Music Reviews



cover
Artist: STAUB Quartet
Title: House Full of Colors
Format: CD
Label: JACC records (@)
Rated: *****
As you can easily guess, this multicoloured musical house got occupied by four tenants from the lively Portuguese improv music scene: the brilliant violinist Carlos "Zingaro", the skilled guitarist Marcelo dos Reis (we already introduced some of his outputs in the recent past), bassist Hernani Faustino and cellist Miguel Mira. The title is not really related to what is known as 'chromatic scale' in music (as in improv music, variations on standard scales, wherever they get followed, almost belongs to the 'rule' of the game), but the variety of varnishes is more stylistic or I'd rather say emotional or even spiritual, if we consider the attached introductory words by Sergio Piccirilli: "the approach offered in this debut album of this quartet of distinguished musicians finds its inspirational epicentre in the concepts of light and colour. [...] So claimed Paul Cezanne, "Light is not something that can be reproduced, but something that should be represented using something else". The artistic testimony amalgamated by STAUB Quartet in House Full of Colors, the means used for that representation, are sounds and music". The initial "Quiet Arcs" is just apparently quiet as it includes seeds of a vehemence, that will explode later on and sounds more like a warm-up, where the relatively slow tempo got led by Faustino's double bass. The sound acquires the inflammatory tones of Mediterranean folk music traditions in the following "Red Curtains", where Marcelo dos Reis seems to mirror some sonorities by Django Reinhardt in the swirling tonal vapours and first flashing fires by other instruments. The longest piece of this release "Opacity Rings" sounds almost meditative and the more exotic to my ears, due to the bizarre intersection of lulling guitar melodies that could vaguely resemble some Far East tradition, easily perceivable counterpoints and a general progression from darker overtones and aptly dumb atmospheres to a lighter and almost soothing one, a temporary tonal harmony that got dissolved by the following "Knots of Light". All the instrument sounds overheated and the incandescent setting gets mirrored by the fast-paced playing by Carlos on his violin. Following such a furious parenthesis, the players seems to look for cooler places in their house, where the light and the heat cannot reach them, but the sliding through the shadows projected by a closed window or by the open door of some cabinet is not exempt from a certain sorrow in "Resonant Shades"...the strange disharmony they render in the second part is simply awesome like the way Marcelo quiets the tonal instrumental contrasts in the final "Discrete Auroras".
cover
Artist: Autogen (@)
Title: Mutagen
Format: CD
Label: 4iB Records / Sturm (@)
Distributor: 4iB Records
Rated: *****
I know that I should have written this review months before, but unfortunately I lost track in between, so this one comes out late. The debut release of Autogen out of Latvia promised to be one of the outstanding releases during the last months for the Dark Electro/Post-modern Ambient/IDM genre. It is an experimental Electronica project by Kaspars Kalnins, also known under his pseudonym Kaps. He is maybe better known for his involvement in the Electro/Industrial project Rosewater or as being the founder of the Latvian cult label Sturm. Kaps is surely one of leading forces behind any activity of underground-related music in this small Eastern European country. This debut album is a collaboration release between Sturm and the new Singapore-based 4iB Records, which concentrates to present Ambient / Noise / Martial-Industrial styles. Autogen has been firstly discovered with an appearance on the latest Sturm compilation 'Stürmer 4' DCD set ('Par Veelu'), 'Mutagen' now collects all tracks written in between 2008 - 2012. Ever since the establishing of Autogen, this project has been often active with rude live performances and has visited numerous industrial and fetish clubs in Latvia, Finland, Belarus, Hungary, Denmark, Lithuania, Estonia and also Bangkok in March 2012. The shows of Autogen are for parental usage only, they often display cruel scenarios of blood, gore and fetishism. The musically direction of this debut tends clearly into the field of demanding Dark Electro music. Projects like The Klinik, Mortal Constraint, or Disharmony have to be named to throw in possible quells of inspiration, although this album in its presented quality would also well fitting side by side with some highly praised signed to the US-based Tympanik Audio label. And so this album explores a wide range of dark and cold sounding Electronica styles and leaves out warmer and smooth sounding ingredients. The work of Mortal Constraint or Ingo Lindmeier's Polygon-project in its early recordings is surely witness for tracks 'Nevajag', 'Trakumá', or 'Súrums' in its existence. Massive applause for the rather deep drowning, stone-cold Modern-Ambient-like tune 'Vél Né', one of my personal favorites. That this album is also able to scratch some inner nerves can be discovered in 'Nederings', the ideal and raw soundtrack for your next dentists visit. 'Mutagen' is a brilliant collection of tracks full of creative sound-design with matured programming skill. No pseudo-aggressive Techno kick-and-snare-bawling on here, 'Mutagen' is rather designed to freeze your brain. A nice, cinematic, but also ice-cold sound-trip not to be missed. Get it!