Music Reviews



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Artist: Roman Leykam
Title: Ethereal
Format: CD
Label: Frank Mark Arts (@)
Rated: *****
According to the introductory words of this new output by Roman Leykam, "Ethereal" is an attempt 'to convey peace, serenity and the deceleration from the daily routine. The music offers the listener the opportunity to enter into silent communication with himself.'. Such an aim could implement the description of many second-hand new-age oriented release that you could even find in a supermarket till some years ago, but what listener are going to meet in Roman's music is something a little bit less commercial and easy listening. I won't say he walks on entirely unexplored musical pathways, as the most immediate stylistic link is to all those composers, who crossed that liminal zone in-between classical ambient music and the so-called kosmische musik. Besides any spiritual enhancement you can reach by its listening, the patterns that Roman explores on "Ethereal" are mainly driven by impressive outputs from guitars and synth-guitars, gliding over sonic waters that have often been too shallow for experienced musicians. I could mention the less convincing productions by solo-projects of former Tangerine Dream guitar player Edgar Froese, but Leykam tries to diversify it by occasional contamination with a more bluesy nuance. The primary defect of similar explorations is paradoxically related to the sometimes single-minded pursuit of a sonic clarity without any element of impurity, which could result in a dull listening experience for all those listeners who don't understand the technical tricks by which he managed to reach that sharpness. A gap which could induce some listeners to look for other strategies to escape from the above-mentioned daily routine.
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Artist: VV.AA.
Title: 1961-2014: An Anthology Of Turkish Experimental Music
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Sub Rosa (@)
Rated: *****
The series of anthologies, which followed the seven volumes of "An Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music" (released between 2000 and 2012) and the subsequent "Early Electronic" collection (focusing on tracks composed between the 50ies and the 80ies), keeps on expanding over the geographical ones. Following the surprising Anthology of Chinese Experimental Music, the title of this new one about Turkish electronic and experimental scene could be a little bit confusing as the only aged track is the opening one of the first cd, but the importance of its author go beyond Turkish boundaries. Such a temporal gap could be mainly explained by the fact that the interest in electronic music arrived relatively late in Turkey, thanks to the academic teachings by composers, who got in touch with electronic devices out of their native country and Bülent Arel, the composer of the above-mentioned "Postlude From Music For A Sacred Service" (1961), was one of those eminent expats. In reality, he just received many mouthwatering proposals from foreign countries, including the one by the Rockefeller Foundation, which invited him to join the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, and Yale University, where he projected and installed its electronic music laboratory and taught from 1961 to 1970, before being recognized as one of the most brilliant innovators of looping techniques. Another key figure of this almost unknown 'exotic' scene, lhan Mimarolu, the son of the notorious architect Mimar Kemaleddin Bey (a famous face on 20 Turkish lira banknote), moved to the USA after a Rockefeller Scholarship and studied at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center as well, under Vladimir Ussachevsky; his contribution to music, in general, is also related to his record label, Finnadar Records, his precious contribution to the OST of Fellini's "Satyricon" and his role in the release of "Changes One" and "Changes Two" by Charles Mingus and its experience in the field of soundtrack and contemporary classical music is evident on the evocative track that got included in this compilation "Prelude No.17 [Istanbul Fog]". The boom of electronic music occurred later both within academies and universities (Cenk Ergün, Koray Tahiroglu, Mehmet Can Özer) and the noise-oriented avantgarde (Mete Sezgin, Nilüfer Ormanl, Utku Tavil), but the Turkish experimental scene is more complex and opulent than many could imagine. This anthology, compiled by Batur Sönmez and Erdem Helvacioglu and split into two CDs, tries to embrace such a complexity and multifaceted scene. CD1 includes more 'academic' stuff that often get close to serialism and concrete musique, while the second covers a wide range of ambient music, samplers, and even stuff with references to political issues such as the impressive "Democracy Lessons" by Asaf Zeki Yuksel, the gorgeous abstract glitch ambient of "The Monopoly Of Victim Status" and the traditional folk-spotted "I Want To Be A Suicide Bomber" by Sifir, but I'm pretty sure that many listeners will get impressed by the broad stylistic range of this selection and the quality of these mostly unknown (to the masses) Turkish forward-looking musicians.
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Artist: Bone (@)
Title: Radiation EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Faded Music (@)
Rated: *****
Recently landed on Poland-based imprint Faded Music owned by Ukrainian producer Fade, the first solo release of this year by Estonian producer Marek Ratassepp aka Bone could easily meets the likes of the followers of producers like Fanu, Klute, Commix and The Upbeats, as you can easily understand since the listening of the opening tune "Brawl", where his machines seem to channel ghostly howls and stealthy draughts over noise disturbances on well-greased percussive gears. The air got even more rarefied in the very first seconds of "Form And Void", where only a precisely cut groove shakes the elastic structure of its rhythmical body before the sudden raid of laser beams and mechanical forms fill the void! Skirting junk sonorities by finely twinkling melodic pins and hovering pads on the title track "Radiation", Marek gives the very best of his art of filling spacey sonic spheres by flowing particles of amen breaks in the excellent "Pulsate", the best moment of this release. Check it out.
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Artist: Ticklish (@)
Title: Swinging Flavors #3
Format: 7"
Label: Beat Machine Records (@)
Rated: *****
The 7" vinyl series Swinging Flavors on the Italian label Beat Machine Records, hosting some impressive underground (and sometimes unjustly unknown) bass-driven electronic music makers, got started by Simon/off's Sun People juke-oriented "Flowers", spiced by "Wild Obsession" - a collaborative output by Lynch Kingsley and Block Mameli - and now fostered by this lovely tidbit by Berlin-based producer Ticklish. The original version "Lost" focuses on the repetition of a vocal sample (saying "I've been loved" or maybe "I've been lost") over brushes of bulbous synth-driven hops, junk-style beats, awesome digital drums fill-ins that unpredictable flow into that kind of diamond wheeling piano, which got widely used in chic house, garage and new age before it gets electrified by an enveloping slightly distorted bass and crispy percussions. Antony Williams aka Addison Groove reroutes the energy of the original version along a likewise catchy junk-electro directrix, while listeners opting for the digital release will be delighted by "Redshift", a bonus track where Ticklish dived into a computational pool that he embellished by means of hisses and supposedly masked field recordings (audible when beating got stopped). Keep an ear on this guy.
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Artist: Tape Loop Orchestra
Title: Go Straight To The Light Of All That You Love
Format: 12" vinyl + CD
Label: Facture (@)
Rated: *****
Just like his previous outputs, Andrew Hargreaves' one-man band Tape Loop Orchestra managed to focus on a very particular emotional state or, I'd rather say, a somehow mystical path as a framework for his orchestral well-forged ambient drones, that he presumably squeezed by a massive usage of reel-to-reel tape recorder, which could have "antiquated" the samples. The reflection about life-in-art and art-in-life eternal correspondence has a well-defined cultural sparkle and feeders, related to 'In Search Of The Miraculous', an old book by Russian philosopher and thinker Ouspensky, reporting his meeting and the subsequent involvement in his teachings with George Gurdjieff. The narrative self-biographical plot is also an interesting explanation of Gurdjieff's discipline ("The Work" or "The Method" in his own words) for the awakening of self-consciousness, the so-called "Fourth Way", joining together the methods of fakir, monk and yogi or, in the other words, the methods to develop body, emotions and mind to reach a balanced inner development, that has many fans in Western hyper-stressed communities. If you are interested in this kind of subjects, I invite you to deepen them - some aspects of these teachings could look like those platitudes that are so banal that are difficult to implement in everyday life -. What matters to us is the way by which the Tape Loop Orchestra turned it into sound, despite the fact that set of beliefs is just a sparkle, and this release cannot be considered an authentic tribute to that workout. The first of the two long-lasting track on Side A of the vinyl edition (transparent strictly-limited one by Fluid Audio sister label Facture) has been titled "Go Straight Towards The Light..." and doesn't disappoint expectations by such a descriptive title. The slow blurred and over-stretched melodies will bear listeners across the tides of time using gently distorted diluted guitars, slightly modified strings and peaceful sonic entities including a siren-like singing and fluffy violins that seem to resurface from the depths of a lake covered in fog. This wise combination of sound, bordering on typically ethereal music, manages to render the emotional and spiritual dimension of the above-mentioned book likewise the second track "...of All That You Love" (just join the two titles to build what the Tape Loop Orchestra - or maybe Ouspensky? - tries to teach), where the drone becomes even more amniotic and psychotropic because of the lukewarm caresses of some whispers and a breathe that sound like the guide to sync listener's breathe in order to reach some ecstatic state of mind, that the Tape Loop Orchestra could inspire. The contrast between the calm mood of the sound and the sentence you'll find in the artwork (“Death isn’t about judgment, it collects us all.”) reprises that contrasting correspondence that Andrew summarized in some simple questions... If life is art, can the artist decide where art ends and art life begins? Can they co-exist in one form? Do we celebrate the art or the artist?
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