Music Reviews



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Artist: Radio Free Clear Light (@)
Title: The Matter
Format: CD
Label: Black Note Music (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed “Joyful Noise Vol. 2 - Nomina Nuda Tenemus” by Radio Free Clear Light, so I had some idea of what I was in for. This disc is meant to accompany a graphic poem by the same name, although sadly it was not included. However, they note that it should stand on its own. The press sheet describes the album thus: “The Matter is a sonic interpretation of themes of Gnosis and questions of consciousness and autonomy. Found sounds collide and combine in surprising new ways, culminating in 6 original tracks.” Sounds good, although I really wish that I could have the visuals to accompany the music. “Something Lies Hidden” opens with percussion and clicks, with a feeling of forward motion, over a bed of rumbling bass. Random loops of disembodied voices keep the composition interesting. If there was hope for humanity in the first track, the machine has completely taken over in “Something Is Not You.” Sewing machines, dot-matrix printers, 1950’s science fiction sound effects, and a voice repeating “something is not you” keeps it noisy and disconcerting. “What Is Inside” keeps the noisiness going until it all dissolves into a soup of spacey ambient. “Warzone” brings the weirdness I would expect from RFCL; if I had to describe it in one line, it would be 1950’s sci-fi meets 1980’s video games. It is an analog and 8-bit extravaganza. “Behind the Symbols” shifts the focus to rhythm, with percussion brought to the forefront. “Beneath the Surface” brings it to a close with more chaotic machinery, like a factory run amok. Overall, this was a good time and an interesting listen. Another good installment from this project. This album weighs in at around 65 minutes.
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Artist: Bardoseneticcube / Shinkiro (@)
Title: Inner and Outer Space
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
I have had several opportunities to review Bardoseneticcube’s work, but this is the first I have heard of Shinkiro. According to his website, Shinkiro is a “Japanese dark ambient project by Manabu Hiramoto, started in 2003 to express the inner landscapes of humanity. The music can be described as ‘soundtrack to imaginary film with dark ambience.’ Recently, his musical exploration has expanded not only into the meditative and deep but also into his personal terrain of Shinto and Buddhism.” Bardoseneticcube is a dark ambient/industrial project from St. Petersburg. Now with Bardoseneticcube, you never really know what you’re going to get, so let’s see how these two artists work together. “Fluctuations” opens with the kind of spacey dark ambient that I have come to expect from Zhelezobeton. “Evolution” keeps this feel going with the moving of tectonic plates and warbling synth. Reminds me of older Lustmord and Rapoon. “Inflation” is where we begin to see the synthesis of these acts. Like the previous tracks, it begins peacefully, with slowly shifting synth notes that hold for several measures at a time. But this is all an illusion, as it becomes progressively harsher as the track evolves. This is what you hear right before you cross the event horizon. After another interlude of spacey ambient in “Afterglow,” we move to the conclusion in “Dark Ages.” Heavily processed, sped up robot voices, a woman holding out one note, and bits of timpani all help to bring the spacy drone down to earth. This is the chaotic element of Bardoseneticcube that I enjoy. Overall, this is quite enjoyable and makes me interested to hear more from Shinkiro. This album weighs in at around 52 minutes and is limited to 333 copies.
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Artist: Hattifnatter (@)
Title: Barometrizm
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
Hattifnatter is a collaboration between Evgeniy Savenko (Lunar Abyss, etc.) and M.M. (Kryptogen Rundfunk, and the person behind Zhelezobeton). This is their first release and the label describes the album this way: “Through the clouds of omnifarious rustles, hisses and crackles one can see the landscape built by analogue pulsations and multiplied echoed acoustic percussion clatter. Swarming in the bush of field recordings and random sound combinations are the little voices of the unknown creatures. The air of atonal guitar drones is soaked in melodic tunes, feedbacks and colourful multi-layered effects.” For once, the label’s description is pretty spot on. “Barometrat” opens the album with field recordings of walking, paper, water, and other sounds over synth drone to create an interesting atmosphere. “Ieram” opens with unintelligible (to me, at least) male vocals and noisy elements with constantly building bass. “Echolotus” brings in didgeridoo drones playing on a windswept plain as a guitar plays. “Lutump” keeps the droney atmosphere but adds heavily processed, unintelligible vocals. “Floksary” brings back the field recordings into the drone, with wind chimes, water, and fragments of a beat that open the track. “Renasyr” has a hypnotic feel with long blasts of sound within the drone. This is the kind of album that fades into the background as you are listening, providing a kind of soundtrack for your day. If your life was epic enough to be a movie, of course. This album weighs in at around 49 minutes.
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Artist: Kurai Keshiki
Title: Mozaiku
Format: CD
Label: Psychotic Release (@)
Rated: *****
I could not find much about this project, but Kurai Keshiki began in 2013 as a side-project to Black Mountains Chronicles, dealing with a type of industrial-ambient more focused on field recordings and experimental sounds. However, they have been busy with three other releases since 2013. As for the music itself, listening to this album is like listening to the audio track of a film. Incidental music blends with field recordings of children talking and singing, and the sound of heavy footsteps stalking you in a dark alleyway. Cicada-like electronics flow in and out of the composition. Overall, this is good music if you want sound but do not really want songs. All of the tracks blend into one another to the point that it really wouldn’t make a lot of sense to listen to one individually. Kurai Keshiki was clearly not looking to craft a dancefloor hit. This would make a good background track for reading and was pleasant listening overall. Worth checking out for fans of field recording-based atmospheres. This album weighs in at around 55 minutes.
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Artist: Lost Fairy Realm
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Psychotic Release (@)
Rated: *****
Like Kurai Keshiki, this is another side project of Black Mountains Chronicles, and it “deals with ambient atmospheres and titles about the world of fairies.” According to the discogs entry (pretty much all of the info I could find on the project), this was going to be part of a new Black Mountains Chronicles album, but “the soundscapes of the full length were very far away from the B.M.C. tracks, so a new name has been thought. For L.F.R. sounds are more liquid and romantic, quiet reigns without noise attacks ... Also, some tracks are not as dark as usually you can expect from the creator.” So let’s get into it. This album is at times calm, and even peaceful (“Magical Wood” and “The Silent Lake”), only to suddenly startle you back to attention with loud crashes and grinding drone, as in the case of “Awakening?” In fact, my son asked if I was listening to Halloween music. This certainly could make a good backing to a haunted house display. Overall this is pleasant drone music. My favorite track on the disc, though, was the final one, “Priscilla And Her Little Puppets.” This track featured heavily processed children’s voices saying ”help me” and some crying. Then we hear an odd conversation with a girl asking “do you want to marry me?” and the boy replying “yes!” only to have her reply “but I don’t want you to; I’m not an adult!” This album weighs in at around 65 minutes.
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