Music Reviews

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Artist: Enmarta
Title: The Hermit
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This second effort by Enmarta on Cryo Chamber is a complex release that is unified by the water samples (rain or rivers) appearing in more of less all tracks so all sound, being synthetic or not, seem placed in the real world. But the most remarkable aspect of this release is that he tries to develop a musical discourse rather than being a showcase of cinematic sound.
The canonical form exposed in "Apokatástasis I" opens this release creating the impression to hear the next dark ambient release but the complexity of the construction of "March of the Priests" with his use of drone, sample and his development toward an emotional part by the viola which closes the track marks this release as something to hear with close attention. "Journey to the Celestial Rivers" starts as ambient track with quite layers of synth but reveals itself as a sort of modern classical track as the central part is a lied for viola and cello. The martial atmosphere which opens "Apokatástasis II" is a partial change that introduce a solo for viola while "Passing" is the first track of this release where the viola and the ambient elements are fused in a cohesive whole. "The Hermit" is an evocative ambient track based on a drone and a loop of synth. "Temple of Abandon" closes this release starting as a synth track with a use of vibrato which is close to the sound of theremin and evolving in a viola line which is interrupted by the ubiquitous sound of the rain.
An atmospheric release that would be appreciated by fans of dark ambient and modern classical if both parties are willing to accept unorthodox ways to interpret this music. Truly recommended.
Artist: PainKiller
Title: Execution Ground
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Karlrecords (@)
Rated: *****
On the occasion of a chat with one of our collaborators six years ago, Thomas Herbst, the man behind the curtains of the great Karlrecords, didn't hide his unconditional love for Bill Laswell and all his amazing projects. During that interview, Thomas told us an anecdote: when he asked Bill after a gig he made at Moers Jazz Festival in 2006 what he was doing, Mister Laswell naively replied “oh, some pop stuff…to generate money for projects like this…”. The gig he was referring to - the one he just performed - was the collaborative project PainKiller, the one Thom is luckily proposing by this fantastic re-release, and if you've never heard about it (shame on you!), the names of Bill's collaborators should be enough to titillate your hungry music mind. PainKiller was the brainchild that Bill Laswell started in 1991, while he was still performing with the incendiary free jazz quartet last Exit (including Peter Brotzmann, Sonny Sharrock and Ronald Shannon Jackson) together with Mick Harris (just after he left Napalm Death) and John Zorn (exploring impressively innovative sonorities in his Naked City project). After a couple of albums - "Buried Secrets" and "Guts of a Virgin" - in between free jazz and grindcore (released by notorious metal label Earache), the real masterpiece was their third album "Execution Ground" (1994, Subharmonic), the one where all the musical souls involved the project and their forerunning raid into unconventional stylistic territories merged into five long and powerfully evocative suites: the way the furious free-jazz of Zorn's shrieking saxophone and Harris' drumming on the first part of "Parish Of Tama" got channeled into an intensely emotional and gradually morbid dub in the second part borders on sublime dimensions; the multiverse colliding styles of the increasingly wildness of "Morning Of Balachaturdasi"; the powerful visions inspired by the ambient versions of "Parish Of Tama" and "Pashupatinath" (the crossover version coming as a digital bonus). Masterfully mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at D&M Berlin. Highly recommended!
Artist: Brume
Title: Mother Blast
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Grautag (@)
Rated: *****
If we consider the fact that most of the tracks included in this umpteenth release by French wizard of electronic industrial Christian Renou, who resurrected his notorious moniker Brume in 2008, have been composed in 2014 or are old tracks revisited between 2013 and 2014, could let you surmise this album was stored in some drawer before it could have been taken out of it at a moment when it could sound apter to the renewed fears of a forthcoming apocalypse. Nowadays the spectre of a nuclear holocaust got massively fed by a series of doomsayers and catastrophists, who seized the opportunity of spreading panic-inducing and tragic opinions related to the recent political facts, so that this time seems to be ripe enough for a release, that gives an X-ray to the more disquieting trace that mankind left on modern history. Christian always refused to be filed under some stylistic label by means of the same old argument according to which labels are just a tool of marketing (I don't entirely agree with such an opinion, to be honest, as labelling music is sometimes a useful way to give an idea to listeners) and he often succeeds in escaping any attempt of sticking a precise definition by melting techniques and references that belong to many areas (primarily industrial, electronic, dark ambient, musique concrete, but also some outputs by Richard Pinhas' Heldon, Boyd Rice or Death in June), so that I wouldn't mind such an idiosyncrasy is a hoity-toity symptom. Besides such a minor matter, Monsieur Renou masterfully focuses on a sort of soundtrack that could perfectly fit the waiting of a nuclear bombing inside a subterranean bunker since the opening "'Little Boy' Pilot", where he rendered the lucid insanity of Paul Tibbets, the American pilot who dropped the first atomic bomb (Brume included some vocal snippets by this ridiculously heroic US patriot, who showed no regrets for having killed more than 80 thousand people by invoking reasons of state), to the sinister squeaking and the roaring rattling electro-rock of the final "Panzerfaust" - many musical gemstones in between for the lovers of Brume's music such as the sadly evocative "Victorian Washing Machine" and "Ersatz-Stellungen" or the ominous kind of tragic tribalism of tracks like "Sluggy Tango" or "Wish You were not Here" -. The references quoted by Nicolas Moulin, label manager and founder of grautag, who released "Mother Blast" and considered Brume's seminal album "Permafrost" a source for inspiration for the artistic path of the label, are guessed: "Mother Blast could be considerate as the second step of Permafrost - with some updating, but not only- but overall, the eternal state of ultimate cold war music and its endless no man's lands, where rhythms are growing in sound layers like bunkers of Russian Test nuclear site « Semipalatinsk » or those witch haunting the Ireland of JG Ballard « terminal beach ».
Artist: Relay For Death
Title: Natural Incapacity
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: The Helen Scarsdale Agency (@)
Rated: *****
How many nightmares, fears, memory fragments or weird chats and visions occur during a long journey on a train you experienced? I guess one at least. The constant noise of the train fed the imagination of many movie-makers, writers and musicians of course, to the point it became the perfect set for a plenty of loves, crimes, historical happenings and a large assortment of psychodrama. That constant noise is the almost indisputable lead of the somehow disquieting listening experience provided by Relay For Death, the project of the twin sisters Rachall and Roxann Spikula. In reality, even if the noise of a running locomotive is the element that gives an idea of movement, the two-hours (split over two CDs) lasting sonic journey comes from an amalgamation of other items they cut and paste to supposedly render, as the title suggests, a series of unnatural elements that are so strictly distinguishing features of many of our current urban or suburban textures that they sometimes acts like a sort of natural inhibitors. Especially when they got melted and organized together as recipes of an incredibly powerful paralyzing agent, as it seems to occur on this "Natural Incapacity." As explained in the attached introduction by The Helen Scarsdale Agency, "Natural Incapacity was composed as a seamless, glacial accretion of locomotive grind, subharmonic environmental rumble, nocturnal street sweeping, and the quivering hum of toxic chemicals perpetually leached into the water table." The label itself relates the output of Spikula sisters to the apocalyptic works by Maurizio Bianchi, Kevin Drumm's "Imperial Distortion" and Organum's "Vacant Lights" (maybe this production dating back 1987 is actually the most similar one to "Natural Incapacity"), but the disorienting effect and the dizziness that can be induced by its continuous listening - you should listen so... you couldn't jump off a moving train! - is closer to the one caused by some earlier electro-industrial experiments. The limited edition of this release (just 150 copies) features hard-rust metal covers by Jim Haynes.
Artist: Alessandro Bosetti
Title: Plane / Talea
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Holidays Records (@)
This is a remarkable, purist, “editor’s piece” of experimental composition. Vocal samples- mostly tightly recorded wordless performances in studio-like environments, some found sound voices with external ambiences- have been cut up into thousands upon thousands of microscopic, mini-syllable moments, reordered and looped. These have then been sympathetically layered, sometimes with long natural sustained choral notes as beds, sometimes rapidly glitched, all towards an artificial and ever-changing polyphony. No other processing or filtering has been applied- this is purely the voice, and the edit.

But while pure in concept, in practice this is still a mixed bag. Despite only being two pieces, both “Plane” and “Talea” have several unnamed but distinct sections with their twenty-one-minute-ish durations. Some of these are surprisingly fleeting, some sustain themselves for several minutes, as though the edit suite works-in-progress were still incorporated and while some ideas prove to be short-lived dead ends, very little ended up on the cutting room floor as it were.

The tone and mood skips abruptly also- sometimes suspenseful and almost panicked, sometimes mellow or reverential, sometimes playful, sometimes threatening, but always hard to anticipate. At times it’s choral, at times (for example 14 minutes into “Talea”) it’s practically acapella techno.

Three minutes into “Talea”, the growling and clicking notes make a sceptical reviewer question whether the PR sheet claim of “not processed or altered in any way” is completely true.

Some sections- for example around the 13 minute mark in “Plane”, or the opening of “Talea” with its discernible ‘take me away’ lyrics as seen on the artwork- feel distinctly less edited, more performed, a deliberate and theatrical arrangement of an ensemble of percussive voices. As such it feels like Bosetti has “done a Tubular Bells” and compiled a number of short pieces under the vinyl-LP-centric umbrella of “side A” and “side B”.

It’s an interesting work with noble principles, but with many abrupt shifts and without a true sense of overarching structure, it does end up being a stop-start listening experience.
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