Music Reviews

Niton: Tiresias

 Posted by Pierre Parenteau   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2015
Artist: Niton
Title: Tiresias
Format: CD
Label: Pulver & Ache Records
Rated: *****
Niton's music is engaging experimental music at its best. I have to say that I have a soft spot for music based on analogue synthesizers, and Niton's latest album, 'Tiresias', offers just that and more, adding mystic pipes, various objects that produce sounds, a six strings banjo and a cello to the mix. On their second album, the trio created what could easily be the soundtrack of an apocalyptic movie: dark tones abounds, strange noises unfolds sparingly and the musician's playing is tense. Niton's equipment list consist of various legendary vintage synthesizers, among them the Roland SH-101, the Memorymoog, the Korg MS-20 and the frail Korg Poly 800. While the gear is vintage, the music on Tiresias is timeless. However, the opposite could have been true due to the vintage nature of the gear (for instance, an analog sequencer from the seventies is used), but the sound production is both modern and flawless. Everything sound bold and deep giving the album a very contemporary sound. Xelius, one of the band's member, did a great job mastering the album and his experience as a sound technician certainly helped a lot on that aspect. Conceptually, the band's approach was to make different sound sources collide into a continuous flow of live electronic. Hence the classical strings 'conversing' with the analogue synthesizers and noise objects (a heater, some springs and a fan). Most of the tracks on the album evolve into a very pleasurable cathartic ending. It really shows that it took fifteen months of work to compose and record the album. Each piece is well thought out and develop in a natural way. What we have here is a rich in tones and atmosphere album, easy to listen to and superbly produced.

Derek Piotr: Bahar

 Posted by Pierre Parenteau   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2015
Artist: Derek Piotr
Title: Bahar
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Bit-Phalanx
Rated: *****
Bahar is the fifth album by New England based Idm artist Derek Piotr. Previous efforts were praised by highly respected publication such as XLR8R, and for good reasons. The music produced by Piotr is well executed, polished and original, the latest being a rare thing nowadays, especially in electronic music where a lot of music is based on preconceived formulas. Piotr's music consist of manipulated vocal sounds, reminiscent of Bjork's Medúlla album, except that Piotr ads electronic production and four woodwind players to the mixe, making Bahar a quite different affair. If I would try to spot influences, I would say that it's similar in style as AGF, who coincidentally did the beautiful artwork of the album. The added woodwinds, while not ubiquitous, enriches Piotr's sound palette and ad something different to an album that would be otherwise colder in tones. The classical influence won't please everyone, but I've found it refreshing. Furthermore, Piotr's voice is enjoyable, never harsh or detuned on purpose. Overall, Bahar is a good album of quality electronic music. Cory Allen did a great job on the mastering. The only drawback is that the album only last half an hour, which is a bit short. Otherwise, this is a pleasant album for fans of Idm and experimental electronic music. Standout tracks: Day Residue, There Shall Be A New Earth and Tennis.

Chra: Empty Airport

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jul 10 2015
Artist: Chra (@)
Title: Empty Airport
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego
Rated: *****
The origin of ambient music was merely functional as you can easily verify by checking the various pristine releases with unambiguous titles such as "Music for Waiting Rooms", "Music for Elevators" and so on. The most famous one - many reviewers consider it as the very first ambient album - was Brian Eno's notorious "Music For Airports", which is also the departure point of this interesting album by Wien-based electronic musician Christina Nemec aka Chra - founder of Comfortzone label and member of Shampoo Boy (together with Peter Rehberg and Christian Schachinger -, who lands on Editions Mego platform by an isolationist revision of that functionality. Ambient music is no more a sort of more or less neutral piece of furniture, but stick to the cognitive process of feedforwarding and backpropagation of the user, where sounds portray a sort of heterotopia. Noises and sounds that could come from an empty terminal got juxtaposed to inners spaces, dimensions and mutations, so that they seem to render what an unlucky traveller experiences when he/she had to wait for a connecting flight, which departs early in the morning: tiredness and drowsiness alter perception until any external sonic stimulations deposit on the wall of consciousness and manage to render imaginary dimensions, where even empty spaces could be like the displays of a living entity - tracks such as "Fits Of Asthma", "The Story Of" or "Landmine" sound like turning noises into biological functions, while other ones such as the title-track "Empty Airport", "Soca Valley" or "Contaminated Landscapes" evoke hallucinatory dimensions -. Very interesting sonic output.

Monty Adkins: Unfurling Streams

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 09 2015
Artist: Monty Adkins
Title: Unfurling Streams
Format: CD
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
"For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) /its always ourselves we find in the sea". These well-known lines that close E.E.Cummings's poem "maggy an milly and molly and may" already inspired many artists with a love for one of the most beautiful nature's contribution to our planet that the American poet described as "marvelous from god's/hands which sent her forth/to sleep upon the world" in another famous poem. Professor Monty Adkins seems to join this crew by this placid release, whose title "Unfurling Streams" describe both the sonorities you're going to listen and its concept: the entrancing frequencies that Monty unstringed from instruments by a wise sound processing, the undertow of reversed recording of some of them, the bubbling percussions he made together with Jonny Axelsson that got inserted in the textures of the six untitled streams as well as some organic entities that resurfaces from the depths of these streams render both the cleansing effect of the vision onthe edge of the sea and the matching between underwater and marine streams and inner flows, where doldrums and storms, quiet and disquieting moments, coming up and sedations of memories flip between the streaming of slipped sounds, where streams, according to the words which introduce the release, reflect "life - something continually flowing, evolving, and changing. Eddies, currents, pools and spray also are suggestive of ways in which the stream makes its way through the landscape and are clearly reflected in the images and sounds created for this project". Some moments of the album are so peaceful that unattentive listeners cannot catch some hidden trasures, as there are just some moments (the fifth and the third streams) where music imposes itself to listener's attention. The limited edition box set included a set of images by Stephen Harvey, whose connection with Monty Adkins' release got explained as follows: "In Unfurling Streams I have created a set of images that respond to the concept and essence of the music. The openness of this approach, and a deep mutual appreciation of each others' work, allowed me the latitude to develop a unique creative situation where internal, fragmented visual concepts and external situations or circumstances converged. The images produced for this project would not have been made without that influence... to investigate detail and particularity and make it the essence of the work.".

Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld: Never Were the Way She Was

 Posted by Marc Urselli   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 06 2015
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Artist: Colin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld (@)
Title: Never Were the Way She Was
Format: CD
Label: Constellation Records (@)
Rated: *****
One of my favorite musical artists, Canadian multi reed and wind-strumentalist Colin Stetson, and his partner in crime and in life, Sarah Neufeld (great violinist and understated singer, also a member of Arcade Fire) finally joined forces and made a record together.

If you don't know Mr. Stetson, start by listening to his amazing trilogy of albums entitled "New History Warfare" (which came out between 2007 and 2013) and then, if you can, try to wrap your head around the fact that everything you are hearing is played live, without loops or overdubs!!! On every track you will hear what sounds like multiple voices and voicings, distant muffled echoes of whales and ogres (from the contact microphones on Mr. Stetson's throat and chest), multiple melody lines and usually a very defined melodic and rhythmic bass line made up of notes, clicks and clunks (from the saxophone's keys) that pedals throughout each piece. All of those, and more, are played live, on the spot, with extended micing and performance techniques of the instrument (usually tenor or bass saxophone) and a mind-boggling command of circular breathing, concentration and transcendence that is usually the stuff of legends, or very advanced yogi's!

On their first released musical effort as a couple, the two add even more to the table: Mr. Stetson plays the contrabass clarinet on some of the tunes (which is just an incredible sounding instrument, with a possibly even wider range than the bass saxophone, or at least extending further downward in the scale).
Mrs. Neufeld's laying is fluid and entrancing and perfectly complements the nature of what is going on. When she adds some nice long reverberated vocal notes into the mix, the whole thing gets even more eerie and chilling, relaxing and all encompassing, like a fog or a wave that takes over the space in which you are enjoying this music.

I recently went to see them play live at Bowery Ballroom in NYC (talented drummer Ryan Sawyer was opening for them) and it was just a reminder (not that I needed one) and a reinforcement of why I like Colin's playing so much. Seeing them play together, seeing the interaction and the obviously intense and intimate connection that they have, augments the listening experience even more and takes their performance to a level that traditional ensembles can rarely achieve.

Now that the two of them play together the result is exponentially more interesting, as in the result is greater than the sum of all parts!

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