Music Reviews



NITRO MAHALIA: Nitro Mahalia

 Posted by Maurizio Pustianaz (@)   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
Dark / Gothic / Wave / New Wave / Dark Wave / Industrial Gothic
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Jan 27 2011
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Artist: NITRO MAHALIA (@)
Title: Nitro Mahalia
Format: 12"
Label: Interstellar Records (@)
Rated: *****
Formed in 2004 in Vienna, Nitro Mahalia are a particular band. Mixing noise, film music, punk and jazz, the four people of the band used all these years to prepare their first album. Released on vinyl by Interstellar Records the Nitro Mahalia self named album is bringing you eleven blasts where bass distortions, hard beats, noise, catchy brass solos and organ cries are the main core. Take for example "Acid D.C.", it starts with a distorted bass and drum beating like a double heart beat, then brasses arrive. The chaotic/melodic wall of sound finds its nirvana thanks to the Chris Janka (one of the four guests on this album) distorted guitar inserts which now are noisy and then powerful. Another track that catch my attention immediately was "Intro" (which isn't the first of the album, it's the seventh/the second of side B): it starts with drone organ loops and then when the tension is at the top, it changes, turning into a fast melancholic tune. This album is a pleasant surprise and if you are into 90s guitarism with a bit of experimentation or you love Naked City, Slint and a bit of jazz, Nitro Mahalia is a band to check!

Merzbow/Z'ev: Spiral Right/Spiral Left

 Posted by Vito Camarretta (@)   Industrial Noise / Power Noise / Harsh Noise
Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 21 2011
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Artist: Merzbow/Z'ev (@)
Title: Spiral Right/Spiral Left
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
After 20 years of rumors of a forthcoming collaboration, recantations, postponements, these two blazoned masters of noise, who don't actually need any introduction having both of them an enviable curriculum and a remarkably tried experience in their field, have finally co-signed a collaborative release, even if the two long-lasting cochlear corrosions, tympanic drillings or, if you prefer, spirals are mutual mixing and shaping of each sonic code. A mission accomplished by Cold Spring's appreciated label manager Justin Mitchell.

If I exclude the inevitable sonic rampage for a while and their skills in making typhoons acting more as sorcerers than as callow blunderers from mastered or digital noises, an art whose secrets are deeply known by Masami Akita aka Merzbow, and from percussions often obtained from scraps, whose craftsman is the American (even if actually living in Peckham, UK, with Barbara Steveni, where he also mixed Merzbow's code on 20th August 2008, the first track of this emisymmetrical issue, whose first 13 minutes are really going to let your ears bleed) artist, musician and trusted pioneer of industrial music Stefan Joel Weisser aka Z'ev, one of the first aspect which has stricken me is the substantial stylistical homogeneity of both rehashes. The above mentioned first spiral is maybe the most difficult to listen for untrained ears especially for its tremendously harsh first part, where the blast of noises could sound more irritating than an imaginary suite for a quartet of hoovers, supported by a food grinder, a jackhammer and a jet engine, while the second spiral featuring some guitar modulations is definitively more bearable and enriched with urban field recordings, but it's practically impossible to appreciate it without considering the ritual core of this issue, putting it up as a soundtrack for an imaginary metropolitan hell, whose cyclic chants sounds as frightening as seducing. Even if not intended for the masses, this experimental release, whose package features graphic arts by Abby Helasdottir, is really stunning.

Synoiz: Shock! Horror!

 Posted by Steve Mecca   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 17 2011
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Artist: Synoiz (@)
Title: Shock! Horror!
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
One of the drawbacks as an independent music reviewer for Chain D.L.K. is that new CDs to review usually come in a lump-sum package, mostly when enough have accumulated at the Urselli address to ship, and often some time after their release date. So it is either feast or famine; no new releases to review, or LOTS of new releases to review. Like all Chain D.L.K. reviewers, I do this not for the money (because there isn't any!), but for the love of the music, and the opportunity to expound on it. The free CDs aren't a bad perk either for expanding my music library. As this isn't a J-O-B, my (free) reviewing time is limited to what I can accomplish in spare time when I'm not working making a living, which seems to consume most of my time. Fortunately, I have the ability to listen to new releases while I'm working, so at least there is time for the music to simmer in my psyche before I get down to writing about it. The reason for this little preamble has to do in some way with why this review is so far from the release date of October 25, 2010, interned as a Halloween promotion. Of course, there might be some Chain D.L.K. readers that believe every day is Halloween to some extent, and the timeliness hardly affects them. But this is not a 'Halloween CD' in spite of the October 31st promotion. This is one interesting little excursion in the realm of Dark Ambient.

The artist known as Synoiz is one Graeme Donaldson from Sunderland in the North East of England. Originally setting out to create his own brand of angst-ridden synthpop, Synoiz found himself much more involved in ambient soundtrack work. Synoiz cites game soundtrack composers Matt Uelmen (Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft), Steve Henifin (Blood Omen: Legacy of Cain, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem) and Masami Ueda (Resident Evil 2 & 3) as some primary influences on what is done here, but since I don't play computer video games, I have little frame of reference in that regard. However, I DO know quite a bit about Dark Ambient music having an extensive collection of it, numerous reviews of Dark Ambient artists here at Chain D.L.K. to my credit, and have dabbled in the genre as a musician myself.

I'm not sure that 'Shock! Horror!' is an appropriately descriptive title for the music on this maxi-single CD. When I think of shock and horror, I tend to over over-the-top jarring, hair-raising or even gruesome images and possibly painful musical events. (Megaptera come to mind; so does Brighter Death Now, and a host of others.) This stuff is a lot more subtle than that. Macabre, unsettling, eerie, spooky all come to mind when listening to this Synoiz release. Although two of the tracks on this CD are remixes of the ('Shock! Horror') title track, they only bear a passing resemblance to each other with some elements. The title track kicks off the CD with a bit of a low drone tone, an unearthly processed ghostly voice, some extended low, murky piano notes and a repeating pattern of chalky, slightly abrasive pitched synth noise, and other vaguely spirit-like howling, as well as very subtle intermittent percussion that will emerge more prominently in subsequent tracks. Perhaps the most overt of all music on the CD, there is still a creepy subtlety to it that does not overwhelm, but does immediately immerse you in a nightmarish mood. Track 2, 'Indrid Cold' gives the impression of receiving radio transmissions from the dead, as it begins with radio frequency twiddlings giving way to unintelligible (processed) voices and other sonic effluvia. About a minute and a half into it, a pulsing bass is introduced along with minimal metallic tapping percussion. A deep processed string line is the only real melodic content here. Things warp, the metallic percussion turns into light hammering and before you know it, it's over. A curious piece.

Track 3, 'Shock! Horror' (Sinister Mix) begins with the sound of thunder and low moody strings before the ghostly moaning voice and the repeating pattern of chalky, slightly abrasive pitched synth noise are reintroduced. Other voices (a mournful woman crying, an unearthly bird, spirit moanings) appear and subtle percussion gives way to heavier, more defined ritualistic percussion for a while. It could have gone on longer and built up more suspense into some type of climax. Kind of like wine-tasting; when you find one you really like, you want the whole bottle, not just a sip. Last track, 'Shock! Horror' (Acoustic Edit) has a neoclassical aura about it with its string themes, piano rumblings and more spirit voices moaning in anguish. The percussion that was sparse and intermittent on the first track is given a little more play here. The overall effect is incidental soundtrack music for a very bleak film.

I found it interesting that each time I listened to the CD, it sounded a bit different. There are things you will pick up on subsequent listening after the first, and it is brief enough to dive right back in again to see what you missed. To me, this seems more of a sampler of what Synoiz is capable of, and hopefully a new full CD of this type of music might be forthcoming from Synoiz in the near future. If you go to Synoiz's website, you can get a free digital download of this music if you sign up for the newsletter. Synoiz is a project to watch as the music here is indicative of an artist to be reckoned with in the field of Dark Ambient.

PAS (Post Abortion Stress from the Viewpoint of the Fetus): Pure Energy Output Sessions

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 14 2011
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Artist: PAS (Post Abortion Stress from the Viewpoint of the Fetus) (@)
Title: Pure Energy Output Sessions
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I had also reviewed a DVD that PAS sent along with this disc, but these two were my first exposure to the band. This is a weird mix of woodwinds, synths, treated guitar and other assorted weird sounds. That said, it all hangs together rather well. This is improvisation, not randomness. Several of the tracks are about a minute long with the shortest at 58 seconds and the longest weighing in at 7:05. With 17 tracks, there is a considerable amount of variety here making it hard to sum up in a review. Some of the comparisons I can come up with are Hafler Trio's 'Bang! An Open Letter,' or Zoviet France's 'Loh Land.' It's interesting, but not all of it is as engaging as it could be - I did not find it to have the 'pure energy' the title promised. For me, one of the standout tracks is 'Piano Music for Volcano Eruption,' which incorporates odd electronic sounds into a nice piano melody. Overall, if you are looking for some interesting improvisation that never completely disintegrates into noise, this might be one to check out.

PAS (Post Abortion Stress from the Viewpoint of the Fetus): Experimental Audio/Video Compositions Volume 1

 Posted by eskaton   Experimental / Avantgarde / Weird & Wired / Glitch / Noise / Field Recording
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Jan 14 2011
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Artist: PAS (Post Abortion Stress from the Viewpoint of the Fetus) (@)
Title: Experimental Audio/Video Compositions Volume 1
Format: DVD
Label: self-released
I must admit that this reminded me of my undergraduate days in video production. I videotaped everything and would create random compositions set to my own ambient/field recordings. Sometimes they made sense and sometimes they didn't. In this case, the music is pretty good, although the video itself is not. I watched the whole thing, but I have to admit that I began to lose interest about 10 minutes in. Among musicians there seems to be a deep seated need to create visuals for our music. Yet these videos almost never work out. If you want a particularly good example of this, check out Sam Rosenthal's (Black Tape for a Blue Girl) video compositions. If you want to have something similar in your own collection, go out with a group of your friends and videotape things (walking through a forest, stepping on eggs on a sidewalk, playing a miniature xylophone are some examples from this video) and add some overlays and effects for good measure and make your own video. Chain DLK: We watch it so you don't have to! 'Various Levels of Consciousness' has some good drawing though and it gets a bit better toward the end. On the other hand, the live videos are fine and they seem to put on a decent, if subdued live performance. So this is a mixed bag. It's always nice to see a live performance, but I would still suggest simply getting a copy of their album. However, if the other albums are out of print (it's hard to tell on the myspace page) this may be worth getting for some of the music.


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