Music Reviews



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Artist: UBEBOET
Title: Spectra
Format: CD
Label: Twenty Hertz
Rated: *****
Madrid-based soundmaker Miguel Ángel Tolosa, aka Ubeboet, has surely found a perfect home for this 9-track, 39-minute work. While the previous releases of his I listened to were more field recording-oriented, "Spectra" is definitely a drone thing, and a kind of natural twin to Twenty Hertz owner Paul Bradley's more melodic production. As the opening track "Premia Lucis" suggests from its very title, the album, unlike most drone releases, seems to be bathed in sunlight - possibly the kind of light you get from a stained glass window in a cathedral, with some occasional meridian demon as well. But as a whole, this is an ecstatic and peaceful soundscape, full of expanding high-end tones, occasionally streaked by some discrete field recording (footsteps, the ubiquitous rain...) - the liner notes inform us that "fm radio, tape recorder, lap steel guitar and laptop" were used, but I doubt you can recognize those, except for some string bowing in "Corridor". The ethereal feeling reminded me of Bradley's "Sketches from Dust", "Liquid Sunset" or "Anamnesis", and, staying in the Twenty Hertz catalogue, of Keith Berry's "A Strange Feather"... all of which are good examples of serene, no-new age ambient music.
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Artist: LNGTCHE
Title: Music for an Untitled Film by T. Zärkkof
Format: CD
Label: Etude
Rated: *****
Clothed in an elegantly messy design by Seldon Hunt comes a 1-track, 44-minute disc by this apparently mysterious project, which is actually a solo thing of Catalan soundmaker Pau Torres. If you have a look at his Myspace page, you'll find how his influences span from Sun Ra to Abruptum, from Cecil Taylor to Hate Forest... What does this tell us of Lngtché's style? Not much really, except that it's a fringe avantgarde solo thing drenched in the most obscure solipsism, which could well get kudos from misanthropic forest segregationists (unlike Cecil Taylor, maybe). Torres uses both manipulated and raw guitar sounds, and sparse water recordings here and there, to weave a monolithic, scary headtrip. It's not something terribly loud, but I would surely call it noisy: amp feedback and buzz, string scraping, no hint of melody whatsoever, and a dysmal atmosphere all around. Torres surely opts for an extreme approach, making this a "love it or get f*cked" release, but he's also skilled enough to balance the minimal inputs in a crystaline production. All orphans of 90's isolationism should give this a try.
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Artist: KTL
Title: 2
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego
Rated: *****
Second full-length (4 tracks, 71 minutes) for the acclaimed duo of Stephen O'Malley (guitars, effects, amps, tube oscillator) and Peter Rehberg (digital oscillator, laptop), just a few months after their debut, and again linked to the theatrical pièce "Kindertotenlieder" by Vienne and Cooper. Not really much has changed in their formula of downtuned guitars-cum-digital processing drones, but to be brutally honest (and talking pretty much as a fan of O'Malley's production) I don't find this a mandatory album. Most tracks are based on a simple, and slightly variated, set of sounds: the slowly uncoiling bass drones of "Game", the crushing guitar wall of "Abattoir" (incidentally reminding of Fears Fall Burning in his more aggressive mood), or the sparse feedback and creepy hisses of "Snow 2" (opening to a welcome melancholic coda in the last few minutes). Same goes for the longest and most ambitious piece, "Theme", clocking in at 27 minutes, which is, alas, also the one I find more tedious and redundant: a cavernous heartbeat-like pulse leads to a high-end digital drone (think of an organ through a bunch of plugins) loosely modulated for 20+ minutes. I recognize it's a matter of tastes: I'm not a fan of Rehberg's noisy laptop drones (prominent in his latest disc on Häpna), and this is it for most of the composition. Many will find it grand, I find it boring after a while - but the same could be said of most repetitive soundscapes, obviously. As a whole, "2" makes for an interesting experience while it lasts, but unlike many recent projects of O'Malley's (like Aethenor or Grave Temple), or Rehberg's excellent solo on Mosz, it's not something I'll crave to listen to again.
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Artist: Pimentola
Title: Misantropolis
Format: CD
Label: Cold Meat Industry (@)
Rated: *****
The sound of this album reminds me of art music and I like the fact that this kind of performance music (strange they don´t do performances!) are released by cold meat!!!
The bizarre cabaret/musical style vocals seem to be very inspired by Mr Doctor of Devil Doll.

The Percussions are almost on all tracks the main instrument and they sometimes seem a bit weak when they flirt with triphop/trippjazz. Sometimes they are very good!
The industrial parts are also pretty lame. It´s really a shame as the sound and some of the ideas are really great. "On Tuoni Pauloo Tinkoin Sitein III" the dark ambience is and atmosphere is intruiging and very suggestive. Reminds me of bands like Lycia.
The song "Black Globe" is a five star track. Very haunting and driven into strange corners.
"Wish Upon a Fallen Star" sounds like wild opera (but the voice is failing and not as good as for an example Sibelian).

The whole album breath 30s and 40s and retro film music and that I really enjoy. If that good have been a more obvious red thread I would have given this release probably a 4,5 or 5 but the diversity (normally really good) kill this album.
"Wann Endet die Zeit" could been so good but the drums are lame and to be honest: bad!

It hurts me giving this crazy and well played album such a low grade. Sorry!
If you are into a strange mix of goth, industrial, darkwave, neo-classical, retro, tripjazz and dark ambient all at once (yes it´s crazy) you should check this album out. Do not expect to love all tracks because some are great and some suck.
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Artist: MARK HANNAFORD (@)
Title: The Garden Of Forking Paths
Format: CD
Label: Extreme (@)
Rated: *****
Here we’ve another chapter of Extreme Antripodean series and a really good one indeed but quite different from Vincs. The lowest common denominator is still jazz music, but in some ways this work sticks much more to the context, if to you that implies "it’s canonic jazz", you’re on the wrong lane. Discerning the main elements of this improvisational effort is not that difficult since you get a well proportioned blend of "free jazz" plus contemporary classic music and the alchemy is good due to the fact Hannaford keeps far from easy mannerism and works hard on defining his own style. The first aspect you notice after many listenings is that the interaction of Hannaford with the rhythmic section is really equilibrated, which is one of the most interesting quality of this cd, above all if you consider the majority of the material comes out of improvisations. The aforementioned sentence is referred to the fact nowadays working in an idiomatic way (but let’s be honest... that also happens in "non idiomatic" impros) brings forth the risk to fall in anonymity, if this problem has to do with the hypertrophy of our recent musical history or with the fact in a massified society like this it’s hard to have an identity, I sincerely don’t know. By the way, Hannaford has built accurately his own personality and has chosen carefully the other team-players, that’s why he collected an interesting number of "sketches". "The Garden Of Forking Paths" made me think the afroamerican elements/root of jazz sometimes gets dissolved in the style (culture?) of many white musicians, not that you won’t find Monk, Mingus or Coloman traces in the genes of some of these players, but everything is "colder", "more suspended", subdued in a way that characterizes many white (and usually Europeans... unlike Hannaford) musicians. If it was not for the fact it’s quite far from contemporary compositions, I’m sure people like Berio, Feldman or even Cage would have loved this musicians’ taste for dissonance, but even if the abstraction is somehow similar, the speed is different alas let me say he could be "a swinging contemporary piano player listened at 45 rpm", does it make any sense? (I think so, but just if you consider the solo tracks like "All booze"). This pianist makes you believe there’s still hope for the for the future... nay for the present of improvisation while half of the jazz world survives with one foot in the grave.
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