Music Reviews



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Artist: Vincent Glanzmann (@)
Title: Z/Rzw-Shiiiiiii
Format: 3 x CD (triple CD)
Label: Through States of Matter (@)
Rated: *****
Between the last winter and springtime, a new discographic label blossomed in cold Switzerland, the experimental label Through States of Matter, whose founder Tobias Meier decided to start its catalog up by the signature of Vincent Glanzmann. I met the name and the sound of this Tokyo-born Zurich-based drummer, whose bizarre and playful ways of forging unconventional sonorities brought him to collaborate in various different stylistic areas of Swiss scene (particularly improv, pop, and jazz), on the collaborative project This Difficult Tree (pushed by Wide Ear Records). Vincent's skills in forging new sonic languages and intriguing sound-set often focused on likewise unconventional conceptual frameworks, got confirmed on the first brick by this label. The first of the three suites (each of them has been recorded on a single CD of this box-set), titled "Z", is the longest one (lasting more than 17 minutes), and got inspired by a large subject of cognitive sciences, the so-called "cyclic thought processes" and their relation to mental growth; Vincent's handling of the topic, developed through fixed compositional tools and a wisely built musical matrix, is an amazing evolution (or involution), alternating cycles of many different rinsing of abstract rubbing on drum surfaces and granulated mingling on one side and lovely phases of intimate attenuations in the twinkling matrix of music box-like matrix. The nine minutes of "Rzw-Shiiiiiii" is an entrancing tonal puzzle, whose building blocks are single tone vocals (and vowels...mostly 'o' and 'a') and modulated in different ways, addressing "the differentiation between 'soul' and 'spirit'", and exploring "the question of how these two aspects of the human being might be purposefully conveyed through the voice", according to the attached introductory words (...and I'd add that it could resemble some 'classic' experiments on voice by some master of GRM). The last piece "---thehidden" (conceived as a tribute to Iannis Xenakis' "Concrete PH") is an experiment on sound compression, as Vincent packed sounds made through percussions, oral noises, a mini-amp feedback and a couple of violin bows into a very narrow interval of high-frequency ranges.
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Artist: Darkrad
Title: Heart Murmur
Format: CD
Label: Audiophob (@)
Rated: *****
Darkrad is a project of Jana Komaritsa, this project seems to have several previous releases which, I am sad to admit, were unfamiliar to me. I am familiar with some of the long form collaboration releases on Cryo Chamber (Azathoth, Nyarlathotep & Yog-Sothoth) which Jana has contributed material to and can say those should not be missed. I was also very excited to see this projects debut was on Cold Meat Industry which also brings a lot of promise.

This album which is titled Heart Murmur is an excellent unsettling but beautiful journey into synthesized ambient music. The occasional vocals are also a welcome addition that add an ominous layer to the music, we do not often get very many female fronted projects in this style but I would say Jana sticks out among all of her peers no matter who is approaching this genre.

This is a project I will be seeking out more from in the future. The main album is great. The bonus tracks which are pieces from other albums, as well as the remixes from Flint Glass & Mortaja do not disappoint either.
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Artist: Hélène Breschand & Elliott Sharp (@)
Title: Chansons du Crépuscule
Format: CD
Label: Public Eyesore (@)
Rated: *****
I am most familiar with Elliott Sharp from some of his collabs and releases with Tzadik artists which is very promising for my ears. I have not previously heard Helene Breschand.

This CD covers a lot of genres but is sure to please anyone into experimental music and perhaps anyone just looking for something slightly off the normal jazz paths. The vocals from Helene are in French and range from Trip-Hop to chants or even spoken word. Sharp does contribute vocals on two tracks “Le Langue Dans Ma Bouche” and “The Cuckoo” which is a cover of the Ramblin Jack Elliott song. The instrumentals primarily from Elliott are slow and chill at times extremely minimal, quite relaxing through most of the album.

This is not something I usually would have picked up on my own but I am super happy I took the time to check it out and it is a very enjoyable album by two very accomplished artists.
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Artist: Xavier Charles / Jacques Di Donato
Title: Ilex
Format: CD + Download
Label: Protagoniste
Long-standing collaborators Charles and Di Donato are both clarinetists, and their edgy, breathy staccato improvisations are the core of this 14-track work- calls-and-responses, actions-reactions, subtle stereo offsetting, rhythms and counter-rhythms mean that at its heart, this is a fairly regular (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) avantgarde jazz clarinet duo.

But Charlies’s instrumentation is credited as “clarinet, helicopter” and Di Donato’s as “clarinet, lawn mower” and that’s an indicator that sonically, it’s just a little bit more broad than that. On tracks like “Acer”, soft motorised purring cuts in and out under plucky percussive sounds. As well as getting unconventional sounds out of clarinet structures, there’s delicate use of other noises, often more as additional decoration than as any alternate centrepiece.

“Acacia” imitates the pneumatic sound of light industry as an interesting exercise in sound design drawn from limited sonic sources, and longer pieces like “Multi-Tond” open up emptier, dronier spaces.

I’m a sucker for the beautiful sound of a clarinet played with purity and melancholy and this release satisfies in that regard too, with pieces like the title track allowing the instrument’s natural tone to shine.

It’s a very pleasant 51-minute set, relaxing on a superficial level and with enough detail and expression to withstand a more scrutinous listen as well. A prime example of its kind.
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Artist: Steve Hauschildt
Title: Dissolvi
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Ghostly International
Steve Hauschildt packs a variety of moods and tones into a short album of plaintive synth-electronica and home-listening soft techno. Although it’s described in terms of alienation, solipsism and anxiety, for the most part it’s rather comforting- but an undercurrent of disquiet rumbles at times.

Warm pads infuse tracks like “Phantox” with a mellow layer that feels smooth and relaxing, and Julanna Barwick’s soft refrains on “Saccade” have shades of later-era Delerium. Longest track “Alienself” ticks along with sounds that feel at times a throwback to early 90’s trance (not to be confused with late 90’s trance).

Slightly less cosy layouts come from tracks like the counter-rhythms of “Aroid”, a hybrid of gentle electronica and a maths challenge that proves difficult to track and which fades away as though it was only an experiment. The title track, which closes the album, is more broadly cinematic and a crisp tops-heavy breakbeat pattern gives it an extra sense of urgency that unknits some of the soporific effect of the tracks that precede it.

It’s a plush bit of electronica work with rich atmospheres. It doesn’t particularly stand out in the electronica crowd but if you can’t get enough intricate instrumental soft electronica, you’ll enjoy this.
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