Music Reviews



Jos Smolders: Modular Works 2015Q1

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 08 2015
cover
Artist: Jos Smolders (@)
Title: Modular Works 2015Q1
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
The name of Jos Smolders should say something to many followers of the most hidden recesses of electronic and experimental music, as you could have met it as the signature of some articles on well-known Vital magazine or less recently on EARLabs.org, a label he made that turned into a proper webzine and one of the most updated source of information for electronic community by focusing on many aspects of the expanding netaudio scene (online services, net labels online magazine, social media functionalities and so on), but besides the editorial activity, Jos is primarily a sound artist, who knows modular synths like the back of his hand and this release is the most convicing proof of his knowledge. This digital release came as the attempt of combining together isolated sonic objects that he made while mastering and restoring 10 albums by Pierre Henry into a proper composition as Jos himself said: "I composed these works during the first months of 2015. They are clearly defined constructions, built in a modernistic fashion. The sounds have a character of their own but I force my will onto them and thus create a composition. [..] The theatrical approach of henry is clearly audible in these works. I started with a certain mood in my head and worked from there. First collecting the initial sounds (objets sonores), reworking and editing them and in the mean time placing them in a timeline". Three of the four works got dedicated to Robert Hampson ("an inspiring conversationalist on the subject of Musique Concrete", in Smolders' own words) and features really amazing sonic entities: I particularly enjoyed "light" and "debris", the second and the third composition, as they sound like sonic translations of mental states that someone could experience during prolonged working in isolation, where ordinary noises like the crackling of a wooden floor or a chair ("light") or a clock("debris") got somehow defomed by senses, as well as the 12-minutes lasting "TomTomTomTom", where a breathe and a ticking into a set of impressive modular sounds gradually render a really oblique listening experience.

Blodfet & DJ Lonely: Erasuremade and Dissolved

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 07 2015
cover
Artist: Blodfet & DJ Lonely
Title: Erasuremade and Dissolved
Format: 12"
Label: Das Andere Selbst (@)
Rated: *****
The lo-fi cover gives little indication as to what we're in for, and the song titles provide no more clue than the cover ('Synth won...Oasis & Heavy Metal are gone!' and 'From Smersh for New Jersey,' for example). But the artists' names seem to be a misnomer, as this project is the work of one person: Amsterdam-based artist Jonas Ohlsson. The label describes the album thus: 'His sounds rummage in upper & lower music traditions, from musique concrète through favela bootie beat, industrial noise and synth pop. . . . From laconic loneliness to caricatural anger, Erasuremade & Dissolved delivers dysfunctional songs and a really unique approach to electronic music and song writing.' OK ' we're still no closer to knowing what this will sound like, so let's get into the music. This is pretty weird stuff. Imagine a collaboration with Wesley Willis on vocals, The Residents on music, and sampling provided by Negativland. There is a lot of digital beeps and synth with spoken word thrown in for good measure. For example, on one track we get a dialogue between the artist and a woman discussing the qualities of shadows ('Do you have a good shadow?'), and on 'Synth won...Oasis & Heavy Metal are gone!' he discusses the importance of electronic music ('We thank Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder...'). There are some recognizable samples (as in the slowed down and distorted beginning of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody') and a statement that 'I've got two synthesizers and a microphone.' It's clear that Ohlsson is having a good time with the music and not taking himself too seriously. This makes it fun for the rest of us who may listen in on his merriment. If you like your experimental music weird, this is definitely one to check out.

Ame Zek: Rostfrei

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 07 2015
cover
Artist: Ame Zek (@)
Title: Rostfrei
Format: 12"
Label: Keep it Business
Rated: *****
Before we even get to put the album on the turntable, you'll notice that the back of the album cover points inside, stating 'sick mirrors see.' There are words printed on the inside of the sleeve, such as 'mercy,' self-confidence,' and 'purity' printed backward and upside down. I'm not really sure what they are supposed to mean, but they seem positive for the most part. As for the music, the label describes his work thus: 'One of the biggest challenges of electronic music is to give a unique voice to the machinery that is used to create it. One must dive deep down into the hidden possibilities of hardware and software, learn to understand their functions, and discover the peculiarities of each tool and how each device interconnects with others. Ame Zek has gone down this route, developing his own deeply-personal musical language through years of experimentation.' Putting it on the turntable is a challenge, as the only clue as to which side is which is in the etching on the vinyl, which also informs the listener that it should be played at 45RPM. Had I not seen this, I would have thought it was a mistake, since the first track was filled with static and was nice and glitchy. Indeed, this is the hallmark of Ame Zek's work, as everything is covered in a thin layer of hum and buzz. But this is not really noise; rather, it uses the digital static as just another layer of sound. The synths themselves seem to have been circuit bent beyond recognition. Digital tones and buzzing are deliberately added, so as to appreciate each one in its isolation. At times (e.g., track 4), Zek seems intent on irritating the listener, but not in a heavy handed way. Rather, it is in the choice of tones and the heavy dissonance. Still, this is interesting work and well put together. This album weighs in at around 26 minutes. It's pressed on 180 gram vinyl and limited to 300 copies.

Colin Potter: Rank Sonata

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Techno / Trance / Goa / Drum'n'Bass / Jungle / Tribal / Trip-Hop
Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Dec 05 2015
cover
Artist: Colin Potter (@)
Title: Rank Sonata
Format: 12"
Label: Hallow Ground (@)
Rated: *****
The quasi-pastoral echoes, the festively electric intermittencies, a rising march-like ascension fuelled by a straight 4/4 beat, a popping set of wood sticking and the surprising suspension that all those flowing elements reach at the hands of their wise director on the 19-minutes lasting deranged techno track "A Wider Pail of Shale" could be ideally matched more to the buds that blossomed from stylistical territories where artists like Four Tet, Gold Panda or Fuck Buttons browse on than the ones where the name of the legendary Colin Potter, well-known pal, producer and collaborator of Nurse With Wound, Organum and Current 93, and miliar stone of the whole indipendent UK post-industrial scene since late 70ies by means of his appreciated imprint ICR - a stylistical laboratory where The Instant Automatons, experimental composer Trevor Weshart, Chris & Cosey, Bryn Jones (better known as Muslimgauze), Darren Tate and others begun to vanish the fences between contemporay electronica, post-punk experiments, crude pop and Krautrock-inspired drone music -, got commonly matched to.Colin's skills in fostering hybrids between two seemingly different sonic sets, as shown on the above mentioned suite where soundscapes intersects beats, got confirmed by the shortest tracks on B-side: the abstract start of "And" sneaks in nearby dub frontlines and field recordings got cycled as if they were part of an industrial process on "Knit Where?", before the initial mechanical loop of the suite on the other side got reprised and centrifuged on "Beyond The Pail". After years of DIY strictly limited editions on cassettes and digital, Potter's solo circuits got finally imprinted on vinyl!

Visionist: Safe

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Ambient / Electronica / Ethereal / Dub / Soundscapes / Abstract
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Nov 29 2015
cover
Artist: Visionist (@)
Title: Safe
Format: CD
Label: PAN (@)
Rated: *****
While dubstep scene seems to having been disintegrated, there are some grimers which keep on exploring more experimental stylistical pathwayss and a grime producer who showed a penchant for experimentation like Louis Carnell aka Visionist, belonging to the second generation of that scene that begun developing in South London suburbs, cannot but undoubtedly be one of the most interesting explorers. After many clues Visionist, who recently joined Bill Kouligas in the interesting attempt of revamping his own imprint Lost Codes, left on many single tracks, he definitively venture towards quite bizarre sonorities as it's clear since the opening "You Stayed", where he crafted a sort of alien melody by heavily pitched chords and deformed vocals before sliding into the circling set of ghostly voices weighted by fractured metallic bumps of "Victim" and the same voices keep on shaking the faint atmospheres (that "hey" you'll listen seems coming from an agonizing imp) on the following track "1 Guarda", where many listeners could perceive a certain similarity to some stuff by Burial and feature the short lasting interplay "I've Said", the broken suctions of "Vffected". An hypnotical carousel of delayed echoes of chiming sounds, vocal atoms and toy-like sombers fills the icy void of "Sin-cere" whereas the bass-driven tremors on the title-track "Safe", the more urgent pressure of "Let Me In", the whooshing electronic fogs of "Too Careful To Care" doesn't really disrupt the fragile balance evoked by mainly vocal elements, which seem to render the defense mechanisms of a fragile psyche in the attempt of wuthstanding external attacks before recovering a sort of lost balance on the painfully entranced "Tired Tears, Awake Fears", the shrivelled bass hits of the interplay "Constraint" and the anesthetized quietness of the final "Sleep Luxury". Grime seems having performed phagocytosis on mental diseases and anxiety on this interesting sonic experiment by means of the lucid cryonics of grime of Visionist.


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