Music Reviews



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Artist: ROBIN FOX & CLAYTON THOMAS
Title: Substation
Format: CD
Label: Room 40
Rated: *****
Coming in a deluxe matte cardboard sleeve with black on black artwork, "Substation" features Australian musicians Clayton Thomas, at double bass and objects, and Robin Fox, at live MAX/MSP processing, so you can guess what to expect: free-form improvisation filtered and re-structured via digital means, which is becoming a common approach to improvised music (as for double bass, think of Italy's Domenico Sciajno). "Substation" is a particularly successful work due to the care for variation and detail in every piece: "Shuffle", for example, is based on the accumulation of bowed chords loops, with a swarm-like effect, while a cascade of microscopic fragments makes "Dust on the Diodes" a particularly dizzying listen. Less surprising, but equally pleasant to the ear, are the high-end drone of "Bird Song" and the more subdued "Between Downpours", with a quieter but not less intense dialogue between the instruments.
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Artist: Stendeck (@)
Title: Can You Hear My Call?
Format: CD
Label: Geska records (@)
Rated: *****
Swiss Alessandro Zampieri's one-man project Stendeck (whose name is inspired by the last morse code sent by the Stardust plane before it crashed in '47) debuted with "A Crash Into Another World" in 2002 and after doing some sound designing for a short-film called "The Birdge" (directed by Gaston Dupuy), he's back with "Can You Hear My Call?", an album that is allegedly about falling in love and about the "celebration of death who is still breathing life", whatever that means... Interestingly enough, his music does sound very cinematic and perfect for soundtracks: I guess it is true that a man is the sum of all his experiences... This full length album is completely instrumental and taps into multiple areas of the electronic genre, mostly drawing from the school of ambient and dark-ambient made with lo-fi beats, layers of pads, loops a canadian-inspired minimalistic attitude. Sliding back and forth from electronica and ambient into power electronics and rhtyhm noise, Stendeck packs in over a full hour of music for the enjoyment for those who are in search of very atmospheric and yet spiced up music who can make them dream, wake them up and then take them away all over again...
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Artist: FRANCISCO LÓPEZ/SCOTT ARFORD
Title: Solid State Flesh/Solid State Sex
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Low Impedance Recordings
Rated: *****
Low Impedance Recordings is a Greek label which has previously been focusing on IDM and rhythmic electronica, but is now expanding to more experimental territories. A great release to start with is this double disc by well-known Spanish composer Francisco López and US soundmaker Scott Arford, with a few releases on Ground Fault (as Radiosonde), Auscultare and a very recent one on Antifrost. Unlike other double split works by López's (the ones with Duncan and Behrens, for example), this is not a collaborative one, but the two cds, though quite different, match very well. "Solid State Flesh" is a massive 73-minute track where López covers all the nuances of his more abstract droning works, from hissing billows of sonic mass to barely audible debris. The strength of the composition, besides the sheer beauty of its various passages, lies in the sense of continuous flow that López masters so well - building a world of its own out of the audio matter he manipulates. Arford's disc is probably not as enthralling, but is an excellent radio waves-based work which could be easily associated to the research of John Duncan or Joe Colley - noisy and gritty, physical and abstract at the same time. Tracks range from subdued ambiences ("Strange attractor") to roaring outbursts of frequiencies ("Dirty power", "Aluminium airway"), but the urgency and the sense of menace are constant throughout. A very relevant and powerful release for both artists.
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Artist: PARADIN
Title: Coma Digenean
Format: CD
Label: Gears of Sand
Rated: *****
Ben Fleury Steiner's dark ambient project Paradin comes back shortly after the excellent "Flesh of Caverns" disc on Mystery Sea, and continuing the oceanic theme this work is "a tribute to the ancient deep-sea parasites, their engorged hosts, and the haunting songs of the ocean's darkest depths". Played with synths, singing bowls, bowed metal and treated guitar, "Coma Digenean" is consistently more physical and upfront than the previous release, which was more based on spacious guitar-generated drones. On the contrary, in these five movements, assembled in one 50-minute track, everything is metallic and seething, with many skillfully blent layers of sound, and a dazing effect on the listener. While I'm not exactly a fan of recognizable synth sounds in ambient music, Paradin's use of them is original and varied; moreover, the atmosphere is dark and menacing, and I would easily recommend this disc to fans of post-industrial drones and power electronics rather than, say, to aficionados of Steve Roach.
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Artist: THE ACTOR
Title: Cover Girl
Format: 10"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Rated: *****
Coming from the dark corners of the '80s the dutch act, The Actor did a really good eletro wave song called "Covergirl" back in 1982. Thanks to Enfant Terrible, now, we've got the opportunity of check it out in four different versions: the original 1982 version, a 2005 version (the track has been entirely re-played nowadays and it sounds appealing as the old version!) and two cover versions. The first one thanks to Porn.Darsteller (who make it sounds just like early Die Form) and the latter thanks to It & My Computer (he did a raw semi acoustic version that sounds like early Matt Johnson). This 10" is a limited edition of 516 copies and it is worth it, so you've got to hurry to get your copy!
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