Music Reviews



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Artist: Umpio (@)
Title: Opium Electronix Vol. IV
Format: CD
Label: Zhelezobeton (@)
Distributor: radionoise
An existentialist listen in an increasingly existential world, Russia-based Umpio's meditative Opium Electronix Vol IV edition renders the meaning of life, meaningless. A cursory visit to the Umpio website proclaims, “There's no scene like no scene!”, now how existential is that? Or let us take the project name, Umpio, which means 'Vacuum' in Finnish, we are constantly directed to The Emptiness. Listening to this album is probably what being a part of the SETI Institute must be like, scanning the vast, endless heavens for an echo of a signal from some sentient civilization. Sure, you get the odd, random burst of radiation fluctuations, the flutter from a distant quasar, or probe signals bouncing off natural satellites. However, if you listen to deep space ambience long enough , you eventually get struck with the realization that whether there are other sentient beings or not is moot, we are all pulsing along with the Universe in unison, regardless of cognizance, a blip in the infinite. Opium Electronix IV is a live recording (in Finland) of a noise session by Pentti Dassum, the front man behind Umpio, culled from improvised feedback noise, electrical contacts, radio static, and tape loops, among other equipment. The results straddle the line between noise and ambient and what at first listen seems like empty static yields microcosms of life during deeper listens. These noises ebb and flow like tides against a cosmic shore with chirps and hums not different from crickets and other insects on a beach at night. A case where art unwittingly reflects nature, we are all a part of the void and the void is within us. A not unpleasant listen that facilitates meditative thought and deep insights.
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Artist: Luminance Ratio (@)
Title: Honey Ant Dreaming
Format: 12"
Label: Alt-vinyl (@)
Rated: *****
Put in playback Nosferatu of Werner Herzog and then put silent the movie and play this masterpiece of a massive esoteric impact. The Luminance Ratio have the immense weight of Ammon Dull, Ash-Ra Temple and the psychedelic inpiration of Kraut Rock. Their music is in resonance with atavistic sounds and guitar researches not to mention electronic sounds in the wake of OTO vibes. This LP is a ultimate trip into an unknown we missed very much in these years, it is a tool to get out from this planet. Every tracks and performance is a fresh wind into a mysterious desert in which to listen the Al-Azif of Lovecraftian memoire. Their Strings are vibrating like the strings of quantum physics.The inspirations of the album comes from Papunya's aborigines but the final destination is far far in space and time. Only your ears can judge and immerse in this stargate shaped like a LP called "Honey ant dreaming".
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Artist: Richard Pinhas
Title: Chronolyse
Format: 12"
Label: Cuneiform (@)
Rated: *****
The cemented collaboration between the excellent Washington DC-based label Cuneiform and the French philosopher, electronic music composer and guitarist Richard Pinhas brings another interesting output, the first-ever reissue on vinyl (white 180 gram vinyl featuring the original cover artwork) of Pinhas's superb output "Chronolyse", an interesting hybrid between progressive rock template and analogue electronics that he dedicated to Frank Herbert's sci-fi classic "Dune" more than 35 years ago. Besides the most known influences on sci-fi literature and movies (David Lynch's discussed cinematographic version was only the most popular one), "Dune" had a remarkable impact on the imagination of many musicians, but while Klaus Schultze tributed one long-lasting track in his album "X", Richard decided to tribute a whole album two years before the release of Schulze's album (1978). In spite of the fact "Chronolyse" has been released in the same year, Pinhas recorded it on tape between June and July 1976 after the purchase of a Moog P3 and a Polymoog that should work together a pair of Revox A700 he installed in his home studio. Even if entirely inspired, Richard didn't really want to strictly match it to the name of "Dune", so that he preferred to name it after the title of a novel by French science-fiction writer Michel Jeury, whose plot was related to time manipulations, which makes sense if you listen to what Richard did on this (maybe old-fashioned) output. On one side, you'll find seven short synth-a-delic swirling variations of the same theme, that could evoke the super powers of the so-called "witches", the female members of Bene Gesserit in the novel, whose highest acolytes - the Reverend Mothers - had greatest supernatural mental powers, including Truthsay - the ability to understand when someone lied by an attentive analysis of body language, speech and other biological clues -, the Voice - a tool to control human beings by selected modulations of voice - and a set of seductive powers, but mainly a weakness: the addiction to melange, a spice that was easy to find on the desert planet Arrakis - the set of Dune -.... any bizarre similarities with contemporary science? The track that closes the first side of "Chronolyse" was named after Duncan Idaho - another important character of Dune - and sounds like a summary of some techniques explored in the first seven short experiments, while the 30-minutes lasting "Paul Atreides" on B side is the moment where the above-sketched idea of time manipulation takes the shape of something closer to progressive electronic rock and some stuff of Heldon - Richard's Heldon mates provided drums, guitar, bass and further electronics in this extremely lengthy tribute to the heir of House Atreides, an aristocratic family ruling the planet Caladan in the novel and knowingly interpreted by a youngster (but already talented) Kyle MacLachlan (the well-known Detective Cooper in Twin Peaks) in Lynch's screenplay. "Chronolyse" can reasonably be considered the meeting point of the multifaceted universe of Richard Pinhas. According to Steve Feigenbaum, the founder of Cuneiform, it's “absolutely one of Richard’s very finest works: half live Moog electronics that make fantastic use of stereo imaging and mix aggression with the repetitiveness of Phillip Glass or Terry Riley, and half with Heldon in a 30' King Crimson-ish stormy drone-epic of mellotrons, electronics, guitar, bass, & drums.”.
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Artist: Oliver Yorke (@)
Title: Helion/Kali
Format: 12"
Label: None60
Rated: *****
Following his exquisite "Into The Void" EP on Vandal Records at the beginning of 2015, West London-based producer Oliver Yorke - I introduced him on the occasion of a likewise good couple of tracks he released for Italian label Retrospective in 2013 - recently delivered a pair of tracks to Silent Dust's None60 imprint. His skill in handling patterns and bass-driven sonorities without being boring or excessively baroque in a somehow innovative way got highlighted in this output as well. Oliver squeezed a solarized catchy melody into a precisely cut cloud of drums and digital clicks in the opening tune "Helion", whose almost scientific approach to rhythm could vaguely resemble Photek. He decided to venture onto trap-tinged stylistic field on "Kali," where he manages to soak a grinding set of bass bumps and lo-hats into trapping webs of synth sounds, Atari-like buzzing tones and electro- hop's sonic hooks
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Artist: Umanzuki (@)
Title: Andante plumbeo
Format: Tape
Label: Kohlhaas (@)
Rated: *****
Umanzuki is a three-piece act based in Florence whose new release is a 30 minute-long track recorded in an improv session. It's always courageous to conceive a work of this duration in times where people is used to hear music as beats and pieces, mostly when the reference framework is not the trend of the moment but a form now firmly dated. The most obvious reference which comes in mind hearing this release is kosmische music but it's a starting point rather than an exercise of nostalgia.
The track start quietly as a dialogue between an atmospheric synth and the sparse notes of a bass. His development could be described as the juxtaposition of the sustained notes of the synth and the percussive notes of a bass, or could also be a percussion, which also has the function to expose a sort of meditative loop which varies. So when the synth comes in the foreground, as the percussive element slows down, this release starts to evolve in a sort of drone release without the trivial sustain of a couple of tones but instead it develops a sort of melody at slow speed which sometimes stop to let the listener aware to the return of the percussive element and the insertion of a soundscape. The return of the synth marks the final part of the track based upon the complexity of the underlying beat which closes this release as an heartbeat.
As could be superficially simply decoded as derivative from well known form of kosmische music, it reveals instead some references from ambient language and rock which are merged into the result instead of being a trivial juxtaposition. With his long running time, it's not a release for everyone but could be a nice one for committed listener. Almost recommended.
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