Music Reviews



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Artist: Robert Curgenven
Title: Climata
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Dragon's Eye Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
The website of Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, a park which tries to "implement" contemporary art in the beautiful natural environmental of West Cornwall, describes James Turrell's Skyspace, one of the most interesting installation in the gardens, by highlighting the fact that "the shifting balance between the interior and exterior light will provide a contemplative and hypnotic transition". This interesting installation could be described as a chamber with a more or less wide (round, square or ovular) aperture on the top of the ceiling, which can be an autonomous structure or can be integrated into pre-existing buildings. That lovely corner of Cornwall is the place where the Ireland-based Australian sound artist Robert Curvengen experienced this building by Mr.Turrel, whose usage and perception of space and light was mainly aimed to be a sort of filter in order to perceive the sky in an enhanced way, but besides the perception of space and light, Robert should have been impressed by its acoustics to the point that he asked for Turrell's permission to check some of his Skyspaces around the world in order to grab the external sound by means of a set of microphones and some custom-made oscillators in order to create slightly manipulated sounds and check the way they could highlight the resonance inside any Skyspace. Each of the 15 Skyspaces became a sort of diaphragm between the sound that Robert generated inside of it and the sounds from the outer space, but the aspect, which makes the final listening experience that got provided on this double CD by L.A.-based label Dragon's Eye Recordings even more interesting, is the recording technique used on Climata. The initial tones - vaguely sounding like binaural tones - are a by-product of a technique by which a set of oscillators got stimulated by the movement of the air inside each chamber against the air outside and their amalgamation emphasizes that above-mentioned "contemplative and hypnotic transition", which could be provided by Turrell's entities. The author suggests to play - back to back or simultaneously) the two 58 minutes lasting CDs on two different sound systems to enjoy the multiple combinations that could rise from such a way of playing.
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Artist: Aidan Casserly & Kriistal Ann
Title: Muse
Format: CD
Label: Werkstatt Recordings
Rated: *****
Released in a limited CD run and in digital format, "Muse" is a particular album born out of the mutual respect of two artists of the modern underground synthpop scene: Aidan Casserly (singer of the now disbanded Empire State Human and The Garland Cult, member of Kubo and solo artist as Figaro and Aidan Casserly) and Kriistal Ann (singer with Paradox Obscure and solo). With their projects they are well known in the synthpop scene for the quality of their music and for their performances as lead singers. "Muse" is a project born because Aidan loved Kriistal Ann as an artist and they already collaborated together. He wanted to propose to her his idea of sharing an album that was different from everything they already did but somehow he was afraid to propose that to her. When he did, she gladly accepted, they went out from their comfort zone and they were the muse for each other. The nine tracks of "Muse" are folksy, jazzy, pop tunes based on acoustic instruments. If you want me to compare these tunes with something, I can say that if you like the solo Marc Almond stuff, for sure you'll like also these tunes as they sound classy and full of phatos. It's impossible to stay impassible listening to songs like "Steal Into Symbols" or "Mortals To The Underworld". Well done! You can give it a listen here: https://synthesizer.bandcamp.com/album/247-aidan-casserly-kriistal-ann-muse
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Artist: Post Office
Title: The Marylebone Greenwave
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Minority Records (@)
Rated: *****
The aggregator of this interesting supergroup seems to have been the skilled British keyboardist, composer and arranger Eddie Stevens, former collaborator of big names like Norman Cook aka Fat Boy Slim for his side-project Freak Power, Zero 7 and Moloko, the well-known band whose voice, the one of the Irish singer Roisin Murphy, who keeps on collaborating with Eddie, at the time when they reached the apex of their career that followed the great success of "Things To Make And Do" in 2000 - maybe it's just a hunch, but the percussions of "Pin Out My Eyes", the track that got composed by well-known guest star Sia Furler, remind the ones of "Time is Now", which got masterfully emphasized by Francois K on his awesome "Blissed Out Dub" remix of that great song -. The musical journey doesn't really depart from a cross junction in London, as the name of this album could let you imagine - the Marylebone Greenwave is the almost legendary "green wave" that many taxi drivers unsuccessfully try to complete by driving through King's Cross to the Marylebone flyover with no stops by red traffic lights -, but from a mountain shelter in the French Pyrenees, the Refuge des Oulettes de Gaube, whose dawn must have inspired the title and supposedly the whole opening song of this release: its catchy sonic radiance as well as its evolution - from peaceful strings and lovely lulling French horns that vividly render the colours of a dawn to an explosive and likewise catchy explosion of sounds - follows a sonic strategy that could let you sometimes think of an imaginary crossbreed between some "orchestral" stuff by 4Hero and the more chilling stuff by Brand New Heavies, an acid jazz nuance that gets stronger and stronger on the following "Ascent of the Young", the second of seven stages/tracks that should render the concept of this album, that is a dedication to the different cycles of human life from birth to death. The gradual transition between the craziness of puberty to adulthood got rendered by the short medley "Tiny Overnight", where the seemingly peaceful sonorities begin to embrace sounds that evoke a certain concern that sounds like rising as soon as the knowledge and the awareness of life passes through the first red lights over the long route (monotony of routine, unfulfilled dreams, the feeling of helplessness, failed relationships and other heartbreaks) on the above-mentioned "Pin Out My Eyes" and more vividly on the following "Rust", whose special guest, the guitar player and singer Dedi Madden, should be a familiar name to Zero 7's fanbase. The touching 14-minutes lasting "Mr. Trebus" got inspired by the true story of Edmund Zygfryd Trebus, a compulsive hoarder whose 515 cubic yards of rubbish included documents of an emotionally moving life that got reported by BBC documentary series A Life of Grime, and prepare the ground for the luminous path of "Time Regained" before this sonic journey get closer to the last cycles as you could imagine...
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Artist: Erland Dahlen
Title: Blossom Bells
Format: CD
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
The definition that a reviewer on Uncut zine gave about the surprising Norwegian drummer Erland Dahlen - a "one-man band-in-a-box sounds fuller and imaginative than many 'post-rock' quartets" - seems to be confirmed by his second solo output. Named after a set of bells engineered by the legendary instrument-maker Pete Engelhart, that Erland plays in many moments of this album together with traditional and less conventional instruments - including a set of cake moulds and springs built by Hallvard W.Hagen (one leg of Xploding Plastix), a sort of "percussion bass" by Harald Hougaardand and a wind up wood with elastic band built by Kenny Wollesen -, "Blossom Bells" rekindles the flame of the acknowledged oestrus of this musician, who manages to combine a penchant for new sound and a remarkable way of shuffling different styles. The way by which he sprays his drumming sessions by means of krautrock, ambient music, contemporary music, soundtrack-like music and drones into a blend of dark-spotted rock-inspired energy is so catchy that he wouldn't really need a so meticulous focus on sound, which is a detail that doesn't corrupt the genuine hooks and the pizzazz of his meaningful pastiche. Likewise his previous solo album "Rolling Bomber", "Blossom Bells" got exclusively played by Erland, but on this occasion he involved both Johnny Skalleberg, who partially recorded the album at Oslo Klang, as well as his long-lasting mates Xploding Plastix - Jens Petter Nilsen and Hallvard Wennersberg Hagen...besides the borrowing of the above-mentioned bizarre set of percussions, there are some similarities with their sound in tracks like "Pipe" -, who recorded the other half of the album at Coffee Fabric. Masterfully mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab, this musical pearl is a must-have.
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Artist: Erik Nyström (@)
Title: Morphogenèse
Format: CD
Label: empreintes DIGITALes (@)
Rated: *****
British computer composer Erik Nystrom seems to focus more on the process of making a shape than the shape itself in the explorations that got collected in "Morphogenese"; the explanation of a process could be more or less an easy task, but rendering it by means of sounds is much more engaging and troublesome, but Erik managed to walk over this arduous and somehow trackless path by means of riveting sonic strategies, that he developed within pertaining conceptual field. A sort of elastic noise is the sparkle of the opening "Catabolisms", whose thrilling sequence of aggregating and disgregating textures really mirrors the description of catabolic processes by German art theorist and perceptual psychologist Rudolf Arnheim in his essay "Entropy and Art" ("all sorts of agents and events that act in an unpredictable, disorderly fashion and have in common the fact that they all grind things into pieces."), referred in the introduction of the track, which gradually reaches a sort of point of no return, where the breaking of all chemical bonding and the bursts of energy that followed each step of these catabolic processes pushes listener close to a sort of nowhere; similarly, a sonic sparkle - the elongation of a pure frequency of a sort of diapason - ignites the following "Latitudes", a track which manages to evoke a generative process of gradual expansion that begins with a compressed sonic corpuscle. "Lucent Voids", the longest composition of this collection, sounds like an unpredictable game, whose aim is the modelling and the thinning of the diaphragm between time and space, while Erik seems to add film and sheers to pure sounds on the track "Cataract" in order to render the analogy with the medical condition of the eye lens as well as the Greek etymology of the term "acousmatic" - its origin can be traced back to Pythagoras and should derive from the term akousmatikoi, the outer circle of the disciples of the Greek philosopher who could hear the lessons of their teacher, who spoke from behind a veil so that his presence could not distract them from the content of his lessons -. These four pieces are stereo versions (for home listening) of pieces that were originally conceived for 8-channel concert projections, while "Far-from-equilibrium" - an impressive electroacoustic translation of almost randomly self-generating entropic sonic entities and textures - comes from a stereo tape. A pair of really good headphones is highly recommended.
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