Music Reviews



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Artist: Miguel A. Garcia & Miguel Souto (@)
Title: The Lurking Fear
Format: CD
Label: Anoxia Records (@)
Rated: *****
This seems the first release by Anoxia Records, a Spanish independent record label overtly beyond genres. After his last two works as Sudaria, Miguel Souto returns with a work with Miguel A. Garcia, a sound artist and improviser, and it's closer to the field of EAI than black metal as the tracks are edited by Miguel Souto from an improvisation.
"Trioptesmeae" starts as a sequence of small sound events separated by silence and develops in a juxtaposition of noises in a dialogue with the analogue instruments used and in a search for a sort of narrative or at least a path from silence to sound. The stereo separation in "Unknown Kadath" makes clear the dialogue involved in the process of playing by the two musicians as their sonic output is not so different to be easily catch; as the dialogue starts in an almost canonical way it slowly evolves into a sort of mutual support when they try to evolve each other's drone or in a dialectic when one continues the drone and the other inserts small noises. The almost metal oriented start of "Hidátide" introduces the listener into the most aggressive and monolithic track. "The Lurking Fear" is the longest track of this release and is the most subtle track of this release as quiet moments and harsher one are almost in equilibrium as while the initial and the final part of this release are reasonably quiet the central part is a dialogue between noise and drums.
While the form stands firmly in the canon of the genre, this release is enjoyable enough for fans of EAI and it's another interesting chapter in the evolution of this artists. It's really worth a listen.
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Artist: Širom
Title: I Can Be A Clay Snapper
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Glitterbeat / tak:til
Slovenian three-piece Širom serve up five lengthy pieces with the gently repetitive rhythmic patterning reminiscent of Steve Reich, but with a spontaneous attitude and constructed out of a broad collection of acoustic, mostly ethnic and folky instrumentation. Alongside banjos, a bass drum and a viola, there are balafon, cünbüs, ribab, bra and mizmar- and I’ll admit I had to Google all of those (when you Google ‘cünbüs’ you mainly get links back to Širom, suggesting either a mis-spelling or they’ve just made it up!). There are vocal ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ notes but this is essentially a 42-minute instrumental work.

Though each of the first four tracks is around ten minutes long, there are distinct sections, generally one to three minutes, ranging from near-ambient to chaotic, with sometimes abrupt transitions inbetween. This means that moods aren’t allowed to wallow, and pattern evolution is sometimes underexplored.

Highlight moments include the early parts of second track “Boats, Biding, Beware!” where everything revolves around the marimba-esque sound (the balafon I think) with a mesmeric, soft wooden resonance and some nicely engaging internal changes of pace. The interplay of different and awkward time signatures on different instruments is fascinatingly done at the start of “Maestro Kneading Screams Of Joy”, in one of the more consistent pieces which continues that juxtaposition with a gradually waning energy level as it progresses. Final short piece “Ten Words” sounds like a twisted, almost tongue-in-cheek rendition of a traditional folk tune.

The sonic quality sometimes feels a little raw, with the drum sounds in particular sounding a touch thin, and some of the vocal noises strangely low in the mix, giving the whole thing a very live, almost amateurish feel which slightly undercuts the dynamics of the performance. But for that sonic detail though, this is an attention grabbing and extremely enjoyable bit of avantgarde music with a rich, non-cliché cultural heritage.
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Artist: Mirt / Ter
Title: Bacchus Where Are You?
Format: CD + Vinyl
Label: Monotype Records
“Bacchus Where Are You?” comprises five long slices of studio-based improvised electronica from an enigmatic Polish duo who use modular synths to generate slowly evolving, gently rhythmic ambiences full of breathy noises, clicks, and soft pads. It’s valid that they describe their work as “post-ambient techno”, but it also harks back to early 90’s trance (“proper trance” I’ll admit to being very fond of), and the sounds of Rising High Records or some of the less organic early Future Sound Of London tracks.

“Morphing” is genuinely beautiful if you’re in the right mood, broad and atmospheric. Second track “Bacchus Theme” is a bit more techno-minded, still lightweight but less progressive and with shorter edgier loops. This mood continues fairly seamlessly into the slightly washier “Disaster Reworked”.

Things reboot a little for “Wooden Object” which has subtle shades of Global Communication’s “76:14” about it, or a mellower version of CNSNNT’s “Z”. Dubbier electronic wubbles towards the end draw obvious but unavoidable comparisons to The Orb’s more stripped-back sound. Things are wrapped up with “Holographic” which, with its more percussive and sparse synth key presses, seems to want to travel slightly further back in time and become a Tangerine Dream track.

It’s an extended, deep but soft-edged journey along the line where sounds can be almost-ambient but also almost-techno, where consistency is a bonus and familiarity is an effect. It’s only in some of the production details that it’s cutting edge, but its sonic approach otherwise manages to be more ‘timeless’ than ‘dated’. It’s sincere and completely successful and one of the most satisfying all-round album listens I’ve experienced in some time. I’ve used comparisons to some of my favourite artists above and it’s intended as high praise.
Sep 07 2017
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Artist: Mana
Title: Creature
Format: 12"
Label: Hyperdub
Despite being described as an EP, “Creature” is an 8-track release, and Mana’s first release on Hyperdub is a quirky little bundle of atmospheric electronica with grand ambitions. Sharp-edged synth melodies jump and pitchshift over synthetic choral pads and sparse, crisp broken beats. Sporadic, subbass-laden kicks have hints of dubstep, but opened up into a more cinematic environment. Glitchier moments keep things on edge here and there.

Tracks like “Sei Nove” have a touch of the retro synthwave about them, and “Runningman” has a hint of old skool rave in its stabs. Longest piece “Rabbia” is a darker and more ambient journey through church-organ-esque tones juxtaposed against raw electronic pitched waves. Closing sketch “Consolations” gives the plucked synth tones a more Eastern quality. It all makes for a good collection of tunes that’s got consistent threads, yet variety.

Full of character but perhaps lacking a unique selling point, this is an interesting way for Mana to open up his Hyperdub account.
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Artist: Shit And Shine
Title: Some People Really Know How To Live
Format: LP + Download
Label: Editions Mego
The Texas-based Shit and Shine offer up ten succinct slices of messed-up twisty beats with a crisp lo-fi tone, and plenty of glitches and speed ramps mixing up proceedings over some steady grooves that are cousins to something very dancefloor-friendly. Short but broadly techno-structured tracks are the biscuit base for a bunch of experimental tweaks but a playful tone.

“Dish 2 Dish” at times sounds like Josh Wink on helium. “Lil’ Wannabe Gangsta” slows things down with one of those hip-hop samples that glitch artists love to tweak. “South Padre Low Life” sounds akin to an 8-bit racing game chiptune soundtrack where the samples have been corrupted, in a good way. “Raining Horses” turns the sound of a man in pain into a percussive crash.

Yet despite all of this, it’s not quite as thoroughly silly as the title and artwork might have you believe. There are more straight-laced tunes as well, such as “Girl Close Your Eyes” with a bassline that invokes memories of Soul Mekanik. “Notified” is a serious heavy-stepper with a lovely bouncy wubb wubb wubb to it.

It’s a diddy little package of glitchy instrumental house, with a cover that looks like CBBC’s Hacker T Dog character has gone rogue. It was clearly a bunch of fun to put together and there’s plenty of energy in it. It’s perhaps short of a stand-out moment or two that would make this shit really shine, but if you like your house music super-quirky and laden with glitch, check this one out.
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