Music Reviews



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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: Hyperakusis
Format: CD
Label: audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
In case you were also wondering, according to Webster’s online dictionary, hyperakusis (in English, hyperacusis) means, "An abnormally disproportionate increase in the sensation of loudness in response to auditory stimuli of normal volume." According to the press sheet that came with this disc, this is audiophob’s 10th CD. This is a compilation of exclusive tracks from the artists that have already put something out on audiophob: Alarmen, Nerthus, Mandelbrot, Spherical Disrupted, and Zero Degree. Alarmen kicks things off with mellow, glitchy synth sounds over some beats. "Make Your Day" removes the beats and starts off promising, but becomes a bit too repetitive for my tastes. Overall, it’s OK, but not really as complex as I like this kind of material to be. Nerthus follows so much in Alarmen’s footsteps that if I did not have the tracklist in front of me I would think that they were the same band. Pleasant, but doesn’t really push the envelope. Mandelbrot changes it up a bit by laying down an interesting dark ambient soundscape that is best described as cinematic. At 13 minutes, it is also long enough to really get into. Quite enjoyable. Spherical Disrupted takes us on a similar ride with "Ghost of Jupiter," although with a more minimalist approach that really drew me in. This is an artist that knows how to make use of quiet passages and dynamics. "Arctic Circle" changes the mood with a repetitive synth line that has minor shifts just below the surface, but doesn’t really seem to evolve quickly enough. I much preferred the previous track. Finally Zero Degree finishes it all off with "Frozen Sunlight," a nice mix of calming synth pads, beats, and electronic blips. Overall this is a good introduction to the label that is worth checking out. This disc weighs in at 66.48.
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Artist: Famine (@)
Title: Every Mirror Turns Black
Format: CD
Label: Bugs Crawling Out Of People (@)
Rated: *****
With a band name of Famine and a title like "Every Mirror Turns Black," I expected some dark ambient, but Famine throws down glitchy breakcore that is an interesting mix of Autechre and Venetian Snares. But it goes far beyond this. For example, "Blood Sacrifice" sounds like a melodic doom metal band collaborating with Blearg or any other glitchy band, complete with guitar solo! It gives the feeling of listening to a scratchy CD that is skipping constantly. This was absolutely fantastic. The label explains that "'every mirror turns black' is a concept album of sorts, where famine, with precise precision unleashes the brutality and demons within him, smashing together black metal with breakcore cuts, psychedelia with an obstinate rejection of religion." Overall, Famine is a much more varied artist from most of the breakcore stuff I have heard. It is not all in your face drill and bass. Tracks like "Optical Stimuli" and "We Fuck Together" have a stripped down atmospheric feel that proved depth to the album and helps Famine stand out from other artists working in a similar vein. Another standout tracks include "Seven," with the looped female vocals "there are seven ways to die." Overall, an interesting release. This disc weighs in at 51 minutes.
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Artist: Philip Clemo
Title: The Rooms
Format: CD
Label: All Colours Arts
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Philip Clemo, but the packaging already gives you some indication of what you are in for. This is pretty peaceful ambient music that reminds me quite a bit of artists like Harold Budd and even some Vidna Obmana. According to Clemo’s website, "The Rooms, is a hauntingly beautiful progression through different sound rooms’ or spaces’ featuring artists such as Clive Bell, Theo Travis, Simon Hopkins, and even a Prague string quartet." I’ll admit that I don’t really get that kind of feel – when I read this I expected it to be very different styles, feelings, etc. On this album the music all seems to blend into each other, but in a good way. If you were looking for something to put on as background for a quiet, romantic evening at home, this might be a good choice. For me, the standout track is "The Place," which has a nice complexity to it, as if a free jazz quartet had collaborated with a drone ambient artist. The last track, "Taking a Hand (In the Company of Angels)," is the only track with vocals, but it fits well, not really overpowering the overall feel and her voice maintains the ethereal quality of the preceding music. Overall, this is a very pleasant listen. The disc weighs in at about 52 minutes.
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Artist: Hopen (@)
Title: Their Quasi-Homes are Real Holes
Format: CD
Label: Everest Records (@)
Rated: *****
There isn’t a whole lot on the label’s website about Hopen but it seems to be a project comprised of Childe Grangier and Bruno Gillet. The label describes the album thus: "This album is a black cloud, it is about lesbians, sick father, noises and passages... Dark horses invading at the same time houses, holes, stages and lives. My darkest theater... " True, if you want a nice rant about being a lesbian, Hopen has you covered in their track "Vorrh," which is actually quite interesting. First off, let’s talk comparisons. The ones that come to mind immediately include Hafler Trio’s cut up stuff and Zoviet France’s Loh Land. What Hopen brings to the mix is a kind of whimsy. This is the sound of a toy store after dark when all of the humans have left and the toys come alive to create their own orchestra. Now take the soundtrack made by that orchestra and run it though processing, slowing it down at times and speeding it up, then cutting it into pieces and randomly reassembling it. That is about the best way I have to describe this. And it is done rather well. If you like your music to be more incidentals than melody, you need this. This disc weighs in at about 46 minutes.
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Artist: Babylon Chaos, Lambwool, Le Diktat (@)
Title: Shi
Format: CD
Label: OPN
Rated: *****
I had not heard of any of these bands, but it is an interesting collaborative concept. The three bands collaborate in different arrangements throughout and each act has one track to themselves. Here is how the label describes the division of labor: "The melodies are provided by Lambwool . . . Le Diktat brings the rhythm to the table . . . and Babylone Chaos has long been an avid proponent of chaotic, oppressing climates and deals in suffocation and saturation." As with any collaboration of this sort, the end result is likely to be a bit schizophrenic. Let’s take the first three tracks as an example. For some reason the first track, "Made in Phnom Penh," reminds me of Geography era Front 242, not so much in style but in overall feel. It has a slow beat and minimalist atmosphere, only really slowed down, like if you played a 45 at 33.3 speed. Then it changes up a bit with "Hill," which features a nice piano theme mixed with just a touch of noise and some beats. "Black Wave" sounds like someone with a drum machine, sampler, and scratching turntables. Despite the varied tracks, it does seem to maintain a kind of internal coherence. For me some of the standout tracks include "Dreary Day (The Day After Version)" and "Tokyo 4:AM," which both highlight the use of atmosphere and melody. Overall, this is an interesting release and a good introduction to these bands. This disc weighs in at 53.53.
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