Music Reviews

Bronze Eye + LD: Adventures In Love And Culture: Onceability

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 12 2016
Artist: Bronze Eye + LD (@)
Title: Adventures In Love And Culture: Onceability
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Records (@)
Five songs in five minutes.
From Silber's diverse conceptual series.
Ambience, violins, found sound, poetry.
Musical theatre, distortion, echo chambers.
Like five truncated album intros.

Andrew Tuttle: Fantasy League

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Synth Pop / Electro Pop / Synth-Electronica
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 11 2016
Artist: Andrew Tuttle (@)
Title: Fantasy League
Format: CD
Label: Someone Good (@)
Rated: *****
The framework and the creative pat(c)hwork behind this album, nicely titled "Fantasy League", is kind of interesting: it should be like a utopian fantasy environment setting "social interaction against total isolation, self-relativity against self-confidence, promising to complete you, as you complete it", where "music and self are in unison, but never settled or steady". The words by which Brisbane-based producer Andrew Tuttle or anybody else on his account could maybe sound fit to the description of those apps, supposedly developed by half guru half software engineer, whose purpose could be the balance or the enhancement of your mood by means of a bunch of visual or aural bits - the worst case scenario as some of them are even more oddly far-reaching -. Well, I ignore if and how the listener will reach nirvana by listening to this sweet sonic stuff and I ignore the reason why he often named his tracks after the stages of a process for getting into an app ("Registration" - the guessed title of the opening track -, "Activation", "Forgotten Username", "Forgotten Password" or "Account Locked", a likewise wise title for the last song of an album!)... who knows? Maybe Andrew used to be a developer of one of the apps as mentioned above! What is pretty clear after listening to "Fantasy League" is the fact he found a balance (or a convergence) by himself at least: the way by which he combines the sound of his beloved banjo, analog and digital electronic devices, artificially bright pad synths and those radiant sonorities that could look like coming from robotic chirping birds or computer aided soap bubble generators, which could vaguely remind that stage (in the late nineties mostly), when electronic ambient winked at properly therapy music deserves a careful listening. Is it going to "complete" listeners or help some of them a supposedly reachable spiritual enlightenment? Who knows?

Melodium: Luminol

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 10 2016
Artist: Melodium (@)
Title: Luminol
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Audiobulb (@)
Rated: *****
This new digital-only release by Audiobulb is from a French composer, Laurent Girard, at the threshold between pop and ambient music. This new release is presented as constructed using different background noises from various media as sound sources and seems a constructed release as the eleven track are named from "int1" to "int6" with five interlude from "sn1" to "sn6".
A track as "int1" introduces the listener into the framework of this release: the noise are used to generate a background while the synth develops a typical ambient structure while "sn1" contradicts the premises of this review: this five tracks are the core of this release as they are longer and whose samples are placed to generate a sort of narrative. So, "int2" is a gentle piano track introducing "sn2" whose editing underline the rhythmic element. The notes of "int3" are a meditation which introduces the even stronger rhythmic structures of "sn3". The quiet guitar of "int4" influences the reception of "sn4" that sounds as an almost techno tune. The almost vintage sound of "int5" is mirrored by the more classical avant-garde mood of "sn5". The drone of "int6" close this release in an almost canonical way.
An incredibly enjoyable release even if it doesn't use any particular pop form but the idea of using the interludes to isolate the most experimental tracks is able to balance complexity and simplicity. Recommended.

VV.AA.: Now It's Dark - David Lynch Tribute

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 08 2016
Artist: VV.AA. (@)
Title: Now It's Dark - David Lynch Tribute
Format: CD
Label: kultFRONT/Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
'Now It's Dark' the David Lynch Tribute is an album of 11 tracks by 11 Russian artists who explore the darker side of Lynch's oeuvre. I readily admit I'm a Lynch fan, but not a fanatic. The release of this album caused me to visit David Lynch's filmography, and I came to realize that I was more of a dilettante than a connoisseur of the Lynchian world. Sure, I've seen Eraserhead, The Elephant Man, Dune, Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Industrial Symphony No. 1, Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with me, Twin Peaks TV Series, Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, The Straight Story, and even Inland Empire (yeah, I sat through the whole three hours of it, plus the bonus material) but Lynch's body of work extends even beyond that. Here, the emphasis is on DARK, not absurd, surreal, quirky, or merely strange. For the most part, these pieces are dark ambient industrial, but there is some variety. You won't be hearing any Angelo Badalmenti style noir jazz or Julee Cruise warblings (which is sort of a shame) on this album, but nevertheless, there is some interesting music. Light Collapse kicks it off with "Homunculus of Henry Spencer" (Eraserhead), a piece that juxtaposes chaotic industrial noise with struck ringing bellish tones. Dvory contributes "Dark Eye" in which sustained, mournful trumpet notes float over gloomy dark ambient drones. "Prelost" by Povarovo features sparse reverberated and echoed piano notes and chords with breathy saw-like ambience. DMT's "Lynch2712" is a lengthy, rich, industrial dark ambient track with deep, shuddering drones that goes through a variety of permutations to keep it interesting. Wonderblock's "U-Turn to Lost Highway" is a spooky, muted dark ambient track punctuated by a low, dull, percussion loop. Great atmosphere. Skripp introduces "Lynch Law" which consists of a thick wall of medium to high industrial drone over pounding heartbeat low percussion. Sal Solaris's "Garmonbonzia 2.0" begins with a factory machine loop, then a bell ringing over seething low drones. More diversified factory ambience presents itself until the track's conclusion. Relic Radiation mines some "Arrakis Cinnamon" (don't know why they didn't opt for Melange) in this Dune homage, which is the spaciest track on the album with cosmic synths and sequencer, reminding me a lot of the psy-trance genre. Actually, this one is sort of my favorite track on the album. "Mind in Motion" by Kryptogen Rundfunk starts out as menacing dark ambient, then introduces a Lynch-load of staticy noise, a manipulated sample of the Mentat Mantra from Dune- "It is by will alone that I set my mind in motion..." and a lot of other sonic effluvia. Reutoff calms it down (at first) with the seemingly meditative "Blue Room with No Doors" that morphs into a rhythmic industrial piece with an abstract bellish melody. Nice. It all ends with "Eraserhead's neighbors" by Arcuation, which relies heavily on muscular feedback, along with discreet percussive elements. Overly long and unpleasant.

No doubt this compilation has its highs and lows, and what appeals most to me may not to you, but it has some merit in its differences. As a David Lynch tribute though, I didn't find it completely satisfying, and thought it could have used some more traditionally musical, but equally dark contributions. It may however, bring to light darkside Russian artists who might not otherwise have gotten the exposure due to Lynch fans seeking out anything to do with him. The cover by the way is a fragment of a painting by Chris Mars titled "Special Agent Gordon Cole". Limited edition of 200 copies in a glossy six-panel digipak.

Norman Westberg: MRI

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
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Aug 06 2016
Artist: Norman Westberg (@)
Title: MRI
Format: CD
Label: Room40 (@)
Rated: *****
The devotional love of Swans'fans for Michael Gira as a lyricist didn't eclipse the likewise stronger one for another forerunning element of the band. I'm referring to the brilliant American guitarist and composer Norman Westberg of course, whose style of guitar playing in an unstable, but totally amazing, balance between harmonic minimalism and pure brutalism could be considered an out-and-out textbook case. Besides Swans, he was highly active in New York City underground scene and feature many important artistic experiences such as the appearances in many film works related to the so-called Cinema Of Transgression. This output on Lawrence English's excellent imprint derived by what can be considered a tragedy for a musician, the gradual loss of functional hearing ability, but Norman admirably turned it into a source of inspiration! "I started to notice a loss of hearing in my right ear" Westberg explained, "and decided that it was high time that I had it checked out by a professional. The audiologist confirmed the uneven hearing loss and recommended an MRI. The purpose of the MRI was to make sure that there was not something other than my own aural misadventures causing the uneven loss.". Inspired by his encountering with Magnetic Resonance Imaging, he recorded "MRI", a long-lasting track where a reduced number of guitar chords, that resembles some of the best moment of American minimalism, got melted into aural effects and entrancing whispers that could vaguely resemble the internal noises that someone who is going to lose hearing abilities can perceive, and the final result is a little masterpiece. The following track, "410 Stairs", where likewise minimal guitar chords seems to reach an artificial heaven before gradually landing (...and the way by which he rendered such a descent is as emotional and wise as the ascensional movement, propelled by blissful chiming guitar harmonies!), maybe refers to a particular method of MRI scanning and non-invasive imaging, but besides any possible reference, your ears will be delighted for its whole length (more than 20 minutes). "Lost Mine", the third track of this sonic jewel, was recorded in 2015 (the first dating back 2012) and seems to reprise many moments of the first two tracks, but its resonance could let you imagine it derived by the grabbing of the vapour getting out of the previously store refrigerated tracks in the deeper recesses of Norman's memory. Swans' devotional love for Mr.Westberg will rise higher after the listening of this record.

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