Music Reviews



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Artist: Thomas Ankersmit (@)
Title: Figueroa Terrace
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
I've seen and listened many good sound artists and musicians playing on the legendary Serge MMS, the analogue modular synthesizer system that its inventor, the brilliant French-born (from Russian composer Aleksandr Nikolayevich Tcherepnin as a father and Chinese pianist Lee Hsen Ming as a mother...what a wonderful blood and cultural mix!!!) composer and electronic-instrument builder Serge Alexandrovich Tcherepnin, developed almost for educational purposes in 1974 at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts), but I rarely spotted the impressive versatility that Dutch electronic performer Thomas Ankersmit shows on this release. Mainly known for some collaborations with important musicians such as minimalist mastermind Phil Niblock, Chicago-based notorious improv musician Kevin Drumm or Irish-American producer Jim O'Rourke, Thomas seems to play hide-and-seek with Black Serge, a recently restored customized variation of Serge Modular, that CalArts made available to his skills in the winter between 2011 and 2012 as listeners could think that "Figueroa Terrace" is just an ostentation of the remarkably wide sonic power of synthesis of this machine while listening the first three minutes of this long-lasting suite, where Thomas moulds many different "real" sounds from a cloud of sonic particles. The quick succession of sonic rendering suddenly turns into leftovers of resounding electrons, which are just the starting line of a really adventurous journey towards a pure waveform by means of awesome oscillations, otoacoustic-like emissions, sudden decays and interruptions, otherworldly sonic entities, fast transitions, piercing frequencies which border on upper and lower thresholds of audibility and other hocus-pocuses. Without a doubt, this is one of the best electronic release that reached my headphones and loudspeakers this year!
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Artist: Kosuke Anamizo (@)
Title: Ghost Story
Format: CD
Label: n5MD (@)
'Ghost Story' is the latest CD of ambient music by Kosuke Anamizo, released on the n5md Music label in November of 2013. Tokyo-based Anamizo has also recorded under the name Moshimoss and according to the liner notes '...this new project focuses on larger scale atmosphere which is met with hypnotically twisted dub techno beat work, hazy guitars and looped, yet sullen vocals...' 'Ghost Story' is definitely showcase for the ability of Anamizo to create an effective ambient atmosphere. These are variously fashioned from voices, as in 'Snow Leopard' and 'Alter Ego' or from the hazy guitar sounds of 'Departures' and also from keyboard as in 'Predawn'. Most of these pieces follow a similar pattern: an ambient wash is built up from voices, guitars or keyboards, typically with a low roar underneath. About halfway in, a strong percussive back beat appears and this continues, eventually giving way to the ambient sounds again as the track concludes. The presence of the percussion sections do offer contrast, and will be a familiar focus for the listener, but the tracks of 'Ghost Story' would likely be stronger without them. All of the opening ambient constructions are solid enough on their own to sustain interest throughout the entire piece. 'Cliff Edge Ghost' is perhaps the strongest track on this CD for just this reason. The opening roar effectively evokes the feeling of standing on some high cliff with a strong wind coming from a deep canyon below. A wash of ghostly voices is heard adding to the serene feeling, and the swelling volume gives the sense of a rising wind. The percussion in 'Cliff Edge Ghost' is less pronounced than in the other tracks and has an organic feel, as if it is part of the landscape. The varying dynamics in this piece provide a convincing sense of soaring high above a cliff on strong winds. 'Departures', the last track on the CD is another strong piece. Broad, warm sounds under-gird three repeating tones in the guitar that are soon joined by voices. This combination nicely evokes sense of leaving and farewell. 'Departures' is a lovely ambient wash and leaves the listener with a sense of sweet sadness. The mix and sound engineering on this CD is also well done. If you like ambient music infused by strong imagination, a bit of mystery and a solid back beat, 'Ghost Story' by Kosuke Anamizo is for you.
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Artist: Sensory Gate (@)
Title: Civisolation
Format: CD
Label: MHz Records (@)
Distributor: Ant-Zen
Rated: *****
Let's introduce the MHz-label a bit, since it got established by the Klangstabil-leader Maurizio Blanco. In the past this label has been often acted as being a side-label to Ant-Zen with the often discovered renowned Klangstabil project, although it can look back on a long-year past with tape compilation releases mostly based in the Experimental / Rhythmic Noise genres. Prominent artists like P.A.L. for example have been often invited guests in their early years. The connection to Ant-Zen is still alive and vital, as Ant-Zen takes care about the distribution of MHz-releases.
Also the Italian duo of Sensory Gate isn't that unknown to me. I discovered them with well-sounding remix contributions for the highly appreciated Ambient-/Electronica-project Sleepthief and also with two appearances on the highly recognized "Surge & Subside: Queensland Flood Appeal" compilation by the Australian Aphotic Audio label. What I had to learn is that this duo has already brought out a debut album entitled "Ianus" released by MHz in 2010. As for this new album, both band-members Andrea Pozzi and Max Iannuzzelli have composed 11 tracks in a musically expression between smooth Synth-/Futurepop to more aggressive EBM undersigned with some Rock-/Metal-like guitar riffs. The tracks are well-produced and the compositions offer demanding themes to think about. The main theme of this album deals with the ongoing isolation of people although they are surrounded by civilization. We see this phenomenon in big cities where people live in total anonymity. As described, this album impresses with its genre-bending attitude of the above mentioned styles. After the bombastic sounding intro "Among The Dead" with both German and English lyrics, comes with "Domino Effect" a straighter produced Electro-track with danceable beats, a natural sounding vocal performance and some guitar riffs. Next comes a true Synthpop pearl with "City Diary" with catchy as hell synthesizer- and piano- arrangements, plus a chorus line to sing along. Great track, it fits perfectly to the main theme of this album. "Slash", a track co-written by Claudio Dondo (Runes Order) surprises with some FLA-like bass line programming skills and vocoderized vocals. "Invictus" then is a true experiment based lyrically on a same-titled poem by W.E. Henley in German and English language. Additionally this one is dedicated to the world-wide deeply respected Nelson Mandela (R.I.P.). The last track then is a musically performance of a prayer which features guest vocals provided by John van Loon (Dark Territory): "Kyrie (Prayer For The Lost)" with Gregorian-like voices and a brilliant performed chorus. This album features all good things for a long and satisfying listening experience. Even if they throw in guitars, it gives the whole work a quite edgy and organic touch. I am fascinated by the depth in both compositions and arrangements behind this marvelous album. More than a secret tip - it's one of the spring-time highlights!
May 26 2014
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anymore
Artist: NZ
Title: Raw And Pure
Format: CD EP
Label: Emmo.biz Records (@)
Distributor: Emmo.biz
Rated: *****
Emmo.biz seems to an ideal place for old-school EBM projects, because with this Austrian duo they present a debut with a 4-track EP. And if you take a look to the colors and script for the cover art, you have already a hint, who could be the idols for them. Right, Nitzer Ebb to their "That Total Age" era. And these 4 tracks are good examples how to transform the ideas of 1988 into the present. Best example is for sure "Trigger Me" with the "Alarm"-like Staccato-rhythms, minimal synth bass-line sequences and the raw shouted vocals quite comparable to Douglas McCarthy. It's raw, it's pure, it's sweat-driving - in short, the music features all you can ask for to warm up your next body party. What this EP misses is a small doze of authenticity. Why should the fan not spin "Violent Playground" or "Let Your Body Learn" a millionth time again if he has to choose the still a bit more intense sounding idols in comparison to this newcomer project? No doubt, this is a fair and flawless produced 4-tracker, which is surely especially designed for fans of the music genre. But it's not the stuff to provide their audience own and unimitated ideas.
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Artist: Dirty Purple Turtle (@)
Title: Medicine & Madness
Format: CD
Label: Spezialmaterial (@)
Rated: *****
The sinewy knotting of electronic sounds to dogged rockish rhythmical pattern by this Swiss band made up of drummer David Zingre, electronic motorman Daniel Zimmermann and visual artist Lukas Pulver is closer to some previous assays of so-called crossover and I could imagine they could acknowledge some similarities with other acts. In order to give you an idea of what they crafted, you could think a mixture of I-Wolf's Sofa Surfers rugged trip-hop derailments, Ministry's stylistical plumpness, Archive's compulsiveness, Add N to (X)'s robotic playfulness with occasional intrusion over dub and synth-pop fields. They wisely dose the elements for a clean getaway-like listening experience and a compelling sound for a live performance: the endothermic combination of gripping pacing, electronic and dub sutures and electric stridencies as well as both dazed'n'confused and dazing'n'confusing waxing lyrics could let you turn a blind eye to the above-mentioned (and other) flashbacks, which can be considered as symptoms of a certain lack of originality, even if a pernickety listening could let you evince a persuading compactness of Dirty Purple Turtle's jabbing style. I prefer the moments of the album when they dash by booster rocket-like songs ("Count The Clock", "Ducttape or Glue") by far as I imagine their forcefulness on live stage, but they forged some intruiging songs (the asphyxiating corrosions of "Sektor G + D", the final explosion of "Henry Who?" or the pensively meaningful "God's Left Eye", which is going to trigger listener's mind by means of a focus on contemporary alienating "codes") when they remember to pull the brake.
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