Music Reviews



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Artist: Keisuke Matsuno, Moritz Baumgärtner & Lars Graugaard
Title: Crush
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Clang
For the second time, back in 2016, Danish avant-garde artist Lars Graugaard, German modern jazz drummer Moritz BaumgÄrtner and experimental e-guitarist Keisuke Matsuno met for a single day’s soundclashing and instrumental improvisation in a Berlin studio and here, just over two years later, is the output- fifty minutes of a relatively raw and spontaneous experimental fusion, split across five tracks with fairly different outlooks.

“Tomorrow Never Comes” is a haunted house affair full of sharp strings, thick reverbs, sinister approaching bass pulses and distant eerie rumbles, while the short “Grindle” is an vignette of electronics-led dark jazz, while “Blended Conurbation” more guitar-noodling orientation places it on the grittier side of prog rock.

Final and longest piece “Keep Something On” is more immersive, its own twenty-three minute ebb and flow which again skirts around prog rock but with glitching (that at times frankly sounds like a faulty CD-R read but probably isn’t) and some sporardic dives into deeper rumblier noise washes, before resolving into perhaps the most conventional structure of the set for a moody finale that seems to throw back to opener “Wheefing The Hoofer”.

It’s certainly an interesting collaboration, one that would certainly bear interesting creative fruit if nurtured long-term, but as it is, the somewhat raw edge to it perhaps doesn’t work in its favour, but it’s still a bold experimental statement.
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Artist: Stromstad (@)
Title: New Devored Human
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
I know this has been out for a while, but it has come into my hands only recently (through no fault of anyone), and although my taste for noise-electronics has waned over the years I feel compelled to review it because I believe that it's an important work. Stromstad is a collaborative project between Jasse Tuukki and Toni MyöhÄnen of STROM.ec and Kristoffer Oustad. Oustad is known for work under his own name, and also as part of the Kristoffer Nyströms Orkester with Peter Nyström (Megaptera). If you're familiar with STROM.ec then you know their type of power electronics/death industrial music and already have a pretty good idea of what this album might sound like. Oustad brings his own flavor of dark ambient to the mix making this an expansive and intriguing outing that doesn't disappoint. Beginning with the harsh opener - "Inherent Resurrection," we get nastily processed, shouted vocal over an abrasive storm of (sometimes rythymic) electronics. It may sound like just another angry rant, but when you read the printed lyrics (and you will probably need them), it will begin to make sense. "...By the fragmentation and degeneration of the 'old world,' we stand on the very brink of oblivion. The beginning of the end has set in. The beginning of a new religious era. There must be a new heaven and a new earth. A new heart and a new soul. All new, a pure resurrection...." That’s some food for thought there. This is a much more spiritual work than a cursory listening would leave one to believe, and that's amplified by Oustad's droning dark ambient strings on "Nattsvermer" and "Kosto," where stark minimalism is the order of the day. The 8 tracks on this album are short (the longest being 6:38, and the whole being a compact 36 minutes) for this genre which is often prone to lengthy excess, giving it a modicum of commercial appeal. Most of the more abrasive tracks have similarly inclined vocals ( Grutle Kjellson from Enslaved provides vocals on "Reluctant Traveler"), and I suppose in this kind of environment anything other than that would be inappropriate. But the words are poetic, the poetry of the diseased, displaced and disenfranchised. In other words, a major portion of humanity as they will likely appear in the not too far off post-apocalyptic future. Rhythms, where present, are of course industrial-mechanical but not tribal, so there is no sense of community, just the thrumming of process. Yet this is the best course for the delivery of the artists' vision. 'New Devoted Human' is effective, compelling, and thought-provoking, far more than I thought this kind of music was capable of.
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Artist: Escupemetralla
Title: Poison of Dead Sun in Your Brain Slowly Fading
Format: CD + Download
Label: Novak Records (@)
Rated: *****
The myth behind the music: "Escupemetralla are the result of a series of retro-transmissions to be carried out in the mid-twenty-first century at the "Thorne's Cone Light Reversion Laboratory for Children", Los Alamos, Texas (Federal States of Mexico and Puerto Rico). In a certain way, Escupemetralla are just virtual entities that will actually exist in several years' time. Escupemetralla means "Spitshrapnel" in Spanish." The musicians behind the myth: "Escupemetralla is a duo that produces experimental electronic sound, formed in 1987 in Barcelona. There is some confusion about their members, who sometimes call themselves Muhammad and Muhammad. The name of the duo (Spitshrapnel in Spanish) comes from an anarchist song from the 1930s ("Throw the bomb which spits shrapnel..."). They define their sound as 'obscure electronics,' 'war ambient,' and 'twisted symphonic music,' encompassing noise, industrial music, futuristic experimentation, plagiarism and appropriationism. Their productions were published in the 1980s and 1990s mainly as cassette tapes by Clonaciones Petunio. Between 1998 and 2016 they remained inactive but resumed their activity in 2016."

Okay, so that's some intriguing background never having heard (or heard of) this outfit before, so do they sound as strange as all that might lead you to believe? Well, yes; sort of. In a sense these guys are not markedly different than Zoviet France, producing industrial electronic soundscapes and collages relying heavily on electronics, looping and samples. I recall doing a lot of this kind of thing myself in the 1990s, although I never released any of it at the time (thinking there wasn't much audience interest in it), although now I wish I had. The music on 'Poison of Dead Sun in Your Brain Slowly Fading' is divided into two sections: Transcendent Side and Political Side. The Transcendent Side begins with a cacophony of voices ("Hikuri Neirra") fading into a jittery electronic rhythm that evolves into a chaotic maelstrom replete with air raid sirens and screeching electro-screams. The monotonous sample & holdish looping electro-rhythm of "Mutaciones Des Does Magnetofones" morphs over time with other additional sonic effluvia. "Echafaud Temporel Spectral" features foreign dialogue amid industrial ambient and electronic background with a creepy surrealistic bent to it. Title track "Poison of Dead Sun" features LFO driven slowly ascending ring-modulated electronics and shades of souls possibly rising from the dead moaning in the aether. This is cinematic dark ambient at its finest, with ghostly bellish tones, dramatic heavy percvussion hits, swirling atmospheres and heavily reverbed ambience all the way round. I could imagine Universal Studios using this for one of its Halloween Horror Houses.

On to the Political Side, which begins with "Presidente Basura" (President Trash), a re-imagining of Trump's inauguration. Really didn't need that; we've got enough of the Cheeto-in-Chief to go around for a lifetime. "Andalusia, Alabama" features lots of falling abrasive oscillations before the voices come in. Dialogue samples of some kind of discussion on metaphysics over moaning electronics and a heart-pumping industrial rhythm with other industrial-electronics in play usher this one to conclusion. I really got a kick out of the title of "Go Fuck Yourself With Your Atom Bomb," but the jerkish vocal sample "I have mystical visions and cosmic vibrations" kind of ruined it for me. Small matter though; the ambience is pretty good, and you do get a brief sample of the title at the end. Final track, and the one with the longest title - "Gran Plan Para La Transformacion De La Naturaleza" is also the lengthiest time-wise (11:48), and perhaps the most expansive on the album. The soundscape has a transcendent quality that approaches the spiritual, yet retains the flavor of Escupemetralla's shaggy experimentalism. As a whole, 'Poison of Dead Sun in Your Brain Slowly Fading' may not be the ultimate achievement in industrial ambient soundscapes, but it certainly has its moments.
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Artist: Peter Kirn
Title: Pink Cloud Syndrome
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Detroit Underground
I was a big appreciator of Kirn’s “Bellona USA” album from November last year, so was happy to hear that another album was available already. “Pink Cloud Syndrome” doesn’t disappoint, continuing in a relatively similar vein with tracks that manage to combine Jean-Michel Jarre or Tangerine Dream-esque long synth soundscapes and a retro synthwave-ish aesthetic with some newer and poppier, sometimes Ricardo Autobahn-esque melodic moments.

Dropping the fictional city concept of the previous album, this time we get four tracks that are longer and more immersive, with a hint of the epic prog rock instrumental storytelling about them, most notably in the first part.

Part 2, with its heavier kick, perky synth stabs, plaintive vocal ahhh noises and claps, has shades of Propaganda in parts and is decidedly more 80’s-esque, while part 3’s more paired-back approach has more in common with current thoughtful home-listening atmospheric techno. Part 4 begins punchily before settling a little, but maintaining a tense and quite sci-fi pulsing attitude which only disappoints with its slightly lacklustre ending.

It perhaps never reaches any truly euphoric heights and at times could arguably be described as wallpapery, but nevertheless it’s a rich, confident and boldly produced synth-music vision that’s absolutely worth exploring.
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Artist: Rachika S
Title: Themes For A Film
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Loveless Records
Described as an EP, this 9-track, 30-minute mini-album is a collection of work originally written for a Loveless Records re-scoring of the anime Tekkokinkreet, and it’s certainly ‘soundtracky’. It’s purely instrumental, as plaintive, slightly twangy electric guitar plucking blends with rough-hewn mangled electronic environments, pulling contrasts between purer and more conventionally emotive melodic work and harsher, tense environments.

Pieces like the end-credit-friendly “A House By The Ocean” border on instrumental pop and have a notable but not dominant vein of positivity and hope, while other tracks like “Killing Machines” push the melody back (but not out completely) and bring darker, glitched and processed, thoroughly effected experimental noise to the fore.

It’s one of those soundtrack works that feels like it perhaps needs to be sided with the intended visuals in order to be appreciated fully, with some of the tracks seemingly left short to suit the film cut rather than being allowed to breathe. But nevertheless it’s an interesting and fairly introspective work that marks out a composer worth looking out for.
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