Music Reviews



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Artist: Mike Cooper
Title: Raft
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Room40
The press release and artwork for “Raft” imply a folk and blues tradition, an acoustic instrument-driven meandering along the theme of vessels and journeys, and this is part of what it contains- but with added sporadic layers of modern, high-intensity glitching and digital production that veers things off in a very different direction.

The twangy guitar introduced in “Guayaquil To Tully” is the prominent common element, and sounds almost Acker Bilk-like at points, and it’s not until the second and longest track “Las Balsas” that more exotic gentle Hawaiian-sounding percussive patterns begin to emerge- with the exotic theme exposed less subtly on “Malama Honua”. “Vital Alsar” is a rather quirky number smothered in flange effects and with a drunken drum & bass tempo.

The album is dedicated to an old friend and ‘life mentor’ of Cooper’s, with an accompanying story that’s initially warm but has a tragic end. This is respectfully reflected in the tinge of melancholy that is sewn into the playing- this is not simply musical relaxation, there’s an unquestionable sadness there.

It’s an unorthodox melding of Hawaiian-style beach lethargy and indulgent improvised blues guitar noodling, with just a smattering of modern electronic framework, which definitely works, and which stands out as having a very unusual and strangely sweet character.
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Artist: Lars Lundehave Hansen (@)
Title: Terminal Velocity
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Tonometer (@)
Rated: *****
Lars Lundehave Hansen has for many years has distinguished himself as one of the most visionary Danish sound artists. He has been a key figure on the Danish scene of noise and drone as part of Noisejihad and as part of the duo Waldchengarten. He has had numerous solo releases and sound installations both in Denmark and internationally. 'Terminal Velocity' is a set of 21 noise drone pieces, all under three minutes that showcase Lars's ability to build sonic spaces which are both dreamy and physical. From track to track there is an incredible amount of diversity and variety in these mini soundscapes. Sometimes the titles are quite descriptive of the track's overall sound, such as "Brittle Forces," "Muted Enthusiasm," "Improving Gravitational Resistance," "Weightless," and "Chinese Sleeping Pills, among others. Sometimes the titles are a lot more open to interpretation, and maybe even suggestion such as "Reluctant Occupant," "Black Beaches," "From the Lesser End," and "Not Everything is Going to Be Alright." Usually drone artists compose pieces that are lengthy and slowly evolve over time. Here the listener is forced to quickly acclimate their perception of what the artist is trying to convey before moving on to the next one. It's almost like a sampler album- nearly any of these pieces could have been expanded to seven or eight minutes at least and still would have been interesting. In a weird way I'm reminded of the Residents 'Commercial Album,' although this music bears no similarity. Most of the Residents works were lengthy tracks. The 'Commercial Album was comprised of 40 tracks only a little over a minute's length each. Extreme, but that's the Residents for you. They seemed to be more song ideas than anything else. And so Hansen's tracks on 'Terminal Velocity' tend to come off as soundscape ideas rather than anything you could really get lost in. The upside though is that those with ADHD won't find themselves fidgeting. As stated previously, there is an incredible amount of variety from track to track. Some of these atmospheres are abrasive, some are soothing, some enigmatic, others ominously disturbing, some hint at melody while others are more sculpted noise and feedback. You will never be bored, and the replay factor is excellent. This comes as a limited edition (300 only) pressed on 180 gram blue vinyl + digital download. Well worth it.
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Artist: St. Francis Duo (@)
Title: Peacemaker Assembly
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Trost Records (@)
Rated: *****
Here's an album by two veteran improvisational musicians - guitarist Stephen O'Malley and drummer/percussionist Steve Noble, performing together here as St. Francis Duo. Both have a lengthy list of credentials. O'Malley's other groups and projects have included ÄÄNIPÄÄ,
Æthenor, Burning Witch, Ensemble Pearl, Fungal Hex, Ginnungagap, Gravetemple, Khanate, KTL, Lotus Eaters, Love's Holiday Orchestra, Nazoranai, Pentemple, Sarin, Sunn O))), Teeth Of Lions Rule The Divine, Thorr's Hammer, and Vesuvio. He also founded the record labels Southern Lord in 1998 and Ideologic Organ in 2011. Noble studied with Nigeria master drummer Elkan Ogunde and in the early 1980s was a member of Rip Rig and Panic. Some of the projects he's been involved with include Alex Ward Quartet, Alex Ward Sextet, Alex Ward Trio, Badland, Decoy, Dikeman Noble Serries Trio, Franz Hautzinger Quartett, Free Base, Julie Kjær 3, Kahondo Style, London Improvisers Orchestra, N.E.W. (Noble - Ewards - Ward), School Of Velocity, The Brian Irvine Ensemble, The Mancini Project, The Offshoot and others. You would think that with all of those I would have heard these guys before, but un-uhn; I guess I live a sheltered life. Well, to be fair I think I caught Rip Rig and Panic on an episode of 'The Young Ones' in the 1980s but for the type of music we have here, I don't think that counts for much.

'Peacemaker Assembly' was recorded live at St. Francis de Sales in Philadelphia on May 19, 2014 by Eugene Lew and mixed by Chain D.L.K.'s own Marc Urselli. It consists of two, lengthy untitled pieces - Side A: 19:38 and Side B: 18:04. It was mastered by Matt Colton at Alchemy in London, UK. What this essentially is, is amplified drone guitar and
accompanied with freestyle drumming. When you think drone guitar, don't be thinking Robert Fripp and/or Trey Gunn; it's much closer to the Velvet Underground's "Loop". Noise drone and controlled feedback with lots of rolling drums and cymbal shimmer by Noble. The drone is constant as there are no breaks, only shifts in shades and intensity without much pitch variation. On the other hand, there is plenty of diversity in the drumming. Although you might just think he's off on his own trip, Noble must be perceiving something in O'Malley's drones we're not as attuned to as he is and he runs with it. Perhaps repeated listenings could yield the key to it all, but three times was enough for me, and two too many for the cat, who fled in distress. This was probably best experienced live where the sound was all-encompassing, but perhaps at louder volume it could be simulated. For those who appreciate noise drone combined with free jazz percussion.
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Artist: Gerstein (@)
Title: 32 Years Of Rain
Format: CD
Label: Der Klang (@)
Rated: *****
Now almost canonized in the history of italian industrial music, the project of Maurizio Pustianaz celebrates 32 years of music with a collection of tracks presented in almost chronological order and selected by the personal choice of the composer. The result is a journey that could be roughly divided in two phases: the song phase and the experimental one.
From the cartoonish atmosphere of "Poison" the first part of this release sounds centered around piano with the exception of more experimental "Phlegmaticus 3" with his use of echo and delay. With a track as "Hang The D-Evil" as final landing of a journey starting from the quiet and almost romantic piano of "Track 7" to the horror inspired "Putrefacto", Gerstein write a sort of industrial pop song closer to his musical legacy than expected and expressed with a certain irony. With "Take The Hold (1993)" starts the second part of this release centered on his new wave influences so "In The Shadow Of The Sun" sounds like a tribute even in his title and track like "Puke" and "Black Flag" reveals even some metal influence in the trend of those years. The most recent tracks, especially "Il Male" reveals a synthesis between the two forces: the pop song and the industrial piece.
Other tracks like "Cuts" or "The puke they are" were probably chosen as freak experiments as the first sounds as polished ambient pop tune while the second is a personal version of indie rock.
Quite a enjoyable collection of tracks that could be well received by newcomers if they have the patience to arrive at the end of this release and be carried towards a piece of our industrial history. It's really worth a listen.
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Artist: Acclimate
Title: Dreams Of A Mad Titan
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
“Dreams Of A Mad Titan” is a gentle 43-minute dark ambient journey of synthesized washes, softly looping electronic bleeps and patterns, growls and sci-fi noises, crisp cold bell-like tones and a general feeling of expansive, empty interplanetary space. Tonally it’s nothing you haven’t heard before, but it’s assembled with a simplicity, depth and sincerity that makes it all work.

After the relative purity of opener “Infinity”, second track “Warlock” brings forth a slightly more gravelly texture that is reminiscent of Pete Namlook’s “Escape” project. Towards the end of this and into third piece “Oblivion” we encounter slightly more sci-fi, alien-sounding and sinister notes, with just a hint of crisp distortion. This darkening of mood continues into “Annihilus” with its backwards, soft industrial noise rhythm. Things get glitchier for “The World Eater” before, in final piece “Mistress Death”, we circle back round to a simpler soundscape of dark drones and space winds.

With an 11-page accompanying booklet that couples blurry-but-beautiful genuine black-and-white space photography with some of the worst typography I’ve seen in a long time, this release is currently ‘pay what you want’ on Bandcamp (at time of writing)- and it’s certainly worth a few quid if sci-fi ambient floats your spaceship.
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