Music Reviews



Juan Blanco: Nuestro Tiempo

 Posted by Duff Harris   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 16 2014
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Artist: Juan Blanco
Title: Nuestro Tiempo
Format: CD
Label: Innova
Rated: *****
I apologize in advance for smashing idols here (although I'm not all that sorry). What seems to be presented here is a compilation of early techniques that may be interesting to someone for whom the history of audiology is fascinating. There are synthesizers and tape effects dating from the 1960s through the 90s here - although without knowing the dates of each piece one might fail to differentiate as one track seems to blend into the next. This "timelessness" is not intended as a compliment and it is not presented in a beautiful and seamless way like a pastoral symphony but more like a grey gruel and grey latex paint.

Perhaps I am merely a neophyte when it comes to the whole electronic/ambient/ethereal/dub/soundscapes/abstract scene but when I hear "Nuestro Tiempo" ("Our Time") I am ultimately left waiting for some sort of payoff. I would consider myself someone patient enough to sit through the entirety of the Ring Cycle - so when a sixty-four minute CD leaves me feeling restless and bored it is hard to find a redeeming feature somewhere within.

I am told Juan Blanco is quite a "pioneer" of electronic music however - and that may be well and true - but just the same, Jane Austen may have been ambitious as an early female novelist of social commentary I find her personally dreadful and tedious.

Cold Body Radiation: A Clear Path

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 15 2014
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Artist: Cold Body Radiation
Title: A Clear Path
Format: CD
Label: Dusktone (@)
Rated: *****
The label presents this release as 'a deeply personal work of loss, honesty and hope' featuring a 'new focus on songs structure and personal lyrics'. However, this album sound as a single track in nine movements as the basic formula, an almost inaudible voice buried upon layers of guitar and synth, is repeated in all track but, instead of being static or repetitive, develops his ideas in a remarkable clear way resulting in one of the most enjoyable listening of the year, even if is a demanding one.
The tracks, without a title, reveals a structure of mesmerizing beauty: from the first track, where the almost inaudible voice upon the dreamy lines of synth and the guitar mass set the scene into a menacing but bucolic soundscape to the last one, where the guitars flows between the overtones and the melodic path. In between sounds, there's quieter tracks like the second and the fifth, that seems almost an instrumental pop track, and noisier one, like the sixth and the seventh, where the synth and the distortions of the guitar set the musical palette.
This release isn't exactly a ground-breaking one as his musical form is well routed into his influences but the quality of the musical writing is of first class. Every fan will enjoy this release in an endless loop. Recommended.

Glowicka & Walentynowicz: Red Sun

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 13 2014
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Artist: Glowicka & Walentynowicz (@)
Title: Red Sun
Format: CD
Label: Bôłt Records/ARTEksounds (@)
Rated: *****
"Frost. Morning frost awoke me reaching under the covers.". These words are the incipit of the short story that Kasia Glowicka, the brilliant media artists which co-signed this entrancing musical suite together with pianist Malgorzata Walentynowicz, which seems to tell a romantic reverie where the main balls on the sky we see from this point of the universe often interfere with inner journeys of a romanticized sequence of happenings where temporary perceptions triggers different zones and seemingly forgotten recesses of the soul. Besides emotional clefts, these Polish girls wisely explores the stylistical choke points of a possible junction between classical music, ambient and minimalism by means of elegant and somewhat adventurous where the delightful piano melodies got striated by blurred tones, sudden sprays of bells, electronic drafts, distant rustles like reflections of lunar light on the rough water of the sea or an imaginary recce over Klimt's "The Kiss", which got mentioned in Kasia's storytelling. The mellifluous intermittence of emotional evocations can be clearly appreciated on the longest suites of the album such as "Presence", the heart rending dedication to Polis composer and pianist Tomasz Sikorski, an authentic source of inspiration for Kasia Glowicka, who already took part to a tribute release on Bolt Records, where she described Sikorski's minimalism by a meanignful description ("Sikorski's minimalism was unique to any of these native and foreign influences. He was a philosopher-minimalist concerned with the meditative properties of his compositions. His philosophy could be as well paraphrased by Queen's existential Bohemian Rhapsody - "nothing really matters, anyone can see, nothing really matters..." On the other hand, literally every note matters in his distinct minimalist style. It is here that I've identified most strongly with Sikorski's longing for brutal beauty. In this space, one can go so far as to be intentionally painful."), the lovely "Red Sun" or the bittersweet melancholia of "Retina", but the shortest tracks such as the fibrillating "Favola", the baleful "Absence" or the opening "Sun Spot" follows such a guessed compositional strategy.
Jul 10 2014
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Artist: Gintas K (@)
Title: Nota Demo
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
I was a little surprised to find a release by appreciated Lithuanian electronic producer Gintas Kraptavicius - we interviewed him on the occasion of the release of "Slow" for Baskaru - on the pack of records from Portuguese label Creative Sources, even if this record could be thought as an interesting assay of computer-driven improvisation. Most of the sounds have been squeezed from Bidule, an amazing modular environment by Canadian audio software company Plogue Art et Technologie Inc.: the sonorities are closer to some 60ies electronic music, but in between more or less regular computational sequences, which sometimes sound like having been crumbled, other sonic entities such as bells, spurts, gushes, gurgles and rifts suddenly appear and stain any electronic eddies. You could imagine this release as the workout of a lively kid who plays on a gigantic control panel with a plenty of mysterious knobs, bright buttons and levers or you could imagine it came from the translation of the sonic language of a computer, who got drunk after its liquid cooling system was filled with vodka.

The Twentieth Century: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jul 10 2014
cover
Artist: The Twentieth Century (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: mosz (@)
Rated: *****
From the stylistical viewpoint, "The Twentieth Century" seems to begin like some sonic marks of the beginning of twentyfirst one as the very first convective movements of sound frequencies of this one-take recording that Wien-based duo by cellist Lukas Lauermann and guitarist Pieter Gabriel decided to record in an improvised pop-up studio in the workshop of an auto painter in the Austrian capital city with the aid of recoridng engineer Stefan Deisenberg could let you surmise some stuff by Stars of the Lid or William Basinski, which evoke sorrowful and somewhat aloof thining caps about chief systems and universal entropy. Little by little, the opening suite "A Slow Descent" whose airflows seem to delicately move the surrounding elements of the recording room such as windows and doors, which are listenable entities in the drone-like sonic stream, sounds like permeating any single particle of the environment by its radiant energy. The electroacoustic ingredient of their delicious recipe protrudes on the puckered chords and the ice scraping of the interstitial track "No Light From The Surface", which precedes the dimmer hues of the cathartic final "Pulled", where a breath of frozen air and a somber cell emphasizes the following sonic psychodrama by means of a warming symphonic clasp, which turns into a sort of flattening deluge. The sound of a snorkel at the end of the track sounds like a rescue, which could save listener from the emotional drowning these musicians managed to render.


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