Music Reviews



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Artist: Gabriel Saloman
Title: Movement Building Vol. III
Format: LP + Download
Label: Shelter Press
Gabriel Saloman’s recently prolific output continues with “Movement Building Vol. III”, a 55-minute 8-track work that has evolved and expanded from music composed for a contemporary dance, “What Belongs To You”, by Vanessa Goodman.

What’s most striking about this release is the variety of sounds used. A heartbeat theme pervades throughout most of the pieces but everything else is, for the most part, sonically very diverse. Opener “What Belongs To Time” is a gentle arrangement of long bowed string drones under which a heartbeat-style kick slowly and irregularly paces, with a strong sense of foreboding. “What Belongs To Bass” carries a similar atmosphere, but this time structured around slowly plucked, slightly twangy guitar steeped in echo. Key piece “What Belongs To You”- presumably the seed piece for the whole work- starts off again more sinister, but the heartbeat effect gradually begins to accelerate, then race, then… sort of peters away into hollow windy ambience, before looping back around and building it up all over again.

“What Belongs To Love” utilises distant sounds that may be music boxes or church organs before breaking out a fairly complex drummed breakbeat that’s very contemporary-dance-friendly. After the brief guitary interlude of “What Belongs To The Fire”, longest piece “What Belongs To The March” begins with a waspy, alienating ambience, then swaps over into a sparse arrangement of distant keys and the returning heartbeat, which sets the tempo for the arrival of a military snare drum pattern which suggests the arrival of a crescendo we may have been waiting almost an hour for- but it never arrives. It tapers away, leading into the slow gentle wooden hits of “What Belongs To The Line”. Final piece “What Belongs To The Sleep”, as the name suggests, closes proceedings with a calm somnambulant ambience.

There’s a fairly rich variety of instrumentation going on throughout this sinister and slightly theatrical soundscaping. While none of it really breaks new ground, and while at times you get a sense that you’re only getting 50% of the experience because you can’t watch the accompanying dance, it’s a very accomplished and dark collection.
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Artist: Gebrüder Teichmann
Title: Lost On Earth
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Noland
On their third full-length album, Andi and Hannes Teichmann serve up a bit of light home-listening techno, taking the crisp sonic elements from minimal and a touch of synthwave and twist and rework proceedings into something more suited to a long slow walk than a dance.

There’s a wide variety of collaborators, recorded across multiple continents. After the quite leisurely opening of “Identity Check”, previous collaborator Wura Samba brings a soft African percussive sound and vocal to “Transist” and while the vocal is rich, the groove still feels European somehow. The same approach on “ChakachaMaasaiMbili” also works well and feels a touch more organic.

“Tiny Cracks” meanwhile brings unusual time signature patterns into a hip-hop groove complete with cleverly timed and strangely compelling rap vocals from Max Turner, Sasha Perera and Amman Mushtag (one of whom may not actually be a vocalist, that’s unclear). “Mindfields” and “Higher”, with other guest MC’s, are a bit less distinctive, arguably bordering on flat.

When not collaborating, the brothers seem to wander a little further off the leash, such as in the quirky, not un-funky “Stylomezzo” or the odd 12/8 stepping patterns of “Dzoka”. The boys are presumably keeping it in the family with Uli Teichmann’s unspecified appearance, probably the quiet spoken word bit, on the nicely dubby final track “Für Fred”.

The ten-minute long Abe Duque collaboration is a mini-opus in its own right, initially a very steady and deep bit of techno, but it goes bizarre in the second half with some bold synth-arpeggio breakdowns before looping back to its original understated groove, then disassembling into lo-fi oddness to conclude.

Don’t be put off by the fairly unappealing artwork- this is an accomplished and strangely luxuriant hour-long listening album experience that puts the ‘I’ but a little less of the ‘D’ in ‘IDM’.
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Artist: Keisuke Matsuno, Moritz Baumgärtner and Lars Graugaard
Title: Crumble
Format: CD + Download
Label: clang
A guitarist, an e-guitarist and a drummer get together in Berlin and record some raw and lengthy post-jazz workouts in a single day… no, it’s not the beginning of an avantgarde “walked into a bar” joke, it’s the background to “Crumble”. Guitars twang, reverberate and twist over some mostly organic drum sounds and rumbling subbasses and atmospherics. It has a fairly thick echo chamber treatment throughout.

Though relatively short opener “Surfing On Ramen Noodles” kicks off bluntly and at full pelt, things calm down by several notches when we reach “Unspoken”, a relatively sparse bit of guitar plucking over some ambient noises that are hard to place, and which seem willing to take it in turns to arrive, never really getting busy or over-layered. It gets progressively even more spacious, very barren by halfway through that 14 minute piece.

“Industry City” turns back into more chaotic territory, with glitchier cuts and miniscule white noise stabs forming something that’s almost relentlessly cacophonous. Final piece “This Against That” has a more stop-start attitude, bringing forth electronic tapestop-style effects into more distinct peaks and troughs, with an attitude that just begins to border on relaxed and funky, in relative terms. A final drop into much softer, occasional playing gives us a soft landing at the end.

A fairy hard-to-pigeonhole release with elements prog rock, avantgarde jazz, and electronica, “Crumble” is one of those instrumental works that can properly be described as a journey- a weird and at times slightly difficult one, but certainly an interesting trip.
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Artist: Orchard
Title: Serendipity
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Ici d’ailleurs
Orchard are the experimental, avantgarde equivalent of a manufactured boy band. Stéphane Grégoire arranged to bring together four musicians who didn’t know each other either personally or professionally, given the theme of ‘the orchard’, and left in a room to improvise. And yet the result is a piece of confident, assured, leisurely, mellow instrumental soundscaping that sounds like it’s been generated either by one mind or by performers who’ve been working together for many years.

Rich, slow string notes meander gently. Soft drum patterns drift in and out of audibility. Gentle and organic grooves with an unfamiliar quietness form and then disperse almost absent-mindedly. A clarinet toys with melodic ideas, repeating short note patterns then abandoning them, sometimes working alongside the drums and forming something faintly Eastern-sounding. The third track introduces an approach that then gentle infuses the rest of the work- an electronic processing and re-processing openness which sprinkles extra details onto the performance. With some short echoing samples there’s just a very subtle hint of early 1990’s ambient chillout flavour, as though it’s a natural progression from that to this ‘properly’ instrumented work two and a half decades later.

After the especially mellow four-part piece “A Day Staring At Eternity”, second work “Drawn With The Wind”, again in four parts, has a more cinematic and tension feeling to it, thanks predominantly to the rumbling drums towards the start, and the more electronic-sounding slow kicks towards the end. If this is a musical representation of an orchard, then somewhere outside the orchard is a distant threat, it seems.

Third piece “After All The Sun Is Awakening” is a single-part 21-minute work which starts with shades of trip-hop before broadening out into an expansive and open landscape. This isn’t so much an orchard as an invocation of the Great Plains of the US, largely barren yet beautiful.

The album is wrapped up by two shorter pieces, “Fructification” which is a simple and laidback jazzy groove that deteriorates into some kind of rabid bird attack, and “We Host You” which is a gently pulsing affair of string and soft bass with a calming clockwork feel that wraps up proceedings warmly.

It’s hard to believe from “Serendipity” that the performers had only just met. The level of accomplished and assured performance in this smooth work is exemplary, and it really stands out as one of the highest quality downtempo listening experiences I’ve encountered recently.
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Artist: Monty Adkins
Title: Shadows And Reflections
Format: Tape
Label: Cronica
“Shadows And Reflections” aims for ‘a sense of meditation, contemplation and relaxation’ as it develops sonic ideas originally created for an audiovisual exhibit at Bradford Cathedral in 2016 that drew inspiration from the restored altarpiece and stained glass windows of the cathedral. Designed for the cassette format, it’s two twenty-minute pieces of warm, comforting, eventless drone soundscape with a decidedly ‘empty church’ feel.

This is simple, floating ambience that can’t help but induce a sense of steady calm. The evolution of the tones is imperceptibly glacial. The second piece “Sounds Of The Sun” has an ever so slightly more tubular, metallic resonance to it, but I may only think that because my brain started to adapt to the noise level as its new normal.

Thankfully it’s available digitally too, as the often soft and subtle soundscape can’t really benefit from tape hiss- it’s a very purist bit of soundscaping that’s pleasantly soporific and attention-avoiding.
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