Music Reviews



cover
Artist: EndgamE (@)
Title: Flesh EP
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub (@)
Rated: *****
Amidst the newcomers, who recently landed in Hyperdub, London-based producer Henry Mackay-Bull, mostly known as EndgamE, is maybe one of the most experienced. Besides a resume, including some outputs on NYC-based imprint Purple Tapes Pedigree and a debut labeled by Golden Mist Records, the imprint founded by Portuguese electronic producer Gonçalo Salgado, as well as some followed casts on NTS's Precious Metals, where he proposes incendiary selection of grime, trap, reggaeton and batida knocks, EndgamE, who's also a member of Bala Club collective - featuring Uli K, Kamixlo, and Rules - demonstrates he has an adequate command of the sonic codes to sharpen the cutting styles he mostly chews over the four tracks on this EP. The opening "Felony Riddim" could make you think of an imaginary (not so out of touch with reality) London, whose notorious bells including the one of the Big Bang start composing a grimy chime, a sort of sinister and somehow dark undertone for its more or less visible (and more or less posh) criminal scene, which sound evoked by the incipit of the following "Sitting here redux", whose endearing and grinding rhythmical pattern - driven by fast rolling of 808 snares - got intersected by barking dogs and police sirens. The armor of the nasty guy starts melting on the moody tune "Fallen," opening B-side and featuring the auto-tuned lyrics by 'Organ Tapes', before getting morphed on the amazing futuristic reggaeton of the final 'Toxic Riddim'. This EndgamE's 4-track EP is like folding pocket aces in the back door of a somehow charming dystopian London.
cover
Artist: Ataraxia (@)
Title: Deep Blue Firmament
Format: CD
Label: Sleaszy Rider Records (@)
Rated: *****
The Italian neoclassical darkwave band Ataraxia has been around since 1985, and has had at least 25 albums prior to 'Deep Blue Firmament,' this being their 26th. In all that time I've heard of, but never really heard Ataraxia. Shame on me. I have no idea why they've eluded me. Really, I should have picked up one of their CDs at least. I have no good excuse. But now I have 'Deep Blue Firmament,' and from the smatteri9ng of their discography I went back to listen to, this seems to be one of their best, if not their best yet. Not to say they haven't done some really nice work in the past, but they've matured and so has their music. With Francesca Nicoli (vocals), Vittorio Vandelli (guitars, bass, backing vocals), Giovanni Pagliari (keyboards, vocals), Riccardo Spaggiari (drums, percussion), and Totem Bara (cello on a few tracks) these folks make music that's absolutely magical on 'Deep Blue Firmament'. They sound fuller and more adept than ever before, The opening track "Delphi" is lushly orchestrated with group vocals that sound like a chorale from another age. Several of the songs have lyrics by poet William Butler Yeats, the others with lyrics by Francesca. At times Francesca's voice is operatic, without convention of opera. At others, just simply mystically folky. Even the male vocals (when they occur) are quite enjoyable. However, it's the elaborate orchestration Ataraxia uses that sets this band apart. Sometimes they almost seem to make Dead Can Dance sound pedestrian in comparison. Even though songs are sung in English, French and Italian, this band is very Italian in flavor. 'Deep Blue Firmament' explores a variety of moods, and although mostly melancholy as dark wave bands tend to be, they never come off as morose. Well beyond bands like This Mortal Coil or Love is Colder Than Death. For those looking for quality Gothic music that has been crafted to perfection, I highly recommend this. Definitely a cut above.
cover
Artist: Tom Eaton (@)
Title: Indesterren (Into the Stars)
Format: CD
Label: Riverwide Records (@)
Rated: *****
The second, and more recent release by Tom Eaton (assuming you've read my previous review on 'Abendromen') is in some ways similar, yet in other ways different than 'Abendromen'. This one, as the subtitle might suggest is more space-oriented. From the opening track, "red blazer" Eaton uses touches of cosmic synth, Jade Warrior style atmospheric guitar and even some sequenced synth toward the end. The melody is bloody simple, but you don't need anything more here. I think on "vervagen" Eaton was striving for the mood he came up with on "tuesday/the compass" from 'Abendromen,' but nice as it is, it doesn't quite have the impact. There's a lot more synthesizer overall on 'Indesterren' and while it's varied in tonality, it still falls into that "Hearts of Space" new-agey sound more often than not. Eaton's guitar playing here is another matter. Think of guitarists along the lines of Michael Brook and Tony Duhig and you will get some idea. On the track "midnight clouds and the great bear" Eaton combines all his elements to form something completely different, that isn't New Age but rather cinematic. It's impressive, and achingly beautiful. Although piano is often the main instrument throughout may of these compositions, it's the backing orchestrations that create the moods and textures that really shine on 'Indesterren'. There is also more percussion used on the album which keeps the album from being all herbal tea and woolly sweaters. The Spanish-flavored "venus' is a particularly nice track, and while I wouldn't call it ambient (too much structure), it has a noirish smooth jazz feel to it. Unfortunately, there are lapses into New Age territory, as on "the raven" where piano and synth get new-agey again. As on 'Abendromen,' Eaton saves the real ambient tracks for last, four this time, and these are wonderful atmospheres. In a couple of places I was reminded of Harold Budd, just a little. Over all, 'Indesterren' is a little better album than 'Abendromen' in my opinion, in that it's spacier and has more variety. I think if Eaton starts leaning more towards real ambient and begins to use his piano more for effect than melody, it will spend more time on my playlist, and perhaps yours too.
cover
Artist: Tom Eaton (@)
Title: Abendromen (Seven Evening Dreams)
Format: CD
Label: Riverwide Records (@)
Rated: *****
To anyone who has ever bought a Windham Hill album, the name Will Ackerman should ring some bells. He founded the label (along with Anne Robinson) and as a guitarist, has numerous releases on it. Turns out that Tom Eaton has worked with Will as a studio engineer and often co-producer on over 50 records in the past six years. Tom is a multi-instrumentalist (mainly piano on these recordings) originally from Exeter, New Hampshire, now located in Newburyport, Massachusetts, although he spends a third of his time at Imaginary Road Studios in Widndham County, Vermont. Now I know what you must be thinking - jeez, this is "New Age" music, isn't it? Well, yeah, it kinda is. But it's also kinda ambient, in some places more than others. Although Eaton describes himself as an "ambient pianist" I think of him more as an "atmospheric pianist". For me, an ambient pianist would be Harold Budd, not George Winston (in his Windham Hill output), and stylistically and compositionally, Eaton leans a lot more towards Mr. Winston than Mr. Budd. On a number of compositions on 'Abendromen' Eaton uses what I could only describe as "Hearts of Space" synthesizer backing. If you ever heard that radio show, surely you know what I mean, definitely "New Age synth". Most of the music on the album is contemplative, herbal tea, warm woolly sweater and crackling fireplace music. It goes down easy with just the right amount of wistfulness and never rocks the boat. The melodic structure is simple; little melodies that are slightly embellished on over time. There was one piece I was particularly struck by - "tuesday/the compass" which has a very nice melody and is beautifully orchestrated with bass, drums synth and percussion. I haven't heard anything this moving in this vein since Schonherz & Scott's version of "Sentimental Walk" (from the movie 'Diva'). The sparse Pink Floydian slide guitar is particularly effective on this track. Perfectly moody with no sap on the tree. The real ambient music on this album shows up on tracks 8, 9 and 10 which are comprised of ambient guitar beds. This is actually the best stuff on the album, very Enoesque in its gentle droning, and saves 'Abendromen' from becoming just another New Age piano album. Worth a listen.
cover
Artist: Levingtquatre
Title: They Are Coming Back
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Basserk Records (@)
Despite the 8-bit artwork (complete with animated GIF), this isn’t full-on chip tunes, but it is a pair of atmospheric synthwave instrumentals that sound like they’ve been designed to soundtrack a noble pastiche of a gritty 1980’s cop movie, set in LA. This could be the score for the nighttime scenes, the lone cop or detective wandering the city, partner killed, wife gone, danger around every corner… I digress somewhat but anyway it’s deeply atmospheric, taking some of the reverberant tones and deep bass elements pushed forward by dubstep and applying them to retrowave structures.

Both tracks build slowly and drift away almost as slowly, with both of them acting more like atmospheric grooves than structures dynamic pieces. Title track “They Are Coming Back”, with its strong broken beat, is the stronger tune, with a good melodic motif that’s strangely catchy.

Second track “Icons” is airier and less sinister, dawn rather than midnight, slightly more up-tempo and with a synth lead line that sounds like it’s yearning for a full sung vocal.

This is a nice pair of lushly-produced moody synth grooves that can wash over you a little bit too easily but are high-quality nevertheless. It’s nine minutes in total and on the strength of this I could definitely get into an album.
[ Next ] [ Previous ]

[1...10] [11...20] [21...30] [31...40] [41...50] [51...60] [61...70] [71...80] [81...90] [91...100] [101...110] [111...120] [121...130] [131...140] [141...150] [151...160] [161...170] [171...180] [181...190] [191...200] [201...210] [211...220] [221...230] [231...240] [241...250] [251...260] [261...270] [271...280] [281...290] [291...300] [301...310] [311] [312] [313] [314] [315] [316] [317] [318] [319] [320] [321...330] [331...340] [341...350] [351...360] [361...370] [371...380] [381...390] [391...400] [401...410] [411...420] [421...430] [431...440] [441...450] [451...460] [461...470] [471...480] [481...490] [491...500] [501...510] [511...520] [521...530] [531...540] [541...550] [551...560] [561...570] [571...580] [581...590] [591...600] [601...610] [611...620] [621...630] [631...640] [641...650] [651...660] [661...670] [671...680] [681...690] [691...700] [701...710] [711...720] [721...730] [731...740] [741...750] [751...760] [761...770] [771...780] [781...790] [791...800] [801...810] [811...820] [821...830] [831...840] [841...850] [851...860] [861...870] [871...880] [881...890] [891...900] [901...910] [911...920] [921...930] [931...940] [941...950] [951...960] [961...970] [971...980] [981...990] [991...1000] [1001...1010] [1011...1020] [1021...1030] [1031...1040] [1041...1050] [1051...1060] [1061...1070] [1071...1080] [1081...1090] [1091...1100] [1101...1110] [1111...1120] [1121...1130] [1131...1140] [1141...1150] [1151...1160] [1161...1170] [1171...1180] [1181...1190] [1191...1200] [1201...1210] [1211...1220] [1221...1230] [1231...1240] [1241...1250] [1251...1260] [1261...1270] [1271...1280] [1281...1290] [1291...1300] [1301...1310] [1311...1320] [1321...1330] [1331...1340] [1341...1350] [1351...1360] [1361...1370] [1371...1380] [1381...1390] [1391...1400] [1401...1410] [1411...1420] [1421...1430] [1431...1440] [1441...1450] [1451...1460] [1461...1470] [1471...1480] [1481...1490] [1491...1500] [1501...1510] [1511...1520] [1521...1530] [1531...1540] [1541...1550] [1551...1560] [1561...1570] [1571...1580] [1581...1590] [1591...1600] [1601...1610] [1611...1620] [1621...1630] [1631...1640] [1641...1650] [1651...1660] [1661...1670] [1671...1680] [1681...1690] [1691...1700] [1701...1710] [1711...1720] [1721...1730] [1731...1740] [1741...1750] [1751...1760] [1761...1770] [1771...1780] [1781...1790] [1791...1800] [1801...1810] [1811...1820] [1821...1830] [1831...1840] [1841...1850] [1851...1860] [1861...1870] [1871...1880] [1881...1890] [1891...1900] [1901...1910] [1911...1920] [1921...1930] [1931...1940] [1941...1950] [1951...1960] [1961...1970] [1971...1980] [1981...1990] [1991...2000] [2001...2010] [2011...2020] [2021...2030] [2031...2040] [2041...2050] [2051...2060] [2061...2070] [2071...2080] [2081...2090] [2091...2100] [2101...2110]


Search All Reviews:
[ Advanced Search ]

Chain D.L.K. design by Marc Urselli
Suffusion WordPress theme by Sayontan Sinha