Music Reviews

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Artist: MUTANTUM (@)
Title: EXP˛
Format: CD
Label: Suggestion (@)
Here we are with a new CD coming from mine/our old friend Mikko Muranen. As few months ago here's a new release of his new project, Mutantum. If you read my review or had the opportunity to listen to "Sonic Sideshow" you'll be surprised listening this new release as into EXP² you won't find anything similar to the previous album. As stated by the title, into this sixty eight minutes CD you won't find nothing but sound experiments based on synthetic layers and treated sounds coming from unknown sources. Only few have got guitars, but the result is explosive (check "Explosé" where the guitar solos end up in thousand explosions). The nine tracks don't deal at all with rock sounds as Mikko this time decided to explore the dephts of his "sonic sideshow". All the tracks have got their distinctive characteristics and sounds which help diversifying the various movements showing in this way Mikko's multifaceted soul. To be totally honest I liked EXP² most as being based on industrial ambient sounds it's able to amaze the audience even more. This is a limited release of only sixty items, so check it out in a rush!
Artist: Steven Feld
Title: Rainforest Soundwalks
Format: CD
Label: Earth Ear Record (@)
It's enough to cast a look at the cover of the CD by Steven Feld RAINFOREST SOUNDWALKS to be immediately immersed in a special world. The opposite of commonness is not some kind of mystic dream. It is something very simple and probably accessible - land, forests, in other words, just the nature itself and the CD tells a story exactly about nature. It doesn't tell its story using human language, instead making use of that of birds, transmitting the hypnotic "Ambiences of Bosavi, Papua New Guinea" (the subtitle of the CD). This is a far cry from the fussy chirping of city birds. Beginning in 1976, Steven Feld traveled a lot to the exotic place in order to bring the alluring "acoustic depths of Bosavi" to us, listeners, on a convenient one-hour compact disc.

The imagination and mastery of an artist together with sensitiveness and knowledge of a naturalist resulted in RAINFOREST SOUNDWALKS. The four compositions, three of them being united in one series called "The Ambient Soundwalks", make up the sizable picture of this exotic corner of the world, where people still believe in migration of souls and hear the voices of ancestors in the birds singing. Seyak - the local species of butcherbird not only became the title, but also the main and only ingredient of the first composition. Here we can hear its voice in all its beauty, unassisted by other artificial or natural sound sources. In the triptych "The Ambient Soundwalks" the sound is captured in the state of movement both in space and time. "Keafo, morning", "Galo, afternoon", "Nulu, nigh" is the unique mirror of the sound dimension of Oceania, a split twenty-four hours seen through the prism of singing dwellers of Bosavi.

Steven Feld himself appears in several stances. As a scientist he has thoroughly studied the ornithological fauna of Bosavi. As an engineer he has brilliantly recorded, mixed and mastered the breathtaking ?vocal parts? of cicadas, frogs, pigeons, cacadou and other birds. As a composer he has integrated these to a light and colorful musical pastiche. As a photographer he has taken wonderful pictures of Papua New Guinea's landscapes. As a writer he has provided his work with the explanation of his motivations, letting us take a look at the source and meaning of his works.

Cheer up, if you have to stay at home or work, unable to take a trip overseas. RAINFOREST SOUNDWALKS quenches the thirst for changes, gives food to imagination and lets you touch that "feeling of a place" that is mentioned in the introductory text of the CD. Every one of us may feel his affinity to the world of this faraway island, because all income from this record goes to Bosavi People's Fund and The Music Department of the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies.
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Artist: Septic Flesh
Title: Sumerian Daemons
Format: CD
Label: HammerHeart Records
Distributor: HammerHeart Records
One of the strangest, most alluring and yet challenging of all the metal bands is Greece’s Septic Flesh. If you expect traditional anything with this group, you’re abound to get spit on right then and there. Spitting directly in the face of metal elitism, this Greek group incorporates heavy elements of gothic rock such as Fields of The Nephilim (with no lack of their mysticism) and especially Paradise Lost (whom they have recorded covers of), dark ambience ala Megaptera and Das Ich, dark classical and industrial into their already strange brand of doom/gothic metal. The beginning track, "Behold The Land Of Promise," is as cold and unforgiving a landscape as it gets, draped with foreboding opera vocals drenched over unsettling chimes and bells, all coated with some of the darkest synth work this side of Antigen Shift. I’m glad as hell they were lying about getting rid of all those classical and goth influences in their music, as it does effectively add to it. Next comes the lo-fi tornado "Unbeliever", which blends together a strange brew of dark speed metal and goth rock, only to switch off into a dark neo-classical structure very soon afterwards. Many will note the Paradise Lost influences on the songs "When All Is None" and "Virtues Of The Beast", with it’s distinctive riff laden gothic metal. To even more spit in the face of metal elitists out there who say it’s wrong to experiment, they even blend some slow death folk and industrial on "When All Is None", all with those menacingly low growls of the singer. All this CD is a journey into a very bizarre and unsettling occult world, and the lyrics in part reflect that. Covering such subjects as space travel and the overall subject of how man’s base nature is behind every piece of technology, the lyrics are anamorphous and fluid at the same time, foreboding and inspiring all at once. And the artwork is sure to delight any Gieger nut like me. The artwork, all done masterfully by band member Seth, is something that you’ll surely be looking at as the music dares you to dig just a little deeper. Pictures of the singer with a bloody hole in his hand with a coachroach in it, along with pictures of some otherworldly inhuman figures in many tortured poses is something to keep you guessing. Not to mention the Hellraiser-esque pictures of the band. I’m echoing the sentiments of many metalheads and Goths I know who have heard this CD: It is a fucking masterpiece, hands down. But it is also a crowning example of how genres can be blended seamlessly and not even be noticed until you pick it apart in the end, bringing together hardcore Goths, Rivetheads and Metalheads in the end perfectly. This CD is not just for one of those, it is for anyone who appreciates music that defies idiot ideas such as crowds and genres. There is no genre for this... ... ... ... ... ..It is simply Septic Flesh. Rating: 10Also recommended are Rotting Christ and of course Paradise Lost. Also of note is Chaostar, which is Septic Flesh’s dark ambient and classical project. But I’d heavily advise that only those truly into dark music listen to it, it’s not an easy listen otherwise.
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Artist: KMFDM
Title: Sturm Und Drang (Live)
Format: DVD
Label: Metropolis Records
Distributor: Metropolis Records
I hate bad reviews, it’s one of the things that I despise in many rock journalists (points a hateful finger at Rolling Stone mwahahahaha), and especially towards a band like KMFDM, who are one of the bands who got me into this racket in the first place. But to me, this band has worn out a good while ago. And this DVD proves what I saw in person: that this band, who churned out classic after golden classic in industrial-metal, has felt the cold effects of age and laxness. I watched this with my roommate, who was quite a bit into KMFDM back in the day, and it’s rare as hell we agree on anything musically. She’s into Oasis and Geri Halliwell, and well we know my deal on music ;-). This is something we were both echoing the same replies to: Stunned at just how uninvolved the band was in their music, like they were about to fall asleep it looked like (Sasha looked like he just drank NyQuil before the show), stunned at the fact they had to get two guitarists to replace En Esch, stunned at the fact that the female singer did little more than grind and dance around and sang quite annoyingly. The list goes on and on, this band’s live show now is one of the worst in recent memory. But looking back on "Beat By Beat" this band would have taken many industrial bands to town and busted the books on them. It had energy, anger and feeling out the ass. Now KMFDM, like a good deal of the old groups still around from the golden days of industrial, are just stuck in their own routine, living in a shadow of themselves. The energy is clearly not there, and it’s now men pushing the mid 40’s trying to relate to kids half their age, trying to act like they are still mad about something. And men at that age rarely make for quality music in aggressive music, withholding bands like Napalm Death and Ministry. Believe me, I hate criticizing a band who I still adore for their past works, and who got me into underground music to begin with, but the truth is the truth. Perhaps they should call it a day and join up Slick Idiot, and make it more KMFDM than KMFDM is now. This is just plain awful. Rating: 1.
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Artist: VV.AA
Title: The Dreams of Gaia
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Earth Ear Record (@)
The double disc published by Earth Ear Records is in fact two separate products - the sampler of ecological music and the collection of various texts. Attempts to understand the mysteries of nature as well as to get to the underworld of the Earth and civilization form the basis for each one of them, but also trying to show the links between all living things via acoustic media. I recommend to patiently read everything that's written in the booklet if you are willing to listen to this sampler. The hypnotic, unobtrusive and tangible poetry of John Luther Adams helps you to tune in emotionally to the music. The introductory text by Jim Cummings accentuates the necessary elements and provides the obligatory context, which helps to understand the meaning behind the music. The quotations from different authors featured on the sampler reveal their common ideology, which lies in understanding the world in all its wholeness, dynamics and complex interconnections via the sonic experience. The briefly explained View of Gaia is the result of merging various conceptions about the essence and meaning of the creative work of "the sound sculptors". It's an important part that leads to understanding THE DREAMS OF GAIA in all its wholeness. There's no point in telling you about all virtues of this wonderful booklet, I can only stress that this information will not burden you, will not complicate the process of listening. Quite the opposite - it will enrich your perception directing it along the path of the highest delight.

To be able to move in space without leaving your seat is one of the most important advantages that the art is able to give you. This is also true about music. Especially that kind of music which IS space itself - space in its sonic form. THE DREAMS OF GAIA takes you on journeys whose trajectories cross many different corners of the world - North and South America, Africa, Europe, Siberia, Australia and Antarctica. Megalopolises and national parks, deserts and glaciers, moorlands and meadows - all are kind tributaries of this single sonic river.

The main intrigue in DREAMS OF GAIA is that the objects are not visible, their presence only indicated by sounds and we are free to build our own associations, to imagine landscapes, time and... ourselves. By surrendering to our own imagination we will be able to change the state we're in. The hints provided by the devotees of "natural audio" will find their own continuation within us, revealing our own human connection with everything that exists both materially and sensually.

The flow of a river, the splashing of waterfalls, the whooshing of wild duck's wings, the screaming of hunchback whales and the rumbling of gorillas, the chirring of water insects, the whispering of a forest, the crackle and rustling of its dwellers, the neighing of horses, the wailing of sirens, the noise of highways, human speech and laugh and the slightly perceivable breath of wind - everything seems to be fixed, the fragments are taken out of reality and built into full compositions. So, where does the feeling of something mythically mysterious that permeates each composition comes from when we know that all source material is quite mundane? The blind man, suddenly recovering his sight on a gloomy evening somewhere on the darkish edge of town will probably find everything that surrounds him to be extremely colorful. For a dull ear the simplicity of everyday sounds seems like a supernatural revelation. And we can only repeat the words of Jim Cummings "Thanks to the sound". But even greater gratitude must go to those who scrupulously discovers and collects the sounds, "opens" our ears and conducts us to the wealthy universe which is often left unnoticed by us. There are works of 19 different authors on this disc, including such masters of natural sound as Bernie Krause, Gordon Hempton and Walter Tilgner along with other non-ordinary artists of sonic space.
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