Music Reviews



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Artist: Marek X. Marchoff
Title: Funeral Musik for You and Me
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
This new release from Marek X. Marchoff is the follow-up of his remarkable 'Funeral Musik für Jenny Marchoff' but it's a reflection on the meaning of life and death unrelated to the personal issues which were the foundation of that release. Instead, all tracks are called with coordinates that seems related to the park where is located the St. Michael's Cemetery in NYC which is shaped as a triangle and where is located the studio where the album was mastered and probably recorded.
The sinewaves of "ezoterascopick 40.696095°N 73.905029°W" introduce the listener to a minimal music where there's only small variations, so "40°41'²20'³N 73°56'²40'³W" continues this pattern introducing synth lines and loops. "40.69.572-73.90342" introduces bass and voice and it triggers the suspect that every track introduces an element until it will return to the minimal elements of the first track mimicking the passing of time on human being. "40.7641°N 73.9813°W" feature an intermittent beat and spacey sound. "40.80553,-79.91451" marks the return to the minimal structure of the first track using mainly sine wave's generators and "40.699511°N 73.911166°W" is his twin using synth notes. "40.6937°N 73.9833°W" closes this release with two distinct parts: the first one is a quiet ambient part based on textures while the second one is based on a loop borrowed perhaps from an old record of music to be played in a smoky bar.
As it's a release whose processes are minimal and long and its sound palette has few tones, this not a release for the typical distracted listener which is in vogue in this times and critics could tear it to pieces as it's the kind of sound which triggers thought rather than emotion. If the track were shorter or with expanded arrangement could be easy listening but this depiction, an mimesis, of life of death could be too difficult to realize until there's a true intention to hear. Careful listeners will rate it at least 4 stars while the others 2 stars so the average is 3.
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Artist: The Necks (@)
Title: Vertigo
Format: CD
Label: ReR Megacorp (@)
Rated: *****
The Australian super-group by Chris Abrahams (piano, keyboards), Lloyd Swanton (bass) and Tony Buck (drums, percussions, guitar) left aside the groove that features some past entries and live performances of The Necks in order to dive into something remarkably different on their elegant declension of "Vertigo", whose main similarity to past workouts is the unpredictability of their sonic journey, where listeners clearly recognizes the starting point but can't really say where they will land. An intentional and extremely lucid process in spite of their seemingly abstract melting of different sonic strategies, as you can guess from Lloyd's words about "Vertigo": "The discussion this time really begun in earnest in the session itself, where we started to pursue the idea of having a drone running from start to finish, off which we could hang ideas...but like all Necks album we ended up in a very different place from whatever our initial notion of it had been". I don't want to spoil it in details in order to ruin the joy of surprise, but that sort of low-key driven drone, around which more or less oblique piano and keyboard sequences by Chris Abrahams that seem to permeate and evoke different emotional states in between confusion, suspension, paralyzing relativism, hesitancy and sudden spurs and unpredictable percussive strokes by Tony Buck, is going to carry listeners over subtle changes of colour, mood swings, air-tight narrow corrider that little by little lead to airy sonic landscapes, where the alternance of dark and light doesn't touch upon the sense of freedom, which got rendered by their surfing over stylistical forms.
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Artist: Daniel Blinkhorn
Title: frostbYte – one dog night
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Audiobulb (@)
Rated: *****
This new Audiobulb's release is from Daniel Blinkhorn, an Australian sound artist whose creative works seems unnoticed even if he has received various recognitions. As the title suggests, it's inspired by the cold temperatures in the night and it's an except from the 'frostbYte cycle', a collection of tracks based location-based field recordings in the Arctic region of Svalbard. The result is an astonishing sound quality whose clearness let every resonance appears in a precise place in the aural field so it's one of the best release in this field that I've heard.
"Red sound" opens this release with a mise en scène of a bunch of small sounds whose dynamics create a sense of tension while the movement is space is best observed with headphones; during the development of the track there's a constant progression to sparse sounds to a filled space with their juxtaposition. "cHatTer" is focused instead on the exploration of the details of the source samples so the result seems a quiet track but the noises of object under the effect of low temperature is frightening. "Wildflower" is sequence of bright sounds moved in space to generate a sense of immersion in a wide space. "Anthozoa" closes this release using a wide dynamics obtained with elements at the threshold of audibility to evoke that sense, at night, that everything ruins that thing called silence.
This is an aurally extreme release that is fully enjoyed with headphones or in a surround hi-fi environment so it's mainly a release for fans of sound art and for them is a truly recommended release. I wonder how the casual listener could rate this release as it lacks a proper narrative element but who cares? This release is a reminder about why there's the concept of hi-fi.
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Artist: Dead When I Found Her (@)
Title: All The Way Down
Format: CD
Label: Artoffact Records (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Michael Arthur Holloway's project is at the threshold between industrial, in his most EBM oriented variant, and pop so it's presented in the liner notes as "a meditation on your deepest fears and most private, desperate moments". Even if this could sound scary, it should be noted as this genre has a reputation to depict dark moment for cathartic ends.
"Expiring Time" opens this release with a mid-tempo track that situate the title in a territory between synth-pop and EBM evading the traps of both genre. The structure is a song with synth and drum machine as almost only instruments, the overall result is based on the careful layering of all elements. "The Unclean" is an interlude based on sample dialectic. "Threadbare" is a track which reveals how the ear pleasantry is important in this field as it triggers emotions. "Gathering Fear" is instead closer to some industrial oriented form as it's focused on the rhythmic impact. While "Downpour" is more oriented towards the dance floor, "Misericordia" and "Blood Lesson" are more focused in the development of a pop form with a certain sound impact. "Seeing Red" is perhaps the more impressive track of this release as it layers samples and synth lines to create a cinematic sound field using vocal samples from films rather than a proper vocal line. So, even a brilliant track as "The Noise Above Us" sounds as a filler to close this release with "At Rest" and his pop allure.
The bonus edition of this release features a bonus cd, "the bottom, which explore the most EBM and industrial oriented side of this project, so with tracks like "New Drugs", the title-track and "You Know Who You Are", a Ministry cover, it will be enjoyed by the fans of this genre.
At an aesthetical level, this is one of the most important release of the year as, because it's not ground-breaking, it takes a codified form to an astonishing technical level. Truly recommended.
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Artist: Brutter (@)
Title: s/t
Format: 12"
Label: Hubro (@)
Rated: *****
Once upon time brotherhood in music was mainly associated to blues, rock and pop. This reunion between Norwegian sonic siblings Fredrik Wallumrod, who mainly borrowed his skills on drums and electronics to rock and metal bands such as Dog Almighty, Span and El Caco, and Christian Wallumrod, who became one of the most appreciated musician of the Nordic improv scene - I recently introduced the amazing output "Pianokammer" by this musician, whose name got mainly matched to his own acoustic ensemble and the quartet Dans Les Arbres - extends the concept to the more experimental side of improv music. Forget the piano tones, harmonic moulding and melodic mutations you met on the above-mentioned "Pianokammer", as Christian mainly works on likewise freaky sonic palettes over the three tracks of "Brutter" by a pile of percussive plugs, hits and filters according to evasive logical paths, where Frederik adds some electronic foil, whose amalgamation can't really provide a semblance of order to the resounding elements. The initial "Geigered" sounds like a set of false starts, where any "regular" rhythmical pattern got immediately disbanded within hiccuping and sometimes chaotic surges, which are the dominant aspect of Brutter's sound on the interplay "Radiopuls", an intentionally impossible attempt of matching between drum machines and live drums, which seem to be part of an impossible interlocking puzzle. Any possible synchronization between the two halves of the drumming got broken in the asynchronous slow syncopations of the final "Badminton Break", where you could imagine Wallumrod Bros dragging rhythm like the body of a drunken fool into a temporary shelter.
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