Music Reviews



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Artist: Strike
Title: Wood, Wire & Sparks
Format: 12"
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
The first minutes of this record will let listeners think this funny trio of Australian musicians - the talented improviser, instrument builder and conceptualist Jon Rose on violins and double bass players Clayton Thomas and Mike Majkowski - were mimicking carpenters or sharpener during the live recording of "Wood, Wire & Sparks" at Densities Festival 2010, the performance which gave the name to their first album. Sonic sawdust and bizarre ways of tuning precede the first tonal burrs, which sound like scraps of a proper manufacturing process of a basin, where the first melodic sediments and further levelling, planing and rubbing gradually lead listeners to a sense of harmonic fulfillment before they clear the table by clumping all sonic recipes in the end. The title of that recording could be considered a sort of programmatic manifesto to describe the peculiarities of their wooden, wired and sparkling sound, which macadamize the second live recording on the flipside where they sum their keen and freaky approach to strings up by tonal stunts, almost theatrical makeup and imaginative sonic satyriasis, which achieves wind-ups when they render a reaction from the instruments they subjected to torture ("Revenge Of The Instrument"), the consistently ruthlessness tally of natural disasters ("Tsunami Scoreboard") or wryly face the possible othodoxy of listeners ("Gentrify This") by fudging canonical formal structure on the final "Song". Action-packed stuff for world-weary eardrums.
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Artist: Airchamber3 (@)
Title: Peripheral
Format: CD
Label: frattonove (@)
Rated: *****
Some days ago I was listening Offthesky's "We Like Ambient" selection for the appreciated British ambient label Hibernate and one of the track which really struck me - "Creek Of A Church Door, Wedding Celebration" - came from a mostly Italian ensemble of four sound artists - former Chain DLK collaborator Andrea Ferraris, Matteo Uggeri, Andrea Serrapiglio and Japanese musician Mujika Easel - and I got surprised to find in the bunch of promotional stuff I recently received the brand new release by Airchamber3, an interesting collaborative project we've already spoken about in the past, which involves a part of the above-mentioned group (and enclose some of the stylistical traits of that track), namely Andrea "Ics" Ferraris (guitar, bass, laptop, effects, drums), Andrea Serrapiglio (cello, laptop, iPad, drums, vocal and Casio sk-1) and his brother Luca (alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet, wind controller, synths, drums, theremin and MaTiLda effects). Even if they kept their sound on a high level of experimentation, the main difference between "Peripheral" and their past works is the wider stylistical range they explored, which could result from the involvement of a number of collaborators such as voice artist Barbara De Dominicis aka Anti-Gone whom we recently encountered on Enrico Coniglio's collaborative project My Home, Sinking and here on the intensely emotional and gloomy "A body is a map of bruises", where her beutiful vocals could vaguely remind Beth Gibbons' modulations, multi-instrumentalist Vincenzo Vasi (part of Vinicio Capossela's big band), who borrows his mephistophelian voice on "Recollecting Pieces Of Tresured Memories", a "song" which features Gianmaria Aprile and Luca Sigurta' from Ferraris' band Luminance Ratio together with Luca Mauri on guitars. This enlarged and enhanced line-up adds unpredictable folds to the abstract textures and the sudden mystical bursts of ancestral heat, which could easily belong to the soundtrack of a non-existent movie, according to the contemporary customs of a relevant part of abstract/experimental ensembles, whose sonic thickness often mirrors seemingly contrasting nuances from the opening beastly death raffles of "inhale/exhale" and the following "Funeral March For A Brain Cell", whose decease could have been caused by toxic laughing gas where wheezing sounds like a self-scornful laugh to the final mesmeric fade-out and the hidden ending 'In The Corner Of My Eye Peripheral Vision', where the contrast invades semantic fields as well. Such a (peri)feral equivocalness is maybe the secret mysteriously charming element of "Peripheral".
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Artist: Nate Wooley/C.Spencer Yeh/Audrey Chen/Todd Carter (@)
Title: NCAT
Format: 12"
Label: Monotype Records (@)
Rated: *****
That rusty air conditioner on the cover artwork sounds like almost incessantly fills the yellowed room with foul air, where you can just imagine the actions or the psychodramas which got evoked by this quartet which comprises Nate Wooley (trumpet), C.Spencer Yeh (violin), Audrey Chen (cello) and Todd Carter (mixing), whose initials gave name to the project NCAT. The initial slowly melodic corrosions, the gradual screwing of screeching strings, the noisy nodules, before the first possessed groans which precedes some torn female shouts, could let you think about the warning sign of a conniption or the vivid anamnesis of a traumatic episode, the beastly cries and the terror stricken shouts of the following track on a toneless sound which is as sharp as the evoked pain or maybe a bacchanal with furious Erinyeses and angry pining Bassarids, the rising mystical tension on twisting sonic burrs which becomes more and more visceral on the third untitled track, the incindental urban background of a confused awakening, bizarre howling, the "rheumatic" estrangement, the temporary and illusory reprieve, the animal-like panting, the sudden throaty squeaks, the cacophonous metallic rubbing, the electronic interferences and all the somewhat bizarre sonic wheezes and soundclips you'll meet while listening this amazing release are highly cinematic even if you could have the impression that the evoked setting (a locked oubliette in the torture room of crazy witches? the dark passages of an insane asylum where patient cannibalized psychiatrists and nurses? a cathouse whose keepers like inflicting excruciating pains to piggy customers before killing them?) are not so reassuring.
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Artist: Netherworld
Title: Alchemy Of Ice
Format: CD
Label: Glacial Movements (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Netherworld, the musical project of Alessandro Tedeschi, is apparently without linear notes as it seems clear how the inspiration is the artic landscape, whose coordinates are cited in one of the song's titles. The overall music construction is based upon the juxtaposition of synth lines, piano samples and small noises.
The distant bells of "Alchemy of Snow" open this release along with small noises until the soundscape begins to develop. "Polo nord dell'inaccessibilità " is a cold sonic landscape slowly eroded by small noises until a peaceful drone marks the end of the track. "Icepulse" is divided in two parts: the first constructed by sparse and reverbered notes of piano and intertwined by a noisy construction. "White silence" is an ethereal track constructed upon layers of synth. "85°50'S 65°47'E" starts in quiet but almost menacing way and end in a solar manner. "Hymns to a melancholic sunset" closes this release with quiet drones and the return of the looping lines of synth heard in the first track marking the end of the journey as a return to the starting point but changed in a subtle but profound way.
The musical landscape evoked, as tied to the artic one, is bright, charming but, with the use of the field recordings, menacing. To fully appreciate the sound palette headphone listening is recommended. A really nice release.
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Artist: Dominic Petrie (@)
Title: Tomorrow Now EP
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Ingredients Recordings (@)
Rated: *****
The intriguing syrup by Aberdeen-based dnb producer and dj Dominic Petrie, who's not really a newcomer of the scene as he released some good sonic pills on labels like Lifestyle Recordings, Nerve Recordings and Sound Artillery, and supported dj-sets of notorious names such as Calyx and Teebee, London Elektricity, Chase and Status, Andy C, Black Sun Empire and many others at the Bongo Club in Edinburgh where he propels Xplicit D&B night, contains many good old recipes in solution besides the influences (fellow countrymen Boards Of Canada - supposedly for a certain "mentalism" of Petrie's music - and LTJ Bukem's Good Looking stuff) that Ingredients mentioned for an introduction of this EP. While listening to this EP, some stuff of the so-called atmospheric drum and bass or even the so-called ambient jungle (I could mention Photek, Omni Trio, Skanna, PFM, Jack Ruby, Fast Floor or A Guy Called Gerald) resurfaced from the depths of my musical memories, which got melted with some percussive stunts (popping finger clicks, repetitive female vocals or amalgamating smoothed basslines) of liquid funk, whose influence is clearer on the initial "Riverside Blues" and the gloomily beautiful "Beyond The Wall of Sleep", which smells like Scottish rainy day. The remarkable quality and the soulful hook of the seven tracks of this release have been recognized by Ingredients itself as they had so many hesitations in making a selection for a 12" that they decided to drag all of them in one extended play in the end. My favorite tracks are the most clouded ones such as "Ephemerol Test" (a reference to fictional Cronenberg's drug for pregnant mother whose babies inherited the power of blowing other people's heads?), the amazing percussive overlaps and fuggy atmospheres of "Exponent Of Escape" and the dazed key stabs and the tailspins of basslines on "Empire", but all the other tracks are really outstanding.
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