Music Reviews



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Artist: Himiko (@)
Title: Dethnoizzz
Format: CD
Label: DTrash Records (@)
Rated: *****
If you've followed the evolution of Japanese electronic music artist (and sometimes jazz pianist) Himiko, now based in Alberta, Canada, you know that she's gone from the beautiful to the absolute hideous. If you're only familiar with her early work on such albums as 'Mai, 'Mungen', and 'Shippo o Tsukame' you'll be in for quite a shock with 'Dethnoizz'. While her stint with Heavy Metal Jazz Concepts was an interesting exploration of fusion, avant-garde, free jazz infused with heavier rock elements, it doesn't even begin to approximate what you'll hear on this recording. Even as noisy as 'Heavy Metal Wannabe & Electronic Jazz Cat' was at times, it never approached this. 'Fuck Off' (2011 DTrash), her deconstructed thrash metal mashup EP was at least listenable and weirdly amusing, but 'Dethnoizz' has taken a left turn off the beaten path into sonic mayhem of the most extreme kind.

There are 11 tracks on 'Dethnoizz' but it blurs the line between album and EP because the tracks are so brief and it's over so quickly. Take Digital Hardcore, Speedcore, Death Metal, Grindcore, Goregrind, Gabber, and Breakcore, toss in a blender and set to puree, and you'll only begin to get an idea of what's on this recording. Himiko's vocals here are a mix of processed barks and shouts, and vomitous screams. It is indeed frightening stuff. If I didn't look into Himiko's musical background prior to this review, I would have slagged this off as the worst shit I've ever heard in my life. (Even my cat ran and hid when the sound hit the speakers!) But now I get the idea of what it truly is ' anti-music, and actually very well done anti-music at that. Himiko rips apart every pre-conceived notion you ever had about music, chews it up and spits it back in your face. With track titles like 'Fuel Rods Up Your Ass', 'Butchered, Mended and Butchered Again' and 'Raped, Killed and Raped Again' you can imagine this is going to be one fucked-up terror trip, and it certainly is. Brutal as the music may be, it takes a lot of work to slice, dice and shred it into something as explosive and corrosive as this, and I respect that.

I can't say I'm a fan of this kind of sonic torture, but I know there are those out there that really dig it, so I have to rate it on its merit, not my own personal taste. For what she's trying to achieve on 'Dethnoizz' Himiko definitely succeeds. Although I much prefer her earlier work, you can't fault an artist for veering off the straight and narrow and following their experimental vision. Even Himiko's look has changed from demure Asian beauty to Goregrind Diva. No doubt there is a limited market for this kind of material, but one wonders, where does she go from here? With Himiko, you just don't know until she gets there.
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Artist: Hybryds (@)
Title: The Silent Whisper
Format: CD
Label: Prodam (@)
A long-time presence on the ritual ambient music scene, Hybryds latest release, 'The Silent Whisper', continues to supply dark, industrial-strength sounds that are "sometimes harsh and bleeding and sometimes soft and gentle.' Based in Belgium, Hybryds consists of Magthea , the original founder (also known as Sandy Nijs), TraumaSutra (Peter De Koning) and vocalist Madeline Arnt. Dark Poem, another Belgian cult band personality, also appears as a vocalist on selected tracks. The music of Hybryds typically consists of deep, mysterious rumblings in the lower registers along with vocals or narration by Madeline Arnt and this combination is consistently effective. The feeling of this music is otherworldly, and sometimes harsh, but it does succeed in evoking a sense of intentional spirituality that is rare in our consumer-driven contemporary culture. The tracks range from smoothly accessible, as in 'Wheel of Life', to strongly primal, as in 'Garden of Dreams'. All of the pieces on this CD exhibit a strong sense of balance between the electronics and vocals, no doubt the result of a long collaboration between the members of Hybryds. 'Silent Whisper - Part 1&2&3' is probably the most impressive track artfully combining a variety of alien sounds, vocal chanting and saxophone into a convincing amalgam. The singing of Madeline Arnt stands out on this CD, but the percussion and electronic sounds are always well chosen and the mixing is excellent. 'The Silent Whisper' is perhaps best understood when the listener imagines himself in a small Berlin after-hours club on a summer evening ' hearing Hybryds perform live would be a powerful experience.
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Artist: Alberto Ezzu - Lux Vocal Ensemble (@)
Title: Il Fuoco del 6° Armonico sulla Luce della Dominante partendo dalla Madre Fondamentale (con in mente Zarathustra)
Format: CD
Label: Hic Sunt Leones
Rated: *****
"Il Fuoco del 6° Armonico sulla Luce della Dominante partendo dalla Madre Fondamentale (con in mente Zarathustra)", which sounds something like "The focus of the sixth harmonic on the dominant light starting from the fundamental mother (having in mind Zarathustra)", is the latest album by Alberto Ezzu Lux Vocal Ensemble but as project born in 2001 at the early days of the ensemble. Alberto Ezzu Lux Vocal Ensemble born that year to perform compositions and improvisations using mainly overtone singing. If you don't know what kind of singing is that, think about the traditional Mongolian chants where one performer emits two tones at a time. To that, they add traditional European instruments (synponica, micanon, viola and lute), classic instruments (cello and oboe), oriental traditional instruments (tampura, sitar, Indian harmonium and percussions) plus electronic instruments. On this album you can find a one hour suite where different overtone singers focus their performance following a synth frequency which slowly changes creating, in this way, a minimal multi layered experimental suite which is able to hypnotize the listener. This album is a step into Alberto Ezzu's path as music researcher, music therapist and, for the listener, is a chance you can take to focus your attention on your inner self using these sounds as a tool.
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Artist: DLR, Mako & Fields
Title: Bridge the Gap/Old Soul
Format: 12"
Label: Utopia Music (@)
Rated: *****
Other two gusts of wind which blew over Utopia Music fronds are going to refresh dnb followers' eardrums from the beginning of May. The first one, "Bridge The Gap", comes from Bristol-based dnb producer James "DLR" Rowbotham and is going to bring outbreaks of rain by sinewy breaks, thunderous bass, menacing sonorities and electric scrapes, but despite storms usually spill cascades of water down the ground, this track is going to make your feet jump as if you've been compelled to dance on a floor of hot stones. On the flipside DLR's breath got reinforced by the ones from Mako and Fields, who disperse clouds on "Old Soul", where residual electric storms keep on droning within a track which sounds more emotional and somewhat gloomy like a nostalgic reverie at dusk.
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Artist: Jojo Hiroshige, Pika, Paal Nilssen-Love, Lasse Marhaug
Title: Osaka Fortune
Format: 12"
Label: Premier Sang
Rated: *****
The Norwegian half of this new sonic explosive on Premier Sang has already been sprinkled from my headphones and loudspeakers: Paul Nilssen-Love collaborated with a remarkable number of free-jazz oriented and experimental collaborative projects - I remember the ones with James Plotkin and Mats Gustafsson, but I'm pretty sure that I could find something else if I check my overcrowded archive -, while I found the name and the noisy mark by Lasse Marhaug on some releases by Smalltown Supersound, one of my favorite Norwegian label. Both Paul and Lasse recently co-signed a tip-top release with Jim O'Rourke, "Love Robots", which is going to meet the taste of noisy jazz-spiced stuff lovers. On the other side of the boxing ring, we find a veteran of Japanese noise scene, Jojo Hiroshige, founder of the seminal group Hijokaidan and Alchemy Records, and the young Japanese drummer and vocalist Higashi "Pika" Mineko, whose shouts sound like yells of a child while going hog wild for a slide or an amusement ride during the hyper-energetic stuff that this quartet recorded at Osaka Chika-Ikkai on February 10th 2011 and delivered to the French label. On the first half of this session, listener have to weather the storm that drummers generated by trampling on their instruments where they perform different tasks: while one drummerviolently clobber the skins, the other one finishes drum off by subtleties which are close to jazz drumming techniques. "No Drums This Time" is the first part of the second half and as you can easily imagine, both drummers take a rest, but the scorching distorsions that Lasse and Jojo gave off are too tempting for Paul's and Pika's fuming sticks so that they keep on hitting by pushing the blazing fire ball towards savage directions, which sound less jazzy and more acid-rock steered this time. Thats's the most blistering pace that I can even see fit to a snobbish jazz club.
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