Music Reviews



cover
Artist: Hirotaka Shirotsubaki (@)
Title: Last Goodbye
Format: CD
Label: KrysaliSound (@)
Rated: *****
This lush and contemplative set of sonorities by the Japanese ambient producer Hirotaka Shirotsubaki are strictly related to the recent end of Heisei age. Started on 11th January 1989 and came to an end on 30th April 2019, Heisei is nothing but the age of 125th Emperor of Akihito, who recently abdicates the Chrysanthemum Throne in favor of his son Naruhito, so beginning the Reiwa era. In Hirotaka's own words, printed on the in-lay: “In Japan, the era called “Heisei” will end this year. My life was with this "Heisei" era. In order to live a new era with one break at the end of this era while I am alive, I have decided the title of this album to be “last goodbye” with a determination of parting. The 6 tracks that make up this album have my memory fragments scattered around”. For a transition between an age whose name means 'peace everywhere' (even if I won't say Japan has known a so peaceful era, considering sad facts like the attempt in the metro of Tokyo by Aum Shirinkyo or the Fukushima Daichii nuclear disaster, following the devastating tsunami that hit Japan on 11th March 2011) and the following one, whose name means 'beautiful harmony', Hirotaka's music can perfectly fit this ideal passage. The record that worked as a Cupid's arrow for KrysaliSound was "Wet Petals", fired by Naviar Records in 2017, and the six movements that Kobe-based musician forged for this flirt with the label managed by Francis M.Gri (who also mastered the album) has many similarities with that entrancing workout. After some seconds of fade-in, the listener gets wrapped by fluffy soundscapes, based on sampled guitars, masterfully effected and elongated in a way that the listener can feel each amplified sound wave. My favorite tracks are "Rokko", where the reverb at the basis of the just described effected gets enhanced by slight delays, "Sputnik", where Hirotaka adds that glimmering stress to the tone stream that project listener's mind towards astral trips, and "December Snow", whose icy tones get paradoxically warm by means of the way the musician envelops the aural space.
cover
Artist: øjeRum
Title: The Forest Is Sleeping Within The Trees
Format: CD
Label: KrysaliSound (@)
Rated: *****
The choice by Italian label KrysaliSound of reissuing the third release of the Danish producer Paw Grabowski's project øjeRum in a moment, when this moniker is spreading over the catalogs of many interesting electronic, ambient and neo-folk labels besides a plenty of self-released albums, is wise both for the intent to give the chance to all those who are discovering Paw's sound by more recent outputs and for its intrinsic beauty. Originally released by Tulsa-based label Scissor Tail Recordings on cassette (this is the second re-release of a Scissor Tail output by KrysaliSound), “The Forest Is Sleeping Within The Trees” belongs to that stylistic branch of ambient, known as minimal, as each track is composed by a set of a very limited number of musical voices (a piano and a pump organ only), that got often effected in order to enhance its dynamics, divided in six parts for almost 26 minutes of total length. Each part seems to explore different moods in a sort of emotional metempsychosis of the above mentioned voices: for instance the piano in Part 1 traces a sort of bi tonal lull, a melodic trunk whose bark releases floating echoes and ethereal evanescence, while it turns into an ailing element on the following Part 2 and emerges as a quivering voice as syllables of an interrupted thought in the slow organ-drive wave in Part 3. The diving into a pool of melancholy is complete in Part 4 (where piano — the voice we focused on till now — rarefy more and more) and after the emotional transition in the two lovely minutes of Part 5, the touches on piano sound like the pace of a bliss, where deep echoes of the poignant process to reach it is still listenable. For the likes of William Basinski's style.
cover
Artist: dTHEd
Title: Hyperbeatz, vol. 1
Format: 12" vinyl + CD
Label: Boring Machines
A sort of correspondence production between Fabio Ricci and two members of Ask The White, “Hyperbeatz vol. 1” pushes a glitchy, stuttery aesthetic of difficult electronica that comprises some very familiar sonic elements but in unpredictable and wantonly awkward arrangements. The result is dynamic, occasionally quite minimalistic but more often heavily layered into an ear massage that’s cathartic and thorough but sometimes uncomfortable.

There are eight unnumbered tracks (at least on the version I got). Track 7 is an absolute highlight- a short piece of layered, slightly Glass-ish counter-playing arpeggios for clarinet-ish sounds over one of the more sedate start-stop-beats, it keeps its discordance in perfect balance and is a lovely nearly-three-minutes that has the potential to cross over and garner broad attention.

Most of the tracks are less accessible, but no less intriguing. Track 1 sets an interesting stall out, initially suggesting elements of Planet Mu or Leaf Label sounds but keeping things just that extra bit weirder and noisier than either. The organ sounds on track 4 are almost tongue-in-cheek initially. Track 8 is a multi-part and unpredictable affair with a penchant for the dramatic and a stomping percussive finale. The stammering of the female vocals on track 3 is hauntingly done, but, as a hobbyist producer myself, there’s something about the stuttering, parallel-and-out-of-sync rhythms of track 5 that do seem to fall on the wrong side of the arbitrary dividing line between art and broken.

An enjoyable 42-minute release full of character, and definitely there to be enjoyed by people who like their electronica on the complex and difficult side, but far more than just noise.
cover
Artist: Basic Rhythm
Title: On The Threshold
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Planet Mu
Anthoney Hart, sometimes known as East Man, sticks a different hat on for this new Planet Mu release that is Planet Mu through and through (or ‘thru and thru’ if you prefer). Glitchy, stripped back electronica built from sharp beats and rumbles, laid out with an EQ profile that’s clean and deep and polished.

After a deceptively gentle intro, “St. Fabian Tower” breaks into a rubbery and drunken glitchstep affair sprinkled with laser beats and ravey female vocal wayhay sounds that declares this as an odd release from the off. Some of the tracks that follow, such as “Yeah, I Like It” and the slightly dubby “I Want You”, are slightly more conventional affairs, with the sonic make-up of minimal techno but with complex and unpredictable rhythms and a much deeper and broodier approach to both space and bass.

A recurring motif is the use of what sounds to me like cheesy vocal samples borrowed from a main-room disco vocal sample pack. Phrases like “I want you in my life” and various “woo yeahs” seem corny in isolation, but reframing them and twisting them into this electronica space, giving them a new context is an unusual move, that sort of works- a bit. It’s not a total success though.

Initially, this is a fairly calm release with a fairly sedate sense of satisfaction, that wallows in subbass like a luxuriant spa- but the calmness is not indefinite. “Edge Of Darkness” is notable for (as its title implies) a much toothier, darker and sinister sound that’s got a fair chunk of aggression packed into it, and it rolls into the similarly aggressive punch-drums of “Buss It”.

It’s a Planet Mu release that doesn’t fall far from the tree (if that expression is applicable in this case), a familiar set-up of spacious and highly intelligent electronica with a strong pedigree, and a dash of innovation but no spectacles or surprises.
cover
Artist: Spoelstra
Title: West Side Story Winner of Ten Academy Awards
Format: CD + Download
Label: Narrowminded (@)
Rated: *****
I guess I sort of made the mistake of popping this into the CD player before reading the accompanying one-sheet, searching the internet for info, or doing any kind of homework on this at all. To me, it sounded like Captain Beefheart without the Captain; plenty of beef though. Avant-garde mayhem tempered with some temper but I just didn't get that it was dekonstruketed West Side Story, that Bernstein B'way musical that is the most truly American romantic tragedies ever foisted on the public. I suppose it took a deep underground Dutch avant garde band – Spoelstra, to pull it off, or even attempt such a thing. On the bandcamp site (where you can listen to the album) there is a lengthy description of each track that begins "Gross misrepresentations of all songs of the musical West Side Story as performed in seven chapters," which of course, I read in its entirety. If you want to be spared reading it yourself, it's a satirical take on the plot of WSS in minute detail, without mentioning any names. While this purports to be an avant garde take on the music of 'West Side Story,' in actuality there are only some passages where form and melody resemble anything approximating Bernstein's creation. It's all instrumental, so you don't have to worry about anybody warbling "Maria," "America," or "Somewhere". Yet sometimes those melodies do surface amidst "hysterical prog events, discordant guitar alarms, polyrhythmic pile-ups, untrue country and fluffy drones" as the one-sheet put it. In spite of its chaotic off-kilter rhythm and fractious-frantic guitar beginning after the arrhythmic finger-snaps, this is a deeper, more rewarding listening experience than conceptually it has any right to be. The sheer variety of quirky moods, sonic insanity, bizarre rhythms, repetitive mind-fuckness and bending over backwards to execute this crazy mess is something that deserves a REALLY BIG round of applause. Unfortunately, like most avant-garde works by marginal artists it will either go unnoticed, unappreciated or held in contempt. There is more of worth here though than a good dozen modern avant-garde groups that I can think of.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1...10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21...30] [31...40] [41...50] [51...60] [61...70] [71...80] [81...90] [91...100] [101...110] [111...120] [121...130] [131...140] [141...150] [151...160] [161...170] [171...180] [181...190] [191...200] [201...210] [211...220] [221...230] [231...240] [241...250] [251...260] [261...270] [271...280] [281...290] [291...300] [301...310] [311...320] [321...330] [331...340] [341...350] [351...360] [361...370] [371...380] [381...390] [391...400] [401...410] [411...420] [421...430] [431...440] [441...450] [451...460] [461...470] [471...480] [481...490] [491...500] [501...510] [511...520] [521...530] [531...540] [541...550] [551...560] [561...570] [571...580] [581...590] [591...600] [601...610] [611...620] [621...630] [631...640] [641...650] [651...660] [661...670] [671...680] [681...690] [691...700] [701...710] [711...720] [721...730] [731...740] [741...750] [751...760] [761...770] [771...780] [781...790] [791...800] [801...810] [811...820] [821...830] [831...840] [841...850] [851...860] [861...870] [871...880] [881...890] [891...900] [901...910] [911...920] [921...930] [931...940] [941...950] [951...960] [961...970] [971...980] [981...990] [991...1000] [1001...1010] [1011...1020] [1021...1030] [1031...1040] [1041...1050] [1051...1060] [1061...1070] [1071...1080] [1081...1090] [1091...1100] [1101...1110] [1111...1120] [1121...1130] [1131...1140] [1141...1150] [1151...1160] [1161...1170] [1171...1180] [1181...1190] [1191...1200] [1201...1210] [1211...1220] [1221...1230] [1231...1240] [1241...1250] [1251...1260] [1261...1270] [1271...1280] [1281...1290] [1291...1300] [1301...1310] [1311...1320] [1321...1330] [1331...1340] [1341...1350] [1351...1360] [1361...1370] [1371...1380] [1381...1390] [1391...1400] [1401...1410] [1411...1420] [1421...1430] [1431...1440] [1441...1450] [1451...1460] [1461...1470] [1471...1480] [1481...1490] [1491...1500] [1501...1510] [1511...1520] [1521...1530] [1531...1540] [1541...1550] [1551...1560] [1561...1570] [1571...1580] [1581...1590] [1591...1600] [1601...1610] [1611...1620] [1621...1630] [1631...1640] [1641...1650] [1651...1660] [1661...1670] [1671...1680] [1681...1690] [1691...1700] [1701...1710] [1711...1720] [1721...1730] [1731...1740] [1741...1750] [1751...1760] [1761...1770] [1771...1780] [1781...1790] [1791...1800] [1801...1810] [1811...1820] [1821...1830] [1831...1840] [1841...1850] [1851...1860] [1861...1870] [1871...1880] [1881...1890] [1891...1900] [1901...1910] [1911...1920] [1921...1930] [1931...1940] [1941...1950] [1951...1960] [1961...1970] [1971...1980] [1981...1990] [1991...2000] [2001...2010] [2011...2020] [2021...2030] [2031...2040] [2041...2050] [2051...2060] [2061...2070]


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha