Music Reviews



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Artist: Sven Laux (@)
Title: Paper Streets
Format: CD
Label: Dronarivm (@)
Rated: *****
While having a discography starting in 2006, this is the first release of Sven Laux which I've heard of and he describes himself as one of those artist working around "the evolution of micro composition" which means more of less the canonical form of minimalism. This release is based on structures centered around small melodic cells slowly evolving upon a minimalistic soundscape using organic sounds as a squeaky chair, recurring several times, as if it were recorded live.
The first track, "Are You Still With Me?", creates a quite atmosphere using long string loops and takes his charm from being almost unresolved while "A Glimpse Of Memory" is more layered and closer to certain modern classical without be overtly romantic and "Out Of The Blue" sketches an harmonic development and some proper melodies. The title track is a minimalistic tune based on a single melodic cell slightly variated and "From Sadness To You" centered on a piano line introducing a drone and the strings marks a part closed by "There's Still Hope" where there's more a work on writing than on sound so it sound old and new at the same time. "The Lost Violin" returns to a sound framework based on strings and a certain quietness or stasis and introduces "I Wish I Could Sleep" the closing track of this release which uses found sounds as a rhythmic background to the development of the string musical cell.
This album takes his strong point of his position in the evolution of a genre, so it's not that kind of innovative release which displaces the listener but it's something that cradles him into familiar places. Fans of ambient and modern classical will truly enjoy this release.
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Artist: Panoptique Electrical
Title: Quiet Ecology
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Sound In Silence
Jason Sweeney’s third album for Sound In Silence is described as a quest for a quiet space, seeking and then embodying calm environments within Australian cities. It centres around gentle piano work, slow and relatively simple chord patterns, set into subtly realised ambient soundscapes.

We mostly alternate between near-solo piano works (“The World Is So Loud”, “Footfalls”) and broader and slightly more cinematic pieces featuring violin and soft drone (“In A Vow Of Silence”, “Upon A Map”) which have a distinctly more melancholic tone compared to the assured calm that comes from the piano. The exception to this is the piano piece “A Place With Trees”, with its more lyrical approach, that certainly has a tinge of sadness.

Albums like these are deceptively simple and you would think easy to create, but getting the right balance of mood and space is a fine art, and Sweeney has done a good job here of imbuing this recording with genuine emotion rather than cliché. Innovative or experimental it certainly isn’t, but sincere and relaxing, it succeeds on both counts.

Oh and as a passing remark, this is the ambient album that Moby wants to write..
Dec 08 2017
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Artist: Visible Cloaks
Title: Lex
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: RVNG Intl.
Following on from their debut album, the Oregon-based duo Visible Cloaks offer up a 6-track mini album of soft, bright, energetic, avantgarde open-minded electronica built up from quirky glitched rhythms, soft pads and ahhhhs, Eastern-influenced percussive tones, spoken word snippets and some very squelchy synth work.

The first five tracks are all odd little sketches, cut-up and unpredictable and seemingly reveling in the defiance of expectations- just when you think you’ve got a handle on what’s happening, there’s an abrupt stop and something else arrives. Nothing’s allowed to breathe for long, which is a shame in parts as some elements, such as the Japanese Tangerine Dream-esque segments of “Keys”, could really have been explored in much more depth. “Frame” has hints of Susumu Yokota, and the title track has a subtly harder edge, it seems from that short piece that Visibles Cloaks at their most aggressive sound like Venetian Snares at his most mellow.

Final track “World”, at fourteen minutes longer than all the other tracks put together, is more coherent- a smooth, gentle bit of soundscaping with more than a slight echo of 1990’s era ambient house and what people called ‘trance’ before that label got attached to the club sound. Think Salt Talk, The Irresistible Force, FFWD, we’re firmly in that world and it’s lovely. Lush piano and harp sounds, water noises, gentle pad underscores, it’s pure loveliness. It’s not completely devoid of the skitty glitches of the first five tracks, but it’s a lot more settled. I could listen to this track extended to two hours, it’s like a familiar aural spa.

Personally I found the ambience of the final track more successful than the abrupt sketching of the first five, but as an electronica mini-album it’s certainly beautiful and attention-deserving. If they’ve done a properly ambient album, sign me up.
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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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