Music Reviews



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Artist: Mothers of the Third Reich
Title: Butterfly
Format: Tape
Label: Ambient-Noise Session (@)
Rated: *****
Mothers of the Third Reich are the duo of Johannah Henderson and Jason Williams playing guitar, sax and drums. They play a sort of jazz noise improvisation in the vague spirit of the weirdest path of krautrock (think about Floh de Cologne or Amon Dull) rather than the classic path of English improv scene (as AMM or the Incus circle) that created a decodable form.
An old recording sample introduce the listener to 'In Alive and out' a track where quieter and noisier moments follows without any discernible plan. 'Liminal defusion' is a long dialogue between instruments until screams above some samples introduce the listener to 'Better to sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunk christian' that seems almost a distorted version of a pop songs in the first part until a silence marks the second part of the track that is more meditative and psychedelic. 'Pet Snake Soup' starts quietly and is constructed upon a guitar feedback upon and arhythmic beat. 'Roman light' instead is a weird concert for electronic noise and noise generated with instruments. A silence and sparse word opens 'Schmetterling' a track that evolve, with his sax, in a jazz improvisation and close this release leaving the listener with an hat full of questions.
Even if it's enjoyable, this is one of the more demanding release of the year so it's not for everyone for the fans of improvisation trying to follow the new path of this musical journey.
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Artist: CMKK
Title: Gau
Format: CD
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
Gau (or Gauw) is a small rural village in Friesland, Netherlands, where Will Long aka Celer and Dutch musicians Machinefabriek together with Jan and Romke Kleefstra met in spring 2012 on the occasion of a tour between Netherlands and Belgium together with Anne-Chris Bakker and video artist Marco Douma. The thunder which opens this recording could let you guess it was a rainy day and the electricity in the surrounding air, which almost compelled this quartet within a recording studio where they recorded a four hours lasting session, which became the raw material for this 47-minutes extract that Polish label Monotype consecrated on the altar of avid eardrums of its followers. The immersive listening experience CMKK (the initials of their authors) spilled out sounds like a sonic painting of the surrounding landscape where over-stretched tones, which wavers between dullness, blissful isolation and ascetic estrangement, could somehow mirror the landscape, which got "interrupted" by field recordings, grazed strings, external interferences and occasional poetic secretion by Jan Kleefstra (unfortunately I don't understand Frisian, so that they sound as shrouded in mistery to me...), who towers above gusts of winds, plastic peeps, atonal frequencies, smidgens of sub-tonal mists, distant chirping birds, padded rotors, growing dissonances, which gradually abate and deaden till the moment when the absorption of the ego by surronding space or maybe by Celer's ambient dilutions, which preponderate over other sonic inputs, seems to have been accomplished over the final lulling guitar plunks... thrill-seeking stuff!
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Artist: Mikael Lind (@)
Title: Unsettled Beings
Format: CD
Label: Time Released Sound (@)
Rated: *****
The avalanche of releases, that ordinarily got downloaded on my hard disk or delivered by that burdened postman who serves my area, was on the edge of burying this dainty release by Swedish musician Mikael Lind, who accidentally grouped a number of expat musicians - Paul Evans from Greenhouse Studios who added the enchanting mantles of violin and mixed the whole album, Ryan Karazija (member of Iceland-based band Low Roar), who lent his mellifluous voice to four tracks, and Alex Somers (from Riceboy Sleeps), who already produced a number of important musical acts in that enchanted land - in Iceland, where he used to live before moving to Edinburgh. They managed to highlight the fascination of that place, where elemental forces seem to have met together for a date, in that dreamy way that an external fascinated observer can often express: childplay-like immaculate piano melodies got often blanketed by violin, which sometimes showered each song with harmonic fluctuations, evocative elfin vocals and crystal-clear percussions, which sometimes unexpectedly culminates by means of sonic turgid puffiness ("Refuge Of The Rats", "Old Tales OF Folly"), engaging rhythmical cracks ("Choleric Witch Doctor", which almost sounds like an icy tango, or the melodic intermittences of "Mumblings of a Soothsayer") and fragile sonic wavelet ("The Hermit's Fly Trap", "There Are More Things"). The spiritual bond with Iceland has been mirrored by the artwork of the release (or at least of its deluxe edition), which includes a 10 pages book of photographs bound in an antique book cover, whose "unsettled beings" characters have been drawn by wekk known Icelandic ilustrator Sigga Bjorg Sigurdardottir - he recently drew all the interior artwork for the new Sigur Ros release - and one page has been fingerprinted with ash from the volcano Hekla. Moreover the deluxe edition there's an original polaroid print by Mikael taken in Iceland, a translucent envelope with dried Icelandic leaves and flowers), antique Icelandic stamps and a small strung hourglass vial full of Icelandic poppy seeds.
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Artist: Tetuzi Akiyama/Tom Carter/Christian Kiefer
Title: The Darkened Mirror
Format: 12"
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
The fresh-baked vinyls by Polish label Monotype are going to delight the eardrums of acoustic purists as well by means of this intriguing release by three virtuosos of guitar, whose heterogeneous artistic routes and different training path spring into a stylistical miscellany which shines through a form with no fripperies or gewgaws, whose conceptual framework seems to focus on psychomanteum or catoptromancy as well as spectrophobia as some references, which are often connected to folklore legends ("Bloody Mary", "The Duendes"), old tales and popular culture, such as the urban legend of vanishing hitchhikers on the same titled track, and literature (for instance the possible references to David Drake's "The Sea Hag") , let imagine. This musical threesome comprises of Japanese guitar. viola, electronics and self-made instrument player Tetuzi Akiyama, whose strong background within improvisation and classical music fields sometimes oddly contaminates his bizarre declension of blues, Texas-based master of psychedelic folk Tom Carter, mostly known as one of the founding member of avant garde group Charalambides, which endures thanks to the support of his former wife Christina Carter, and Christian Kiefer, whose studies of the American West as a native with a critical thinking and the retelling of the Western myth have an influence on his music, resurfacing here and there over the album and particularly on tracks like "Express Train To Hell". The framework justifies the building of thin and sometimes vanishing melodic trestles, where in spite of the lack of fast-finger tapping, which many lovers of guitar consider as the main proof of talent on the instrument, a certain stylistical heterogeneousness got attractively grafted into those cozy atmospheres that a wrinkled old sailor and talnted story-teller could evoke while sipping a whisky and having a drag of a wet cigarette.
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Artist: Arturas Bumšteinas (@)
Title: Meubles
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Crónica (@)
Rated: *****
Although it's quite rare that each instrument of Works'n'Days, a nice international ensemble of many improvisers - covering a wide range of instruments such as guitars, violins, saxophones, electric organs, flute, piano, cello, percussions and sampler -, which has been grouped together by young and inventive Lithuanian composer Arturas Bumsteinas, manages to conclude a musical phrase by itself before another musical voice bursts on the scene, they chorally succeeds in evoking hearth and home as if the whole furnishings and househols effects got turned into a resounding orchestra by some sorcery. Named after the didactic poem by ancient Greek poet Hesiod in the form of a farmer's almanac, which is probably better known for some notorious stories about human condition such as the ones of Pandora and Prometheus, this debut release, which seems to quote Erik Satie's furniture music (musique d'ameublement), tracks an original domestic arrangement down for a genre like improvisational music that some listeners erroneously keep on consider as an snobbishly intellectual enjoyment. Unlike Satie's furniture music, as we cited it, or similar more or less theoretical models, the lukeworm long-lasting three suites of "Meubles" cannot be filed under background music as some instruments find the way to stand it out by sudden rashes or by pleasant phrases (or paraphrases) and this aspect is clear both in the initial "Hszcz", where the parts of each instrument are more fragmentary, and in the following "Llull" and the alluring "David", where some motifs sounds more vaguely agglutinating. You can try this at home!
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