Music Reviews

Natasha Barrett: Peat+Polymer

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Odd / Field Recording
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Jun 29 2015
Artist: Natasha Barrett (@)
Title: Peat+Polymer
Format: 2CD (double CD)
Label: +3dB
Rated: *****
Even if spacial relations between sounds as well as the relation between organic and synthetic sonic spheres are the main cornerstones of the stylistical research of multi-awarded British-Norwegian sound-artist Natasha Barrett, this huge collection of her works shows different aspects of her amazing sound art, which often deployed sipport and ideas by scientists and experimental sound designer that Natasha managed to involve. The "artificial" side of her sound got mainly poured into "Polymer", the part of the release where Natasha establishes or, I'd rather say, sculpts relations between sounds by means of really interesting and somehow weird themes. The initial acousmatic piece is a sort to ode to umbrella, where her voice seems to look for a shelter from heavy rain, and opens "Hidden Values", a tryptich dedicated to supposedly minor inventions - completed by a track dedicated to optical tubes and a really funny one to key and lock, where she stages a sort of fight between female voice and percussive elements that should mirror the fight to keep power or ownership hidden by means of this invention or the separation between people (in and out) on opposite sides of the lock -, that she explores by letting drama and metaphor collide. She applied a similar triple partition to "Kernel Expansion", where she exposes the kernel of sounds that are connected to her own memories (from outddors, from inside and from imagination, realities and dreams), and "Reality and Secrets no.2", where she tried to match everyday sounds as compositional parameters and patterns to shape and control two sonic materials (children sledging downhill and some performances by cellist Tanja Orning) by means of the "score" she derived from a set of analysis tools. The second cd is more "earthbound", but not less imaginative than the first one as the way by which she assembled (really realistic) sounds that she grabbed in three locations for different purposes is really brilliant: the first track is the Route No.1 of Oslo Sound Space Transport System, a 3d-sound mapping of the beautiful Norwegian capital, whose sonic architecture becomes surprisingly surreal. The seven short sets of "Sound Exposure in Peru" slightly differs from typical audio postcards as Natasha tried to focus on the way how nature and culture reflect contrasts in space and place, while "A Soundwalk through Shangai", a time-compressed sonic collage of recordings she grabbed in Shangai's backstreets on her way to Expo 2010, is closer to the idea of traditional audio postcards. She inserted a couple of untitled tracks at the end of each part: she unsuccessfully tried to find a title for the first one (maybe some listeners could suggest a possible title after listening), while the second untitled track has a subtitle at least, 'Flight of the Bee', as well as a localization - a sandy island off the south east coast of Norway - as the other tracks of the second part.

Mutamassik: Symbols Follow

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 28 2015
Artist: Mutamassik (@)
Title: Symbols Follow
Format: 12"
Label: Discrepant (@)
Rated: *****
After having gained a reputation as a skilled turntablist, Italo-egyptian composer Giulia Loli aka Mutamassik blows out in the tube of thought-provoking and heart-rending listening by an impressive sonic fan, which cannot be disjointed by the turbulent period as well as the hypocrist and duplicity of western governments about the difficult situation in Islamic countries. Her aware and smart smorgasbord of tribal rhythmical patterns, shaking breaks (she handled both of them at her best on wonderful tracks like "Rhythms Rattle on Death Pawns" or the initial Ke Nin Kai"), mental primers which seem to render the thoughts of the character portrayed on the cover artwork by means of catchy Arabian scented textures ("Hearts Blink their Morse Code", "Long Beards"), muffled rackets, vocal cutting, occasional raids typical turntablist techniques (such as the amazing use of scratches on "On(e) Foot (in), On(e) Foot (out)"), dusty vynil hissing (like the one she used on "Camus", which manages to render the agonizing description of "The Plague") and clips that sound like having being torn through memories of ancient and fogotten rites or Arabian nights get more and more synesthetic; Mutamassik's creativity intertwines with evocative spiritual visions that result in sonic streams where a selection of a few sounds comes alive by means of masterfully crafted textures. Masterfully mastered by ubiquitous Rashad Becker, it comes on just 500 vinyl copies that got released by excellent Discrepant.

Lyke Wake: The Dark After Dark

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Odd / Field Recording
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Jun 24 2015
Artist: Lyke Wake
Title: The Dark After Dark
Format: CD
Label: Aseptic Noise
Rated: *****
I'm really late reviewing this one and in the meantime Stefano Di Serio released a couple of tapes ("Exhale" and "The Hatred Of A Thousand Years") and he's about to release a new album this year. Anyway... "The Dark After Dark" is his latest CD and contains three new tracks which, like his latest releases with Lyke Wake, are based on a more "musical" approach to sound structure, as we have the core which is based on a sound similar to an organ on the first track and a vocal pad on the second one and then, as for the best tradition of bands such as Tangerine Dream, we have improvisations with synth sounds enriching the long suites. If the opening self titled track is kinda more dramatic and a bit more melodic, thanks to an increasing noisy atmosphere, "A Dream Beyond The Universe", is more ambient based and sometimes we have hissing sounds coming and going. The short closing track "The Fall Of Corrupt (Prelude)", is an epic one and the blasts we hear at its end make me think that there's nothing left than silence...
Jun 21 2015
Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: What Do You Suppose? (The Alien Question) / Project Blue Book
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
This new reissue from Zoharum is another classic from Rapoon dated 1999. "What Do You Suppose? (The Alien Question)" is a concept album based on the theories related to aliens and their presence on the planet made by William Cooper so the texts of the various tracks, rather to be an esthetic element, are the focus of this release and made it a really different from the previous reissues.
The loop from an old record and the spoken word of "Before I Begin" opens this release as a quiet introduction to the beat of "Waddi Haj" where the ethnic elements of his music return while "How Many of You Understand?" is based on the words and "Never Called NJ12'¦" is finally the juxtaposition of the two musical elements. "Give Us Dub" is, as the title suggests, a dub influenced bridge to the second part of this album starting with "No Really'¦" where the dialogue introduces an emerging loop.
"How Many of You Did Not Know That?" is a long cinematic track focused on a drone. The deep drone of "The Alien Question" is frightening in opposition to the "Only The Names Change"'s one. "Without Aliens'¦" is a meditative track based on a vocal loop and a drone while "I Don't Expect Anyone'¦" closes this release returning to the classic rhythmic structure of this project.
The second CD is a complete rework of the original release removing the spoken word part, with the exception of "The Truth Regarding UFO's", and focusing on the rhythmic element so tracks like "Further than Waddi Haj", based upon "Waddi Haj", "Leaving Us", based upon "I Don't Expect Anyone'¦", or "Send Dub", based upon "Give Us Dub", sound like experiments in sound nuances. The other tracks removes the cinematic elements that are peculiar of the original release and replaces them with dance oriented ones; the only exception is "Dark Gods Breathing" focusing on tone oriented chant.
While the first CD could stand among the finest releases of Robin Storey with his remarkable shift upon a narrative element usually absent in the previous releases, the bonus disc sounds more like the usual add-on of a reissue or a variation on the form already exposed in his classic masterpiece. However, this is an essential reissue.

Atrium Carceri: Metropolis

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 21 2015
Artist: Atrium Carceri
Title: Metropolis
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
Few months after the release of "The Old City", Atrium Carceri returns with a new release, presented as closely connected to "The Untold", continuing his tale of the primordial metropolis and the force that builded it. From a musical perspective is closer to the previous release as it follows, but with a stronger writing, his structures.
The cinematic quality of "The Gargantuan Tower" opens this release following the path of "The Old City" so, when the spoken arrives, there's the sense of the absence of a visual element. The rhythmic elements of "The Dark Mother" marks a small departure to the dark ambient, the foundation of Atrium Carceri's style, returning with "Across the Sea of the Dead" and his impressive sound details. The small distortions of "Black Needle" and the resonances of "Decrepit City" could sound closer to some forms of drone metal. "Sacred Slab" is a return to form with his use of synth as "200 Days", apart from the vocal intro. "Industrial District" is based on a slowly developing drone and "Heart of the Metropolis" continues this path until the small noises of the second part of the track introduce the listener to "The Cowled Seers" whose gentle synth notes marks a shift toward pop territories covered in a flash with the return to a soundscape with "The Machine" and his evocative use of drones.
Instead of a release oriented towards fans, this album removes the flaw of "The Old City", a too emulative sound, and marks perhaps the beginning of a journey to new musical direction from this artist. A truly recommended release.

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