Music Reviews

Electric Bird Noise: Nighttime Tides

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 28 2016
Artist: Electric Bird Noise
Title: Nighttime Tides
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Records (@)
“Nighttime Times” is a smooth and straight-up ambient blend. There are gentle synthetic washes, melodies looping at a beautifully casual pace, distant sonar-esque pings and long mellow guitar-like notes wandering politely across your field of hearing.

Electric Bird Noise has a long CV of post rock and darkwave, and the press release threatens that these nighttime tides carry the threat of an imminent tidal wave of noise, but it never arrives. There are no jolts, no surprises, barely even any progression- just the soothing patterns and patternless elements, ebbing and receding through the night, acknowledging that no man can stop the tides.

It’s almost a stereotypical ambient release, harking back to Brian Eno, or Jean-Michel Jarre’s “Waiting For Cousteau”, and it doesn’t bring anything new to the table; but sometimes innovation isn’t a prerequisite in music, and this is one of those cases. This is an extremely mild, chilled-out, luscious audio environment, far gentler than some of the other material on Silber, and I will be happily falling asleep to it many times in the future.

Flowers for Bodysnatchers: Love Like Blood

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 23 2016
Artist: Flowers for Bodysnatchers
Title: Love Like Blood
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
After their previous well received album, Aokigahara, Flowers for Bodysnatchers returns with a new release that acts a next step towards a personal form of dark ambient where their sort of modern classical influence, marked by the presence of piano movements which are the skeleton of this release, creates something different inside of this genre.
The drone of "The Obscure You Deserve" introduces the listener to the first piano line of this release which covers all the sounds in the background, so it apparently seems an almost classical composition, while "Sorrow (Silhouette To Void)" carefully constructs a soundscape featuring sparse natural samples. The alternation between drones, noises and foley sounds makes "A Disease Called Love" a track of great complexity while the quiet return of the piano in "Hearken Our Storm" has a relation with the underlying samples. While the first of "To The Loveless" is almost noisy, the insertion of strings in the second part creates a romantic effect. The rhythmic structure of "The Life I Ruin" is a drastic departure from the atmosphere created to this point while "Tiny Black Tale" is an incursion into almost industrial territories with his abundant use of noises. The overall quietness of "Memory (Night To Void)" introduces the listener to the finale of "Time Shall Heal No Wounds" where the piano writes the last sad notes of this release under the sound of the rain and the voice of the crows.
A vast improvement in all aspect from their previous release, this album is perhaps one the best release of the year in this genre with his remarkable variety. Truly recommended.

Jana Irmert: End Of Absence

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 18 2016
Artist: Jana Irmert
Title: End Of Absence
Format: CD + Download
Label: Fabrique Records
This album is a set of half a dozen well-matched sonic soundscapes. While the title is “End Of Absence”, they all have a hollow, melancholic quality that imply a continuation of absence, a maelstrom of distant forces trying to creep into an empty void.

It’s a blend of found sound and field recordings with electronics and very occasional vocal moments. As a recipe it’s nothing new, there’s certainly nothing ground-breaking or genuinely experimental here, but this is a very competent and confident, beautifully balanced and progressive set of pieces that lend themselves very well to a fully immersive, good-headphones-and-darkened-room experience. You know how, when you’re in a noise-proof room in silence, you can begin to hear the sound of your own heartbeat? Well imagine if you were a robot, in a noise-proof room. This might be what you begin to sound like to yourself.

Despite the implication of tension that creeps into pieces like “Untitled (Slow)”, it’s also rather relaxing, in its way. The ebb and flow of it is not wholly dissimilar to waves crashing at an unrealistically slow speed on a rocky beach. It’s rather soporific in parts and you can easily relax or even fall asleep to pieces like “Obstacles”. It may not have the traditional sonic structure of a relaxation disc but the effect is not unrelated. The notable and slightly unwelcome exception to this is the second half of final piece “Altitude Adjustment”, where there is an uncharacteristic, sudden and percussive change that could jolt you out a slumber you’re not deeply enough in.

This is Jana Irmert’s debut album, but what it perhaps lacks in originality, it makes up for with an assured confidence and polish that makes it absolutely worth hearing.

Akira Kosemura, Megumi Shinozaki & Kimihiko Nitta: For

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 16 2016
Artist: Akira Kosemura, Megumi Shinozaki & Kimihiko Nitta
Title: For
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
"For" is a charming combination of different forms of art: the delicate musical style by Japanese composer Akira Kosemura, that should be quite known to our readers and focusing on the research of an enchanting balance of minimal piano melodies, close to French impressionism, gentle electronic breezes and emotionally intense alternation of tonal phrasing (sometimes resembling childplay piano of music boxes) and silence, meet the skills and the vision of two other Japanese artists, who already tried to push the boundaries of their own form of expression. We're referring to the flower artist Megumi Shinozaki, who is always searching for possible developments of decorating flowers, including garden design, fashion design, overseas villa landscape design and visual for department stores or fashion brands, and Kimihiko Nitta, a fashion and portrait photographer, who is trying to develop the concept of "moving photography" and a narrative dimension of photography since 2014 by short filming and an editing technique, which attempts to capture the portrait's "tremor" by using the natural light. The release includes a CD - featuring nine lovely tracks by Akira, who got joined by drummer, four string players and a mallet percussionist, ranging from the well-known piano melodic patterns that clearly marks his touch, and some "experiments" such as the frail trip-hop-like tune "gene" or the lovely minuet of "Waves of Light" -, a DVD and a photo book (including a short poem that highlights the concept of the album), where the former seems the animated version of the latter, featuring mostly natural sceneries and occasional urban ones, where the almost hypnotical beauty of the settings got often emphasized by the model Shin Lee, which looks like diving into nature with a naive harmony. I wouldn't say that her teardrop in the last scene of the movie found inspiration into sadness, but it looks like inspired by a sort of mixture between emotional pathos and aesthetic rapture.

Takamovsky: Sonic Counterpoint

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 12 2016
Artist: Takamovsky (@)
Title: Sonic Counterpoint
Format: CD + Download
Label: Etymtone (@)
Distributor: Ordis
Juergen Berlakovich’s “Sonic Counterpoint” is predominantly a solo acoustic guitar performance, but with the most delicate of glitchy and atmospheric electronic production touches, clicks and minimal beats, which complement and modernise its organic, classical core.

“Sun” is one of the more active, upbeat pieces, with a more regulated beat that drifts slightly towards house music, and more noticeable verse and chorus loops that might lend it credence as part of a lounge or chill out compilation. “Proton” is the track that feels most like it’s an instrumental pop ballad, calling out for an aching soulful vocal to be dropped on top. Other pieces like “Ice” and “Cinescopi (Notturno)” are somewhat more abstract by comparison.

Ostensibly there’s a JS Bach connection, with patterns derived from one of Bach’s Cello Suites, but the gentle looping and slowly evolving progressions feel like they have more in common with a Steve Reich work and the result is both modernist and minimalist.

The seventh track “Running In The Background” is the only vocal track, with sinister, whispered stalker-like lyrics that unfortunately play completely at odds with the relaxed atmospheres that the rest of the album invoke. Unfortunately the decision to add a vocal was a mistake here- a completely instrumental album would have been stronger.

It’s a thoroughly engaging listen. Thirty-six minutes races by and reaching for the ‘play’ button again once it’s done. It’s a genuinely beautiful work, not to mention a valuable asset should you ever find yourself trying to introduce electronic music to an elderly grandparent who still thinks that you can’t make proper music with machines. The only exception is, I won’t be bothering with track 7.

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