Music Reviews

Artist: Loss (@)
Title: I Am But The Sum Of My Conditions
Format: CD
Label: Ant-Zen (@)
Rated: *****
The man behind Loss, Dan Fox, has some personal issues he would like to share with you. The inside of the liner notes have no lyrics; it simply reads, 'No one hurts me like I do.' You get a sense that this isn't going to be feel-good party music, and you would be right. The label describes this release as 'thematically based on the artist's personal experience with his compromised mental state, covering relationships, love, waiting for answers to some of his medical questions, and his quality of life. . . . 'I am but the Sum of my Conditions' is an emotionally intense personal statement by an exceptional artist where sheer force is combined with captivating atmospheres: entrancing, hypnotic and monumental in scope and power - an unforgettable listening experience." I have made it no secret that Loss's 'A Letter That Will Never Be Sent' stands as one of the pinnacles of power electronics for me, so I was interested to see what he has done lately. On this album we see an evolution of Loss's style with some more beat-driven compositions than on previous releases I have reviewed. This makes sense in light of his move to Ant-Zen, but the dark symphonic elements he is known for are still present and accounted for. The heavy emotional content likewise remains. This is a glimpse into Fox's life, with tracks such as 'Product of a Poor Self-Esteem Case Two: Drunk and Delusional' opening up with an answering machine message from a woman who sounds like she is breaking up with him with the sample 'I know you don't care' repeated throughout the song as Fox screams heavily distorted vocals. But this is not all noise; tracks like 'Session 01' demonstrate that Fox has an ear for composition with a melancholy synth track over dejected, pitch-shifted lyrics. Others just take you on an aural descent into despair, such as 'Waiting for an Answer,' which has no vocals ' just drone with a heavy sense of foreboding, and 'Product of a Poor Self-Esteem Case Four: The Girl with the Plastic Face,' which is a flowing orchestral number with a nicely contrasting crunchy staccato rhythm. Others, like 'Watching you Crumble' and 'Memory' are old school Loss. Overall, this is a safe way to walk through the bad part of town in the city of human emotions with Loss as your guide. I hope he feels better after getting this all off his chest. But he probably doesn't. This album weighs in at around 61 minutes.
Artist: Wil Bolton
Title: Bokeh
Format: CD
Label: Home Normal (@)
Rated: *****
This new release by Wil Bolton, a sound artist whose name often appeared on this zine by means of his lovely drone-ambient outputs or for some releases he dropped by his imprint Boltfish or in the guise of Cheju, names after "bokeh", a word which refers to a well-known photographic blurring technique that comes from the alteration of the Japanese word "boke", meaning "blur" or "haze". Some photographers consider it an "optical aberration" as many "boke" could come from wrong focusing of the optical lens, but it could be intentionally added to bring out some object from background or for artistic photography. A friend of mine who has a mania for Japan and photography explained to me that "boke" is also the word to describe the mental confusion of aged people suffering from senile dementia, but even if Wil's sonorities could sound vaguely melancholic, I don't think it's connected to senility! The opening title-track seems to translate the above-described photographic 'out-of-focus' technique into sound as he blurred resounding objects such as seagulls or distant traffic noises by means of diluted atmospheric vanishing varnish and bulged clear bell-like hits and he follows a similar pattern on the following tracks where Wil slightly changes blurred elements and blurring dynamics: an indistinct chatter and a wrapping frequency which sounds like frowning on this interference on "Sash", driving rain and loooped metallic hits on the track that got named from the Welsh village of Tramadog, recurring traffic sounds, playing children and chirping birds that got wrapped into a Boards Of Canada-like sonic blister which renders a certain sense of lukewarm astonishment on the pleasantly lulling "1887", electric buzzes and other faint voices on the entrancing "Pentaprism". The final dedication to his 1-year old niece "Moonlight (for Sophie)" where he included the melody of her toy telephone and other rattles is the most tender moment of the release and could let you surmise that the sonic optical lens by which Wil filtered surrounding reality is a sort of childish reverie where the differentiations that feature the perception of adults got levelled off.
Artist: Gilles Aubry (@)
Title: The Amplification Of Souls
Format: CD + Book
Label: ADOCS Verlag (@)
Rated: *****
In spite of the religion-related subject, this interesting release by Swiss sound-artist Gilles Aubry is not an act of proselytism at all as it's closer to the concept of audio documentary. The two immersive tracks come from the explorations he led in Christian charismatic churches in Kinshasa, the capital city of Democratic Republic of Congo: the first 30-minutes lasting "Amplification of Souls" is a sort of immersive collage that combines a large number of elements that vividly render the cultural environment such as amplified sermons from rough speakers, surrounding noises of car engines, clamours, moments of fervor, a series of "halleluja" and "jesus" for soundchecking and other religious chants that come from distorting megaphones, exhausted worshippers or fanatical preachers, while the second 34-minutes lasting track "Amplified Souls" mainly includes collective prayers, overheated predications and speaking-in-tongues that he recorded at the Libambu Ministry Church in Kinshasa. One of the aural aspect of the record that struck me most was the distortion from loudspeakers that got used by proselytizers, which sound like a key-element of the religious experience, whose importance got explained in details by musicologist and cultural anthropologist Johannes Ismaiel-Wendt in the 80-pages book which integrates the release: "In Distortion is Truth (Poss 1998), distortion is perceived as enriching sound. Distortion creates sound, the enriched broadcast, the well-inteded gift, which the charismatic movements have quite appropriated for themselves as a amatter of course. The noise and distortion envelop everything with a patina, which also generates an aura" and "It is a proven sonic fact: if you want the signal to burn, then use a distorter. If you want to animate people to run out, if you want to inspire people to rapid transformation and to spread the gospel, then do not use a laidback, saturated sonorous sound texture. The latter only works when - as in the morning devotion on Deutschlandradio - the aim is to incite a depp emotional response. Amplification, distortion, and echoes are co-composers They dynamize, replicate, and complete the motivational ideas to form a holistic entity". This is just a part of the interesting analysis of this release by Ismaiel-Wendt, who wisely examines many aspects of this aural document by proposing a number of guessed connection with other contemporary musical stuff as well. The book also includes an explicatory interview with Gilles Aubry by Christof Haffter as well as a number of text fragments and photos by Gilles himself.
Artist: Tourdeforce
Title: Jedem Das Seine
Format: CD
Label: Space Race Records
Distributor: Audioglobe
Rated: *****
I wrote about Tourdeforce four years ago, when I reviewed their debut album "Colours In Life". Since then, Christian Ryder released other two digital albums on the My Owl Music label. "Jedem Das Seine" is Tourdeforce latest album and it has been released by the Italian Space Race Records label. The album theme is controversial and dangerous too, because Christian took inspiration from the national socialist period to enhance the similitudes with nowadays society and you know that it's difficult to deal with such themes. Because of the title ("Jedem Das Seine" was a writing that was placed on Buchenwald gates and it means "to each his own") the album has already find some distribution issues in Germany but I don't want to be shortsighted and I'd like to check what's inside. The band clearly stated that their aren't revisionists and I think that they wanted to provoke and show to people that little has changed, only some way of making propaganda changed. Also lyrics (which are kinda short and give to the listener a description of a scenario useful to have the right feel) and titles refer to that kind of themes and we have: "John Lennon Was A Warmonger", "History Is Written By The Winners", "Adolf Hitler Platz", "Did Six Million Really Die" and, just to make people talk a little more, as hidden track, we have "Decrepitude" written by Varg Vikernes, a.k.a. Burzum. Musically "Jedem Das Seine" is inspired by 90s Nothern synthpop with also a little 90s e.b.m. sprinkles, guitar riffs here and there plus a bit of 80s synthpop (on some tracks I hear echoes of Pet Shop Boys melodies). Melody and energy are the strongest points of the album and make of it a good one which can be danced to or listened at home.
"I don't believe your truth, The Only accepted by the grey eminence"
with image
Artist: Mechanimal
Title: Secret Science
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Inner Ear
Rated: *****
Mechanimal is a post-something band from Athens. I say 'post-something' not with ironic tone'¦on the contrary, it is difficult to say exactly what kind of music t'Secret Science' is. Mechanimal define their music as 'drone 'n' roll', but I don't think that this label is able to capture the variety of this music. I would say that this work is full of synthetic sounds, krautrock (as they say), but also darwave, some gothic stuff, and of course drone. The album can be ideally divided in two parts. The first part (the first five songs) is influenced by certain EBM, with a fantastic dark wave touch. The vocals should be mentioned: it is mostly spoken words, but with a low tone which reminds me Peter Steele. Better, the vocals is in the middle between Death in June and Type o' Negative. Probably 'we come alive' is the best song of the first part. It is really a piece of art early Depeche Mode-style and a nice interplay between a vocoder and that Type o' Negative vocals. Moreover, the guitar is wisely arranged. The second part of the album is more atmospheric. See for instance 'The Den', organized around atmospheric pads not easy to distinguish, giving a sense of 'auditory fog'. The last song ('Down in the basement') is probably the best one, and it is a sort of summary of the entire album: atmospheric and dance-oriented at the same time. Overall, 'Secret Science' is a nice album, and Mechanimal has clearly the potential for developing an original and full-fledged new hybrid at the intersection of multiple styles.
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