Music Reviews



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Artist: Klās’tĭk
Title: Night's Highest Noon
Format: CD
Label: KrysaliSound (@)
Rated: *****
It's really difficult to sound original without falling in the basin of cliches or already heard or in the dangerous pools of stylistical nonsense, where the stable of sharks of revieweres angrily surf. This duo, named in a way whose pronunciation is pretty obscure to me, consisting of Berlin-based Andrea Koch (giving voice and a set of electronic devices and FXs) and Warszaw-based Masaya Hijikata (hitting acoustic drums on this record), invites joining to a very stimulating sonic journey, during which they overlap more or less modified vocal modulations (and sparse singing), jazzy drumming, metamorphic electronic entities. Complying with the obsession of labeling styles, I could consider their music a sort of ambient-jazz, a label that could be somehow confusing. Complying with the other obsession (sometimes necessary to render an idea of what's going to reach your aural nerves, to be honest) of searching for some vague references, the task becomes harder to be fully fulfilled. Some puzzling rhythmical patterns, that these nice guys let collide with computational blurs as in a gargling of a prolonged mouthwash (like the one occurring over the title-track "Night's Highest Noon") or the way by which they juxtapose the same vocal layers to saturate the sound in a sort of spooky transmissions (really amazing the one matched to a drum-driven crescendo on "Commuters"), vaguely resembles some experiments by some Japanese avantagarde musicians of the first years of current millenium (such as Bisk or Yoshihiro Hanno). Similarly, some quiet moments over the album could resemble some ambient classics by Steve Roach or Brian Eno and other ones get closer to holy music, but speaking in general what this bipolar entity assembled over three years of recordings (between 2014 and 2016) is significantly original and interesting. Mixing in their own words “from one side Japanese martial arts, Butoh dance and quantum physics time mapping drumming; from the other one choir music, artificial philosophy and disorienting computer sampling”, the definition of their bipolar sound could be easily grabbed by skipping the tracks till track 6 to be listened before track 7, a significant sequence between the blissful standstill of "Delle Marianne" and the chaotic futuristic storm of "Regina Coel". It's pretty rare a debut album pleased my demanding ears like this one did.
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Artist: Pylône
Title: A Jamais / Ping
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Sound On Probation
Laurent Perrier’s third album as Pylône comprises two eighteen-minute works wholly built from modular synthesizers and channeling what feels like quite a purist, bordering on ‘retro’ approach to electroacoustic experimental synth work.

“A Jamais”, the more intriguing of the two pieces, plays with sampled spoken-word reading from Lyne Vernes which gets twisted and reprocessed into a broad spread of sonic effects that bear the character of the words long after the syllables have gone. Some of the hollow and simpler parts seem to resemble Alvin Lucier’s “I am sitting in a room”, but it frequently twists into more manic, weirder, backwards-reverb-heavy oddness- Lucier on hallucinogens, if you like.

“Ping” is similarly derived from a single source, this time an Epoch Modular twinpeak filter, which undergoes a not dissimilar set of treatments, that this time is a little more insular and modest. It’s a detailed little exercise in sonic manipulation that doesn’t pull off any magic tricks nor command your attention, resulting in sonic art you can appreciate but not revel in.

It’s a focussed and well-handled couple of audio works with a refreshingly simple ethos.
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Artist: Mei Zhiyong and Dave Phillips
Title: MeiZhiyong Dave Phillips
Format: LP
Label: Urbsounds Collective (@)
Rated: *****
This album grew out of a European tour that Dave Phillips put together for Mei Zhiyong in reciprocation for a Chinese tour that Mei Zhiyong had helped orchestrate for Dave Phillips. Despite not speaking each other’s language, they decided to work together through music. I was unfamiliar with either artist, and had only just reviewed Jamka’s minimalist techno album on the same label, so I had no idea what I was in for. Thankfully, I really enjoy harsh noise, because that is what blasted out of my speakers when I dropped the needle on this record. Looking at Dave Phillips’ discography this makes sense, as he has worked with such luminaries as Masonna and Mei Zhiyong has worked with such artists as Macronympha (but sounding like neither of those two). This is my kind of noise – everything including the kitchen sink gets sampled and then thrown into the mix. This is not a complete wall of sound though. They manage to break it up with less aggressive passages before turning around and unloading with both barrels again. The other side is a bit more cut-up noise, but still interesting. Overall, to picture this, imagine the aggressiveness of your favorite harsh noise artist combined with the attention to detail of, say, Hafler Trio. This album is limited to 300 copies, so if this sounds up your alley, you’ll want to pick this up while you can.
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Artist: Jamka
Title: Inter Alia
Format: LP
Label: Urbsounds Collective (@)
Rated: *****
I was unfamiliar with this London-based duo of Monika Subrtova and Daniel Kordik, but the label calls this album “the latest evidence of their patient, intimate relationship with their analogue machines. From the start there’s a sense of event – we encounter clear, interlaced electronic textures, powerful analogue drones and well-placed beats.” From the opening track, you get the sense that this is not your typical dancy techno. There is a beat, and the music is quite well put together, but this is not music for the club. At least not any club that you want to be at after dark. There is a feeling of unease underlying these tracks that goes against the technological optimism of a lot of electronic music. “Anazmo,” for example, has a kind of minimalism that makes the repetitive beat seem oppressive (and I mean this in a good way) rather than something that gets you onto the dance floor. For the most part, this is instrumental, with the exception of “Eskulap,” which has some distorted, unintelligible vocals. If you like your techno with the bleakness and darkness of old Front 242, with a touch of minimalism thrown in for good measure, this is worth picking up. Pressed on white vinyl.
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Artist: Bass Communion
Title: Sisters Oregon
Format: 10"
Label: Substantia Innominata (@)
Rated: *****
I was already familiar with various projects of Steven Wilson, including Bass Communion, Continuum and Porcupine Tree, but I was interested to see what he would bring to the Drone Records sublabel Substantia Innominata. As one might expect, for those familiar with Drone Records, this is a lovely slab of slowly evolving and shifting drone that one would sink into much as they would a warm bath. The occasional piano stab in Part III and the sound of seraphic voices through Part IV give this a kind of feel that goes far beyond the “someone put a brick on a synth key” style of drone. This is well crafted and quite lovely. Well worth checking out if you enjoy droning ambient music. This album is limited to 500 copies.
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