Music Reviews

Summed: Left-Handed

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 28 2014
Artist: Summed
Title: Left-Handed
Format: CD
Label: Out-ER (@)
Distributor: Rub-a-dub
Rated: *****
The first release that out-e(lectronic)r(ecords) decided to release both as a digital download and on CD comes from Italian young producer Filippo "Summed" Bologna. Labelling it as "experimental" is a little bit shallow as it doesn't say anything about the dexterity of this producer with drum machines and tech-ey loops: some tracks ("Operator's Dream", "As it happens") seem to have been recorded without the support of any recorded pattern, but by means of just fingers on the coloured buttons of drum machines, and many percussive elements could sound quite raw and inserted in the texture without any particular effect as they came out of the machines as their source is quite recognizable by all those who have a certain familiarity with drum machines, but it's not the most relevant aspect of this album. The most impressive aspect is the joyful and almost instinctive way that Summed follows to build enjoyable tracks and rhythmical vagaries that melt elements from house, breakbeat and electronic dub, whose glitches and funny "toytronic" strategies to unroll weird loops could surmise the attitude of some freaky stuff from Swiss dub shooter as well as some evergreen entries on Apollo. Many moments of this album could let you think Summed is playing drum machines as if he's playing against Rubik's cube, a playful approach which makes the listneing of some dubstep-oriented tunes interesting even if some reviewers consider dubstep already old-fashioned.

Guy Gelem: Reappearance

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 26 2014
Artist: Guy Gelem (@)
Title: Reappearance
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
I received this tidbit by cello player Guy Gelem some months ago, but there should be some available copies of the strictly limited edition of 90 ones yet which features the usual lovely artworks by Time Released Sound - a star punched, black felt covered outer envelope, wrapped in an undulating, hand worked, 26" folded obi strip'¦with an included, stamped insert made from pages of vintage, hand notated sheet music, whose package got tied up with strands of Mongolian horsehair and a hand made, rubber tie down button, made from a used bicycle tire tube! -. According to my ear response, the recording is not perfect, but it seems that this nice assay of neo-classical music got deliberately recorded in a raw way that emphasizes a certain genuine rusticity of Gelem's music. I don't know if he got helped by guest musicians or puzzled different melodic lines in studio, but the melodies that he rubbed on four tracks - one for each part of the day (morning, noon, evening and night) - are so enchanting and evocative that any other aspects are irrilevant. I'm pretty sure that listeners will experience a sort of bucolic synaesthesia while listening to Gelem's "Reappearance" that is going to bring your mind towards a perception of time whose close connection to natural cycles has almost been forgotten by many communities where alienation and consumerism are undisputed rulers.

Lee Gamble: KOCH

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 26 2014
Artist: Lee Gamble (@)
Title: KOCH
Format: 2 x 12"
Label: PAN (@)
Rated: *****
No dice: when a producer gained experience over years, the quality of music dramatically rises and Lee Gambler is one of them as he shows a remarkable familiarity with bass-driven music on this astonishing album, which is going to be launched from PAN pad on 12th September. The opening track resembles some psychedelic atmosphere by Future Sound of London as well as the intros of some 90ies jungle stuff by means of the hypnotical sirens choir and the narcotic effects he inject, which come back on the first of the four faces of this release on "You Concrete", whose rarefaction follows the saturation bombing of "Motor System", where Lee combines dry mechanical hammering (closer to Riou's industrial techno) with deep techno vaporiuzed sonorities, and precedes the pneumatic pressures of "Nueme". A subtle pad-synth which gradually becomes more audible after bumping knocks seem to generate metallic crumbles that got scattered over deep outer space on "Oneiric Contur" opens B-side, which features the more sidereal abstractions of the whole album with the exception of the sci-fi computational techno of "Hmix" and finishes with the six narcotic minutes of "Frame Drag", a track which let me recall stuff like Experimental Audio Research's "Phenomena 256". The gelatinous electronic clots of "Voxel City Spirals", the agglutination of sparkling metallic hits, muffled sonic spurts and a sort of mechanical heartbeat on "Yehudi Lights Over Tottenham" and the planetary keepie-uppie of "Jove Layup" fill C-side, while the computational chirping of "Ornith-Mimik" turns D-side on. The alien technoid bleeps of "Caudata", which seems to render a possible exercise on a terrestrial Detroit techno tune by a Mars inhabitant, the abstract medley of "Flatland", the gnarling torsions of "Gillsman" and the martial stomping beats of "6EQUJ5-7", which could be the OST for an imaginary battle between space dreadnoughts, complete this amazing record.
Aug 25 2014
Artist: Gaap Kvlt
Title: Void
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
The man/woman behind Gaap Kvlt curtains managed to keep his/her identity conceiled for the moment as no one knows anything about him/her except, I surmise, Polish label Monotype which released his/her first complete album. As I am adverse to the cult of personality by nature, I cannot but praise such a choice, even if it could be consistent with the mysterious halo of the sound and the whole evoked atmosphere you're going to explore: the quotation of the Golem on the opening highly hypnotical track "Birth of Golem", who became famous for the notorious novel by Meyrink, but above all a style which melts dark ambient, cinematic industrial-like poltergeists, field recordings which seems to come from obscure recesses of some haunted building, abstract electronics whose low frequencies which gradually entwine and smother the sonic sphere (particularly on tracks like "Inquieude", "Poix" or "Far") and sinister knocks could be described as a possible crossbreed between Flint Glass, Emptyset and Vidna Obmana even if some occasional lacquering of Arabian sonorities (mainly percussions on tracks like "Ritual" or "Peganum Harmala") could resemble some stuff from Muslimgauze. Some moments of the album certainly render a sense of vague and suffocating emptiness, but a title like "Void" clashes against the thickening coagulations of visionary sonic injections and the fascinating polarization between icy sounds and the scorching heat which emanates from this fascinating release. Mind the Gaap...I said...mind the Gaap!

Oiseaux-Tempête: Re-Works

 Posted by Edward Trethowan   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 23 2014
Artist: Oiseaux-Tempête (@)
Title: Re-Works
Format: 12"
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Oiseaux-Tempête's 2013 debut album weaved through a number of different styles a humourless thread of disenchantment in the face of contemporary European political and economic problems. For angst and despair, po-faced post-rock or stoner rock with titles to match ('Opening Theme (Ablaze in the Distance)', 'Ouroboros'). For wistfulness or otherwise more contemplative moods, airy ambient arrangements and field recordings ('Sophia's Shadow', 'Outro (for the following)'). In-between these, some full-on swelling, droning grit for good measure ('L'île'). For all its sincerity, dramatic prowess and genuine musical strength and appeal, the problem with post-rock is its histrionic wilt, its gesturing seeming overstated after a certain amount of exposure. It has a tendency to sameness that quickly loses appeal, so when it only fringes compositions rather than absorbing them altogether, the results are usually considerably more interesting - 'Sophia's Shadow' and 'L'île' are good examples of this.

With the above in mind, this remix collection from Oiseaux-Tempête's post-rock polemic introduces an electronic edge to most of the pieces. The outcome is a less consistent but, to this listener, rather more gratifying listening experience.
Leopard of Honour's remix of 'Nuage Noir' opens the record. The sparse, predictable slow-core plodder becomes a Burial-esque electro shuffler, with looped motifs, rounded subterranean bass and woodblock strikes lingering beneath the main rhythms. It's very satisfying to hear the song's elements arranged this way and this well. It's worth noting that this is one of the more striking transformations; for the most part, the original pieces are given atmospheric filter treatment, usually with rhythms removed or obscured - or, in the case of the Scanner and Colin Johnco remixes, added. This relatively limited formulation is possibly out of respect to the spirit of the original album, centred as it is around protest and political discontent.
However, not straying too far from the source material has its troubles. Unfortunately, Dag Rosenqvist's reworking of on 'Opening Theme (Ablaze in the Distance)' feels more like a discarded alternate take than a remix, picking a single isosceles crescendo and losing some interesting dynamics as a result. Machinefabriek's reinterpretation of 'Kyrie Eleison', while a total conversion of sorts (rather tempting the term 'post(-processed)-rock'), nonetheless differs too subtly to feel like much more than an original outtake.

Among more appealing contributions, Wixtes' remix of 'Buy Gold (Beat Song)' discards the titular thudding beat, resulting in a grainy cloud of sombre guitar work gusting around sampled speech. Similarly, Saåad crop but engorge 'La Traversée' into a solid dark ambient/drone piece. Scanner introduces as a textural focus a varied, stuttering rhythm range to 'Calling John Carcone' and manages pretty well to retain beneath it the tempestuous post-rock anguish of the original. 'Nuage Noir' also features a second time, with Greek thereminist May Roosevelt at the helm. Besides cropping the length, she leaves the song largely intact, instead adding a rich, effective harmonised theremin accompaniment.

Like most compilations and particularly remix compilations, it's a mixed bag. But it is impressive how earnestly the present personnel endeavour to preserve the themes and tone of their source material. When it works, it does so very well.

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