Music Reviews



Dec 27 2004
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Artist: Aural Planet (@)
Title: re.work.ed
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Vivo records (@)
Rated: *****
Polish trio Aural Planet are at their sixth release already and they keep rocking my world with their warpish melange of organic electronica... "Reworked" walks the fine line between atmospheric ambient, glitch electronics, idm and pure electronica... Strongly influenced by the like of Richard James, Autechre, Boards of Canada, Future Sound of London, Displacer, Mimetic, Dither (you'll know by now that if you are into the sound labels such as of Warp, M-Tronic, OM-Lounge or Unschooled, you pretty much can't escape your moral obligation to purchase this one also!), this album is fantastic in its entirety, and there is no easier way to put it. It's fantastic because it comes from Eastern Europe and sounds like something British, or even vaguely American sometimes (even though I wouldn't have minded some local influences, for example like the Hungarian Gabor Csupo masterfully achieves). What does stand out is the quality of the sounds and of the programming, definitely above average and easily comparable to the great minds of the genres. Awesome.
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Artist: Amir Baghiri
Title: Ghazal
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: Vivo records (@)
Rated: *****
Amir Baghiri is an Iranian artist who explores the boundries between world music, electronic music and field recordings in a matter that results very similar to the style of Muslimgauze. After his 2003 "Yalda", Vivo puts out his new album, which turn out to be very percussion-focused overall. Some instruments used are: khaliji drums, persian tumbak, egyptian dumbak, liquid drums, bendirs, azerbaijan frame drum, surdo, mahogany pro djembes, tamborin and persian zarb & dohol drums. rababa, ouds, saz, kamancheh, panjab clay flute, native iranian ney and sipsi stone flute and various chimes, shakers, rainstick and some other forgotten objects. To that you'll have to add additive fm and analog synthesizers, processors & subliminal nature sound programming, groove programming & multidimensional ambient creations. The use of electronics in this album is remarkable becase it is mixed in subtly and yet makes for a fundamental element of the mixture. The balance between the percussive grooves and the digital rhythmical structures is so skillfully achieved that sometimes it's actually hard to tell whether or not it is in and in what percentage. The field recordings come from near eastern desert ambience and nature atmos, all recorded by amir baghiri on a sony DAT recorder in different places around asia & north africa. More technical info (such as software, hardware etc) can be found in the beautifully packaged trifold digipack. Vocals are to be found as well, but mostly as added ear candies or quasi-sampled recursive patterns, rather than lead parts. The middle eastern flavours are strong and intense in this record, you can almost smell it. Overall its grooves are pretty uptempo, which makes it easy to listen to and enjoyable.
Finally the album features some guests, including: Reza Ardalani (addtional zarb and ney), Malek Halime (distant azan, nohe khani and spoken words) and zhale mikhaili (tar, setar, additional spoken vocals as sample foods).
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Artist: CHEFKIRK
Title: Selection of Domestic Products
Format: CD
Label: Organic Pipeline
Rated: *****
A new limited (to 50 copies) cdr by Roger H. Smith aka Chefkirk. I was not impressed by his split with Iversen, but this work is definitely better and shows a clear progression in his approach to noise. Chefkirk basically makes digital harsh noise, apparently mincing sound samples through some plug in or real time processing. Here and there the tracks sound redundant or unrefined, and I'd have cropped this short cdr even more - but as a whole, Chefkirk's vandalism is quite well done, fierce and varied enough to keep it interesting. The sound quality is crisp, so even basic frequencies are well audible. At his best, Smith reaches a disquieting organic variation of harsh noise - when he uses natural sounds (insects, horses, wolves... or so I think) he definitely gets captivating results ("Wolves, varieties of", "Blind insects"). Chefkirk still has to further develop his sound, but as it is this is a nice work.
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Artist: EBONY ARK (@)
Title: Ebony Ark
Format: CD
Rated: *****
Spanish band Ebony Ark is at its first work with this selftitled promo CD. They show great technique and compositive qualities since first track, the orchestral intro "Open The Ark (Overture)". Their music can be described, using some violence on terms, as Prog-Gothic Metal, mixing dark and intense atmospheres, neoclassic and baroque influences and a prog attitude. Songs’ structure, even if sometimes simple, shows an always moving and technically complex work, and I hear DREAM THEATER’s mark especially in the guitar lines. Vocals are good and pleasant, melodic but also aggressive in choruses, alternating a deeper timbre, closer to Gothic Metal female voices, and Power Metal high notes. "Night’s Cold Symphony" starts with a disturbing and obscure riff, a slower and heavy rhythmical section, to grow in intensity with the voice’s entrance, like a medieval sacred melody. The song shows a good taste for melody and a complex instrumental intermezzo. "Stones In The Way" is a powerful ride, a bright song with a very good chorus, something closer to ICED EARTH and the above mentioned DT. "Farewell" seems an American rock ballad, but at once shows its metal aggressiveness. Chorus is great, in style with the song, while I think the softer chorus (with male vocals) and the too long and virtuoso intermezzo make the track lose the immediacy it needs. It could be a single to let the band go out of their fans’ base. "Dreaming Silence" is a well made song but I can’t find the right hook, even if the melodic chorus is very touching. Probably, as in the previous track, there’s too much, in terms of notes and parts. Progressive, as jazz, is a great way to express all the emotions a musician feels without the cage of a restricted genre, but on the other hand is not so simple for a listener to follow the music and fly, and often seems a pleased soliloquy. This promo ends with a cover of Flashdance’s well known track "What a Feeling", starting with a piano but soon exploding in a heavier and involving way.A very good work, they’ve only to give more importance to songs and not to show everywhere their technique.
Artist: James D. Stark (@)
Title: Fortress Of Solitude
Format: CD
Distributor: A Different Drum
Rated: *****
James D. Stark is a classical trained pianist who have the skills to make beautiful darkwave music. To paint a visual picture of his debut release "Fortress Of Solitude", all of his songs are about love. A magical moment and a lovely tale of being in love. Ah, imagine Disney use James music for a new animated fairytale love story. Even the voice of James singing is ethereal. So heavenly, he can serenade to a woman by sweeping her off her feet and win her heart. The music have a laidback soft touching feel that will shift you to oblivion where the heavens and the undivided skies are above. The tracks are smoothe and soothing with emotion. It delivers a heart warming compassionate electronic synth-pad solace. Favorites on the album include "Dying Beauty", "Need", "Home", "Sole Desire", the instrumental "Mists", and the remake of Depeche Mode "Halo", which the original composition is re-arrange in a unique way. If you're looking for something soft and mellow down and a album that will fit for your romantic evening with your lover, let James D. Stark be your choice and help set the mood. And if you're a darkwave fan who's looking for something totally very different, this is the album to buy.
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