatever. To some degree it reminds me of musician-composers such as Ron Geesin, (early) David Van Tieghem and Philip Glass, but in a remix war between The Orb and Skrillex. Actually, you might think that would sound very BIG, but not really. Look at the CD cover again. This is a homey sort of electronica but in a very warped and twisted way. Something you just have to hear, and believe me, you should.
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Artist: Illuha (@)
Title: Interstices
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
The first location they met for the recording of their acclaimed debut album "Shizuku" was a century-old Presbiterian church in Belligham (Washington DC), whose objects became part of the process; the final result was so inspirational that Corey Fuller and Tomoyoshi Date aka Illuha decided to make a couple of tours in Japan and one over American West Coast, during which they fed their creativity by collecting sounds and shaping melodies along their journeys. They recombined them at a later stage nearby forest limits in Tokyo on October 14th, 2011 ("Interstices 1 (Seiya)") and at Yougenji, a Zen temple nearby Sendagi Station, in Tokyo on April 20th, 2012 ("Interstices II") and December 15th, 2012 ("Interstices III"). Even if "Interstices" should be a sort of transitional album before their forthcoming one, whose transition mainly concerns their approach to composition and the tonal structure (the distancing of tones seems even longer than the one on "Shizuku"), that mystical halo and the radiant peaceful energy which vibed in their debut release is a permanent feature on this follow-up and I could argue such a deeply immersive aura got influenced by the sacredness of the places where the sonic synthesis happens. The instrumental and electronic-spotted peaceful ambient on "Interstices" where dilutions of piano strokes, guitar melodies and field recordings sound like perpetually dilating are going to daintily adhere to listeners' daydreaming.
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Artist: Christoph Funabashi
Title: John Zorn\\\'s The Book of Heads
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: schraum
Distributor: schraum
Rated: *****
This disc is a wonderfully schizophrenic music box, a swinging lullaby promptly followed by fuzzed out analog pedals and wah pedal effects, and later followed up by tuning sounds and riffing one might overhear in any given guitar shop. The Book of Heads is classic Zorn musical virtuosity, humor, and sonic exploration, expertly performed here by the virtuosic guitarist Christoph Funabashi.

The album consists of 35 etudes that range in duration from 21 seconds to just over 4 minutes. During the 55 minute journey of the album, one can hear a seemingly 360 degree perspective of what the guitar is capable in terms of timbre and extended techniques. Calling upon objects such as styrofoam, music boxes, and violin bows as well as the voice to resonate with or on the guitar, The Book of Heads demands an acrobatic set of skills and creativity to perform. Funabashi is well equipped for the challenge.

Utilizing multiple instruments and extended playing techniques, Funabashi's playing demonstrates Zorn's trademarked sound which showcases at one moment blues, metal, and classical sounds - even exploring the landscape of the instrument itself with multi-finger tapping across the surface of the instrument and playing of the strings behind the nut and bridge. Seems there's not one centimeter of the guitar that wasn't used for musical vibration here, and when teamed with Christoph's razor sharp musical execution we get a very clear interpretation of this genre-resistant work from 1977 (!). Like much of Zorn's work, you simply must hear it to understand this music - words are no where near capable of doing it justice.

Despite all the fireworks and string gymnastics (which are of course an impressive feat in their own right) I have to mention that I enjoyed this recording from a holistically musical standpoint as well. Tempted as one could be to write this off as perfunctory or at other times pedantic, the true musicianship and creativity of Funabashi shines in each work as he treats each Etude with ease and prowess. One fun aspect of listening to this is trying to determine exactly how the performer executed it live. It's a feat to have produced this album, let alone the recording or the performance itself. Kudos to schraum for taking this artistic leap on what most labels would consider perhaps too esoteric.

Amazing in execution as well as composition, Funabashi's version of The Book of Heads demonstrates some of Zorn's earliest experiments and allusions to what would later become one of his long standing sonic trademarks. Etude #33 alone could be transcribed for the next Naked City album. This being only the second published version of the suite following Ribot's 1995 release on Tzadik, Funabashi lays down a finely crafted and creatively virtuosic interpretation of one of Zorn's most demanding works. Recommended.
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