Music Reviews



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Artist: GIUSEPPE VERTICCHIO (@)
Title: Distant Skylines
Format: CD
Label: Self-released
Born in 1965, Giuseppe Verticchio began composing ambient music in the first half of the '90's, and over the years has been releasing a remarkable series of cds, both as a solo performer (under his real name or with the monicker Nimh) and as a member of the trio biaSthon, with Adriano Scerna (also known for his project Anofele) and Marco Ramassotto, musicians who also collaborate to the first two tracks of this amazing work. Verticchio's also active with Oltre il Suono, an excellent website for ambient and electronic artists which released an equally good sampler called "Beyond the Sound" this year (see archive).
"Distant Skylines", composed and recorded in 2001, is a superb work. The main sound sources are ethnic instruments (mostly Thai percussions and strings) and voices; both are sometimes digitally processed and transformed into unrecognizable, eerie sounds. "The Market-Place", "Village Feast" and "Children Memories" share this pervading presence of voices, which, mixed with the metallic sounds of the instruments, and a thick subterrean layer of noises (first two tracks), constitute a mind-numbing whirlpool: field recordings of common voices and chants are mixed into layers, looped and processed with an incredible ability and care for detail, and the effect is stunning. "Late Afternoon at Wat Phra Yai" is a beautiful droning piece: xylophones, cymbals, gongs, mantra-like chants... the most ethereal track of the work. "Keota's song" is a short (just a bit more than a minute), sweet track with a baby singing an alphabet song with background windchimes sounds.
Verticchio shows an excellent taste in composition - the cd assembles different materials but never loses its coherence and the long tracks (3 out of 5 are around 13') are never boring. Moreover, sound quality's extremely high, every detail is clearly audible and there are no flares in the mix - absolutely professional also in this aspect. But possibly the main merit of this work is that it starts with ethnic sources and does give the idea of an "outer" dimension without falling into cheap exotism or new age naiveté. This is, for real, a sonic experience of the senses and of the soul...
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Artist: ERNESTO DIAZ INFANTE + BOB MARSH
Title: Rags and Stones
Format: CD
Label: Public Eyesore (@)
Ernesto Díaz-Infante at prepared guitar and Bob Marsh at violin and cello for 50' of extreme improvisation. Strings are plucked, beaten and caressed without any kind of structure, rhythm or progression. I could honestly say I've found this cd-r incredibly tedious. I guess it's a matter of gut-feeling, these sessions left me without any kind of emotion, suggested no image, and my general impression was that of a casual (in the negative sense of the word) string-plucking - probably appealing to the players but sterile to my ear. I hate to write this as I generally like improvisation and noise, but this is just what improvisation should avoid being - boring.
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Artist: ASP
Title: Der Schwarze Schmetterling, Teil II, :DUETT
Format: CD
Label: Richterskala/Trisol (@)
Distributor: Audioglobe
I'm not really sure I got the name of the band and the title right, but oh well. ASP play a blend of electro, wave and rockish, radio-friendly music with great care for arrangement and details. No wonder they play live with an extended line-up with non-electronic instrumentation, since all tracks have distinct melodies and are arranged like "real" songs - thus, though rhythms are exclusively electronic, they skillfully avoid the classic feeling of monotonous repetition which plagues most electro acts. But the song structure itself seems to be based more on melody than on rhythm, and tracks like "Maybe" have those catchy pop lines that could guarantee proper airplay. Really not my cup of tea, but definitely better than most EBM stuff I've listened to over the past few months. Uh, comes in digipack with booklet (good layout).
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Artist: Lacuna Coil
Title: Unleashed Memories
Format: CD
Label: Century Media Records
I know this review may be a bit late,but most people in the ethereal genre may tend to overlook this great band for the reason it's on a label associated more with metal than ethereal, though it gave us great bands like The Gathering. After hearing this band's "To Myself I Turned" on MP3.com, this Italian band hooked me. Extrememly strong female vocals, at times subtle guitars sometimes louder guitars, and intersesting drumming,make for a very strong formula,especially the vocalist,Christina Scabbia.
The album is strong throughtout,though a bit heavy for most ethereal fans. Think This Ascension with a brighter side and more versatile vocals, or TA crossed with the Gathering.
The strongest points on the CD are "Heir To a Dying Day" and "Senzafine" which is all done in their native Italian.
The band, though they tend to go heavy at times,are best at their most subtle, adding sprinkles of keyboard to add to their uniquely dreamy mood.
Overall, a very strong CD, and to me,a must for fans of both the hard gothic rock and ethereal sides of the spectrum. Rating: 9.
Artist: Das Ich (@)
Title: Anti'Christ
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis Records (@)
Distributor: Amazon.com


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Harsh dark German symphonic industrial in the vein of Neubauten, Laibach, Wumpscut, Hocico and The Young Gods. Das Ich follow a precarious balance between Industrial and Gothic as well as harmony and chaos. Pounding beats and classical strings meld in rhythm with Stefan Ackerman's gritty vocals. There is much here that would appeal the the Naubauten fan or any fan of German industrial as most of the lyrics are in German and the vocals are of a similar style to Blixa Bargeld on early Einstuerzende pieces. However, the music is much more modern and a bit less experimental as the compositions remind me much of Laibach. It smoothly combines hard industrial rhythms and percussion with classical strings and orchestral styled pieces as well as some heavy Gothic choir and ethereal overtones while utilizing bits of modern EBM to bring it all to the modern ear.
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