Music Reviews



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Artist: HENRIK NORDVARGR BJOERKK
Title: Vitagen
Format: CD
Label: Essence Music
Rated: *****
As usual, this Essence Music release comes in a luxurious packaging: an oversize, 3-panel fold-out sleeve with embossed details, mimicking an old photo album with sepiatone portraits of young children. I honestly don't know how they could relate to Nordvargr's music, though, as this is quite obviously abysmal dark ambient with industrial overtones. Deep low-end drones form the basic layers to which Nordvargr adds a glitchy rhythm here and some, say, "symphonic" pattern there. The result is most of the times ok, reminding at best of Lustmord circa "The place where the black stars hang": a kind of black hole space music. But the main problem I have is that, as a whole, this is an alright cd but not much more, and from an experienced artist like Bjoerkk I expected something more challenging, or refined. These nine tracks, instead, are good examples of dark ambient synthesis, with everything you can expect from the genre, and of course a top notch production; but structure-wise, they often lack depth and variety. A pleasant listen, but not exactly a thrilling one.
Artist: KRABATOF PHILARMONIC ORCHESTRA (@)
Title: Insect's brain
Format: CD
Rated: *****
When Eugenio passed me this downloadable release for a review I thought it was "ordinary administration": that has been my first mistake. The second stupid mistake I've made has been to judge the book by the cover...hem...by the name (I still it's dead funny). But even if the older I get the more I turn into an old fart, my critical spirit hasn't been obscured by my own prejudices and "Insect's brain" has been a real surprise. Time after time I've found that not only this project from "Suisa" was interesting, it was also much more original and well done if compared to many other official recordings I've listened in the last years. It's really hard to describe such a weird mixture of influences, you pass from a track structured on white noise to another based on chords-instruments out of tune, from weird noises made out of who knows what, to cartoon-like piano music floating on a digital "canvas". Krabatof Orchestra is one of the most insane things you can happen to hear nowadays, their website is even more insane than their music. It's funny but there's a thin line between the genius and the fool, with Krabatof the genius becomes a complete idiot or even worse the fool is the real "beautiful mind". One day entropy will trap us all into a black hole, during our neverending departure I know we will be listening to music like this...again...and again...and again.
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Artist: GUIDO MOEBIUS
Title: Dishoek
Format: CD
Label: Dekorder
Rated: *****
A busy bee with his studio and Autopilot label and promotion agency, Guido Moebius is back with his second solo album, after the critically acclaimed "Klisten" (2003). Even before seeing that FS Blumm is among the numerous guest musicians (offering their skills at drums, violin, trumpet, voice, clarinet etc.), I started to mentally draw comparisons between "Dishoek" and Blumm's enchanting "Sesamsamen", even if the former is more upbeat and explicitly rhythmic. But the kind of approach is altogether very similar: an instrumental blend of naive acoustic tunes, toy-like sounds and what could be an electronic backbone - though electronics, if ever, are more in the arrangements than in the sources. As with Blumm, this sort of modern, watercolored folk reminded me of a less complex Gastr del Sol, but some exhilarating melodic patterns could even date back to kraut godfathers like Neu! or Cluster (take "Kurbel", for instance). The magic of "Dishoek" lies both in its immediate accessibility and in the elaborate weave of the instruments, which becomes patent after a few concentrated listens (listen, for example, to the crescendo of "Twark" or the drifting beauty of "Schleswig"). An example of smart modernist pop, where the "easy listening" aspect is actually reinforced, not diminished, by the experimental slant.
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Artist: SOSTRAH TINNITUS
Title: A rain water stratum on the sea
Format: CD
Label: Mystery Sea
Rated: *****
First of all, let me say this is probably my favourite Mystery Sea cover ever... so beautiful it actually influenced my listening experience, as if the tracks threw an azure light around. Sostrah Tinnitus is the solo project of Italian painter and musician Mario Costa, also one half of Tvmvlvs Seraphim, and this is his nth full length work is a few months, following releases on his own label, on Umbra and on Beyond Productions (see archive). ST plays deep ambient drones using both organic and acoustic sounds and synthesizers - not far from Alio Die or some Monos, to give you a clue. The seven tracks presented here are all well done and consistent, but somehow I'm not always drawn in by the music. In some cases ("Catherine barometer", "Dream with clam-diggers") it has the force to stop the ordinary flowing of your thoughts and leave you mesmerized; but sometimes it just becomes (good, very good) background music. I have no quibbles about the overall quality, which is quite high, so it must only be a matter of subjective experience.
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Artist: HANNA HARTMAN
Title: Longitude/cratere
Format: CD
Label: Komplott
Rated: *****
The tracks you can hear on this cd have been commissioned by the Swedish Broadcasting Corporation and by the Deutschand-Radio-Berlin, this recordings have been unavailable until now. The essence of these two tracks is mainly based on concrete sounds that remind of an audio documentary. You can bet that this two pieces can get along pretty well with images, they create images themselves, therefore don't be surprised if looking at the curriculum of mrs. Hartman you'll discover she's worked to other commissioned music before (she's won some awards too). For who's into installations and contemporary art another interesting thing is represented by the fact this "sound engineer(?!?)" should have "exposed" a sound installation at the Goteborg Art Sound festival. Differently from many concrete musicians and above all differently from many releases on great label like Creative Sources or Metamkine, the audio-result is really close to a field recording, I mean the sounds move quietly inside the "amped landscape". As I've just said no sound source breaks in a violent way, everything has its "biological" evolution here, if such a caracheristic element is typical of music created to relax the eventual listener, well, this is the case. While "Longitude" speaks the language of sailing boats mixed with many sounds from the ocean, "Cratere" brings you on the top of italian volcano Etna (Sicily). The last track has the rare quality to recreate the real power of volcanoes and the scary sensation that the earth that you walk upon is alive and not always "that friendly". Althugh after what I've just wrote may sound contradictory, this release is both soft and above all relaxing.
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