Music Reviews



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Artist: Prioratvm (@)
Title: Adonis
Format: CD
Label: Final Muzik (@)
Rated: *****
Prioratvm is the project by Mirko B. based on a form of neofolk in the vein of the gothic oriented form. So, while the classical guitar is often the main instruments used, the synth are mostly used to obtain atmospheres as sentimental as solemn which are far enough from being mawkish. As the genre's code imposes, the album is based on an ancient myth revolving around beauty.
After an initial atmospheric part, the opening track of this release, "Chajat", focuses on an almost oriental melody. "Belus at Biltis" is closer to some gothic or neofolk music as the classical guitar has the role to expose the main theme of the track. "Adonis" features an apparently different track structure as the synth is the main element instead of having an accompaniment's role. The voice of Maria Cristina Anzola on "Didusch" is able to carry all the musical content as the guitar does in "L'Age D'Or". The spoken words of "La Chute D'Adonis" marks an incursion into more experimental and evocative territories based on the used of more sustained tones as "L'arbre Interdit" partially continues with his hypnotic melody. While "Esvaba L'Usurpateur" partially continues on the same path, the return of the guitar marks the return into more neoclassical path so "Le Serpent Et La Sagesse" closes this release with a guitar melody.
Obviously it doesn't make sense to talk about any innovation when genres as neofolk or chamber are used, instead the quality of writing and the equilibrium of musical elements are the main points for the critical discussion. Adonis is a solid release, probably due also to the sonic equilibrium obtained by the mastering work, and the brilliant tracks make Prioratvm a name to keep an eye on for all fans of this musical genre.
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Artist: Francesco Giannico & Giulio Aldinucci (@)
Title: Agoraphonia
Format: CD
Label: Dronarivm (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Dronarivm is an example of the zeitgeist as it's an example of the rise of the curator. The project by Francesco Giannico and Giulio Aldinucci started as an open call for field recordings about the theme of the square seen as a cultural and political landmark. In our tradition the town square is the gravity center of social intercourse while it's now in a disruption phase due to social media and modernity. Another call was done to obtain photos for the artwork, then they filter and place contribution with the objective of creating a coherent picture of the intended meaning.
The first track, "Koutoubia", is based upon the field recordings of Fabio R. Lattuca in Marocco and portrays the life of a town viewed by a fixed position where the voice from an loudspeaker, maybe a politician, is gradually buried by the other voices of the square and a resonance which develops all sounds intro a drone below the voice. "Plaza de Mayo", based upon the field recordings of Ana Maria Romano, after the distant voices of the place results in an evocative soundscape vaguely reminiscent of political implications. "Shantangjie", based upon the field recordings of Luca Bonaccorsi, generates the sense of movement of an emerging economy while "Piazza Umberto I", based upon the field recordings of Davide di Francesco, sounds as a mediation upon the emptying process of small towns distant from a metropolis. "Agoraphonia", which is based upon a bunch of contributions, is a large portrait of the life in a square without the large discussion someone could expect but with the sense of seeing a bunch of people in transit without any connection between them.
It's difficult to determine the real status of an author when there's a so large number of contributors that have done all the big decisions about the sonic material, however here could be found the sense of the role of the curator which is the research of common traits upon differences to underline the vanishing point of modernity. Francesco Giannico and Giulio Aldinucci turn out to create a coherent view of modern life in a square, and this is a true political stance, and the listener is guided into a view of the world. A truly recommended release.
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Artist: Urs Leimgruber | Alex Huber
Title: Lightnings
Format: CD
Label: Wide Ear Records (@)
Rated: *****
We already introduced some interesting outputs by Swiss label Wide Ear and this one where one of label co-founder, the brilliant drummer Alex Huber, pairing with saxophonist Urs Leimgruber, one of the most appreciated improvisers in Europe, - it was lying almost entirely buried by messy columns of CDs and paper, I'm typically surrounded by -, should be considered as a gemstone for lovers of the genre. The choice of the awarded pattern that Austrian art designer Peter Kogler made for an internal space of Kunsthaus Zug as the cover artwork refers to the place where these sessions got recorded on March 7th, 2014, but it could also mirror the unusual approach of this duo to sound. They seem to have followed the deformed web of those painted walls by ensnaring and trapping the so-called jazz standards in the cells of a grid, where saxophone jazz harmonies and its phrasing by Urs become somehow homogenous when the fantastic drumming by Alex starts hitting (getting close to breakbeat in the convulsive tails of tracks like "Swift" and "Resistant") without any real interruptions. The way the two instruments interact is close to mimicry, as you'll quickly notice while listening to the four sessions, as whenever tones and beating fade in or fade out, there's a perpetual mutual mirroring, but the strategy by which they turned the intensity of the sonic stream through bizarre timbre and tone morphing up is the really catchy element of the whole release.
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Artist: Ingar Zach
Title: Le Stanze
Format: CD
Label: Sofa Music
“Le Stanze” was recorded across 2014 and 2015 and mixed in 2016.

The spaciousness of opening track “La bugia dello specchio” serves as prelude to “Il battito del vichingo” as the main event, a relentless rhythmic pulsing of metal and chimes. Ten minutes of marching, tribal-ish workout then unfold and give way to spontaneous hits and reverberations that get progressively more sparse and distant.

Despite being comfortably packaged in art house territory, there are points in the first half of “Il battito del vichingo” in particular feels like it’s only a couple of synth sounds away from being an epic club track from Underworld. There’s a techno beat lurking, teasing, but never revealing itself. I struggle to tell with “L'inno dell' oscurita” whether this track is especially steeped in post-production or whether it’s a complex and elaborate arrangement of live feedback and filters creating the deeply alien and unearthly effects. I suspect it’s the latter, but either way, the result is like the waking of an intelligent alien warhorse, sinister and unnerving- and from around the five minute mark, genuinely difficult to listen to.

“È solitudine” begins in the absence of time, and apart from an occasional bang, languishes in feedback and its own evolution- standing out as being much more relaxed and pensive than the previous pieces.

In some parts this is just a single-note-bassline away from being techno, in other parts it’s a challenging discordant cacophony, in other parts a percussive chill-out album. Fascinating stuff, but hard to pin down.
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Artist: Aidan Casserly (@)
Title: Incubus
Format: CD
Label: Werkstatt Recordings
“Incubus” is Aidan’s fifth album of 2016, and that’s solo only, not counting his multiple collaborations and other projects- this man is certainly not suffering from writer’s block right now!

Right from the opener “The Gate” it’s clear that “Incubus” will be a filmic and emotional package, influenced by Aidan’s recent forays into film scoring, with a definite leaning towards the ballads and the blues. This is most in evidence on tracks like “Escape Is Not An Option”. However the love of synthpop is certainly not forgotten, with songs like “City As A Memory” and “Dead Sin” making no secret of the pop sensibilities at their heart, especially when the repeat “dead sin” vocal starts sounding like “dancing”.

What they do all have in common though is a raw, vulnerable energy- these melodies and lyrics are heartfelt. The production is certainly polished, these are not demo tracks, but there’s still an honest simplicity to them.

Two duets with guest vocalist Kriistal Ann add an extra element to the soundscape, though Kriistal’s tone and inflection is a feminine parallel of Aidan’s so the transition is almost seamless, and the effect on the overall mood quite mild.

Ten tracks, at 32 minutes, makes a compact little package of highly emotive, ballad-heavy synthpop.
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