Music Reviews



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Artist: Andreas Davids (@)
Title: Grey
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with Andreas Davids, but he evidently also records industrial under the name Xotox. If you are looking for the industrial rhythms of “Eisenkiller,” however, you’re going to be disappointed. This disc showcases Davids’ more ambient side. The disc consists of two tracks that make up “Grey.” “Part I” is spacey synth soundscape that would be quite at home with the stuff that Malignant Records has been putting out over the years (e.g., Collapsar, Phaenon, Phragments). There is a bit of dissonance here that gives it an ominous feel, but it is also strangely soothing. “Part II” shifts gears with a bed of rumbling bass punctuated by a slow moving, consistent tone (kind of reminds me of a warning alarm) that functions as a beat. There is an interesting juxtaposition here of noise and lilting flutelike melodies. Still, it seems to go on a bit longer than necessary and got a bit too repetitious for my tastes. That said, this is a pleasant listen overall. This album weighs in at around 18 minutes.
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Artist: Hallucinocide and Novasak (@)
Title: Split
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Inner Demons Records
Rated: *****
Hallucinocide was new to me, but I had actually heard Novasak on a compilation that I was also on over a decade ago, so he has been kicking around for quite some time. Inner Demons is a known quantity by now (or it should be if it isn’t yet), so we know the formula: a 3” disc with good music. So let’s get right into the music. Hallucinocide kicks off this split with a screeching squeal of feedback to open up “Dissociative Entity (Live at Beerland).” But this is not the wall of noise I expected from this burst. This is more along the lines of pounding power electronics and yelled vocals. However, this has a lot more variety than a lot of PE stuff, but still has a lo-fi rawness to it that I enjoyed. Feedback and pulsing percussion, lots of screaming, and a ton of distortion. In other words, it was a good time. Novasak is up next with “Maximum Liability,” which starts off with a lot of fat analogue action. This is like listening to a 1980s video game soundboard that suddenly gained sentience and is now trying to communicate with the outside world. The only problem is that no one knows what it is trying to say, so it gets more and more frustrated and increasingly agitated. It has so much to say and no one understands it. If you like it circuit bent and burned to the ground, this is one to pick up. This album weighs in at around 19 minutes.
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Artist: Artur Maćkowiak
Title: Iconic Rapture
Format: CD
Label: Wet Music
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this Polish artist and had a difficult time finding anything on him, so not much background to give here. As such, let’s get to the music. If I had to sum this up in just a few words, I would choose repetition, melancholy, and complex. There is an interesting mix of style here. For example, “Welcome Emptiness” sounds like a guitar player testing out a new song over a rapid synth arpeggio. “Zosta Do Jutra” mixes guitar and music box-like piano with some droning vocals. I don’t speak Polish, so I can’t really say much about the vocals themselves. The only other track with prominent vocals is “Taniec Zgubionego Dwiku,” which has a repetitive guitar line and clarinet with some echoed vocals. This sounded like a cross between a neo-folk band and 1980s shoegaze music. Overall, this is a peaceful disc that has a lot of complexity to it. I generally tire of repetition in this way, but Makowiak manages to compose in such a way that it hangs together and stays interesting. Well worth checking out. This album weighs in at around 44 minutes.
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Artist: Thea Farhadian (@)
Title: Tectonic Shifts
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Thea Farhadian is credited with “violin & electronics,” so you go into it having at least some idea of what you are in for. I was unfamiliar with this artist, but she is based in the San Francisco bay area and Berlin. She is classically trained, with an M.F.A. in Electronic Music. So now that we know the background, let’s get into the music and see what we have here. Overall, this is interesting improvised stings. A bit chaotic, but still holds together well. At times (e.g., “Time Shift), she is playing the instruments in unconventional ways that sounds lightly processed. There is a lot of processing at other times. For example, “Splinter” and “Particle Party” sound like a recording that has been spliced up on tape and then fed through a dirty cassette player that ate the tape. Reminds me a bit of Bob Ostertag’s “Attention Span,” which is a good thing. “Vertical” sounds like she is rubbing the instrument and abusing the stings. Others go outside of the chaotic feel; “Silverplate,” for example, is a peaceful droning track with just a hint of dissonance. If you want experimental strings, this is one to pick up. This album weighs in at around 37 minutes.
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Artist: Grant Cutler (@)
Title: Self Portrait
Format: CD
Label: Innova (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed Cutler’s collaboration with Chris Campbell, “Schooldays Over,” and had enjoyed it, so I was interested to hear what this solo disc sounded like. As the label describes it, “Cutler recorded artists improvising to delayed recordings of themselves, a kind of sonic déja vu where memory and experience blend together in an evolving present. Slowly evolving colors wash over the listener; as though placing a mic in front of a fresh Rothko.” Considering that I had called the previous disc “well done dreamlike music,” this sounds like we are in for a similar ride. “Georgia” starts us off with some staccato arpeggiated tones that give way to a composition of slow moving piano quarter notes and saxophone. Peaceful and calm, but gets more intense as more and more layers emerge out of nowhere.
“The Dream I Float Away” brings us lush soundscapes of strings and drone, a feeling that continues for the next few songs until we reach “Part 2.” This is a bit different, at times keeping with the tranquil feeling of the other tracks, before suddenly kicking in with heavily amplified organ and a bit of distortion and convolution to the track. It is almost startling after the peacefulness of the earlier tracks. This moves into the plodding piano of “Stairwell” before shifting gears once more for “Paroxysm,” which is almost noisy by comparison to the other tracks. This is not harsh noise, but rather a sense of pressure with warbling drone and rumbling bass. Finally, “Drowning” brings it all together with a track that is both noisy and soothing at the same time. The music crashes over you like staticy waves. Overall this lacks the melancholy feel of the previous collaboration. Instead, we have intermittent moments of storminess over a placid sea. If you want to get mellow, this is one to reach for. This album weighs in at around 38 minutes.
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