Music Reviews



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Artist: Earhate
Title: Planet Killer
Format: CD
Label: Smell the Stench (@)
Earhate is the project of Ryan O’Neill hailing from Alberta, Canada. Planet Killer is Earhate’s first CD-r release by Smell the Stench Records, but appears to be a small part of an extensive discography. Planet Killer is, as the CD insert so delicately puts it, a forty-four minute wall of noise.

"Wall" might not be the best way to describe this sound, but it is close. I believe a better description would include a layer of brittle sandpaper. The sounds here are relentless, low-end/bass-filled, analogue static. The main layer of the song dominates and remains constant throughout the entire forty-four minutes. There are more subtle, higher frequency changes happening constantly throughout this track, but the listener would need to be masochistic to hear these in detail; even in low volume my cochlea is crying out for help.

Earhate’s Planet Killer goes all out on the noise side of things. Planet Killer is formless, chaotic, spiteful, and intense. This is the sound that originally attracted me to noise, and still holds a strong place in my heart. This is definitely a release for the more devout of noise lovers.
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Artist: SUDDEN INFANT (@)
Title: Psychotic Einzelkind
Format: CD
Label: Blossoming Noise (@)
Active since 1989 Joke Lanz with Sudden Infant delivers his latest album which according to the Blossoming Noise label is his most musical one. Helped out by Bill Kouligas nad Christian Weber, Joke recorded eleven tracks in balance from experimental noise, free jazz, power electronic and industrial. The first thing that popped out immediately on the first tracks "Somniphobia", "Deep cuts" or "Tandoori chicken scooter III" is the violence that the three guys are able to deliver into four/five minutes tracks. Vocals are often distorted and produce an indefinable rant, percussive parts see metallic objects been raped as well as conventional rock instruments are used and abused. There's also space for a sort of alternative rock songs (a la Jesus Lizard) with "Beautiful tide" but most of the times melody don't last that long. The album has also three mixes of "Slomono" (Z'ev remix), "Tandoori chicken scooter III" (Lasse marhaug remix) and "Somniphobia" (Thurston Moore remix) which reflect the personality of the remixer but don't catch the anarchic sound of the original.
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Artist: Ceremony of Innocence (@)
Title: Der Rote Glanz Der Flammenfee
Format: CD
Label: Beverina (@)
Distributor: Evil Distribution
Rated: *****
Ceremony of Innocence (C.O.I.) is the Neo-Classical project of Austrian Native, Alexander Weiser, who is also known for his Dark Ambient works with Bone Machine and B-Machina. Der Rote Glanz Der Flammenfee is the first release by Weiser under this project, following in the footsteps of a web-released single, Ich Tauche Tiefer. There are eleven tracks on this album ranging between one and fourteen minutes in length. There is also a video of the fourth track, Zeit und Raum, included on the CD.

C.O.I.’s Der Rote Glanz Der Flammenfee is constructed predominantly from synthesized choral sounds and percussion. These sounds evoke a very peaceful and enchanting feeling, but also impart an underlying feeling of imminence and necessity. This album reminds me of walking in a cold, lightly snowing winter’s evening, obviously alone, yet surrounded by moving shadows.

There is a mystery hidden within these tracks, one that will take me many listens to fully explore. The first half of C.O.I.’s Der Rote Glanz Der Flammenfee is a very thought provoking and beautifully sculpted orchestral work that reminds me somehow of the Myst soundtrack. The second half of Der Rote Glanz Der Flammenfee is lighter in nature and integrates more of an early 90’s ambient/IDM sound. The transition is surprisingly well-played, and the levity keeps C.O.I.’s Der Rote Glanz Der Flammenfee fresh and listenable throughout.
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Artist: Glinkowski Slaton Sparacino
Title: Trio slicnaton
Format: CD
Label: New Music Solutions (@)
Distributor: CD Baby
Rated: *****
A while back, I reviewed the first CD from this artist collective, Mahlon Hoard "Slicnaton", which I described as "Ornette Coleman meets John Cage and Brian Eno in a dark alley". Apparently they liked my take on the first CD enough to send the second one for review. After repeated listenings, I’m glad they did. While the first CD, sounded like a collection of loose, disparate (albeit interesting) improvs, "Trio slicnaton" is a much more cohesive effort. It is also quite a bit darker.

The electo-acoustic ensemble for this outing consists of Mietek Glinkowski (Violin & Vitar), Nicholas Slaton (Electronics & Basses), and Julian Sparacino (Flute, Bass Clarinet & Piano). They also get a little help from Jon-Marc Ryan Dale (Drum Set) and Andrew Munger (Percussion). The tracks were culled largely from live improvisations in early 2008, both in performance venues and recording studio. Owing to the unity of the core ensemble, it becomes clear that there is a certain synergy between the members that elevates the results of the improvisation to a realm beyond just interesting sonic experiments.

From the onset of the first track, "All in Time", an ominous atmosphere sets the tone for what’s to come with a low windy drone as the backdrop for slow bass clarinet motifs and some deeper echoey industrial elements. Think Lustmord backing Mick Karn and Massimo Munari. It’s a great way to start an album.

The next couple of tracks, "Still Still" and "Storch" are closer to classical avant-garde with good spatial relation between the sonics and the silence. Low drones of various types are used to good effect while violin and bass clarinet play dirge-like melodies. In "Storch" it sounds like some type of rapidly picked stringed instrument can occasionally be heard under the dense cloud of low rumbling noise adding to the tension. Storm clouds clear on "From Scratch" and pentatonic flute arpeggios flirt with a slippery, slithery violin giving the piece an oriental zen-like quality. Brief but welcome.

"Blown out" owes more to free jazz improvisation but put in a Stockhausen setting. What I really like about Trio Slicnaton over avant-gardists like say, John Zorn is that the improvisation doesn’t get in the way of the ambience, it’s never "in your face". Yes, there are certainly weird tonalities aplenty, and it isn’t all smooth sailing, but there is nothing untoward that clashes with the feel of the mood they’re creating. And this is mostly a pretty dark mood. The cinematic nature of these sound sculptures would easily lend itself as an excellent soundtrack to an edgy experimental film. At times mysterious, at others, oppressive, the instrumentalists combine to form a pastiche of diabolic import, yet place necessary rays of light to keep it from being one long continuous nightmare. "Nightlife" is such a piece, with flutes and emulation of nature sounds that lend an aura of calm and tranquility. My only regret is that the CD isn’t longer; at a little under 39 minutes it seems too brief a listening experience, and probably should be labeled an EP rather than a full CD. Still, 38+ minutes of great music outweighs 75 minutes of just good music anytime. I’d rather be left wanting more, than just wanting something different.

This is a STRONG BUY recommendation of you like avant-garde/dark ambient. There is a big difference between the kind of experimental noise some "artists" inflict on listeners, and well-crafted compositions that take the best elements of their influences and synthesize them into something truly brilliant. Trio Slicnaton is such a remarkable recording. You can find it at CD Baby.
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Artist: ExclusiveOr
Title: ExclusiveOr (s/t)
Format: CD
Label: Quiet Design Records
Distributor: Quiet Design, CDBaby
Rated: *****
If you have long felt the absence of vintage synth noise improv in your mp3 collection, the self-titled debut effort from NYC-based duo exclusiveOr can finally fill your specialized needs. Combining all manners of clicks, pops, rumbles, and pure, loveable sine tones, Jeff Snyder and Sam Pluta have created a 50-minute alien sound world that, in its best moments, captures their flesh-and-blood vitality behind the controls. Consider the trajectory of the first half of the album. Each successive track, played without pause, simultaneously builds and disintegrates into the next, before emerging into the unexpected icy beauty contained within 01110010 (colloquially known as "Track 5"). With crystalline harmonies juxtaposed against implosive bursts, its nebulous emotionality stands as the high point of the album.

If a release like this could ever chart, Track 7 would be the lead single. As far as nerdy synthesized noise goes, it rocks hard. If there's one disappointment, however, it's in the ninth and last piece; especially after the controlled insanity of the two tracks before it, no. 9 sounds a bit too much like an equipment test, exhibiting neither the gifted on-the-fly structuring nor creative interplay showcased by the duo everywhere else on the album.

That aside, Pluta and Snyder have crafted an impressive testament to the virtues of electronic sound. Even though their material is created from the emblematic sounds of a 1966 Buchla and 1977 Serge synth, the end result is anything but anachronistic. The detritus of every decades-old circuit lies at the base of the music, and it's captured at a low-dynamic clarity that allows it to be absolutely integral to mood and texture of the album. Listen closely. -Trevor Hunter/mv


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