Music Reviews



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Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: What Do You Suppose? (The Alien Question) / Project Blue Book
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
This new reissue from Zoharum is another classic from Rapoon dated 1999. "What Do You Suppose? (The Alien Question)" is a concept album based on the theories related to aliens and their presence on the planet made by William Cooper so the texts of the various tracks, rather to be an esthetic element, are the focus of this release and made it a really different from the previous reissues.
The loop from an old record and the spoken word of "Before I Begin" opens this release as a quiet introduction to the beat of "Waddi Haj" where the ethnic elements of his music return while "How Many of You Understand?" is based on the words and "Never Called NJ12'¦" is finally the juxtaposition of the two musical elements. "Give Us Dub" is, as the title suggests, a dub influenced bridge to the second part of this album starting with "No Really'¦" where the dialogue introduces an emerging loop.
"How Many of You Did Not Know That?" is a long cinematic track focused on a drone. The deep drone of "The Alien Question" is frightening in opposition to the "Only The Names Change"'s one. "Without Aliens'¦" is a meditative track based on a vocal loop and a drone while "I Don't Expect Anyone'¦" closes this release returning to the classic rhythmic structure of this project.
The second CD is a complete rework of the original release removing the spoken word part, with the exception of "The Truth Regarding UFO's", and focusing on the rhythmic element so tracks like "Further than Waddi Haj", based upon "Waddi Haj", "Leaving Us", based upon "I Don't Expect Anyone'¦", or "Send Dub", based upon "Give Us Dub", sound like experiments in sound nuances. The other tracks removes the cinematic elements that are peculiar of the original release and replaces them with dance oriented ones; the only exception is "Dark Gods Breathing" focusing on tone oriented chant.
While the first CD could stand among the finest releases of Robin Storey with his remarkable shift upon a narrative element usually absent in the previous releases, the bonus disc sounds more like the usual add-on of a reissue or a variation on the form already exposed in his classic masterpiece. However, this is an essential reissue.
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Artist: Atrium Carceri
Title: Metropolis
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
Few months after the release of "The Old City", Atrium Carceri returns with a new release, presented as closely connected to "The Untold", continuing his tale of the primordial metropolis and the force that builded it. From a musical perspective is closer to the previous release as it follows, but with a stronger writing, his structures.
The cinematic quality of "The Gargantuan Tower" opens this release following the path of "The Old City" so, when the spoken arrives, there's the sense of the absence of a visual element. The rhythmic elements of "The Dark Mother" marks a small departure to the dark ambient, the foundation of Atrium Carceri's style, returning with "Across the Sea of the Dead" and his impressive sound details. The small distortions of "Black Needle" and the resonances of "Decrepit City" could sound closer to some forms of drone metal. "Sacred Slab" is a return to form with his use of synth as "200 Days", apart from the vocal intro. "Industrial District" is based on a slowly developing drone and "Heart of the Metropolis" continues this path until the small noises of the second part of the track introduce the listener to "The Cowled Seers" whose gentle synth notes marks a shift toward pop territories covered in a flash with the return to a soundscape with "The Machine" and his evocative use of drones.
Instead of a release oriented towards fans, this album removes the flaw of "The Old City", a too emulative sound, and marks perhaps the beginning of a journey to new musical direction from this artist. A truly recommended release.
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Artist: Akira Kosemura
Title: Trio
Format: CD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
The third release of Schole's Concert Single Series is a lovely assay of a live performance that appreciated Japanese pianist Akira Kosemura held at Lutherian Ichigaya Church concomitantly with the release of original soundtrack for the film "Embers (Saigo no Inochi)" by Junpei Matsumoto, which was recently released by Akira's own imprint. This oung brilliant composer re-arranged some old and new tracks from his own repertoire that he performed together with Mika Shirasawa (violin), who co-signed a "duo" he recorded with Akira at Shinjuku Bunka Center and Okurayama Memorial for the same series, and Maiko Sato (cello). Gracefulness and harmonic splendour gently thrive over the delightful 22 minutes of this tidbit, which immediately set the mood on the opening "Precious", where Mika's violin plays an important balancing role, shows some similarities with some contemporary piano "minimalists" such as Einaudi on the beautiful "Larmes" and features catchy moments of lyrical musings on "Fragile" and "Imagery" by means of brilliant vibrato on strings and charming piano melodies. Pretty musical trinket, which sometimes sounds coming from a Victorian romance novel.
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Artist: Andreas O.Hirsch (@)
Title: Summe 1
Format: 12"
Label: makiphon (@)
Rated: *****
The imaginative representation of the sound processing on the cover artwork of this nice release by composer and inventive sound artist Andreas Oskar Hirsch, which depicts three egg beaters whose supposed interstellar juice digs the bowels of the earth and got filtered by a funnel, could match his sonic artifact for Koln-based label makiphon. Speaking of artifacts, the "exoticism" of some of the eight droney soundscapes Andreas poured into the pan of "Summe 1" comes from a really exotic instrument that he extensively plays along with electric guitars, mini fans, pitched harmonicas and delays: the electric palm leaf, an electroacoustic instrument that looks like a crossbreed between a marimba and a palm leaf, is the source of the delayed percussions for some nice moments of the release such as the second part of the opening track "In A Seldom Land", which could fit an imaginary anthem for an hidden holiday resort for Indian tripping summers, the entrancing "Konnektor", the immersive "Kemeri 5 am", where Andreas inserted the nocturnal crane calls that he recorded on a bike trip in a swamp nearby Riga while he was trying to decode bird messages by means of morse code (!), the overdelayed tidbit of "Kautschukwaage" or "Opossum Pravda", a track that he dedicated to the notorious nocturnal marsupial, where the soft hearted final tones suggests a sort of emotional attachment to that tenecious creature. The link to terrestrial wonders, botanical scenery and animality fades away on the flipside, where drones climb to numerical reveries ("Summe 1"), sidereal trips ("Maxwell Mountains") and amazing abstract physics ("Teilchenbeschleuniger"). Only 300 copies of this release circulate on the planet.
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Artist: Dunkelheit
Title: Les Solitudes Cendrées
Format: CD
Label: Steelkraft Manufactory (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of this French act, although the label states that they have been active since 1993. Dunkelheit is the work of Alain Le Gall, and the label describes it as 'between industrial noise, concrete cut-ups and cold ambient soundscapes.' The only other clue comes from the liner notes which consists only of a quote from Camille Belguise: 'Dans le silence et la solitude, on n'entend plus que l'essentiel,' which Google translate renders "In silence and solitude, you can not hear that much" (I'm sure it's more poetic in French). I've been pretty impressed with the stuff coming out of Steelkraft Manufactory, so I was looking forward to seeing how this one played out. Let's walk though this track by track. 'Mystère Tellurique' opens up with some interesting field recordings. It's like a cinematic soundtrack without music in a post-apocalyptic city. 'Eléments Instables' gives us some good droning ambience that is peaceful but a bit unsettling after the previous track. About three minutes in, some crackling static begins to peek through giving just a hint of grittiness present in the opening track. 'Volcanisme Latent' changes gears a bit with warbling, spacey ambience combined with whatever the Voyager spacecraft is currently hearing. 'Nuages Sur Saison Sèche' removes all pretense of peacefulness found in the previous tracks by bringing out some crackling noise and wind blasts. 'Evénements Secondaires II' continues this trajectory with some French spoken word punctuated with noise blasts. 'Le Calme de la Tempête' takes this to its completion with more aggressive static noise and processed vocals. At the end it completely gives way to white noise for the last few minutes. Overall, this is interesting work, with enough variety to keep things engaging. This album weighs in at around 50 minutes and is limited to 100 copies.
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