Music Reviews

Fathom Audio: Promises/Ridges

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 31 2012
Artist: Fathom Audio (@)
Title: Promises/Ridges
Format: 12"
Label: Diffrent (@)
Rated: *****
An interesting attempt of renewing drum'n'bass language by a partial drawing from episodes of the genre which came before the roaring years of jump-up comes from Fathom Audio, a collective project by Billy aka Dj Billion, Matt Sensible aka Sense MC and Fybe-One. This lovely release on Diffrent, forerunner of the so-called giraffestep movement (!), sounds like a yin-yang, whose white dot on black side could be "Promises", a tune based on the intertwining of a very dirty dark bass and weedy occasional drum beats with an high-pitched melody, a dovetail which sounds not so different from unforgettable first tunes by Photek, whereas the black dot on white side could be evoked by "Ridges", a "brighter" track built on synth wooshes, a luminous computational melody, a muffled female vocal sample (turning into a pleased whimpering...) and an entrancing harp-like pulse. Fathom Audio built a sonic knick-knack which is going to mouthwater many dnb followers by wheeling dnb towards the boundaries with ambient-dub and folktronica.

Lawrence English: For/Not For John Cage

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 31 2012
Artist: Lawrence English (@)
Title: For/Not For John Cage
Format: CD
Label: Line (@)
Rated: *****
If I had ignored the source of inspiration for this album was Cage's centenary, I would have surmised the appreciated Australian composer Lawrence English came under the spell of mycology or mushroom picking after reading the list of scientific names of various fungi or experienced some poisoning after eating them, even if I would have praised his work. The focus on fungi (most of you know John Cage was a mycologist, collector and consumer of mushrooms...) could be imaginatively explained by their distinctive features and particularly their nutrition, which lead to the distinction between saprophytes, symbiont or parasite, so that it seems that the mind behind Room40 collected a series of sonic organisms which sucked some lymph from the huge tree of knowledge, watered by John Cage, which fed them even with his dead leaves. This record is closely related to the soundtrack English revisited with Scott Morrison for Cage's One11, an abstract movie with no plot, completely based on a set of guidelines for takes and lighting, whose original OST, the orchestral work 103, echoes to many moments of this electronic abstract oevre as well as in the feeling of slow and sumptuous movement, a sort of quivering of ghastly and elusive entities. Notwithstanding the close connection between English's slow drones and some intuitions by Cage, the nine tracks on "For/Not For John Cage" evoke trance-like states between sleeping and waking while discolsing very catchy compositional processes by oscillating between the daydreaming soothing of "Otidea Onotica", the laudanum-like amniotic flotation of "Hygrophorus russula", the somewhat disquieting apnea of "Naematoloma sublateritium" and the ancestral mists of "Entoloma abortivum".

PAS: Flanked By Women And Pumpkins

 Posted by J Simpson (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Oct 28 2012
Artist: PAS (@)
Title: Flanked By Women And Pumpkins
Format: CD
Label: Alrealon Musique (@)
Distributor: Plastic Head
Rated: *****
From subterranean corridors to ghostly '50s living rooms, NY 5-piece (and guests) PAS take you for an odd, auditory journey. Described by spokesperson Robert L. Pepper as "more soundscapes than "songs" in the traditional sense," there is still a dystopian sci-fi vibe that makes for a coherent listen.

Employing a battery of traditional band instruments - guitar, bass, drums, keys, trumpets, and percussion - PAS then illuminates these grooves with sonic bric-a-brac - found sounds, field recordings, and countless synthesizers. PAS flirt with atonal jazz, sound collage, doom metal, and '80s horror movie music during its sixty-minute duration. What could have been a stylistic clusterfuck ends up instead as an engaging auditory hallucination; a streak through the collective HORRORSHOW id of its creators. Don't get me wrong, this record is not cloaked in shadows and soaked in gore. If anything, its more polished chrome and burning red neon than cobwebs and candles.

The band claims that 'Flanked By Women And Pumpkins,' conceived during a tour of Poland in 2011, is "uncommercial". "There are no clearly defined melodies, no structural landmarks that give you any sense of traditional anchor," says Robert L. Pepper. The thing they may not realize is that many of us have spent the last 10 years blowing the dust out of our Eustachian canals with krautrock, harsh noise, drones, and field recordings. I have found, after repeated investigations, that 'FBWAP' falls nicely in line with the current Zeitgeist. Anybody that gets off on the endless grooves of classic cosmische jams, retro-futuristic techno, or John Carpenter-esque synthesizer scores, will find much meat on this bone.

I was all primed to hate this record, initially turned off by the glossy cardboard packaging, but the initial warm bass pulse of 'Electric Rain On Adams Bridge' seduced me. It comes off like a techno record, before degenerating into noisy crackling, then sluicing through some disembodied jazz. Its not as incoherent as it sounds; there is a universal pulse to this record. Its got a groove. It worked its way into my kitchen CD player for a week, before moving onto my headphones, making my trips to the bank and the shoestore far more futuristic and abstract.

'Flanked By Women And Pumpkins' was produced and mastered by Robert L. Pepper, dispelling the myth that a musician can't mix and master their own work. He has a deft touch; the recordings are full and well-rounded, and help to distinguish this record from the legions of bland noise imitators. Every sonic element is glowingly rendered in spacious reverb; all the pieces work as a whole. There are no jarring changes in volume, surprising considering the varied genres and instrumentation. The spell is never broken, and the listener is treated to 12 surreal, walking dreamscapes.

Purveyors of art-house classicism and bored-room jazz, take note. There may be clues here as to how 'high-brow' 20th-century Avant-Garde techniques can come together with current DIY-sweaty basement experimentation.

Uncommercial, my left ear. Go buy this.

Kid606: Lost in the Game

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Oct 26 2012
Artist: Kid606 (@)
Title: Lost in the Game
Format: CD
Label: Tigerbeat6 (@)
Rated: *****
Time waits for no one. Neither for fitness guru Jane Fonda and musical marketing guru Madonna, nor for other strenuous fighters of telomeres and free radicals in the name of eternal youth. One of the possible way to escape from nature is leaving some (possibly good, but not necessarily valuable!) trace through arts, science or ethics. Former prodigious boy of IDM, glitch and breakcore scene, the Venezuelan beat-juggler Miguel Trost De Pedro, known as Kid606 since the times when he used to find his ways into the hearts of fans of Aphex Twin or other IDM glorious forerunners, wittingly restrains himself from joking about his anagraphical ageing (updating his moniker into Adult606 could be equally ridicolous as if the above-mentioned Madonna would have turned her name into Holy MILF), but he rather prefers to refurbish his style by putting the punk aesthatics he enucleated in his sound aside. The novelty for Kid606's sound in "Lost in the Game" is the prevalence of melody over hotchpotches of samples and beats, as it's clear since the initial "Godspeed You African American Emperor" - a funny pun based on the name of the notorious Canadian post-rock band Godspeed You Black Emperor with a possible allusion to the forthcoming American presidential voting days, which will decide the leader of further butcheries for oil and money - as well as the suppuration of a more pensive mood as if ripeness would have broght more waggles for thought and soul than for muscles and bones, which have been digested by Kid606 with the same old caustic mood he use to express by the choice of titles ("Night Club vs. Book Club", "I Want To Join a Cult", "I Need to Start a Cult", "Big Black Ketamine Jesus", Left Hand Pathfinder" and so on). The function of beats sounds different than his past tracks: their stage presence seems to be aimed to furnish melodies, beats and other percussive elements are more like dots to join melodic lines, which often leaves a sonic trail in the tide of each track (as if they were the pleasant sensation of an awakening after a nice dream) and the loud and somewhat grumbling basslines, which shakes many moments of the album - , sound like absorbing the medicinal properties of blooming fluffy organs, flutey synths and arcade games' squeezing, so much as I'd say some of the better tracks are almost or completely beatless ("Cardamom's Gone Soft" or the feeble lovely paleness and the feeling of vanishing of the final "I'm Sick but I Ain't Dead") together with many brilliant rhythimical ones as well ("Baroque and Out of Money", "Step Into the Light You Fucking Idiot" and "Left Hand Pathfinder" are definitively my favorite ones). Regardless of the reasons, identity crisis or religious-tinged flashes of inspiration, I'd say this unusual (more adult-like?) garment is going to keep on divining his listener's tastes.

KoldVoid: Roadside Ghosts

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Oct 24 2012
Artist: KoldVoid (@)
Title: Roadside Ghosts
Format: CD
Label: Valse Sinistre (@)
Rated: *****
Releases like this one by Romanian project KoldVoid are normally filed under the eerie label "ghost ambient". If I have to accept such an occult way of labelling music on the basis of the suggested paraphrase of the title of this collection of tracks recorded between 2008 and 2011, I'd say this music appeals with the portraits of so benevolent and almost seducing phantasmagoric entities that you could wish to meet them while hitch-hiking by the roadside in spite of the addition of somewhat disquieting French clips from noir movies and the cryptic intro, which could be imagined coming from those iconic horror-style organs with keys made from finger bones. The first tracks sound not so dissimilar from other repertories belonging to this branch of ambient such as those ones by Svartsinn, Northaunt or Desiderii Marginis, but the appearance of a guitar on "Phantasma" and of a faint piano on the following "Nostalgia" anticipates the cinematic hooks, which will be clearer in following moments of the recordings, the ones I honestly prefer just for the resemblances of the notorious Twin Peaks' soundtrack by Badalamenti and Lynch when KoldVoid reaches the stylistical zenith with highly immersive and entrancing tracks such as the sweet intimacy of "Ephemeral", the glimmering paleness of "Arctic Silence", the spoooky charm of "Eyes Of The Bottom-People" - sounding like some squeeze of Tor Lundvall's music - or the thrilling chillness of "Sailing Without Sails". This album could be perfect to drive during a foggy night. I'm pretty sure some mist-shrouded ghost could make an appearance, especially if you boozed all night long...

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