Music Reviews



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Artist: Skinnerbox (@)
Title: Love Songs For The Broken Hearted Arpeggiator
Format: 12"
Label: Treat Your DJ Right (@)
Rated: *****
Followers of vibrant Berlin techno scene maybe matched the name of Skinnerbox, the brainchild born from the musical partnership of Olaf Hilgenfeld and Iftah Gabbai, to BPitch Control, the notorious techno imprint by Ellen Allien, as they took part to a number of parties with other members of the fierce team of djs and producers that gathered around Allien's court time by time. They recently joined Treat Your Dj Right, the Berlin-based label which launched Cavaan, the collaborative project by Stephan Lieb and Clemente Lequio, by means of this nice release which traces the soul in torment of an arpeggiator as the title jokingly suggests! The broken heart of Skinnerbox's Arp begins to chew a bleeping moog sequence, a soft tech groove and Moroder-like nuances on the opening "The Tubular Arp" before getting frizzed on the amazing tunes of "For Francis", which could surmise the "squared" dynamics of the glorious Korg PolySix, and "The Snowflake Arp", whose style gets closer to the acidulous variations of Chicago house sonorities that seem to soak many releases of this label. The digital version of the release includes a bonus track, "Prelude To The Asthmatic Arpeggiator", which sounds like an encapsulation of the initial bleeping sequences into a bouncy abstract Chicago-house groove.
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Artist: Raison d'etre
Title: Mise en Abyme
Format: CD
Label: Transgredient Records
Raison d'être, the most famous Peter Andersson's project, is back with a new full length album, published by Transgredient Records. I think this is the first full length not published by Cold Meat Industry (RIP). I don't want to be bold, but I think it is the best Raison d'être album so far. 'Mise an Abyme' is not something new in the Raison d'être discography, but it is the perfect mix of three intense experiences (The empty hollow unfolds, Requiem for abandoned souls, and Metamorphyses). The album is a long four-tracks descent into the abyss.
The first track is Abyssos. It starts with a pad embedded in a structure which is a classic Raison d'etre: a descendent melody, rightly reverberated, and a background of industry noises. Then some choirs are added as well as a strange and strident noise (which actually is another pad). Noises and pads keep on growing, capturing the listener into an immense storm of sounds.
The second track is called 'Infernos'. Noises of various sorts (introducing the song) remind me of a structure, like a wrecked bridge, that someone is crushing down. At minute 5, the song seems to stop and a pad enters slowly, with the usual Raison d'etre fade-in giving the perception of sounds coming from nowhere. Then the songs literally explodes with dissonant choirs and a orchestra of noises. Noises forming an actual rhythm (really an orchestra!) is probably Raison d'etre best achievement in 'Metamorphyses' and here it is developed at its best. The song reaches its acme at minute 10 when another pad, with low tones, break the atmosphere and it grows with the noises orchestra for four long minutes.
The third track is 'Katharos' ('pure'). This starts with a bell and a choir - it looks like a sort of 'Slow Ascent' of 2014. Then the choir merges with the usual fantastic pad. There is then a continuous emerging of choirs that then dissolve in pad - it is the expertise of Peter Andersson and the brand of Raison d'être.
The last track is more similar in style to Requiem for Abandoned Souls, in particular for the use of strange oriental choirs which is overlapped with a classic choir old style. The result is remarkable since they seem to form a unique incredible sound. The album then closes with the usual crescendo and a long last minute of fade out.

To sum up, 'Mise an Abyme' is a synthesis of the best works of Raison d'être and, as emphasized at the beginning, I think it is its best album so far. Highly recommended.
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Artist: Schloss Mirabell (@)
Title: Ghosthour Diary
Format: CD
Label: Monotype (@)
Rated: *****
Besides the fact that Salzburg is her native city, I honestly ignore the reason why brilliant musician and former gifted child (she played piano and cello since when she was 6) Florina Speth, who is working on her PHD in neuromusicology by researching possible therapeutic use of robots and sound at the moment, took the name for this musical identity from Mirabell Castle. The cinematic halo of her music, which combines electronic clips, elements from trip hop, techno and electroacoustic as well as a plenty of fine sonic details, made me think about a possible connection with the fact that the elgant gardens of Schloss Mirabell hosted some notorious scene of "The Sound of Music", the notorious musical inspired by the story of Von Trapp family, but its mysterious and somewhat gothic nuances could be linked to the legend according to which the ghost of notorious alchemist and occultist (as well as the founder of toxicology) Paracelsus haunts castle's grounds.The title of the album actually derives from the fact that Florina made this collection of sonic miniatures and longer electronic tracks which could be imagined as broken thoughts/sentences or long winded paragraphs and reflections in the pages of her nocturnal diaries during so-called ghost or witching hours in order to render the mental states before sleeping. The ticking on the recurring medley "Promenade" sounds like the mirroring of the ritual where the perception of diurnal times begins to fade away before the immersion into out-of-time dimensions, which got evoked by each track: my favorite ones are the long-lasting ones as they can better titillate imagination ("Let Them Sleep In Their Hair", "Die Seele mit der Perlenmassage" as well as some sonic pearls like "Little Cygnet" and the final lulling "Feines Sanft"), but there are many charming sonic cameos in the first part of the record that are likewise well-chiselled!
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Artist: Dave Phillips (@)
Title: Homo Animalis
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Schmpfluch Associates
Rated: *****
The first humanimal that peeked out from the listening of the very first moments of this release by Zurich-based artist Dave Phillips, former founding member of brutal grindcore project Fear Of God who gained a certain recognition by lovers of noisy stuff with some meaningful connections by means of a series of underground and strictly limited releases that many people like to label as "extreme", is Jack Arnold's amphibious Creature from Black Lagoon and while keeping on listening, I wondered how Dave managed to render what a person could possibly feel while being eaten by some hungry zombies. The devilish voice which repeats the title of "The Less I Know" introduces the sarcasm behind "Homo Animalis" and the explicated "humanimalism theory" as well as the aesthaetics of this wise sound artist, which seems to explore human degradation or revival of ferocious instincts (it depends from personal viewpoint) in the guise of a probe for visceral detection: according to the interesting explanation which got attached to the release, the first one of Rudolf Eb.er.'s resurrected Schimpfluch, "humanimal theory...is rather a process of de-antropo-centralisation, a connectivity of senses, instincts, emotions, ideas and thoughts that are as personal and subjective as much as they are understood as a part of a larger whole" where "sound is humanimals preferred form of communication" and a way "to activate primordial shared emotions otherwise stifled by civilised experience and restricted by social consensus" that "taps into the essence of existence itself". Other disquieting images as well as an involving thrill can arise to listener's consciousness while keeping on listening: for instance, the sound of slammed doors and the whole sonic atmosphere of "Humanimal B" could let you imagine you've been closed into the same labyrinth where the mythological Athenian hero Theseus met and supposedly killed the Minotaur - with a difference: you are with no Ariadne's ball of wool and no dagger at all! -; the dreadful synth-crescendo of "Rape Culture" could sound like the most excruciating physical torment by Jigsaw Killer; the story told by the sounds of "Novaturient" could look like a POV snuff movie directed by a serial killer whose criminal alter-ego got awoken by the sound of a subway station and the one that got evoked by "Kelelawar B" sounds like the nightmares by a repentant vampire, where "So...What?" could let you think about a possible collages of Japanese or Chinese domestic abuses and the cinematic "Truth Is Invented By Liars" as a possible contemporary revival of the myth of Premetheus (simply genial the insertion of some dialogues taken from "Bad Boy Bubby", one of the first which used binaural microphones to record dialogues). In spite of its amazing amalgam of post-industrial hooks and horror-movie-like sonorities - not so different from some stuff that recently came from Cold Spring I spoke about on this 'zine), the aim of the game is not psyching listeners out as humanimals sound more noble by birth and in spirit as you can guess: "humanimal would like to encourage the global north to "change the dream of the modern world", from one of accumulation and consumption to one that honours and sustains life. humanimal knows there is enough food for every being on this planet if distributed properly. It encourages into paths and processes of one's alimentary choices and habits and a sensible and prudent appliance of these insights"... Humanimals maybe is aware that "nature doesn't need us".
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Artist: Aidan Baker & A-Sun Amissa
Title: Untitled
Format: Tape
Label: Midira Records (@)
Distributor: Midira Records
The sounds on the recently released collaboration between Aidan Baker & A-Sun Amissa were recorded in Denmark and France in the winter of 2012. The limited edition cassette release (by Germany's Midira Records) of these sessions highlights an intriguing side of Aidan Baker's ever-expanding sonic pallet.

The first track, 17.02.2012 DE, begins with ethereal ambiance of an ECM release, featuring quiet cymbal swells, and droning violin. The piece seems poised for release but dies away as the drums recede amidst a sea of peaceful atmosphere. Then it slowly and subtle revives into a subdued groove, supported by a monotone cello-like grind ' although there is no cello on the release so the sound is likely made by one of the three guitars ' and slowly escalating tom-tom pattern.

The second track, 25.02.2012 FR, is again subdued but somewhat more forceful, like the ambient movement of a post-rock suite. Again, a cello grinds out an eerie drone as viola lines sway in and out of the mix. Midway through the piece, a distorted tape loop enters before Baker takes centre stage with well-crafted guitar noise that wafts in and out of the mix.

The soundscapes conjured by Baker and the A-Sun Amissa group hint that since relocating to Europe, Baker has expanded his range to absorb the continental avant-garde, while maintaining the uncompromising spirit of his heavier work with Nadja.
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