Music Reviews



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Artist: Mingle (@)
Title: Ephemeral
Format: LP
Label: Kvitnu (@)
Rated: *****
It seems that the inventive Italian sound-maker Andrea Gastaldello, the real name of the man behind the Mingle curtains, picks single adjectives to describe the "property" of the tracks he embeds in his releases. It's just a personal impression and it's valid only for the stuff he dropped on Ukrainian label Kvitnu. The first output, "Static", featured somehow 'static' (or seemingly calm) tracks, and well 'ephemeral' sounds like a suitable tag to describe the features of this new bunch of tracks (again masterfully mastered by Eraldo Bernocchi). Any resounding entity in the eight (plus the ninth one "Vaporized", available as a bonus for the digital format only) tracks of this psychoactive listening experience seems to fade away after their appearance, but this process is rarely abrupt. The only "solid" entities are the digital hits, but the rhythmical pattern act like an anode and a cathode in electrolysis, as they seem to attract the ions he dissolves in his wisely controlled sonic pools. Even in tracks where this process doesn't lie on digital hits or clicks (as on "Lost", where the 'rhythm' gets built on short bursts of an electric current and a bleep that is similar to ones for cardiac monitoring), the other entities get somehow dissolved. The final step of this process, "Ancestral", has something lukewarmly mystical and willingly uncodified, as if Mingle wants to keep secret the result of this full awareness of ephemeral nature of things (maybe the genuine awareness of self?). It seems such an 'ephemeral' nature of Mingle's sonic explorations in this release (the last one of a four-chapter series, including "Movements" and "Masks" on Tannen Records, besides the above-mentioned "Static"), as the attached notes let guess: "The ticking of an old alarm clock, keeping the time, relentless... Certain vanishing moments, they become dreams that you can't seize - dreams pass, weightless. They don't happen. that very instant - it's when you're looking for relief, detached from anguish, far from reality. The daily ephemeral dose speeds up, it becomes frantic and doesn't stop. Desire translates to immediate enjoyment. Everything goes quickly, everything vanishes into some fresh ambition, in the illusion of something new, fast. The true essence of desire lies in absence". Wise description for a listening experience that I recommend in an ephemerally warm (vanishing into a frosting...?) way.
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Artist: Fred Lonberg-Holm / Adam Golebiewski (@)
Title: Relephant
Format: CD
Label: Bocian Records
Rated: *****
In the huge pile of stuff that keeps on reaching impressive heights on my desk, there was this 1-year old awesome output (it was released Polish label Bocian on 18th Nov 2016, but I think it should be possible to find it somewhere on internet or specialized music shops, even if this label drops only 300 copies of each item) by the hyperactive American improv musician and performer Fred Lonberg-Holm and the inventive Polish drummer and percussionist Adam Golebiewski. The CVs and the experiences of both musicians are really impressive: I already heard many Fred's collaborative outputs (particularly on FMR Records), but I discovered that great people of modern music like Morton Feldman, Anthony Braxton and Pauline Oliveros taught him something when he was a student yet and that he also collaborated with likewise appreciated contemporary musicians such as Rob Mazurek, Jim O' Rourke or Peter Brotzmann after a more attentive check of his artistic path; Adam is younger than Fred (he was born 22 years after Fred), but he can brag about a likewise respectable bunch of experiences in improvisational and free jazz scene (including some performances with iconic characters of experimental music such as Yoko Ono and the brilliant American guitarist Thurston Moore). Fred and Adam officially met on a stage in Poznan, in Germany, where they also recorded the four tracks of "Relephant" (recorded on 12th and 13th May 2013 at Club MDX Dragon). The artwork could describe the intricacy and the complexity of the dynamics they forged, featuring a wide set of overlapping frictions and abrasive collisions. A title like "Obviously in the room", but mainly the recipes of its sound (highly distorted and extremely fast bowing over fragments of percussive metallic patterns) could let you think the desperate research of a key to unlock a killing machine by some "player" of Jonathan Kramer aka the Jigsaw's cruel games of the popular horror film series. The shortest track of the fourtet, "Disguised", featues an almost robotic 3-tonal wick melody, repeated by noises getting harscher and harscher, a weird parenthesis preceding the 14-minutes lasting "Being Run Around Inside", the track which has something closer to a proper structure (overlapping with other improvised micro-structures) and where the listener can notice even a sort of gradually cathartic process, but the more surprising track for its concision, its intensity and the impressive way by which the sonic tools by Adam and Fred played symbiotically is maybe the final pne, "Meeting three blind people". Have a check.
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Artist: Spyros Polychronopoulos
Title: Live Electronic Music
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Room40
I've listed the format here as 'download only' here, but it's a little unclear, as I'll now attempt to explain.

“Live Electronic Music” is an arguably cynical deconstruction of what constitutes electronic music performance. It’s literally music generated by a computer inside a polycarbonate box, which has been loaded with custom software and a sound effects library, and programmed to randomly select five samples at once and play them in parallel across the stereo landscape, whilst applying alternating randomised filters. There’s no “music” in the traditional sense, just a random collection of layered noises. The box could run for thousands of years and logically never repeat itself.

Principally, Room 40 are selling 250 copies of the box itself, for around $75 each. So it's a music-making device you're buying, not a recorded music product, and I'm unclear whether you can also buy recordings of it.

So the recording I was sent is an arbitrary 22-minute slice of the box’s output recorded earlier in 2017. Generally with online sound effects libraries you often find a mixture of very long ambiences lasting a minute or more, mixed in with super-short percussive sounds lasting only a second or so, and that library nature is discernible here. At times it’s rapid-fire, stupendeously glitchy and harsh- at other times it’s a more mellow soundscape of hum and drone, though any single drone never seems to last more than twenty seconds before something else cuts in.

It’s an unusual piece of work. It would probably be more appealing to witness the box in situ in a gallery or exhibition space, coupled with the notion that what you’re hearing won’t ever repeat. Surprisingly the press and publicity material for the release didn’t include a picture of the box itself, so it’s hard to tell whether it would be nice to look at. As a piece of recorded audio, it has its enticing moments, but devoid of information about the concept behind it, it’s arguably a bit too scatterbrained and rough-edged to make it a release you’re likely to return to for many repeat listens.
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Artist: Justin Robertson's Deadstock 33s
Title: Cyborg Holiday Snaps
Format: 7"
Label: Paradise Palms
Under his well-established Deadstock 33’s alias, Justin Robertson offers up “Cyborg Holiday Snaps”. It’s a 4-track release, though with a full-length mix and bluntly cut 7” edit of each, in a way it’s only a 2-track release.

The title track has a driving electro bassline and rhythm with a sense of clockwork confidence, over which some slightly plinky synth notes trace regular patterns- a classic bass for your legs, treble for your arms piece of dance music that seems almost custom-made for breakdancing.

“Numerical Discord Swap” is much quirkier, decorating a steady single-note bassline with looping bleep patterns that morph into a sort of weird digital guitar solo that then reforms itself into rather a catchy, almost Jean-Michel Jarre-esque instrumental lead melody, before a real actual guitar solo of sorts. Being both more off-the-leash and more mellow than the first track works in its favour, strangely.

In a way Robertson seems to be harking back to his Gentleman Thief alias here, producing an interesting blend of house, acid and a sort of post-big-beat electro. It’s as well polished as you’d expect and a couple of lovely grooves (if I can call them that) that won’t rock your world but which just ooze entertainment.
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Artist: Super Dragon Punch (@)
Title: Shatter
Format: CD EP
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
Super Dragon Punch? What's that - a martial arts move? An alcoholic party drink with a kick? Nope. It's Belgian artist Jérémie Venganza with the debut release of his synthpunk/8bit/industrial project, an EP titled 'Shatter,' and it does pack a bit of a wallop. Venganza won last year’s Dark Demons Night, scoring an opening slot for Belgium’s illustrious BIMfest festival, so he's not coming without cred to the scene. Vocally, he reminds me a little of Dirk Ivens (Klinik, Dive, Absolute Body Control) but musically this is highly polished dark dancefloor EBM. His vocal style is more on the punky side than aggrotech or hellectro, which is great because I'm really getting jaded on raspy/distoro/screamy vocals that everybody and their sister has been doing for a spell. Synthwork is very competent but nothing you haven't heard before. The combo of Venganza's enthusiastic rough and ready vocals juxtaposed with slick electronics punctuated with club-heavy beats, good hooks and just the right amount of repetition to drive the point home is surely a "winner takes all" formula. There are four songs and four remixes of two of them for a total of eight tracks. From the outset with "Core," SDP exhibit an urgency with mad fervor that can't be denied. It's a controlled sort of frenzy that is bound to drive goth stompers and riverheads wild. "Pure" sacrifices some momentum in favor of expanding SDP's sonic palette and settling into a groove. Okay, but certainly not the best thing on this EP. "Howl" gets even more atmospheric and I hear an even stronger Ivens influence here with a touch of Suicide Commando. Good stuff, but it even gets better on "Inspire." I didn't pay much attention to the lyrics until this song. Here everything comes together in an ultra-dynamic way with engaging verse and a compelling enigmatic chorus- "I forget how it is to resurrect the needles in my chest...emptiness, staring back to me, turn it off me in my chair" whoa, that's something you don't hear every day. This is a killer track, and not one of the remixes can sabotage it. Speaking of remixes, Assemblage 23 is first up remixing the aforementioned tune. Tom Shear does a credible job, and although not radically different than the original, it does put the vocals more upfront without sacrificing the feel of the original. Terrolokaust remixes "Pure" turning it into more of a heavier industrial stomper with a lot stripped out adding in some squinky effects but makes it sound epic 2/3 of the way through. An interesting job on this one. The Iszoloscope remix of "Inspire" is a distorto noise beat assault that struck me more as novelty than anything essential. Last up is WOTTW's technoy remix of "Inspire." For me, this was the most interesting remix on the EP, which is saying something because you know I'm not a big remix fan.

Super Dragon Punch really has the potential of muscling its way to the top if 'Shatter' is an indication of what Jérémie is capable of. I think he has a handle on what needs to go into making compelling EBM (live though, a little more melodicism and a little less shouting in the vocal dept., as evidenced by the live YouTube vids) and if SDP can keep on cranking out great tracks like this, it will be unstoppable.

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