Music Reviews



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Artist: Mia Zabelka (@)
Title: Monday Sessions
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
5th January, 12th January, 19th January, 4th February of the year 2015 have a thin red line (or I'd rather say a black line, considering their color on a calendar). They occurred on Monday, the first five Mondays of that year to be precise during which Mia Zabelka decided to record these ten improvisations at Klanghaus in Untergrieth, a small village in southern Austrian Styria using her acoustic violin. I don't know if she got somehow influenced by the typical aversion (if not real idiosyncrasy) that working people are generally supposed to feel against the first day of the week, as part of the dramatic stages she masterfully manages to evoke by the awesome way she plays violin or her voice (one of the funniest moment of this release is the vocal track "Oscillations", a whirlpool of mourns, sneers, suffocated wails, choked shrieks, neighs, hiccups, whose extreme and fast-rolling changes could let you think a jester having some epileptic fit) sound perfect for the mindset of people, who got influenced by such a figment of calendar-related imagination. It's pretty bizarre a cliche got evoked by a performing style, the one by Zabelka, which completely avoids cliches, as highlighted by the introductory words of the inner meaning of Mia's improvising by well-known guitarist John Russel printed on the inlay: "We are improvisers to the core, acknowledging an 'everthen that everwas' while constantly trying to subvert and go beyond the mundane. The core of the music is found at any point and is completely malleable making the musical choices that provide a 'narrative' a uniquely personal experience.". Violin tones could get matched to wood-shavings during a sawmilling intended to turn a log into sawdust in "Concentring Circles" or 'flavour enhancers' for the staggering pace of some performative escalations - in tracks like "Imminent Disaster", "Papagei" (German for 'parrots', a funny tracks where Mia seems to emulate those cute birds by the integrated use of violin and voice) or the opening "Dunkles zu sagen" - or tonal expectorating of introspections and mental convolutions ("Stream of Consciousness", "Remembrance"). They sometimes disappear to acquire a percussive functions in tracks where Mia seems to exploits the 'hidden' percussive or noisy features of violin, as it happens on "Stroemungen," "Entfremdung" (a German word whose translation could describe such an extended use of violin, as it could be translated both as alienation or estrangement and as an exception of the destination for purposes that are different from the intended one!). Mia's outputs can also be listened and enjoyed during other days of the week.
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Artist: Keru Not Ever
Title: Tereza
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Infinite Machine
“Tereza” is a collection of angular, glitchy cold synthesized soundscapes, mostly arhythmic yet still percussive. It’s a January release that conjures images of some of the less mellow aspects of Northern winter weather.

There’s a variety of moods here, ranging from the expansive emptiness of the contrarily-named “Closers” to the threatening claustrophobic spikiness of “Blue Strobe Pastiche”. Each piece tends to around the five minute mark, which is mostly fair as the progressions and evolutions within each are subtle, though not non-existent. In the final minute of “Closers” there’s the distant sound of techno, as though you’re stood at the North Pole surrounded by snow but suddenly you realise there’s a nightclub two miles away.

There are faintly Eastern and ethnic tones in tracks like “Ode to the Past, Present and Future” and “Fusing Zeitgeist” which seem anachronistic in the mostly icy environments, yet they end up fitting rather nicely and giving the album a more distinct identity overall. Meanwhile, more esoterically, “Airflow! Velocity” samples something akin to the sound of trainers (sorry, ‘sneakers’) on a basketball court while a bulldozer approaches to demolish the gym- sonic combinations so random and disassociative that they stop being evocative of anything and become attention-seekingly weird in their own right.

The latter sections of the album settle down somewhat, from “Dogville” to the end, is mellow longer tones prevail, natural piano noises tinkle and the sidechained processing calms.

Overall it’s an unorthodox twist on a fairly well-established cold soundscape style, with an interesting if not constantly welcoming character.
Jan 19 2017
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Artist: Mos Emvy (@)
Title: Next To Me
Format: Download Only (MP3 only)
Label: blocSonic
Distributor: Archive.org
A two track digital ep of lush, larger-than-life melodies with smooth, harmonic vocals that surfs on rolling synth waves, Mos Emvy is a respite in a New Era of commercialized Hip Hop. Mos Emvy is alias of Cincinnati, Ohio-based hip hop artist and producer, Bryan McCorvey. McCorvey was schooled by his father in digital music production at a young age, who then grew to make instrumentals as early forays before also taking to vocals. McCorvey's influences range from luminaries like Jay Z and Nas to bands one would not normally associate with hip hop such as Nine Inch Nails, which is refreshing. While Hip Hop is narrative to a beat, it is also a genre not shy to experiment with its historic use of drum machine and sampled beats, record sample vocal fragments and audio collage as well as unconventional audio textures. The Next to Me ep title track recalls Burial's dubstep rhythms and bass that interplay with trance techno keyboards and eerie ghostly female backing vocals then pierced by Mos Emvy's harmonic rhymes to layers of electronics. “You won't see me” overtones darker electronics that sweep with ray gun intensity and some wailing feedback that either is an electric guitar or sounds a lot like one, accompanied with aggressive, driving beats. Mos Emvy delivers his lyrics with black belt martial arts precision and topical depth and maturity. This ep is produced by Apex and sounds great with more presence than you would expect from an mp3 release, as in 'I can't believe its mp3!'. Mos Emvy is a talent who embraces hard and lush electronics to deliver the goods and is an artist worth anticipating more great work from.
Jan 18 2017
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Artist: Jen Gloeckner (@)
Title: Vine
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
“Vine” is a melting point of subtly different flavours into one coherent and fluid whole, making it very hard to sum up, but ‘moody melancholic ambient-dream-pop electronica’ is my stab at it.

“Firefly (War Dance)” has hints of Delerium, while “Ginger Ale” is rather Enya-ish in parts, in the nicest possible way. The slide guitar ambiences of “Blowing Through” or the catchiest number “Row With The Flow” are bordering on country music. There are moments reminiscent of Dot Allison, of Tina Dico, of Cocteau Twins, of moodier Sally Shapiro moments and more. Vocally, there are husky moments that sound a little like Marianne Faithfull. Crucially, it’s polished and high-quality enough to be worthy of any or all of those comparisons.

Soft choral-ish backing vocals, plenty of atmosphere and reverb, and a substantial helping of real instrumentation (including guest appearances from John Ashton of the Psychadelic Furs and Henry Padovani, among others) are blended with a deft and subtle touch of electronica. Tracks like “Prayers” have a little of everything. Even the running time, just shy of 40 minutes, is indicative of a confident, totally unified vision of an album, tightly packaged and without an ounce of filler. Final track “Sold” ends on a high- though strangely, the slightly-abrupt fade in it is perhaps the only disappointment across all the arrangements.

But while it never sags, it never soars either. There’s a strong sense of the comfort zone throughout, few vocal peaks, few crescendos, meaning that some listeners may find this to be background music rather than something that grabs your attention in a forthright manner. But perhaps that’s comparing apples to oranges, and as an emotive neatly-wrapped album of metered musical melancholy, “Vine” has an awful lot to recommend it.
Jan 17 2017
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Artist: Cafeina Kid
Title: NEKO
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Pueblo Nuevo (@)
Distributor: Archive.org
Deftly crafted IDM glitchno, Neko is sometimes Alvin and the Chipmunks on the slow-jam tip with glitch/IDM beats; other times it is deep, dubby techno that recalls Swayzak; it is the finer moments of Phonem and early Autechre but with sexy melodies and atmosphere sprinkled with chip-tune accents and more. The production notes on Neko indicate that the album started off as instrumental pieces subsequently cut-up into Franken-tracks, or perhaps the bride of Franken-tracks as they are nuttily put back together, but in a lovely way. Neko is rich in textures, from the instrumentals of the source material, to vocal samples that inhale helium balloons, then cut up and further distorted into Picasso-style fun, to drum machine rhythms accompanied by chip tune beats and lush keyboard melodies. Some stand-out tracks include “Conclusion parcial: cascada inversa”, “Estado del arte: Barco-Inercia”, and especially “Estado del arte: Kid Perro”. “Conclusion parcial: cascada inversa” is a heady bit of atmospheric electronic jazz that flows with the infatuation soaked dreaminess of a perfect date while “Estado del arte: Barco-Inercia” starts off with austere beats before the Swazak-esque dubby elements roll in like a romantic fog out of a classic movie while vestiges of vocals intermingle with spritely keyboard melodies. The golden track is “Estado del arte: Kid Perro” which is glitch-jazz with catchy bass lines, shimmering keyboard melodies, rich-layered rhythms and an overall mood of gradually unfurling euphoria that inspire repeated listens. Cafeina Kid is Pablo Cornejo, a Chilean artist who shows both his zany and charming side on a winsome album to be sure. Neko is available for free download on the Pueblo Nuevo net label in conjunction with Archive.org who adhere to the Creative Commons ethos. Music this good shouldn't come this cheap, download today!
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