Music Reviews



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Artist: Schloss Mirabell (@)
Title: Ghosthour Diary
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
Besides the fact that Salzburg is her native city, I honestly ignore the reason why brilliant musician and former gifted child (she played piano and cello since when she was 6) Florina Speth, who is working on her PHD in neuromusicology by researching possible therapeutic use of robots and sound at the moment, took the name for this musical identity from Mirabell Castle. The cinematic halo of her music, which combines electronic clips, elements from trip hop, techno and electroacoustic as well as a plenty of fine sonic details, made me think about a possible connection with the fact that the elgant gardens of Schloss Mirabell hosted some notorious scene of "The Sound of Music", the notorious musical inspired by the story of Von Trapp family, but its mysterious and somewhat gothic nuances could be linked to the legend according to which the ghost of notorious alchemist and occultist (as well as the founder of toxicology) Paracelsus haunts castle's grounds.The title of the album actually derives from the fact that Florina made this collection of sonic miniatures and longer electronic tracks which could be imagined as broken thoughts/sentences or long winded paragraphs and reflections in the pages of her nocturnal diaries during so-called ghost or witching hours in order to render the mental states before sleeping. The ticking on the recurring medley "Promenade" sounds like the mirroring of the ritual where the perception of diurnal times begins to fade away before the immersion into out-of-time dimensions, which got evoked by each track: my favorite ones are the long-lasting ones as they can better titillate imagination ("Let Them Sleep In Their Hair", "Die Seele mit der Perlenmassage" as well as some sonic pearls like "Little Cygnet" and the final lulling "Feines Sanft"), but there are many charming sonic cameos in the first part of the record that are likewise well-chiselled!
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Artist: Dave Phillips (@)
Title: Homo Animalis
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Schmpfluch Associates
Rated: *****
The first humanimal that peeked out from the listening of the very first moments of this release by Zurich-based artist Dave Phillips, former founding member of brutal grindcore project Fear Of God who gained a certain recognition by lovers of noisy stuff with some meaningful connections by means of a series of underground and strictly limited releases that many people like to label as "extreme", is Jack Arnold's amphibious Creature from Black Lagoon and while keeping on listening, I wondered how Dave managed to render what a person could possibly feel while being eaten by some hungry zombies. The devilish voice which repeats the title of "The Less I Know" introduces the sarcasm behind "Homo Animalis" and the explicated "humanimalism theory" as well as the aesthaetics of this wise sound artist, which seems to explore human degradation or revival of ferocious instincts (it depends from personal viewpoint) in the guise of a probe for visceral detection: according to the interesting explanation which got attached to the release, the first one of Rudolf Eb.er.'s resurrected Schimpfluch, "humanimal theory...is rather a process of de-antropo-centralisation, a connectivity of senses, instincts, emotions, ideas and thoughts that are as personal and subjective as much as they are understood as a part of a larger whole" where "sound is humanimals preferred form of communication" and a way "to activate primordial shared emotions otherwise stifled by civilised experience and restricted by social consensus" that "taps into the essence of existence itself". Other disquieting images as well as an involving thrill can arise to listener's consciousness while keeping on listening: for instance, the sound of slammed doors and the whole sonic atmosphere of "Humanimal B" could let you imagine you've been closed into the same labyrinth where the mythological Athenian hero Theseus met and supposedly killed the Minotaur - with a difference: you are with no Ariadne's ball of wool and no dagger at all! -; the dreadful synth-crescendo of "Rape Culture" could sound like the most excruciating physical torment by Jigsaw Killer; the story told by the sounds of "Novaturient" could look like a POV snuff movie directed by a serial killer whose criminal alter-ego got awoken by the sound of a subway station and the one that got evoked by "Kelelawar B" sounds like the nightmares by a repentant vampire, where "So...What?" could let you think about a possible collages of Japanese or Chinese domestic abuses and the cinematic "Truth Is Invented By Liars" as a possible contemporary revival of the myth of Premetheus (simply genial the insertion of some dialogues taken from "Bad Boy Bubby", one of the first which used binaural microphones to record dialogues). In spite of its amazing amalgam of post-industrial hooks and horror-movie-like sonorities - not so different from some stuff that recently came from Cold Spring I spoke about on this 'zine), the aim of the game is not psyching listeners out as humanimals sound more noble by birth and in spirit as you can guess: "humanimal would like to encourage the global north to "change the dream of the modern world", from one of accumulation and consumption to one that honours and sustains life. humanimal knows there is enough food for every being on this planet if distributed properly. It encourages into paths and processes of one's alimentary choices and habits and a sensible and prudent appliance of these insights"... Humanimals maybe is aware that "nature doesn't need us".
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Artist: Aidan Baker & A-Sun Amissa
Title: Untitled
Format: Tape
Label: Midira Records (@)
Distributor: Midira Records
The sounds on the recently released collaboration between Aidan Baker & A-Sun Amissa were recorded in Denmark and France in the winter of 2012. The limited edition cassette release (by Germany's Midira Records) of these sessions highlights an intriguing side of Aidan Baker's ever-expanding sonic pallet.

The first track, 17.02.2012 DE, begins with ethereal ambiance of an ECM release, featuring quiet cymbal swells, and droning violin. The piece seems poised for release but dies away as the drums recede amidst a sea of peaceful atmosphere. Then it slowly and subtle revives into a subdued groove, supported by a monotone cello-like grind ' although there is no cello on the release so the sound is likely made by one of the three guitars ' and slowly escalating tom-tom pattern.

The second track, 25.02.2012 FR, is again subdued but somewhat more forceful, like the ambient movement of a post-rock suite. Again, a cello grinds out an eerie drone as viola lines sway in and out of the mix. Midway through the piece, a distorted tape loop enters before Baker takes centre stage with well-crafted guitar noise that wafts in and out of the mix.

The soundscapes conjured by Baker and the A-Sun Amissa group hint that since relocating to Europe, Baker has expanded his range to absorb the continental avant-garde, while maintaining the uncompromising spirit of his heavier work with Nadja.
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Artist: Tomas Korber (@)
Title: Musik für ein Feld
Format: CD
Label: Cubus (@)
Rated: *****
The field that could came to your mind while listening the first nine of nine movements of this amazing suite that Swiss composer and improvisational performer Tomas Korber wrote and performed with Konus Quartett, a fourtet of saxophones by Christian Kobi (tenor and soprano saxophone), Fabio Oehrli (soprano saxophone), Jonas Tschanz (alto and soprano saxophone), Stefan Rolli (baritone saxophone), whose tonal breath got wisely processed by Korber himseld, is the one of sci-fi movies like Alien, where the last survivor of a flight crew finally understands there could be some technical problems by low levels of oxygen in the loungy disco-like cabin and chances upon of corpses of his/her collegues before meeting some alien monster, which miraculously grew from leftovers of overbaked lasagna whose stuffing includes beans from outer space. Jokes aside, the one track suite with many altenrations of sounds (it's not so easy to distinguish wind instruments and processed parts and background noise as Korber sometimes turns the tails of tonal frequencies from Konus Quartett into pure sinewaves and viceversa) by these guys is really amazing and their invitation to test "Musik fur ein Feld" in different ways (different rooms and/or palyback systems with different levels and types of background noise) could result into surprising listening experiences where sonic entities like those saxophone-driven geysers which seem to gather paper around 20 minutes, the metallic puckering between minutes 43 and 44, the progressive saturations of single breath in many moments of the recording, the deforming overlapping with background noise and so on could trick and daze your mind.
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Artist: BMRN (@)
Title: Immersion / Drift / Accretion / Shift
Format: CD
Label: Eilean (@)
Rated: *****
The 63rd point on the map of Mathias Van Eecloo aka Monolyth&Cobalt's Eilean Records comes from Exeter, one of the main towns of the enchanting Devon, where Greig Baird aka BMRN/Boomruin lives together with his family, which seems to be one of his favourite sources of inspiration for his beautiful sonic artifacts in addition to his homeland which provides some field recordings tat features this release. I could guess that this new point of Eilean's map is closer or maybe within Scotland - a connection with that enchanting area of out planet got evoked by the mane of the French label after all -, homeland of Boards of Canada, the closest stylistical neighbours of bmrn as you immediately guess not only for the opening track which quotes a notorious Scottish Gaelic salutation (Failte Dhachaidh, meaning Welcome Home), but mainly from the sonci similarities you can easily notice here and there over this enjoyable listening experience: the blossoming sounds of the above-mentioned "Intro", the entrancing pad-synth which floods the sonic sphere before the appearance of a soothing electronic drum pattern on the following "Family & Drum Machines", the reversed speech on a virginal sound and the scraped metallic slow break whose intermittence got mirrored by a bright electronic pulse on the arcane "A Natural History" or the ethereal "Low Light Span" could surmise BOC's music, but Greig's balanced dosages of breakbeat and ambient are also closer to some stuff from Boltfish, the label by Murray Fisher aka Mint and Wil Bolton aka CHEjU, even if Baird's music sounds like permanently shrouded by an emphasized mystical halo. I think I'll include this release in a selection of music for my umpteenth car trip in Scottish Highlands or maybe Devonshire/Cornwall, some places I like to come back which got somehow evoked by BMRN's sounds.
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