Music Reviews



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Artist: IRM (@)
Title: Closure
Format: CD
Label: Malignant Records (@)
Rated: *****
You probably already know that IRM is Martin Bladh, Erik Jahrl, and Mikael Oretoft of Sweden, and that they are an industrial noise/power electronics outfit that have been around since the late 90's. For those who need a stylistic frame of reference, think Brighter death Now. 'Closure' is the last chapter of a trilogy which began with 'Indications of Nigredo' (12"), continued with 'Order4' (CD) and ends here with this one. Along the way IRM has been refining its technique and changing direction a bit which was hinted at on 'Order4'. 'Closure' paints a new picture for IRM, one that is bound to leave a lasting impression and could even be taken as their "masterpiece". Divided into 9 tracks ("Closure I-IX"), the listener's attention is gotten with three thudding bangs accompanied by an old style TV drone tone, then the processed vocal and a mix of electronic noise comes in. Processing on the voice is a heavy wavering flanging that garble the voice for understanding the words but not the malevolent feeling behind it. Towards the end of this first track the voice engages in some type of indecipherable chanting audible in the background. This blends seamlessly into the next track, a blend of noise and mournful electronic cries and the processed voice returns. Syllables are drawn out for effect in a dramatic infernal recitation. If you want to know what that voice is saying, you can follow along with the lyrics in the 20 page booklet accompanying the CD. The scene changes dramatically in part 3, as you hear a slowly ticking clock or metronome the ambience of a crowd and morose narration (in a normal and unprocessed voice) describing a strange theatrical event while an intermittent ringing tone plays over some melancholy bass guitar playing. You suddenly realize that the narrator is an assassin who shoots the actor on the stage who is himself! It's a nightmare sequence that unfolds in sublime horror accompanied by sobs of various voices. The performance then being over, the spotlight goes out, the audience leaves and we are left with waves of noise, a music box playing an old march melody winding down, and a low, murmuring chanting voice with various ephemeral clattering noises.

The processed voice returns again reciting "cranium-crack-hammer, temple=blast-wall, lead-brain-flow, hung-sinew-chord, loose-car-thread, scratch-scale-line...DEAD-TIME-BLIND, DEAD-TIME-ONAN..." and more, to a slow doom beat and ringing tone in the background. This in itself is quite theatrical. Part 5 sounds like the eternal wail of souls punctuated by death knell thuds with various pitches of electronic noise drones ending with a decrepit voice singing about "a hellhound on my trail". Part 6 has a thrumming machine beat loop and singular sine wave drone while an interviewer asks stock one-word questions (name, alias, sex, age height, weight, etc.) and the respondent gives vague but surprising one-word answers. It could almost be a word association game. Another more piercing electronic drone tone takes over and then breaks into Part 7 with a blast of cacophonous noise and another recitation from the processed voice. I won't quote the words, but suffice to say the lyrics are rather morbid, to say the least. The noise blasts even more intensely at the end and the garbled voice is drown in an electronic storm. Part 8 takes us back to that theatrical event from Part 3 but with a completely different perspective. Part 9 is a reprise of Part 4, again from another perspective, more on the lunatic fringe order of things. I should mention that the work of guest percussionist Ulrik Nilsson is excellent throughout where he is employed, and another guest on this album is English cellist Jo Quail, but I was hard-pressed to pick her out amidst the chaotic sonics.

This is indeed one weighty opus. For industrial noise fans who are looking for something quite out of the ordinary, 'Closure' is surely your ticket to ride. IRM have raised the bar so to speak in the genre, and no description I can provide can come close to experiencing it for yourself.
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Artist: Kevin Drumm
Title: Trouble
Format: CD
Label: Editions Mego (@)
Rated: *****
Besides his "Necro Acoustics" series, the pencil-sketched draw, which resembles the typical iconography of death pointing his bony finger at an undefined disk, on a page of a notebook, as well as the sneaking strategy that the very subtle sound of this 54-minutes lasting one track album by Chiacago-based experimental musician Kevin Drumm reminded me of my recent readings, in particular a moment of the very interesting monologue of the prince of Saurau in Thomas Bernhard's masterpiece "Gargoyles" where this mysterious character says that the world is the school of death after a bitter reflection on society. Besides any possible interconnections, this release, which cannot be properly filed under neither ambient nor drone, deeply sneaks into listener's mind by means of distant whisper-like evanescence and occasional menacing low frequencies which rise from the entrancing sub-etheric waves like an ephemeral blast of warm in the freezing embrace of the silence. Just like a troubling thought that silently permeates consciousness, the thin ghostly microwaves, which feature the entire length of this eerie sonic output, keep on resounding in listener's mind even when it temporarily stop in the middle of the recording.
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Artist: Akira Kosemura (@)
Title: Embers OST
Format: CD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
I honestly didn't see "Saigo no inochi", the movie that young Japanese director Junpei Matsumoto made from the novel by the Akutagawa Prize awarded Fuminori Nakamura. Its plot focuses on Keito (Yuya Yagira) and Yuichi (Masato Yano), two friends who got emotionally traumatised after watching a gang rape by chance and met again when they became adult as well as on the investigation about a dead female acquaintance of Keito, which fosters suspects against Yuichi. When Matsumoto hired Akira Kosemura to care its soundtrack, he hinted to Tokyo-based composer and sound producer "to be affirmative", so that Akira decided to work on one of his spontaneous piano melody, whose simplicity manages to sound likewise beautiful like swarming photons in the obscurity in order to express boith the emotions and the feelings of the main character Keito and the other ones who unroll the plot. Some tracks could sound quite repetitive, due to the fact that the main theme, the one you could hear on the "Opening Title" track, got often reprised, even if attentive ears can perceive some changes and variations of the mood, but the most otuching moments of this soundtrack occurs when Akira got wisely supported by an ensemble of string players - Sakuri Yano (first violin), Tomoko Joho (second violin), Shiori Tanaka (viola) and Masutami Endo (cello) - such as on "Embrace", "Truth" and "Implore" as well as on some specific moments of both the soundtrack and the movie ("Madness", "Chaos", "Root Of Evil"). I don't know if this soundtrack is the first one for Akira, but he glibly adapted the grace of his style to the seventh art.
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anymore
Artist: Legendary Pink Dots (@)
Title: 10 to the power of 9
Format: CD
Label: Rustblade (@)
Rated: *****
This new Legendary Pink Dots' release is a concept album about, according to the linear notes, 'conspiracy, magic, and spirituality'. With their long career is obvious than their musical offering is based upon their usual psychedelic style. However, their inspiration gives a satisfying result as it's enchanting in some moments.
This album is opened by 'Ten o' er Nine' a track where the voice of Edward Ka-Spel quietly emerges upon the noisy background created by the instruments and the ethereal ending is an introduction to 'The Virgin Queen / Primordial Soup' based upon various lines of loops creating an hypnotic mood. The lean instrumental part of 'Your Humble Servant' is a canvas for the voice to color. 'Malice / Freak Flag' closes the first part of this release with the heavy filtered voice to enhance the methodic work on the soundscape.
The second part is opened by 'Feeding Time', a track based on sparse concrete sounds and the distant Ka-Spel's voice that, in 'Olympus 2020', theatrically declaims the lyrics upon an almost silent background. 'Open season' returns to the musical path of the first track while 'Room For Two' is an instrumental track acting as an introduction to 'The Elevator', the longest track of this release, featuring an evocative first track based on noises and spoken words and a quieter second track focused on sparse piano notes emerging from the background.
After all those years, they are able to publish an album better than most of the bands usually on the cover of alternative music magazine. Absolute respect.
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anymore
Artist: Alphaxone
Title: Altered Dimensions
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Alphaxone is presented as based on 'smooth frequency manipulation fitting for exploring the concept of altered dimensions'. This statement really means than it's something closer to a single track in eight movement rather than a collection of loosely related tunes. The most evident quality of this release is the constant development of subtle resonances that implies a rigorous listening to fully enjoy the work depicted in his development.
The detailed soundscape of 'Distances' opens this release and develops in an unpredictable manner when an almost dance beat emerges from the background. 'Human Frequencies' is, instead, a track based on the juxtaposition of various drones slowly drowning in the underlying soundscape. 'Passing Through' is based on small noises and a slowly developing drone and 'Midnight Waves' focuses on a drone that slowly develops to resonate with some elements of the previous tracks. 'Aftermath' explores the most subtle and dark aspects of this formula while
'Equilibrium' deals with microscopic, but constant, development of the base drone and so is 'Encounters'. 'From the Passages' closes this release in a bright way as it's founded on an higher frequencies' resonances.
Even if it's not formally ground-breaking, it's an amazing work of audio sculpting enhanced by the usually unexceptionable mastering by Simon Heath. Perhaps one of the best Cryo Chamber's releases.
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