Music Reviews



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Artist: Unearthly Red (@)
Title: Purgatory
Format: CD
Label: Camerata (@)
Rated: *****
Unearthly Red is a collaborative project between Dustin Terry (Void of Axis) and Tim Risher (Paragaté) working together in the dark ambient soundscape vein here on 'Purgatory'. Terry's Void of Axis is in the dark electro synthpop genre (influences being Assemblage 23, Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode) with melodic vocals, and Risher's Paragaté (also with Tom DePlonty) is more in the ambient/dark ambient mode, at times reminiscent of early Robert Rich, among others. The music on 'Purgatory' is soundtrack fragments for an imaginary film, set in the village of Quiet Springs, beginning with innocence and sliding into the hidden terror that dwells there. Sounds a little Lovecraftian...anyone know if I can catch a bus to Arkham from here?

Things don't exactly sound innocent on 'Purgatory'. It does begin quietly, but there is a strong undercurrent of the ominous right from the beginning. Murky dark ambience and a little minimal rhythm, then - UPHEAVAL! - with industrial noise indicating something has broken the tranquility of this place. Murky really is the key word here, as the subdued ambience is the unifying factor nearly throughout. A feeling of foreboding and dread permeates most of 'Purgatory' with its rumbling often rattling my overworked subwoofer. There are a variety of sonic elements - electronics, dark chimes, disquieting pianos, industrial loops, and other audial strangeness that emerges now and then, but it is mostly understated. Sometimes, as on "Rhythm of the Mind" (track 8) a weird processed electronic rhythm emerges but for the most part, it's low-key atmospherics. That's not to dismiss this at all, in fact, low-key dark ambient is my absolute favorite kind of soundscape. Even when there is some breaking of the calm, these occurrences don't degenerate into harsh noise. The atmospheric tempering here is spooky, creepy, and never throws the horror directly in your face. There is a good amount of variety too that serves to break up the dreariness often encountered in bleak, minimal dark soundscapes. Not that any of that "variety" could be construed as anything happy, because there is no happiness in purgatory. The last track, "Remorse", is the only thing close to anything musically conventional, with chordal string pads and minimal electronics in a repeating pattern over a minimal drum track, and that may be the dullest thing on 'Purgatory', but still makes for a nice outro.

Overall, 'Purgatory' is a worthy effort from Dustin Terry and Tim Risher, one that should get repeated plays from this reviewer, and I can't say that about nearly everything I review, even that which I've liked. It may want to make you check out Void of Axis and Paragaté, which you probably should. Available in both digital download and CD format. Nice!
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Artist: Jarl | Envenomist
Title: Tunguska Event
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This album is a collaboration between Erik Jarl and Envenomist trying to reenact the Tunguska event 'a large explosion which occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River ['¦]. It flattened 2,000 km2 of the forest ['¦] The mystery is still unsolved'. To recreate this phenomenon they use drones, noises and field recording underlying the narrative aspect of this musical form, dark ambient, as boring in his abused form as enchanting in his well constructed form.
The first track, 'Tunguska Event Part I', is an amazing juxtaposition of drones and noises able to evoke the unexplainable situation that inspired this release. As this release continues, 'Tunguska Event Part II' features the noises of the emergency personnel that has to manage this events. 'Tunguska Event Part III' sounds like the perplexity of someone that has to rationalize all the situation. 'Tunguska Event Part IV' as the pain of the victims and 'Tunguska Event Part V' as the question that has to be resolved.
This is an album that is completely focused in the cinematic property of sound and structure and, in the language closes to the canon of the genre, is something that could be enjoyed perhaps even by a casual listener curious enough not to be afraid by strange sounds. Recommended.
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Artist: ForrrestDrones (@)
Title: Najas Flexilis Exequiae
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum.com (@)
Rated: *****
This could sounds as the first cd published by this composer but is presented as Robert SkrzyÅski, otherwise known as Micromelancolié, whose last album was praised by me as it 'tries to search new grounds reasoning on structures'. This statement is confirmed by this new release, a single long track represented, in his beautiful sleeve, as an owl seeing the moon phases, in a meditative, but happy, mood.
The crackles of an old record introduce the listener into a soundscape made out of drones and small noises that has the quality to escape the obvious suspension of time searching the hypnotizing effect. The drones and loops enters and exits through the track and are unheard until it's realized the change of the loop. So, at first listen the overall effect could sound static but closer analysis reveals the clear music path followed by the composer.
This release is another one that could not be recommended to anyone as it's perhaps too focused on a particular structure to be enjoyed by everyone. However all fans of drone and ambient will enjoy this album and wait for the next release from this composer. Really nice.
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Artist: Brigitte Roussel (@)
Title: Amber Hole
Format: CD EP
Label: Double Hallucinative (@)
Rated: *****
A leg of the underrated project Nac/Hut Report, the Polish illustrator, vocalist and performer Brigitte Roussel offes an interesting and genuine glimpe of her sonic aesthetics on this release, which features her partner-in-art LI|ese|Li on guitar and sound forging. Her sound has often been compared to some well-known industrial acts such as Cabaret Voltaire or Psychic TV, but the disturbances and the sonic landslides that got rolled over her awesome vocals displays a more personal and soemwhat hallucinatory approach: she seems to give voice to a sort of curse since the beginning of "Amber Hole" on the disquieting "Prologue", which sets the mood for further explorations inside her sound. The off-beat journey on "Golden Trains" renders a sort of nightmare, whose subtle obsessiveness is so visceral that could cause dizziness and tummy cramps; she seems to loop a deformed motif by the Hungarian composer Rezso Seress she thanks in the inlay on "Hidden Room", whose vampire parlor tricks let me think about an imaginary crossbreed between Tylervision's "The Last Human" and a track by Schlauch on the singing by a feverish Lydia Lunch, before letting her voice drowning in the psychotic gurgling of "Rain", corroding the flesh of an electro-mechanical loop on the morbid "Dance Of Butterfly", where even her voice seems to undergo drastic changes (from a sort of childish Lady Radiator - who saw Lynch's Eraserhead knows who I'm referring to - to a sadistic agitator) and collecting cerebrospinal fluid and blood on the gently ferocious "Tears Box" and the castrated melodic corruption of "Churchyard", the chapter before an epilogue which seems to echo Guy Debord's lessons and perspective.
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Artist: Randal Collier-Ford
Title: The Architects
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
As usual for Cryo Chamber, the linear notes are spartan enough to let the listener without a clear point of view for the first listen. This attitude is a virtue as it let a reviewer free to impose his view on the release. However a phrase like 'an original take on Drone vs Sound Design' could be a start for a reflection on how drone is, perhaps improperly, considered as opposite to Sound Design in terms of apparent complexity.
A balance between drone and noise is the basic concept behind 'A New Age' and the result is closer to a band like Sunn O))) than any dark ambient band. 'Construction of a Demon' focuses, in the first part, of careful sound construction and, in the second part, in the impact of the evocative noises. 'Eye of the Watchers' is based on the development of a bunch of drones while 'The Return' return of the form of the first track using the same heavy bass sample characterizing the development of the track and revealing the unity of the composition of the album. 'Grave of the Chariots' marks the beginning of the second half of this release focusing on the juxtaposition of small sounds creating an athmosphere rather than exposing a form and 'Hellgate', as 'Cove of the Architects', further develop this plan as they are slight variation of the structure of the base track. 'Void' closes this release depicting an evocative soundscape made out of samples carefully treated.
This is an album that marks a small departure in the catalogue of this label as it's closer to doom metal's territories than the latest releases of this label. It's really worth a listen.
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