Music Reviews



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Artist: REC_OVERFLOW
Title: Madrid
Format: CD
Label: Spark (@)
Rated: *****
Spark is a young label coming from Spain. Their tenth release is the album of a project coming from Madrid: Rec_Overflow. MADRID, is the title of the CD and its eleven tracks seems to be the recordings of a pulsating city. A city always in balance between its tradition and its European will of modernity. Musically the tracks sound like a mix of I.D.M. and light ambient music. Every track is characterized by a melancholic melodic line which seems to run free along with the fragmented rhythms. At a first listening this isn't a thrilling release because it is based on similar sound structures that give to the whole album a dreamy sound which could make the listener lose the attention. For sure the sound and some ideas are interesting but sometimes I think that a diversification of tracks' ambience could help the fruition of the release. I think that this music could be something more than a thing for the I.D.M. hardcore fans but sometimes the search of a particular sound or a rhythm could make the musician lose the point.
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Artist: Kris Tiner/Mike Baggeta
Title: There, Just As You Look For It
Format: CD
Label: pfMENTUM
Rated: *****
Trumpet and acoustic guitar duet Tiner and Baggeta serve up a dozen tracks of their own original compositions. Spare, ultra-modern and nonlinear, the musical pieces are all founded on improvisation, with little or no symmetry. That does not mean they don't make sense, in and of themselves--they do; but instead of melody lines and rhythm, you hear mostly grunting bursts of horn over jumbled, jangly, atonal guitar scuffle. In track number ten, "One More Chance," these lapses into madness are broken by islands of melodic calm. At other times the guitar becomes a percussion instrument (with knuckle tapping) and is bowed into raspy scree with a violin bow (by Baggeta, in this case a guitarist obviously not trying to be Jimmy Page).

While this well-made yet spartan recording brings plenty of atmosphere with it, I have a hard time picturing its context. Is it romantic or existential? Urban or pastoral? Lyrical or elegaic? Jazzy or more classical? Does it take after Stravinsky or Coltrane more? It could be that its many ambiguities are what's good about There, Just As You Look For It, in the first place. It depends on how impressed one is by musicians who are able to get as many different varieties of sound out of their instruments in a non-rock-and-roll or non-electronic-music setting, without smashing them to bits. If this were a live recording, then perhaps it might be more convincing. I can't decide, so therefore you must.
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Artist: AMON
Title: Foundation
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Eibon/AFE
Rated: *****
Andrea Marutti (Amon/Never Known) has never been particularly prolific, wisely focusing on quality rather than quantity. So, while waiting for a brand new Amon disc after the "Nona" ep on Amplexus, here is a much welcome re-release of works from 1995 to 2000. Included in the two cds are the eponymous debut on Murder Release (1996), the contribution to the "Dissolution Fahrenheit" sampler (1997), and the ltd. edition cdr "Mer" (Blade 2000), all sold out long ago. This is 100% Amon-style dark ambient, as in the masterpiece "The Legacy": majestic, claustrophobic yet "spacey" (in a Lovecraftian sense) drones full of crawling bass frequencies and metallic reverberations. Catacombs and alien civilizations have alway been Amon's graphic and conceptual extremes, and his pieces do evoke both. Get this and learn why this project has gained a cult status among ambient-industrial aficionados.
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Artist: ALESSANDRO FOGAR
Title: Surface Studies # 1 - # 2
Format: CD
Label: AFE Records
Rated: *****
A visual artist, composer and multimedia/software designer, Alessandro Fogar has previously released works on labels like S'Agita and AUA, and here presents two lengthy works in the ongoing series "focused on the study of surfaces". "Sand" and "Streams" are both based on field recordings (from a small island near his native Grado and from river Torre respectively) and digital synthesis/manipulation tecniques, plus a filtered melodica on the former track. Water, sand, pebbles are, as expected, the main sounds, both kept recognizable and manipulated via (my guess) reverses, time-stretching, eq, etc. Both tracks, the second one in particular, are very quiet and fairly repetitive, but in a positive sense. I've used a lot of water-based field recordings myself and I think I've had a similar input: rather than looking for any dramatic development, which would probably even sound jarring, one is tempted to let everything - literally! - flow, and focus on microscopic details. Fogar writes he's inspired, among other, by Bernhard Günther and John Duncan, but also, and I think it shows beneath the surface (whoops), by Morton Feldman.
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Artist: FRANZ HAUTZINGER/MAZEN KERBAJ
Title: Abu Tarek
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources
Rated: *****
"Abu Tarek" was recorded in August 2003 in Lebanon; "no cuts no overdubbing" states the laconic liner notes: not a surprise since it's the Creative Sources standard, but still one wonders where these sounds could possibly come from. Both Hautzinger and Kerbaj play trumpet, but, except for the elegiac sparkles of "Hermel", no conventional trumpet playing is to be recognized here (again, nothing new for the Lisbon label). Water running through rusty pipes, green logs burning, natural gas emissions, bat signals... everything comes to mind but a "regular" trumpet. While obviously harsh and confrontational, this improvised session has many beautiful moments, thanks to the variety of inventions of the two performers, really melting into each other's sound. A bumpy path, but also one that the listener will want to walk several times.
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