Music Reviews



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Artist: Meridian Arts Ensemble (@)
Title: Seven Kings
Format: CD
Label: Innova (@)
Rated: *****
I enjoy jazz, so I was interested to see what we have here. This is five compositions spread out over 13 tracks, and weighs in at almost 76 minutes, so rather than listing each movement individually, I’ll discuss each one as a whole. Let’s get into it. First off, we have “Migration” by Daniel Grabois. This is the shortest piece on the disc, and it reminds me of some of the work of Dizzy Gillespie. This is pretty clean jazz (in the sense of structure) with a heavy emphasis on the trumpet. Well executed, but kind of missing the looseness I like in jazz. Moving into David Sanford’s “Seven Kings,” we get the more chaotic and frantic feel that I was looking for. It all holds together well, though – from the drum solo and rapid-fire horns that keep the rhythm going in the “Contrapunctus I” segment to the peaceful vibraphone of “Chimes,” this composition keeps everything moving along well. The standout portion though is “Contrapunctus II,” which sometimes sounds like everyone is playing a completely different piece, but it still manages to keep a sense of cohesion. Next up, we have “For Bass Quintet and Percussion” by Dave Ballou. This piece slowly builds in complexity and intensity over time, with a skillful use of silence. I am reminded of the poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” by Wallace Stevens, which states, "I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections, Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird whistling Or just after." Ballou gets that sometimes the space between the notes can be just as important as the notes. Next up, we have “Passed Time” by Edward Jacobs. I will admit that this one really didn’t do much for me, since it didn’t really have the energy of the previous compositions. This one was more orchestral and less jazzy; my wife remarked that it sounded like it belonged in a movie soundtrack. Finally, we have Robert Maggio’s “Revolver.” From the machine gun drums and horn blasts that open this up, you know that you are in for an interesting ride. The music, along with the evocative song titles set the mood well. For example, “With Nobody’s Help (Lost and Badly Wounded),” evokes a feeling of wandering; you can almost feel the buzzards circling overhead. It all comes together with the final segment, “Opened to the Fragility (Slipping Away),” which is a slow, improvised piece, with raucous drums that offer a stark contrast to the languid horns, ending almost peacefully. Overall this isn’t really as experimental as what I am used to reviewing for Chain D.L.K., but it is well done and quite enjoyable as a whole. If you like solid jazz, this is worth checking out.
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Artist: James Bradbury (@)
Title: Biomimicry
Format: CD
Label: Tone List (@)
Rated: *****
Years ago, Ios Smolders put out an album called Music for CD Players. The goal was to create a different experience every time by putting the player on random and having the player compose from the base tracks. Others have played with the idea of chaos in music, most notably John Cage and his use of the I-Ching as a means of composition. As such, James Bradbury finds himself in some good company here. As the label explains, “Biomimicry is an autonomous musical system that draws on perceptual features of an improviser to synthesise a response. By parsing the collaborators sound into Mel-frequency cepstral coefficients the system is imbued with an evaluative capability and can assess changes in amplitude and timbre in order to shape its interactive behaviour. At its heart, the system is designed to be cohesive and unified with its human counterpart but at times its digital memory fails and the system's sensibility emerges.” This was released in five different versions, and it seems that I have Biomimicry Version 2; the readme file states that to create the entire system you would need all five versions. For the moment, I will talk about my specific version. There are two tracks here, which weigh in for a total of around 10 minutes. The sounds on 2a are comprised mainly of body noises – the sound of voice, clearing one’s throat, gargling, gagging, and just making noises with the throat to sound like Donald Duck. All of this seems cut up and reassembled in an unsettling tableau as some noises are recognizable, and others have been reduced to drone and static. 2b, on the other hand, is much more abstract, with clicking noises, abused instruments, and what sounds like someone fumbling with a microphone. This version was interesting enough that I went into the files to find the other versions as well. These tracks are likewise a mix of cut up organic somatic sounds and those that have been beat into something else. They are similar, but distinct. In the disc, there are several other versions of the tracks that were not actually part of the final compositions as well as raw materials. This was released in a shockingly limited edition of 10 copies, with two copies of each version, all with different sound files, so if this sounds good to you, get this while you can.
Mar 06 2018
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Artist: Creta
Title: Creta
Format: LP
Label: Karl
Creta is a collaboration between established musicians Massimo Pupillo, Luciano Lamanna and Roberto Zanisi, who approach this from different backgrounds and unsurprisingly have concocted a release that is very hard to pigeonhole.

Four minutes into opening track “...And Everything That Shines” it’s easy to think you already have the measure of it- dark drones, distant processed string noises, and a barren soundscape. But suddenly we meet a superslow bouncing techno kick sound, and moments later, a Spanish-influenced bit of acoustic guitar noodling. After a while this opens up and the beat fades away into something calmer, almost jazzy with vibe sounds, but never losing the deep rumbling experimental undercurrent.

“Babe In The Egg Of Blue” opens with a slightly increased sense of urgency, with a constantly ebbing bass note that threatens something explosive for several minutes before the slightly playful guitar playing settles us into accepting that this strange arrangement is our new normal, like getting used to a choppy ferry ride.

Final track “Future Humans In Form Of Aur” again opens quite cinematically before settling into another plaintive but complex atmosphere, this time highlighting the violin work alongside the plucked, this time faintly Americana guitar. Of the three tracks, this is perhaps the one that sounds somewhat dragged out, fading away in the midpoint very slowly without surprises once its initial arrangement has been established, with a solo guitar section tacked on somewhat awkwardly to finish.

At 31 minutes it’s a mini album in which the collaborators behind Creta have built something that sounds fresh and distinctive. It’s sonically self-indulgent in some ways, but intriguing and full of character.
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Artist: Palcolor (@)
Title: Wróg
Format: CD
Label: Kosmodrone (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
Palcolor is the project of Emil Macherzyski, based on cheap analogue and FM synth so, with his use of old hardware but tied to a particular moment of electronic music which is the rise of ambient house (or techno ambient). Altrough the release features no political messages, the press notes states that t
the title of the album, the Enemy (translated from Polish), is inspired by the feeling that a sort of McCarthyism is present today in Poland.
The first track of this release, "1987", introduces the listener into a sonic framework so declaratively reminiscent of certain 90s techno ambient to create a certain sense of nostalgia. "Bias Trap" introduces the rhythmic part to the recipe and "Prima Terra" even a structural sense of writing as it's based upon dancey moments and quieter ones. "Kush Komfort" moves into more aggressive territories as it's completely based upon an heavy rhythmic part while "Pyongyang" return to more dreamy atmosphere with his use of synth. Oddly enough, "Retkinia Pónoc", closes this release bordering IDM territories with the most experimental and abstract track of this release.
While completely adhering to the canon to be dangerously closer to be a cover band, their ability on writing and the sense of nostalgia provoke the monolithic presence of this release on the stereo so, when it ends, the first idea is to press again the play button. Perhaps only for fans of the period but it's really recommended.
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Artist: Braconidae
Title: Magnetic Reel
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Swiss Dark Nights EXP
This is a discombobulating four-track electronica EP from Emiliana Voltarel, twisting and warping synth noises and deep found sounds into a bizarre and sometimes uncomfortable eulogy of insects.

The title track, pitched as a manifesto, sets dark beat poetry (cut, mushed and retriggered) over a thick wall of wrangled noises- rattles, rumbles and scrapes, both digital and real (if you see what I mean). Glass-ish organ arpeggios run low in the mix to give a distinct feel of suspense.

“Deathwatch Beetle” offers something thinner and more cavernous, glitching a short spoken word snippet over slow ominous percussive sounds that gradually meld into a dark techno that stops abruptly just as it feels like a structure has been accomplished.

“Bullet Ant” focuses on deep and distorted long synth bass notes, that again attract an increasing array of percussive sounds that are forming a proto-techno that stops before it has truly begun. Final tracks “Scrapes”, the odd one out in that it’s not dedicated to insects, is named rather literally after the collage of scraping sounds that are compiled here- most prominently what sounds like metal across piano strings. A light rhythm formed of coin-like noises and a low bass rumble keep things in keeping with the rest of the EP.

The title track is the most fully fleshed-out track on this release, making it feel more like an old-fashioned single with 3 instrumental B-sides. It’s thick and feels very personal and is certainly an attention-drawing statement of intent.
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