Music Reviews



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Artist: Routine (@)
Title: Si
Format: CD
Label: Nephogram (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Nephogram features almost no linear notes and, even in their bandcamp page, this band gives the minimal amount of information about this release. This is an italian duo of Filippo Mazzei and Fabio Ricci formed in 2000 and, after years of experiments, in search of a form that could include their sounds. The result is something between the gentle palette used by bands like Minamo and Tape and the sonic exploration of Supersilent, so is the sonic equivalent of something on the edge between landscape and abstraction.
Small and rhythmic noises introduce '1' that quickly evolve in a gentle sonic watercolor. '2' features a trumpet giving quite a jazz mood to the track. '3' follows an almost EAI trajectory being almost silent but requiring a close listen to follow the single sounds. '4' is focused on the dialogue between the gentle guitar and the sparse noises of the soundscape. '5' is constructed upon the exploration of the mechanical resonances of a drum kit until the trumpet and noises enter to colorize the sound palette. '6' sounds like a sonic picture of the autumn branches of a tree shown in the cover picture. '7' closes this release with sparse chords of piano upon sparse metallic sounds that are progressively filtered and then reduced to almost the memory of their timbres.
Something unique in the italian panorama where the trend seems to jump on the performative improvisation, Routine decides to canalize their improvisation in a musical form that can be heard in an endless loop. Almost amazing.
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Artist: Henry Vega (@)
Title: Stream Machines
Format: CD
Label: ARTEksounds (@)
Rated: *****
A single tone, which often mimics the repeating loops of a machine by sequences of clipped pulsations, sounds like the steady element of each composition of this interesting collection of compositions by talented electroacoustic musician Henry Vega, while the other ones fibrillate within an enclosed tonal range by rendering the impression they are somehow synchronized and their illusory order partially elude the aleatory parade of resounding particles. You could easily imagine a bird, which collide against the narrow space of its cage till its final paroxysm while listening the two parts of Slow Slower, where computer and recorder wondrously twist around filaments of harpsichord and viola da gamba by the Roentgen Connection, the tuning of a scanner and the sequential decryption of grabbed data on the four parts of "Scanner Quartet" - really impressive the interaction between electronic elements and the strings by The Ragazze Quartet on the first movement -, a garden of thorny flowers blossoming from a ticker tape on "Izumi" - another impressive work created at Sonic Arts Research Centre in Belfast and performed by The Electronic Hammer -, a pump dispenser of fused silica and blood-like propeller on troops of "Automata Angels", whose metallic skeletons move quickly on the conveyor belts of assembling machines, which sound like mirrored by great percussions. Such a technological camouflage of chamber classical music, which deserves more than one absent-minded listening, reaches the highest pinnacles on the final suite "Stream Machines and the Black Arts".
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Artist: H bar (@)
Title: s/t
Format: CD + DVD
Label: Dobialab (@)
Rated: *****
H bar is the work of Alberto Novello, who does the audio processing work, and flutist Paolo Pascolo. Here we have an interesting concept ' an album inspired by quantum mechanics and probability. The press sheet that came with this disc explains: 'H bar is a live electronic piece in which the musical actions of the flute influence the video generation and the sonic re-actions of the computer, which are triggered following the probabilities of quantum mechanics and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.' So the question now is what does this sound like? Imagine if Zamfir (master of the panflute, for those too young to remember the infomercials) collaborated with Think Geek's Annoy-a-Tron. The flute wafts over drone while glitches, beeps, and clicks punctuate the tracks. 'Φ (Superconductivity)' in particular showcases the glitchiness with a quiet beat that reminded me of old Autechre. Some of it also tends to get pretty noisy ('h (Continuous Quanta)'), with walls of noise washing over everything before receding back. The DVD provides the same music with some abstract imagery to go along with it. Overall, this is pretty interesting experimental music with cool results. I'm not convinced that the DVD adds much to the experience though. The album portion weighs in at around 41 minutes.
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Artist: Movement Ten (@)
Title: s/t
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: self-released
When I looked their website for more information, it seemed that this album had already been reviewed by ChainDLK. Not sure why we got another one, but I listened to it and wrote a review, so take it as a second opinion. Knowing that this is self-released, if they are willing to send out a disc it's the least I can do. The other reviewer was pretty happy with the album; I was a bit less impressed, partly because the style seemed all over the place. We kick off with 'Gravity,' which is pretty straightforward pop. It's catchy though, so this would be the first single if they were going for airplay ' it's a good one to lead with. 'BWK' changes it up a bit with some old school house and staccato vocal delivery. 'FTBIA' sounds like old Genesis ('Turn It On Again,' for those playing along at home), with a sort of stadium rock feel. 'Chase' gets a little more aggressive, but not really industrial. 'Monochrome' would be right at home on your local college indie rock station. 'Red Reel' sounds like old New Order. Then we drop 'Moon Palace' with a slow falsetto vocals ' not really a high point on the album. Generally, this is a pleasant listen, although I found it somewhat bland. Maybe I'm jaded and like my music with a bit of an edge. I do think that they have a shot at making it to the popular market though. Shadowless Man and The Sweet Chap have a real talent for writing catchy songs ' 'Gravity' and 'BWK' are excellent examples of this. I would not be surprised to hear their music on a television show in the near future, that is, once they have a more cohesive sound. This album weighs in at around 44 minutes.
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Artist: Tmymtur (@)
Title: Kooh
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: ENSL AMDC (@)
Rated: *****
This is an album of remixes of Tmymtur's 'Yusei.' The original project used layers of 5000 voices to create shimmering drone. Unfortunately, most of these stay pretty true to the original, to the point where I had a difficult time distinguishing them from each other. Except for the tone that they chose to pursue, they were stylistically similar. Only one really stood out as taking a different trajectory from the original. Stephan Mathieu made these voices more jagged and abrasive; his stood in stark contrast to the others, which were much more calming, like the original. Overall, this was not nearly as engaging as the original, perhaps because of the length of the album. The original stood at around 22 minutes, and this was almost three times as long. I would just get the original and skip the remixes. This album weighs in at around 65 minutes.
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