Music Reviews



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Artist: Artemiy Artemiev & Karda Estra
Title: Equilibrium
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock (@)
Distributor: Gamma-Shop, Groove.nl (NL), Cue (D), Eurock.com (US), DWMmusic.com (US), Marquee (JP)
At the time of writing this is the latest of Artemiy's and Electroshock's releases. The prolific Russian has teamed up one more time to bring us the gift of collaborative sound experiments. The signature of English trio Karda Estra reads as ghostly woodwind arrangements, loops and quite gloomy sonic environments. I can't hardly localize Artemiev's style really, proof that his experiences and his eclectic background allows him to get deeply involved in the vibe becoming one with what is being done; not that we needed proof of his abilities, but it helps to understand what "Equilibrium" sounds like, because the only thing here you can really trace back to Artemiev, I think, is the Siberian coldness. I never had the pleasure to listen to a Karda Estra work, so I don't know if they usually are that murky, but the instrumentation they use definitely allows for some really interesting combination of influences: electric guitar, bass, keyboards, acoustic percussions, vocals, woodwind, oboe, cor anglais (english horn), breathing loops and other loops. Clearly the band has contributed a lot of this to these spatial overtones to "Equilibrium": epic background layers made of vaporous loops and looooooong mono-tone low-key sound-floors dotted by hidden percussive beats of a peaceful and slow pace; cymbal washes, soft bass lines; delicate, dressy and heavily effected guitar parts (think chorus, delays, reverb) that duel with recurring synthetic lines making for a progressive break; and last but not least floating wind/wood/breath instrument solos and formless vocal material that aids the ethereal cloudiness sweetly. Sometimes it almost sounds like older Pink Floyd suites, and the slowly drifting flow of psychedelia and new-age trippiness contributes to a frame that knows no time and not barriers. Another band I thought of was NYC's Zoar, but I am sure you can come up with a lot more bands to reference this sound to. Richly mysterious and beautifully powerful as in some of the best hypnotizing electro-acoustic ambient around.
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Artist: Stanislav Kreitchi
Title: Voices and Movement
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock (@)
Distributor: Gamma-Shop, Groove.nl (NL), Cue (D), Eurock.com (US), DWMmusic.com (US), Marquee (JP)
Stainislav Kreitchi's electroacoustic musique concrete proposal comes as a concept album about the excitement of our imagination and how voices (sounds) and movement (rhythms) complement each other in every auditory perception. The entire full length CD with its 7 tracks is played on the legendary ANS synthesizer (whom Electroshock has dedicated vol. IV of their "Electroacoustic Music" compilation series), keyboards and ovaloid. To enhance the perception of nature surrounding you, found sounds, human voices, field recordings and themes from Star Trek and other movies are pasted in digitally. The interesting part is that the opening track "Rhapsody in Rorschach" (where the Rorschach test focuses on visual stimuli to instinctively create pictures in our imagination) is the mother composition that branches out into four fantasies: "Winter" (with its cold bells, long pads, eastern women's chants, glacial sounds); "Spring" (with its watery samples, heavily treated singing birds, more female choirs and more, as in nature waking up and coming back to life); "Summer" (with its intense field recordings, where the field are actual fields, with buzzing insects, lots of birds, wind, reverberated ritual chants and traditional breath instruments, occasional pounding indus beats etc); and finally "Autumn" (with its many bells, windy sounds, low frequency notes, deep male choruses and so on). The other two tracks, "Ruins in the Waste" and the self-titled track, show a tiny bit more musicality, with orchestral breath instruments sounding like french horns, but the abstract structure of these compositions is way beyond and far away from what you would normally consider musical anyway. Strangely, not much of a general rhythmical structure is allowed either, even though the rhythm is supposed to be half of the theme behind the record. In the last track, in particular, water, adult voices, babies crying and steps on a ground covered in stones recall the graphical theme of the booklet and the cover, where on a shore big coloured stones laying on the sand and getting wet with the waves, visually represent what is supposed to equally excite our imagination. Also car sounds, public sounds, more steps (strongly separated in an unreal stereo image), cinematic orchestral music pieces and hiss at different frequencies (who knows if coming off of the recordings or actually part of the experiment) color the atmosphere and contribute to the picture.
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Funny coincidence, I am in Italy while reviewing this 74 minute long CD by an Italian sound sculptor/manipulator (whose name is Gianluigi Gasparetti), released on the Russian label Electroshock; not only that, but in a shameless display of my ignorance I will admit you that I had never before heard about this man and his project, even though I lived in Italy for over 15 years and I started Chain D.L.K. in Italy, in the mid nineties. Oophoi is the first non-Russian project to see the light (in this case maybe the blue light) on Electroshock records. Anyway, once I got over my shame, I dove into the deep surrounding drones of "Bardo", a concept album about the six states of Bardo, which, from what I understand from the liner notes of the inside cover, is related to the Tibetan meditation and the Buddhist beliefs about transitory states of body and mind. The four tracks illustrate the first four of these intermediate states (Meditation, Course of Death, After-Death and Rebirth within Samsara) and original language was used to name the tracks as well. "Bardo"'s long masterpieces of rapturing spirituality can easily get you really close to meditation with its deep roaring sounds and the sombre yet peaceful soundscapes made of low-end choruses sounding like Tibetan choirs one or two octave down, eternal electronics, infinite synth pads, treated percussions, sporadic calm gongs and more. Tibetan singing bowls and flutes are to be heard, but everything, like Bardo itself, is in a state of passage, like not delineated, airy, far, slightly but never fully perceivable. The essence of the beauty of the things that are by you, around you, in you, but you can never see or touch until you reach that point in time and space where everything receives new meaning under a different light. Oophoi's "Bardo" is a first-rate soundtrack for this, a fully deserving and remarkable plate of truly inspiring and immersive experiences, where the incantation of a sacred temple in the middle of the mountains is right in front of your closed eyes, and where the senses receive new food for the soul. Beautiful and charming may not be the most appropriate terms when describing a record of intimate relaxation, but this distant trance-ambient ritualistic outer-body experience really is. «Bardo ends where illumination begins».
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Artist: Anatanas Jasenka
Title: Deusexmachina
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock (@)
Distributor: Gamma-Shop, Groove.nl (NL), Cue (D), Eurock.com (US), DWMmusic.com (US), Marquee (JP)
«Deusexmachina - a denouement which occurs as a consequence of unexpected situation. Sometimes in a scope of antique tragedy the denouement happens after interferation of a god, which appears on stage as mechanical figure (with help of machine)»: this is the definition of the famous latin words that Lithuanian Anatanas Jasenka provides on his first CD on ElectroShock records: 55 minutes that for some weird unexplainable reason are divided into 10 tracks on the cover but only into 3 tracks on the actual CD - 55 minutes of noise ranging from ambient noise to industrial noise. As a matter of fact, if you think about what Electroshock roster of artist is like, it's not easy to file Jasenka in their catalogue. A record like this would probably look better on the shelves of Ant Zen, Staalplaat, Multimood, Drone or other similar labels. But regardless of that, if you are vaccinated for harsh noise but that's not all your are looking for, don't miss out, listen to this as you may find a number of new dimensions usually left unexplored by those who perform the most extreme arts of sound. In fact, even though occasional bursts of violence are part of the wide range of moods to be found, this CD represents much more than just another Masonna album. It's a complete composition of compositions, composed by blasting decomposed sounds and very quite composite noise. For example, beautiful ambience with manipulated and reversed vocals on soft ethereal string-like grounds are to be found at the other end of the spectrum as well. My only discontent is about the length of the tracks, even though the evolution takes place slowly, it is a little too slow at times, in my humble opinion. In other words, dynamism is key here, so be patient and let yourself in on some multifaceted noise art.
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Artist: Anatoly Pereslegin
Title: Fastgood: E-Psalms_
Format: CD
Label: Electroshock (@)
Distributor: Gamma-Shop, Groove.nl (NL), Cue (D), Eurock.com (US), DWMmusic.com (US), Marquee (JP)
As if we didn't have enough pseudo-priests trying to evangelize us in this world oppressed by Christianity (and other religions), Anatoly Pereslegin's second release (composed, arranged and performed in Jerusalem, Israel; while edited, recorded and mixed in Moscow, Russia) brings you some more words from the Book, precisely from David's psalms (Anatoly even thanks David, for the inspiration I guess). If I try real hard to put aside my bias against Christianity and the lies of the beautiful tales that the bible tells, I will tell you that we are dealing with an interesting electronic neo-classical album with somewhat medieval influences and an experimental approach to the blend of the ingredients. Looped sequences, churchy synthesized sounds, soft string pads holding long chords, organs playing lines, harpsi-chord-like sounds playing fast sequences repeating forever, heavenly bells punctuating high chords or creating intertwined textures in the background and ghostly synth voices are the main sounds you will hear, but this record is made unique by the addition of a cello (Alexander Zagorinskiy) playing sad but lovely melodies and by the tenor and baritone vocal performances by Ivan Jmaev and Yuriy Valenkov, respectively... The nine tracks (with awfully long titles, taken from the bible itself) will take you into a decadent vortex of claustrophobic and dark atmospheres that, if anything, will make you think about hell rather than paradise, which gives it a weird twist, considering the used lyrics's origin. Very discomforting, sombre and nightmarish, tonal dark paranoia, rather than solar, this is not church music or anything like that, to me it's more like the soundtrack for a trip through eastern Europe's regions forgotten by god or, alternatively, a Roman Polanski or a William Friedkin movie.
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