Music Reviews



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Artist: K.K. Null X Dao De Noize (@)
Title: Mizuchi Creation
Format: CD
Label: 4iB Records (@)
Rated: *****
K.K. Null needs little introduction to readers of Chain D.L.K. I was less familiar with Ukrainian artist Dao De Noize. The title references a Japanese water deity that resembles a serpent. To that end, the label describes this album thus: “Just like the impending ferocity of the serpent gliding through expanse of calm water, the album effectively maintains its sonic equilibrium of noise and soundscape through the complex balance of structured pulses, rhythmic noise, drones and hisses with the serene ambiance of nature, mythology and life.” We know that this is going to be a noisy ride, so let’s get into it. This is one long track, but it is supposed to be broken up into two tracks. The first 20 minute section is noisy and hypnotic, with plenty of static to tie it all together. It’s pleasant and relaxing for those of us who enjoy noise. Then the track shifts with piercing, high pitched tones and, oddly enough, bird songs. After several minutes, we have waves of drone, warbling tones, and static. Just after the 40 minute mark, we have more high pitched tones and bird songs. This never really becomes wall of noise, but it is intense and well crafted. I am not much of a fan of high pitched noise, so some of it was not really my cup of tea, but your mileage may vary. This album weighs in at around 47 minutes and is limited to 200 copies.
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Artist: Psicopompo (@)
Title: Synchronicity (Theory of Carl Jung)
Format: CD
Label: 4iB Records (@)
Rated: *****
Psicopompo is the work of German composer and musician Hermann Kopp on violin, tambourine, and electronics, and Italian noise artist Lorenzo Abattoir, who plays the Shruti Box, Timbal & electronics. According to the label, they took for their inspiration Psicopompo, the death guide that accompanies the dying to the afterworld, and synchronicity, the occurrence of two or more events that appear to be meaningfully related but not causally related. In this composition, they left the results “entirely to chance.” Kopp explains this process further: “In no more than a week we recorded several eight-minute-long improvisations – one of us recording the ‘rhythmic’ part, the other one the ‘melodic’ part, without knowing what would be the final result. The mixing was realized with hardly any effects or post-production, two tracks him, two tracks me.” Cool premise – let’s see what it sounds like. Lorenzo Abattoir opens the disc with “Blackfrock,” a track of static mingled with dissonant drone. Kopp counters with “Trovatore,” which increases the dissonance significantly. Like a bag of angry cats with a hornet’s nest thrown in. These two tracks set the stage for what will come next in the collaborative tracks. “PP1” keeps the dissonance going with the addition of sparse junk percussion, then shifts to quiet, plucked strings before getting noisy again. “PP2” shifts gears with a simple, calm, hypnotic synth line, but with sawtooth waves that still give it an edge. This would almost be peaceful if it were it not for the jagged waveforms. Then the percussion comes crashing in to remind you that you’re walking with a supernatural entity into the afterlife. There is some spoken word buried in the mix, but it is difficult to make out anything. Nicely done. “PP3” is a calmer track, with droning tones interspersed with strings and snare drum. “PP4” finishes the disc off with more strings for a nice, calm ending. Overall, this is an interesting disc that brings some of the experiment into experimental music. The music is engaging and interesting and manages to keep you guessing as to where it will go next. Just when you think that it is starting to mellow out, the noise comes back in. But this is not harsh wall noise. Instead, there is considerable restraint shown here. Well done. This album weighs in at around 67 minutes and is limited to 250 copies.
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Artist: Shroud of Vapour (@)
Title: Suicide Forest Sessions
Format: CD
Label: 4iB Records (@)
Rated: *****
Shroud of Vapour is the work of four musicians: Hiroshi Hasegawa (Astro), Hiroko Hasegawa (Rohco), Daniel Sine (L’eclipse Nue), and Yoshiko Honda. I was already familiar with Hiroko Hasegawa and Hiroshi Hasegawa’s work in the legendary noise ensemble C.C.C.C., but the others are new to me. I must admit that my first thought on seeing the title and the cover art was that this would be pretentious neo-folk or worse, but it seems that the title is drawn from the actual place in which the recordings took place, The Suicide Forest in Aokigahara, Japan. According to the label, “The dense forest and its still quiet void of almost all wildlife bring out the very nature of the artists’ true intent, reflecting the atmosphere of desolation and despair of a haunted suicide ground. The weaving in and out of distant female wails and ambient like soundscapes seem to echo the lost spirits of those that have chosen to take their own lives here.” Sounds promising, so let’s get into it. “In Memory Of” is a 49 minute slab of intense soundscape. It opens with a woman singing simple tones (rather than words) This continues throughout the track, giving the composition an otherworldly, mournful feeling (which complements the title well). The music, however, becomes increasingly more forceful, with waves of gritty noise threatening at times to drown out the vocalist. This ebbs and flows, with noise giving way to burbling electronics and static. This track does a lot with the tension between calm, peaceful passages and static-laden, aggressive noise. In some ways, you know that one will follow the other; it’s just a matter of waiting for it to happen. The vocalist gives no clues either, as I could not understand any of her words, making it just more of the composition. Later on in the track, we have some male chanting, but this is just as difficult to decipher. The track eventually ends with a slow decrescendo of noise. Well done, if perhaps a bit too long for my tastes. “If it Pleases the Deceased” keeps the female vocals, but then buries them under a nice wall of noise. Like the previous track, there is a battle between dissonance and quiet, and although the winner seems to be static, the calm wins out in the end. Overall this is a nice blend of noise and ambiance, with just a hint of dread thrown in for good measure. This album weighs in at around 67 minutes and is limited to 250 copies.
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Artist: Arpatle (@)
Title: Quapi
Format: CD
Label: Offshoot (@)
Rated: *****
Arpatle is the work of Dutch artist Patrick Bossink, who has been active since 2009, but this is the first I have heard from him. In the press sheet that came with the disc, one thing caught my eye: “For this project, I experimented a lot with granular synthesis, ‘acoustic’ feedback loops, and some programmed effects. Although the album sounds fairly obscure and sometimes even psychotic and aggressive, there’s no concrete meaning behind it. I intended it as a mere sound sculpture.” I have a lot of respect for this approach – no pretentious manifesto here! So let’s put it on and see what we have. “Little Red Cap” starts us off on a mellow note, allowing the listener to simply sit back and enjoy the music. I almost didn’t notice it moving into “Zombie Boat,” which features a lot of noisy synth blips and clicks over a slow, mellow groove. “Tunnel” is a microcosm of the album as a whole though – it’s noisy but not noise. For example, “Ionized” closes out the disc with slow moving walls of sound interspersed with high pitched, modulated waveforms and “Labrynth Hub” features pulsing crescendos of noisy soundscapes. Others, like “Piano Flower,” are sort of peaceful, with random guitar mixed with noisy synth. Overall, this is what I like to file under “easy listening for the difficult music set.” Sometimes you don’t want ear-shredding noise, but pop music gets pretty boring and predictable. Arpatle has no intentions of hurting the listener. He just wants to take you for a ride. It won’t be to where you planned to go, but you’ll enjoy the ride nonetheless and the scenery is interesting and pretty. This album weighs in at around 47 minutes.
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Artist: Velvetine (@)
Title: Crematorial Dance
Format: CD + Download
Label: Facthedral's Hall (@)
Rated: *****
Yet one more from the French Facthedral's Hall label. Formed in the 90's under the name Septembre Noir, the band changed its name in 2006 to Velvetine. Band member are: Peache (Pierre-Henri Mandine) on guitars + manufactured instruments; Stef.a (Stefan Mandine) on lead vocals + guitar; and Le K. (Marc Reina) on electronic percussion. Their debut album, 'Septembre' was released in 2007 and they followed that up with several EPs and a couple of videos, so 'Crematorial Dance' is their second full-length release. I wasn't able to preview much of 'Septembre,' but from the little I've heard 'Crematorial Dance' is much father along the path. Opening with "Far Away," Velvetine sets a strong dark tone with this impassioned creeper. Part of Stef's vocals are in French, and part in English, but you'll have no trouble getting the gist of the alienation and angst. At first, I thought this reminds me of some metallish dark alternative band whose name escapes me... The second track, "Ulan Bator" (sung completely in French) made the inevitable comparison much clearer - Bauhaus. It's not only Stef's sort of vocal similarity to Peter Murphy, but also the psychodramatic intensity of the band's musical style. It became even more evident on "Along the Way". The mood and phrasing, very Bauhaus, but still very French. These guys may not be Goth, but the maudlin music and lyrics should perk up the ears of every goth and emo who hears it. To wit, on "L'Immeuble" - "I don't know who I am, I don't know who you are, I don't care for myself..." While it may seem almost a parody taken out of context, Stef's impassioned delivery makes it real. The music is as simple and uncluttered as Bauhaus, yet refined in ways Bauhaus never was, and often fragile and poetic as on "Broken Harp." Velvetine cooks up a real NIN-style stomper on "Resolution," and kicks it up a notch or three on "The Shuttle." The rhythm aspect of this band is interesting too; Le K. uses a programmed drum base while he manually plays percussion over the top. The dense, distorted guitar give the music a metallish aura, but it's really far from metal. I really like that the lyrics are in both French and English; it is surely a refreshing approach to this type of music. The exception though is the last track, "Maha Mritunjaya," a Great Death-Conquering Mantra from the Indian Rigveda. Velvetine puts it across with aplomb and a forceful dramatic flair. Way cool!

'Crematorial Dance' is an album that can't help but grow on you. In fact, during the course of listening to the music (for a fifth time) for this review, I'm upping the rating half-a-star because it's just that damn good. Copies are limited to 500. Obviously I have mine. I wouldn't wait to get yours if I were you. Highly recommended!
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