Music Reviews



Artist: 54seconds
Title: Coma
Format: CD
"Coma", from 54seconds, is one of those CDs you lay back, close your eyes and drift into. Roughly categorizable as shoegazer, though without the heavy distortion element sometimes found in that arena, "Coma" is a very aptly titled release, not because the music is boring - it's not - but because it is so inward reaching you'll find yourself inhabiting a state of mind, not body, as you sink into the sadness and contemplativeness of 54seconds personal and expressive lyrics. Drifting through the clouds and pondering one's life, mind and soul ... this is the sort of realm inhabited by 54seconds' music, which comes off sort of like indie rock heavily filtered through ambient. Pianos, lethargic guitars and psychedelic effects, topped with quiet, sad vocals, create a sound that is melancholy but also capable of bringing you into the realm of musical relaxation.
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Artist: TEN HORNED BEAST (@)
Title: Ten Stars - Ten Horns
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Whoah. This is one of the most diverse and intriguing self-released cdrs that I've come across in a long while. THB is the solo project of Christopher Walton, who used to be part of well-known ambient occultists Endvra (whose "The Watcher", on Old Europa Cafè, is still one of my faves in the dark drones field). Chris also plays dark ambient/neoclassical music as Servants of the Secret Flame, but THB has been his main activity for a while. What can I say? Experience and talent shows. THB is pitch black drone-doom. Everything is black just right from the impressive package: the cover design has been printed on transparent film, so you can barely see it when housed in the DVD case; the cdr is black, as is the cardboard insert with black wax and black lace - talk of indicative packaging. And the music is great, and fairly different from what I thought. I was expecting some doom minimalism à la Earth or Sunn))00, but nope, THB seems to walk his own path. There are little to no '70's influences here, instead I was reminded a lot of great UK post-metal acts like Godflesh and Scorn: though THB's pieces are notably different, some characteristics (heavy drum programming, cold and very dilated guitars, etc.) are definitely there. But again, THB is really quite individual. Imagine a bass line or guitar riff obtusely repeated over and over again; drumming is rare, but provides for an obsessive militaristic feel; and then, the best part, the dark drones spiralling and coiling all over. Actually, I think that the more ambient tracks, like "Ten Stars Ten Horns", are just perfect. Pure solipsistic despair. Instead, the more "doom-oriented" ones, while good, could be bettered - at times, the riffs still sound a bit detached from the whole. But the massive, 20-minute "Shrines I-III" does reach the perfect combination. As Walton is working on a lot of new material (including tracks, allegedly, "up to 50 minutes in length"...), I expect some stellar release from the Beast in the near future.
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anymore
Artist: LEVIATHAN/GRIMBERGEN
Title: ...of revisionism and relinquishment
Format: CD
Label: Monkeyhouse Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
A split effort of these two young UK ambient projects, both swapping/mixing each other's sounds in some compositions as well. Leviathan, who released other 2 cdrs on Monkeyhouse (that have also been recently collected) is definitely interesting, as it's not really typical dark ambient - instead, it is fairly melodic, with a melancholic and elegiac tone. Good point: the melodies are pleasant, and well managed. Bad point: the effects used are quite terrible, basically a simple, fixed distortion which never changes throughout. So it's like having good music filtered through a distortion pedal. "The Unattainable Object", which should be a remix of Grimbergen's material, is much darker and heavier, with slowly crawling bass drones - a successfull track, with both tension and a trance-inducing effect. Grimbergen's sound heavily relies on swirling synth sounds, with some obsessive mechanical percussions ("Entering the Painfields") and a taste for epic melodies. It sounds very... Nordic, so to speak. His mix is clearer than Leviathan's, but I personally don't like synths when they're so recognizable and standard-sounding. But "Is this the place?" has a more subdued minimal throbbing which does build an atmosphere. All in all, my impression is that both project have promising qualities (all tracks are fairly well constructed, and not boring) but still have to work hard for better results, both stylistically and technically.
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Artist: FRANCISCO LÓPEZ
Title: Untitled # 119
Format: 3" MiniCD
Label: Lapilli
Rated: *****
Yet another fine untitled piece from Francisco López, also marking the debut for the label Lapilli, created by UK artist Scott Taylor, known for his releases on Touch (in the "Spire" compilation), Conv, etc. The black 3" cd is housed in a regular cd case - a BLACK one. So it's black on black, with only a few words about the recording - typical Lópezian minimalism. The piece is in his more droning, "ambient" vein, as in # 91, the Silophone works, certain live sets etc., and features the usual silence/drone/silence construction. Thus said, what can I add? I love López, and this is surely a successfull release, with his trademark metallic vapours, gut-wrenching low-ends and machinery-like resonances. Powerful and ominous. Could be anything from tectonic movements to amplified bloodflow. One more brilliant record in López's astonishing discography.
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Artist: GERRITT
Title: ...sails the seas of displacement
Format: 12"
Label: Dielectric Records (@)
Rated: *****
Gerritt is a US noisemaker who has shared a couple of eps with the likes of Bastard Noise and John Wiese, has intensively toured the States, and is going to release a collaborative record with Stephen O'Malley and Tim Wyskida, both from the amazing avant-doomsters Khanate. He also runs the Misanthropic Agenda label, known for releasing several Merzbow records, Lockweld, Sissy Spacek, etc. This time, though, he's hosted by the prolific and ever varying Dielectric records, in its series of 12" waxes. The four tracks of the ep are quite similar, as a whole, to Gerritt's contribution to the Dielectric Minimalist All Stars reviewed some weeks ago: noisy and with a sharp edge, with piercing glassy/metallic concretions, but still closer to electroacoustics and experimental ambiences than to harsh noise. There are aggressive climaxes (the best and most intense moments) and subdued, hyper-minimalist phases - the continuity among the tracks makes this sound like a single flowing performance. Unfortunately, not all of it has the same level. I find the more aggressive and frantic passages really intriguing (they reminded me of Watermann's "Calcutta Gas Chamber", which I've already mentioned twice in a week. Good). The quieter ones, and that's strange coming from me, are far less successful: the use of delay over the same sound, for example, becomes a bit tedious after a while, and generally, I wished there were more texture and variation. So it's kind of half and half.
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