Music Reviews



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Artist: RODRIGO SIGAL (@)
Title: Space within
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
A collection of six pieces individually released by various labels, "Space within" is a remarkable portfolio by Mexican electroacoustic composer Rodrigo Sigal. The works, created between 1999 and 2002, are part of the author's Ph. D. thesis, titled "Compositional strategies in electroacoustic music", discussed at London City University in 2003, and have won several international prizes over the years. Sigal's attitude towards his sound sources (be they barely recognizable "electroacoustic sounds" or instruments like marimba, bassoon and cello) is best suggested by the stunning ant micrographs accompanying the cd layout: following an in-depth, almost surgical analysis of the material characteristics of sounds, the studio manipulations create an alien, subtly menacing landscape. "Friction of things in other places" (a title which could well describe the whole work) and the two-movement "Cycles" are sombre pieces of shifting drones, fractured field recordings (water, birds, wind... or so I guess) and sudden spurts of human voices - all very intense and consistent throughout, at times reminding me of Marc Behrens or some Artificial Memory Trace. "Twilight" (for bassoon and electroacoustic sounds) and "Tolerance" (for cello and electroacoustics) are equally successful works, where Sigal's interventions (frequencies, crackles, unexpected noisy bursts) seems to delve into the players' performance, bringing to light a microscopic, even disharmonic view of their sounds: as if you could perceive both the notes and the stress of metal, wood and breath which generate them.
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Artist: FAKE (@)
Title: Los Angeles Synthetic
Format: CD
Label: Static Sky Records (@)
Distributor: Metropolis Records
Rated: *****
FAKE is the solo effort by Clint Carney of SYSTEM SYN who had indeed a successful year 2004. But if you look for some similarities you wont find too much. FAKE is much harder and features some nice system critically ingredients. It seems that Clint offered us here a personal side of what's happened with and around him with a huge influence of the nowadays political and social situation. LA seems to have his very own interest and I have the feeling that Clint even just get more angry with the results of the US president election, some tracks ("To the Land", "Money to Kill for" or "Wake Up') here can be easily called acoustic results after a post election shock. While I really enjoyed his critically and full of sarcasm filled lyrics woven in harsh distorted and sometimes vocoderized vocals the music itself brings globally Dark Electro/EBM with a decent slap-in-your-face attitude. It is not that too overpopulated SC EBM output which have had too often in the clubs for years, it is more filled with some varied programmings and ideas. Globally a typically US Electro sound, this is something that Europeans will never be able to program, and also the decent included GEETAR on "To the Land" for example doesn't disturb me at all. Outstanding pieces next to the already mentioned are to me the title track and "UnEvolved" which can make you storm the dancefloors. SYSTEM SYN fans should give this (too?) rough output a test run at first, I personally prefer this FAKE effort. A big recommendation to get this!
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Artist: The Victim's Shudder (@)
Title: In Lasting Joy, of Slowly Dying
Format: CD
Label: NOTHingness Records (@)
Rated: *****
I can’t say enough good things about this project! It took me a few listens to really appreciate the full impact of the album; but the payoff is pure dark delight! Lest my overt enthusiasm be misconstrued for manic-depressive syndrome, let me first say that I am a total sucker for well-done dark ambient music. And this is as nearly well done as it gets. The person behind The Victim’s Shudder goes only by the name of DM Winn, whereabouts unknown. The label, NOTHingness Records is out of Belgium. That being said, let’s get down to the music. "In Lasting Joy, of Slowly Dying" opens with a piece titled "A Sleeping Box" where droplets of water play against a clicking sound with baby-babble and the faint tinkling of an abstract music box melody that becomes more psychotic toward the end of this short, introductory episode. "Agnellus" continues the cycle with restrained high-pitched squealing strings and bits of a singsong child’s nursery rhyme. A thumb piano in the background plays a counter-melodic sequence and then deep cellos enter and somberly state the brief theme while a storm cloud of malevolence builds in the atmosphere. A female voice, which has been humming in the wings emerges wordlessly, comes to the fore and follows the sad and foreboding cello melody. All the while high strings still squeal in apprehension. A deep male voice has a muffled verbal exchange with the female voice while the music builds with menacing intent. The female voice rises, singing sustained "ahs" while strings provide backing accompaniment ending on a high, dissonant psychotic chord. The sequence repeats. Merely describing the mechanics of this doesn’t even begin to do it justice. It is so well executed that it’s mind-boggling. You have to hear it to get the full effect.The third track, "The First Sleep", again features the female voice (Diana W, who does a very nice job in a Black Tape For A Blue Girl sort of way) while harp, and strings play seemingly innocent counter melodies. A brief respite from the psychosis. On track 4, "The Fall And Embrace" a piano plays somber chords while in the background another sinister storm brews. More female voice, subdued and counter-melody string chords. The fem-vox continues to wordlessly sing her own sad song in an Ophelia-like manner and a sampled discussion on exorcism is dropped into the mix. The strings and piano build in an increasingly distressing manner. An impending doom may be at hand... "Bells" is another transitory piece, enveloped in the protective embryonic innocence of childhood. With "Nox Intempestia", we really get the impression of a portentous resolution soon to occur. The insanity grows with woodwinds carrying a demented carnival tune interspersed with stately piano chords and stray higher register strings while male voice jibbers in the background. "The Crashing of The Spheres" begins with the piano chord theme hinted at before, and now fully realized and expanded upon. And yes, there truly IS a crashing as the sound of glass smashes across the speakers and the sonic-storm rages and howls! And all the while the piano keeps playing... ."Mente Concipio", the final track, and longest piece from "In Lasting Joy, of Slowly Dying" sounds very-much like Ordo Equilibrio, with a recitation by a male voice over slowly played piano notes and a rich mélange of atmosphere. No point in giving away the words of the recitation, wouldn’t want to spoil your listening experience. You just need to hear it for yourself. This continues in a repeated cycle for eleven and a half minutes until its abrupt conclusion. On the contrary to being boring, it is GREAT atmosphere, totally gothic and sublime. There are just so many elements of some of the best dark ambient projects I’ve ever heard here (Ordo Equilibrio, Caul, Ildfrost, Lustmord, Endura and probably a heap of CMI projects) that this CD is a MUST HAVE for fans of the genre. Maybe The Victim’s Shudder utilizes more neo-classical elements than the average dark ambient project, and maybe that’s what sets it apart from the slew (as opposed to the few in years past) of composers in the genre presently. Whatever the case, I believe that if what you’ve read about it so far intrigues you, you will enjoy "In Lasting Joy, of Slowly Dying" very, very much. Note: While this release is a CD-R, NOTHingness Records is a CD-R label and you’re still getting a high-quality product packaged in a DVD-style plastic case. (At least that’s the way they sent it to me.)
Artist: Sliptbeat / Rumpistol
Title: Copenhagen Jazz
Format: 10"
Label: Auditory Designs recordings (@)
Distributor: VME
Rated: *****
Not sure whether the CD is fucked up or my player doesn't like cheap CD-Rs, but it doesn't matter too much because the original for-sale version of this split EP is actually released by Auditory Designs recordings on 10" vinyl (beautiful format)...I didn't get much listening out of this but from the few un-affected minutes, I could tell that Splitbeat are into jazzy downbeat lounge-chillout. They are a Danish duo that uses drums, electronica, rhodes, trumpet and vocal samples. The flip side is left up to the electronic artist Rumpistol, who I didn't get the pleasure to check out because of what I said above, but who I read offers a 12-minute-long track called "Crowds" featuring the talented Rasmus Kjærsgaard on tenor saxophone.Basically what we have here is an all-Danish product, three tracks, nice rare format, beautiiful relaxing music from Northern Europe, just what you need to cuddle up in these cold days.
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Artist: Sasha
Title: Involver
Format: CD
Label: Global Underground (@)
Rated: *****
I've already reviewed this record back in June when I was sent the advance promo copy by their promoter MSO so I won't be repeating what I already said. You can read my review by clickin on the name Sasha at the top of the review (http://www.chaindlk.com/reviews/?id=1317). It's a great album, very intense, very true. Finally a different type of DJ album, where the DJ really is a musician and a producer and doesn't just label and market himself as such simply because he installed Reason on his computer. Sasha is a complete artist, one who takes his art beyond the mere act of mixing a bunch of records together in one continuous flow of music, one who re-works, possibly re-writes other people's songs, a symbiosis of a remixer, a mixer, a producer, an arranger, a writer, a Dj. Sasha is all of this and "Involver"'s re-elaborations of music by Unkle, Felix Da Housecat, Grand National, Spooky and Ulrich Schnauss prove it! What is really outstanding and worthy of mention and pretty much convinced me to review this album one more time is the art-work and packaging that the final release of "Inolver" comes in. I've never seen anything as beautiful and original. You'll have to see it yourself. The CD is packed in between a bunch of glossy postcard looking photos with notes about the song on the back (one photo for every song) plus cards for credits, back cover, front cover and more. All of these cards are shaped like a square with its outside edges bent inward. All of this is inserted inside an equally shaped soft plastic unfolding shell... Truly unique and magnificent... and what do you know, this review turned out longer than the original one ;-)
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