Music Reviews



Nov 09 2017
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Artist: Sourin (@)
Title: Kakyou
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Sourin is one of many pseudonyms for Tomoya Shiono, a musician, composer, sound/visual artist, and producer based in Japan. Shiono has worked with mainstream artists and labels, but under the Sourin moniker cobbles together a self-produced mélange that sparkles. If pushed to compare, I might describe KAKYOU as an IDM version of Magic Arrows, combining as it does the latter’s lo-fi genius with the former genre’s penchant for digital detail. The result is a flash of pure joy in a time of musical shadows.

Immediately striking are the track names, drawn from the vocabulary of classical Japanese poetry. Whether you know their linguistic meanings, their evocations are abundantly clear in the listening. “Rikka,” for example, denotes the first day of summer, and sets the album on a path so sunlit that your ears will squint. As with all that follows, it weaves samples of voice and guitar with tasteful sequencers behind a clear-and-present drum machine. The rhythms are unrelenting throughout, but become eerily relaxing the more one seeps into them. Even the gentle beginnings of “Hikkyou” (After All) are but a prelude to an onslaught of kicks and cymbals, as Sourin populates the background with a painterly cross-section of signals.

The last three of the KAKYOU’s five tracks are difficult to render succinctly in English. “Kochi” refers to an easterly wind that blows along the Sea of Japan coast in spring and summer. Musically, it feels like its namesake, rushing with an almost video game-like quality over meticulously rendered topographies. “Sayakesa” refers to the brightness of the moon, and here takes that shine to deepest levels, while “Kusaikire” describes the strong smell of grass on a summer day. This one is indeed a vetiver bomb, fragrant and potent, and confirms KAKYOU as a warm body to snuggle up with in the coming winter.

Incidentally, the title of the album itself means “climax.” True to that concept, Sourin’s creations sit atop the precipice of their underlying narrative. Their energetic meditations reveal an organic, artisanal quality that feels handmade and tactile, and speak of a phenomenal touch behind it all. Throw this on with the confidence that no blizzard can make you shiver.
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Artist: Romani Organic Crossover Group
Title: As Serious As My Life
Format: CD
Label: Revenge Records
Rated: *****
This new release by Bruno Romani is performed by band formed with Giuseppe Nannini on Saxophone, Michele Menchini on Bass and Edoardo Vannozzi on Drums and the result is a relatively canonical release whose root is on the tradition of jazz. Instead of working on the form, the writing of this release is tied to an idea of jazz as a variation of the core element of music (melody) discarding the traditional idea of structure.
From the form based on musical lines of "Bàrtoklike" to the parallel lines of "Descending" and the quiet accelerations of "Retrò March". From the quiet meditations of "Ombre" to the almost droning "Climate Change" and the nostalgia of "Twelve Tone Tune". From the rhythmic structure of "Quicksands" to the resonance of "Love Song" and the accumulations of "Afropunk". The final organ of "Serious As My Life" closes a release composed with an ear on the last century.
The overall result is a release of difficult rating for a basic reason: if there's a listener searching for a quiet and really well performed academic version of jazz, this is truly something for their ears; if there's someone searching for a leap forward from a language that is perhaps the most equipped to be considered the real successor of classic music, it would be disappointed. Prior to the choice, anyway it's worth a listen.
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Artist: Molecular
Title: Warmest Regards
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Hiddenseer
Pete Simonelli and Lynn Wright’s open-ended ensemble Molecular offer up a live studio recording that jams together beat poetry, dark prog jazz and suspenseful drone into something

Opener “Berlinesque” is a slow burner, opening with gentle drone which gradually, element by element, gets busier as it unfolds. Other pieces, like “Broque”, are more relentless from beginning to end, while “Late August” and the sweary “Center St Monologue” have a broader dynamic between space and noise. There’s a dirty analogue feel throughout that at points make it sound like a remastered 1970’s wig-out, complete with some raw-edged distortion. The slightly rockier final track “Correspondent” is a relative highlight.

Simonelli’s vocal renditions are like a stoned Henry Rollins reading Jack Kerouac’s holiday postcards, and if I’m being honest, the acting performance has shades of William Shatner about at times. Despite clearly being a cornerstone of the band, his involvement ends up being the one element that you begin to wish you could hear this release without, as the experimental musicianship going on behind him deserves more of a pedestal than it gets.

The short title track is a genuinely irritating diatribe about the awkwardness of ending an email with “warmest regards” that, to me personally, comes across as particularly crass and unrelatable. Things don’t get any better on the following track with Simonelli turns his attention to joggers… not really attacking the heart of the human condition here, are we?

Somewhat falling into the clichés of edgy American tobacco-infused anger-poetry, “Warmest Regards” is not nearly as welcoming as the title suggests, nor are Molecular as musically scientific as their name may suggest, but neither do they manage to offer something as rich or striking as it would need to be to make it recommendable.
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Artist: Peter Kirn
Title: Bellona, USA
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Establishment
The Establishment label’s head honcho Peter Kirn’s second album is a musical interpretation of the fictional city of Bellona, inspired by the post-apocalyptic sci-fi “Dhalgren” by Samuel Delany. Like a soundtrack to a movie that appears to exist only inside Kirn’s head, it’s a collection of moody, slowly evolving instrumental techno and electronica with a variety of tones.

Tracks like “Prism Mirror Lens” are a complex techno made up of lightweight and semi-complex drum programming and long, evolving pads and atmospheres. “This Circle In All”, by comparison, is a harder and more straightforward affair with a touch of acid, while “The Ax” is an earnest exploration of a slightly industrial-sounding polyrhythm stretched out to mesmeric length.

“Stripped Skies” is a brighter affair with a very 90’s flavour and some clever constantly-rising bleep tones. “Vicious Looking Thing” isn’t quite so smart and perhaps represents the point at which the release begins to run out of steam. “Creatures Of Light And Darkness” has a curious, eerie, faintly prog rock intro, but loops around to more 4/4 kick and harsh hi-hats which don’t live up to the promise of that introduction.

“Prelude”, “Interlude” and “Postlude” are a trio of lush and cinematic beatless sonic blanket that could feasibly have been explored further into a dark ambient album in their own right.

This release will be going on tour with an “all new AV show” in 2018, and if the visuals are as rich as the sounds, it should be very interesting to catch- so long as the visuals add extra variety which the sounds do fall just marginally short on.
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Artist: Michael Bonaventure
Title: Works 2008 - 2017
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Unexplained Sounds Group (@)
Rated: *****
Quite an obscure figure in today's music scene, Michael Bonaventure is introduced by the words by Raffaele Pezzella, the curator of the label, which express all the reverence for his works. This is a collection of works perhaps intended as an introduction or an anthology that portrays a composer trying to create avant-garde from the organ, the liturgy's instrument i.e., one of the most traditional still used.
The starting point of "Interlude VI" is based on a dual structure: the first is a classical one based on a melody while the other is a loop and the two parts are repeated in a sequence until a second melody based on drone is used instead of the first to introduce a variation and the reprise of the initial sequence is used to end the track. "Celestial Objects" is instead based on pulsating sounds and vocal processing to reenact the sense of old sci-fi movies based on space and other civilizations while "Sanctuary" start from the same sounds but exploring the high frequency resonances to obtain a spectral crescendo. "Doxology" develops drones from vocal lines using a layer of organ to obtain a link with the tradition and "Interlude" uses almost the same structure with the organ. "Dead Electronics" marks a partial departure with this quiet sound fields using some noises to obtain a vague sense of apprehension. "Carillon II" uses piano chords to create a link to tradition and a certain musical movement while in the background long tones create a static canvas as The vocal manipulations of "Encounters" are used to obtain a movement while the organ marks the rhythmic structure with simple lines played in loop. While the first part of "Terrestrial Ode" is static, the second part is marked by ticking of a clock that underline the sonic manipulation of short samples. "Carillon I" is a variation of "Carillon II" with a smaller role of the piano and a more elaborate electronic part. The large masses of drones generated by the organ of "Darenth II" is doubled by quiet parts where the listener has to catch sounds rather than be overwhelmed.
Not exactly that kind of music that fill in a trend, this album requires a listener which hasn't done a choosing of a battlefield between modernity and tradition as it's tied to both sides; someone would call it a barricade while another an equilibrium. It's worth a listen with care.
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