Music Reviews



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Artist: Yann Novak + Fabio Perletta (@)
Title: Liminality
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Dragon's Eye Recordings/Farmacia901 (@)
Rated: *****
The aesthaetics of Yann Novak, mainly based on the transformation of field recordings into immersive ambient drones, got applied to a series of sonic stuff that young Italian sound artist Fabio Perletta grabbed at Pere Lachaise cemetery, Paris on April 19th, 2013 for this entrancing 45-minutes lasting suite. Its title refers to the anthropological concept of liminality, the transitional moment when someone taking part to a ritual experiences the "rendering" of the cathartic effect, the in-between state of mind before the ritual itself and its ultimate achievement, when the connections between thoughts and beliefs of a pre-existing "order" disappear little by little. The breeze - you won't easily understand if it was an environmental element or the final result of the dilation during sound processing -, which blows over the sonic clues of the liminal place like a cemetery could be in fact, is a constant presence of this process and its circular convolution of delays, echoes and gentle saturations sounds like an amorphous soup where sonic connections to reality denatures till the moment when that wind turns into a sort of breathe and the first atomic collisions in the middle of the track begin to dig into the bowels of consciousness. They demonstrate that amorphousness doesn't have to be bereft of true substance.
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Artist: Biosphere/Deathprod
Title: Stator
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
Made under commission of Oslo-based mini festival Tape To Zero with the support by Arts Council Norway, this release pools the sonic exploration by two Norwegian kings of ambient music. Geir Jenssen, better known as Biosphere (the most recent trace on our zine has been left by his self-signed release "Stromboli", an awesome release that he made from a series of field recordings taken nearby the hot edges of the notorious Sicilian active volcano), is a pioneering veteran of 90ies crosses between ambient music, electronica and proto-house, whose distinguishable aesthetics that spurted out of references to arctic landscapes and Russian space crafts reached out to many contemporary music lovers. He doesn't really need introduction, as a matter of fact, while Deathprod, the musical id by Norwegian producer Helge Sten, is maybe less known, even if he's the man behind the curtains of many releases on Rune Grammofon and already co-signed a tribute album to Arne Nordheim (1999), the Norwegian composer whose music was so intimately related to space exploration that astroners named the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in his honor. The first inocoluted three awesome tracks, where he ignites this sonic journey by pensive micro-ambient sequences of light propulsions and suspensions, borrows the name of the unit for symbol or modulation rate in telecommunication, the baud, for the amazing extra-vehicular transmission "Baud" and forged a breathtaking track - "Space Is Fizzy" - in the aisle between synth-driven cosmic ambient and some cliff-hangers of his own "Microgravity". The latter came in on the dimming elongated grandeur of "Shimmer Flicker", liquefies silent particles on "Polychromatic", blows over pulverized symphonies on the beautiful "Disc" and seems to drive an empty vessel between astral bodies on the final "Optical".
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Artist: Mindstrip (@)
Title: Polymere
Format: CD
Label: Echozone (@)
Rated: *****
From Berlin, Germany we have Mindstrip, a trio consisting of Marco Dames - vocals, electronica; Chris Kobilke - Guitar and vocals; Dirk Wisny - electronics, bass. 'Polymere' is their debut album released on the Echozone label, and the pseudo-scientific hype the label provides about the album (polymers being macromolecules composed of many repeating subunits...musical components reorganized within every new song resulting in polymerization, etc., etc,), as well as the strange futuristic CD cover of the band communing at some sort of alien roundtable, don't effectively describe what this is. What it is is more along the lines of romantic adult synthpop, more akin to latter day Depeche Mode and OMD than any kind of experimental futuristic electronic outfit. These guys are tunesmiths (songwriters) first, and electronic musicians second. Not to say the musicianship isn't good; it most certainly is for this style of music. The synth electronics employed are quite effective for the compositions, although not terribly innovative. Kobilke weaves his tasteful guitar throughout the songs, never obtrusively or even boldly. It's more of a soft rock approach that supports rather than dominates. It is also unusual on a debut album to have such an abundance of memorable hooks present as there are on Polymere'. Right from the get-go on "Anybody Out There" there is the heralding of a certain melodic sophistication. This comes
to fore early in "Lose You" where the hook is the first thing you hear. "Beautiful Liar" is a bit more subtle but even more engaging. By the time you get to "By the Way" they've got you hooked, and that hook is as good as it gets in pop music. "Black Swan" is a nice change
of pace with guest vocalist Melanie Ritter in a duet with Marco. (Other guests include Oliver Fulster - cymbalon on a few tracks, and Simone Dames - backing vocals on a few tracks.) Most of the best tracks come early on 'Polymere' though, with not much being as compelling as "By the Way" and "Beautiful Liar". One ballad, "On the Run" misses the mark
completely, in part due to a sophomoric arrangement, and a lack of enthralling melody. The rest of the songs aren't bad, but the album does run out of steam a bit thereafter. Vocally, Marco's voice is a sort of melange between Sopor Aeternus, Human Drama and Wolfsheim, not a bad thing at all, and he certainly succeeds in the emotiveness required for the material. Although Mindstrip is not presenting anything really groundbreaking on 'Polymere', it's a very enjoyable listen that should give them enough cred in the commercial market. I would have liked the band to have come up with a track or two that pumps it up a bit, but perhaps that's not there style. There seems to be a good chance though that the next one could be a killer.
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Artist: Németh
Title: Koi
Format: 12"
Label: Sonotope
Rated: *****
This interesting experiment of derivation and re-morphing of a soundtrack, whose breaking of the initial matching with images is the sparkle of the compositional process, comes from Stefan Nemeth, one of the three brilliant heads behind Radian. The connection with the experimental short movie 'Koi' by Tina Hochkogler aka Tinhoko has not totally dissipated, but Stefan rather tried to re-adapt the soundtrack he forged for a movie, whose introduction ("a rhythmical arrangement of residual thoughts and images of a short moment") could fit the idea behind this sonic tidbit, to the perception and the interpretation of the menmonical traces those images left on its consciousness of the observer/listener. This is the reason why the original soundtrack sounds like somehow cushioned and "uterine". It's like an OST composer has decided to make something for the "follow-up" or even the eureka moments which follows the enjoyment of a work of art in order to keep the enchantment intact! Have a listen of both versions of "Koi" in order to understand Stefan's output.
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Artist: rodach-schlothauer-weiser (@)
Title: Fuzzylogics
Format: CD
Label: Timescraper (@)
Rated: *****
Self-confident people often use their face to intoduce themselves on a picture: a model or a product spokeperson do that for money, politicians show dazzling smiles and fake teeth for their puppet shows, so that I think that it's by far better when a musician puts his face on the cover artwork, particularly when they're remarkably experienced like these three gentlemen. I'd say 1957 was a a good year as they were all born when Lennon and McCartney or Simon and Garfunkel began to co-sign some songs or they would probably prefer to remember those year as the period when Berthold Brecht and his wife Helen Weigel were working at Berliner Ensemble as two of the three musicians of Fuzzyogics - Burkhard Schlothauer (electric violin), one of the founder of minimalistic Wandelweiser composer grup and long-lasting member of Zeitkratzer Ensemble, and Michael Rodach (electirc guitars) - used to play there in 2005. Even though they could fell they've already reached their apex, I won't say they are at the twilight of their artistic paths after the listening of this awesome record. Do not expect something revolutionary or miracolous, but I'm pretty sure that they are aware their way of being revolutionary lays in their absence of aim as they just dive into music, which sounds mind-blowing for its androgynous equidistance from any kind of labelling. More or less distant echoes of classical music, jazz, progressive rock, dub and even blues or country (check the cradling metamorphosis on "Work On!" if you don't belive me) harmoniously clot on pleasant sonic cauldrons, which often smell like de-harnessed reveries or mystical flights ("I have a Dream", "Pulse Streams", "Sirene"), dadaist profiling ("Last Exit") or untiring rituals ("Miles Groams", "Pulse Streams"). Smartly fuzzy!
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