Music Reviews

Kangding Ray: Solens Arc

 Posted by Duff Harris   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 08 2014
Artist: Kangding Ray (@)
Title: Solens Arc
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Distributor: Kompakt
Rated: *****
You could almost envision the contraction of the muscles of an athlete, his gradual perspiration or his challenge against gravity since the initial "Serendipity March", as if such a slowing down could display some hidden secrets of universal forces. You can have the impression to perceive the movement of every single air particle while a bullet slices through the space that is between its origin and its target on "Transitional Ballistics" or understand the vector space of a bird's flight while listening to "L'Envol". The concept by this awesome record from David Letellier aka Kangding Ray seems to be focused on the attempt of gleaning the essence of movement by a translation of trajectories and parables into sounds by following any resounding object that got launched by laptop, drum machines and synths as if they were cannonballs whose infinite rifle range got mirrored by the gradual "blossoming" of synth arpeggios and melodic dust into enzymatic broken rhythms and deconstructed rave anthems. Each of four Solens arc, one for each side of the album, has been splitted into three phases and wondrously cleaves to such a concept by progressive polymerizations of industrial techno engines - the first stage - into granular entities - the second stage -, which vanish over ether - the third and final level -. My favorite ones are the third arc ("Amber Decay/Apogee/History Of Obscurity") as its evolution sounds like a sort of epic apokatastasis to my ears and the fourth one on D side ("Crystal/Transitional Ballistics/Son"), where the emotional tension wisely reaches the highest peaks by going through stylistical environments which bridges 70ies horror movies soundtracks, industrial techno, broken noises and sidereal drone-ambient. Labelling this release as a masterpiece is not a backslapping at all!

Andrew Lewis: Au-delà

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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May 04 2014
Artist: Andrew Lewis (@)
Title: Au-delà
Format: CD
Label: empreintes DIGITALes (@)
Rated: *****
"Au-dela'" (French expression for "beyond") is a collection of six amazing acousmatic compositions that got created between 1990 and 2012 by North Wales-based composer Andrew Lewis, one of the original members of BEAST (in spite of the hallucinatory and somehow mesmeric nuances of some stuff by Andrew, it's not a satanist group, but it's the acronym for Birmingham Electroacoustic Sound Theatre), professor and director of the Electroacoustic Music Studios at the University of Wales Bangor, where he also directs Electroacoustic WALES, a group of composers (mainly former students) which tries to "promote and encourage the creation and dissemination of electroacoustic music within Wales and beyond. Lovers of the genre, but also newbies, are going to explain the amount of prizes and awards that Andrew gained after listening to this collection by putting his outlandish integration between a rich paraphernalia of acousmatics and a set of interesting concepts forward and such a sonic "strategy" since the initial track "Lexicon" which renders dyslexia by let rappeling the words of a poem by Tom, a 12 years old bot, into a pit of meaningful noises where Tom himelf seems to appear like a ghost in the cloud of voices which repeat lines of the poem ("Word is my prolem", "Words are like lifes/lies" - or maybe flies as some buzzing flies which resound after 8 minutes could let you surmise -, "a page is like a map I try to find my way around" and so on...). You'll get astonished by the bunch of harmonics that Andrew Lewis manages to extract from the sound of breaking glasses on "Dark Glass" as well as by his odd way of reinventing Wales' sonic culture on "Can" (Welsh for "song"). The oldest compositions of this collection are quite surprising as well: he translated the mountainous landscape around Bangor University studios into a mysterious sonic adventure on "Ascent", he turns many sonic entities into ephemeral being on "Time and Fire", which sounds like a treatise about transience, while the funnily disquieting "Scherzo" could let you revive childhood by a mesmerizing and swirling whirlwind of sonic clues.

Christina Vantzou: N°2

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 03 2014
Artist: Christina Vantzou (@)
Title: N°2
Format: CD
Label: Kranky (@)
Rated: *****
Four years of pernickety efforts by Greek video artist Christina Vantzou resulted into a breathtaking release, her second solo one as you can easily gather from the title, which managed to delight my eardrum and titillate my mind even more than her debut. Although her main collaborators are the same of her "n.1" - Minna Choi, founder and music director of Magik*Magik Orchestra, who helped Christina for notation, arrangemnets and recordings with a 15-piece ensemble at Tiny Telephone studios in San Francisco, and Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie (Stars of the Lid/A Winged Victory for the Sullen), Christina's former partner-in art for The Dead Texan, who premixed the album and added some personal sonic embellishments at his studio in Brussels -, "n.2" sounds more airy and mused to me: each track features a grandiose pace as if she managed to render the thickening of lightening insights or the gradual spiritual glimmer by peronsal moments of truth, even when the refulgence of her sound goes through dimmer transitions on tracks like "Going Backwards to Recover What was Left Behind" or "Brain Fog". Orchestral strings act like enzymes for this fainting enlightment, but the most astonishing moments of the album ("Vancouver Island Quartet". "Sister". "The Magic of the Autodidact") occur when Christina dilutes trilling mermaid-like warbles into expanding ethereal and emotional funnel clouds, which gently push dramatically cinematic pearls towards blissful transcendence.

Poemss: s/t

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 01 2014
Artist: Poemss
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
Even if some sonic glint vaguely keeps a certain percussive ruggedness and the cover artwork could be a reference to "Songs About My Cats", listeners who mainly know Aaron Funk and his hard-edged outputs in the guise of breakcore sorcerer Venetian Snares could be surprised by his epiphany on this collaborative project with Toronto-based producer and music artist Joanne Pollock. They mainly recorded and created the music of Poemss in Aaron's house in Winnipeg, but the dwelling of their music has no walls and nophysical location at all: according to their own words "this record seems less rooted in a particular place or time, and seems more to be born out of out thoughts, dreams, and reflections" as it's clear since the beginning when the hoarse voice by Aaron and the gently pitched one by Joanna sing about the "hair follicle of an ancient pony, who was once known to save the children in distress" on "Ancient Pony". A delicate and somewhat childish reverie drenches the first part of the record and reaches the top on the fluffy whispered lullaby "Bedtime", which follows "Heads on Heads" where their music sounds like bouncing between IDM and Human League-like synth-pop within a zero gravity nursery room. The bouffant synths of "Moviescape", one of the most cherubic moments of the album, vividly mark the doorway into Poemss daydream, which carries on proper musical pearls such as the lovely lasing into the ecstatic rapture of "Miles Away", the sweet duet of "Gentle Mirror", where you're not sure if Aaron and Joanne sings "I could be your lie" or "I could be your light" as if they rendered the intimate duplicity that got evoked by the title-track, the analogue edulcoration on "Think of somewhere Nice", the metronomic heartbeats and their knotting to dream states of astonishing songs like "Losing Meaning", Hall Of Faces" and the intense emotional warmth of the final track "Think of Something Beautiful". After this master stroke, which follows Heterotic, the project by label boss Mike Paradinas and his partner-in-life and partner-in-art Lara Rix-Martin, I could conjecture that Planet Mu proved the point that the combination of masculine and feminine musical souls and their reciprocal "levelling" can result into really good outputs.

Red Sector A: Transients

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Apr 29 2014
Artist: Red Sector A
Title: Transients
Format: CD
Label: Silentes (@)
Rated: *****
Active since the mid 90s, Red Sector A, released four albums for Minus Habens where ambient dub was meeting techno rhythms. Under the Subterranean Source moniker, Andrea Bellucci, the guy behind Red Sector A, released two CD albums in the U.S. Desolation House, a Relapse sub-label and before starting the Red Sector A, he was active in the dance scene as composer. 'Transients' is Red Sector A's fifth album and the first for Silentes. On this one, Andrea, is bringing to fans of electronic music, ten new tracks born in collaboration with many well known musicians of the Italian and international scene. Andrew Lagowski, Teho Teardo,, Dean Dennis (ex Clock-DVA), Giorgio Ricci (Templezone), Eraldo Bernocchi (also member of Sigillum S) and Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo of Larsen joined him helping enriching his sound. Listening to "Transients", I can't tell exactly what the guests did as their contributes are merged into the strong rhythmical texture which is the main element on the mix. We have a sound built by different layers which interact but kinda live on their own, also. As I said, the rhythms are king as there are so many beats made using glitching sounds, drums, synth noises that at first listening, those are the first thing that pops out. Under that, there's an underworld made of drones, tiny noises, loops and stuff that you'll discover them little by little. Also, you'll notice the clean mix which is helping listening to every sound. If you love i.d.m. as well as sound research and Warp, Rephlex are two labels you love, "Transients" is an album you'll enjoy.

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