Music Reviews



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Artist: Monty Adkins
Title: Borderlands
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Audiobulb (@)
Rated: *****
This new work from Monty Adkins is 'an extended meditation for multi-tracked cellos' that means that is the result of the juxtaposition of various lines of cello that develops a piece 'based on a text by Deborah Templeton that explored liminal states of consciousness'. The true quality of this piece is the full realization of the premise of his linear notes as it's a well planned and realized exploration of the spectral quality of an instrument, the cello, seldom used in an unexpected way.
This track starts with a quiet drone doubled by a cello whose sustained tones shifts from one channel to another. While the first part is on the lowest part of the range, the second is on a higher range and starts to develop a melodic line, meditative and quiet. The third is a slowly modulating drone exploring the resonances of the instrument while the fourth is based on a high range and sounds almost void as the absence of the lower frequencies implies a quieter soundscape that fully develops in the fifth part. The final part of this piece is almost static and based on the highest pitch of the cello and a low frequency drones.
This piece is, undoubtedly, a demanding listening as it's something closer to contemporary music than the average of today's releases but it's full of truly enjoying music. Recommended.
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Artist: Hieroglyphic Being And The Configurative Or Modular Me Trio
Title: The Seer Of Cosmic Visions
Format: CD
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
Someone labelled it as "Outsider House", but it's an objectively misleading reference so that I prefer the labels that Chicago-based producer and founder of Mathemtics Recordings Jamal Moss aka Hieroglyphic Being aka IAMTHATIAM aka The Sun God aka IBM (cool acronym for Insane Black Man), the inventive pioneer of this style, coined by means of expressions that seems to quote Sun-Ra such as 'Cosmic Be-Bop' or 'Rhythmic Cubism'. Beyond the way its style could be named, the assemblage of Chicago house and EBM and spotty elements from industrial, noise and avant-jazz, which could sometimes render the way someone who temporarily suffeers clogged eardrums would perceive a record by Frankie Knuckles, Adonis, Fingers Inc., Ron Hardy or other legends of the 80/90ies underground scene of Jamal's vibrant city, or some variations of Chicago house by means of low-battery cheap drum machines or synths whose circuits got regrettably watered by corrosive chemical products or dj's favorite drink, is really amazing even if it could sound like a mere exercise in style. Anticipated by an exclusive 6 files digital release for The Wire readers, "The Seer Of Cosmic Visions" includes nine past jams and tracks from his catalogue, which got wisely remastered by Michel Kuhn at Berlin's Dubplates and Mastering: the unsharpened knives of "Calling Planet Earth", the nibbled Chicago-house of "How Wet Is Ur Box", the lop-sided computational sequence of "The Human Experience", the robotic stuttering over poofy sonorities of the final "Strange Signs In The Sky" and the gelatinous boiling of rhythmic noise on "A Genre Sonique" of my favorite ones, but the opening lukewarm psychedelia of the opening title-track, the opacified meditations of "Letters From The Edge" and "Space Is The Place" and the numb tribal funk of "134340 Pluto" are likewise amazing. Have a listen!
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Artist: Sarah Peebles w/Evan Parker, Nilan Perera, Suba Sankaran (@)
Title: Delicate paths - Music for Shō
Format: CD
Label: Unsounds (@)
Rated: *****
That mysterious item on the cover artwork of this release by Toronto-based American composer and performer Sarah Peebles is the upper section of a sho, the Japanese version of Chinese sheng, a traditional free reed aerophone, whose distinctive features are the 17 bamboo pipes which can supposedly imitate the call of a phoenix according to popular beliefs and the possibility to play it with no interruption as sho can be played by inhaling or exhaling air. This last aspect of this instrument, which was largely used in gagaku, a type of Japanese traditional music that was mainly played in Kyoto's imperial court and got rediscovered by some modern and contemporary composers and musicians like Mayumi Miyata, who played some works that John Cage made for him, Ko Ishikawa, Helmut Lachenmann and even Bjork, is clear in many solo performances like the entrancing opening track "Resinous Fold 7 (for Smoke)", the high-pitched trills of "Resonate Fold 6 (for Trigona)" or the almost hypnotical "Resinous Fold 2 (for Bamboo)", where sho sounds like breathing, while the interesting integration in electroacoustic sessions with guest musicians like Evan Parker, Nilan Perera and Suba Sankaran such as the nervous bleeding of "Delicate Path (Murasaki)", the abstract squeezing of "Delicate Path (Lime)" or the soothing vocal mantra of "Delicate Path (Sandalwood)" as well as the immersive 14 minutes of "In The Canopy (part 1)", which sounds closer to her bizarre "entomological" sonic experiments, show unusual aspects of this fascinating instrument.
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Artist: The Binary Mind
Title: The Bankrunner
Format: 12"
Label: Decoder Recordings (@)
Distributor: Straight
Rated: *****
The intrinsic social and political criticism inside the intriguing sonic code of techno music, which mainly marked the first breeding grounds of that scene before thesome producers become somehow sclerotic on sound technologies, sometimes comes back and the brilliant Dutch producer Christiaan van Tienhoven seems to render money, the most efficient contemporary weapon of mass enslavement, by means of his declension of techno: the pressing progressions of the title-track "The Bankrunner" that ignite the first drop of Decoder Recordings, his newborn label, get more and more overwhelming while the other sonic entities evoke a strangling race against time; the swirling sequences and the metallic friction of the following track "Cold Space Dust" twist listeners into a sort of freezing chokehold, while the highly-energetic hypnotic rumbling of "Moonhiking" and the ghastly atmospheres of "Bugs" draw stunning computational mantras. Good firestarter!
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Artist: deNeuve (@)
Title: Old Bruce
Format: 12"
Label: Blowpipe Records
Rated: *****
deNeuve is André Bach & Mark Tegefoss who have a long history of working together, most notably in the project Det Wiehl, which has been around since 1973, with 9 or so releases on cassette and CD from 1983 up til the present. They were also in Tox Modell in the 80's, a notable band of the Dutch ULTRA scene, remarkable for heavy guitar, bass and vocals, but no drums, percussion or rhythm machines of any kind. I don't think deNeuve's work on 'Old Bruce', a 4-track 12" (plays at 45rpm) is that far removed from Det Wiehl, but perhaps more steeped in the industrial. Title track "Old Bruce" has an industrial beat that could sync up well with a heavy duty washing machine, garbled vocal samples where a phrase can occasionally be made out ("and over time") repeated sample of a piano glissando, various types of noise, and incessant pulse-throb bass. "Les Grande Demis" sounds like the French pixie sisters trapped in a heavy machine shop with a lumbering monotonous beat. "Ruski" features various vocal samples (presumably Russian) in a bizarre rhythmic industrial environment. "Morningboy" begins with a manipulated, echoed vocal sample over a muted machine rhythm followed by other sonic elements, then the heavy machine rhythm kicks in accented by sharp harsh noise shots. Intelligible female vocal samples emerge ("You're a boy"...deaf and blind...I'm sorry...nowhere else to go..", etc.), a repetitive rhythmic sample of thrumming bass strings, and a number of other sonic elements. The whole of 'Old Bruce' is fairly disarming. Experimental industrial no doubt, and most certainly alienated. For me, it was a bit too much, difficult listening to the max. For those of you braver sorts, it's available in either pink or blue vinyl.
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