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Artist: Stefkovic van Interesse (@)
Title: In the Fields
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this artist, who draws heavily on field recordings for his work. The website describes his work thus: 'Rich textures are unfolding, stretching beyond their place of origin, thus creating a new space for them to breathe. The journey might start out in the forest, but listening carefully you will end up somewhere else that bears no resemblance to the sound source.' Sounds promising, so let's get to the music. It started off a bit slow, as 'Sclocean' opens with slow pounding percussion and little else, it then kicks into the heavy dark ambient soundscapes that will define the rest of the album with 'Fields of ZP.' Throughout the album, we have the sensation of watching as tectonic plates crunch together over a sea of primordial soup. Waves of drone wash over everything with just the right touches of noise. At times it gets a bit minimal ('Deep Guiana' and the first half of '(Shocked by) Forest') but overall, this is solid dark ambient work. This album weighs in at around 41 minutes.
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Artist: Clarke Robinson
Title: Suburban Echoes
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
So here's how the album was recorded: 'All tracks were improvised and recorded in a parking garage on portable, battery-operated equipment with no overdubs or additional effects. Care was taken to maintain the dynamic range of the performances as much as possible, and so the album will reward listening at high volume levels.' The titles are evocative, having been appropriated from the likes of Aldous Huxley, Noam Chomsky, Socrates, Bertrand Russell, C.S. Lewis, and others. I am really not sure how to describe this. This is a lot of short blasts of noisy electronics. Most of the tracks are around 3 minutes. But I am reluctant to call it noise, since that has a specific connotation. People who like noise will certainly like this, but it is not limited to adherents of that genre. This is uneasy listening for the experimental set. It is harsh at times, and generally aggressive. There is a lot crammed into this short disc, which keeps everything fresh. Very enjoyable. This album weighs in at around 29 minutes.
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Artist: Cédric Dambrain
Title: Subjective Slave
Format: CD
Label: Roughledge (@)
Subjective Slave is the work of Cédric Dambrain and offers up a concept album of sorts. The label explains, 'As the record's title refers to human beings' inclination to create in themselves the conditions of their own alienation, the music oscillates between sound as (outer) phenomena and sound as (inner) experience, transforming the listener's body into the space of the perception. Happening simultaneously inside and outside, the context of the listening becomes a place for self-knowledge and ecstasy.' Subjective Slave comes out swinging with 'Splace Genesis,' an ear cleaning slab of crunchy noise. This is well done and I am excited for the rest of the album. Then we switch gears entirely with 'EE Duct Con,' which is mastered incredibly low and is mostly high pitched warbling electronics. The rest of the album tacks back and forth between these two extremes, with tracks like 'The FHN Vision' and 'Double Negative' laying down some quiet noise, with low rumblings, static, and crackling electronics. From the introduction, I was surprised to find that most of this album was quiet, mostly static compositions. For example, tracks like 'Lake R_09' and 'Another You' were pretty quiet and too minimal for my tastes and didn't really seem to go anywhere. On the other hand, 'Hypersoul 2031' with its glitchy, cut up barrage and the overdriven 'Protoae 67 Orgies' demonstrate Subjective Slave's mastery of noise, but this was the exception on this album rather than the rule. One may be left wondering if this is a minimalist drone album with some noise thrown in or a noise album that somehow lost its way. As such, it is a mixed bag. This album weighs in at around 43 minutes and is limited to 500 copies packaged in a black anti-static bag.
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Artist: Surface Hoar
Title: Sin-Eater
Format: CD
Label: Galloping Foxley Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this artist, as well as the radio show on which this is based, but when I read that the album was mastered by Andrew Liles of Current 93 and Nurse With Wound, I was hopeful. According to the label, this album was 'inspired by Bob Corcoran's radio play, 'The Sin Eater,' which originally aired on the Suspense program in 1962. Sin-Eater plays homage to that work and also serves as a tongue-in-cheek rumination on time spent living in the Appalachian foothills.' I'm not sure how faithful this is to the original, but I'm also not sure that it matters too much. If the goal is to recreate the feel of old time radio dramas, the overture that opens the disc is a good start. Synth and erratic snare drum set the mood well. There is a sinister feel to the music that goes beyond the knowledge that it is called 'Sin Eater.' Throughout the album, we hear weird, disembodied voices that have been pitch-shifted up and down buried under the sounds of wind and synth and walls of sound that border on noise. Some of the high points on the album include 'Warm Velvet Mystery,' which is an odd grooving track, with a synth line over staticy ambiance, and 'Kveis,' which is general weirdness with pulsing bass, analogue noises, and dissonant synth. 'Appalachian Snail Trail' very well could feature voices from the original radio program, but we never would know because the voices have been processed beyond the point of recognition. Overall this is a weird disc, but an interesting listen. This album weighs in at around 39 minutes.
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Artist: Cindytalk (@)
Title: TouchedRAWKISSEDsour
Format: CD
Label: Handmade Birds (@)
Rated: *****
Metallic stridencies that seem to emulate the sharp cry of a sparrowhawk or maybe of a phoenix, echoes of distant thunders, the buzz of rising voltage, magnetic resonances of lacerated guitars and electrified gurgles and cavernous pealing open this new impressive release by Scottish musician and former collaborator of Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil Gordon "The Freeze" Sharp aka Cindytalk, whose renaissance seeped through a series of acclaimed reissues and four astonishing albums on Editions Mego. Mr.Sharp bravely decided to change course towards darker non-music sonorities on "touchedRAWKISSEDsour", but Cindytlak's flair in forging entrancing soundscapes turns obscurity into dazzling sheen. The tracks which come after the initial "Dancing On Ledges" seem to get focused on layering of abstract noises, which singularly seem to render hallucinations or nightmares, whose overlapping emanates the psychotropic features of Cindytalk's sonorities: both "Fire Recalling Its Nature", whose abrupt stop occurs when the track seems to rise towards mystical levels, and "Mouth Of My Sky (Open Up And Swallow Me)", where an evanescent melody seems to get blown over a desolate industrial escape, smell like sonic reports from netherworld, while the lysergic wire drawing and scrapes of electronically processed guitars over syncopated noises which sound like the noise of unlocked wooden doors on "Reversing The Panopticon" and the following "E Quindi Uscimmo A Riveder Le Stelle", named after the last line of Dante's first book of the Divine Comedy "Inferno", which manages to render resurfacing from obscure tunnels underworld to nocturnal glimmer, sound like proper sonic rites of liberation. After the cathartic placidity of "Yugao", where Gordon brings to light both that airily anaesthetic piano featuring some of his recent releases and his mania for Japanese music, Gordon seal all the previous leaks with the mesmeric storms of "Mystery Sings Out", where the mysterious Cindy finally talks (and "sings").
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