Music Reviews

iTAL tEK : Cyclical

 Posted by Andrea Ferraris (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 26 2008
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Artist: iTAL tEK (@)
Title: Cyclical
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu
Rated: *****
First Milanese and then iTAL tEK, hard to say if up there at Planet Mu they've an explicit obsession for Pasta-Land or cause, in someway these moniker may sound exotic, I find it funny since while Anglosaxons look for exotic names the rest of the world choose anglophone monikers for their projects. As I've already said several times, Planet Mu at the moment is one of the best beat-driven electronic label, and Alan Myson won't disappoint the diehard fans of the genre. Elegant dubstep music with some soft-techno reminiscences and yes, an all british accent that generally makes the difference beside making it also more interesting. Some will probably find some interesting connections with Burial, melodic-wise it also reminded me of some early Black Dog but don't ask me why, since I don't think Myson has nothing to share with them. This cd has been in heavy rotation for a while right when I wanted to listen to some nice rhythmic electronic music, its structure are quite simple in a smart sense (equals not "poor"), the production is damn good and the global atmosphere is shady but not depressive. iTAL tEK's "Cyclical" is designed a real killer for classy clubs playing this style, but believe it or not I've been playing it during several night drives and the feeling was great. "Still shores" deserves the nomination as of of the best themes for night trips ever: bravissimo!.

ATHANA: Remixed 05-08

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jun 25 2008
Artist: ATHANA (@)
Title: Remixed 05-08
Format: CD
Label: West Audio Productions
Rated: *****
Athana is a project coming from Stavanger/Norway where Alf Terje Hana and Arne Hovda freed their musical ideas and intuitions. Both of them have a background as musicians as Alf Terje Hanas has recorded and played with dozens of big Norwegian artists. Arne Hovda, has worked with artists like, Getaway People/Robbie Williams/Tim McGraw/Chris Barron plus many more. Their music is influenced by jazz as well as from pop but on REMIXED 05-08 something different happens. From an idea of Helge Olav Øskendal (a.k.a. HOH) Athana tracks have been remixed giving to the remixers the freedom to do whatever they wanted to. So, if the album opens with the dancey rock of "A-AA" remixed by Sternklang, it follows with the house/jazz reworks of Ost&Kejex. Mungolian Jetset's Cruusin' With The Henleys make sound "Ocean 0306" like a good Sting song. Uko Jürgen Nussbaum remix of "Luskesangen", instead, sound like a slow funk wave song sung by Chris Cornell. The approach change with Nes, thanks to a noisy break beat attitude which make turn a rock jazz track into something more interesting. Thing that Cüret brought to its limit by accelerating and looping little song parts and adding broken toys noises, etc. Also Vasøk preferred experimenting a little with noise and dub but the real challenge is to follow the hypnotic rhythmic loops that Qrt used for "Porten". Lingout, instead, light the bomb by providing a gabba distorted edit of "Alien elephants". The lovers of experimentation will appreciate the freedom the remixers had but I find that the album lacks of homogeneity for the one that didn't know the original versions.
Title: Elekatota – The Other Side Of The Tracks
Format: CD
Label: Tympanik Audio (@)
Distributor: DSBP
Rated: *****
Another new release by the rising Tympanik Audio label, this time a new album by the New York-based musician and producer Frank Mokros. Frank has made himself already a quite good name internationally, be it with several remix contributions for acts like TERRORFAKT, KLANGSTABIL or IMMINENT or with his own both projects. Under his second and rather harsh Noise-project SYNTH-ETIC, he’s signed to the German Hands Productions, as well as he has been active with both of his projects under the flag of Frozen Empire Media, which has sadly gone too fast. Tympanik seems to deal a bit with the surviving fragments of FEM, a few goodies are still purchasable through the Tympanik shop section, so let’s hope and see, if they will be able to re-animate one or another act out of those days again. But back to TOTAKEKE, because Frank’s album requires but also deserves your fully attention. It is a journey into a multiple-layered and diverse sounding kind of FX-Electronica, which ranges between slow and rather experimental oriented tracks ("Gift Of Nervous Methods") to complex Dark Electro tunes in vein of acts like REMAIN SILENT, MC1R or in parts MENTALLO & THE FIXER ("Pull The Plug", "Elekatota Two" and the outstanding pearl "Strangle"). With TOTAKEKE Frank offers a musically much more valuable alternative to the harsh and disturbing outfit under SYNTH-ETIC, since he can prove any better his sense for a thrilling mood and his abilities of a complex programming. "Elekatota – The Other Side Of The Tracks" drives the listeners into 73 minutes + clocking odyssey of an undiscovered space trip, so please fasten your seat-belts and take part with all senses. You won’t find too much better releases of demanding Electronica music.

NEKYA: Alchemalady

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Electronics / EBM / Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jun 11 2008
Artist: NEKYA (@)
Title: Alchemalady
Format: CD
Label: Beast Of Prey (@)
Rated: *****
Nekya fourth album ALCHEMALADY is a great release and listening to it you can realize that the Polish band really improved their sound and their way of composing their disturbing suites. Based on alchemy, the album is divided into fourteen different chapters where we have a wide range of sounds and atmospheres. On this album we haven't only dark ambient music thundering through its hour length as Nekya used a lot of acoustic guitars along with synths, male and female vocals and powerful percussions. Alternating the different sound sources they created a great atmosphere rich of pathos and always evolving. It's cool how they used acoustic guitars with drum blasts and subtle lines of distorted guitar riffs. See for example the looped sample of a distorted bass guitar on "Chapter four: do not tempt the gods to sign" which become a sort of rhythmical mantra. It's also good to see that Nekya are opening to new sounds, like on "Far into the ineffable", where they used synth lines and intriguing syncopated drum rhythm and a distorted guitar creating a particular blend of mystic modern music blend with dub. There are so many gems to discover that you have to check this album. Only 456 copies are available so hurry up!

Bass Communion: Pacific Codex

 Posted by Mike V. (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jun 07 2008
Artist: Bass Communion
Title: Pacific Codex
Format: CD + DVD
Label: E=mc16 (@)
Distributor: Beta Lactam Ring Records
Rated: *****
What I immediately appreciate about this album is the carefully constructed experience arranged for the listener. The modest or veiled cover of the disc tells us very little about what type of music is contained therein (at a glance it reads more like chemistry than it does music release), but I was pleasantly surprised to find a 30+ page booklet filled not with excessive writing, prose, or details about how to understand the music, but with photographs that suggest numerous aquatic environments that might enhance the listener’s perspective while spinning. This is a nice touch considering that music is not limited to just an auditory experience.

Bass Communion’s Theo Travis and Steven Wilson showcase two contrasting soundworlds, called Pacific Codex 1 and 2. Of behind-the-scenes crediting for the album is Steve Hubback, whose metal sculptures provide the source material for the disc. How BC go about creating the textures is not specified, which makes each listen of the Codexes more compelling.
Perhaps it’s a power of suggestion in the booklet but the unfolding of the symbiotic relationship between metal, air, and water is a constant through the course of the album. Careful attention is given to the interaction of the electronics with Hubback’s instruments -the illuminating of partials, complete control of fluctuating densities, large sound masses adjacent to immersive microsounds, and an overall volume-centric approach to form. The color of the music drifts between dark greys and whites to the furthest ends of the color spectrum in other moments. The performances themselves are decidedly organic, which gives a solid foundation for the electronic manipulations. In closing, I am also impressed with the cohesion of the disc, as the overall experience leaves the listener feeling whole, as though the high tide has just receded after a pensive day.

Pacific Codex is a fine project that will provide hours of return listens, be they focused or environmental. Inside the case one will find a standard cd of the album, as well as a DVD containing surround mixes, additional photography and credits for the release. Cheers to Bass Communion for going the extra few miles at the service of the musical experience for the listener. Highly recommended album, particularly the physical release.

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