Music Reviews



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Artist: THE BEAUTIFUL SCHIZOPHONIC
Title: Hyperblue.Hydrophonics
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
Last year I shared a cd with Portuguese artists Bio and Jorge Mantas/TheBeautiful Schizophonic (by the way, another 3-way split cd of his, with Pawel Grabowsky and the John Eeck Ripple/Paolo Raposo duo, has been recently released by Crónica), and I think he has a really interesting, stripped-down approach to drone music. First of all, Mantas usually comes up with shorter pieces than most of one-sixty-minute-track dronemakers, then he also adds a gritty, real time feel to them. I'm sure Mantas would probably be able to reproduce his style in a live performance without much loss in terms of impact and details. This 9-track, 39-minute release on Mystery Sea is no exception, though TBS is also refining his tecniques as time goes by. "A night at the ocean" starts the work with barely audible water recordings, filtered with Mantas' typical understatement (on a side note, I noticed that walking with his recordings in your headphones has a nice underwater-like effect). "Hyperblue.Hydrophonics" is made of mostly elusive soundscapes, occasionally rising to more metallic and noisy frequencies with great effects ("Gothic cathedral under the sea", "Shiny inner beach"), and is definitely the punkest (ahem!) release in the Mystery Sea catalogue to date.
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Artist: ASHER
Title: Graceful Degradation
Format: CD
Label: CONV
Rated: *****
Released on a strictly limited cdr by the praiseworthy Spanish label CONV, "Graceful Degradation" features three (de-)compositions by Massachusets-based Asher Thal-Nir, who has another online work on the same label ("And invariably the blue") and one on 12k/Term ("Two compositions"). Here the artist recorded various piano performances on old worn-out tapes, until the several different layers started to merge and blur; then he edited the raw material, assembling these dusty and drifting pieces where tape hisses and scratches, and re-surfacing particles of previously cancelled music, are as important as every single piano note. Voluntarily monochromatic and static, Thal-Nir's experiments convey a sense of peaceful melancholia, as if looking back to the past from a safe shelter - not necessarily from a pleasant one, but from a shelter nonetheless.
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Artist: PAUL BRADLEY
Title: Sophia Drifts
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
Hell, reviewing Bradley's works is seriously beginning to be embarassing. This single-track, forty-minute work was especially composed for Mystery Sea's cult series, while Bradley also self-released on his own Twenty Hertz a limited edition including a bonus 3" cdr. As expected, it's another excellent work for this English dronemaker, much in the style of recent cds of his like "Liquid Sunset" or the latest Droneworks contribution. "Sophia Drifts" is a slowly uncoiling spiral of time-stretched drones, at first barely punctuated by what sounds like heavily filtered recordings of dripping water and crashing waves. After a first half of mind-numbing stasis, the piece undergoes a crescendo of metallic frequencies and an accumulation of unidentified audio debris, eventually leading to the final minutes of troubled rest, where ghosts of melodies surface for a while before disappearing altogether.
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Artist: PENITENT
Title: A Shapeless Beauty
Format: CD
Label: Trinity Records
Rated: *****
I'm not familiar at all with Penitent's discography, which I believe is now quite extensive (including a cd on Cold Meat Industry), so I'm afraid I can't make any comparison with their previous works. Recorded in 2004 and released by Hong Kong's Trinity Records, "A Shapeless Beauty", composed by Lucian Olteanu and Karsten Hamre (also responsible for Dense Vision Shrine, Arcane Art and a theory of other projects), features seven tracks of gloomy and occasionally pompous atmospheric music. I would call it "dark ambient", but bear in mind this is less drone-oriented and more "symphonical" in a keyboard/synth-driven way, actually reminding of many soundtracks for low-budget horror movies from the 80's... the kind of movies you don't necessarily recognize as masterpieces, but that you always watch with a sort of twisted pleasure. For me, Penitent's music works more or less in the same way: while it's not scary or moving at all, and has many artistic flaws (a muffled sound, some predictable and redundant compositions, monotonous drum machine patterns etc.), it is a decent job, with a few standout tracks like "Born Bound", "Regret" or "The Longing".
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Artist: INFERNOSOUNDS (@)
Title: I Feel
Format: CD
Label: Ionium-Records / A + F Music (@)
Distributor: SXDistribution
Rated: *****
The German male/female duo INFERNOSOUNDS presents with "I Feel" already its second full-length after their debut "Eiszeit" in 2004. Consisting of Cornelia (vocals) and Marko Kupfer (sounds), they go further to create and present us their vision of - I would say - Dark Electro Pop... or something like this. The formula is simple: female vocals in both English and German spreading stories and happenings of lucky/unlucky relationships, Goth-infiltrated themes of angels, darkness, or vampire stories mixed to some trendy Electropop sounds. BLUTENGEL or TRISTE DE LA LUNA somehow come to mind, and... - hell, this duo really hits the cliche pot in all variations ("Creature Of The Night"). That’s for sure not new or something what can be called innovative - but it still seems to have its audience, I may think on some 13-years-old Goth greenhorns discovering a really "hard and dark Electro CD...". Okay, enough sarcasm here, this duo finally has also some well worked out pieces, and here can be named "Das Land Der Schwarzen Rosen". Also "Funkel Funkel" has to named, it is inspired by German children fairytale, and I find the musically conversion quite convincing. Some special remix works are also included here, among others MASSIV IN MENSCH and SPIRITUAL CRAMP have to be named, both remixing one of the best tracks here, "Endlose Wege". As I said - the result here will still get some attention by the audience and this act will may grow to a higher level of recognition. My issues moreover belong to some personal preferences. So for what this album seems to be, it is decent. Another important point to know: 1,-- Euro out of the sales of this release will be donated to a foundation against child molestation. A nice form of charity which hopefully will get more imitators.

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