Music Reviews



Stephan Meidell: Metrics

 Posted by Stuart Bruce (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 27 2017
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Artist: Stephan Meidell
Title: Metrics
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Hubro Music
Stephan Meidell is a guitarist, but the guitar is just one of many elements floating around in the melting pot of “Metrics” and you’d be hard pushed to identify his primary instrument. Blending extremely mellow electronic beats and synthetic drones with spontaneous and freeform improvised performances from a range of organic instrumentation ranging from fiddles to prepared pianos to clarinets, this is a wide ensemble piece that’s almost misleadingly released under one man’s name.

Opening with the two parts of “Baroque” which as you’d expect has a predominant harpsichord, there’s a sinister tension throughout that gives the whole thing a very filmic quality. The three parts of “State” are more plaintive, with layered violins describing a more sorrowful outlook and the rumbling droning underbelly stripped back.

Longest piece “Biotop” brings analogue electronic noises to the fore, opening like a 1950’s Tom Dissevelt groove before evolving into a piece of slow techno with sporadic guitar strums littered lightly on top. In a way this is the straightest piece, with a deep regularity to it that’s very compelling. Final track “Tauchgang” is similarly strong with its experimental, retro-tinged electronics, but with a much more freeform structure and a strangely gloopy ambience.

“Metrics” is a succinct package of very emotive atmospheres built out of a broad variety of instrumentation. It’s impeccably polished and exemplary for its type, or it would be if it was easy to work out which type to pigeonhole it in.

Gerstein: Live Radio Blackout 1999

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 25 2017
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Artist: Gerstein (@)
Title: Live Radio Blackout 1999
Format: Tape
Label: Luce Sia (@)
Rated: *****
As it's usual for project that has a long history as Gerstein, which Maurizio Pustianaz started in 1984, there's a recovery of some unreleased recording which was drowned for some reason in a drawer. This time is a concert made at Radio Blackout and broadcasted in 1999 when he used only electronic loops, horror movies samples, treated vocals and manipulated frequencies to create his sonic journey.
As the first seconds of this first side of the tape reveal, there's a personal vision of experimental music that seems to have a root in new wave. The rhythmic pulse of synths are the framework of almost all track and creates a sort of familiar listening setting as the vocals, the loops and the samples create a regularity which could even sound pop as the third track suggest with some noise to create a curtain of experimental music above an almost dancey background. This side of the project is balanced by track as the fourth where all the influences of horror movies are clearly audible or the fifth where the listener falls into proper noise territories. The second side is opened by a track that could have been an almost pop track with an hip hop beat if the author wasn't able enough to impose his sound aesthetic and use this familiar setting to introduce his harsher sound on the following tracks until, at the middle of the fourth track, a section based on a regular beat and a synth pop creates a break for the final two track of this release where he explores more static sound forms.
Surprisingly varied to be presented as a canonical industrial release, this live performance reveals influences out of this genre and so this is a release that could be appreciated by a wide range of listeners. It's truly worth a listen.

Glice | Coen Oscar Polack: Race To The Bottom

 Posted by Andrea Piran (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 19 2017
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Artist: Glice | Coen Oscar Polack (@)
Title: Race To The Bottom
Format: Tape
Label: Narrominded (@)
Rated: *****
After the release of Fleisch, Glice returns with another release on Narrominded that is a collaboration with Coen Oscar Polack which has a reputation made out of releases based on subtler equilibrium in respect to the Glice's thick mass of sound. However, Glice has an idea of noise much more multifaceted than the usual barrage of sound which is the usual expectation of the listener when he approaches a release classified under the noise genre.
So the first minutes of this release, as even a sax enters in the audio framework, seems to have more in common with free jazz than noise as the complex audio spectrum associated with this genre hasn't a physical impact but instead is a sort of ever changing figure where all sounds, even if they are dissonant, have a relation with each other so there's a sort of crescendo until all sound generate a sort of drone and a voice stops all this mass and engage a sort of dialectic with the noises that generates a rhythmic structure which creates the path for the final cathartic part based on noises ending in silence as all components are silenced in an exercise of deconstruction.
With a greater dynamics than an average noise release, this work could be even classified as experimental as they are evidently much more concerned with a musical development than an dull exercise of musical impact. Truly recommended for all fans of experimental music.

Y. G. Hanedan: The Voyage

 Posted by Edward Trethowan   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 19 2017
Artist: Y. G. Hanedan (@)
Title: The Voyage
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Distributor: CDbaby
Rated: *****
The voyage to which this album's title refers is, its description elaborates, "an imaginary post-modern vehicle journey". Its ten stages are clearly titled as references to various stages on this adventure. For instance, 'The Dark Forest', 'Barren, Damp Hilltops' and 'Stopped to See a Distant Storm' conjure images of tangible landmarks, while 'Faint Images of the Past' or 'Curtain Flap over Anxiety' seem to tell more of the emotional state of the traveller. The tinge of noir is enhanced by the cover image: the lights of a solitary vehicle (difficult to make out, but I reckon it's a metro train) vanishing into darkness.

Hanedan's palette of sounds is highly consistent thoughout The Voyage; from many instances of similar effects to the recurrence of the same melodies and loops over multiple pieces, it all feels tightly woven together from the same fabric. Slow and somewhat aimless, each piece is simply structured but texturally dense and, occasionally, very peculiar. The first six tracks are all buffeted by similar layers of thick, rapid shudders. On 'Curtain Flap over Anxiety', these are mixed with a high-pitch beeping that filters in and out of range, a lonesome guitar section, an occasional synth wail and several other textures. These unrelated elements produce a disorientating narrative; at once sophisticated, naive, atmospheric, elegant and awkward.

That the ten pieces are self-contained rather that mixed, and that each has an ambient structure rather than conveying much movement, seem to be obstructions to the notion of the album overall as a journey. But seen as vignettes, as moments languished at the stations or bus stops punctuating the journey, as well as on long, unchanging roads protracted by tedium, by exhaustion and by the night; watching passers-by and overhearing conversations - then they begin to make sense. If it were possible to make field recordings of someone's subjective experience of a half-remembered night of noisy, gritty transportation and gloomy reverie, they might very well sound like the remarkable chapters of this album.

Ragnar Grippe: Sand

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Apr 15 2017
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Artist: Ragnar Grippe
Title: Sand
Format: LP
Label: Dais Records
This is the first time after its original release back in 1977 that Ragnar Grippe's "Sand" has been reissued. Available in 300 black and 200 blu vinyl copies, "Sand" is divided in two parts that are forming a 50' long minimal percussive/synth suite. It's useful always to put things in context and the label's bio is helping a lot. Grippe was asked to compose a piece that was to be played during the Sand painting exhibition and was then to be released on Shandar in 1977. This release would be the first official album that would start Grippe’s career as a modern avant-garde composer and electronic musician. Originally trained as a classical cellist, Grippe had relocated to Paris in the early 70’s to study at the famous Groupe de Recherches Musicales (more commonly known as GRM and if you read French, there's a great book written by Evelyne Gayou, one of the member of the group, titled "Le GRM groupe de recherches musicales : Cinquante ans d'histoire") founded by musique concrete pioneers Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry and Jacques Poullin. Think that also Jean-Michel Jarre joined the group in 1969 fascinated by their theories about sound. Grippe became close friend with French avant-garde minimalist Luc Ferrari. and it was under his direction and guidance that the young Grippe started to build a shared experimental music studio, named l’Atelier de la Liberation Musicale (ALM), in which Ferrari shared his knowledge and instrumental supplies, thus forging Grippe’s implementation of harmonic tone within the confines of musique concrete. After a brief stint of electronic music study at McGill University in Montreal, Grippe returned to Paris in 1976 to compose with Ferrari at the now fully-realized ALM studio. One of the visiting artists passing through the creative epicenter of the Cite Internationale des Arts during this time was the painter Viswanadhan Velu. Velu’s recent works consisted of various Sand paintings which were to be exhibited at the Galerie Shandar, the avant-garde art gallery and home to the Shandar record label which was the home to minimalist composers Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Cecil Taylor and Charlemagne Palestine. As I was initially saying, the piece is divided into two parts: the first one has layers of delayed hit objects (wooden and metal ones) are mixed with simple synth melodies which are almost sounding casual, while the second one starts with a similar rhythmic approach but on the background the synth lines are more ambient like. Here and there sax or clarinet notes come and go as well as guitar ones. Little by little improvised synth arpeggios appear reaching the main place in the sound palette just to stop abruptly at nine minutes from the end where we're back at the initial approach of delayed percussion with synth drones. The track fades out slowly leaving you still "stoned". If you are into minimal and experimental music, you should definitely try this one.


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