Music Reviews

Springintgut: Where We Need No Map

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 08 2013
Artist: Springintgut (@)
Title: Where We Need No Map
Format: CD
Label: Pingipung (@)
Distributor: Kompakt Distribution
Rated: *****
All those who lied in wait for the new album of the whismical cellist, drummer and composer Andi Otto aka Springintgut, after his acclaimed "park and Ride" on the excellent label City Centre Offices, didn't wait in vein as Andi kept busy by wrenching and enhancing both his hybrid sound and his cello, which got turned into a "fello" in the meanwhile by means of the implementation of movement and accelerometer sensors on the bow, whose data got translted into MIDI through junXion and then manipulated. In reality the prototype of fello got exhibited on the occasion of STEIM, the indipendente Dutch Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music in Amsterdam, but Andreas gradually improved it with the support of artists from many different fields. The fascination for his brainchild as well as Andi's joy for his searing creative sparkles has been mirrored on this release, which vouches for his vivid inventiveness and gleans from the sonic and musical pond of the exotic traditions he got in touch with during his cultural expeditions. Some of the most engaging tracks of this amazing album have been recorded during his three-months lasting permancence in the German art institute Villa Kamogawa in Kyoto, Japan, where he produced the vibrant "Kamogawa Cycling" and the chirping "Western Kyoto", a couple of delicate sonic cameos which reflect a certain Japanese zest, resurfacing on other tracks such as the crisp J-pop and house-spotted tracks "Moustache Twisters" and "Moustache Or Something" or the final somehow pastoral glare "Ode To Yakushima". Splashes of Bollywood bustles spurt from the tracks he recorded in India, the peppy "Bangalore Kids", where Andi mixes a vibrant fello session with electronic house tempo and a field recording of a school boy he grabbed in Cubbon Park, Bangalore, and the brief squawking whirl of "Bangalore Crows" with vocals by Indian singer MD Pallavi. The cherry on top came from the meeting of Sasha Perera, the voice of notorious Berlin's Dub Techno band Jahcoozi, in Sri Lanka, who gave her voice for a couple of lukeworm tracks, "Bullet" and "Dizzy Heights", where Andi's Fello got entwined with amazing popping grooves. Echoes of Boards Of Canada and similar IDM acts resounds on the computational hiccups of "Teslaphasic Talking" and the oblique smudges of "Where We Need No Map", while the playfulness of Springintgut sound, whose affinity with jazz and so-called skweee is clear, protrudes on tracks like the above-mentioned "Moustache Twisters" or the jaunty "Goose Egg". This album deserves more than a listening.

Ian Hawgood and Friends: Wolven (A Modern Interpretation)

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 06 2013
Artist: Ian Hawgood and Friends
Title: Wolven (A Modern Interpretation)
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Hibernate (@)
Rated: *****
British label Hibernate, a proper rising star of ambient music scene, dedicates this release to the sparkle of its rich catalogue, the ultra-limited album "Wolfskin" by English musician Ian Hawgood, one of the most refined and sophisticated soother, who manages to mix somewhat contrasting emotional polarities by means of the unifying power of his beautiful sound he spread through his labels Home Normal, Nomadic Kids Republic, Tokyo Droming and Koen Music aka KOMU, which co-produced "Wolven (A Modern Interpretation)". This release doesn't just canonize Ian's ability to shape that matter dreams are made from, but also his tendency to share such a vocation with other sound artists. On the first disc's cakewalk, a lot of musicians grappled with the lovely cathartic tracks Ian squeezed from the recollection of his own childish dreams and nightmares in a masterly manner: some of the most mindblowing moments come from the collaboration with the inspiring cellist Aaron Martin, who almost renders the scene of a mother in the act of assuaging her baby after he got suddenly awaken by a disqueting nightmare on "The New World", lets listener flow over emotional polar lights on the initial "The Dance", honeys further the delicate tapping by Ian on "Blue Type I", "Shallow Break", harmonizes the sleep spindles on "The Headless Sleep", but the other guests let their light shine as well. Dag Rosenqvist (Jasper TX) weaves a net of fading filaments which awakes an encircling warm tone and gradually trigger an engaging emotional blast on the beautiful "Blue Type III", Charles Sage aka y0t0 splendidly boosts the same track by dilating chimes, Ian Hawgood allows himself a quick dip into his own mental pools on "Wolven I" before siphoning those lukeworm waters into Spheruleus' vaporizing alembics ("Wolven II"), Pillowdriver's darkening pipes ("Wolven IV") and Hakobune's treatment ("Wolven III"), which turns it into a plasma soup which saturates the substantia nigra. If you enjoyed the first disc, you'll get totally enraptured by the enchanting reinterpretation of the entire album by electronic dub-ambient sorcerer Brock Van Wey aka bvdub on the second disc, who made a sort of derivative album-within-album, based on three angelical diluition of three tracks ("All These Memories Are Blue Type", "Wolfskin" and "Red Rugs Of Infinite Grass") of the original album, who got turned into exstatic suites.

Christiaan Virant: Fistful of Buddha

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 05 2013
Artist: Christiaan Virant (@)
Title: Fistful of Buddha
Format: CD
Label: CVMK
Rated: *****
Buddha Machine's 9 loops maybe didn't bring the Enlightenement to its fetishistic owners, but I'm pretty sure that many fans of that nice coloured plastic music-box mulishly tried to find their way to some Nirvana by it and some of them poured those entrancing or relaxing tunes into more or less personal ambient-oriented tracks in order to share their toytronic-driven Samadhi. Drawing on that fad, some devotee could have surmise one of its inventor, the imaginative Hong Kong-born musician Christiaan Virant, who developed that nice loop device together with his music partner Zhang Jian in 2005 and tried for an encore by an industrial version - the Gristleism loop device! - together with Throbbing Gristle in 2009 found a job as a road worker for the maintenance of the noble eightfold path. The reputation he gained for that somehow bizarre object might eclipse Virant's musical skills and creativity, so that this self-released album, wisely titled "Fistful of Buddha", has been supposedly intended for giving evidence of them. Even if the general sound has a strong influence of those Zen jujus, the classical training and the connection with "western" musical aspects such as some transitional procedures, the outline of a structure and a predominant sense of drama by Mister Virant astonishingly filters through the nine tracks (I think the number of tracks is not casual at all...) of this album, which shows a remarkable variety. Besides ruminative low-paced and beatless tracks such as "Monkey Mind", "Crickets" or "Grey Zone", the highest stylistical peaks have been reached when Christiaan intentionally amalgamates Western and Eastern traditions: you could think about a Vietnamese declension of some icy gothic-ambient stuff when listening to "River Pearl", two vivid slanting eyes behind Venetian masks on "Metropolis Waltz", a special concentrate of Klaus Schulze's stuff and 70ies sequencers for the mp3 players of levitating gurus on the initial "Title Sequence" or on the title-track, which vaguely resembles some stuff by Ron Rothfield's The Infinity Project, or hypertechnological ashram while listening to the final breathing track "Yuan Yi". Spellbinding sonic juice.

Maciek Szymczuk: Clouds

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 03 2013
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Artist: Maciek Szymczuk
Title: Clouds
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Maciek Szymczuk could represent a classic Zoharum release but, because is filled with guest appearances, the music is changeable and seems a sort of pop-dark ambient. Just to be clear, pop is not a synonymfor commercial but a way to express the fact the key point of this album is the merge of a song structure in a dark ambient sound context.
The voice of Joanna Kunstwan-Szymczuk, with the words of Percy Shelley, clear the sound palette of "Cumulus Congestus (Fresh Showers)", the first track of this album that acts as a sort of intro to the remarkable variety of the sound solutions and the second track, "Cirrus Uncinus (To Watch The Clouds)", is a more refined version of this form. "Altocumulus Floccus" is an atmospherical introduction to "Altostratus" where an almost epic synth are juxtaposed to african beats while "Nimbostratus (ObÅok różany)" is completely centered upon the voice of Maciej Mehring interpreting the words of Tadeusz Micinski. "Cirrocumulus Undulatus" is an etherial song as "Stratocumulus Duplicatus" while "Cumulus Mediocris (SÅoÅce za chmurÄ)" returns to a more solemn form with Mauriusz,Oziu' Orzechowski chanting his own words. "Cumulonimbus Capillatus (Clouds)" is the proper title track of this album as it embodies the principal qualities of this release. "Cumulus Lacunosus" seems a quite chill-out (or idm) track reminiscent of some old records while "Stratus Undulatus (Srebrne chmury)" is open by the spoken words, written by Tadeusz Micinski, of Maciej Mehring introducing the etherial soundscape evoked by the author. "Cirrostratus Fibratus" is a small introduction to "Cumulus Humilis (White Sheep)" where small noises acts as an intro to the voice of Joanna Kunstwan-Szymczuk until a gentle coda ends the track and "Cirrus Vertebratus (Sunny Again)" close this release with the words of Alan Benjamin.
This release has one of the aspects that I consider most in a release: the personality of the musical output as, instead of being a typical release of this label, is one of the most enjoyable albums. Recommanded.

Aoki Takamasa: RV8

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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May 31 2013
Artist: Aoki Takamasa (@)
Title: RV8
Format: CD
Label: Raster-Noton (@)
Rated: *****
RV8 could be mistaken for the abbreviation of some glossy and efficient engine, but it just refers to the eight rhythm variations that the talented Osaka-based producer Aoki Takamasa, who already delighted Raster Noton's followers by a similar glitch and rhythmic noise oriented release for the unum series in 2009, built with the complicity of Yoshihori Sunahara, who mastered them in a masterly manner. While listening to Aoki's amazing intense moulding on breaks and the engaging way he pixelates, hones or fulminates loops, listeners could imagine him in the act of grapping with levers, buttons, switches, squirt guns, die grinders, welders, belt sanders and other bizarre gizmos. The high appeal which fibrillating vibes and calibrated extrusions of rhythmical patterns by means of vivid samples, vocal snippets, bumping core drills, pleasingly elasticated synthetic tunes could share with dancefloors could even let you imagine Aoki's activity has more similarities with the one by a puppeteer of robotic marionettes that he inspirits by his own playful crossbreeding of grounds of mechanical loops or electric field with stylistical contraptions from downbeat, house, r'n'b and breakbeat. In spite of the substantial homogeneity, each amalgamation bursts with intriguing fast-moving dynamics: percussive elements such as claps, patters, chimes, bops and clackings gleefully wag around listeners by evoking perpetual motions even on the most chilling (particularly the third and the eighth ones) or the most "technoid" variations and its inner batch processing (as suggested by Kohei Terazono's words to describe this release: "beat clap chop pierce thrust polish warp twist burst squeeze expand cut stick overlap shift bend grate paralyze detach stack slip envelope coalesce vibrate shine dim radiate slice weave converge embrace unravel stiffen tremble elapse sink leap float dance drift swell resonate overflow") never sounds tedious or excessively droning. Check it out!

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