Music Reviews



MICHAEL SANTOS: the happy error

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Sep 09 2008
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Artist: MICHAEL SANTOS
Title: the happy error
Format: CD
Label: Baskaru (@)
Rated: *****
If you go down the modern electronic/ambient lane, sooner or later you'll surely meet Baskaru label from France and they're moving slowly but constantly, probably more interested following their personal trajectory than in the saturation of the market with a bunch of new releases. After having put out cds for japanese, italian, french artists this time is the turn of a portuguish one: Michael Santos, his music has no ispano-american root and could be from England, Japan or Germany, the earth is flat after all...fuck Columbus. With a wonder wheel on the cover it's logical to expect some relaxed ambient influenced work and here you have it, somewhere located in between the constellation of modern ambient-tronic music, the range of which is set by Afx ambient early steps on one side and japanese Neina, Minamo, etc..on the other. Thought Baskaru is developing a clear physiognomy, "happy error" is much closer to the sound of labels like Spekk or Plop, don't worry guys, if you blame me for not having mentioned 12k it just has to do with the cut that's a little bit different, but if you fill the rank of fans of Deupree or Sawako you'll probably like it. Santos makes it soft and classy that's why I could have had several listening while my girlfriend was studying and she didn't even complain even once: a real miracle!. Santos' sound is still in search of his own identity but at the same time he follows all of the unwritten rules of electronic music perfectly and with elegance thus he speaks the idiom brilliantly. Eleven tracks for about fifty minutes of bliss well distributed in portions of ecstatic and melancholic melodies, high-frequencies and digital sounds. I'm sure if only Pessoa could have only put this in his hi-fi set while writing he wouldn't be that depressed and would have been enjoying much more the sea in front of Lisboa.

NORDVARGR: Phyrrhula (Black ambient droneworks 2007-2008)

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Industrial Music / Industrial Metal / Aggro Industrial / Electro Metal
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 08 2008
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Artist: NORDVARGR
Title: Phyrrhula (Black ambient droneworks 2007-2008)
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Nordvargr is really active and his solo releases are more than the ones he did with his comrades under the MZ412 moniker. This new album is titled PYRRHULA and it is named after the small genus of passerine birds belonging to the finch family (and this is the reason why we have a mummified bird on the front cover) and it is also the name of an old Swedish folktale of the same name (and in this case its meaning is "doomlord"). Another hint about the themes covered, besides the titles of the eight tracks, is a phrase contained inside the booklet: "Beware the small creatures of light, they only bring misery and death upon the enlightened ones . For they will paint their breast with blood and reap your unborn angels". Fortunately Nordvargr musical hyperactivity didn't affect the quality of these recordings: despite the ambient/drone label the listener can wait for something more than the usual hummings/bass frequency noises. Tracks like the opening "Another weeping doomlord lost" or the following "Pyrrhula one" mix guitar drones, synth pads, growling vocals, organ sounds, keeping the tension level high sounding also various (the least it could be possible into this musical genre). There are also some moments where Nordvargr prefer to be true to the pure drones/dark ambient palette but the whole album doesn't and it has many creepy atmospheres and good sounds.

VAN DER PAPEN : majestic

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Sep 07 2008
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Artist: VAN DER PAPEN
Title: majestic
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Parvo Art
Rated: *****
Miswriting the name of much appreciated (...recently become trendy) composer Parvo Art, you have the name of this interesting new label from Van Der Papen. They opened the label with a series of 3" and if from the morning you can guess how the rest of the day is gonna be like, here we’re dealing with a really good start. These two Lonkowsky twins from Berlin gave us a short work based on simplicity and sobriety, that’s why after the about twenty minutes of this release I’ve been thinking if they’re gonna put all of their efforts into building a full-length and they do it for good, I’m sure it could be an interesting cd. 4/4 kick drum minimal techno style on a melancholic quasi dramatic ambient melody, no vocals but the usual soft sounds to enrich the simple texture of the tracks. After the minimal techno opening they become ethereal and even more relaxed but as you can easily hear there’s some sort of continuity between the first and the second episode and for what concerns the last and closing track, well if you appreciated the beginning I’m sure you love the "end titles". In some way it reminded a bit the approach of Afx Twin during the days of his Ambient Works and when reading this remember that I think Richard D James was at his personal best together some of the following more relaxed productions (ok Come to daddy is great but is still prefer the ambient era). Berlin based and for good, for Germans or not these guys have all the good qualities of electronic music from Deutschland mixed with a great taste for nocturnal ambient feels. An interesting debut and you know, when working on minimal things...taste is everything.

MAN’S LAST GREAT INVENTION : None

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Aug 31 2008
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Artist: MAN’S LAST GREAT INVENTION
Title: None
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Eh? (@)
Rated: *****
It took me a while to review, but it was worth the wait, infact a good record is still a good record after a while..sometimes that’s not the way it is, you’re right, above all when coming down to genres like electronics which really linked to the sound... but this really far from electronics. Man's Last Great Invention share much more with psychedelia than many other bands using drones and feedbacks, do to the lo-fi nature of this recording and to the really good quality of the music they reminded me a lot of an underrated band from the not so recent K records catalogue, I’m talking about Yume Bitsu (..hey after having wrote their name I’ve discovered I’ve just one of their 4 releases, shame on me). The band was somehow Kranky oriented but more minimal, more punky and if you ask me these characteristics are quite similar to MLGI, in someway the fact they’re on this subsidiary label of Public Eyesore can confirm my opinion, but I repeat: the comparison to such a good band as Yume Bitsu is much than deserved. The package in someway follows the recording and is quite minimal but equally as good and after drone music had become in someway quite popular they’ve gained enough point to go and break your money-pig to give em some money. Differently from other releases on Eh? Label, this one is not "anal" and hyper-cerebral but is much more accessible... maybe it will lead also some inveterate freaks into some new kinds of psychedelia. While the recording is rough but expressive the only possible remark is that concerning the division of this whole session in tracks, ok, they probably did it to help the listener have some rest during this trippy listening, but this’ nothing but a long session and also well done, therefore there’s no need to cut it... if the dear 2008-listener can’t take the time to listen to a long session, well he or she can go fuck himself (freak power!...or "grind finale"! But I’m fed up with people complaining about long records).
Aug 25 2008
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Artist: OVRO
Title: Revisited
Format: CD
Label: Some Place Else (@)
Rated: *****
Also active with Haeretici 7o74, Ovro with REVISITED is presenting her fourth album. Divided into seven different moments, REVISITED contains re-worked tracks already presented on the 2006 CDr "Estrainer". The original field recordings were taken during a trip from St. Petersberg to Moscow. On the inner cover of the CD Ovro explains what moment the recording covered and reading simple explanations like "Relocating to Moscow now by train, in Moscow by underground, with echoes of Turku traffic mixed in" and listening to a track that sounds like a trip to hell has a particular effect on me. It's like to be drugged and walking by the city. It's a strange aural experience as each sound float back and forth while you lose the sense of balance. Musically the album sounds dark and experimental mixing drones and field recordings collected in different locations (mostly city places) but in this case I won't talk about it like I would for an entertaining media. You have to experience it more than listen to it also because otherwise you would find that the overall atmosphere is pretty the same.


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