Music Reviews



Janek Schaefer: Inner Space Memorial in Wonderland

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 03 2015
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Artist: Janek Schaefer (@)
Title: Inner Space Memorial in Wonderland
Format: 12"
Label: Dekorder
Rated: *****
The second simultaneous output by Janek Schaefer on Dekorder, "Inner Space Memorial In Wonderland", portrays the second stylistical directrix of his recent sonic research. Likewise some stuff of the twin output "Unfolding Luxury Beyond The City Of Dreams", thw two long-lasting suites - their lenght as well as their sonic nuance focusing on minimal drones will delight fans of William Basinski - derive from the re-shuffle of previously recorded stuff. The one I liked most is "Inner Space Memorial", a dedication to sci-fi novelist J.G.Ballard and part of an audiovisual commemorative tribute that got composed by Janek just after Ballard, who lived just over the river of Janek's home, passed away. Its ascensional drone, whose seemingly static tone varies inintensity by means of slight pitching, volume modulations and saturation, got premiered at Bluecoat, the contemporary arts center inside the oldest building in the historical centre of Liverpool. THere's also a connection to the inventive sci-fi novelist on the following suite "Wonderland", originally made for the finale of his exhibition soundtrack to "Asleep at the wheel", as the field recordings that got diluted in soundwaves were "made in the middle of the night on a footbridge over the M3, at the end of Ballard's street", according to Janek's own words. Janek himself didn't hide his fascination "to work out that while he was writing Crash and Concrete Island, the six lane motorway was being built right past the front of his home". Try playing "Wonderland" while driving in the night while the surrounding metropolis sounds like sleeping.

Janek Schaefer: Unfolding Luxury Beyond The City Of Dreams

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 03 2015
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Artist: Janek Schaefer (@)
Title: Unfolding Luxury Beyond The City Of Dreams
Format: 12"
Label: Dekorder
Rated: *****
I expected so many feedbacks for the couple of releases that well-known sound artist Janek Schaefer dropped on Dekorder in the end of last year, particularly as a consequence of the fact they followed the critically acclaimed "Lay-By Lullaby" on 12k, that I thought that Janek didn't really need another one. This is the main deducible reason I've not spoken about them before. I can surmise it could depend by the fact that there are many reviewers who keep on focusing on the reputation of labels: both 12k and Dekorder are two really good imprints, but someone keeps on thinking that Dekorder stuff is less accessible than 12k's one, whereas both labels manage to diversify styles of their outputs within their niche. I hope there are some available copies so that I can comfortably state that it's never too late! 'Unfolding Luxury Beyond The City Of Dreams' is the first of this combo (and maybe the easiest to listen) and the title suggests the idea which glue together seven tracks whose inspirational sources are remarkably different, in spite of their stylistical homogeneity - an enjoyable and soothingly inspiring amalgamation of ambient and found sounds -. The theme and the intent of the album is the rendering of an authentic representation of an urban context behind the misleading flamboyance of luxurious life, but a number of event departs from this spine to feed the sonic imagination of Janek, including two tribute to gone people: Janek's brother-in-law Sir John Tavener seems to greet and smile to Janek from another blissful dimension on the opening "White Lights Of Divine Darkness", while British jazz composer Johnny Dankworth relives in the ethereal "Coda", which got built over old tapes by Johnny himself. The main contacts with outer world occur on the "mundane" track "Unfolding Honey", which got composed by Janek for the installation "Future Beauty, 30 years of Japanese Fashion" held at The Barbican Gallery in London, feauturing some garments by Issey Miyake, and a couple of tracks, which got linked to Janek's previous output "Carpenters": "Skyline Ascending", where he reprised a piano loop from that album that got overlapped by layers of sounds taken by a recorder inside an helium balloon while floating in the clouds over the city while som raindrops were falling, and the final track "Beyond", where piano loops got matched to field recordings grabbed at London's Grand Central Station before the departure of the last train, but the moments when a listener could really feel the emotional journey into the illusions of the urban environment are the orchestral drone of "Luxury" and the daydreaming enchantment that got evoked by "City of Dreams", a wonderful tune which got composed for the opening of the piece "The Mill", fed by a piano recorded live by Janek's twin arm turntable and Mark Robinson's old family piano. Excellent soundscapes!

Elian: Harrowgate

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 01 2015
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Artist: Elian
Title: Harrowgate
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
One of the relatively older entries on Home Normal that reached my headpones after some months is the second album for the excellent Ian Hawgood's imprint by Richmond-based electronic music maker Michael Duane Ferrell, better known as Elian. Such a time shift could make sense as I won't wonder if it came to us from some dimensional port facing on the past or the future due to the sci-fi scenery that Elian's music manages to evoke, as the five parts of "Harrowgate" could trap listeners by an interesting amalgamation of pre-Kraftwerkian electronics - think about all those composers such as Mel Kaiser, Oskar Sala or Tom Dissevelt, whose stuff got largely used by science fiction movie makers- fter a digital repainting and a series of contemporary compositional tricks such as binaural beats ("Harrowgate 2"), flangered echoes ("Harrowgate 3"), dark symphonies that sound like having built by means of overlapping of electronic particles ("Harrowgate 4") and droning vacuum injections ("Harrowgate 5"), which highlight the sense of derangement of listening experience. Besides this somehow old-fashioned and heavily synth-driven nuance, "Harrowgate" could dip listeners into a mental reverie over outer space, where gravitational pulls are just like an ancient memory of an almost forgotten previous life.

John Chantler: Still Light, Outside

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Odd / Field Recording
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Sep 01 2015
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Artist: John Chantler (@)
Title: Still Light, Outside
Format: CD
Label: Inventing Zero
Rated: *****
The main sonic input of the fourth album by British sound artist John Chantler, the pipe organ at London's St John at Hackney church, which got processed at Stockholm's Elektronmusikstudion EMS, got almost immediately saturated to the point that some listeners could imagine a pious organist had some mystical experiences while playing on it and decided to turn his session into a piece of psychedelic space-rock suite: its holy halo on the opening title-track "Still Light, Outside" got highlighted by almost dissonant reverberations and distortions, heavy tonal overlapping and circular tremolo which could give the impression that John tuned the organ to the light effects that stained-glass windows of some churches project into the building during certain hours of day. The first of the three parts of "The Long Shadow of Decline" pierce listeners by means of a very low frequencies which got simultaneously played alongside likewise high ones and electronic subterranean pulses and noises, which could let you imagine they come from the maintenance of submarine; these three inputs sound like having been reshuffled in the following second and third part, but John manages to dip them into different luminous intensity by replacing them into almost hypnotical overstretched organ tone (part two) or amniotic fluids inside which even electronic fragments, noisy disturbances and flaky scrapes sound somehow densely and harmoniously compacted.

Enmarta: Sea of Black

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 31 2015
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Artist: Enmarta
Title: Sea of Black
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This project is shortly described as 'combining ritualistic elements, fine texture work, throat singing and live viola' and, interesting enough, this means that it layers melodic pencils upon a dark ambient canvas. This way, this album avoids that sort of déjà vu which is the main problem of this scene.
After the field recordings of a sea, "Enmarta" introduces the listener in an apparently conventional dark ambient setting but, after a barely audible line, an harmonic chant enters to shift the musical palette in another direction. "Dark Asylum', after a first part with rhythmic field recordings, evolves juxtaposing lines of synth. "Aesthetics" is almost a piece for violin with a drone as texture. "Nekrosis" uses drums and violin as an almost inaudible elements as they are buried into the soundscape. 'Putrefaction Chamber" is almost static track with sudden moments of quiet noise. "Ecstatic Paradigm" closes this release with lines of synth slowly evolving in the final drone.
As it stays at the border between a dark ambient album and a melodic, post-rock in a certain sense, it's a release that is a sure pick for fans and should be heard by whom is convinced that some project at least try to create something new. Truly recommended.


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