Music Reviews



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Artist: Nick Grey & The Random Orchestra (@)
Title: Breaker of Ships
Format: CD
Label: Milk & Moon Recordings
Rated: *****
This new album by Nicolai Riccardo Moldoveanu, better known as Nick Grey, and his Random Orchestra sounds like a sweetened declension of bitterness, the written tales on a wet diary after a storm by a mercenary captain everyone would like to save from a shipwreck or maybe the wheel, whose spinning top costantly swing around enchantment and disenchantment. The opening title track evokes that dark beauty you'll find in some stuff by Sofa Surfers or Massive Attack, but its musical skin soon changes colour and turns towards obscure bluesy, heavenly pop halftones, lush natural and exotic soundscapes, temporary ecstatic ablutions, a space-rock break-in; the puzzling electronic dark-pop, where kraftwerkian nuances meet pitched tones and 8-bit melodies from vintage videogames, on "Of Ghost & Women", inoculates an element of pervert opacity, while the somber "The Archivist" is a wonderful portrait of someone, whose distance from reality, turned himself into a vaguely henpecked shell of a man and better express one of the distinctive trait of this release by Nick Grey: even if I can't consider it a conceptual work, it's clear that Nick wisely braids a dilemma between the eagerly aesthetic yearning of being endowed with all the beauty you'll find in this world, the concern for the impossibility of accomplishing such a task and the dangers behind getting trapped by its mortal hug by means of meaningful lyrics, which got appropriately dressed by Random Orchestra. The dark tones of the above-mentioned "The Archivist" digs deeper and deeper on the bittersweet tones of "Vanisher", whose holy nihilism sound like echoed by the heart-rending storytelling on the final "Ghost Rain", whose speaking ghost marks the most hopeful moment of the album, on the dual portrait of a woman, which appears like a fairy on "Juliet Of The Spirits" and as a silent corpse on "Juliet Of The Bones". Scanner joined this glomily seducing album by a likewise seducing remix of "Here He Comes Now".
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Artist: Peter Brötzmann (@)
Title: Münster Bern
Format: CD
Label: Cubus (@)
Rated: *****
You don't need to be a raving fan of free-jazz or free-improvisation to know the name of German musician Peter Brotzmann, as his name begun to dig the grooves of European scene since the end of 60ies, when he shaked many sould by means of his notorious "Machine Gun", a release he made with his octet (featuring Buschi Niebergall, Evan Parker, Fred Van Hove, Han Bennink, Paul Rutherford, Peter Kowald, Pierre Favre, Sven-Ãke Johansson and Willem Breuker) which included clear references to war in Vietnam an European political situation and made sense if you consider it was released in Berlin in 1968, and his way of paying saxophone as well as clarinet and tarogato (the Turkish pipe) has beeen so unique that many Free jazz circles use the adjective "brotzen" to describe something closer to his style. Swiss label Cubus gives the chance to listen a solo performance by Peter, which got recorded on 2th October 2013 in a unique location like Berner Munster on the occasion of zoom in, a quite known festival for improv music, and the fact he didn't interact with anything but the surrounding reverbation of that "sacred" hall and his instrument is a chance to better appreciate his way of performing, which didn't lose his evocative energy and his strong hook to reality over years, where reality could sound like a desert ground on which his sound, melting jazz phrasing, Turkish traditional music as well as piles of squeals and screeches, which suddenly pierce listener's soul throuh their spurious obliquity and unexpectedly mellow vaults, flies like a desperately lost seagull. My personal favorite moments of this recording are the raging torn schemes of "Chaos Of Human Affairs" and "Crack In The Sidewalks" as well as the astonishing final "The Very Heart Of Things".
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Artist: Maciek Szymczuk (@)
Title: Music for Cassandra
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
A Friedrich Schiller's quote, "Give me back my darkened senses, I'll be gladly blind by choice", reveals the theme of this release: the mythological figure of Cassandra. As a concept-album, the tracks are conceived as movements of a long piece and apparently feeble tracks make sense in the context of the other tracks.
The musical tale starts with "Serpents' Tongues", an introductory track to "She Who Entangles Men" and the musical form is suddenly exposed: upon an almost ambient texture a mid-tempo beat tries to collide with the overall sense of sadness. "The Seer" reveals an almost synth-pop influence with the melody of the second part of the track while "Helen's Golden Veil" returns to a more solemn melody and "In The Belly Of The Weapon" is a dark ambient interlude to "Spoil Of War" whose guitar introduction is resolved in a track, "Infinite Sadness Of Being Right", entirely based on a beautiful synth line slowly developed. The resonance of "Let My Life Be Done" marks the final part of this release with the return of drums. "Last Lament In Death" is a static dark ambient subtle texture and "I Am Free" close this release at the crossroad of ambient and synth-pop.
The uncertainty of the musical direction is the result of the effort of depicting the many sides of the myth and exploit this sound palette to escape from a mere mimesis of the story. It's worth a careful listening.
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Artist: Expo 70 (@)
Title: Solar Drifting
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Distributor: Alchembria
Rated: *****
This new release from Expo 70 collects four out of print release and documents this project with shorter tracks than the ones included in the releases already reviewed by myself. Instead of the chronologic order, the playlist tries to oppose the two sides of the musical composition: the drone, mostly by guitar, and the noise, mostly by synth, so escaping the vague sense of stasis that could be the cons of this musical style.
"Soft Wave Continuum" is based on two distinct drones based on two tones while "Trancending Energy From Light (Excerpt)" is an exploration of guitar's resonances. "Solar Drifting" starts with oscillators acting as foreground to the underlying guitar lines. The delay applied to the guitar in "Crawling Through Crystal Skies" creates the more psychedelic track of this release while the feedback of "Tarot Reading" create the more metal oriented one. "A1V" features metallic percussion while "Sunglasses" explore the form already used in "Solar Drifting". "Electric Waves" explore the guitar effects to create a kaleidoscopic musical spectrum and "Heterotopia" is focused on a guitar line slowly emerging from a guitar drone.
All that emerges it the search for evading the sense of stasis, typical of drone, to reach a sense of imperceptible movement. With his varied musical structure this release is perhaps a perfect introduction for the primer and it's a recommended release for fans of the project.
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Artist: D Bayne
Title: Meditations on Present Time
Format: CD
Label: Luminescence Records
Rated: *****
The seemingly simple piano phrasing by which Luminescence label boss, the American composer and pianist D Bayne, implements field recordings into composition, is neither a diaphragm nor a proper filtering overlap, as there's a strong matching between the resounding surroundings and its somewhat ecstatic tonal stream. It could be regarded more as if it were a clingfilm, whose transparency highlights the inner dynamics as well as the elusive balance of the surrounding living world, instead of hiding it. Named after the places or situations where field recordings got grabbed - "East Washington Street at Night", "Metra Locomotive Ravenswood Station", "Ogilvie Transportation Center", "Ogilvie Transportation Center Platforms", "Bourbon Street", "Chicago River Bridges", "One South Wacker Drive" and so on -, the twelve tracks of this album by this experienced composer, whose artistic and musical growth was undoubtedly furthered by remarkable teachings and teachers (for instance, after gaining a graduation from the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in 1995, he studied with Dave Douglas, Louis Sclavis, Dylan van der Schyff and John Abercrombie at the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music in 2003 and with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Richard Toop at the Stockhausen Corses Kuerten in Germany) - a glaring indication of D bayne's strong academic exprience will be clear to attentive listeners, who will easily notice his moderate aleatorism and the accurate focus on harmony -, sound like an emotionally purging removal of emotional dust from the surfaces of a sometimes grey, unsurprising and monotonous reality to the extent that I can't rulesome beneficial effects for listeners out.
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