Music Reviews



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Artist: Dryft (@)
Title: The Blur Vent
Format: CD
Label: n5MD (@)
Rated: *****
Mike Cadoo - head of the n5MD label, formerly half of the band Gridlock with Mike Wells, also his solo project Bitcrush (which I reviewed here back in 2013), and now Dryft, which has been in existence since 2000, and 'The Blur Vent' is that project's fourth release. This is the first Dryft release I've heard, but in a way it's not far removed from the aforementioned projects, then again it is, leaning heavier on the cinematic ambient side. I though rather than describing the music on 'The Blur Vent' in terms of the mechanics and components (drones, rhythms, instrumental and synth techniques, etc.), I'd go more with the feeling it gave me, perhaps being a more authentic, although quite subjective evaluation.

Pulsing waves washing over me, and soft, synaptic explosions as the barriers of consciousness break down....it disappears momentarily, then jettisoned on a journey, I'm propelled into over a fantastic landscape of indescribable beauty. Somewhere in space there is a strange game of cosmic ping-pong being played by colossuses that expand space and time. Swarms of tiny, buzzing technoid creatures are busy reshaping terra, and all I can do is watch in awe. Such a variety of color and shapes in the topography, it practically brings tears to my eyes.

A slow climb up a monumental hillside, yawning chasms in the distance, the atmosphere is thick with anticipation. A voice permeates the haze distantly, and there is a certain sense of serenity in the labor. Continuing onward, the atmosphere is thinning and I'm becoming lightheaded. The haze has lifted and the blue sky stretches toward infinity in any direction. At the summit I can see life carry on below- great and terrible things, the history of a thousand civilizations flash before my eyes. So much drama and trauma, then it all fades to dust, as if it never happened. We are left with naught but memories, as if it was all but a dream.

Ever so slowly we proceed through the thick miasma; little gravity like hopping on the moon. Eventually we gain our bearings and navigate this bizarre landscape, limbs moving in awkward directions, narrowly avoiding pitfalls, every so often crunching on the surface. Near the precipice the void appears - sparks of light can be seen in the distance of the great beyond. We know we cannot cross that vast ocean of the unfathomable, yet we yearn to. I want to feel serenity, yet all I perceive is sadness.

Waking from the dream I wonder if it was a dream at all, or a glimpse of the way the universe really works. Human perception is so finite compared to the cosmic mind. Logic becomes irrelevant and the dance is the only thing that matters. Just coming to this conclusion is a revelation in itself. So revel in it. Joy overcomes sorrow and regret. We can only move forward, and there are no mistakes. Regardless of the path or paths we take, the journey is as important, if not moreso than the destination.

Well, there you have it. Your take on 'The Blur Vent' is likely to be quite different than mine. It's an awesome work that probably won't play the same to any listener, and may not play quite the same on repeated listenings. Cadoo has come up with something really incredible here, and I heartily recommend it.
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Artist: MZ. 412
Title: Hekatomb
Format: CD
Label: Cold Spring (@)
Rated: *****
Almost nine years after their remarkable "infernal affairs", MZ.412 return with the recording of their 2011's performance for the Cold Spring's 21st Anniversary that, as they rarely performed live, was their first ever performance with the complete line-up. Instead of performing their tracks, they decided to reconstruct their musical opus as a ritual divided in XIV acts.
Instead of being a mess of noises constructed with the clear intention of underline the visceral impact, their music has more subtle effect as noise is used sparsely and has an evocative effect.
So the ritual starts almost quietly. with "Act I", as the three musician have to regulate their volume, as it's clearly audible in the middle of the track. With "Act II", instead of starting with noise, they return to the atmosphere of "nordik battle sign" with their almost martial music colored with filtered, and barely audible, voices while "Act III" is an articulated noise's development that develops in the beginning of "Act IV" that ends with an evocative soundscape closed by the beginning of "Act V" where the beats is the glue of the samples constructing an highly detailed sound that evolves in the first part of "Act VI" based on voice that introduce the aggressive second part. "Act VII" starts to explore the more aggressive part of their sound, explored in the first part of their career when they were more impact oriented, that is suddenly replaced, with "Act VIII", to the atmospheres of the beginning of the performance returning to the most ritualistic part of their opus and is followed by "Act IX" where the most industrial side, with the metallic beat, is explored while ending, with a child voice, in "Act X" where the drones begin to be used but in an abrasive rather than meditative way. The details of their sound lines are the focus of "Act XI" and develops, as in a single act, in the noises of "Act XII" and his ending voices. The beat of "Act XIII" is the base of the declamation that are the noise element, so it's the voice rather than a synth, of the track. The military, almost medieval, atmosphere of the long "Act XIV" closes this release ending with the almost esoteric atmosphere created by the voices that act as an interlude to the final, almost cathartic, part of the performance closed by a declamation barely audible as a statement that, sometimes, this music could perhaps be able to subdue evil by representing it.
Aided by the clever mastering that, instead of pumping the volume, uses a reasonable volume to capture the details of an evolved sound palette, This album reflects the importance of a musical thinking behind the performance and should be listen mostly by the project releasing a bunch of album per year using the same ideas. After all those years, they remain almost essentials.
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Artist: Inner Vision Laboratory (@)
Title: Austeros
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This new album from Karol Skrzypiec apparently takes his title by a poem by Pawel Krawczyk. As his text is almost impossible to find the question is if the music has the capability to have the consistency of cohesive whole, as a poem, rather than the diversity of a collection of lyrics.
Almost all tracks are based upon the dialectic between drones and sparse sounds, perhaps field recording as the noises that open "Stalker Trail" and evoke the ices and crackles of the cover while the drones of the second part the brightness of the light reflected by this surface. "Three Turns Until You See" is based upon a rhythmic pattern while "A Tunnel Too Twisted" is a long and complex track in two part: the first one is quiet and based on resonant voices while the second features the high resonances of small bells and depicts an uncontaminated landscape while "A Home to None" returns to more industrial-like menacing atmosphere using a bunch of samples and evolves in "Obey the Soil" with the use of almost all the characteristics of the previous tracks. "Rust Vermilion Faces" is a juxtaposition of drones that slowly evolves in a rhythmic track and "Bow Before Ancient Mother" closes this release with a multifaceted soundscape.
This is a cohesive album constructed with a clear musical design, perhaps a little bit too coherent, that would be enjoyed by all fans of this band. Really nice.
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Artist: Machinefabriek
Title: Measures Taken
Format: CD
Label: Zoharum (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Rutger Zuydervelt was composed for a dance performance by choreographer Alexander Whitley where the dancers interacted with the visual projected by Marshmallow Laser Feast. So the question is if the theme of man vs/with machine is evoked by the music in the absence of the visual side.
The small clicks of "Introduction" introduce the listener in a quiet musical universe where, obviously, the rhythm has a particular place as it's fundamental for dance movements. "Part I" starts quietly with drones and trumpet like samples and quietly evolves with noises and samples in an hypnotic track. "Part II" is made out on juxtaposed lines creating a mood of cinematic tension that is released in "Part III" where the soundscape created evoke a brighter, even optimistic, mood. Almost sadly, "Part IV" closes this release with a mood of melancholy and lost.
It's certainly grueling to rate this release without seeing the choreography referred by this score, as it's arduous to realize the theme of the project without the press notes. However it's as evocative as a good soundtrack. It's worth a listen.
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Artist: Masayuki Imanishi (@)
Title: Type
Format: CD
Label: Creative Sources (@)
Rated: *****
Japanese sound artist and performer Masayuki 'Imany' Imanishi, whose name appeared on Liddikoatight, a collaborative project with Kouhei Matsunaga, for Finnish (post)industrial label Some Place Else by Niko Skorpio, piled a number of disturbances, processed field recordings, white noise from dead radiophonic frequencies, quantic interferences and paper (!) for the eight untitled tracks of this mesmerizing release, which significantly differs from the predominant stuff on Portuguese label Creative Sources, even if it could be considered as a sample of "electronic" improvisation. Tracks like the fifth or the sixth ones could let you think that Masayuki intercepted mysterious alien transmissions or broadcasting from robotic grasshoppers, while other ones are closer to more "conventional" abstract experiments such as the second one, where he separated a series of metallic flicks on right and left channels, or the opening track, where he intersected croaking noises from supposedly singing circuits, an hypnotic piercing sound clip and other disturbances, as well as the estranging 16-minutes lasting suite he assembled on the seventh track, but the resounding material of "Type", which often surmises a sort of hybrid between abstract industrial and those experiments on noises that got grabbed on tape from electronic circuits before further processing, which engaged many performers in the 80ies, is really interisting overall.
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