Music Reviews



cover
Artist: Émanton
Title: Post Tenebras Lux
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Medical Records
The 4 tracks of “Post Tenebras Lux” have the structure and format of hard, flat techno- 4/4 rhythms, DJ-friendly arrangements, progressive switching in and out of layers, it’s all well-trodden stuff. But what makes this EP so different is the sonic quality, the choice of instrumentation and sounds used, which gives it a decidedly different twist.

“Breathe Outside De Box” [sic] is fascinatingly dark. What ought to be bass is actually sub-bass, what ought to be simple synth pads is distorted and squealing noise. “Circleofliez” has a slightly more recognisable EQ, channeling some more 80’s Cabaret Voltaire-like harsh electro and industrial noises over a deceptively soft kick. This links well with the title track, which is a bit more attitude-laden with its Peter Rauhofer kick, two-note-switch bassline and impetuous acid bleeping. Final track “Room For One Soul” (in a shorter version than the one plugged on XLR8R last year) is more paired down in terms of layers, playing with the counter-rhythms of a bass pattern running a different length to the kick pattern, fading in and out as an infectious experiment.

Argentinian Émanton is a thereminist (among other things) and this is on display with some of the live, organic, improvised feel that can be heard in some of the melodies and spontaneous sounds that ride above the steady 4/4s. That little dash of organic influence, coupled with the truly unusual choice of sound palettes for what would otherwise be very conventional techno, makes this a really distinctive release.
cover
Artist: The Nightcrawlers
Title: The Biophonic Boombox Recordings
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Anthology Editions
While the most famous musical Nightcrawlers is probably the Scottish ‘90s house act who did “Push The Feeling On”, this trio were much more prolific, forming in 1979, putting out an absurdly high number of cassette albums throughout the ‘80s and then dispanding in 1991. This is a compilation of over two and a half hours of selected highlights from that tape library.

This is prog-rock-influenced synthesizer space music that owes a great deal to Tangerine Dream, the first influence cited. Gently ebbing synth patterns chug away, working with super-sustained synth chord pads to create a slowly moving sonic bed onto which tiny extracts of melody and spontaneous beeps provide decoration. More than half the tracks run for over ten minutes, leading to Glass-like mesmerism (“Crystal Loop III” and “Modern Pre-Flight” being good examples). The repetition is well-handled, never devolving into indulgence or boredom.

When wandering into more lyrical melody, the material is maybe not quite as strong- “Geisteblitz” being an example of a track that initially seems to aspire to Jean-Michel Jarre territory but can’t quite reach those melodic heights so settles back into more comfortable TD-territory by the end. But when everything comes together, it comes together very well indeed- “Sizzling Highs”, appropriately, being one of the outstanding, “how did I not hear of this band earlier?”-type tracks. And pieces like “Baba Yaga’s Flight” fly so close to the Tangerine Dream template that it would be very easy to believe this was an unearthed goldmine of late 70’s unreleased TD material.

At 24 minutes long, “Zeitgeber” is a notable miniature self-contained opus, given a little bit more breathing space for longer single-layer pad environments and jungle noises.

Nowadays remastering is so prevalent that it’s unusual to hear something that hasn’t been remastered- or, if there has been remastering done, it’s been the fight of a losing battle against the constant hiss of well-worn cassette. It’s not excessively muted or flattened, the character is still present, but it’s a shame that the hiss can’t be shaken, as it gives the whole release something of a demo or bootleg feel (not helped when bonus track “Awakening” sounds like somebody left a tape recorder running by accident while trying to work out a solo piano melody). Tracks like the excellent but slightly daftly-titled “Beckoning Beacon” would have sounded much more spectacular and expansive if hiss-free versions existed. Some of the tracks were recorded live and are even blessed with occasional audience coughs, but sound fairly decent under the circumstances.

It’s an injustice that The Nightcrawlers are now (or have always been) somewhat obscure, because there’s clearly a musical legacy here that, while not necessarily standing out as particularly unique in character (or band name), has a depth and quality that make this a really enjoyable best-part-of-three-hours. I just wish there were better quality recordings available.
cover
Artist: Maurizio Abate
Title: Standing Waters
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Boring Machines
Maurizio Abate offers up a 5-track album which hybridises folksy acoustic guitar instrumentals, with a more mesmeric looping pattern approach that Philip Glass or Wim Mertens have applied to strings (most notable on opening track “Odonata”). Subtle extra string work broadens the arrangements but this is still essentially a near-solo folk guitar instrumental album, with final track “Standing/Crumbling” the most expansive-sounding of the set thanks to the enhancements of string and piano.

At times, such as on “Shaping The Mud”, this sounds like folk-pop that’s just missing its vocal- there’s a slow but definitely present sense of a verse-chorus structure at play. “Nymphs Dance”, after a sparser opening, also heads this way, meanders off into slightly more angsty plucking, works its way back into singer-songwriter territory before a dramatic finale, all in the space of just over ten minutes.

It’s an assertive and focussed work from an established session guitarist and producer branching out with his own identity. It is perhaps a little bit ‘safe’ and folksy at times but it’s a very rich and warm listen. It’s sweetly presented in a gatefold CD sleeve too.
Feb 27 2018
cover
Artist: Mahdyar
Title: Seized
Format: LP
Label: Kowloon Records
From Iran and set against a backdrop of cultural repression comes a really fascinating debut album from Mahdyar, who’s jammed together Persian influences and instrumentation, experimental electronica elements and selected flavours of softer hip-hop into a short but varied mostly-instrumental LP that keeps you on your toes throughout.

Skipping between steady and off-kilter rhythm patterns, it’s busting at the seams with ideas, some of which are very shortlived. Almost all the tracks are under 4 minutes and yet within that short running time, many of them still find time for tempo changes or musical suffices. Slow swaggering grooves on tracks like “Hush” and field recordings of markets and street musicians on “Khakis” contrast against tense warping synth-string arrangements on “Iran Iraq” and the playful rhythmic weirdness of “Running From”. Finale “Twist The Facts” throws in a bit of everything.

The strange vocal and dark threat of “Timmy Might Bury Y’All”, leading into the initially light then militaristic “Vow”, is one of the most emotive and powerful sections. It’s not an overtly political release but, as the artwork suggests, one imbued with feelings of local tension and strong feelings.

It’s musically powerful stuff that fans of glitchy electronica should definitely pay some attention to.
cover
Artist: Koji Maruyama
Title: isos
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Mimi (@)
An uplifting follow-up to the more pensive but no less beautiful, Comune, Koji Maruyama brings the listener deeper into his compositions with piano solos, as well as with piano with ambient field-recording accompaniment and orchestral. The listener is treated to superb recordings of a masterful player who delivers musical narrative vignettes, each track feels complete though these may be bits of television and film soundtracks. isos (sic) is book-ended with shuffling sounds and the creak of a piano bench (perhaps a nod to luminary, Glenn Gould) as Maruyama pours over the keys with the fluidity of a waterfall, the precision of a Swiss made watch and story-telling prowess of Hans Christian Andersen. The meaning of the track and album titles remain cryptic, but “prelude/isos” unfurls like a summer rose wet with the morning dew as it cranes its stem towards the warmth of the sun to the tranquil flow of water. “Nap”, with its sparse and playful opening, emotes the innocence of a child as she lays her head upon the pillow, while the more vigorously played notes and sweeping orchestral accompaniment bellies the magnificent improbability of dreams; spacious and expansive as anything as anything Studio Ghibli could come up with. “Fluid/Door” opens impressively, overwhelming piano notes that glitters with the speed and aggression of gathering storm clouds that in turn disperse into clear-skied serenity. “Sketch#1” is just that, sort of like Van Gogh with a piece of charcoal who first plans a piece of painting with a sketch, hinting at the splendor to come. Echoing drops of water in a cavernous space , and piano notes that splash and resonate like stones tossed in a pond, “Land/welter” is ambient meets piano as an old man asks a question, joined by resonances and orchestral strings. “Pause#3” is a chance to get deeper into a Maruyama composition; it starts pensively and then dramatically before giving way to a dizzying and cascading yet graceful flow. “Postlude/isos” returns to the sweet sparse motif before the more assertive notes whirl and then stops almost mid flow and the creak of the piano bench. Yet another jewel in the trove of Archive.org, treat yourself to a listen.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1...10] [11...20] [21...30] [31...40] [41...50] [51...60] [61...70] [71...80] [81...90] [91...100] [101...110] [111...120] [121...130] [131...140] [141...150] [151...160] [161...170] [171] [172] [173] [174] [175] [176] [177] [178] [179] [180] [181...190] [191...200] [201...210] [211...220] [221...230] [231...240] [241...250] [251...260] [261...270] [271...280] [281...290] [291...300] [301...310] [311...320] [321...330] [331...340] [341...350] [351...360] [361...370] [371...380] [381...390] [391...400] [401...410] [411...420] [421...430] [431...440] [441...450] [451...460] [461...470] [471...480] [481...490] [491...500] [501...510] [511...520] [521...530] [531...540] [541...550] [551...560] [561...570] [571...580] [581...590] [591...600] [601...610] [611...620] [621...630] [631...640] [641...650] [651...660] [661...670] [671...680] [681...690] [691...700] [701...710] [711...720] [721...730] [731...740] [741...750] [751...760] [761...770] [771...780] [781...790] [791...800] [801...810] [811...820] [821...830] [831...840] [841...850] [851...860] [861...870] [871...880] [881...890] [891...900] [901...910] [911...920] [921...930] [931...940] [941...950] [951...960] [961...970] [971...980] [981...990] [991...1000] [1001...1010] [1011...1020] [1021...1030] [1031...1040] [1041...1050] [1051...1060] [1061...1070] [1071...1080] [1081...1090] [1091...1100] [1101...1110] [1111...1120] [1121...1130] [1131...1140] [1141...1150] [1151...1160] [1161...1170] [1171...1180] [1181...1190] [1191...1200] [1201...1210] [1211...1220] [1221...1230] [1231...1240] [1241...1250] [1251...1260] [1261...1270] [1271...1280] [1281...1290] [1291...1300] [1301...1310] [1311...1320] [1321...1330] [1331...1340] [1341...1350] [1351...1360] [1361...1370] [1371...1380] [1381...1390] [1391...1400] [1401...1410] [1411...1420] [1421...1430] [1431...1440] [1441...1450] [1451...1460] [1461...1470] [1471...1480] [1481...1490] [1491...1500] [1501...1510] [1511...1520] [1521...1530] [1531...1540] [1541...1550] [1551...1560] [1561...1570] [1571...1580] [1581...1590] [1591...1600] [1601...1610] [1611...1620] [1621...1630] [1631...1640] [1641...1650] [1651...1660] [1661...1670] [1671...1680] [1681...1690] [1691...1700] [1701...1710] [1711...1720] [1721...1730] [1731...1740] [1741...1750] [1751...1760] [1761...1770] [1771...1780] [1781...1790] [1791...1800] [1801...1810] [1811...1820] [1821...1830] [1831...1840] [1841...1850] [1851...1860] [1861...1870] [1871...1880] [1881...1890] [1891...1900] [1901...1910] [1911...1920] [1921...1930] [1931...1940] [1941...1950] [1951...1960] [1961...1970] [1971...1980] [1981...1990] [1991...2000] [2001...2010] [2011...2020] [2021...2030] [2031...2040] [2041...2050] [2051...2060] [2061...2070] [2071...2080] [2081...2090] [2091...2100] [2101...2110]


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha