Music Reviews

Artist: VV.AA.
Title: 15 Years Of Secret Operations
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Secret Operations (@)
Rated: *****
Fifteen years for a drum'n'bass label could be considered something close to a geological era, but when the quality is above the standard levels of the scene, such a longevity is a worthy and almost logical goal. As most of the d'n'b followers know, Secret Operations is the personal imprint by the appreciated Swedish producer Seba, whose amazing style combining rumbling low frequencies, liquid phunk and perfectly cut rhythmical patterns, obviously strongly influenced the sound. The fact this collection embraces a so large time span can let you appreciate the way by which the label managed to catch a set of many different stylistic components, slight diversions of a sonic frame featuring the above-sketched features. For instance, some stylish marks of 90ies jungle can be heard on the opening "Pieces" (2002), amazing track featuring the long-lasting voice by Robert Manos on the mic that Seba co-signed with Jasper Dahlback aka Lenk (another talent of Swedish scene) or the gunfires of the harsher side of jungle of the mentioned decade shaking the grounds of tracks like the bicephalous tune "Fire Like This" (2006) by Seba and Dev 'Paradox' Pandya. Nuances of 'Indian-summer' sonorities grasped into nervous breaks can be heard on the enchanting "Second Thoughts" (2008) by Finnish producer Resound or darker slides like the visionary accelerations of "Heavy Traffic" by Seba and American brilliant producer Method One (2011), exacerbating some contemporary madness, or the menacingly rumbling tones of "External Reality" (2005). Some songs, that maybe boosted your dreams yet, cannot be but included: the lovely "Blaze and Fade Out" (2008) - featuring one of the mellowest male voice in Swedish scene, the one by Kirster Linder -, the psychedelic refreshing flights of "Cant Describe" - one of the best moments taken from Seba's last album "Identity" (2013), including samples from some unspecified airport...I didn't use the word 'flight' by chance! - or the sweetly hypnotic "Life Is". Eighteen delicious extracts to celebrate a well-deserved respectable age! Long life to Secret Operations.
Artist: Simon Whetham (@)
Title: InTolerance
Format: CD
Label: Kohlhaas (@)
Rated: *****
In the presentation of this opus, Simon Whetham uses the term Tolerance in both ways: the mechanical meaning of the imprecision that could be accepted to ensure that elements fit together and the social meaning of the recognition of a different culture. As usual for him, this is release is based upon sounds, mostly field recordings, from various venues around the world; so, it becomes also a moment to state in the lines notes that crossing borders should be "a basic human right".
This piece starts almost quietly with a buzz until a metallic beat introduces a field recording interlude where small sounds emerges from a background noise and when the noises returns, immersed in a pure silence, they moves around the audial field and the track begin to evolve around relationships: between electronic sounds and organic i.e., derived from field recordings, ones; between quiet sections and loud ones; between clean and metallic sources and noise ones. So a couple of things are significative in the analysis of the track: the background noise that is properly the unintelligible mass of sound in which we are immersed in almost underlined and acts as a way to mark a difference between the part where sonic details emerge from a complete silence; a couple of guests, Active Crossover:Mooste and Eamon Sprod, are present in delimited parts of the track as a further hint that this is music requiring a dialogue with the listener.
As the track evolves, listeners used to hear compressed tracks that occupy all the environment are challenged to search sounds in a certain place while in other moments are faced with surrounding noises and this could be also seen as a political commentary or a representation of the factions in the cultural field. Almost essential.