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Artist: Mark Cetilia (@)
Title: {Impact +Aftermath}
Format: CD
Label: Estuary (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with Mark Cetilia's work, but he has had a considerable output. He is one of the seemingly many academics who are engaged in experimental music; he received his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2008, and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in computer music and multimedia at Brown University. This disc consists of two long tracks, so let's look at each of them individually. The album kicks off with 'Pulse Shape 22 (Gamma)' which is a slow burn that starts as a quiet rumbling and becomes a deafening wall of noise over the course of a slow crescendo that takes 20 minutes! A whining feedback crescendo ends this piece. If you like noise, this is excellent stuff, and at almost 35 minutes there is plenty of time to sink into the music. The liner notes state that this was recorded live at Third Mind, Granoff Center for the Arts, in Providence, RI. The second track is 'Palinopsia,' which also features a long fade in and consists of a live recording, but it just doesn't have the same heaviness of the previous track. Cicaida-like electronics and a quiet undercurrent of noise reign on this track. Although this is good, and I can understand this as the 'aftermath' part after the 'impact,' musically it would have been a better warm up to the other track. After the intensity of 'Pulse Shape 22 (Gamma),' this one seems a bit flat ' sort of like eating a ghost pepper and then expecting to taste the heat of a common jalapeño. Still, this is good overall and 'Pulse Shape 22 (Gamma)' alone is worth the price of admission. This is limited to 200 copies and nicely packaged. This album weighs in at around 58 minutes.
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Artist: Jason Kahn (@)
Title: Things Fall Apart
Format: CD
Label: Herbal International (@)
Rated: *****
I was not very familiar with Jason Kahn's work, but the liner notes provide considerable background into the project. In case you were wondering, yes, this album was inspired by Chinua Achebe's novel 'Things Fall Apart,' and yes, there was a brief perception that the recording session had fallen apart (noise from a wedding party next door, horse carts clattering outside), but the result is still quite satisfying. The liner notes state that there was minimal processing and no overdubs in these compositions. As such, it makes sense that these tracks would be raw and really stripped down and that is what we have here. The tracks here range from vocal sounds, percussion improvisation, to noisy field recordings. The sound sources attributed to this recording include: 'Drum set, voice, metal objects, radio, mixing board, contact microphones, magnetic coil, speaker, computer, chairs, plastic bags.' Where some field recording projects suffer because of the lack of variety in the compositions, Kahn manages to draw the listener in by combining things in interesting ways. For example, 'We Fall' mixes improvised percussion with quiet singing in a way that seems almost intimate. Several of these tracks use percussion and ambient sounds to good effect, such as 'Wait,' with its vocals and cymbals and 'Mornings,' with field recordings punctuated by drone and percussion. Other tracks use the voice more as an instrument than as a way to convey words, such as 'Night' with long, droning singing reminiscent of Arcanta and 'Calling,' which features long, sustained calls of notes held for a long time, which ends with yells. Overall, this is interesting experimental music and good improvisation. This album weighs in at around 53 minutes.
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Artist: Ice Cream Mission to Mars (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD
Label: Toy Moon Music
Rated: *****
Ice Cream Mission to Mars is the work of Will MacLean, who was previously in Variety Lights. After a few listens, I am still at somewhat of a loss as to how to describe Ice Cream Mission To Mars. The label describes the album as 'a trip to the roadside attractions of the red planet. Recorded with a collection of vintage analog synthesizers. Synthpop, psych, glitch, ambient.' This is techno, but it's not the kind that you dance to. This is glitchy and jerky with fat analogue synth lines, while at other times this is sparse synth improvisation. Some of this could well be futuristic advertising music because it is in very short chunks of music reminiscent of The Residents' 'Commercial Album.' In fact these compositions share the Residents' whimsical quality. It's a lot of fun and doesn't seem to take itself too seriously. So here's the best I can come up with: imagine that the Residents and Oval were given Front 242's drum machine, all the Moog synthesizers they could ever need, and locked in a studio and forced to collaborate on a new techno concept album about the 1950s space race as they subsisted on a diet consisting only of psychoactive mushrooms. If this sounds good (and it should), pick this one up. This album weighs in at around 24 minutes, which is pretty impressive for a disc with 10 songs that isn't punk or noise.
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Artist: Alogon (@)
Title: Wound
Format: CD
Label: Under (@)
Rated: *****
I have not heard of Alogon, nor Giel Bils or Tim Marsoul, the duo who comprise the group. I looked up the definition of alogon and found that the term was used be Pythagoras and Plato for the irrational soul in man, in contrast to the rational soul (logos). I suppose that this gives some insight into the project, as it mostly consists of noisy drone. 'Diffraction' starts us off with a heavy drone that seems to remain almost static. 'Augment' breaks this reverie with a short burst of high-pitched squeal until 'Aeon' brings back the slightly noisy drone. So far, it has been good, but nothing to write home about, but 'Flower' is where it starts to get interesting. Shifting drone that unfolds nicely with different undercurrents coming to the fore, only to submerge again and be replaced by another undercurrent. 'Construct' gets noisy on us with some static and clicks that abruptly becomes drone reminiscent of 'Diffusion' and then switches gears into repetitive high pitched noise. This is more like three different tracks sutured together. The next few tracks go back to drone, but none of them seem to go anywhere before shifting back into high-pitched staccato noise with 'Fews.' 'Stream' begins with very low volume drone, but at 11 minutes it has some time to evolve. It still moves slowly, but not quite as static as 'Void' or 'Diffraction.' Finally 'Dismall' finishes up with some good, crunchy noise ' short, but sweet. Overall, this is a decent entry by this duo; nothing here really blew me away, but I'll be interested to see how this project evolves. This is limited to 25 copies, so if this sounds interesting, you'll want to act quickly. This album weighs in at around 39 minutes.
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Artist: Benoit Pioulard (@)
Title: Hymnal Remixes
Format: 2 x CD (double CD)
Label: Lost Tribe Sound (@)
Rated: *****
Remix albums are often a mixed bag. The quality is determinate largely based on the material that is being remixed and the skill of the remixer. I have not heard much from Benoit Pioulard, nor have I heard the original material from the album Hymnal, so I have no real point of comparison. According to his biography, Benoit Pioulard, also known as Thomas Meluch, 'has been fascinated by natural sounds and the textures of decay. He began playing piano before his feet could reach the pedals, and for more than a decade has sought to create a unique sonic environment by combining remnants of pop song structures with the lushness and unpredictability of field recordings.' Sounds like a good start, so let's see what the remixers have done to this. This album consists of two discs, the first being the more mellow of the two and the second being the more experimental tracks.

Fieldhead opens the first disc with a rendition of 'Mercy' that consists mainly of peaceful ambience. Most of this disc takes a similar approach, such as Field Rotation's remix of 'Censer,' which is reminiscent of Orb. There are some exceptions though. William Ryan Fritch's remix of 'Margin' is one of the more experimental numbers on this disc, with Weird warbling vocals over syncopated strings and a beat that suddenly kicks in with a strange sense of urgency. The Green Kingdom Remix of 'Litiya' is reminiscent of 1990's shoegazer music, with lightly reverbed guitar and calm vocals. Zachary Gray's remix of 'Margin' is nice and catchy, but didn't really seem to fit with the rest of the disc with its almost poppy guitar and song structure. The Graveyard Tapes remix of 'Foxtail' closes out the disc with slow thudding drums and distorted soundscapes that contrast with vocals that are only slightly chorused.

We put in the disc and The Remote Viewer remix of 'Hawkeye' lets us know that we are going a bit more experimental than the previous disc. Nothing too out there, but this is not quite the mellow listening that we had earlier. Many of the tracks, such as those by Segue, Widesky, and Loscil lay down heavy, shimmering drone with varying degrees of noise hiding beneath the surface. Once again, there are some exceptions to this formula. Radere's version of 'Foxtail' is one of the standout tracks on this album, with a beautiful wall of drone that completely opposes the mellowness of the previous tracks. James Murray's rendition of 'Gospel' is a contemplative, instrumental track that sounds almost like soundtrack work. Benoit Honore Pioulard provides an interesting retake of 'Reliquary,' with dissonant ambient compositions that never really get noisy ' just sort of grating, which seems at odds with the lulling, peaceful rhythm of the music.

I'm not sure if this would be a good introduction to Benoit Pioulard's work, as all of these are remixes, but I found them to be strangely coherent for a compilation of this kind, a coherence that goes beyond the source material. As such, it sounds more like a unified album than the collection of alternate takes that it actually is. Disc 1 weighs in at around 44 minutes and Disc 2 weighs in at around 53 minutes. Limited to 450 copies.
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