Music Reviews



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Artist: [.que] (@)
Title: drama
Format: CD
Label: Schole (@)
Rated: *****
After a couple of self-released albums - "Sigh" (May 2012) and "Calm Down" (July 2012)-, some live exhibitions, many collaborations and borrowings to a number of projects for web, TV, radio and visual works, his contributon for "Schole Hope Project" in support of the reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 2011 and a contributuon for the fifth anniversary label-sampler "Joy - Schole compilation vol.3", the burgeoning 25-years old sound designer and composer Nao Kakimoto achieves his first full-length album on the appreciated Japanese label. On his "Drama", Nao seems to dramatize simple pleasures of ordinary life, serene charming scenes and fragrant emotionalism by means of 13 saccharin folk-tronica songs. The detail-oriented research of purity in the sound by the flusing-out of electric piano, whose slight delay on single strokes resembles me the way that Vangelis used to mutate piano on songs like "Chariots OF Fire", and acoustic guitar resembles the work of other compatriot veteran such as Sakamoto or his sponsor Akira Kosemura, who supervised and co-produced this release, some melodic structures sometimes sound too iterative and the rhythmical pattern are often too simple so that you could have the impression of listening to variations of more or less fixed schemes, but the mathematical accuracy of his snap-fit patchworks is really remarkable and the melodic dimmers succeeds in laying emphasis on the emotional nuances, particularly on heartwarming tracks like "bud", "Daybreak", "Air" and "Sunset", where he carefully grafted other sonic elements like field recordings or female choruses. Nao definitively holds great promise for his own musical and artistic path and for the pleasures of ambient-spotted folk-tronica listeners.
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Artist: Gastón Arévalo (@)
Title: Rollin Ballads
Format: CD
Label: Oktaf (@)
Rated: *****
The man behind this new ablution into flooding lights is Uruguayan composer Gaston Arevalo, whose entrancing overflows of smooth frequencies manage to ferry listeners towards a daydreaming state of mind by speaking of some places he lived or visited at the same time: besides stretched and modulated instrumental parts and ethereal solvents, Gaston dissolved many field recordings grabbed from some European cities and above all his native Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, into his heady amniotic fluid, where many childhood memories and impressions such as the noise of the textile factory where his father used to work, the background sounds of the sea and the fishermen from the harbour nearby his house and so on, splashed down, so that the whole record smells like an enchanted anamnesis and a delighting enraptured journey over a palette of sounds, which mirror nestled vivid images and geographic striking evocations from some hidden distant coves of the soul. Even if it predictably resemble many miliar stones of ambient and neo-classical music (Brian Eno, Erik Satie, Arvo Part, William Basinski), "Rollin Ballads" got distinguishably perfumed by a personal touch and an inner perpetual motion, which manages to scramble listener's memories and feelings in despite of the "staticness" of many ambient records or the prevailing stereotype about this stylistical field.
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Artist: Bruce Gilbert & BAW (@)
Title: Diluvial
Format: CD
Label: Touch (@)
Rated: *****
Many electronic musicians plugged their arts in thinking caps about cosmogonical hypotheses, fortunetelling of mankind or the edging forward of impending wipeouts and this tendency has been experiencing an exponential growth curve which seems to follow the curve trend of decreasing natural resources, boom-and-bust cycles and similar drifts after cultural miliar stones such as Philip Glass score for Koyaanisqatsi and so on. This new ring of that chain comes from former Wire guitar player Bruce Gilbert and Beaconsfield Art Works, the collaborative brainchild by David Crawforth and Naomi Siderfin, whose sonic reflections about climate changes, global warming, flood geology and parthenogenesis of the universe happens at the right moment just after the scorching heat of summertime, the beginning of autumn and the upcoming of first cloudbursts. Seven long immersive tracks, an understandable reference to the biblical manufacture by a divine Stakhanovite, have been composed over seven weeks from some field recordings on the Suffolk coast on the occasion of Faster Than Sound, Albeburgh, in 2011, and some upgrades for a show at Beaconsfield, London, by the implementation of spellbinding synthesized sounds by Gilbert and Crawforth into Siderfin's score and iPhone field research, which starts from the primordial soup of the initial "The Void" and ends with the final "Rest/Reflection" by sweeping across halway marks such as the protozoic swarming and the birth of oceans evoked by "The Expanse", whose water drops in the second half of the track features a remarkable work on spacey sonorities, the entrancing sandstorm which spans the listening time of "Dry Land", the subtle photonic bodies which gradually radiates on "Lights" by throwing light on the upcoming spheric scale model and their apogean beings on the following tracks "Creatures of Sea and Air" and "Beasts of the Earth". This monumental sonic cosmogony, the fifth release of Beaconsfield's sonic series Soundtrap, cannot be but tiled "Diluvial" and got supported by PRS Foundation, Arts Council England, Big Shed and Hydrosphere.
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Artist: The Legendary Pink Dots (@)
Title: The Gethsemane Option
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
Younger listeners, who didn't know the impressive history and the traces that this cult band fronted by Edward Ka-Spel left in different stylistical fields, could link the first song of the umpteenth album to the last releases by Massive Attack (just to mention less esotheric stuff everyone could think about) as someone could perceive some similarities between that some songs from the notorious Bristolian band and the hallucinatory atmospheres, the somehow solemn dragging of slow pace and eerie synths and the tolling bass line of the initial "A Star Is Born", which could vaguely described as a witch-house version of MA's "Special Cases". Such an introduction is maybe the first clue about the fact this record is more accessible of some previous records by The Legendary Pink Dots from the musical viewpoint, but the semantic and conceptual efflorescences over the whole album which seems to describe the quandary between an aware exhausted willpower against a sort of remote-controlled dominant thought and artificial heavens where impossible deceptively appears like normal ("We're all in this together./In a place we all can share./A Big Society./Let's call it Esher Everywhere!", where the initial electronic lulling melody got pierced by this unavoidable and unsettling coincidental dimension) and the spiritual longing of lodging peace and quiet of some big shadowing tree in Gethsemane, which might be considered as a metaphysical peaceful place where a clear headed and anguished soul could find relief, even if the evangelical reference has some relevance, where Ka-Spel's slightly paranoid mental effluviums shine together with many remarkable instrumental moments, electronic fade-ins and fade-outs involving poetic acuity on tracks like "A Stretch In Time", "Pendulum" or "Grey Scale".
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Artist: Skinny Puppy
Title: Weapon
Format: CD
Label: Metropolis (@)
Rated: *****
The freightful description of a nation which has been put in chains by fear, the dangerous proliferation of weapons, the guessed portrayal of such a paralyzing dread in the guise of weapon-made giant spider, which sometimes seems to menacingly and malevolently sing through the throaty and knurling voice by Kevin "Ogre" Ogilvie, who seems to evoke the disintegration of the egg inside which it grew on the first song's refrain ("i've been out, so out of i/i've been hiding out/i've been hiding out of it/hiding so far out" says the initial "Wornin") to announce the advent of criminal age on the following song "illisiT", which speaks about the repressive function of terror in contemporary nations ("A police state invents you/Give me your name/.../Master and serf/A failed state connects us"), are elements of a conceptual album, where weapon itself becomes a sort of proper symbol of savage human nature, a justifiably misanthropic vision which got rendered in the manner that long-lasting fans of legendary Canadian band Skinny Puppy know, based on deformed words and double meanings (one nice example comes in the final strophe of "saLvo" where Ogre sings "i'm the weapon with a lot to say/freedoms end in armed displays/amend the bullet given life/a metal casing with more rights_than we bE guN"). But the element those fans are going appreciate the most is the stylistical partial reverse towards their primordial geometries, which got enhanced by unobtrusive melodies and electronic correctives, and I could surmise such a choice is not casual at all. Echoed by the quotation of some words by the so-called "father of the atomic bomb" (who refused any engagement for the development of H-bomb), the American physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer, who said "we knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent" before quoting some words from the Bhagavad-Gita ("Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds" while recalling his involvement of such a damned tremendous discovery, the whole record sounds like an "I warned you, folks...this world would have become so scary...and now that foreseen future is present and it sucks and smells like shit (as the song "Terminal" seems to evoke by singing about satisfied flies...)" by these evergreen guys. "Weapon" is maybe the upgrade many fans of Skinny Puppy were waiting for after their re-union.
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