Music Reviews



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Artist: Scott R. Looney (@)
Title: Repercussions
Format: CD
Label: Edgetone Records (@)
Distributor: Independent Online Distribution Alliance
Rated: *****
Improvisational pianist Scott R. Looney, currently based in Oakland, California, has been highly active in the experimental and improvisational music scenes and has an impressive resume of work and study alongside many renowned improvisers, such as Henry Kaiser, Oliver Lake, and Morton Subotnick. "Repercussions," his first release in seven years, reveals a combination of technical skill and creativity that is truly engrossing. Traditional playing, demonstrating the artist’s intimate relationship with the instrument, is enhanced by "hyper piano" styling (including prepared elements), which opens up a host of new possibilities. A few passages are somewhat dark and brooding, such as "Intermittent," which lopes along before a erupting in a minimally climactic outburst at the end. The somber and drowsy moments are vastly outnumbered and overshadowed by hard-charging, frenetically paced runs and high-flying fingering that dominate the release. "luxtasEnTempore" and "Lissajous," for instance, thrive on agitated frenzies of rapid-fire runs, dips, and dives. Percussive sounds dot the landscape, adding depth to the staccato keyboard hammerings during certain tracks. There is some particularly intense clamor during "Rummage," in which it seems Looney fairly ransacks the piano, using every part to produce an array of accompanying sounds. My hat is off to Mr. Looney for actualizing this wonderfully eclectic body of improvisational music.
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Artist: COLD FUSION & RUKKANOR
Title: Silk Road
Format: CD
Label: Rage In Eden (@)
Rated: *****
SILK ROAD is a particular limited to 500 copies album. It born from the collaboration of the guys behind the Rage In Eden label which with their respective musical projects decided to join the efforts to create something particular, a sort of sound voyage. Robert and Marcin on the nine tracks of SILK ROAD lead us through the paths where in ancient times people were meeting: soldiers, traders, merchants were crossing their paths on the way from China to the Mediterranean Sea. Cold Fusion and Rukkanor are re-creating musically those sounds deeply influenced by Oriental and Mid-eastern culture by presenting nine instrumental tracks based on percussions, typical melodies of those places and a certain dark atmosphere which enhance the mystery that permeates the lives of peoples that were living into hostile places keeping high the value of their culture.
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Artist: Eidvlon (@)
Title: Idolatriae
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
Here’s the description from the press release: "7 tracks of ultra bleak, abstract atmospheres, with sounds and textures that seem to seep from catacomb walls and come slithering out of subterranean chambers." This is a pretty fair description. This is dark ambient, but it’s noisy dark ambientsoothing bass drones with just a bit of dissonance and noises beneath the surface that at times completely overwhelms the drones. For example, in "LaMoraleComeCorollariodellaVittoria" (talk about a radio friendly name!) the noise breaks through the drones to slow pounding and grinding staticy noise. But this isn’t too harsh; it would still function fine as background music for doing something else. It’s engaging enough to be interesting but not so demanding as to keep interrupting your concentration. I had it playing in my office and a colleague stopped byI felt no inclination to turn off or turn down the music. The obvious comparisons to Lustmord apply, but Eidvlon seems to have more in common with some of the more experimental Zoviet France pieces. In other words, it fits quite well with the other material in the Malignant catalog. This disc weighs in at 41 minutes.
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Artist: CNTR (@)
Title: Norhtern Deviation
Format: CD
Rated: *****
The press release that came with the disc states, "Utilizing loops, found sounds, drones and aseptic rhythms, we create unsettling alien soundscapes that fall somewhere between dark ambient and glitch." Sounds good, but the disc starts off with "Laika – Part One," which doesn’t really seem to back that statement up. It’s a bit repetitive for my taste, but it has a decent beat that would appeal to fans of old Orbital. Once we get to "Laika – Part Two" it seems to start owning up to the promise made in the press release. Nice drones and voices that I can’t understand. The track moves at a glacial pace, which seems to be just right. If the beat were more prominent, "Still Water" would be just noisy enough to fit in with the Ant-Zen crowd. In general, this is an interesting mix of soundscapes and beats that defies easy description. In comparison, on their myspace page, they list early Aphex Twin, Nurse with Wound, Coil, and SPK. I can go with early Aphex Twin at times, but they don’t sound like any of the NWW that I own (but I think only Steven Stapleton has all of them) and they don’t quite have the complexity of Coil. But it is engaging and interesting. If you want to hear them for yourself, check out their myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/cntr. This disc weighs in at 65 minutes.
Artist: orchestramaxfieldparrish
Title: The Silent Breath Of Emptiness
Format: CD
Label: Faith Strange Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Despite the name of the band, this is the solo work of Mike Fazio. I had not heard of this project, but I am familiar with his work in Copernicus, which is a wonderful blend of poetry and music. The label describes the disc thus: "This new recording consists of an improvised solo electric guitar soundscape originally intended for an exhibition of local area visual artists that never came to be. This piece was totally improvised and freeform, recorded live and captured in one take and then divided into 4 parts." Guitar drone is often polarized in terms of qualitywhen it’s good it’s really good and when it’s bad it’s really bad and there is little in between. Fortunately, this falls on the good side of the spectrum, probably because it doesn’t really sound like just guitar drone. I’m assuming that there are a lot of effects being used to create the variety of sounds in these tracks. The album opens with what sounds like an orchestra warming up for performance. As the disc progresses, the layers become more and more intertwined to the point where, in Part 3, it becomes almost like a wall of noise that continually crescendos and decrescendos. But this wall of noise is not to be confused with the Merzbow style of wall of noise. It never becomes oppressive, just intense. Overall, this is a nice disc to relax to but still engaging. I suppose it would work for your next gallery installation as well... . The main comparison that comes to mind is Vidna Obmana. This disc weighs in at 49 minutes and is nicely packaged in a digipak. You can check out some of it at his myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/orchestramaxfieldparrish.
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