Music Reviews



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Artist: MIYA MASAOKA
Title: While I was walking
Format: CD
Label: Solitary B (@)
Rated: *****
Four works written by Miya Masaoka and performed by three choirs and nine soloists, it all vividly reminds me of an old work composed ages ago by Ennio Morricone, it was a work for chorus based on a poetry written by Pier Paolo Pasolini and titled "Sciopero" (On strike), I’m quite sure he also reused some excerpts of it in a part of a soundtrack of who knows which movie by Dario Argento. The texture is really different, in someway in the modus componendi of Masaoka reminds really well (even if her name and her favourite instruments are Japanese) she’s culturally grown in the U.S. and as far as I concern I wish nobody will blame me if I say some parts of this piece are really "american". It doesn’t necessarily imply she’s a minimalist, or she’s been influenced by this or that contemporary composer but you can bet beside being filed under contemporary classic music she’s using those long notes, those quasi-frozen dissonance games that are quite a trademark for many american composers. This one has been recorded in a reverbed church or some similar place and if you add she’s been probably influenced by her Japanese origin, it gives all some gentle but also dramatic "siren singing" atmosphere (I’m sure Ulysses will fall in the trap this time!). The four parts of this work are quite varied thought giving an homogeneous shape to "While I was walking", she’s been really able to alternate circular parts and long segments. Despite its contemporary classic essence the whole composition is really really filmic and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it as a soundtrack for this or that tragedy. We’re all in debt with Greeks for our sense of drama, and this composition is nothing but one of the many proof of it.
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Artist: NORBERT MÍSLANG
Title: header_change
Format: CD
Label: Cut
Rated: *****
After developing his own brand of "cracked everyday electronics" with the now disbanded Voice Crack duo and a remarkable series of collective improvisations, Norbert Möslang has been investigating uncommon sound sources in his solo career. His previous full-length on Cut, "Capture", used amplified fluorescent lights, obtaining an alien and austere form of electronics. The same blueprint can be found in this "header_change", which is based on video-stills converted into audio files and then digitally processed. Starting with heavy, grey electronic textures, the album is often hostile and grim in a cerebral way, reminding the vehemence of early Palestine's electronic works (tracks 1 & 3) or even the more recent collaborations of Maurizio Bianchi and Sandro Kaiser/Frequency In Cycles Per Second or Siegmar Fricke (track 7). The peak, or better the bottom, is probably reached in track 5, an aural bathysphere of intimidating pressure.
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Artist: Ligne d'hiver / Saison Froide
Title: Ligne Froide
Format: 7"
Label: Brouillard DÚfinitif (@)
Rated: *****
The guys at Brouillard Définitif keep on digging among the tapes and recordings of France's best kept secrets. "Ligne Froide" is the new 7" split and gathers two tracks by Ligne D'Hiver on one side and two tracks by Saison Froide on the other. Ligne D'Hiver was an almost mythical entity hailing from Rennes - possibly the best French band you've never heard of! Their style is an astounding balance of cold and minimal synth lines and Loic's singing/lamentation that seems to burst into tears in both the studio and the live track. Those tracks were recorded in the mid-eighties and "Tired" was published on the rare compilation tape "LES SST ENVIE VOL.1" (1986 - Psychédélires records). Brouillard Définitif will also publish a cd collection with unreleased tracks by this mysterious band, so stay tuned. On the other side we have Saison Froide, the solo project of Flav (a member of Paris Violence). This is his first official output in eight years of life - classic coldwave sounds heavily influenced by the classics of the genre. The split 7" is cut to 33 rpm and comes with a withered leaf in a plastic bag. Another staggering release from Brouillard Définitif.
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Artist: Sparkle in Grey (@)
Title: A Quiet Place
Format: CD
Label: Disasters By Choice (@)
Rated: *****
Matteo "Hue" Uggeri is a man of many talents. I first heard some tracks from his In A Voice project that sounded like it would be right at home on the Hyperium "Heavenly Voices" compilations or on Projekt records. Sparkle in Grey takes a different approach and I had to listen to this disc several times before figuring out just what to say about it. According to the label, "The six tracks on this debut album have started off as improvisations on an electronic base, and have later developed throughout live shows in Italy and abroad in squats, clubs, diners, music festivals in the woods and in a kindergarden." The improvisational aspect is certainly present and accounted for (and I would love to see them perform at a kindergarten show). I tend to think of projects in terms of who they remind me of and the only comparison that I could come up with was Nature and Organisation’s "A Dozen Summers Against the World." I made my wife listen to it, who finds Nature and Organisation the only palatable offering from any of the World Serpent catalogue and she also thought that that A Quiet Place was quite nice. All of that to say that this album may be improvisational but it is still very accessible. The various tracks incorporate samples of spoken word, guitar, violin, and field recordings to create interesting soundscapes that at times fade into the background and surface in ways that are not too invasive. Let’s look at some of the more interesting tracks more closely. I especially like the narrative at the beginning of "Limpronta" that notes, "My theory is that if you don’t bring it with you (into the studio) you’ll definitely need it." This track is a bit more free form with some noisy elements thrown in as punctuation until it gains more structure with guitar and violin creating an almost mournful melody. "Goose Game" begins as a study in repetition but then settles into a nice groove with electric guitar dominating. This one kind of grew on me after a few listens. "Teacher Song" would be right at home as an interlude on one of Current 93’s neo-folk albums like "Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre." Overall, you get the sense that this would be a great band to see perform live. The cartoonish drawings (done by Hue) on the cover and liner notes demonstrate that this is not an in-your-face kind of experimental album. Overall, the feeling is quite calm and restrained. If you’re looking for improvisation that seems almost peaceful, this is very well done. This disc weighs in at 46 minutes.
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Artist: DOXA SINISTRA
Title: Conveyer Belt
Format: 12"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Rated: *****
Doxa Sinistra, band that have already been covered on the two Trumpett compilations released by Enfant Terrible, made ring a bell on my head, so after a little research I discovered that ADN, a label coming from Milan, that released stuff from F.A.R., Kino Glaz, Sigillum S, Tasaday, etc did an edition of CONVERYER BELT back in 1985. Originally released on Trumpett, CONVERYER BELT was a great example of how experimental/industrial music was sounding like back then. Using melodic lines and electronic gear, Doxa Sinistra steered their wheels toward obsessive compositions based on rhythms, treated sounds (see the backwards work on "Branoff 4") and creativity. Each track creates a whole different atmosphere that makes sound the band like coming from an alien industrial galaxy. Sounding like a blend of early Coil and early Test Department (a bit less percussive) the band had a rich and particular sound for that era. An era that had into the multi-track tape recording the key to freedom of expression for hundreds of kids. If minimal industrial and early experimental music is your way to go, give this album a try!
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