Music Reviews



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Artist: Kitaro
Title: Spiritual Garden
Format: CD
Label: Domo
Distributor: Columbia International
Rated: *****
As one of the leading representatives of the new age avantgarde music scene of Japan, 12 time nominee and Grammy Award, Golden Globe and Artist of Peace Award winning composer/musician Kitaro now takes us onto a new musical journey inspired by the Harupin-Ha Butoh Dance of Koichi Tamano. Kitaro's eclectic and multifaceted approach to composition delivers twelve tracks of unique genre-defying music that references back to sound palettess from avantgarde progressive and psychedelic music (Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Can, Keith Jarret, Pink Floyd) as well as fusion (Pat Metheney, Lyle Mays) but arranges and incorporates them in a graceful classically-inspired fashion. The twelve tracks of "Spiritual Garden" travel from sci-fi-ish new age ambiances to slow classical piano pieces through orchestrated compositions of educated heritage and time-travelling synth pads, nature sounds (forest, birds) and occasional guitar sounds. Rhythmical elements throughout the record are few and far in between, but its sparse percussivness is cleverly augmented by the delivery of these tunes.All the songs on this record have been written, arranged and performed by Kitaro and his wife Keiko Takahashi (together for the first time on a Kitaro record) and occasionally feature acoustic guitar by Paul Pesco.Released by the Californian label Domo records this last February, "Spiritual Garden" is already #4 on iTunes, so if you happened to have listened to 2005's Kanpai records' "Reinterpretations (a remix album of timeless Kitaro songs)" CD, you owe it to yourself to discover the true original Kitaro world.
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Artist: TRISTRAUM (@)
Title: Grey
Format: CD
Label: Section 44 (@)
Rated: *****

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After several years of work, Tristraum finally released on early February their debut album titled GREY. Containing also their previous singles "Shiver" and "First embrace" the album include also a cover of a Gary Numan song: "Walking with shadows" (track that is coming from his previous album "Pure"). Gathering ten songs for a length of fortysix minutes the album shows the different faces of the band: the synthpop influenced by goth melodies (see "Eyes wide open", "Shiver" or "I’m under no one"), the sensual electro pop (the Fixx cover "Chase the fire" is a good example of this style and it is the one that convinced me most even if also "Toothing" is a good one), the introspective ambient electro with celtic melodies (see "Gray"), the good Gary Numan cover of "Walking with shadows" reprocessed by the band being true to the original version but playing it with their personal style and finally the ballad "Before it’s gone" which contains a charming orchestral arrangement that make the creepy effect created by the song rise in an impressive way. In my opinion half of the album is really good and it gathers different influences that have been richly personalized by the trio. The synthpop goth influenced tracks are the ones that impressed me less because on those I found Krystyna voice less expressive respect the other ones where she changes her voice coloring, in this way, the different tracks in a beautiful way.
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Artist: MUSEUM OF TRANSIENT LIGHTS
Title: Dream a Little Dream
Format: CD
Label: Trinity Records
Rated: *****
"Dream a Little Dream" features exactly the same line up of Penitent's latest "A Shapeless Beauty", i.e. Lucian Olteanu and Karsten Hamre, and it's no wonder it reminds of that album in many ways - one could actually mistake it for the other in several passages. As regards to this aspect, the opening track, "The Way We Weren't", is probably the most individual one, with its suspended rhythmic electronica bringing to mind some atmospheric moments of Coil's "Love's Secret Domain". The other two, the 29-minute title track and "Out of Your Mind", are much closer to Penitent's above mentioned work, with many of the features I can't personally stand, like pompous synths, uninteresting drum machine programming and a very flat production. It's standard rhythmic electronica crossed with over-the-top symphonic ambient, and I honestly don't think much of such a mix.
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Artist: SPIRACLE
Title: Ananta
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
Japanese multimedia artist Hitoshi Kojo, who has recently moved to Switzerland, has collaborated with artists like mnortham (as Kodama), jgrznich and Loren Chasse, besides running his own label Octpia and actively collaborating with the remarkable Cloudmirror project. With this very label he released one of my favourite pieces of 2005, "Iris", which was a powerful beast of a drone (see archive). "Ananta" is a 62-minute single piece, and, while not as mind bending, clearly shows how Hitoshi is able to build massive soundscapes out of a limited number of layers. I don't know which sources lie at the basis of the work, but the high-end tones remind those of a gigantic organ, much like a grittier version of his fellow Grzinich's pieces. 62 minutes of it could be a bit overwhelming if you're not in the right mood to go through it and emptying your mind along the way, but a disciplined listen will surely reward you with a small scale ecstasy.
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Artist: JOE COLLEY/JASON LESCALLEET
Title: Brombron 09: Annihilate This Week
Format: CD
Label: Korm Plastics
Rated: *****
How can you go wrong when you quote Black Flag in your title? While Colley is a favourite of mine, I was not familiar with Lescallett's works, and these collaborative sessions, which took place in Nijmegen as a part of the Extrapool/Brombron project, surely make me want to investigate that further. There are no details on who played what, but I guess the two shared a plethora of broken elelectronic equipment and filtered field recordings - ear-piercing bird squeaks and, possibly, a didjeridoo are the only barely recognizable sound sources here. The rest is a mass of metallic drones and pulses which easily reminds of Colley's past work as Crawl Unit, or his less destructive compositions in masterpieces like "Desperate Attempts at Beauty" or "Psychic Stress Soundtracks". A no-frills, non-conciliatory approach to minimalism, full of truly unadulterated tension.
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