Music Reviews



cover
Artist: The Knob, The Finger & The It
Title: Astro Camping
Format: LP
Label: Makiphon (@)
Hailing from the playful side of lo-fi electronics, the three piece The Knob, The Finger & The It (it’s unclear whether one of them is the Knob) offer up a short album of bouncy homemade grooves featuring steady percussive patterns over which electronic squeaks and oscillations bounce and glide. It’s extremely accessible, poppy stuff, especially on tracks like “Come To Ping As Ra” which has a feel-good vibe that’s a little too rare in more experimental music.

The second side is a little more sombre. The title track is surprisingly the most sincere-sounding piece, a mesmeric loop of light, xylophone-esque percussive clicks with Clangers-like electronic vocalising and slight string strums above. Longest track “When Pluto Was A Planet” is arguably the most indulgent bit, a steady smile-inducing bassline initially keeping things ticking over nicely before it descends into a chaos that’s the album’s moodiest section.

Originally conceived as an outdoor ambient project, this album is a studio production, with the exception of the last track on each side of the vinyl, which are authentic outdoor live recordings. The difference is relatively minor- the deep rumbling soundscape sounds almost as artificial as the other elements, while the other elements are stripped back to give way somewhat.

It’s a very accomplished set of tracks with a sound that manages to be both distinctive and familiar at the same time, a bubbly but not jokey set of electronics that are bordering on the timeless.
Jun 01 2017
cover
Artist: Mike Luck
Title: Kama
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk (@)
“Karma” is a strong two-track offering from Mike Luck, with large-scale symphonic production brought carefully into an EDM space. Synth chords come in waves over relatively light percussion. “Clash” sounds like the underscore for preparations to battle, with a subtle breakbeat that sounds like it’s itching to break into d&b (and which has caused Beatport to totally mis-report the BPM). “You” is more subdued, again keeping things percussively interesting and allowing bass tones to gradually stretch and distort, with interesting subtle use of vocal samples floating on the edge of audibility.

The only problem with these two tracks is that they’re both too short. At four minutes each, they’ve been bonsaied into a radio-edit structure that doesn’t really do them justice. “Clash” in particular feels like it stops before it’s done. Something this ambitious in its scale ought to be fleshed out to an album, as a 2-track release feels a little too much like a taster promo than a complete work.
cover
Artist: Yair Elazar Glotman & Mats Erlandsson
Title: Negative Chambers
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Miasmah
In “Negative Chambers”, Glotman and Erlandsson serve up a languid and melancholic eight-track collection of music with an organic, traditionally instrumented folksy, slightly bluesy core, to which subtle sound design has been applied to give extra breadth. A regular presence is the double bass, which steps and plucks its way solemnly through almost every track at a walking pace. Other instruments, ranging from guitars and violins through to gimbri, zithers and a tibetan singing bowl, are less frequent presences.

The result regularly has the feeling of a solemn and sincere movie soundtrack, with tension arriving from the spontaneous and unpredictable playing that often has an improvised feel, as well as from the electronic drones that sometimes underpin. The charming, slightly Eastern flavours of “Orchid Sedation” sound like an exposition on a spy movie theme set in Japan. In terms of cultural evocativeness it’s very broad, with the bass on “Ceramic Relic” feeling faintly Arabic while the acoustic guitar on “Libra Index” feels more like sparse introverted Americana. “Desacrelasation” eschews the lead instrument approach in favour of a long blended and sustained drone atmosphere.

It’s a luxuriantly produced collection of works that’s very expertly balanced, with several tracks explored and evolved for six minutes yet which never outstays its welcome. It’s cinematic yet not too on-the-nose and it never seems to lose focus. It’s impressive and accomplished.
cover
Artist: Emanuele De Raymondi & Marco Messina
Title: Saro
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: ZeroKilled Music (@)
This album is the soundtrack to Enrico Maria Artale’s very personal documentary film “Saro” in which he travels to meet his absentee father for the only time in his life. So the tone is as you may expect- introspective, emotional, and with a sense of journey.

The soundtrack brings together the minimalistic string arrangements of Emaneule De Raymondi with the synthetic sound textures of Marco Messina, and results in something that is fairly typical soundtrack fodder- broad sweeping tones, plaintively plucked guitar notes, long sustained strings. It’s a familiar recipe used on many soundtracks and to be frank, many parts of this release are soundtrack-worthy in that they provide a tone, a general mood, but are otherwise unexceptional.

Most tracks are either de Raymondi or Messina on their own, but it’s when they collaborate, particularly on “Viaggio”, that the most powerful result arrives. It’s a well thought-out collaboration and the two composers clearly complement each other well- hopefully they may have more extensive combined work in future. The suspenseful “Mare” suggests they could also turn their hand to action movies as well.

The strongest de Raymondi piece here is “Assenza”, with its deep bowed ominous dawn and conscientiously simple piano work. For Messina it’s probably “Non Respiro”, an unnerving and alien layout with an ebbing sense of danger.

At only 26 minutes it’s a very succinct soundtrack album, with many pieces presumably only as long as the documentary required them to be, when in fact some, such as Messina’s “Terra Distante”, could easily have evolved and grown further.
cover
Artist: Romain Iannone
Title: Nocturne Works
Format: Tape
Label: Oqko
“Nocturne Works” is a collection of mostly very short twisted lullabies, comprising organ-like synth noodling fed through surprisingly harsh lo-fi filters, on a bed of soft electronic ambience. The press release assertively states that “a particular bound [sic] exists between the cassette tape, the nocturne moon and the seeds of the Ipomoea alba (moonflower)”, but musically there’s nothing here that really backs that up.

There are some very pleasant moments. Longest track “Gibrilla The Woodcutter” is nicely evocative, with reedy chords and nicely counterpointing rhythms allowed to cycle round and evolve. “Lake_03” is also strong- extra time clearly brings out the best in the chord explorations. Some of the shorter tracks, such as “Petite Limace”, sound like unfinished ideas that should have either been explored further or abandoned.

There are some more innovative nuggets in there as well- “Tape Loop” is rather different, more synthwave-like with good use of the central cassette motif. The faintly cheeky “Morricone Samples”, while not sounding like the title implies, has a slightly different character.

But the processing is simply too heavy. The whole thing has been fed through a filter to make it sound more 8-bit than 16-bit and it is far too much, to the extent I had to check whether there was something wrong with the preview files. That one simple act of washing it strips it of any sonic purity and regularly grates. The drunken oscillations of tracks like “FEV_01”, as though designed to imitate tape warble before the album’s even been put onto tape, frankly don’t help either.

If the lo-fi processing and distortion had been edged back and if the pieces had been allowed to breath for more than the under-two-minutes that most of them get, then potentially this could have been a very pretty, if somewhat cliché, mellow soundscapey outing. As it is, it has too much of a half-baked demo quality to it and it somehow fails to justify its own awkwardness.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1...10] [11...20] [21...30] [31...40] [41...50] [51...60] [61...70] [71...80] [81...90] [91...100] [101...110] [111] [112] [113] [114] [115] [116] [117] [118] [119] [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]


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

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