Music Reviews



Mar 05 2014
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Artist: L'Avenir
Title: L'Avenir
Format: Tape
Label: Belaten (@)
Rated: *****
Jason Sloan has many years on his back as an electronic musician and sound artist as well as being a Professor teaching full-time in the Interactive Arts department along with being the founder and program coordinator for the Sound Art concentration at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. L'Avenir is his "synthpop" side project which debut album has been released the last year on the Spanish label Cold Beats Records. Now, he's releasing his second work under that moniker on tape on Belaten. The self named album contains eight new tracks in balance from minimal synth and synthpop. If you want me to make few comparisons, take Martial Canterel and Sleep Museum as references. The album opens with "Aral Sea", an instrumental focused on a simple synth sequence where filters and rhythm are the main element. This one serve to set the atmosphere of the lot, which is in balance from dreamy and cinematic ones. "Fallen Like The Snow II" is an upbeat minimal synth wave song with cold vocals and synth sounds that come and go. All the tracks have in common the fact that melody is something that seems to be an optional element as it is present but the songs aren't "built" to be catchy. It takes time to get with the mood as you have to catch the right wave that carries you away with it. This isn't a bad thing but it couldn't happen as fast as you'd think it would. Jason is good at making a multi layered structure of synth sound and that is the "white rabbit" you have to follow. Anyway, you can check the whole release here http://belaten.bandcamp.com/album/lavenir
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Artist: BJ Nilsen (@)
Title: Eye of the Microphone
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
As you could easily guess from the title, which obviously refers to the notorious Lodon Eye, the giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of Thames River, and the cover artwork, a panoramic snapshot taken from one capsule of that popular structure, the intrusive microphone by imaginative Swedish sound artist Benny Jonas Nilsen lingered on London this time, but if you have already experienced some works by BJ Nilsen, you should know that you cannot expect just a sterilized collection of field recordings. On this occasion, you could imagine that rather than the classical animal comparison to a dead cat from the slang name of the synthetic fur which covers the outer shell in order to reduce wind noise, his beloved stereophonic microphone could have turned into a bird (a lark or sometimes a night owl), which flutter about London to see and listen the jungle of sounds and noises the English capital everlastingly offers. Just after BJ Nilsen received a scholarship from the Leverhulme Trust for a one-year Artist in Residency at the UCL Urban Laboratory in London for having introduced sound as an art practice to urban scholars and students, he begun to grab sounds from the streets and its interiors while wandering during daytime and sometimes night-time, but after the "organization" of all these recordings, you could follow them as the imaginary migration of the above-mentioned bird from the heart of the financial City and Thames banks towards peripheral places outside metropolitan areas, so that whereas the opening track "Londinium" mainly detected the city centre - the record button got pressed after the bells of a church in the Diocese of Westminster started to chime - and the gradual movement towards river waters, whose barrier of algae, mud, sand and brick buildings unveiled an almost archeological mine of sound sources such as pieces of porcelain, broken chairs, bones, bricks and old shoes, the final "Twenty Four Seven" sounds like mirroring the illusory incessant movement of urban life which kept on casting its signals into a natural context that manages to derail the listening experience into a sort of unexpected catharsis. The ability of this sound artist in organizing field recordings till the transducing of astonishing soundscapes sticks into emotional and spellbinding dimensions in the more sinister median track "Coins and Bones", which sounds like validating the fact that field recordings are often not sufficient for a complete representation of a place without the filtering of perception, memories and their processing.
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Artist: Voyager
Title: FAQ/LuvBLoved/Big Picture
Format: 12"
Label: Tempo
Rated: *****
The hearts of many lovers of that embryonic and extremely charming stage of drum'n'bass that LTJ Bukem an his own Good Looking Records epitomized are going to be touched to hear that Pete "Voyager" Parsons, the prolific producer of a number of finest drum'n'bass tunes in the early 90ies such as "Hypersleep" from his fine album "Future Retro" for Belgian label R&S, one of the most played track by Ltj Bukem himself, "Burning Love" together with Dj Rap and the beautiful "Desire" who featured Christina Murphy on mix, has finally come back after Tempo Records picked three of Pete's last workouts, which got mainly inspired by the early death of his father in 2013. Such a sad occurrence in Pete's life emphasizes the emotional intensity which normally marks Voyager's stuff. According to his own words, the opening track "F.A.Q" got inspired by a documentary about the origin of DNA, which normally raises questions which have been reprised by repeated vocal samples - "Who we are", "where do we come from", "Why do we exist" -; the stunning "LuvBLoved" has a particular emotional bond with the above-mentioned experience as it was the first track he composed after his homecoming, which followed months with his dying dad, whose title has been broght from an old Frank Sinatra song which his dad quoted at the end of something he wrote to him when in life ("One of the most important things in life/is to love and to be loved"); the final "Big Picture" is a wonderful melancholic hymn, which closes a release whose underlying sob story will pleasantly tickle the aural memory of many dnb followers.
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Artist: Heterotic
Title: Rain EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Planet Mu (@)
Rated: *****
You could surmise that this lovely tidbit from the hermaphrodite and somehow aphrodisiac Heterotic, the project Heterotic by Mike Paradinas and his partner-in-life and partner-in-art Lara Rix-Martin, is a way to rekindle the romance, which got wisely instilled by their beautiful album "Love and Devotion". Mauybe it's so or maybe not. Even if the single "Rain" lets listener wander more or less on the same kind of romance by means of fluffy retro-synths, well-cushioned brightness and daydreaming vocals by French vocalist Matthieu Le Berre aka Vezelay, this release precedes the already announced forthcoming album from this whimsical couple, so that the floating housey synth-pop of "Problemo" - that kind of track that could be voluptuousness danced together with your partner where any red-hot movement is just a sort of wingbeat towards heavenly dimensions - and the inspiring combination of more muscolar robotic steps and heady pads on "The Tripods" could be an appetizer of what they are going to deliver, but their love-driven flair is so fertile that Heterotic could even go beyond any predictable expectations, which could ensue from the listening of this mellow EP. An instrumental version of "Rain" has been included as well, so that you could maybe have a shot at singing it to your partner and fixing the spat which could have followed your wrong choice of St.Valentine's gift!
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Artist: wndfrm
Title: c60 / tmkutekt
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
Ian Hawgood recently pop many interesting records that we're going to speak about for the pleasure of lovers of deep listening experiences on his small, but really active Japanese label Home Normal. this one comes from Portland sound artist Tim Wescott, mostly known under the guise of Cloudburst, whose first record as wndfrm - created by means of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts - is a laudable assay of sound processing of a pile of field recordings he mainly grabbed during a visit in the lovely Montreal, Canada, in the early summer of 2011. The first 37-minutes lasting track "c60" could meet requirements of this branch of sound art by itself: the title supposedly refers to the formula of so-called buckminsterfullurene or bucky-balls, the smallest fullurene molecole, whose name is a tribute to American futirist Buckminster Fuller, the architect who made its spherical cage-like carbon-based structure inadvertently popular by its resemblance with the geodesic domes he used to design. One of the most famouse dome by Fuller is the Montreal Biosphere in Parc Jean-Drapeau on Ile Sainte-Helene, which surrounds the Biosphere Museum of the Environment, a laudable educational museum where visitors could learn differnet ecological subjects by entertaining themselves. The first 17 minutes of the above-mentioned tracks are close to the threshold of silence where the mantle of ethereal and airy noises, which could come from fans or engines in slow motion got just puckered some thundering low frequencies, before some childish yakety-yak ushers in a drone-like sequence of different noises. This first whirlpool of "artificial" noises seems to mimic human activity and its delicate and almost mystical balance with surrounding environment, which got even more highlighted on the second track of this release "tmkutekt", whose ethereal consistency as well as some bizarre esoteric details (such as the sudden "extrusion" of words like "escape" or "risky" in the initial cloud of the people talking, which got supposedly grabbed in a train station as the following noises could let you surmise) could be similar to some cerebral experiments from Boards Of Canada, Tear Ceremony or Stars Of The Lid and other possible sonic stripes for the idealistic soundtrack of an hopefully upcoming evolutionary step of human progress.
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