Music Reviews



Artist: Edward Ka-Spel (@)
Title: Dream Logik X
Format: CD EP
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
This disc comes as a bonus for those who purchase the 4XLP Dream Logik Parts 1-3 from Terminal Kaleidoscope or Beta-lactam Ring Records. I do not have the box set to review, so I have little to say about that. Nor have I heard the other Dream Logik releases. As for this disc, these may very well be the kinds of dreams that we have and wish we did not. The disc consists of three untitled tracks. Track one is the shortest of the three at 2.08 and seems to function mainly as an instrumental introduction to what will follow. Labored breathing, foreboding atmosphere, and distorted symphonic march music give the listener a sense of what will come. This is not easy listening. Track two combines swirling ambience and odd spoken word about licking the floor until his tongue is bleeding that draws the listener in quite effectively. The Prophet Ka-Spel certainly has a gift for weaving interestingif sometimes disturbingstories together. For me, this is the standout track on the disc. Track three is the longest track at 12.18 and sounds like a person running through tall grass, with noises and synth washes that does more to create an atmosphere than to tell a story. For those more familiar with Ka-Spel’s work with Legendary Pink Dots, this is more along the lines of what you would find on one of the Chemical Playschool albums – more experimental and a bit noisier. In short, if this is a taste of what one would find on the 4 LP box set, it would be an excellent acquisition. The disc weighs in at around 22 minutes.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Play to: Bn Chora.Jugement
Format: CD
Label: Edizioni L.A.F. Org. + Jeringas 5cc (@)
According to the press release that came with this disc, this compilation "part of the soundtrack created for the "BN Chora. Jugement" installation by Massimo Indellicati / Progetto Sperimentale Chora." I don’t read Italian, so the liner notes on this one are wasted on me, but it is nicely put together. Luckily, the press packet had a track listing that I was then able to distill out of the liner notes. The opening track by Anna Maria Giordano, "Donne e Misteri" is the shortest track and has the feel of early 20th century archival music with female spoken word. The second track, "Detour Track" by Gianluca Becuzzi & Luigi Turra is a 32 minute minimal dronefest that sounds like one is playing a 45 or 78 speed album at 33.3. I can see how it would work for an art installation, because it fades into the background, but in some ways it moves a bit too slow for my tastes. At 33:57, "To the Outer Fringes" by Sil Muir (a collaboration between Andrea Ferraris and Andrea Marutti) is the longest track on the disc. According to the press release, it was inspired by "The Wild Blue Yonder" by Werner Herzog. I am not familiar with this, so I can’t give comparisons. This track also maintains the quality of fading into the background but instead focuses on constantly shifting drones, which gives it an ethereal quality. This may be an odd comparison, but it reminds me of the music that plays in the glass and light installation in the Detroit Airport. Overall, a pleasant listen. Anna Maria Giordano finishes the disc with "Banda," a short track that reprises the marching music. Overall, I can see why someone would want this album as sound for an installation, but it doesn’t all hold up on its own. It’s pleasant enough, but there is much more interesting material out there. This disc weighs in at 73.11.
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Artist: Meerkat (@)
Title: Kapnos
Format: CD
Label: Afe Records (@)
Rated: *****
This is the third installment in a group of concept albums by Matteo Uggeri of Sparkle in Grey (and several other projects) and Maurizio Bianchi. Evidently, the concept (kapnos is the Greek word for "smoke") was formed by these two, but much of the musical heavy lifting was done by a collaboration by the "Meerkat Ensemble." According to the website "the Meerkat ensemble is formed by a group of musicians working in the field of experimental music, drones, microsounds and field recordings: Adriano Zanni / Punck, Matteo Uggeri / Hue, Luca Sigurtà, Luca Bergero / Fhievel, Davide Valecchi / Aal, Andrea Ferraris / Ics, Fabio Selvafiorita, Paolo Ippoliti (Logoplasm), Laura Lovreglio (Logoplasm) and Andrea Marutti / Amon / Never Known." Thus, we have an Italian supergroup of experimental musicians all under one banner. Of the ten, I was only previously familiar with Matteo Uggeri, Andrea Marutti, and Fabio Selvafiorita of Ur. With all of these artists working on the same thing, you would think that the result would be quite disjointed, especially since there are different artists working on each track. However, it is actually surprisingly coherent. Part of this likely comes from the sound of crackling fire that weaves its way through most of the tracks, keeping a sense of continuity. The tracks blend into each other, making it difficult to tell when one ends and the next begins. As for the music itself, it is subdued dark ambient that has just a touch of noisy elements that keep it engaging. Voices fade in and out, while synth drones lull you into a peaceful state. This gives way to a bit of dissonance, yet never really becomes troubling. This is really accessible experimental music – something that just about anyone could enjoy. It doesn’t demand a lot from the listener, but it is a very enjoyable listen. This album weighs in at 40.47.
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Artist: Ur and Craig Hilton (@)
Title: I Will Be the Light
Format: CD
Label: Afe Records (@)
Rated: *****
I think that Afe Records is becoming the new Amplexus, with the odd size, aesthetically pleasing packaging. I have reviewed two other albums from Ur and they specialize in noisy atmospheres, but I had not heard of Craig Hilton. Evidently, he has collaborated with the likes of Maurizio Bianchi and MSBR, and this shows through from the opening moments of the album. Where Ur is more restrained in their noisiness, "The Path Beneath" unloads from the very beginning, only then dropping the volume to draw the listener in. The music crackles like fire and noise bursts into the quiet, foreboding atmosphere like someone operating a grinding wheel in a cavernous factory building. Eventually, the noise builds to a deafening crescendo, only to end in spastic bursts of noise. The silence after these assaults makes you quite aware of what you have just listened to. "Essential Salt" follows a similar trajectory, with noise that the gives way to atmosphere. This track incorporates long periods of silence, but after the opening track, the listener is waiting to be assaulted by noise. However, we are met with a soothing wash of heavy drones with a bit of noise beneath the surface, rather than a outright blast of noise. Nicely done. The title of "I Will Be the Light" is taken from Timothy Leary’s description of wanting to have his remains shot into space and burn up in the atmosphere in a flash of light. This track slowly transitions from ambient noise to a more consuming wall of noise in such a way that you wonder when you began listening to a noise track and just as gradually transitions back to dark ambient soundscapes. This album uses moments of silence and quiet to draw in the listener and provide a sense of motion in the composition. Despite Ur’s self description that they are all about free improvisation, this album feels like a meticulously crafted composition. This album is limited to 100 copies and weighs in at about 57 minutes.
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Artist: Ur (@)
Title: Four Calls for Locusts
Format: CD
Label: Mask of the Slave Records (@)
Rated: *****
Here’s another album from the Italian duo of Federico Esposito and Mauro Sciaccaluga. From the opening track, the listener knows that he or she is not in for a peaceful dark ambient listening experience. "Silent Fever Sets the Journey" reminds me of Lustmord’s Heresy, with slow drones and noise that simmers low in the mix, building gradually until the noise eventually overpowers the drone. Next up, we have "Trespassing the Fields of Corn," which is an odd mix of high pitched test tones and improv jazz. Imagine a noisier version of Clock DVA’s "White Souls in Black Suits." "Force-Fed" has a nice cinematic feel that would be at home in a dystopian science fiction film. This one is a bit more subdued than the previous tracks, with a saxophone that sounds like it is playing in the distance as industrial machinery hums away. Like the previous tracks, this one builds in intensity, as the noise comes to the foreground. "Twilight Behind the Eyelids" brings back Theremin from the second track and industrial noises. I guess if I had to describe this, I would go with a description of cinematic noise. This is not Merzbow, but it is certainly not Raison d’être either. It’s noisy, but not in an oppressive way. Overall, this is nice experimental music that throws in a lot of different elements. The closest comparison I can give is Deutsch Nepal. If you like noisy experimental, this is one that is certainly worth checking out. The disc is limited to 60 copies with minimal packaging and weighs in at about 41 minutes.
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