Music Reviews



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Artist: Aeriae (@)
Title: Victris
Format: CD
Label: Clan Analogue Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Aeriae is the project name of Wade Clarke from Sydney, Australia. Wade released his first album, 'Hold RI', independently in 2007. At first, it was just a studio project but after seeing a Moldover ("The Godfather of Controllerism") video, Wade was inspired to take Aeriae live. He followed up his first album with remixes of other Sydney artists, hooked up with Clan Analogue (Australia's oldest electronic music collective) and put out an EP with them in 2013 titled 'Nurse 2 Alyssa Type'. That brings us to the present. 'Victris' is his first release to have general physical distribution in Australia, and likely, beyond.

I need to be bluntly honest here. 'Victris' was the first thing I listened to out of the humungous package I received a month ago from Chain D.L.K. central. I absolutely hated it then. Too much of everything and all over the place was my first impression. A month later, and my opinion has radically changed. However, you really need to prepare yourself for Aeriae's brand of hyper-IDM. First track of the ten on 'Victris', "Revered Daughter"is an exercise in what can be done with a fast-sequenced many-note melody line, breakbeat percussion and a steady bass keeping time on the whole note. Other synth elements come into play in both the melody and percussion, enhancing this 168 (or so) BPM runaway train. Things never get too far afield, but it does (intentionally) devolve toward the end. "Ai No Kuni" begins sounding like another happy day in the amphetamine elves' toy factory until splashes of bright but eerie synth chords are introduced. So many changes take place in this one that it takes on quite a progressive bent. It calms down toward the end with only a single synth melody line present, but what a fascinating trip!

The hyper pace is slowed down considerably (to about 105 BPM) for 'Heiress' as Wade employs previously unused sounds from Aeriae's sound palette. Although a fairly steady beat carries on, the melody is more abstract, but not random. "Sword of State" layers airy synth chords over a sharper 16th note sequence with a scattershot rhythm track and wobble bass weaving in and out. It's less hyper than the first couple of tracks (around 130 BPM) and some low synth chords fill in gaps enriching the bass parts. As with other compositions on 'Victris', the end is nowhere near as it began. Back in hyperland for "The Book of Peace" (Mono) with a very busy but light rhythm track while a many note synth sequence melody and bass counter-melody play over it with intermittent synth chords. It's a bit classical sounding, especially in the bass line, but there's no mistaking this for classical music. It went on a little too long for my liking, but still was an interesting piece. "Kathle'en" has the ambience of a demented calliope backed by a minimal beat, a real carnival of the weird. "Movement for the Brides" is radically different than anything heretofore on 'Victris'. If the previous track exuded a carnival atmosphere, then this track is Barnum's sideshow of the bizarre, and much too difficult to describe. There is an aura of the ominous on this one. "Nurse 2 Alyssa Type" you might recall the name from Aeriae's aforementioned EP) is one cool melodic percussion-driven thing. On one level it doesn't change much (especially compared to previous tracks), and on another it changes quite a bit. The melody is by far simpler than the other tracks on Victris' too. Another mono track, "Angel Team" begins a bit slow but cranks up to get its engine firing on all cylinders soon enough. The chordal melody line is slightly staggered and staccato, but even that changes down the line as sub-melodies come into play. In the end it devolves into deep ambient space. Final track, "Regina Doesn't Have the Technical Knowledge for That" is a real mindbender. Everything plays off one particular repeating synth sequence heard from the beginning, but so many elements are added that it becomes a real fantasia, or capriccio even, while still retaining its melodic theme. Things change considerably towards the end as it winds down becoming more abstract, but there is no loss of interest.

'Victris' is indeed challenging IDM. Everything on it may not immediately resonate with you, but given a chance it certainly draws you in. Compositionally rich and complex, Aeriae has taken IDM to a new place, and maybe even another level. I'm looking forward to the next step in its evolution.
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Artist: Lynch Kingsley (@)
Title: Time-Lapse
Format: CD
Label: Beat Machine Records (@)
Rated: *****
'Time-Lapse' is the debut album by electronic music producer Lynch Kingsley from Italy. Kingsley works in the Future Bass, Juke, Footwork, Slowfast, Jungle, Drum'n'Bass genres and 'Time-Lapse' is characterized by reverberated voices lost in frenzy beats and sound patterns that recreate an atmosphere reminiscent of "Timeless" by Goldie. Truth be told, I've never been a big fan of this kind of stuff, but I'll give it a shot. First, if you don't much care for Jungle and D'n'B, you'd best move on. If you can get past the annoying as fuck opener, "I've Never Known You" with its manipulated sample of those words repeated endlessly over frenetic breakbeat, you just may be rewarded further down the line. "Eternal" (featuring Nefer) is better by far, and possibly the best on the album. The track has a swirling ethereal psychedelic ambience with samples of Nefer's sensual vocal (mostly "eternally, eternally...love") repeated periodically throughout with a less hyper rhythm track. An interesting foray into quasi-shoegazer territory with a siren's love call. "Arms Up" builds its theme around a manipulated sample of those words, and now the thematic pattern of these first few tracks clearly emerges- take a vocal sample, repeat it often, and build a track around it. The flaw is not in the structure or musical and rhythmic elements, but in the overuse of the theme-sample. The rest is rather good, but constant repetition of a vocal sample just wears one down and gets old fast, well before the track is concluded. "Enchained" is all over the map. Jungle drum track with a staccato snippet of a vocal sample ("eh") punched out like Morse code, swirling pads, other stray vocal samples interjected here and there, zizzing noise, dying down to chordal ambience and noise wash, picking up again with heavy D'n'B, scattered vocal hoots, and then it stops. What the hell was that? More D'n'B on "My Last Breath" with ersatz noise-breath breathing sounds, and electronic psychedelic atmosphere. A few minutes into it and something vaguely akin to a song takes form, albeit something so abstract and hallucinatory, I'm really not sure. That goes away, the frenetic D'n'B take over again. End of transmission. "Feel Me Now" starts out rather mellow and placid compared to everything else- an atmos buildup, wordless vocals in the background, some piano chords, a hint of a rhythm track, then the real rhythm kicks in, and so do sample of old-school jazz horns amidst other sonic effluvia. I keep waiting for the "feel me now" vocal sample to emerge but it never comes. "Hidden Light" is almost minimal compared to the rest. Kind of techno-trancey. It picks up 3/4 of the way through with a ferocious rhythm. A bit 90's but not bad overall. Last two tracks on the album are remixes - "Feel Me Now" by Go Dugong (aka Giulio Fonseca), and "Eternal" by SertOne of Liverpool, England. Go Dugong brings up the piano and the nearly buried vocal sample of the original,dispenses with the old jazz samples, utilizes a simpler rhythm programming making the track sound completely different, and almost like a regular song...almost. SertOne starts "Eternal" with the sound of scratchy vinyl, claps, an echoing synth-chord sample. You don't get Nefer's "eternally" sample until midway. Percussion up to this point has been minimal to non-existent, and when it does emerge is still pretty basic. Low-key and a bit disappointing. In conclusion, 'Time-Lapse' is an uneven trip that left me feeling ambivalent. There's no doubt Kingsley has skills, and perhaps on his next outing his compositions will rise to that level more consistently. I do love the CD artwork by Nucco Brain though.

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Artist: Northcape (@)
Title: Glasshouse
Format: CD
Label: Sun Sea Sky Productions (@)
Rated: *****
'Glasshouse' is Northcape's followup to the previous release 'Exploration and Ascent' that I reviewed back in 2013 here. And of course, Northcape is the project name of Alastair Brown from Warwickshire, England. For the unfamiliar, Northcape works in the melodic ambient-esque with a rhythmic impulse. It's all gentle, relaxing stuff, and I think I'm going to coin a new term here, "melambient", which definitely fits Northcape. While 'Exploration and Ascent' explored the higher regions, 'Glasshouse' takes a more down to earth approach in the environment of a tropical greenhouse. Right from the start on "Capillary Action" there is a deeper, more earthy vibe, but still with the aura of shimmering sunlight from above. Sounds merge together more fully on title track "Glasshouse" as Northcape hits its stride. A very spacey melodic atmosphere punctuated by a confident rhythm, and thematically solid. "Eukaryote" makes me think of gentle rain on a Spring day. "Skyward" has this wonderful understated melody over a muted, sustained chordal progression with a simple rhythm track to carry it along; great music for cloud watching. On "Raytracing" I can feel the gentle breeze as synth sequences weave through the atmosphere and spiral upward. About halfway through a thicker chordal melody is introduced floating right along with the rest of it. "Green Wave" is devoid of percussion, with sustained chordal synth resonance and occasional bell tones, giving an impression of the divine. 'Glasshouse' is a brief album at only 29 minutes but certainly an enjoyable one. While perhaps not as varied as 'Exploration and Ascent', the atmosphere seems to be richer and fuller. Another worthy effort from Northcape.
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Artist: Zeitkratzer + Keiji Haino (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Zeitkratzer Records (@)
Rated: *****
The notorious Japanese songwriter/singer and experimental performer Keiji Haino brandishes his voice in an intriguingly engaging way, where he spins a number of vocal timbres faster than the way he spinds his notorious long hair on live stage, on the occasion of this impressive release with Zeitkratzer that its director Reinhardt Friedl spoke about on a recent interview for our zine. The outstanding approach to compositions by means of sometimes sinister intersections of amplified instruments, which got mainly played with extremely detailed extended techniques by a massive ensemble - including Marc Weiser (acoustic noises), Hilary Jeffery (trombone), Hild Sofie Tafjord (French horn), Frank Gratwoski (clarinets), Maurice de Martin (percussions), Burkhard Schlothauer (violin), Anton Lukoszevieze (cello) and Friedl himself on piano -, perfectly matches the color-shifting voice by Keiji who fluently handle the possessed shouting and screaming of "Ghost", the faintest lyrical heights of the piercing high pitches of "Roses", the Gollum-like idiosyncratic chattering and the sequence of hissing and hoarse scratching on "Smashine", the schizophrenic chirping of "Birdy", the otherworldly gasping and the alien timbres of "Wet Edge" - the track I like more! - and the freaking mutations of "Cryogen". A really wild assay of sonic beauty!
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Artist: P.E.A.R.L.
Title: Four Cardinal
Format: 12"
Label: Falling Ethics (@)
Distributor: Triplevision
Rated: *****
The hinges of the sound by young Berlin-based Spanish dj and producer P.E.A.R.L. and former leg of the techno project Agony Forces together with Marcos "Coushin" Leiras, are not so different from the ones of his two previous releases that he already launched on his own imprint Falling Ethics on an annual basis: the four cardinals of IVC could be approximately a strong influence of British industrial declension of techno, a powerfully mental sound that often borders on hypnosis, precise cuts of raw percussive elements on the contrails of French 90ies techno and strong dynamics. The first of the two tracks is my favorite one as the subtle metallic hum and the rhytmic bleep could surmise some good "atmospheric" stuff that came from the glorious Nova Zembla (Brain Pilot, Paranonia) in the first half of 90ies, while the dark interrupted frequencies and the obsessive clicks of the second part sounds just like a stomping nubbin. As he did on his previous release "The Fall Of Because" when he let remix "All Gods Of Man" to OScar Mulero and The Transhumans, P.E.A.R.L. has been a fine picker-outer on this occasion as well to the point that I'd rather say that the remix by Semantica label owner Enrique Mena aka Svreca is the best moment of this technoid drop.
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