Music Reviews



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Artist: ZOÄT-AON
Title: The Triplex Bestial
Format: CD
Label: Aural Hypnox
Rated: *****
Much like it happened with Aeoga, I found Zoät-Aon's debut, "Star Autopsy", a good but still immature album, only to be FLOORED by this second work, which is by far one of the highlights in the Aural Hypnox catalogue (and if you ask me, AH is one of the most underrated labels worldwide). First off, it comes in the best cover art and layout that AH has released to date, perfectly conveying the mysteryous, ritualistic nature of its music. Divided into 9 tracks, "The Triplex Bestial" represents the AH style at its best: brooding dark ambient merging cosmic vertigos and shamanic rituals, played with a variety of instruments including synths, percussion, bells, human skull drums, singing bowls, piano, natural field recordings... The result is a relentless, often bleak and frankly scary soundscape, surely led by an uncommon inspiration which puts to shame most of the dark ambient acts around nowadays.
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Artist: MIKE HANSEN
Title: At Every Point
Format: CD
Label: Etude Records
Rated: *****
This is my first crossing with Canadian improviser/turntablist/painter Mike Hansen, here offering an exciting disc of revised and processed performances, coming in a stylish black on black digipack, courtesy of the Barcelona-based label Etude Records, run by Pau Torres. "At Every Point" was played using an array of guitars, vinyls, cowbells, harmonicas and Vietnamese drums. Unlike many of his colleagues, Hansen has well spent his time cropping and layering bits and pieces of his sessions, with a great taste for (even hazardous) mixing. More often than not, the result is a joy for thirsty ears, a sort of Christian Marclay-cum-Steven Stapleton for the uncanny, surrealistic atmosphere of these audio-collages. The opening "The day before the day" sets the pace for the whole disc with its mashing of bowed strings, percussion, organ, acid guitars, droning gongs and toy-like sounds, and the creative tension never fades throughout; listen for example to the whirlwind of fragments in "Once held a lighter in the sky", or the drums/strings/vinyl loops mix in "Tidying up after". Great job all the way.
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Artist: CHD
Title: Terminal World Perspective
Format: CD
Label: Code666
Rated: *****
Bleak, progressive, electronic-tinged black metal from this Dutch quartet, merging the metal guitars-bass-vocals set with synths and programmed beats. Surely not as sickly insane as their former label mates Aborym, CHD (Control Human Delete) opt for a colder and less in-your-face approach, while maintaining much of the fury of the genre. Their style reminded me a lot of evolved black metal acts like Thorns or Satyricon, both in the songwriting (tempo changes, varied guitar lines, etc.) and in the vocal department (not the yelled "satanic" tone, rather a raging, lower one), and the result is surely welcome to my eardrums. Let's say that the electronic element is nothing groundbreaking in itself, but they use it in a creative, unobtrustive manner, merging it well with the metal element (think of early Ephel Duath for a clue); the two dub-ambient tracks, "Transpherium" and "Absolution", are quite decent, though I surely prefer the metal parts. Maybe 71 minutes of this are a bit much, as the formula tends to get repetitive after a while, but fans of technical, leftfield black metal will surely appreciate this album, which is surely better than what you can guess reading this review.
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Artist: GÜNTER MÜLLER
Title: Reframed
Format: CD
Label: Cut
Rated: *****
Quite a surprising solo release from the prolific genius of German/Swiss soundmaker Günter Müller, if you're familiar with his trademark percussion+electronics sound. "Reframed" features five untitled tracks of treated bowed cymbals drones, and while the final result surely stands on its own, I was reminded of Mark Wastell's equally solemn "Vibra", or some of Bertoia's "Somnambient" pieces. Here, the metallic resonance of bowed metal is carefully processed and layered into pure, highly abstract, Lucier-like forms, free to merge and fill the air around you, occasionally reaching peaks of intimidating power.
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Artist: SETH NEHIL/JGRZINICH
Title: Gyre
Format: CD
Label: Cut
Rated: *****
Born from location recordings taken in Estonia, Italy and Finland, "Gyre" is a superb electroacoustic work which marks the third joint collaboration of Nehil and Grznich (now based in the US and Estonia respectively), after the two 2002 releases, "Stria" (Erewhon) and "Confluence" (Intransitive). The 4-year span was well worth the wait, considering the quality of these three pieces. Knowing their inspiring collaborative and solo releases, and having seen a remarkable live performance by Nehil in Milan, my expectations were pretty high, and they surely weren't disappointed. "Cast" opens the album with a billowing low-end drone, reminding of López's or mnortham's absolute music; it's a fantastic piece, but somehow more predictable than the following two, "Weald" and "Glaze". The former is arguably the masterpiece of the whole disc, with sparse sounds (is it wood beating on wood, or dripping water?) creating an atmosphere of suspension and recollection; then, more layers of outdoor recordings are added, the piece gets more and more chaotic with the noises of branches and pebbles, the volume billows, then collapses in the last sequence of acoustic debris. It's an astonishing piece, with a great sense of composition, but most of all an uncommon evocative power. "Glaze" is an equally solemn soundscape, with subdued drones and unidentified metallic rattlings and thumps, with a subtle tension crawling in, as if waiting for an impending storm. Field recordings-based composition hardly gets any better than this.
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