Music Reviews



Mar 11 2017
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Artist: Harold Nono (@)
Title: Ideeit
Format: CD
Label: Bearsuit (@)
Rated: *****
Following a plenty of amazing collaborations - I warmly recommend to check the ones with Berlin-based elegant producer Me Raabenstein as Taub and the one with Japanese duo N-quia for the collaborative project Haq -, Edinburgh-based producer Harold Nono (real name David Hillary) comes back by a solo release on his own imprint, the excellent Bearsuit Records. If you've never heard something by this subliminal kid (a quotation), you should say sorry to your brain, as Harold Nono's style manages to combine samples, cinematic suggestions, witty references, neo-classical music, ambient and electronica in a very psychedelic way. The opening "Tahiik" immediately takes listening by a magnetizing carousel where a chattering by an adult and a kid got poured into a sweeping cinematic orchestration (close to the likes of the previously mentioned Me Raabenstein, but they could also surmise something by Murcof, Jan Jelinek or Venetian Snares). Such a perfect attacco prepares the ground for a swirling set of aural pearls, oscillating between the frenzy sentimentalism or the vague nostalgic nuances of tracks like "Dedy", "The King Tree" or "Running Down A Pipe", the lopsided surrealism of tunes like "Otosan" or "Dead Man's Fall", the hinky day-dreaming evoked by pieces like "I'm Disguised As An idiot" or the deeply emotional "Life Under The Lafayette", a track where Harold Nono seems to bare and give voice to the contrast between a majestic and naive elegance and some poisoning feeling of decadence. The final track "Watashi Wa Ie Ni Kaeritai" (Japanese for "I want to go home"!) is just seemingly sad: be patient, and after some minutes of silence, the ghost track will blossom and is going to uplift your soul by a delicate piano melody! Not to be left unlistened!

Roman Leykam: Impressions

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Mar 11 2017
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Artist: Roman Leykam
Title: Impressions
Format: CD + Book
Label: Frank Mark Arts (@)
Rated: *****
As most of you maybe know, Roman Leykam is maybe one of the most incontinent artists belonging to the roster of Frank Mark Arts. He recently enriched the catalogue under this imprint by a series of more or less interesting outputs and the choice of focusing more carefully on the visual framework by the label has undoubtedly a plus for the comprehension of Leykam, particularly if you don't really care about aural details and real sonic pearls, which doesn'ìt lack in the musical explorations of this veteran of experimental ambient music. I could recommend having a check of "The Detection Of Slowness," the collaborative release with Frank Mark himself including an amazing video DVD, which could be a real guide to appreciating the listening more, for instance. "Impressions" follows this editorial strategy as well, as the label attached an internal booklet of beautiful snapshots (portraying natural landscapes or magnified details of plants, flowers, stones, ponds, lakes and so on) to its elegant digipak. You would quickly notice that Leykam's minimal textures of effected guitar, synth guitars and the amazing sounds he squeezed from his equipment (often looking like some other instruments such as a kind of hybrid between a brass and a cello in "Vision", the flute-like whispers in "The Leisure" or "Essence", a sort of alien dulcimer in "Weathered", the metallophone-like hits in "Abandoned" or the bizarre slapped glittering on tracks like "Pleasant Anticipation" or "Point of No Return") are somehow consonant with the pictures of the booklet. If you're searching for some new music for meditations, "Impressions" may be a guessed choice.
Mar 10 2017
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Artist: X-Navi:Et (@)
Title: Technosis
Format: CD
Label: Instant Classic (@)
Rated: *****
Despite the fact the phenomenon is still evolving, the theme of consequences of technology on humanity and the (also biological) mutations related to this unprecedented technological acceleration as well as the development of an addiction to technological devices is not so new as a plenty of sociologists, anthropologists, psychologist and many other expertises in different branches of human knowledge wrote a lot about this subject, but the way by which such a fear got translated into sound in this last output by Polish producer Rafal Iwanski (I already introduced many projects he's taking part of such as HATI, Innercity Ensemble and Alameda 5) is fascinating. The title "Technosis" itself is a quotation of the definition ("civilization disease related to technology"), taken from "Philosophy of Civilization", an essay by Polish philosopher and educator Jozef Marian Banka, who keeps on studying this phenomenon. The opening track "Matnia" (Polish word for the French expression "cul de sac", referring to a path of no return) immediately sets the mood by a well-balanced mix of rising crippling percussions and thrilling sounds (close to the ones you could hear in horror movies when the watcher expect the appearance of a dangerous entity from some dark place of the scene); the breath you'd hear in the following "Ex Homo Sap" seems to render the above mentioned human mutation with the burden of concern that it could imply, while the following "Oto Technosis" sounds like the summoning digitalization of some old African tune. The whispered murmuring of Ewa Binczyk in the sinister mist evoked by the sonorities that Rafal assembled in "Medium" could mirror that diaphragmatic phase when the expected changes are still in progress but could let you guess what the next stages are going to bring about. Rafal wisely absorbs different ethnical influences in this unusual rendering technology-driven civilization disease: besides the previously sketched connection of the described tracks, it becomes clear in the following "In Extremis" as well as in the disquieting chimes of "Orient: Melancholia". All ethnic percussions you could recognize in his melting pot (an Irish bodhran, a South African mbira, a Chinese hulusi, an Egyptian zummara and a Moroccan bendir) are real, but the whole release is made by real entities: a relevant feature of Rafal's sound in "Technosis" is the total lack of field recordings, synths, samples or drum machines (besides the list of ethnic instrument I already mentioned, he just used Shanti chimes, bells, metal objects, contact mics, analog filter machine, a tone generator, a loop system and so on ) and such an aspect can be logically related to the conceptual framework of the album. The natural soundscape in "Pseudo Ambient" could be considered as another claims of forgotten human roots, while the final "Alchemy of Sounds", whose length (23 minutes and 23 seconds seems to be a desired aspect, due to the "esoteric" meaning of number 23), could keep on feeding the in-depth meditation a listener could be absorbed by. Do you remember the "fearful symmetry" of William Blake's tiger? Well, "Technosis" could be the roaring of that tiger in a sense. After its genetical mutation, of course...

Michel Banabila: Sound Years

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 07 2017
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Artist: Michel Banabila
Title: Sound Years
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Tapu Records
“Sound Years” is a Michel Banabila sampler, segueing selected tracks from ten previous albums along with one new work into two gentle, chilled-out continuous pieces. This has the diversity and variation of a various artists chillout compilation, but impressively, it’s all the work of one man (and a couple of guest appearances).

Smoothness is the order of the day here. Gentle piano melodies, occasional plaintive guitar strums, and found sounds including the classics such as falling rain ambiences and tropical birds, blend with the mellowest flavours of electronica chill-out such as the deftly twisted and re-pitched vocal samples in “Earth Visitor”. Other sections are more pared-down, simple warm drones, deep vocal sustains and cultured resonance.

The second side opens with a slightly more cinematic bent- a real orchestra warming up alongside a virtual one, broad sci-fi choral pads and robotic noises have us floating outside a spaceship. The ambience gradually gets more down-to-earth, with plaintive violin lines (from guest Oene Van Geel I think) and micro-cut vocal snippets glitching away in “Radio Spelonk”.

While some of the elements are cliché, they are used tastefully in a way that freshens them up. Even the cockerel crowing sound, used to great effect by The Orb, makes an appearance. In fact The Orb is a comparison worth making; if you like either of The Orb’s most recent two albums, then you should absolutely check “Sound Years” out.

To someone unfamiliar with Banabila’s work, this is a seriously impressive and accomplished retrospective. A wide orchestral palette and some absolutely top-notch production, with a beautiful sense of space and an ability to shift subtly between warm and cold atmospheres, makes this an aural joy in its own right. The transitions are seamless and this absolutely stands up as its own work, without any of the unsatisfying incompleteness you sometimes get in compilations.

It’s released on Banabila’s own Tapu Records. Several of the original albums from which these tracks are sourced are legitimately available to download for free online, and this compilation will definitely make you want to peruse things further.

Creation VI & Uhushuhu: ^

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Mar 05 2017
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Artist: Creation VI & Uhushuhu (@)
Title: ^
Format: CD
Label: Muzyka Voln/Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
This is a collaboration between two Russian ambient entities - Creation VI and Uhushuhu. The title of the album is a triangle, or pyramid, a text symbol which I don't possess, and even if I did, I'm not sure it would translate properly on the Chain D.L.K. site, so whatever this "^" looks like, it will have to do. Creation VI has been around a bit longer than Uhushuhu having started in 2006 and having a slew of albums (often collaborations) to its credit. Uhushuhu was formed in 2013 and they have a few prior releases. The best description of this album comes from the one-sheet - "A narrative stream out of the green thicket of a fictional forest as a cloud of purple fog pierced by flashes of resonating harmonies and ghostly echoes. A dense organic cobweb of field recordings, voices, acoustic instruments and electronic manipulations. A dream filled with bright colours or a psychedelic slumber with a whirling kaleidoscope of asymmetric images and visions. A sonic fantasy so pleasant to dive into together with the musicians and spend some time in the company of your own subconscious mind..."

Well, okay, some of that sounds like hype, but it's really not far from the truth. This is one dense 40 minute drone piece where not much happens, yet a lot happens, and such is the dichotomy of "^". All sonics are woven together like one inextricable braid. Noticing a flute, or tambura, bird sounds, or even what might be used for the various drones seems superfluous. This is the kind of album Ash Ra Temple and early Tangerine Dream aspired to, but never quite achieved. This is submergence of the self and surrender to the cosmic awl. This is intense, not just pleasant hippie drifting. Maybe you need a good hallucinogen to get the most out of it, then again, maybe that might just be too much. It comes on quite strong, but fades away slowly just like the acid trip you barely remember. Recommended for living room cosmonauts, heavy stoners and day trippers alike. It may not change your life, but it may change your perspective.


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