Music Reviews



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Artist: Hilde Marie Holsen
Title: Lazuli
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Hubro
There’s certainly a distinctive character to Hilde Marie Holsen’s work in taking her own experimental trumpet performances, layering and processing them, deftly and extensively, to derive all the electronica tones on this downtempo and atmospheric release from them. As such it’s a remarkable production accomplishment but also a very engaging listen- one of the more brooding and soulful bits of electronica soundscaping I’ve heard in quite a while.

There’s a deep and sultry tone to some of the trumpet work that makes it sound more like saxophone, particularly on opener “Orpiment”, reminiscent of Rachel Edmondson’s “I Am Calm”. Conceptually there’s a strong connection to painting, with the track titles being minerals that are used to colour paint, and second track “Eskolaite” has an almost-rhythm that feels faintly like brush-strokes. “Lapis” is more faithful to the trumpet as the featured soloist, mostly leaving it sounding pure over a luxuriant warm drone. Finally the ‘main event’, the title track which makes up almost half of the 34-minute running time, is a broad multi-sectioned and quite cinematic work opening with industrial clarion calls, bubbling noise, dramatically strained metallic tones and a real sense of it being the full works, before settling down into more open plains that allow the trumpet to regain focus once more.

It’s a rich and focused mini-album that oozes character, and a virtuoso bit of performance that doesn’t end up being too self-indulgent either. Definitely worth a listen in a calm space.
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Artist: A Place Both Wonderful And Strange
Title: The City Smells Like Cat Spit EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: self-released
Distributor: Bandcamp
Rated: *****

BUY from  HERE
Elegant and whimsical but dark and uncomfortable at times..."occult electronic" and "doom gaze" are perhaps the terms closest to being appropriate for the Brooklyn duo, A Place Both Wonderful And Strange.

After a successful East Coast/Midwest tour, the band releases their new digital-only EP, The City Smells Like Cat Spit on August 24. The EP features one original track, "Kristae" and 3 re-worked live & studio tracks, "W*tch (Mevius Tour Version)," "Stone (Version)," and "Hex And The City (Resonata Remix)."

"Kristae" is a deeply haunting cut that evokes the image of a ghost-guided dusty LP, perhaps something out of Moby's worst nightmare. The standout track for us is "W*tch (Mevius Tour Version)." Musically haunting in the backdrop but guided by the heavenly vocals of Laura. "Stone" starts off with a cinematic female spoken narration and then moves to a whimsically-nuanced, fluid and moving track that ends before you know it or want it to. "Hex And the City (Resonata Remix)" is a bit of a layered, complex version of the song showing the band's unique mix of electronica and trip-hop.

"Wonderful" and "Strange" they are indeed. But the band is much more than that. They are simply one of the most original, un-classifiable electronic bands out there right now. I can't wait to see what they come up with next. For now, The City Smells Like Cat Spit is a perfect blend of electronica, darkwave and post-punk and then some....
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Artist: øjeRum (@)
Title: Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod
Format: CD
Label: KrysaliSound (@)
Rated: *****
The title "Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod" (it should be Danish for "the flow of silence in the blood of the birds") could fit to the sound you'll meet in this release by Danish visual artist (I guess he made the meaningful collage of the cover artwork) and musician Paw Grabowski aka øjeRum: initially issued in a very strictly limited edition of 30 self-made cassettes in 2016 and recently re-issued by Italian label KrysaliSound, which kept the hiss of the tape during the mastering, the sound gets unrolled over a one single 30 minutes lasting track, based on repetitive loops of a slightly pinched acoustic guitar, sparse elongated sounds, abstract field recordings and other evanescent resounding entities (including birds, of course!). Paw shows he learnt the minimalist lesson by the way he stacks identical chords through unperceivable (the tonal ones) or clearly (the length of the whole phrase or of single tones) listenable variations, but besides some insertion like the hits on glass (following the same speed of the guitar chords after 7-8 minutes), the fading of music overwhelmed by almost silent field recordings in the middle of the recording and an unexpected flooding of an ambient ghostly pad in the last minutes, the composition is quite flat. It can match a vague sense of loneliness, a romantic (in the authentic meaning of the word...) dazed melancholy or a merely hermetic detachment, but a mushrooming of this dark-tinged ambient-folk in the music (more or less independent) market is getting closer to those cliches, that should maybe have been antithetical in the guise of many musicians orbiting around these sonorities.
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Artist: Tim Linghaus
Title: memory sketches
Format: CD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
Tim Linghaus' album is another good musical gemstone in the precious collection assembled by Schole, the imprint of Akira Kosemura, who managed to turn the name of his label into the synonym for a sort of platform where a declension of frail and delicate beauty as well as for many intriguing ways to build bridges between contemporary "pianism", French impressionism and sonorities close to contemporary soundtracks for movies could get anchored. I guess that the short length and the strong emotional intensity of the most of the 16 tracks of this album reflects the nature of the cognitive processes that they represent, as you can imagine by a title like "memory sketches": we all experienced the resurface of some of those sketches as sudden electrocutions, which sometimes are like diving bells detaching (and sheltering) us from the more or less stormy waters where we normally dive. Those sketches are evoked by images, words or sometimes tones (according to some studies E and G tones could reactivate some "forgotten" memories... whoever has taken part in sessions of music therapy for old people could have noticed a reaction in their facial expressions) and they're as short as intense just like Tim's little sketches. The memories of his father and his passing seems to be the leitmotiv of this moving album and the longest tracks - such as the specular ones "Me In Your Rear-View Mirror (Boys Don't Cry)" and "You In Our Rear-View Mirror (Cemetery Car Park)", "Funeral For Dad, Pt.II (It Was Nice To Have Known You)" and "I Was Atoms and Waves" - seem to be matched to moments, whose track on author's soul and mind required more time and effort to be processed and turned into these lovely sketches. Besides the passing of Tim's father, there are many other intense moments encrusted into this album. In Tim's own words: "The idea behind memory sketches is to give particular memories a form, to preserve them if you like. So I compiled a collection of my most precious memories like bringing our grandma to the hospital in an RV, crossing the inner-German border in Bornholmer Street for the first time shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the moment of coming home from graduation, my dad's funeral and trying to communicate with him via a radio, just to mention a few. [...] Eventually, this album is like a drive through the years of my past life, and the past lives of family members from one material point to the other, it's a reflection on time, life and death. On the other hand, it is nothing more than music".
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Artist: Celer
Title: Nacreous Clouds
Format: CD + Download
Label: Two Acrons
When it was first released in 2008, back when Celer was a duo rather than a solo project, the recommendation that you should listen to this album using the random shuffle function on your CD player would present no problems. With digital downloads now dominant many new listeners to this remastered re-issue may find it easier just to listen sequentially, but the net result is the same.

This is a collection of thirty-seven short related ambiences, super-gentle chord beds and slow melodic drones, ranging in length from under a minute to just over five minutes, resulting in the CD-friendly 79-minute total. The ebb and envelope of each track is such that the silences inbetween tracks feel like part of the whole, and the result, regardless of listening order, sounds like one coherent 79-minute work. Individual track labels mostly feel irrelevant, but there are colder sections like the glassy tones of “Petrified Forest”, distant mechanical-sounding hums in “Hyperopia”, grouped with warmer and somehow friendlier-sounding hums in tracks like “Echelons”. But all the differences are subtle, to put it mildly.

It’s a mesmeric, sleep-playlist-friendly work and while copies of the original 300-strong 2008 edition are not that hard to find, it’s a welcome remastering that should hopefully find a wider audience.
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