Music Reviews



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Artist: Sote (@)
Title: 10inch04
Format: 10"
Label: REPITCH Recordings
Rated: *****
A sympathy for hardcore and gabber sonorities and maybe of the so-called pink elephants by Iranian producer Ata Ebtekar aka Sote was evident since some tracks and playlist he posted and played here and there. As in recent days, we're surprisingly witnessing a reprise of supposedly dead sonorities within techno scene; this outputs including a couple of long-lasting hyper-frenzy tracks, dating back the first of the second half of the nineties when the phenomenon of gabber-fuelled or hardcore-jungle rave parties was still booming. The most surprising aspect of both tracks is its quality, higher than the average one of the outputs orbiting around those sonorities. Sote compressed heavily distorted buzzes, thumping claps, amphetaminic pumping, rattling electronic bleeps and unusual insertion of breathtaking pad-synths in the 10 minutes of the massively punching hardcore techno "Neuroenhancer" (built in 1995), whose expanding decay and entropy correctly flows in "In Music I Trust" (a collaborative track he assembled with San Francisco-based DJ and producer in 1997), a bombing tune in between hardcore-jungle and so-called jump-up drum N bass that becomes more and more elastic and corroded (a spaced-out Prodigy-like yell and the abrasive distortion by which these guys filtered a piano string are really bizarre choices) after a somehow disorienting chilling incipit. Nicely dissonant meditation on conventional sonic fuel for old ravers.
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Artist: Matt Christensen
Title: Prowl
Format: CD + Download
Label: TVEI (@)
Matt Christensen’s relatively short solo offering “Prowl” is six polished pieces of high-end sparse ambient electronica in what’s now something of a classic style- echoing pianos and FX, fluid warm chords and tones, crisp lightweight digital percussive sounds and occasional bleeps. Principally the result is ambient, in the “if you like The Orb, you’ll like this” way.

Each track offers one new element into the mix. The title track “Prowl” is among the more upbeat offerings, initially offering acid house-like noises and playing with pace, as different layers shift in time, slowly overtaking one another. “Crasenim” adds faintly glitchy gated synths that drip sound like water off a growing stalectite. “Mountains Of Fire” stands out as the most minimal, “llull me to gentle sleep” music with a softly dark underside, that flows into “Spending It” where light organic rhythm patterns plug away while the ambience floats on top. “Junk Test” adds a gentle arpeggiator and a kick drum-like sound so muted it’s like you’re only listening to its echo, with short track “In Force” a soft outro.

It’s a lush sound, and a neatly segued collection of pieces that form a very coherent 36-minute whole. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s got quality in spades and is certainly worth of attention.
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Artist: Koji Maruyama
Title: comune
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: Mimi (@)
Distributor: Archive.org
Though Comune is woefully short, it stands up to multiple listens and fills this listener with childhood storybook wonderment. “Op.344” is a lot like Keith Jarret's early work, paradoxically sparse and full, assertive, a magic tune. With its cheery wind instrument opening melody, “Uzume” follows it with cascading piano that practically pans a wondrous anime landscape that would do Hayao Miyazaki proud. A minute-long song, it is a well-crafted, compact diamond at that. “Aoi Hasu” opens with slow rhythmic piano that slowly gains momentum as the song progresses, a train departing a station, then picking up speed as additional piano melodies are joined by strings, chimes and wind instruments that inspire visions of pastoral landscapes. A billowing, dreamy wistfulness with a melancholic lining wafts over the track like smoke from a locomotive. “Venice” is a live recording and no less beautiful, and evokes the music of Joe Hisaishi's piano music, but taps into more complicated, intangible moods rather than just the drama of an anime soundtrack. Playful, mellifluous, wistfully melancholic with fleeting moments of joy and yearning, Koji Maruyama's Comune is one of the gems in the trove of Archive.org.
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Artist: Magnetica Ars Lab / DK 5600
Title: Final Muzik CD-Singles Club 10
Format: MCD (Mini CD)
Label: Final Muzik
Recently I received this split MCD with Magnetica Ars Lab, project headed by Arnaldo Pontis, and DK5600, duo coming from Trieste (so both Italians). It is a limited item which is part of the Final Muzik's CD Singles Club. Let's start with Magnetica Ars Lab, who with "Ground Control" are really walking on a dangerous area, because making a sort of Bowie's cover without trying to make one it's a really difficult target. In this case, I'm sorry to say that while I appreciate the cold ambient background atmosphere created, I didn't like the vocals at all, because there's the attempt to follow a little the original melody without doing it and this is the tricky part: or you're really good at it, or you don't do it, because doing that, the people will compare this version with the original. In my humble opinion it would have been much better a reading or a filtered voice not attempting to do any melody at all or a different melody with also a different metric. About DK5600, you read about them here some time ago when I reviewed their debut album "Distanza Katrias 5600". They are here with two tracks: "Punto Zero" and "Uscire Dallo Spazio Curvo". The first one is a cosmic pulsating track which brings you on board of a lost spaceship. There, you hear a voice which seems to come from the central computer. The effect is really good and the long melodic drones and the bleepy effects are really good too. On the second track, we have the same kind of processed vocals with the add of an anxious breathing with a great synth glacial ambient background. The sound is really sharp and detailed. Two really nice tracks.
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Artist: Edit Select (@)
Title: Points Of Contact EP
Format: 12"
Label: Substrato (@)
Rated: *****
Despite its relatively short presence in the market, Italian label Substrato is already breaching the rockiest hearts of lovers of the genre. Even if Italian media are depicting mountains as terrible and nefarious places due to the earthquakes, large snow avalanches and harsh climatic events that are severely hitting central Italy, mountains are somehow magical places, and Substrato's concept got mostly based on the emphasis of its mysterious majesty and the rejuvenating power of its rocks. The fourth output by the label has the signature of a known name of the scene, the one by British producer Tony Scott, mostly known as Edit Select, his more famous moniker. His mastery in forging techno tunes, coming from many years of experience in the field (he's active since the 90ies), perfectly matches the stylistic path that Substrato is trying to trace, where the combination of the more "acoustic" sonorities of techno and deeper pulsations is aimed to render the meeting of subterranean and surfacing hard rocks of upland regions. Tony reached this goal by means of only three tracks: all of them features punching muffled beats and subtle electronic buzzing, but he adds more gurgling sonorities on "Faction 1" and harsher ones on the synth-driven serpentine of "Tangent" (close to some hybrids of chilling minimal techno and Detroit sound) before reaching the almost ethereal thin air of the deeply atmospheric "Faction 1.1", the highest peak of the whole release. Check it out.
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