Music Reviews



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Artist: Mia Zabelka & Asferico
Title: The Broken Glass
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Störung
“The Broken Glass” is a sedate and sparse unorthodox soundscape that combines found sound, synthesizer sounds, and very intermittent violin and vocal elements. It’s one of those sonic creations which is as much about what isn’t there, as what is. It’s pervaded with a sense of profound hollowness.

The title track, in two parts, starts as an extremely sparse bit of music concrete before gradually introducing, with confident patience, synth arpeggio loops that gently repeat with mesmeric steadiness. By the end of the second part, the resemblance to some of Tangerine Dream’s earlier work is very striking- and I mean that as a high compliment.

Second piece “Sonidos del Subconsciente II” is forty minutes long, and while officially not divided into parts, there are a couple of abrupt sonic changes, for example around the 9 minutes mark when it drops for several minutes into a sonic chasm so empty you begin to suspect that playback has stopped. Like the first piece, it begins extremely sparsely, this time drawing upon a found sound rhythm that feels like being in the hold of an huge and ancient wooden rowing boat. However instead of the TD-like arpeggio loops, the synthetic and organic patterns and strings are fewer and further between, single notes of suspense and tension. As it evolves it seems to step forwards in time, with the soundscape becoming more industrial, more metallic, with more of a sense of distant gasworks.

While it’s pitched as contemporary classical music, there’s so much space and ambience in this that it’s more appropriately filed under ‘soundscapes’. It’s a rich and assured work and a very engaging listen.
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Artist: 176 [Chris Abrahams, Anthony Pateras]
Title: Music In Eight Octaves
Format: CD + Download
Label: Immediata
Recorded back in 2005, “Music In Eight Octaves” is a single 50-minute relentless dual piano (or duel piano) hammering in which Chris Abrahams, pianist from The Necks, and the prolific Anthony Pateras have multi-tracked layers of rapid-fire piano improvisation, each layer focussed on a single octave. It’s an extremely maximalist approach, there’s no “less is more” here. Throughout the whole piece, individual octaves and pitch ranges ebb and flow but the manic pace never dips, and the overall result never drops to an energy level that could be described as anything less than frantic.

Blunt and challenging, and stark in its avantgardism, it’s a work that seems intended to explore the extreme of what soundscape it’s possible to create solely using fast-played unprocessed piano. As such it’s more intriguing for its attitude than for its content.
Jul 06 2017
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Artist: Doon Kanda
Title: Heart
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub
This is a quirky mini-EP of five tracks of post-dubstep instrumental alt-pop. There’s thin, muffled beats, rolling atmospheric bass hums, and squeaky high-end organ-like synth noises with liberal helpings of playful spontaneity. It’s fundamentally odd, part sombre, part daft, as though entirely in a world of its own.

All five of the tracks are under three minutes, making this feel like a sampler. “Womb” feels like a longer, super-mellow glitchy ambient track that’s been squeezed unnecessarily into the three minutes being allowed, while “Axolotl” fits the mould much more comfortably with an almost radio-edit structure. “Wings” and “Feline” both have broken synthwave elements to them, and closer “Heart” is the most straightforwardly atmospheric of the batch- relatively speaking.

A quirky debut mini-release on Hyperdub that’s indicative of a sound that stands on the fence and could go either way- further into EDM-tinged deep atmospheric dub, or the other way into simple barking madness.
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Artist: Ogive
Title: Folds
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Room40
Ogive is the first collaborative output from UK-based Chris Herbert and Spain-based Elias Merino, each of whom have a track record for minimalist electronic soundscaping, so it’s no surprise to find that “Folds” consists of five lengthy environments comprising of found sounds, digital noises and washes and unusual tones. Industrial resonance, devoid of any accompanying pounding, runs alongside computerised imitations of radio crackle and cut-up wind noises. Elements fade in and out at a glacial pace.

Split into five pieces averaging nine minutes each, there’s remarkably little to distinguish between each of the parts. Generally comprised of the same ingredients in the same proportions, they form a deeply consistent and coherent 45-minute ambient listening experience that defies your direct attention and instead wallows in your ears and gradually worms its way into your subconscious where it would clearly rather be. A minor exception is the slightly more organ-sounding finale of “Superhabitat” which serves as a levelling finale.

In a way it’s a notably cliché piece of ambient electronica that lacks anything in the way of truly unique character, but on the other hand, it’s successful in its ability to calm and adjust your mood through sustained listening.
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Artist: [.que]
Title: Wonderland
Format: CD + Download
Label: Sound In Silence
Tokyo-based Nao Kakimoto’s eighth full-length album is ten tracks of ideas spun off from the composing of the soundtrack to the short film Kurokawa Wonderland. While these ideas have evolved and are no longer the soundtrack album to that album, the sense of atmosphere and mood underscore persists throughout the 36 minutes of gentle super-warm-sounding electronica with folky and acoustic elements.

It’s second track “Faraway” that really sets the tone, with its gentle super-soft kick patterns and simple bassline keeping a steady and not too leisurely pace while piano and Rhodes-style keys twinkle casually on top. There’s a strong sense of journeying, which continues through the backwards-guitar-laden “Drip” and the opening-titles-of-road-movie-friendly “Vast”. Heavy use of reverse effects and artificial vinyl noise give “Laputa” a slightly more prog rock feel.

Inbetween these are piano pieces like “Quiet” and “Forest”, which are simple and plaintive unprocessed piano poems supported solely by ambient noises. Among the weaker pieces are “Afterglow” and the title track, both of which sound like production library music by-numbers more suited to corporate video than home listening.

“Wonderland” never really wrestles for your attention, preferring instead to be relaxed and soothing, background wallpaper if necessary. But while it’s a little generic in parts, it has some lovely deft electronica production touches and an undoubtable quality pervading through it that makes it a very enjoyable and mellow listen.
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