Music Reviews



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Artist: Koyl
Title: Fingerprints
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Silber Records (@)
Koyl’s contribution to Silber’s long-running “5 in 5” series, mini-EPs (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) with five one-minute long songs making a five-minute-long whole, has a loose “five fingers” theme to it, with tracks named after your trigger finger or flipping the bird with your middle finger. I’ll be honest, I don’t hear how this translates to the miniature pieces themselves, but it’s a quaint idea for sure.

Predominantly this is meandering guitar improvisation over some dark and distant drones and rhythmic beds, and it’s expertly done. Even within the space of five minutes, there’s plenty of variety.

“Versus” is a strong intro that could easily have warranted several more minutes on its own, that flows continuously into the slide guitar and faintly Wild West tone of “Pulling The Trigger”. “Flipping The Bird”, with its faintly church-like ambience and relatively cheery loose melody wandering over a warm sustained chord, segues into the inversion of “La Corde Au Cou” as the chord bed turns dark and sinister, before dropping away to allow “Yubitsume” to run as a slightly sweet arpeggio loop that rounds things off nicely.

Other releases in the “5 in 5” series can sometimes feel like sampler items, 1-minute extracts from longer pieces, whereas this release almost completely escapes that problem and manages to create a work which stands up as a strong 5-minute mini-adventure that definitely makes me want to check out further Koyl releases.
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Artist: Antlers Mulm
Title: Give Or Take / In Reverse
Format: 7"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Two of the more upbeat tracks from the “Touring The Moon Bog” album released back in March 2016 get a 7” vinyl outing on Enfant Terrible. Staccato synth notes echoing around in heavily reverberant space, underpinned by gentle and unusual drum programming, form the bed for two pieces of melancholic, atmospheric, loose-structured and subversive electropop that sounds like it’s been recorded in an empty cathedral.

For retro comparisons, it will appeal to fans of OMD’s more experimental work, and the vocal even has hints of a subdued Marc Almond about it, as much in the emotional expression as in the vocal tone- but there’s also a harder-edged, Cabaret Voltaire feel to it. “Give And Take” is more introspective, “In Reverse” a little bit more aggressive, but they make a good pair very appropriate for a 7” outing.
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Artist: Darkrad
Title: Little Black World
Format: CD
Label: Audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
According to the bio sheet, Darkrad is the work of Jana Komaritsa, who hails from Russia, but currently resides in the United States. I had not heard of her work, but her debut album was released by Cold Meat Industry in 2012, so that should give you some inkling of what you’re in for. The label describes the music of Darkrad as “a combination of Dark Ambient and Noise, which is accompanied by quiet but threatening whispered vocals.” Sounds promising; let’s get into it. "Chernota" opens with heavy bass and the standard power electronics distorted vocals a la Genocide Organ. Thankfully this shifts in the next few tracks as the vocals become slightly more intelligible (although still distorted) over throbbing bass and analog stabs. "Someone Beneath" features rumbling bass and snippets of voice that serve mainly as texture rather than as vocals. My 5-year-old loved it and said that it sounded like being in a spaceship (yes, my kids will have great taste in music). But this is not all grinding drone and machinery. "Horizont" is nice spacey dark ambient, "All Is Wrong" is almost mellow, with its muffled bass and percussion, and "Rasshelina" has moaning drones that sound like the pains of the fallen. Some of the tracks tended to become a bit repetitive though, as in the case of "Burn The Eyes." As for the remixes, "Feel The Blood" by Dirk Geiger really brings in the drums with a vengeance while "Rasshelina" remixed by Spherical Disrupted remains pretty faithful to the original with the addition of drums and minor tweaks, only changing direction toward the end. Overall this is a good mix of noise and atmosphere. This album weighs in at around 69 minutes.
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Artist: Radio Free Clear Light (@)
Title: The Matter
Format: CD
Label: Black Note Music (@)
Rated: *****
I had previously reviewed “Joyful Noise Vol. 2 - Nomina Nuda Tenemus” by Radio Free Clear Light, so I had some idea of what I was in for. This disc is meant to accompany a graphic poem by the same name, although sadly it was not included. However, they note that it should stand on its own. The press sheet describes the album thus: “The Matter is a sonic interpretation of themes of Gnosis and questions of consciousness and autonomy. Found sounds collide and combine in surprising new ways, culminating in 6 original tracks.” Sounds good, although I really wish that I could have the visuals to accompany the music. “Something Lies Hidden” opens with percussion and clicks, with a feeling of forward motion, over a bed of rumbling bass. Random loops of disembodied voices keep the composition interesting. If there was hope for humanity in the first track, the machine has completely taken over in “Something Is Not You.” Sewing machines, dot-matrix printers, 1950’s science fiction sound effects, and a voice repeating “something is not you” keeps it noisy and disconcerting. “What Is Inside” keeps the noisiness going until it all dissolves into a soup of spacey ambient. “Warzone” brings the weirdness I would expect from RFCL; if I had to describe it in one line, it would be 1950’s sci-fi meets 1980’s video games. It is an analog and 8-bit extravaganza. “Behind the Symbols” shifts the focus to rhythm, with percussion brought to the forefront. “Beneath the Surface” brings it to a close with more chaotic machinery, like a factory run amok. Overall, this was a good time and an interesting listen. Another good installment from this project. This album weighs in at around 65 minutes.
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Artist: Bardoseneticcube / Shinkiro (@)
Title: Inner and Outer Space
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Rated: *****
I have had several opportunities to review Bardoseneticcube’s work, but this is the first I have heard of Shinkiro. According to his website, Shinkiro is a “Japanese dark ambient project by Manabu Hiramoto, started in 2003 to express the inner landscapes of humanity. The music can be described as ‘soundtrack to imaginary film with dark ambience.’ Recently, his musical exploration has expanded not only into the meditative and deep but also into his personal terrain of Shinto and Buddhism.” Bardoseneticcube is a dark ambient/industrial project from St. Petersburg. Now with Bardoseneticcube, you never really know what you’re going to get, so let’s see how these two artists work together. “Fluctuations” opens with the kind of spacey dark ambient that I have come to expect from Zhelezobeton. “Evolution” keeps this feel going with the moving of tectonic plates and warbling synth. Reminds me of older Lustmord and Rapoon. “Inflation” is where we begin to see the synthesis of these acts. Like the previous tracks, it begins peacefully, with slowly shifting synth notes that hold for several measures at a time. But this is all an illusion, as it becomes progressively harsher as the track evolves. This is what you hear right before you cross the event horizon. After another interlude of spacey ambient in “Afterglow,” we move to the conclusion in “Dark Ages.” Heavily processed, sped up robot voices, a woman holding out one note, and bits of timpani all help to bring the spacy drone down to earth. This is the chaotic element of Bardoseneticcube that I enjoy. Overall, this is quite enjoyable and makes me interested to hear more from Shinkiro. This album weighs in at around 52 minutes and is limited to 333 copies.
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