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Artist: Psychosomatik (@)
Title: State of Oppression
Format: CDS (CD Single)
Label: PSK Records
Rated: *****
'State of Oppression' is the 2nd album released by French industrial duo 'PSYCHOSOMATIK', this release comes after an 11 year hiatus from music following their debut album released in 2003.The album presents us with a well crafted dark, industrial sound, mainly eerie in nature but sometimes evolving into more groovy, catchy rhythms that you could almost dance too like on 'No Time To Lose (Negociation of Peace)' Most synth rhythms on this album are undeniably catchy, and it is quite easy to see from the get go that this is their forte, as track after track the duo present us with infectious synth laden pieces. Drums are usually frantic, hard hitting and heavily distorted, sometimes a little bit simple but they consistently create a high tempo, pulsating beat that complements the synths and vocals brilliantly. Vocals are almost ghost like, sounding like a cold winter wind blew them straight to your ears. In some ways it can be said that the vocals complement the songs, however after sometime and notably in some of the more hard hitting songs, there becomes an apparent lack of substance and variation in the vocal department, the vocals sound almost too weak and are sometimes overpowered by the music behind them, which means PSYCHOMATIK are missing out on adding a much more powerful dimension to their music. They've shown that they're very proficient in eerie industrial but fail to deliver when they attempt to go for a more powerful, hard hitting approach. Lyrically, the end product is relatively solid, far from exceptional but equally as far from awful. Additionally, the band decided to include two remixes of 'No Time To Lose' the first of which being more dubstep in nature with the second following a similar style as to that used by PSYCHOMATIK. I quite liked the first remix and I really felt it added a whole other dimension to the album. The second didn't really add much to the overall album, instead it just felt like another repeat of 'No Time To Lose'. My favourite track on the album would have to be 'No Time To Lose (Negociation of Peace)' due to the impressive, eerie atmosphere created, catchy vocals and infections, dance worthy synths. State of Oppression is out now and is well worth checking out.
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Artist: Susanna Gartmayer (@)
Title: AOUIE - Solos for Bass Clarinet
Format: 10"
Label: God Records/Chmafu Nocords (@)
Rated: *****
The very first seconds of this release by bass clarinet player Susanna Gartmayer could surmise the incendiary tonal whirls by Colin Stetson and seem to follow that compositional path, but the astonishingly adventurous route that the brilliant Austrian musician explore pushes his instrument beyond the above-mentioned matching. The remarkable variagated range of transitions results from different places where it was performed and recorded (a museum, a theatre bar, a church, an electronic music club, a shop and so on), different playing positions of the performer, different playing direction, different audiences as well as different formations of mouth cavity - each track has been titled by corresponding vowels -, so that rooms together with bass clarinet and every side noise such as the breath, the tapping of the keys and the clanging of the instrument can be considered as reagents of the composition. The opening swirling of "AE" sounds like withdrawing into itself before the final eruption, the faint tonal filaments of "U" and "UE" move towards unforeseen directions, the buzz which opens the final "A" gets more and more incandescent, the austerely solemn mumble of bass clarinet of the central "E" (recorded in St.Ruprechts Church, Vienna) occasionally as well as the sly sneaking of "I" show tonal abrasions before their final dissipation, while the more vibrant movements of "O" is the icing on the cake of this multidimensional journey into bass clarinet sound.
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Artist: Fabio Battistetti (@)
Title: Into the Wood
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
A wood-driven record is maybe something that could bring an echologist or an enthusiastic fan of Thoreau's "Walden" to secrete resin for pleasure, but this environ/mentalist output by Italian sound artist Fabio Battistetti aka Eniac, coming out from a series of live performances (Lugano, Mondovi', Turin, Embrun and Chamois) that he made together with Andrea "ics" Ferraris and Andrea "Lotzio" Carlotto inside a wooden cube designed by Catherine Chanoux, which got amplified by microphones and then digitally adapted, is primarily an amazing listening experience. The above-described cube is the framework where Battistetti manipulates a series of plywood boards, branches and tree bark after fixing them to the wall of his wooden nest by means of elastics and shelves. The electric strands of "Buttonwood", the opening track, sounds like a tuning stage as if the artist is transplanting a device in the eardrums of the listener to grab sounds from his wooden objects, while the first tree that borrows sounds to Battistetti is "Castanea Sativa" (scientific denomination of the sweet chestnut). After the popping "Duramen", which sounds like the rendering of the intense activity of a squadron of anry woodboring beetles, the author sounds like extracting the most "spiritual" side of his sonic outputs on the following tracks: "Larix Decidua" sounds like an ode to European larch and its notorious resistence to very low temperatures due to the the falling of all leaves, a process which seems to have been rendered by the sounds of the following "Leaves Fall", a kind of slo-mo dub, that perfectly bonds with the hollow logs that could come to listener's mind while listening the spacey "On a Branch". The chippings and the echoed chimes of "Taxodloceae" and "Waldeinsamkeit" (a German word which can be translated as the feeling of being alone in the woods!) leaves listened on a high note.
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Artist: Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson
Title: So Long
Format: CD
Label: Helen Scarsdale Agency (@)
Rated: *****
Even if this release required many years to see its birth (it was recorded and mixed between 2008 and 2013 according to the somehow cryptic linear notes), I could surmise that its author could have been inspired by an unexpected delay of a journey, as I could infer from the titles ("Eight Hour Delay", "The Trip" and "Late Night Arrival") of the very long-lasting droning suites of "So Long". I can testify that many marriages, divorces, mental diseases, redundancies and more or less favourable things behind schedule have been caused by that Icelandic volcano which blocked air traffic in 2010, so that I wouldn't be too surprised if a sound artist like the brilliant Icelandic producer Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson - former member of the experimental band Stilluppsteypa - conceived an album after such an experience. I might get surprised, at most, by the final result as well as by the fact that these impressive dronescapes saw the light so late as it seems that the initial release on Intransitive Recordings got cancelled after the label checked out. Fortunately, The Helen Scarsdale Agency promptly dredged it up after Sigmarsson released a scaled-down version on the artwork/cassette "If You Have Any Questions, Let Me Ask". In spite of the pile of different emotional sonic purges and sudden spurious emissions, the moments of the opening "Eight Hour Delay" got perfectly bound together in a way that turned the final amalgam into a really hallucinatory syrup, while the central suite "The Trip", which features processed guitars by Argentinian experimental musician Anla Courtis and organs by Sigmarsson's partner-in-art Helgi Thorsson and BJ Nilsen, goes significantly less smoothly before the fourteen nocturnal minutes of the final "Late Night Arrival". Everything sounds like filtered by temporary numbness, dizziness and migraines and my description could be much more long-winded in order to pay tribute to its length, but I can assure that lovers of crypto-minimalist aesthetics are going to appreciate it.
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Artist: Birdcage
Title: Shogyomujo
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Shabu Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
Unlike most progressive techno producers, who are mainly digging into anxious or frightening emotional and spiritual territories in order to drain some inspiration, Sapporo-based Birdcage taps into "The Tales of the Heike" (13th century), the oldest known novel of unknown autorship. In particular, he tried to turn the concept of "Shogyo Mujo" (a Buddhist term which could be translated as "impermanence") into sound, an idea which was going to become a topical aspect of Japanese culture and got developed on the final part of the story of samurai Heike family. It sounds evoked by the gentle hovering of sonic elements after five minutes of bass-driven pressure - the genuine and proper stoic element of this release - on the initial "Shorea Robusta", a sort of hybrid between progressive techno and Gamelan music, as well as by the electronic whispers by which Birdcage gilds the wiggling jelly of "Atma"'s slightly distorted hypnotic basslines and the mid-tempo break of the granular techno tune "OP-88 Transience", whose unstable balance bites the dust after more and more anxiously chaotic swirls. The three reximes that got included in the release are more dancefloor-oriented so that the elements of "Shorea Robusta" got spin-dried on the stunning tribal blurs of "Alternate Version" and get closer to psychedelic trance bangers on the remix by Jesse 'Borealis' Somfay, while Scott 'Avus' Edwards, another esquire from Sharu stable, remove the nostalgic peel from the original version of "Atma" in order to highlight the dynamic and Acid-driven (I'm referring to the notorious music software) nature of the track on his remix.
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