Music Reviews



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Artist: Anemochore
Title: Suites And Seeds
Format: CD + Download
Label: Creative Sources Recordings
The quartet of Franz Loriot (viola), Sebastian Strinning (tenor saxophone and bass clarinet), Daniel Studer (bass) and Benjamin Brodbeck (drums) here offer up a thoughtful collection of spontaneous avantgarde jazz performance, all studio-recorded in a single day.

Anemochore are plants or flowers where the seeds are distributed by the wind, and at times it feels like an elaborate instrumental telling of the life story of some of these seeds. The first part of “Vortex” evokes images of gentle wind on a Summers’ day, light and spacious, while the second part seems to say that to a small seed, even a small wind must seem huge and chaotic. There are moments of unstructured triumph, others of calm, and plenty of journeying abstraction inbetween.

There are also a few moments that seem unintentionally comic, such as “Wings” which seems to bring to mind images of a seed pratfalling and bouncing around in a clown-like fashion. The three-part “Vortex” at the beginning and three-part “Dehiscence” at the end are the more immersive self-contained suites with a serious tone and distinct sections, with the seven tracks inbetween feeling somewhat sketch-like, almost playful.

It’s another exemplary performance from an accomplished roster of jazz musicians who are proving quite prolific without ever letting standards drop. Thematically unusual, this is art jazz for connoisseurs.
Jul 24 2019
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Artist: Federico Leocata
Title: Gamma
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: International Deejay Gigolo Records
Rated: *****
After releasing many EPs and two albums "Mundus Subterraneus" and "ZunÄchst", Federico Leocata is releasing through International Deejay Gigolo Records, the label of the famous DJ Hell a.k.a. Helmut Geier, his latest album titled "Gamma". In the past, many times the style of Federico's music has been compared the Dopplereffekt's (I read that he has been discovered by Heinrich Mueller of Drexciya/Dopplereffekt/Arpanet fame), but I think that the thing they share the most is the love for Kraftwerk's music. Check for example the opening track "A Priori" or the following "Alpha" and you'll realize that the robotic motorik rhythms recall the solutions invented by the Düsseldorf quartet on albums like "Computer World". There's also a sort of homage at the end of "A Priori", as the bridge recalls the breathing rhythmical parts of "Tour De France". Besides these influences, Federico's music is deeply linked to psychology and visuals. The tracks are composed with the aim to link the atmosphere created with the inner/hidden senses of the listener, just to stimulate them. The dark atmospheres and the robotic rhythms and the visuals used are working like flashes of strobe lights or like images of the Rorschach test (check the video for the "Herr Klein" track available on YouTube, for example). This album contains eight cool tracks and at the moment it has been distributed only digitally. I hope that it will have great feedback and that Federico will get the attention he deserves.
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Artist: Bana Haffar
Title: Genera; Live At AB Salon, Brussels
Format: CD + Download
Label: Touch # Tone
“Genera” is a live performance in five pieces (labelled ‘zones’), 32 minutes in total. Haffar uses a large array of modular synthesizers and is compositionally very free with them- melodies are present but spontaneous, non-repetitive, and unpredictable. Into the mix are thrown field recordings of environmental atmospheres, and snippets of traditional music performances- some possibly related to Haffar’s Saudi Arabian heritage, others more rooted in her modern North Carolina life. The result is a collage of disparate elements, presented expressively and emotively.

The first zone draws heavily on flute-like sounds that are twisted and shifted hypnotically, while in the second zone the synths form an organ-like drone for a flatter and more mesmeric landscape. This then brightens up into brighter and breezier synth arpeggios in the third zone. Unexpectedly and quite suddenly, zone four is a hollow cavern- low rumbles, trickling water noises, distant echoes- while the final zone, of stuttering chords and mellow Tangerine Dream-esque arpeggiators, both creeps up and fades away gradually, with a final devolution into crisp walking atmospherics and wind-like noises to close. Throughout, digital clicks and textures decorate the top end, providing a linking consistency.

It’s a short but sweet performance that would have been fascinating to catch live back in May. Fresh-sounding, despite familiar ingredients, it’s a premium package that represents modern electronic music well, and which could also serve as a strong entry point for people new to the genres being touched on here. The only awkward thing about it is the reference to the division into ‘zones’, ‘zone’ being one of those words that, once over-used, starts sounding quite silly somehow.
Jul 23 2019
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Artist: Antwood
Title: Delphi
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Planet Mu
Tristan Douglas’ third album as Antwood is a curious hybrid, with an ambitious underlying concept. Delphi is the name ascribed to a fictional character, and ostensibly this is an album of expressions of modern life and modern relationships through Delphi’s eyes; but Delphi is also a reference to the ancient Greek sanctuary and there are elements of the fantastical or mythological thrown into the mix as well.

How this manifests itself musically is also a hybrid, but perhaps easier to pin down. This is energetic electronica, bursting with ideas and mostly with optimism, jamming together classic Planet Mu approaches to rhythm and structure with bright and sometimes lo-fi synth work and some fun samples. The title track sums most of the album up quite nicely in a single package, even down to the angry breakdown three minutes in, but there’s also breadth of ideas demonstrated in tracks like the downtempo, quasi-sleazy “Queasy”, the nicely cinematic, romantic “Healing Labyrinth” or the remarkably purist short piano ballad of “Delphi’s Song”.

Almost half of the thirteen tracks are just sketches or interludes, with snippets of spoken word narrative making tiny little snapshots of the title character’s narrative, with “Skype Ghost” acting as a prelude and “A Hostile Message” speaking volumes in under a minute and sounding like it ought to be the opening line of a chapter in a novel.

Musically though it’s tracks like the dark and frantic chiptune vibe and epic multi-part structure of “Portal” and the epic violin-sound-driven narrative of “Ecstatic Dance” are the meat of the release and keep the experience from getting too skittish. The soft strings and vocal pads of “Cave Moth” have an intriguing beauty as well.

The Delphi concept is a novel one but doesn’t really blaze through the heart of this release. However it’s still an exceptionally solid and listenable electronica album that maintains the label’s unbelievably high standard of output.
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Artist: DJ Lag & Okzharp
Title: Steam Rooms
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Hyperdub
A collaborative EP between Durban’s DJ Lag and London’s Okzharp paces the mutual territory between gqom and Hyperdub’s more familiar bass adventures.

“Now What” has a slightly grime-like sense of threat to it. “Steam One” is the brightest-sounding track, with a simple yet catchy steel drum riff that wants to have fun with the almost-cheesy synth stabs while the broken kick drum pattern underneath oozes a darker attitude. “Nyusa” adopts a similar approach with a more chanted rhythm and the melody shifted onto a sawtoothy keyboard synth. “Sambe” is an exception in that there’s a clear 4/4 kick rhythm underpinning it, that give things a deep house flavour which melds nicely with the African-sounding percussion elements.

It’s a richly flavoured 4-track pack and a collaboration which yields very strong results, and leaves you wanting more.
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