Music Reviews

Malfinia Ensemblo: Varsovia

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 15 2015
Artist: Malfinia Ensemblo
Title: Varsovia
Format: CD
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
I'm not sure if the lovely scent of sweet almonds I perceived when I took the CD off its plastic wrapping belongs to the release, but I think it's the first time a musical release manages to hit my nose before my hearing. I've not tried to lick the cover, whose effective silk printed artwork got designed by Zavoloka, but if so, I wouldn't be surprised if it tastes like paczki - the delicious Polish donuts - or piernik - a notorious kind of gingerbread that you should taste at least once in your life in Poland -! On the bright side now, Malfinia Ensemblo amalgamates electronic entities from analog synths by young American composer and sound artist Norman Teale aka The Norman Conquest, who also cared mixing, sound manipulation, mastering and recording and added some instrumental patterns (electric cello, electric bass, charango) and Austrian drummer Andi Stetcher - all drums are "real"! -, who met and imagined the amazing crossover you're going to listen on "Varsovia" while they were in the Polish capital city, the main source of inspiration. The opening "Mensa Lavango" immediately grabs listener's attention by fuming drums and wild synth-brass which could resemble the ones that many EBM and industrial names often inserts before a computational melody, which could suit the soundtrack for a phuturistic version of "Age Of Empires", suddenly breaks into the song; the bitonal low frequencies and the angelic singing by Agnes Szelag which opens the first moments of the following "Lumo" reminded Beaumont Hannant's "Heavenly" to me as there are some similarities with the use of voice by Lida Husik on that song, but the song soon turns into a sort of zombified march; Szelag's hypnotic voice also marks "Fulmo", the following track where some brilliant overlaps by Stetcher really stand out; whereas the sound of "Lumo" could evoke marching zombies, the vibe on following "Eho" could let you think the awakening of a starving vampire. The narcotic trip-hop of "Malfinia Ondo" get listener prepped and ready for the lenghty final anthem "La Universo Estas Atomo", where the meticulous electroacoustic workings by these guys seem to render a "big bang"-like approach to composition in their own image and likeness.

Melorman: Out in a Field

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 12 2015
Artist: Melorman
Title: Out in a Field
Format: CD
Label: Sun Sea Sky Productions (@)
Rated: *****
Originally released in 2009 on the Symbolic Interation label, 'Out in a Field' was Melorman's (aka Antonis Haniotakis) 2nd release. Since then he's had a couple more, 'Waves' which I reviewed a while back being the last I am aware of. Stylistically 'Out in a Field' does not differ a whole lot from his later material. Dulcet synth tones and electric piano, occasional strings and light programmed rhythm are the modus operandi here, creating a gentle, soothing ambience; active yet passive. Perfect music for contemplative and/or relaxing times. To a degree I like this Melorman release more than 'Waves' which I perceived as being on the adventurous side in places. You really can't go wrong with this one if you enjoy mellow ambient with melody, simple but effective, a pleasure to listen to, and worthy of replays.

I.corax: The Cadaver Pulse I & II

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 11 2015
Artist: I.corax
Title: The Cadaver Pulse I & II
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Aural Hypnox (@)
Rated: *****
Stellar Mansion, the series that Aural Hypnox is promptly updating by means of re-releases from members of the Helixes collective, had another surprise for dark ambient lovers in store some months ago, the first two obscure official outputs by I.Corax, the brainchild by Anti AIH Haapapuro and Jaakko JKV Vanhala. Both pulses of the cadaver got assembled by heavily processed different sounds (human voice, animal noises, field recordings, wind and bowed instruments) that render deeply immersive and visionary sonic journeys whose effectiveness on listener's imagination got enhanced by the fact that the six tracks of the two parts - the darker "The Cadaver Pulse I: Sealed in a Radiant Larval Maelstrom" and the more etheric "The Cadaver Pulse II: Mothelix Liquescent" - got merged together for continuous listening. Far from being a listening experience for necrophiles in spite of its title, the dark arcane nuance of the sounds, its esoteric "dress" where organic sounds have been painstakingly distorted and triggered as if they were filtered by mind altering drugs as well as the references to hymenoptera of the subtitles that fittedly describes what you are going to listen in some way reminded me the so-called Monarch Mind Control project, a sub-program of the notorious CIA's MK-Ultra program I've read about after the case of Paolo Ferraro, a former Italian judge which got tossed out of the magistracy as a result of his investigations into a sect within Sovereign Military Order of Malta which involved military high-ups, famous psychiatrists, politicians and judges and supposedly performed this kind of programming in order to enslave weak-minded people, named after the monarch butterfly, but such a linking outlives the purpose of I.corax's stuff. I hope that some of the 500 copies of the box-set which includes six offset printed insert cards and a fou panel booklet - are still available for your aural pleasure.

Jake Bell: Awake in my flying dream

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 08 2015
Artist: Jake Bell (@)
Title: Awake in my flying dream
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I have to say I love stories like this- those that turn up familiar bands and musicians thought forgotten long ago, uncover obscure psychedelia, and discover new and/or recent releases that grew out of musicians connected with the most creative musically fertile period of time in the 20th century. Connecticut guitarist Jake Bell has a long musical history stretching all the way back to the mid-1960's. He was an original member of a group called The Random Concept, formed in Connecticut but part of the Greenwich Village music scene. At the time Simeon (shortly thereafter to form the Silver Apples, the first real electronic band with Danny Taylor on drums) was also in the group, with some form of electronic instruments. Random Concept apparently never got a recording contact, and band members including Simeon, Bell and a guitarist named Gary Higgins split from the group. Higgins formed an acoustic band called The Wooden Wheel with Bell, cellist Maureen Wells, and multi-instrumentalist Paul Tierney. The group played locally, but when Higgins was nabbed in a drug bust, that kind of put the nail in the coffin. Fortunately, before Higgins was sent up the river he high-tailed it into a studio with members of members of Random Concept and The Wooden Wheel (Jake Bell included) for a series of round-the-clock recording sessions. The result was eleven songs of free-flowing, meditative bucolic folk and gentle psychedelia, the album titled "Red Hash". It became a cult classic, much later (2005) reissued on CD. Afterwards Jake became a wandering minstrel with Robert Force and Albert D'Ossche traveling up and down the west coast. After that Bell seemed to disappear from the music scene entirely. Eventually back on the east coast he hooked up with Simeon again and then released his first solo recording on the Silver Apples' label, Whirlybird Records titled 'Synjase' with several other musicians, including the aforementioned Gary Higgins in 2000. Okay, so that was all then, welcome to NOW.

'Awake in my flying dream' is a most pleasant low-key dream-like psychedelic ambient trip. It is some of the best space ambient music I've heard in a long while. There is a wonderful gentle flow to it; the album is rich and multifaceted, complex yet fairly light. This is space ambient music that goes down easy. If you never knew about Jake's background you would hardly think that a guitarist would put this out as synths and electronics abound. There is a lengthy concept behind it all that has to do with the Great Awakening of New Earth, the 12/21/12 Mayan Calendar and the Zero Point Timeline Shift but you can investigate that on your own time. All I can say for sure is that 'Awake in my flying dream' is wonderful stuff, 75 minutes of pure bliss, and there's more to come (his followup 'Zero Point 21/12' album is already out) from Jake Bell. Available on CD or Digital Download. The CD comes with some colorful artwork by Jake too. Recommended.

Thomas Köner : La Barca - complete edition

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 04 2015
Artist: Thomas Köner
Title: La Barca - complete edition
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
This must-listen release for all ambient lovers directly comes from German media artist Thomas Koner, who decided to reissue a complete edition of "La Barca" whose first edition in 2009 got sold out. Beyond the audio tracks of the first edition, where your mind will be placidly brought over the twelve places (Tokyo, Nice, Cairo, Rome, Manhattan, Damascus, Paris, Spitsbergen, Jerusalem, Venice, Montenegro, Barcelona which got identified by geographical coordinates on the original version) by means of a cinematic dream-like amalgamations of field recordings, fluctuating harmonies, static sounds, silence and other aural hints, this FLAC digital version includes the five bonus tracks of the extended double LP and five previously unreleased tracks as well as a video of the visuals of the Tokyo part that he originally presented at the Nam June Paik Award 2012 exhibition at Art Museum in Bochum, Germany. Even if the title of this release could let some Italian or Spanish readers think about a reference to the hallucinogenic psychonavigation that Thomas' sonic art could inspire as it means "the boat" in both languages, according to his own words "La Barca" refers to "the solar barque, or sun boat, which passes through the realms of the underworld (Duat according to Egyptian mythology) each night to reappear in the east every morning" even if he explains that he experienced a sort of "feeling of displacement" when he describes the above-mentioned Tokyo part ("It appeared to me as if the railway car moved like a slow boat, and the announcements at the stations sounded like invocations. I realized: 'In a barque she sails across the high lands of the past. The barque heads shimmer and glow at stern and bow, and that lights her unseeable passage. She calls to the spirits of this hour, and that is how we come to even hear her voice.'"), so that this sonic cartography that Thomas collected while globetrotting in a couple of years could inspire mental journeys where the etheric body of the listener stroll down those places without being seen.

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