Music Reviews



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Artist: VV. AA.
Title: Berlin Electronics
Format: 4 x CD (quadruple CD boxset)
Label: Absinth
Rated: *****
Besides documenting some of the most interesting performers out of Berlin's seething improv circuit, Absinth is always a standout label in terms of visual presentation and packaging. "Berlin Electronics" (following the "reeds" and "strings" chapters) features four 3" cds by Gilles Aubry, Annette Krebs, Andrea Ermke and Ignaz Schick housed in a cardboard sleeve handpainted in acrylic blue. As usual, the design and its handmade realization make for an eye-catching, peculiar object. That said, the sounds alone are above average, and easily avoid the quality issues of many radical improv documents. Aubry creates shifting tracks out of softwares and feedback, throbbing frequencies which at times are stretched out and squeal like reeds. Krebs offers a particularly intense set with some of her trademark starting points (guitar, mixing board, radios and tapes) alternating quasi-silent passages with crisp noise fragments. While her records are rather hit or miss for me, this is a sturdy performance. On the other hand, I've found Ermke's mix of erratic field recordings and mixing desk-generated noises too loose and unfocused to truly engage me. The best 3" is probably Schick's, who creates four amazing tracks of (edited and recomposed) improvisation out of organ pipes, cymbals, bowed turntable (!), effects and electronics. The squeals and hisses of mouth-activated pipes are looped and pitch-shifted merging with the frantic manipulation of other objects, creating a fascinating composition closer to NWW's surreal landscapes than to your standard improv performance.
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Artist: Ulna (@)
Title: Frcture
Format: CD
Label: Karlrecords
Distributor: Sound Ohm
Rated: *****
Ulna is one of the many projects of our very own contributing writer Andrea Ferraris and of another gentleman named Valerio Zucca Paul.
The former has has been playing/recording/touring/improvising with Deep End, Airchamber 3, Ur, Ultraviolet Makes Me Sick, St.ride, Andrea Marutti, Cria Cuervos, One Fine Day, Burning Defeat, Marylin Tognolli (Kill the Thrill), Alessandro Cartolari (Anatrofobia), Alessandro Buzzi, Permanent Scar, Polis and so on and so forth.
The later (formerly known as Abstract Q) is also part of the band 3EEM.
Both of them are laptop artists and the sum of their experiences is an exquisite blend of ambient electronica, minimalist glitch and IDM. The overall mood of the album varies a lot, from calm and melancholic to intense and glorious, like masses of semi-liquid artic ice slowly melting, drifting and expanding and then solidifying and contracting as they freeze and become harder. With a wide sonic palette to draw from, Ulna explores the fringes of genres with loungy grooves and secular textures made of organic patterns, fractured sound bites, stretched ghostly pads and other tonal and atonal noises. Aside from all the sounds I am sure you expect to hear, your brain will be drilled with subtle super high pitched sinewaves and pleasantly awakened from the self-induced state of trance by a treated cello in one the tracks. If you need references think of it as a little bit of the most subdued and soft Pan Sonic, a little bit of Autechre's beautiful ambient textures, a little some of Young Gods's most minimal electronic album (Second Nature) and a little Ikue Mori (with her great broken up Max MSP fragments of sounds).
In a proliferating sea of similar acts, Ulna is definitely one of more interesting duos out there and I recommend you check them out.
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Artist: MIDNIGHT RESISTANCE (@)
Title: Remote
Format: CD
Label: A Different Drum (@)
Rated: *****
Keyboard player with ReActivate and writer/producer for a studio-company, Nicolay Frank founded Midnight Resistance at the beginning of 2007. Focusing his musical skills for this new project he released for A Different Dum his first solo album titled REMOTE. The album contains ten original tracks plus two remixes (Sidechain reworked "Second Skin", one of the best songs of the lot and People Theatre did a great version of "A tear in every moment", turning a classic modern synthpop upbeat song into an electro song that starts as a inspired piano ballad and ends as a sensual synthpop mid tempo) which show Nicolay's style made of dance attitude, melancholic electro ballads ("House of cards" is a great song with electronic ambient influences, dark wave guitars and good vocal melodies) and a bit of new wave approach to guitars. Alternating dance pop electronic upbeat songs and darker ones, Midnight Resistance succeeds into giving to the CD a balanced sound. Personally, I appreciated the darker ones most (see "Scar from falling down" for example), because I think that Nicolay gives his best with that kind of atmospheres as it seems to me that he arranged them in a better way using fading out sounds, increasing the power of the sounds where the song needed it, while on the upbeat ones he tend to lose the sense of melody focusing his attention on their dance potential.
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Artist: THE TRIPLE TREE
Title: Ghosts
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Long time collaborators Tony Wakeford and Andrew King with GHOSTS are proposing something slightly different from the Sol Invictus guitar driven ballads scheme. Helped out by Kris Force (Violin, Voice), Renee Rosen (Violin), Guy Harries (Voice, Flute, Melodica), Autumn Grieve (Voice), M (Sounds, Electronics, Vibraphone, Marimba) and John Murphy (Drums) the duo did an album inspired by M.R. James writings (he is best remembered for his ghost stories in the classic 19th century Yuletide vein, which are widely regarded as among the finest in English literature). Mixing literature elements, folk music and dark atmospheric semi-experimental solutions (see the creepy effect on "Casting the rune" where effected guitars duet with percussions and voices or the beautiful "The ash tree" where a cyclic melodic noise is the background to crossing spoken word vocals, female chants and military drumming) the combo succeed into refreshing the new-folk genre exploring new fields but keeping always as a reference point their English roots. Ballads and charming dark songs based on treated sounds/samples (as "Mr Mothersole" ) make of GHOSTS a great album that sounds balanced and always interesting (great choice to dare a little and using the ballad structure only one few tracks). Check some songs on the band's myspace page...
Artist: Faerie Wunderpuss
Title: Christmas
Format: CD EP
Rated: *****
Faerie Wunderpuss is the name of the band and it consists of a trio of great music enthusiasts. Mr. Guisef Volium, Jonathan P. Stitch and Genivre Vine all hailing from the Chicagoland area. This is by far the most original X.mas compilation I have received to review. Very unique spooky artwork on the cover of the ep with little bits of surreal real wood glued on the cover of the CD to frame the demented Gothic Santa Claus that tell the tale. We open with Track one, " Christmas is Coming" which is a beautiful ethereal symphony of the spooky side of the holiday that comes out and haunts you and holds on for dear life. This is the naughty of the nice. High soprano voice that sings to the high heavens and reaches us like no other. We move on to Track two, "Christmastime Puppetshow" which is a cool track that became a personal favourite instantly to me. " Genivre sings, " I'm on love with your pretty ways, your angel hair that's flying in your face." A tale of holiday spirit with a twist, folky and topped with bells and joy. We progress to Track three, " Christmas Ghosts." which is a fun track that reminds me of that grand fellow Voltaire with a little twist of Current 93 and a little of The Damned. A spaghetti X-mas western if you will. One of the most unique tracks I have yet to lie eyes on and ears upon. We hear, " Christmas ghosts in the sky, kiss me goodnight." A very creepy dialogue that gets under your skin and leaves it's mark. Next is Track four, " Christmas Afternoon", which is a cool flowing track that seems to glide across the rooftops like Santa does. Low bass, creepy voices from this Gothic trio singing their own demented Christmas Gothic Carol to us. Brilliant, dark and leaving a trail in the snow for all to see. Last is Track five " Christmas Love ' which is a whimsical appropriate track that ties this album up with a bow for all to open and rejoice it's the brilliance it's radiates for all to see. ~ 4 stars Michelle Russo
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