Music Reviews



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Artist: Kshatriy (@)
Title: Transforming Galaxy
Format: CD
Label: Muzyka Voln (@)
Rated: *****
Kshatriy is the work of Sergey Uak-Kib, who hails from Vsevolozhsk, Russia. I was unfamiliar with his work, but had heard some other releases on the label. You can often get a sense of what you are in for by looking at the cover art of the album. In this case, the impression is pretty accurate ' you're in for some spacey ambience. According to the label, 'The album is dedicated to the end of Kali-Yuga - the age of technocratic lack of spirituality and moral decay - and to the attainment of human awareness of the Unity. Eight hasteless compositions of psychedelic drone ambient combine a light atmosphere with deep multilayerness, crystal clear sound transparency with mild and sometimes uneasy melodies. Soft organic tracks full of plangent drones, noises and natural recordings neighbor with dense and saturated hymns to Hindu goddess Kali.' I'm not quite sure this comes through the music (that's the problem with dark ambient, isn't it?), but there is a good mixture of synthetic and organic sound source as synth drone combines with field recordings of birds, dogs, etc. But this is not really just peaceful drone. There is an edge to it at times, which is somewhat reminiscent of Inade's work. I suppose this makes sense, as Wikipedia notes that 'the 'Kali' of Kali Yuga means 'strife, discord, quarrel, or contention.'' The liner notes likewise state that 'In the era of Kali-Yuga our concepts of the world are completely chaotic.' I would file this under what James Keeler of Wilt fame calls 'dark noise.' If you want to check it out, you can listen to the whole album at the label's Bandcamp site. You should ' it's worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 78 minutes. Limited to 500 copies.
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Artist: Mirt
Title: Journey Through the City or Something Else
Format: CD
Label: Cat Sun (@)
Rated: *****
Minimal, sparse, ambient, chill; all of these words can be used to describe 'Journey Through the City or Something Else.' However, they couldn't really capture the essence of this album, a re-release of the second solo effort (originally recorded in 2002) by Mirt. This record is definitely a journey, each song building up to the next, each new song expanding on the last. We begin our journey (through a city, or maybe something else) with field recordings of rain, peppered with a pan flute's fleeting notes, breaking through, then slipping right back from where they came. We move then to a similar formula, with minimal synth droning, yet somehow moving you deeply, while quick runs of church organ escape. This build continues throughout this adventure, bringing light electronic percussion, morphing into flat out beats. Mirt builds from this lonely sound, up to something I can only define as droning smooth ambient electro-jazz. And just as fast as this monument of sound is built, it begins it's descent, as the layers are the stripped back down as the album progresses. Very chill, laid back in certain parts, ghostly and uneasy in others, a fine album that doesn't get stale even in its slowest movements.
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Artist: Sum Of R (@)
Title: Ride Out The Waves
Format: 12"
Label: Storm As He Walks (@)
Rated: *****
On the occasion of his remarkable self-titled album on Utech Records we already introduced this skilled Swiss project by Ural Mambo (together with Steven Hess from Locrian, On and Haptic) and Pendulum Nisum (together with Mike Reber) member Reto Mader aka RM74, a polyhedric musician and composer who alternate on bass, drums, percussion, piano, effects and synthesizer. Some of the most attractive aspects of Sum Of R's sound lies in the combination of a sort of ominous apocalyptic imminency, one of the most recurring and reasonable leitmotiv in the range of sources for inspiration, with a certain gore, which gives forth from sometimes unpredictable combustions of doom metal, industrial, instrumental rock and drone. On "Ride Out The Waves", which come out on a very limited edition of 300 copies printed on clear crystal vinyl for Storm As He Walks imprint, Reto Mader co-operates with guitar player Julia Wolf, who already performed with him in many venues by means of her heavy strokes on strings, and emphasizes the ritual aspect of the project, which according to their own words describes "a Rite of Passage, a complex way to go through any common idea of genres using a living and dynamic approach to find a balance between darkness and light, powerful riffs and subliminal melodies, ritual drums and rarefied atmospheres". To be honest, their sound looks like more obscure than bright, even if it got settled on remarkably sturdy stylistical grounds. The isolationist temperament of the initial "Growing Into Something Special", which soom turns into a sort of burdening sepulchral advance, curdles in the following doom-oriented "In The Fields Of Trust", where the typical sinister pace of doom sound (I could mention OM or Sunn O))) in order to give you an idea of the stylistical field they cross) got partially conjugated by unexpected flashes of exuberance which connotes many Swiss band (think about Swamp Terrorists or Alboth!) and captivating harmonic deflections. After the compressed agonizing pitched piano strokes of the saddening "Mist Of Tears", desolation, anger and baleful fibrillation chorally coalesce in the coupled track "Echo" and "Captured Ligthning", which clear the ground for the final harbinger of disaster and shellshocks on the shambling "Alarming", where they make their sound even more hypnotic by means of a screaming rough theremin and warning sirens.
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Artist: Richard Chartier (@)
Title: Recurrence
Format: CD
Label: Line (@)
Rated: *****
Line is undoubtedly one of the miliar stones for audiophiles with a passion for digital minimalism since its preambles and this release by its founder Richard Chartier comes back to the spark which lighted its story up 12 years ago and 58 releases ago. His "Series" has teasonably considered one of the most majestic sonic monument on the pokey borderlines between silence and sound (or I'd better say between silence and Tinnitus!), which got performed before a very restricted and selected lucky audience on live stage just ten years after its official release. "Recurrence" cannot be considered a proper new album by Richard Chartier, as it is a sort of reprise of "Series", where the original nine untitled tracks have been melded in one long-lasting track after a further smoothing of frequencies, a sort of suite where, even if the sounds that marked "Series" are quite recognizable, their chiselling borders on the fiendish research for perfection so that each single sound sneaks in listener's ears like a subcutaneous imperceptible jab and each sonic stream got atomized in order to be easily discernable for listeners themselves. This impressive sample of sonic surgery has been preceded by a sort of 21-minutes lasting bonus track in the opening of the record, "Recurrence (Room/Crosstones)", where this master craftsman dabbles in small-scale variations of ultra-low basses. I cannot but reccomend to listen it by means of headphones or hi-fi sound systems which manage to render sounds (particularly bass frequencies) over a "passable" level.
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Artist: The Slaves (@)
Title: Ocean On Ocean
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: The Helen Scarsdale Agency (@)
Rated: *****
There's a wide generation of musicians who are hanging on that idea of frail and fleeting beauty, whose inflection points ideally build an embankment against a supposedly decadent and invasive reality as well as safe mental abodes which could correspond with distant sidereal cleft, vivid remembrances of childhood or maidenhood and other aesthetical escape hatches. The possible stylistical terms for comparison such as Grouper, Cocteau Twins, Cranes or Barn Owl of this likable release by Portland-based duo The Slaves, made up of Barbara Kinzle and Birch Cooper, liaise with many different musical languages for the translation of this mood such as dark, post-rock or math, while it seems The Slaves don't turn their noses up at some sonic hints of witch-house and drone-ambient as the recurrance of quadruplet of bi-tonal based slow lines and the way they transfigure guitars and pads which often sound like equipped with organ-pipes. A sort of self-induced hypnotic suggestion permeates their sonic ravelling so that the pleating of original sound seems to turn into a gust of wind slamming on the doors of crystalline cages by reaching remarkable qualitative peaks and entrancing afterglows in tracks like "Sweet High", "Shadows II", whereas songs like "I'm In Heaven" or "Wild Ride" sound like attempts of reawakening buried alive bacchanals.
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