Music Reviews

T'ien Lai: Da'at

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 24 2014
Artist: T'ien Lai
Title: Da'at
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
Imagine you are walking alone in a desert street before passing through a dimensional gate by which you jump over a magnetic storm where otherworldly entities are trying to communicate by means of old radio broadcasting, synth refrains and attuning photons in order to have a vague idea of the listening experience that has been radiated by this Polish duo made up of Lukasz Jedrzejczak and Kuba Ziolek, who named their project from T'ien Lai (Japanese expression meaning "heavenly music"), the brand of cigarettes that Frank Frink, a secretly Jewish worker who got fired from Wyndham-Matson Corporation for having expressed his anger in the disquieting novel "The Man in the High Castle", where the visionary American writer Philip K.Dick imagined how daily life would be under nazi-fascist imperialism after an imaginary victory of the second world war. Their five neural heterotopies immediately hang on listener's eardrum by stunning electric discharges and dissonances which often unpredictably unfold in sonic clouds and heavenly soundscapes which sound like stripped epiphanies, whose revelatory effulgence sometimes meet modern simulacra and bugs of what a situationist could have named a contemporary trapping code, which sometimes look like mirages in a cognitive desert. Besides the references to Qabbalic symbolism and mystical beliefs - for instance the title of the album refers to the meeting point of the ten sephirot of the Tree of Life -, the description of their strategy for alluring audiences is eloquent when they invite them "to take part in an urban rite of liberation and disorder, within which kitsch and folk art intertwine with sanctity and truth, creating an unbreakable relationship". I cannot rule out the possibility you receive a visitation by Meyrink's Golem or green faced divine emissary (or alternatively the fiend who sometimes takes possession of Madonna's wit after she got sampled from some old radio broadcast on the overture of "Gloria") as you reaches the final dark-ambient psychedelic pool of "Tzimtzum III".

Lyke Wake: The Black Light

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 23 2014
Artist: Lyke Wake
Title: The Black Light
Format: CD
Label: Aseptic Noise
Rated: *****
Active on the second part of the 80s, Stefano Di Serio released under the Lyke Wake moniker different tapes and one split album with Ivan Iusco's Nightmare Lodge on Ivan's label Minus habens. After those releases Stefano put the project on hold for twenty years and came back on 2011 with "Mother". His sound has been always characterised by long fluctuating sounds which tended to create a meditative/dreamy effect on the listener. Always in balance from dark ambient (before the genre was named that way), cosmic music and industrial, Lyke Wake's journey into synthetic sounds lead Stefano to new worlds. On his latest CDr self released album "The Black Light", we have one hour suite where he explore his inner world using a ship made of long synth pads, light noisy waves and evolving melodic patterns. We pass from spacey atmospheres to a slow church organ arpeggio and suddenly we fall into a nightmarish intermezzo made of noises, drones and synth pads. After a short pause the atmosphere gets tense more and more. We have this path another time just to end with a chaotic mix where we have atmospheric pads and noises that went crazy. Nice one!

Illuha: Akari

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 19 2014
Artist: Illuha (@)
Title: Akari
Format: CD
Label: 12k (@)
Rated: *****
Since the moment when Taylor Deupree's 12K seems to have walk out on the end to itself of merely abstract ambient in order to make waves in this stylistical pool by means of organic and narrative hooks, this label is managing to dope many music lovers with authentic masterpieces and this third album by Illuha, the suprising collaborative project by Tomoyoshi Date and Corey Fuller, could reasonably belong to such a category. "Akari" could be considered the third evolutive step of these Tokyo-based musicians as "Shizuku", their first release, was mainly recorded in the US with final intergrations which got separately added by each musician, the second stunning release - "Interstices" - got recorded during live sessions, while this record has finally been recorded in a studio recording in Japan, where these guys had a wider sonic equipment at their disposal in the bargain. In accordance with the title of the album - "Akari" is the Japanese word for "light" as well as the name of JAXA infrared satellite -, you could almost feel that each track unfold gradual permutations from darker sonorities to cathartic expansions, but they follow such an ascensional curve by means of delicate interplays between acoustic and electronic instruments, which brings ambient closer to the boundless electroacoustic field. The scientific connection of the titles of each track let foretaste the essence of each suite, which almost seems to the intellectual delight of discovery and knowledge where any single sonic element sounds like interconnected with other ones before it reaches its emotional acme. Winsome sonic entities got psyched out by delicate piano strikes on the initial "Diagrams of the Physical Interpretation of Resonance" before they fade out over a sort of cosmic breeze, a certain inquietude got rendered by the solitary contemplation which occasionally seems to transmute into a deep mental absorption by surrounding natural elements on the following "Vertical Staves of Line Drawings and Pointillism", it smells like a gradual renaissance on the breathtaking daintiness of "The Relationship of Gravity to the Persistence of Sound", which reaches the highest level of purity on "Structures Based on the Plasticity of Sphere Surface Tension" before percolating with reinvigorated strenght over seemingly flat land on the final "Relative Hyperbolas of Amplified and Decaying Waveform"...

Vittoria Fleet: Acht

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 16 2014
Artist: Vittoria Fleet
Title: Acht
Format: CD
Label: n5md
Distributor: Norman Records
Rated: *****
"how i learned to stop worrying and love the grid"

The cover of Vittoria Fleet's debut LP, on the quality French label n5md, shows a geodesic dome rising from a forest canopy. It's a decent analogy for the electronic sculpture of pulsing waves and acid melodies, rising from the earthy foundation of beats and vocals.

At this point, naysayers and doom merchants decrying the death of everything, have become a tired and broken refrain. Yes, we know; there are no new ideas. Yes, we understand; your generation was so much better than ours, and we are doomed to a dwindling twilight half-life of recycling your regurgitations. Obviously, the only art that is meaningful emerges from a vacuum, like some tribe of noble pygmys, untouched by civilization. Or Jandek.

For the rest of us, however, living, working and seeking inspiration in 2014, you have probably heard a lot of records. Possibly millions of them. Maybe even billions. It is just as suspect to deny your influences as it is to ape or cop them, maybe even more so.

So, yes, let us get the obvious out of the way: Vittoria Fleet sound a lot like late '90s Bjork, mainly due to the floating quality of Giada Zerbo's vocals, which features a slight, hard-to-place accent. This similarity is furthered by shifting, skittering percussion and squiggling analog synths, that brings to mind late '90s IDM/braindance, from the likes of Aphex Twin or Wagon Christ.

This late '90s esoterica is augmented by a late '70s/early '80s analog electronic quality, Vangelis minimoogs and acid squelches - all hands on deck, riding knobs and twisting faders.

Vittoria Fleet are clearly re-organizing sounds from all eras, anything that strikes their magpie tastes, which are refined as a sommelier's palate. They may be drawing sounds, styles and influence from all over, but there is nothing scattered, slipshod or random about their approach. Instead, they are trawling the annals of history, particularly the history of Electronic music, choosing what they like, jettisoning the rest, and then carefully polishing and placing every incident. While this record may have it's roots in academic and futurist musics of the past, there is no mistaking this as anything other than completely contemporary.

The secret is in the bassweight: you hardly ever heard drums this tight and muscular before dubstep. In 2014, we are getting bass and compression down to a mystical science, making beats that are able to simultaneously bludgeon and caress, like the best sex ever. And you're not even sore the next day.

Where their influences sounded distant, airy and aloof, through the disassociation of the intellect, Acht manages to be futuristic while still having heart, flesh and heat.

Acht is the duo's debut LP, following 2011's well-received Kissing Cousins EP. Since then, VF have migrated from east London to the cradle of Techno, Berlin. Here's hoping this move will be beneficial, as this pair deserves to be heard by tens of thousands.

In the press release for Acht, they talk about "A careful balancing act that is the nature of the music they make and the processes required in nurturing it." A balancing act, between the organic and the electronic, between the delicate and details and the fierce and forceful. It's hard enough to get these fluttering walls of sound, but to adorn them with lace and Christmas lights is a mystical science, indeed.

A very impressive debut; a must hear.
Artist: We Will Fail (@)
Title: Verstörung
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
The surprising Polish label Monotype popped another gorgeous bundle of releases out lately. One of the most interesting one comes from graphic designer and audioperformance artists Aleksandra Grunholz, one half of duo Tirips and co-founder of the artistic group OKO, whose intent, according to her own words" was "to create something that doesn't leave the listener indifferent, something that affects him" and she reached her goal by acting almost like a scavenger inside the well-matched sound library that she collected over many years. She organized an impressive number of sonic synthetic material, field recordings and samples from old tapes into fourteen spellbinding tracks, where electromagnetic inductions seems to run parallel to hypnotic suggestion. The 4/4 sprays into a drone-like electric buzz on the opening track sounds let me think about an attempt to erase techno memories by means of those old electric machinery which were tested in some asylum as they were supposed to remove bad memories and trauma disorders, but following tracks are other than just another techno spin-off and sway over unpredictable rhythmical patterns, radio and noise interferences, mellow slow-techno movements, lulling mutant winding, industrial-wave nuances, multi-layered structures as well as a number of both stylistical and sonic clues which cross-refers to post-techno and some acts from grey interzones where electronic mongrels got displayed from pop-song casements. The explorative sonorities where you could have the impression of listening to gene mutation of previous stylistical code on "Verstorung" (German word for "disturbance", even if the English version of the title was "Gargoyles"...) sounds like mirroring the notorious novel by Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, whose haunting writing styles narrates the dark peregrinations of a doctor and his son over the austere rural Austrian landscapes where they meet many grotesque and disheartening characters, who are almost like landmarks of an unusually cathartic journey.

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