Music Reviews



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Artist: M.B. - Maurizio Bianchi / Ryan Martin
Title: As Strong As Death Is
Format: 2 x 12" vinyl
Label: Backwards (@)
Rated: *****
“As Strong As Death Is” is presented as a representation of "the abstract concept of marriage based on the biblical Song of Solomon" and was released as a double cassette on Robert & Leopold imprint and is now reissued by Backwards on a double vinyl. It's always a risk from an artist like Ryan Martin working on a similar theme with a legend like Maurizio Bianchi whose musical personality is at the core of a whole genre and could even be dominant as it's perhaps an influence of his collaborators. Focused on a religious theme, the central concern of Bianchi's work from his return in the 90's, the result is the juxtaposition of the Martin's violin and a controlled form of noise by M.B. which is divided in four parts.
The first side of this release, "Place Me As A Seal Upon Your Heart", starts with the looping notes of the violin and a menacing intense sonic background and, instead to degenerate into a noise track, evolves in the meditative territories of the first part as a sort of contraposition. "As Strong As Death Is" seems to follow the same structure of the first side but, after a static interlude, it returns to the first part of the track as in a musical circle. The third side, "Insistence On Exclusive Devotion", is a noise track which sounds even meditative in the first part until the juxtaposition of sound fulfill the audial spectrum as in the classic Bianchi's musical form. The final side, "As Unyielding As She'ol Is", starts as a follow up of this release and evolve in a meditative ambient track whose quiet resonances are interrupted by sparse noise interludes and closes this release with distant voices and a strange mystic feeling.
Almost predictably in a bunch of moments, specially in the second vinyl, this release sounds more as a proper M.B.'s release than a collaboration but, from a certain perspective, it's the real virtue of this release as it's amazing how there's a religious atmosphere that can be created with noise. Another sure pick for fans of M.B.
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Artist: Keosz (@)
Title: Be Left to Oneself
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
Sometimes a label as Cryo Chamber, whose output is rooted in a strongly codified genre, tries to escape the limits of this approach signing a project with a slightly different approach. Keosz is a project from Slovakia which is not so concerned with darkness and sonic details as other artists of this label and is, instead, closer to the canonical approach of Ambient music so the "analogue touch" of the liner notes sounds like a reference to the roots of this genre.
The soundscape full of details of "Be Left to Oneself" opens this release without the elements shown in "Occurred" which is the core of this release: instead of relying in sonic crafts, Erik Osvald decides to develop a sort of melody so it sound closer to so called Modern Classical than Dark Ambient, as it inserts some violin lines and it doesn't rely too much on drones. "Forfeited" is quiet return to the canonical form while "Forlorn" tries almost a full melody that couldn't be catched as the listener's attention in on the drone rather than in the elements in the background. "Traitor" shows how the violin voice of the synth is treated in an almost orchestral way and "Insecure" is a dreamy ambient track. While "Clearance" is almost an slow orchestral tune, "Low Down" is based on slowly developing melody using tones rather than drones. Above the drone at the base of "Before the End" there's a clear recording of rain giving a vague sense of sadness to the track.
This release is almost a surprise as it marks a sort of crossover of some elements of Dark Ambient and more pop elements so the result is an enjoyable release that tries a melodically approach to the genre which could attract fans of other musical styles. A really nice release.
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Artist: Monocorpse
Title: Cease To Exist
Format: 12"
Label: Enfant Terrible (@)
Though every track on Monocorpse's second EP is dark and twisted in its own way, there's a lot of variation between tracks. Opening track "964 Old Topang" channels genuine anger, second track "10050 Cielo Dr" switches to paranoia, yet "12000 Santa Susana Pass Rd" sounds like what you'd get if AI robots in two millenia's time unearthed a book about how to make glam rock and tried to interpret it in a post-apocalyptic underground music studio. "3301 Waverly Dr" sounds like a corrupt MIDI file rendition of "Vienna" by Ultravox, but in the best possible way.

The track names, in case you're wondering, are all genuine US addresses associated with Charles Manson murders. While there's definitely a deep undercurrent of sinisterness running through the whole thing, there are gaps in the visage. The rubbery basslines and the slightly 8-bit robot synths veer some of the production slightly closer to cheap 1980's B-movies than Monocorpse probably intended. Mr and/or Mrs Monocorpse keep themselves tightly under wraps it seems, with their press info and social media showing only the plain covers of their 12"s without any sense of the artist underneath. There's something just a touch too obvious and middle-class about it all, as though it's music that wants to homage David Lynch rather than music that really wants to scare you.
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Artist: Musumeci
Title: Foundation EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Engrave Ltd (@)
Distributor: Paradise
At 7 tracks and 49 minutes, this release seems to stretch the definition of an EP somewhat.

Every track follows the formula of opening track "Terminus", quickly establishing mesmeric tech grooves over which the arpeggiating synths can meander back and forth. It's beautifully done, with a strong sense of being in the comfort zone- no tricks, no experiments, just the sense of oozing confidence in the power of simple spaced-out grooves.

"Prelude" is a stand-out track, slightly more dynamic and dramatic than the preceding pieces, with the sense of additional influences drifting in from sci-fi soundtracks, yet it still wouldn't sound out of place in a deep house mix. As the EP progresses, the tracks get shorter and more melodic, with "Melpomenia" carrying a tune that feels like it's yearning for a vocal.

Ostensibly themed around Asimov's "Foundation" series, there's certainly a sci-fi feel to some of the reverberant top-end bell and whistles, but otherwise this 'inspiration' really only stretches as far as being a convenient source of great unfamiliar track names like "Melpomenia" and "Trantor". Sci-fi fans hoping for a narrative journey through Asimov's Galactic Empire might be left a little underwhelmed, but fans of deep tech should lap this up.
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Artist: Pinkcourtesyphone + Gwyneth Wentink
Title: Elision
Format: CD
Label: Farmacia901 (@)
Rated: *****
Elision is the result of a collaboration between Richard Chartier, in his Pinkcourtesyphone alias, and Gwyneth Wentink, a classically trained harpist. The sound of a triple harp, a 1600's variant of this instrument with three rows of string instead of the usual single row so it has a richer set of timbres and harmonics.
This track sound with a background noise interrupted by the melody of the harp enhanced by the effects applied by Chartier. In the first part of the track, while the sound artist develops his soundscape using drones and tones which are the base of his well known style, the harp prefers to develop arpeggios creating an hypnotic effect mirroring, in part, the resonances of the electronics. In the second part the Chartier's sonic backdrop is the main element which relegates the harp in the background except for a small moment as a solitary reprise of the first part that is an interlude for the final part where the drone accompanies the listener towards the end of the release.
As Pinkcourtesyphone is a project less austere than the releases that built an entire genre, it's a statement on how an artist can evolve without forswear his aesthetics by the dialogue with the characteristics of his collaborators. Another remarkable release.
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