Music Reviews



Magnetica Ars Lab / DK 5600: Final Muzik CD-Singles Club 10

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 26 2017
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Artist: Magnetica Ars Lab / DK 5600
Title: Final Muzik CD-Singles Club 10
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Final Muzik
Recently I received this split MCD with Magnetica Ars Lab, project headed by Arnaldo Pontis, and DK5600, duo coming from Trieste (so both Italians). It is a limited item which is part of the Final Muzik's CD Singles Club. Let's start with Magnetica Ars Lab, who with "Ground Control" are really walking on a dangerous area, because making a sort of Bowie's cover without trying to make one it's a really difficult target. In this case, I'm sorry to say that while I appreciate the cold ambient background atmosphere created, I didn't like the vocals at all, because there's the attempt to follow a little the original melody without doing it and this is the tricky part: or you're really good at it, or you don't do it, because doing that, the people will compare this version with the original. In my humble opinion it would have been much better a reading or a filtered voice not attempting to do any melody at all or a different melody with also a different metric. About DK5600, you read about them here some time ago when I reviewed their debut album "Distanza Katrias 5600". They are here with two tracks: "Punto Zero" and "Uscire Dallo Spazio Curvo". The first one is a cosmic pulsating track which brings you on board of a lost spaceship. There, you hear a voice which seems to come from the central computer. The effect is really good and the long melodic drones and the bleepy effects are really good too. On the second track, we have the same kind of processed vocals with the add of an anxious breathing with a great synth glacial ambient background. The sound is really sharp and detailed. Two really nice tracks.

Edit Select: Points Of Contact EP

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 25 2017
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Artist: Edit Select (@)
Title: Points Of Contact EP
Format: 12"
Label: Substrato (@)
Rated: *****
Despite its relatively short presence in the market, Italian label Substrato is already breaching the rockiest hearts of lovers of the genre. Even if Italian media are depicting mountains as terrible and nefarious places due to the earthquakes, large snow avalanches and harsh climatic events that are severely hitting central Italy, mountains are somehow magical places, and Substrato's concept got mostly based on the emphasis of its mysterious majesty and the rejuvenating power of its rocks. The fourth output by the label has the signature of a known name of the scene, the one by British producer Tony Scott, mostly known as Edit Select, his more famous moniker. His mastery in forging techno tunes, coming from many years of experience in the field (he's active since the 90ies), perfectly matches the stylistic path that Substrato is trying to trace, where the combination of the more "acoustic" sonorities of techno and deeper pulsations is aimed to render the meeting of subterranean and surfacing hard rocks of upland regions. Tony reached this goal by means of only three tracks: all of them features punching muffled beats and subtle electronic buzzing, but he adds more gurgling sonorities on "Faction 1" and harsher ones on the synth-driven serpentine of "Tangent" (close to some hybrids of chilling minimal techno and Detroit sound) before reaching the almost ethereal thin air of the deeply atmospheric "Faction 1.1", the highest peak of the whole release. Check it out.

Chris Abrahams: Climb

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
New Music / Downtown / Avantgarde Jazz / New Classical / World
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Jan 25 2017
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Artist: Chris Abrahams
Title: Climb
Format: CD
Label: Vegetable Records
Rated: *****
This new ring in the chain of solo releases by New-Zealander, but notoriously Sidney-based, pianist and composer Chris Abrahams (mostly known for being one-third of the Australian cult band The Necks, even if he's active in many likewise exciting projects), collects a series of piano-driven studio recordings, supposedly composed or somehow blurted out during personal solo studio improvisations. From the exquisitely technical viewpoint, what impressed my ear is the way by which Chris performs a series of legato and staccato touches within gradually rising runs, a performative strategy that he manages to render using amazing tricks (subtle and sometimes instantaneous changes of scale as well!), even if he keeps on orbiting on the same tones, in tracks like the opening "Roller", the final "Shoreline" (the four compressed tone-made chords spurting out of the central movement are one of the more uprising moment of the whole album) or the lovely "The Sleepings and the Drifts". Likewise fantastic the assay of the so-called vertical phrasing technique in the self-describing track "Overlap", where slight variations of the pressure on the sustain pedal amalgamates tones to the point they get almost indistinguishable and homogenous, as well as the angular imploding of the convoluted phrases in "Fern Scapes" and the feverish rising tension of the lovely "Beach of Black Stones". The movement of "Dog Rose" sounds more predictable, but its almost soothing melody renders the idea summarized by the title - dog roses are Australian flowers that are widely suggested by naturopathic practitioners as a remedy against insomnia, paranoia, fear, and anxiety -. "Climb" sounds like an excellent musical restorative more than a pure pianistic exercise.

Synoiz: The Forbidden

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 23 2017
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Artist: Synoiz (@)
Title: The Forbidden
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
The last I heard from Synoiz was back in 2011 with his 'Shock! Horror!' release which was an interesting and varied dark ambient effort. Synoiz is the project name of Graeme Donaldson from Sunderland in the North East of England, and in the interim from what I last heard, has put out a few releases which I haven't heard. Donaldson says 'The Forbidden' "is a far darker work than 2014's sci-fi concept album 'Frontiers' with a much more minimal approach than the debut album 'Ambients'. 'The Forbidden' combines sinister drones and field recordings with artificial choirs and synthesizers to create an album of dark oppressive atmospheres." No kidding. It's plenty dark, and frequencies are definitely at the lower end of the spectrum nearly throughout. This is about as gloomy as you could imagine, primarily using low frequency drone textures, but other elements subtly combined bleed through allowing each piece its own identity. 'The Forbidden' is not an album you can listen to just once and expect to reap all of its uncanny rewards. Yes, there is a certain amount of sameness running throughout, but it seems like more of a thematic cohesiveness than monotony. While seemingly minimal, subdued sonic events that crop up here and there that add to the flavor. Deserted, decrepit mansions and dusty crypts come to mind. The two tracks that sound nothing like the rest of the album are title track "The Forbidden (Below)" with its heavy sinister choir-like pads, whispers and moaning ghost, and the bonus track, "Inside the Ship" with a watery ambience, creaking wooden masts, and block & tackle clanking. Kind of like being aboard the Flying Dutchman. I think the album is a worthy one you're likely to find yourself returning to again and again because it's not intrusive and could serve as good background ambience for a variety of activities. Available at a number of outlets, but purchasing directly from the artist may be your most economic option.

Meho: Another Crappy Day

 Posted by Ibrahim Khider (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Jan 23 2017
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Artist: Meho (@)
Title: Another Crappy Day
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crna Zemlja (@)
Distributor: Archive.org
The latest by prolific ambient-drone producer, Meho Grbic, based out of Bosia and Herzegovina, produces dark/deep ambient and drone, often as a musical response to post-war Bosnia and its ongoing political, social, and economic malaise. Grbic works in mainland Europe for half a year and lives as an artist in Bosnia, where employment is scarce, the other half. However, he always brings his microphone and music production gear everywhere he goes to absorb and musically respond to the world around him. In Bosnia, Grbic finds no shortage of inspiration as his environs are frequently the source for his album and track titles, not to mention the very title of his label, Crna Zemlja, which means 'black city'. For all the bleak vibes and darkness that inspires Meho, the music itself is meditative, darkly beautiful—in a dreamy sort of way and recalls some of the early work of Thomas Koner. “04:00AM Wake-up Call” is an example of the way a Meho track is crafted, starting with a sustained ring, either from an alarm clock or an actual wake-up phone call, then processed and melded with ambience until itself seems a kind of illusion. “Grey Communist Buildings” feels more space ambient for all its vast, resonating feel despite its title. “Third World Train Ride” starts with reverb-drenched creaks and shuffles of busy movement, leaving a train station before it plunges into drone world, with continuous, lulling clickity-clacks and echoes, perhaps emulating the half-sleep state of drowsy commuters. “Vertigo” is the darkest drone piece of the lot, where amidst sustained, menacing tones it seems a demon is trying to speak through a nether-portal. “Sandman” is gorgeous, likely the respite of the “Crappy Day”, evoking the dreamlike feel of the music of Celer. Each track here has unique textures and tones so you really feel as if you are listening to a full album rather than mere variations of a theme. Pretty much all Meho albums are worth immersing yourself in, but this one is not a bad place to start. Pity about the title, because listening to “Another Crappy Day” makes my day anything but.


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