Music Reviews

Homogenized Terrestrials: Suspension

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 20 2018
Artist: Homogenized Terrestrials (@)
Title: Suspension
Format: CD
Label: Aubjects (@)
Rated: *****
I knew I recognized the name Homogenized Terrestrials as soon as I saw this CD for I reviewed this project's 'The Contaminist' album back in 2013. Homogenized Terrestrials is of course Phillip Klampe from Princeton, Illinois, and HT is just one of the many projects he's been involved in. (Amalgamated is another one of them.) I've barely heard a fraction of this guy's stuff, but he never ceases to amaze with what he produces in experimental electronica. The compositions on 'Suspension' are varied, richly textured excursions into dark and mysterious terrain, often unworldly and dark enough only to see the dim light at the end of the tunnel. It is difficult to describe these pieces in any depth or detail because often there is just so much going on that you can't just condense it into a few lines. From its weird, spooky opening, you may feel like you've opened a Pandora's Box with 'Suspension'. Strange lifeforms creep out of it on "gronk" and even some kind of musical theme developes toward the end. I didn't think Klampe would be "enlisting devils" in the making of this album, but as that's the title of the track, I guess he does. These spawn of Satan seem to be throwing everything into a giant blast furnace, then relaxing in the radiation sauna after the task is complete. Moving along, things don't get any cheerier. Lots of little snippets, glitchy things, foley-like effects and mini-events can be heard sporadically amidst the morose pads and drones. A track such as "part, parted" gives the impression of industrial activity, but not in any reality we're familiar with. Then out of nowhere comes a strange tribal rhythm (loop) that belies the concept ascribed to the piece in the first place. There never seems to be any inertia in these soundscapes; activity abounds, even if you're really not sure just what that activity is, and it's usually quite abstract and enigmatic. Sometimes sounds are just familiar enough to coax some sort of impression out of the listener, but the majority of it is left up to the realms of one's imagination. Just because you think you may be hearing twittering birds, the zzzz of the line on a fishing reel, and the creaking of a wooden boat doesn't mean a summer vacation at Lake Watchamcalit. The vast majority of 'Suspension' is dense and dark, and what's not dark is still pretty grey. When compared with projects such as Nurse With Wound, Coil, and Dead Voices on Air, you'll realize just how primitive they were compared to this, in spite of similar tropes and techniques. If there was such a sub-genre as abstract industrial sci-fi pseudo-cinematic ambient, this would be it. Not something you're likely to fathom in just a couple of listening sessions, 'Suspension' will take time to absorb and grok, but it's very grow on you in its own fungal manner.
Mar 18 2018
Artist: African Ghost Valley & Billy Roisz (@)
Title: Angry Ambient Artists Vol.3
Format: Tape
Label: Forwind Press (@)
Rated: *****
This new volume of Angry Ambient Artists is a split release by African Ghost Valley and Billy Roisz and, in spite of the title, is more oriented towards noise and experimental music territories than classic, or dark, ambient ones. Noisy sources are placed in times to variate dynamics and spectrum to create movement so it's not neither ambient nor industrial music but a crossover with a certain level of personality.
African Ghost Valley open their side of the tape with a noisy sound, vaguely reminiscent of certain '80s synth music, of "9732 XE" opens the first side of this tape and introduces the listener to a sort of noise ambient i.e., noise music without the deafening mass of layers but with a layer of quiet drone which sometimes emerges and takes the aural scene. "MM 152" is instead suspended on his oscillation between silence, quiet drones and sharp tones which creates a tension toward the final noisy section. From an initial part close to silence, "OC 154 T" closes the A side with an accumulation of layers which end in the closing mass of noise ending in silence.
Billy Roisz instead occupies her side of the tape with one track, "Hidden Layers", which oscillates between abrasive moments and quiet ones, both developed upon noisy elements asking the listener to follow a musical development rather to be overwhelmed by mass of sounds.
Perhaps a bit too noisy for the usual ambient fan, but it reveals al least a research of personal perspective of the crossover between ambient and noise. Not only for collectors.

Raison D’être: Alchymeia

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 18 2018
Artist: Raison D’être
Title: Alchymeia
Format: CD
Label: Cyclic Law (@)
Rated: *****
This new release by this historical project is presented as based on "Carl Gustav Jung's notions of archetypes and the individuation process" but seems more based on traditional religious rites. The vocal samples are predominantly prayers in latin and the drones are immersed in a quiet atmosphere that let emerge every small concrète sample.
As "Nigredo" starts, the first thing that could be noticed is the impressive quality of the sound details as the religious atmosphere obtained with bells, concrete sounds and prayers in latin are depicted with both a sound patina and realism while the second part is based upon a droning crescendo and a martial atmosphere which surrounds the listener. "Albedo" is a track in three parts: the first one is quiet and suspended whose crescendo introduces a second part focused in a thick drone whose end is marked by the third part based on a child choir. The development by accumulation of "Citrinitas" build an audio spectrum in which the listener could drawn only to be taken towards a suspended end of the track. Whilst "Rubedo" starts as a meditative track centered on a resonances, it's suddenly twisted in a rarefied ambient track.
As someone could reasonably states that, at writing level, it's just another dark ambient release, he should also notice that the quality of audio detail and construction is so impressive to let gobsmacked. Recommended.

Jochen Arbeit / Paolo Spaccamonti: CLN

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 15 2018
Artist: Jochen Arbeit / Paolo Spaccamonti
Title: CLN
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Boring Machines
Jochen Arbeit (member of Einstürzende Neubauten since 1997) and Paolo Spaccamonti have here created seven numbered pieces from the softer side of guitar-centric noise and drone atmospheres. Warm resonances, long sustains, measured use of distortion and deep rumbling, sometimes-tense bass notes combine to create a very filmic 31-minute album.

Longest piece IV, in the centre of the album, is particularly strong as the steady bass notes really up the tension. Track V, after a languid and bluesy opening, is also a strong example of slow build. Finale track VII is also worth noting, and a reasonable sampler track for the whole release, despite the almost absurdly abrupt ending which is a reminder that, averaging under 5 minutes per track, some of these soundscapes could have been explored and expanded rather further than they are.

The whole album was, says the press release, built out of one improvised session that yielded three hours of recordings. It’s certainly not overbaked, nor does it sound like sweat and tears has been ploughed into its creation, but as the sound of two accomplished and confident musicians playing to their strengths, it’s a very satisfying release.

Gray Acres: Gray Acres

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 13 2018
Artist: Gray Acres
Title: Gray Acres
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Sound In Silence
Brothers Andrew and Michael Tasselmyer (Hotel Neon, The Sound Of Rescue)’s debut album as a duo is a nearly-hour-long collection of guitar, synth and sometimes piano ambience, drone and soundscaping with a general feel of sedentary loveliness. It’s one of those releases where it’s hard to judge the temperature- technically it could be described as cold, but there’s something about the lapping reverb that actually comes across as reassuringly warm.

Opener “Sightlines” is particularly pretty. Other pieces, like “Return To Self” with its occasional piano chord, are somewhat more melancholic but in a way that’s arguably a little wishy-washy and as such a little forgettable. “Vestiges Of Form” is almost the definition of soft ambient drone, though none the worse for it and a very nice inducement to sleep, but certainly a little short of unique selling points.

A smart, smooth, relaxing but ultimately slightly forgettable bit of mellow ambient.

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